Installation view of J Ivcevich: Trail of Mystics (all images by Jason Wyche and courtesy of Garvey Simon)

Strange wooden creatures with squared heads — some with mouths, some without — watch me from the periphery of an area that is both wild and carefully manicured. Sounds issue from the sentinel boxes: odd tunes that might be a blend of ambient noise, and garbled speech combined with the early synth-pop ruminations of Thomas Dolby. Or they might be sounds that issue from a young Baba Yaga’s sternum.

In this enchanted forest there are metallic-glazed ceramic cairns vertically stacked so they too look like guardians of this liminal realm. The music that wafts through the space also comes from the wooden speakers on which they rest. I confront a version of myself in a mirror piece that is imprinted with multifarious branches like the respiratory tracks of a human lung. There is painting too, such as “Mosaic Diptych” (2018), which has shadowy branches in the background, with jagged, raucously colored strips layered on top. I wandered into this fey place because of the simultaneously futuristic, yet primeval objects, but the music furtive and mesmerizing made me stay.

Installation view of J Ivcevich: Trail of Mystics

The occasion for putting these objects together is the show J Ivcevich: Trail of Mystics, described by Garvey/Simon gallery as “an immersive, multimedia exhibition showcasing the artist’s most recent paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and sound design.” However, such a description is frequently attached to work that ends up looking like the dog’s dinner. But here the work realized by J. Ivcevich is constructed with a sense of wonder, curiosity, and a sense that losing one’s way in the forest coming back from grandma’s house makes for the most compelling tales.

Installation view of J Ivcevich: Trail of Mystics

J Ivcevich: Trail of Mystics continues at Garvey/Simon gallery (547 West 27th Street, Suite 207, Chelsea, Manhattan) through June 9.

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Seph Rodney

Seph Rodney, PhD, is a senior critic for Hyperallergic and has written for the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, and other publications. He is featured on the podcast The...