Fulterer & Scherrer at Galerie Sophia Vonier

Fulterer & Scherrer’s exhibition “Studs” revels in the multiple meanings of its title, electrifying the gallery with an erotic charge that never takes itself seriously. While increasingly complicated in composition, the three series on display—“Studs #1,” 2019–20, “Studs #2,” 2021, and “Studs #3,” 2022—all share a similar structure. To start, artists Gabriele Fulterer and Christine Scherrer (a duo since 2007) have applied a blocked-out palette of black and DayGlo to bare wooden frames. Spanning the void of the pictorial space are scraps of soft, silver-studded pleather stretched taut, à la H&M does S&M. The resulting material tensions are gentle but persistent enough to leave a mark, like a hair tie left too long on a wrist. They beg to be tugged. While fastened solidly with rivets, like furniture upholstery, many of the forms—most pointedly in “Studs #3”—suggest lingerie. Singled out or arranged in mutable rows, the rotatable works sing of the oft-invisible torments and titillations of our modern-day attire: the rise of a thong along thick haunches, a bra strap burrowing into shoulder flesh, the desperate sag of a halter top ill-equipped for its burdens.

Formally, the colors pop and fizz with a Memphis fervor, but at the same time, the works lack that perfect plastic coating to seal the composition from its context. The artists instead leave room for variations and imperfections, allowing the wood’s grain to clearly stand out from under the fluorescent yellow hue. The shock of impertinence strikes like a safe word said too soon, pulling us back from the fantasy. These are, after all, still empty frames.

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