Two weeks ago, the art dealer Gavin Brown signed a lease on the just-vacated Pat La Frieda Wholesale Meat Purveyors butchery next door to his gallery. After barely a lick of renovation, his first exhibition opens there on Sunday, and amid the tile, exhaust fans, thermometers, floor drains, and faint eau de boeuf, he’s showing art made of … tofu?
Yes, tofu. The bean-curd sculpture in question is the work of Jonathan Horowitz, who’s restaging his 2002 Greene Naftali show, “Go Vegan!” In its earlier setting, Tofu on Pedestal in Gallery echoed the sterility of the white-box art space. Seen in a walk-in cooler that’s barely left its bloody past behind, it’s more a celebration of (as Horowitz puts it) “this nonviolent, pure, wondrous foodstuff.” Across the room, American Gothic takes Norman Rockwell’s cozily abundant Thanksgiving table and turns it into an image that may inspire you to change your lunch order.
Brown admits that the show is a little bit of a stunt—“an opportunity too good to miss”—and adds that he liked having La Frieda next door. “It made me realize I was living in a rarefied world,” he says. “You stay with the same people and have a really skewed version of what life is.” Will he keep the space in its funky state? “The initial decision was Let’s not fuck with this too much. But I would love to rip it back to the brick. I don’t want to be doing meat-cooler shows for the rest of my life.”