Richard Woods, Brick by Brick

Richard Woods, wall and door and roof, 2009. Photo by Seong Kwon, courtesy of Public Art Fund


Artist Richard Woods marks the 20th exhibit at City Hall Park with a red herring: brick-red, Lego-like painted and lacquered MDF applied to the guard house at the entrance, highlighting the station’s dual function as necessary presence and auxiliary structure. Instead of staying in the grass like, say, Julian Opie’s mini-city in the park, Woods chose an unlikely part of the park, lining the two flanking security booths with a printed brick façade, like a British post-war flat.

Woods is known for overlaying objects with incongruous, painted-on textures or surfaces, like 2005’s Renovation in Wimbledon that redid an old brownstone or 2002’s “Tudor” take on the Deitch Projects storefront. Public Art Fund, which last summer sponsored the massive, divisive Eliasson Waterfalls, asked Woods to ‘renovate’ the park of the government building for his installation of wall and door and roof, which opened last week.

“I am interested in importing and exporting styles,” Woods explains of his  choice to go suburban. “Also, I like the sociological twist of the low rent style being imposed on such a prestigious location.” The 2-D brick stands out against City Hall’s staid French Renaissance exterior, creating a simple and funny effect. Inside the building, Woods continues his experiment in trompe l’oeil by painting a door inside the building, imitating the other entryways and creating an optical illusion. And experiment is just that for Woods, who admits, “You can never tell if it is any good until it’s done.”

Richard Woods’ istallaiton is on view through September. City Hall is located at 260 Broadway, New York.