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Mitchell Syrop’s Niza Guy at François Ghebaly Gallery features many large, scribbled notes in Syrop’s rushed handwriting that echo the grand gestures of Ab-Ex sketches (Franz Kline’s projected sketches in particular come to mind). The works posture as a sort of dandy; they give the illusion of ease, quickness, and a perfected flawed-ness found only through an infinite number of covert rehearsals. The repetition of each phrase prompts the fantasy of thousands of notebooks stacked in Syrop’s studio wherein “IMA NIZA GUY” is echoed a million times over. Their presence on notebook paper recall journal entries recording fleeting moments of both self-assurance and frustration. In this manic incarnation, the phrases become as much disciplinary standards as positive affirmations.
Among the drawn and torn wall works are a number of floor-laden stainless steel sculptures placed throughout the galleries. In comparison to the wall works, the sculptures feel less overwrought—despite being steel forged by hand and carved by plasma torch. Their material density decelerates Syrop’s mark making; improvisation and deliberation resonate harmoniously in the pocks and crevasses of the sculptures. Small, unsystematic variations in each sculpture’s shape, height, and texture, as well as the expansive frame of production—from 1975 to the present—evoke a quiet and quirky reliability, while the drawings envisage a conscience’s quick sublimation of ostensible crisis. The drawings feel more like the objects of a fashionable eye rather than the subjects of a decisive hand. A role reversal ensues in the afterthought: the squat, unassuming sculptures are the nice guy, while the wall works feel too much like a pretty face with indecipherable intentions.
Mitchell Syrop: Niza Guy runs from November 14, 2015–January 30, 2016 at François Ghebaly Gallery (2245 East Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90021).