Brad Tucker Returns to Inman Gallery with Familiar Tricks Up His Sleeve

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Brad Tucker has made a name for himself as a maker of playful, idiosyncratic art. That's pretty much what you get, too, in a new show of the Austin artist's work at Inman Gallery. Pressing News, Tucker's fifth show at the gallery, features a combination of site-specific work, video and music installation, and prints. On the site-specific front, there's "On The Level Sisters," a thin piece of plastic with holes in it that runs the length of a wall. Some of the holes have rubber balls in them. The piece is highly reminiscent of a work in Tucker's last appearance at Inman, "Tijuana Brass," which was a much sparser show that, like "On The Level Sisters," played with the architecture of the space. Though here, it seems like an out-of-place throwback.

The eye-catching installation "Bagdad Bass Club" is the main meat of the show. It features a full range of media -- multiple record players, DVD player, speakers and a TV playing VHS videos of Tucker's friends and children playing musical instruments.

Surrounding the machines are handmade items of felt, rubber, foam and painted wood that resemble the looped bands of VHS tapes and, in one case, just tape. There's a strong DIY element to these crudely constructed items, the casualness of the material and its construction another marker of the artist. The bright, youthful colors of the piece contrast with the nostalgic vibe it gives off.

Along the walls of this playroom hang rarely exhibited prints by the artist. The series of abstract paintings are made with hand-cut rubber stamps and ink pressed into stretched canvas. Lines are the subject here -- crisscrossed, squiggly, latticed, diagonal, straight lines of all colors. There's even a frame of "X's" in the work "Full Court" that seem to echo the accordion gates of the "Tijuana Brass" show. All these stamped lines are a bit off-kilter, as if none of the pieces were premeditated or planned out. In "Staples," two different canvases are even joined together, like some sort of Frankenstein's monster.

The works are definitely the hand of Tucker, embodying his playful, laid-back style, but they just didn't do it for me. It all seemed a little too half-assed -- the lack of craftsmanship in the installation, where pieces of foam were laid about not seeming to serve any purpose or representation; the unevenness of the prints; the incongruity of it all. Though I did enjoy the way Tucker played with space and perception. "On The Level Sisters" is comically low to the ground, just an inch off of it, so that you're forced to bend over and follow it down the wall. And "Bagdad Bass Club" had a similar low sprawling sense, the TV, speakers and record players just lying on the floor, asking you to come down to its level.

Brad Tucker's Pressing News is at Inman Gallery, 3901 Main Street, now through May 19. For more information, call 713.526.7800 or visit the gallery's website.

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