Maria Lynch at Wilding Cran by Claire de Dobay Rifelj
Walking into Maria Lynch’s exhibition at Wilding Cran—the artist’s first showing in Los Angeles—visitors come immediately face-to-face with a makeshift enclosure containing nearly one hundred large, and brightly colored, transparent beach balls. In theory, the concept of a larger-than-life ball pit exudes playfulness. To move through Lynch’s pen, however, you must proceed slowly, pushing balls up and around your body with concerted effort in order to forge a path through the rubbery plastic. A meditative soundtrack by the Brazilian musician and composer Rodrigo Amarante adds a soothing aural layer to the awkward, if amusing, experience. One is left to imagine the dramatic impact had logistics allowed the prismatic balls to overtake a larger percentage (if not all) of the exhibition space.
In the remaining two-thirds of the gallery, paintings and sculptures incorporate the same aesthetic vocabulary that Lynch has adopted over the last few years: wildly colorful, nearly abstract canvases, and assemblages of homemade soft sculptures made up of whimsical appendages that avoid coalescing into recognizable forms. The latter recall work by Mike Kelley, though without the pathos of his sutured stuffed animals.
Instead, Lynch’s stated aim is to activate her viewers’ bodily and sensory awareness in order to overcome ingrained patterns of rational thinking. Her installation accomplishes this, forcing you to attend to the space you occupy in the here and now. And while Lynch’s paintings and sculptures present a visual feast—Vanity (2016) offers a particularly alluring marriage of color and form, as if a Matisse cutout were beginning to morph and metastasize—there is still room for the young artist to delve deeper into questions of perception and mindfulness, particularly in an age of pervasive screens and quickening attention spans.