Art in Review

JESSICA ROHRER: "Oakridge Road"

By Ken Johnson

Published: July 1, 2011


535 West 22nd Street, Chelsea

Through July 23

Jessica Rohrer makes small, meticulous panel paintings of suburban homes, interiors and domestic commodities. They are a kind of Pop-style update of Charles Sheeler’s Precisionism in which every element, from a half-squeezed tube of toothpaste in a crammed medicine cabinet to leaves on trees outside bay windows is defined cleanly and exactly.

Ms. Rohrer’s realist style is not uncommon. What is impressive is how industriously she pursues it. Considering how carefully each painting is worked, it is hard to believe that she has produced the 48 pieces in this show since 2009. The quantity itself starts to seem odd. It is as if a mad hausfrau or a Stepford wife had become obsessed with conducting an inventory of every single thing in her fanatically groomed world. A highly organized closet filled with clothes, a collection of every brand name of cleaning product you can think of, the totally antiseptic kitchen, the cornucopia of processed foods in the refrigerator, the dining room and its empty furniture, views out windows of the perfect neighborhood: all this and much more Ms. Rohrer describes with almost eerie objectivity.

In each work in a series of 24 paintings on paper, she pictures a single object, including shampoo, cracker boxes and detergent spray bottles, as if it were a devotional talisman.

In this vacuum-sealed artificial paradise, utopia turns to dystopia, the American Dream to consumerist nightmare. It is not a new story, but Ms. Rohrer gives it a cool, acerbic bite.

A version of this review appeared in print on July 1, 2011, on page C24 of the New York edition with the headline: Jessica Rohrer.