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Review

Why everything in this 'Living Room' is covered in gray felt

“The Living Room,” a gasp-inducing installation by Timothy Paul Myers, derives part of its power from its internal contradictions: It is a slice of reality at once amplified and muted, heightened and yet reduced to a bare minimum.

Myers (in collaboration with Andrew Barnes) has re-created a life-size domestic interior — fireplace, mantel, vases, chair, lamp — entirely in gray felt. Some of the objects are constructed anew, but most are the real thing, seamlessly sheathed.

The environment is in casual disarray, as if inhabited by a distracted scholar. Books pile and lean everywhere. Scattered pistachio shells and spent beer bottles, soda cans and coffee cups testify to the lived-in nature of the space. All seems quite familiar and ordinary but for a huge swell of flowers (also made of gray felt) gushing from the fireplace.

Also on view at Walter Maciel Gallery are three wall-mounted “Prototypes” by the Australian-born, Brooklyn-based Myers. Each true-to-size still-life consists of domestic objects such as trophies or toys arranged atop the corner of a mantel, the whole felted and flocked in magenta.

The lineage of such marvels traces back to Do Ho Suh’s sheer fabric houses, Liza Lou’s beaded kitchen and backyard, and Meret Oppenheim’s 1936 fur-covered teacup, saucer and spoon, a Surrealist icon. Like its precedents, Myers’ work is an act of translation (from one material to another) that engenders transformation. The immense, repetitive manual labor that’s involved reeks of the absurd, and yet the process also suggests meditative homage.

The contradictions and complications keep mounting. While the installation feels whimsical, it reads too as a ghostly trace. What signifies “neutral” more than such uniform gray? And yet “The Living Room” is provocative, not staid but stirring. That hush upon first sight is but the flip side to a sensory roar.

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Walter Maciel Gallery, 2642 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. Through Aug. 20. Closed Sundays and Mondays. (310) 839-1840, www.waltermacielgallery.com

Follow The Times’ arts team @culturemonster.

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