reviews > Indianapolis, IN

Funny in some places is best done loud and obvious. In the gallery, we like it quiet and cerebral, the kind you chuckle at to yourself, because you are intelligent enough to get the joke and also loose enough to know that laughter can be a legitimate reaction. There isn’t enough of this type of work in the art world, but thankfully J. Beaver makes it, with paintings that perch somewhere between the lexicographic conceptualism of Joseph Kosuth and the smart-boy gags of David Shrigley. So what’s Beaver do? “Din” is exactly not: a midsize diptych, one half painted a mild pink color and lettered in an enormous D-I-N, traced with rose soap, the other half a smooth cream-colored panel with a tiny pencil-drawn head at its center, possibly a young Donald Trump, or maybe Dudley Dursley. How else to keep such loudmouths quiet than a bar of soap in the kisser? Another painting features a simple sketch of a stool, its parts labelled, which gets you wondering: if you can’t sit on it, is it still a stool? A wooden cigarette taped to the top edge concurs: if you can’t smoke it, is it still a ciggy? The whole of it perches on an overturned bucket: if you can’t carry something in it, is it still a bucket? Meanwhile: if you can laugh with it, is it still art? Affirmative.

—Lori Waxman 2019-05-02 1:56 PM