541 West 23rd Street


Through March 19

Vincent Szarek’s sleek, four-piece exhibition offers a poetic meditation on modern decadence. The first item, on the floor, is a long, narrow, geometric solid painted in glossy, metal-flake gold. It looks like a parody of Minimalist sculpture, but it is also readily identifiable as a pimped-out, Finish Fetish-style parking-lot tire block. So it alludes to a certain vein of ostentatious, macho car culture.

Suspended nearby in midair is a pair of shiny, black, softball-size cherries attached to gold-plated steel stems. Realized with Koonsian perfection, the cherries call to mind tattoos and slot-machine symbols, which also may be associated with quasi-rebellious subcultures. The third sculpture is more puzzling. It is a glossy, black, cast-urethane representation of a classical column broken off like a tree stump. A gallery news release points out that high-rolling drug dealers favor classical pastiche for their mansions. There’s a wonderful term for this genre: “narcotecture.”

Finally there is “This Is the Meaning of Life,” a big sign on the wall whose block letters are made of sequins loosely hung on nails. A fan causes them to wobble so that the words shimmer to optically dazzling effect. The text quotes from a Tom T. Hall song: “Faster horses, younger women, older whiskey, more money.” What men really want, in other words.

This seems a pretty easy target for Mr. Szarek. The typical, liberally enlightened gallerygoer might ask: What has this to do with me? On the other hand, don’t we all have our own primitive objects of desire?