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We tend to prefer the shiny beginnings of things or find fuel in the drama of their endings, but Skylar Haskard thrives in the middle. Haskard’s solo exhibition of new sculptures and sheet metal wall works at Sebastian Gladstone, titled Rickle Works, reflects on the potential of objects while making a case for leaving unfinished business just as it is. By creating works that feel like they are in a state of flux—as if they were still being tinkered with—Haskard gives viewers a sense of possibility without offering resolution.
In the Body Object series (all works 2022), freestanding chair sculptures loom at the center of the room with a menacing whimsy. Haskard has combined collected chair parts with bicycle handle grips, table legs, polystyrene balls, and in one case, pink plastic flowers. While the notion of a chair remains present, none of these sculptures offer viewers the chance to take a load off. One is missing a seat, another hangs precariously from a chain, and others tower too high. Thus, they are less chairs than they are disparate collections of items, affixed to one another and piled into totemic assemblages that feel like shrines to the splendor of creative reuse. Because of the exhibition’s unrestrained, exploratory vibe, the chairs feel as though they are still in-process prototypes of what could be—whether through their utility as functional items, or inversely, through their aesthetic potential as art.
In the second series on view, a group of untitled wall hangings, Haskard has attached found objects and photographs to galvanized, sheet metal. Each rectangular work resembles a frenetic diorama reminiscent of the more obscure corners of the early internet. In particular, it is the photographs that create this sensation. Some are staged by the artist and recall the Body Object sculptures, but others are directly sourced from engines like Google, OfferUp, and Etsy, and are harder to make sense of as they don’t support the same logic. In one staged photograph, a chair has two raw turkey drumsticks for legs. In another, a chair is loosely dressed in crotchless gray sweatpants. These would-be chair sculptures read like factory mock-ups from a surreal fever dream. Varied, colorful fridge magnets hold up the photographs, which are accented by an array of objects, including a flattened metal bucket, a plush toy, and a Mickey Mouse glove. Each work features strung-together plastic lettered beads (sometimes manipulated with pen to indicate a different letter) that spell out words and phrases like: “unfuckwithable” or “thrown away.” Together, the wall works also double as a veritable bulletin board, pinned with ideas and speculative gestures towards something yet to be realized.
Rickle Works conjures that particular persistence of treasure hunters who cruise Facebook Marketplace or drive through L.A.’s residential neighborhoods, eyeing the curbsides and somehow finding gems. Or the brainstorming of an inventor in a lab. Haskard’s works worm their way into the psyche and infect us with a sense of potential, the kind that finds its way into our dreams. In Haskard’s hand, mutability becomes an especially attractive concept—objects-in-progress feel suddenly liberating. Fear of obsolescence goes out the window.
Skylar Haskard: Rickle Works runs from January 14–February 18, 2023 at Sebastian Gladstone (944 Chung King Rd., Los Angeles, CA 90012).