New York Times, Art in Review

‘Common Consent’ Basilico Fine Arts

This is a minor disappointment after Brian Tolle’s last show, which generated a buzz. Mr. Tolle again reconstructs historic Americana in hand-carved plastic foam. Last time it was a kind of Williamsburg, a wood-beamed trompe l’oeil interior that was just kitschy enough to evoke suburban Colonial Revival architecture. It was an amusing installation, affectionate toward the ambiguous forms, and a little spectacular.

Now Mr. Tolle has constructed various faux-stone walls in different configurations: a cross, a triangle, a circle (really a well), a pentagon and a line. They’re matched with cryptic light projections — a rifle supported by a finger stuck into its barrel, a bird on a hat, a colander and scissors — that allude to 17th-century superstitions about witches and witchcraft.

Mr. Tolle is among the young artists (Matthew Barney is the best example) steeped in one or another branch of historical arcana to produce obscure, theatrical mythologies. There’s a certain deadpan quality to the art and an obvious degree of eccentric craftsmanship.

But in this case the results look too meager to heighten the idea of architecture as symbol: walls as emblems of social division, which the witch-hunters of New England most bizarrely enforced. MICHAEL KIMMELMAN