Christian Eckart is an artist who walks the line between painting and sculpture, creating three-dimensional wall-mounted works that read like paintings. He's got some interesting pieces on view in his solo show "The Absurd Vehicle & Other Propositions" at McClain Gallery. In some, sheets of aluminum appear to have been neatly folded and unfolded, given them an egg crate-like texture; Eckhart scores some surfaces with lines and paints others with the sleek, glossy, color-shifting paint used on custom cars. There's also some especially nice work in which a network of glass triangles hang from the ceiling against a wall. The dichroic glass changes from transparent to reflective with glorious shifts in color as you move past.
The most massive piece in the show is The Absurd Vehicle (2006-2011), an aptly named free-standing sculpture. It's a metal, oblong, funnel-like form that basically looks like a purple orifice resting on a wheeled frame. Its inside is gorgeously painted with the same glossy automotive paint, here fading from orange to magenta to lavender. The tiny, treadless racing wheels and abundance of chrome continue the car-culture references, but the wheels are non-functional - they only move the sculpture in a circle. And the "orifice" has a very 2D orientation; it feels like Eckart has stuck one of his wall works on wheels in the middle of the room. If you walk around the unpainted sides or raw-edge back, it seems like something you aren't supposed to be seeing. Maybe that's part of the absurdity, but it just comes across as pointlessly overproduced, with a lack of 3D awareness.
(Through March 5. McClain Gallery, 2242 Richmond Avenue, 713-520-9988.)
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