I’ll just say it right out: John O’Connor is one of my favorite contemporary artists in New York. I haven’t had too many chances to write about his work yet, but hopefully that will change soon.

Getting to the point, O’Connor has a few new works in a group show in Soho that opens this Thursday at the Ronald Feldman Gallery.

The show is titled Human Ecology 101. It promises work by artists who question the relevance of the physical gallery space. Looking at their website, it’s hard to tell whether the selections deal with this query themselves, or if the artists involved are simply interested in moving beyond galleries, agents, managers, et al. It seems the latter, as most of the pieces on display are a few years old or more.

How it all holds together, aesthetically, is difficult to say. O’Connor is a sculptor and painter whose work takes random technologies and their related informationprescription medications, sun-spot readings, lottery ticketsand plots them in sequences that suggest oddly esoteric connections.

Conceptualists like Terry Adkins and Tavares Strachan deal also in the strange connections that underlie industry and identity; Justin Amrhein’s work maps the absurdity of treating animal life as though it were a machine. Elaine Angelopoulous, however, is probably the closest in style to O’Connor, at least as far as the two’s sculptures go.

Both employ paper mache and suspend artifacts from gallery ceilings, calling attention to the kinetic movement of subjects that already feel random. (Is anything ever stable?)

In that way, perhaps the show does hold together. What seems random on the surface ends up being a mirror of contemporary NYC, its many issues, and, well, universal relativity.


John O’Connor, “A Good Idea” (2010)

John O'Connor "Horror Crash," (2010)

John O’Connor, “Horror Crash,” (2012)