Matthew Brannon’s Skirting the Issue named one of the five must-see shows in New York by Artinfo
Matthew Brannon at Casey Kaplan Gallery, through October 24 (121 West 27th Street)
Brannon’s series of new works — mainly using a letterpress, serigraph, or silkscreen technique — purports to “explore emotional registers within the context of the Vietnam/American War.” That mission, however, is obscured, or at least softened, by the nostalgic pull of Brannon’s aesthetic. Most of the pieces are forms of still life in which various objects and products seemingly suspended in midair. Brand names dominate — Chesterfield, Western Union, Heinz, Sno Sheen — with the occasional outlier item provoking a joke: a bottle of Liquid Paper, for instance, beneath a diploma from the New York Psychoanalytic Society, as if poking fun at Freud’s mistakes. The pall of war is mostly lost amid the clutter of domesticity and consumer goods, which is, perhaps, the point. A hint of the wider world, though, pops up in “Ready or Not,” 2015, in which a folded Order to Report for Armed Forces Physical Examination sits alongside a box of corn flakes, a novelty greeting card displaying Snoopy as Joe Cool, and a shuttlecock.