DETROIT — If you happen to be prone to synesthesia, you may want to give Kari Cholnoky’s exhibition Semi Lucid Steaks, at David Klein Gallery, a wide berth. The artist’s multi-dimensional wall hangings and freestanding sculptures layer texture upon texture to create a critical mass of pustulant foam, fringes of hair, plastic toys, and shellacked insulation material — all coated in eye-popping and high-contrast shades. These texturescapes literally rise off the canvas like a pot bubbling over. Synesthetic or not, you may be left with the lingering desire to wash your hands, or an unshakable sense that you have food on your face.
Which is not to say the art lacks appeal. In a commercial art scene dominated by tasteful minimalism, Cholnoky’s creations are the gregarious partygoers that break into conversations, down your drink, and send echoing laughter around the gallery. You can’t help but be intrigued, if for no other reason than to try to understand what you’re seeing — and if you stick with the works for a moment, information emerges from the chaos. Step back, and the jumble of materials may resolve into a figurative form, like Magic Eye pictures suddenly revealing an underlying image. Step closer, the constituent materials reveal themselves: craft paper, macaroni, chicken-foot candy, and string. There is a deeply playful nature and sly sense of humor in Cholnoky’s creations; one imagines the artist working with great concentration to build golems in the midst of a kindergarten craft area. The result is work that communicates the kind of frank openness that goes hand-in-hand with the decision to let go of being pretty.