Bodega is in a basement in LES, and from the street both half-bodies and half-paintings are visible. Walking into the space, I immediately understood that the ceiling was low, but not so low that I had to actually bend my body or crane my neck. It was, however, low enough that two of Phil’s tall and narrow paintings were leaning, one like a forward slash and one like a back slash. Another painting, which happened to be “site specific,” according to the artist, was another tall and narrow rectangle, placed perfectly diagonal within the restricting ceiling to floor relationship.
The large canvases are largely raw, but full of information. Phil collages found objects, oil paintings inspired by other oil paintings, cut canvas and other ephemera. The show reflects a method of working that works well for Cote – let’s call him Phil. The show card for Fresh Breath, Adhesives and Carbonation reads much like the title- it is full of the necessities for making: a banana peel, (both natural and humorous), a sparkling Poland Spring lemon-flavored zero calorie water, (fancy, refreshing, and quenching), and modest watercolors and paper towels. Cote puts it all out there: he is an artist, both a product of Bodega-chic foods and the simple barebones necessities needed to make art. This comes through in his paintings – a simple but cared for sketchbook drawing adhered here, a hilariously recognizable signature Fredricks canvas logo there, (and by there, I mean where an artist would typically sign a canvas if that was of the time). This italicized, elegant, and campy Fredricks cut-out further solidified the mix of slapstick humor, utilitarianism and wit – the inescapable logic – behind Cote’s work. To put it simply, he goes with the flow, being true to his autobiographical materials that are readily available to repurpose and make new again.
Thanks for the breath of fresh air, Phil.
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