alifornia C ContemporaryART APRIL/MAY 2011
Marine Contemporary 1733 â€” A Abbot Kinney Blvd Venice, CA 90291 T: +1 310 399 0294
Ricky Allman Wendy Heldmann Tom Hunter Jow Dennis Koch Littlewhitehead Peter Lograsso Christopher Michlig Robert Minervini Christopher Pate Stephanie Pryor Debra Scacco
littlewhitehead Bad News Debut U.S. solo show May 7 â€” June 18, 2011
Photo: Patrick Hoelck
WARD OF THE STATE Rick Castro, Greg Gorman, Patrick Hoelck, Steven Klein, Patrick Martinez Maya Mercer, Michael Gregg Michaud, Jules Muck, Estevan Oriol, Retna Herb Ritts, Paul Rusconi, Christoph Schmidberger, Robert Standish Mr. Brainwash, Bruce Weber and Tony Ward
May 21-June 20, 2011
BLEICHER GALLERIES BGartDealings.com firstname.lastname@example.org
(Ann McCoy Feb /2011)
CB Gallery [Caporale/Bleicher] BG Gallery [Bleicher/Golightly]
355 N. La Brea Avenue, LA, CA 90036 (323) 545-6018
1431 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90401 (310) 878-2784
Alexandra Wiesenfeld, “Sheep Triptych”, 48 x 62", mixed media on paper, 2010
Alexandra Wiesenfeld occASSionAl beAST through April 30, 2011
2903 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Gallery Hours: Tue–Sat, 11am – 5pm or by appointment
Cover Image 28
PUBLISHER Richard Kalisher EDITOR Donovan Stanley DESIGN Eric Kalisher CONTRIBUTORS Roberta Carasso Jessie Kim
alifornia C ContemporaryART www.californiacontemporaryart.net (323) 380-8916 | email@example.com
8 Apr/May 2011
MICHAEL SALVATORE TIERNEY
April 29th - May 2nd located at Chicagoâ€™s Merchandise Mart Visit us at Booth 11-B
5797 Washington Boulevard | Culver City, California 90232 | 323.272.3642 | firstname.lastname@example.org | blytheprojects.net
Herbert Bayer: Bauhaus by Hugo Anderson
Bauhaus and our very sense of what is modern in twentieth century art and design are practically synonymous. We are surrounded in our everyday lives by the designs and theories put into practice by the Bauhaus. While the school of the Bauhaus existed only from 1919 to 1933, its principals and influence resonate today because of the achievements of the artists and architects associated with it: Walter Gropius, Paul Klee, Vassily Kandinsky, Joseph Alpers, Lyonel Feininger, Laszlo MoholyNagy, Warner Drewes and Herbert Bayer. By definition Bauhaus means construction or architecture (bau) and house (haus) in German. It was the creation of Walter Gropius, who in 1919 assumed control of the Weimar School of the Arts and Crafts and the Weimar Academy of Fine Art. He combined the two into the Weimar Bauhaus School. It was Gropius’ intention to create a new generation of craftsmen without the class distinctions between craftsmen and artists. No doubt it
“No institution has affected the course of twentieth century art and design so profoundly as the Bauhaus. Its impact is staggering. Bauhaus precedents provide sources for everything from the appearance of our urban skylines to the modern dinnerware on our hard-edged, contemporary tables. They are found in virtually every functionally designed object and graphic today.” - Gwen Chanzit
Curator, HerbertApr/May Bayer Archive at the Denver Art Museum 12 C|C|A 2011
and Beyond was an attempt to build something new and positive out of the ashes of World War I when Gropius stated “Let us desire, conceive, and create the new building of the future together.” The central concept was that no one art form was inherently better than any other and that the fine arts and applied arts must be studied and used together. Through good design the new artist/craftsman would create a better world. The very fact that easel painting was replaced in the curriculum by mural painting showed Gropius’ commitment to integrate all the arts within architecture. Of all of the artists associated with the Bauhaus during its brief 15 years, it is Herbert Bayer (1900-1985) who actually devoted a lifetime to a career which incorporated the ideal of total integration of the arts, in design, advertising, architecture, public sculpture and painting. Herbert Bayer was born April 5, 1900 in Haag am Hausruch, Austria. Because of a book he read by Vassily Kandinsky (Concerning the Spiritual in Art) he enrolled at Weimar Bauhaus at the age of 21. He actually arrived at the Bauhaus six months before Kandinsky began teaching. Bayer studied at the Bauhaus for two years, taking a leave in 1923 to travel through Italy. He had arrived at the Bauhaus with almost no prior background in art, and thus offered the perfect “blank slate” upon which to create the essential Bauhaus artist. Since the Bauhaus offered no art history in its curriculum it made sense to expand his firsthand knowledge of art architecture and design by spending a year traveling in Italy, sketching and painting. To support himself he painted houses and stage sets during his travels, thus applying the integration of craftsman and artist at the first opportunity. In 1925 he was offered a position on the faculty at the Bauhaus, as Master of Typography. It was then, in conjunction with the ideas of Moholy-Nagy, that Bayer developed a “universal alphabet” using only lower case letters. This was designed to be a practical typeface, which was large enough to read and free of distortions and curlicues, sans-serif type. Bayer applied this type design to ad copy, posters and books throughout his career. In 1928 Bayer left the Bauhaus to pursue a design career in Berlin. It was his desire to put the theories of the Bauhaus into practice in design and advertising. In 1933 he produced a “bayer type”. During his Berlin years, in addition to his design work, Bayer ventured into photography, which he used in both commercial (ads and posters) and fine art production. With Maholy-Nagy, Hebert Bayer was an early creator of photoplastic or photomontage. The altering of photographic imagery through the use of multiple
negatives and collage meshed well with Surrealist imagery, as in self-portrait (1932), lonely metropolitan (1932), and metamorphosis (1936). The later 1930’s were difficult times for free expression. Artists were among the many groups who felt the need to find exile outside Nazi Germany. The Bauhaus had closed in 1933 and many of its artists/faculty had already emigrated to the United States, finding work teaching at Harvard and at the New Bauhaus in Chicago. Bayer had traveled to the U.S. in 1937 and became involved in the design of an exhibition on the Bauhaus at the newly created Museum of Modern Art. In 1938 he moved to New York City. Deposition (1939) while depicting the tools of Christ’s crucifixion, also portends the dark future of a Nazi victory in Europe, a victory that seemed quite possible in 1939. The exhibition Bauhaus 1919-1928 opened at the Museum of Modern Art and later traveled around the United States. It provided an introduction to modernist design to a country slow to accept abstraction in painting, much less in advertising, which required client acceptance. During his tenure in New York, Bayer’s graphic work prospered, but when the opportunity arose to move back to a mountain environment he took it, moving to Aspen, Colorado in 1946. He accepted a position as design consultant for Walter Paepcke and the Container Corporation of America, whose headquarters were in Chicago. The Aspen of 1946 was a small mountain town of less than 800 residents and only the beginnings of a ski town, Feature
with two pre-war ski runs. Paepcke and Bayer were instrumental in initiating the changes that would make Aspen a cultural oasis in the 1950’s and beyond. The Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies was founded by Paepcke in 1949, with Herbert Bayer working as architect and design consultant. He designed a complex of buildings for the institute, integrated within the natural landscape of the mountain valley. In 1955 he created a work called grass mound, a forty foot grassy place for relaxation, years before the concept of “earthworks” became popular. He also created marble garden using discards from an old marble quarry. In 196364 he designed a new tent for the Aspen Music Festival. With his return to mountain living, mountains and contour map elements began to emerge in his artwork from the late 1940’s on, as in his lithograph mountains and lakes (1948). He designed a series of ski posters, including ski broadmoor (1959). In 1953 the Container Corporation published world atlas with graphics designed by Herbert Bayer. His goal was to put together an atlas with clean graphics that was easy to read. The interaction between fine art and commercial art again shows in Bayer’s paintings and prints with continuing use of weather related symbols, such as arrows, flow charts and contour maps. The Container Corporation employed the talents of Man Ray and Fernand Leger as well as Bayer in the late 1930’s. It was their concept that through good design, corporations could influence good taste and profits. Bayer, with his Bauhaus ideals, was a natural to work in this collaboration of art and industry. In their ads, text was limited to fifteen words of copy in order to put the emphasis on visual images. Lengthy texts were out; clean copy was in. Advertising was seen as good public relations with consumers and buyers at other corporations. Bayer used collage and photomontage, elements from his fine art, in his early advertisements. He became chairman of Container Corporation’s Department of Design in 1956. He was more than
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just an art director, contributing in management decisions, including the design of buildings and interiors. The Great Ideas of Western Man was a Herbert Bayer advertising campaign of the 1950’s and 60’s. These ads had no sales message, again working on the concept that a good corporate image was also good for business. The ad concept was an out- growth of discussions at the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies. The Institute worked to bring business executives and managers together to discuss ideas in a relaxed setting and a cultural environment. The Aspen Institute was as responsible for putting Aspen on the world map as was skiing. It was also a great concept for expanding the year past ski season, with many of its programs in the summer months. It was through connections at the Aspen Institute that Bayer met Robert O Anderson, founder of Atlantic Richfield Oil Company. In the early 1950’s they became friends; Anderson bought Bayer’s house in town when Herbert moved his studio onto Red Mountain, overlooking Aspen. Along with the house, Anderson also began to buy artwork by Bayer, providing the beginning of a relationship of patron and friend that would last until the end of Bayer’s life. After Walter Paepcke’s death in 1960, Bayer began working for ARCO as an art and design consultant, starting in 1966. Bayer oversaw the design of corporate offices in New York and Philadelphia, as well as Los Angeles when the corporate headquarters moved there. He designed the artwork for ARCO Plaza in Los Angeles: double ascension, two linked staircases in a pool of water. He also advised ARCO on the development of its large corporate art collection and the performing arts programs it sponsored. He designed carpets and tapestries for the corporate offices. He designed a sculpture for the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. A similar sculpture resides at the Design Center in Denver, Colorado. He also developed a seriesof sculptures for ARCO that were designed to hide/beautify the Philadel-
phia refinery area. These were among a number of sculptural projects that were never created and exist only in the form of maquettes. Currently the Bayer family is working to try to realize some of his models as larger works in Denver and other cities. Bayer moved from Aspen to the Santa Barbara area in 1976. He lived there for the last ten years of his life. A fine collection of his work can be found in the Santa Barbara Museum, while The Herbert Bayer Archive is at the Denver Art Museum, with over 9000 artifacts in the collection. During the last four decades of his life, Herbert Bayer was well employed in design positions with the Container Corporation and ARCO. In addition to his corporate responsibilities he developed a significant fine art portfolio during these years. Artistically Bayer is probably better known for his earlier photomontages from the Berlin years (1928-1938). Having two significant patrons in Walter Paepcke and Robert O. Anderson, there was little need for Herbert Bayer the fine artist to go through the normal routine of gallery exhibitions and reviews necessary for artwork to find its way into important private and public collections. The town of Aspen is full of Herbert Bayer paintings that moved directly from studio to private hands. To a certain degree his reputation as a painter, printmaker and sculptor never received the critical acclaim that exhibitions and reviews would have allowed. He suffered a bit from being too successful. In his later years Bayer used his graphic skills to create fine art prints, using lithography and silkscreen, the same mediums used in his commercial work. A skill learned in one area is used in another. In these graphic images, as in his later paintings, he returns to geometric design and abstraction in a se-
ries of works he called “anthologies”. In these works the Bauhaus artist has returned to basics: color, geometry and design. The sculpture he produced during these same years still maintains a freshness today, thanks to his combination of clean design and primary colors. His surrealist photomontages from the 1920’s hold as much shock value today as they did then. The success and legacy of Herbert Bayer are the combination of Bauhaus ideas and American optimism from the post WWII period applied to a work ethic and career which lasted until his death in 1985. It is the combination of clean design and a fresh palette of primary colors that explain the continuing appeal of his artwork. His work is optimistic and easy to live with, the result of his lifelong adherence to good design. More than any of his contemporaries, Herbert Bayer stayed true to his Bauhaus ideals through his sixty-year career. Hugo Anderson is the Director of Emil Nelson Gallery, which represents the works of Herbert Bayer from the Bayer Family Collection.
PROFILE: GINA GENIS by Roberta Carasso
Gina Genis uses her camera as her inner eye, panning intensely to excavate hidden behaviors of the human condition. I first saw Genis’ images at the highly touted OsCene exhibition at the Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA. OsCene is in its third incarnation, a type of biannual of the best local artists. Genis exhibited some of her Window Peeping series by peering into windows of senior citizens at night and finding out how they live. Like a voyeur, Genis created another series, entitled Things We Leave Behind. Genis asked to go into a deceased man’s house and discovered his tendencies to hoard. At first going into strangers’ home felt intrusive, but the discoveries were worth the inconveniences. She was introduced to collections, compulsions, and things people find important to save, personal effects, letters, utensils, and objects of nostalgia. Everyone seeks his own details and everyone is obsessive in some way. Genis captured these in rare photos that
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tell much about the individual soul and its desire to keep its secrets. The two series — Window Peeping and The Things We Leave Behind — reveal Genis’ dedication to showing how society is getting older and how the elderly are treated. In this sense, her work is often a social commentary based on factual research. Even in her 20s she understood that people can become invisible. Our youth obsessed culture can even make people feel and be discarded. Needless to say, the photographs brought her much attention. They were filled with life and loneliness, pain, deprivation, and ways of coping in a society where the elderly and sickly can easily be forgotten. Window Peeping won Genis a dual solo exhibit at Cypress College, along with another series entitled Kala (a Sanskrit word for time). Genis was unexpectedly juried into the Minneapolis Photo Center show with August at Inspiration Point, an image from the
Kala series. It has to do with our responsibilities with controlling nature; or, as she questions - is it possible? As in all her photography, Genis is a deep thinker, offering the viewer something to chew on while never presenting “just a pretty picture.” Genis’ latest endeavor is entitled the Tunnel series. The best of these were exhibited in November 2010 at Notion Fine Art in Laguna Beach. It began when she was given specialized lenses by the lens company who sponsored her work. Genis came upon a tunnel at Aliso Creek Beach and walked into it, camera in hand. This led unexpectedly to an emotional response to a completely fresh situation. With the idea that some people are afraid of the dark and in a tunnel there is that proverbial light at its end, Genis began to shoot, eager to see what would transpire. Because of back lighting,
the bright light came out in distortions of colors, creating a strange luminosity from the irregularity of light waves moving in a circumscribed area. The colors look eerie even manipulated, although they are not, and always appear wonderful. In them, Genis captures an enchanting scenario
Genis: (top) image from Things We Leave Behind series, (bottom) from Window Peeping series.
where the scene seems real, but the distortion of light and color catch the viewer off guard. Intrigued by the new effects of light, Genis realized that the tunnel offered her enormous lighting possibilities. Artists have always been captivated by the contrast of light and dark. The idea of chiaroscuro was first used in the Renaissance to distinguish the sharp contrast of light from dark and to delineate an object. Over centuries, artist found that light and darkness afford broader meaning that became essential to the contemporary artistic vocabulary. In her current series, Genis shows us the essence of darkness as it contrast with the essence of light and how colors become altered because of the combination back lighting and the architectural nature of tunnel that forces light into one area. Although the Tunnel series was a particular situation, for Genis, it is when she is actually shooting that the work sparks ideas. Characteristically, her work is a reaction to a highly emotional situation that is neither happy nor pretty. As a professional, Genis spends a lot of time working through possibilities. She has been a serious photographer since she was 16, going on to complete a degree from Parsons The New School for Design in NYC. Photography was her first visual form and love. At first, photography meant designing for the theater. But being such an outdoors person, photography then meant hours and hours in the dark room. Who would want to spend beautiful days indoors when the world of nature beckoned outside? Genis could not bring herself to be inside. She shifted to being a painting major. Still drawn to photography, she became involved with mixed media of illuminated manuscripts because she could combine photography and painting. But a miracle occurred; the digital camera came on the scene. In 2004 she bought her first digital camera, another in 2006, and another 2007. With each photograph-
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ic improvement, she came closer and closer to working as if she were painting with great clarity. It is important to add, that having the intimate experience of working in a dark room and watching the development of an image from its inception to completion has added to her visual expertise. Even when using a digital camera, Genis is always aware of the photographic process and the best ways to bring an image to fruition. Perhaps that is why I believes that Gina Genis is a photographer to be watched. For more information, visit ginagenis.com
FINDING THE NOBLE IN IGNOBLE TIMES by Roberta Carasso email@example.com
Entering Darkness: Dorothy Wahlstrom, Nurse At Dachau, 1945, 2001, oil On Canvas, 130”x387” inches (six panel).
Jerome Witkin’s art begins with cityscapes, landscapes, individual portraits, but soars when he creates monumental depictions of cataclysmic and heroic events that span multiple canvasses. In each painting, he takes us through a powerful visual journey narrated through meaningful mark-making, colors, shapes, and textures. Even after viewing a painting multiple times, there is still much to discover; Witkin’s art is not a depiction nor is it meant to be a likeness. The work demands to be contemplated, digested, experienced, and felt on a the level of the soul. Witkin, now 71, has developed a masterful body of work. The subject that I find most captivating is how Witkin gives us an x-ray view into the nature of good and evil and, most importantly, how he portrays the enormous efforts it takes for good to prevail. In an interview, speaking off the cuff, he revealed what makes his art stand out above others. He said that he searches “for the noble in ignoble times.” Through his passionate art, Witkin conveys the limitless capacity of the human spirit — its individual holiness even in the midst of its tremors, tragedies, and bliss. Ensconced as a professor of art at Syracuse University for 40 years, 2011 will initiate a traveling exhibition of 40 years of Witkin’s art. The retrospective will begin at Syracuse University and be shown across the US. His primary dealer, Jack Rutberg, of Jack Rutberg Fine Arts in Los Angeles, orchestrates many of his exhibitions. But while other artists clamor to be in the center of art, Witkin creates his unique
body of work far from mainstream influences. The distance from New York City, or from any major art center, allows him to work independently with greater freedom, be master of his convictions, and undeterred by trends and fashions. Yet, whenever Witkin exhibits his art — and he continually does — his paintings dominate whatever gallery or museum they are in. As a result, his enormous following includes many people who travel great distances to see whatever Witkin exhibits. Witkin’s sensitivity to social issues of justice and injustice was formed early. In Brooklyn, he was born one of triplets. His sister died at birth, but he grew up with his identical twin brother Joel. Unheard of in 1939, Witkin’s father was Jewish and his mother Catholic. The schism made the intelligent child question who he was, where he owed his allegiance, and how he fit in. The dilemma raised conflicts and questions, particularly because the marriage
Taken, 2002-03, oil on canvas, 108”x348” (4 panels).
broke up and his youth was spent during the Holocaust era when news of the war and what was happening to Jews by non-Jews was a never ending topic. Drawn to art to express the unexplainable, at seven Witkin went to a Catholic after-school art program run by nuns. Although he continued for several years, the child questioned their rigid approach to art-making and their offering a conformist point-of-view for a boundless activity. As a teen he attended the prestigious Music and Art High School, composed largely of Jewish students and Jewish teachers, where he was impressed with feeling comfortable in this highly intellectual and freely inquiring atmosphere. With a Catholic upbringing, he struggled to choose which belief system suited him. He resolved the conflict into a valuable salvo: “arrive at your own ideals and stick to them.” Witkin grew into the quintessential promising young art student, winning a scholarship to the then fairly new Skowhegan School of Art in Maine. Never being out of
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Greenpoint, the Brooklyn boy rubbed elbows with such greats and social minded artists as Isabel Bishop, George Grosz, Jack Levine, Rafael Soyer, and Ben Shahn. For the first time, he saw how professional, committed artists conduct their lives, pursue their art, and were undaunted in expressing their beliefs. Excelling in art as an older teen, Witkin became complacent until, as an undergraduate, he met at Cooper Union his instructor, the painter Victor Candel. Witkin, now a bit smug and lacking humility, was ignored by his instructor, who never invited him for a crit as he did other students. Realizing that something was wrong, Witkin asked Candel for a crit. Candel, a very small man with a thick accent left to go to the library, returning with a huge art history book. He opened it to Michelangelo’s Pieta. The two stared in silence, until Candel said: “Vitkin, do you think she is babysitting?” This perceptive statement caused an immediate paradigm shift, as Witkin, realizing the shallowness of what he had been creating, understood the message. Never again did he make art that was meaningless. Today Witkin spends from two to three years to complete a painting. They are not only large in size, but immense in concept, context, and spirit. He works on a series and rotates the work, spending a great deal of time in contemplation and down and dirty paint work. A characteristic of Witkin’s brush is how the marks change depending on what he paints. In scenes of goodness and perfection, his strokes sing, lovingly applied, glistening with grandeur. But when he deals with unsettling subjects of human aberrations, the brush begins to growl, strokes become distorted, and colors are duller. Witkin’s paintings are never uniform in expression. Seen in a larger context of paint applications -- brushstrokes, colors, textures, and composition -- they each respond to the narrative as powerful voices that insist on being heard. Witkin has taken on difficult, even impossible subjects of a lone individual or a group of individuals who display superhuman courage to right a wrong: the Holocaust, Black History, Martin Luther King, the Trial of Adolph Eichmann, Hiroshima, 9/11, and obscure saints and heroes, as well as homage to artists he admires — Käthe Kollwitz and Rembrandt Van Rijn. The apex of Witkin’s talents is
when his heroic protagonist intuits the need to fearlessly stands up for principles — even against all odds — and in the end, triumphs. With honest yet wry humor, Witkin states: “I don’t know how to make polite paintings.” In 2001, Witkin created six irregularly shaped panels on the theme of the Holocaust. They were shown at the 2006 Broken Beauty exhibition at the Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach, CA. The exhibition, a theme rarely examined, looked at the dark side of suffering. But there was a lighter side too, as artists selected for the exhibition showed that the human spirit always moves towards resolution, even when beauty is broken. Like the Hebrew language, Witkin’s paintings, entitled Entering Darkness, is read from right to left. The narrative is based on a diary of a little known Christian nurse from Minnesota, Dorothy Wahlstrom, who, in 1945, was among the first liberators to enter Dachau, the infamous concentration camp. Witkin places the nurse in every panel, except the third. Dressed in her angelic white uniform, Wahlstrom moves through the panels. Flashlight in hand, her healthy purity is a sharp contrast to the filth surrounding her and the hell that was the camp. For Witkin, creating the series was his response to atrocities, portraying horrors at their most glaring. His goal was to shed light on truth. Witkin’s contribution to the Broken Beauty exhibition is his conviction that evil can never be eradicated unless it is recognized and exposed. In the last panel, the evil now exposed changes Wahlstrom. She sits meditatively alone on a cot wearing her military jacket, as the freed survivors leave healthy and renewed. In his work, Witkin creates for those among us who realize that art can be a powerful weapon. Wrenching subjects in the hands of a lesser artist would be impossible to reduce to a canvas or a series of canvasses. But here is where Witkin is master. Through his forthright paintings, he tackles, head on, the nature of ignobility, plowing deeply through the muck that is hell until he arrives at portraying, in epic proportions, the noble soul of a rare few. For this alone, Jerome Witkin’s art will stand the test of time, become classic, and will be appreciated far into the future.
Jerome Witkin: (opposite page top) Rocco’s Garage: The Light Before Rain, 2001, oil on canvas, 36”x56”; (opposite page bottom) The German Girl, 1997, oil on canvas, 80”x124” overall; (directly below) Vincent Van Gogh and Death, 1987, mixed media drawing, 84”x48”; (bottom of this page) The Insult And Young Martin, 2004-2007, oil on canvas, 25’ 6” (five panels). Images courtesy of Jack Rutberg Fine Arts.
Exhibiton Review: Street ‘N Low by Jessie Kim
The Street ‘N Low show at the Robert Berman Gallery in Santa Monica, CA, houses a large and eclectic assortment of street and lowbrow art, showing work by Keith Haring and Robert Crumb alongside that of Shepard Fairey and Barry McGee. Borrowing its name from the ubiquitous packets of sugar substitute, the show anticipates the upcoming MOCA exhibition Art in the Streets while referencing the brillo box-inspired logo of the now defunct Deitch Projects. The former constitutes the first major survey of street art in an American museum, while the latter represents a gallery known for launching the careers of street artists such as Barry McGee, Swoon, and Os Gemeos. The Street ‘N Low logo thus pays double homage to Jeffrey Deitch, former owner of the Deitch Projects, current director of MOCA, and a man who Berman considers a colleague in the exhibition of street art. Street ’N Low’s carefully wrought branding urges the viewer to take notice of work that, in Berman’s estimation, is too often discounted for its display of technical skill. More often polished than painterly, pieces by artists like Greg Gibbs and Robert Williams have the easy beauty of the comic,
the billboard, and the magazine. Like the pop artists of the 1950s, adherents of street and lowbrow continually sample from consumer culture. Williams’ paintings draw their action and color from Marvel comics, while Gibbs casts himself as pop culture icon Frankenstein in Frankie Takes LACMA. From the consumer packaging-inspired logo to John Colao’s Vote Obama, painted in the style of Warhol’s 1972 Vote McGovern, the show repeatedly makes reference to its hallowed pop art forebears. These allusions to high art carry over into the allocation of gallery space. Paintings by Ron English hang side to side and top to bottom with prints by Robbie Conal and illustrations by Mark Ryden. This salon style method of hanging, taking its name from the Royal Academy salons of 17th to 19th century Europe, traditionally segregates paintings into hierarchies of size and importance. Salon style in the Robert Berman Gallery, however, carries populist connotations. It echoes the ordered chaos of the magazine spread, the storefront window, the website portal. It is the visual language of the modern consumer masked in the trappings of the Academy salon. Berman refers to art as the mere
Views of the Street ‘N Low at Robert Berman Gallery
“souvenir of an idea,” and like a peddler of souvenirs, he reminds us that moments in time are fleeting. His show presents a rough chronology of street and lowbrow art, attempting to preserve and highlight the roots of an evergrowing movement. The show, like the sugar substitute from which it takes its name, seems sweet and light, delighting the tongue but eluding the waist. Robert Berman’s deliberate timing, branding, and hanging, however, lend heft to the motley of work. Exhibitions
Feature Exhibition: David Jang als are as natural as nature itself can be. For Jang there is no distinction between artifice and nature as the artist’s work plays out like a landscape of objects, as diverse and alive as an urban environment or natural setting. Born in South Korea, and based in Los Angeles, David Jang has long wrestled with the notion of conformity and the defiance thereof. This struggle is evident in his work, in each of his obsessively replicated creative acts—walls of looped of wire and skyline-like stacks of plastic cups—that suggest a social order while simultaneously subverting the individual’s intended purpose. Such is the nature of Jang’s relationship with his media: every object can be defined by both what it is and the potential for what it can become. For artist David Jang, the creative act is rather an act of discovery. In his upcoming solo exhibition at Downtown Art Center Gallery on June 9, Jang’s discoveries examine the complex relationships between force and balance, perception and consciousness. Jang’s work inevitably begins with the medium. Working from the conceit that within every material exists also its life’s instructions, Jang constructs, modifies, manufactures, and manipulates material into a whole new set of objects with a whole new set of rules. Potato chip bags are inverted and constructed into globs to take on a feel more akin to cast pewter than snack food packaging; unrolled paper towels are stood on-end and made rigid with resin; circline fluorescent lamps and wires are strung up into exquisite vines; and Styrofoam cups are motorized into a symphony of screeching. By taking an extremely experimental approach to mundane things— many of which can even be considered consumer waste—Jang transforms the everyday object into self-motivated, of-
ten articulated pieces that express their own unique qualities living and being. It is within his relationship with materials that one begins to understand Jang’s concept of “urban formalism”—essentially the artist’s idea that urban materi-
Donwtown Art Center Gallery Los Angeles [Jun 9 - July 6]
EXHIBITIONS Michael Alexis and Jennifer Faist Ruth Bachofner Santa Monica [April 23 - June 4]
(above left) Michel Alexis, Epigram 7, 2010, Oil on canvas, 54" x 41" (above right) Jennifer Faist Mingle, 2010, Resin, oil, alkyd, acrylic on wood, 46" x 14" x 1.5".
littlewhitehead Marine Venice [May 7 - June 18]
littlewhitehead, We're all going to lose, 2011, resin, wire, cloth, silicon rubber, polyurethane foam, hat, pajamas, socks,sandals, 47x35.5x 12”.
Judith Supine New Image West Hollywood [April 13 - May 13]
Judith Supine, outdoor art installation.
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New York-based painter Michel Alexis’ current body of work is an extension of a series he began some twenty years ago, in which he incorporated the notations and prose of Gertrude Stein. While the words themselves have left Alexis’ canvases, remnants of the motion and form of the written word are suggested through sweeping, calligraphic markings. In the new work, as with the old, words and letters are drained of meaning, freed of origin and occupy a strictly formal space. Alexis adapts the physical act of writing, translating it as drawing, incising and gesturing to create his own distinct, complex visual vocabulary. Alexis’ gestures are set off by jostling rectangles made of paper, burlap and other textured material, which fold, wrinkle and crease as they abut
one another, or shift to reveal fissures of substrate color. Jennifer Faist engages in a rigorous material process where color sets an emotional timbre and pattern anchors the conceptual and compositional core of the work. Faist begins her process on stacked plywood boards which are sanded, gessoed and then painted on with thick layers of paint. The patterns created in the first layer are then covered with thin applications of additional alkyd, oil and colored glazes which are sanded down to partially reveal portions of the subsequent layers. A clear epoxy resin serves as the final layer. Faist’s perfectly smooth, reflective surfaces draw viewers into their vibrant, immeasurable depths. The meticulously crafted work recalls the Finish Fetish work of the 60’s, but Faist curbs pure materiality and infuses her work with personal resonance. Within layers of paint, Faist appropriates patterns from her own clothing which she associates with specific memories, creating relics of her past that resonates with viewers.
Bad News, the debut US solo show for UK based collective littlewhitehead. Where littlewhitehead often unashamedly appropriate media images and represent them as hyperreal sculptures, this is not as politically preaching as it may appear. Littlewhitehead are children of the 80’s: brought up on a diet of video nasties, computer games and the post-industrial landscape of socialist Glasgow. Their work is the product of a very idiosyncratic and private dialogue, where with an encyclopedic range of references, they discuss shared ideas until they have inspiration for a work. As a result, all of their work is steeped in their very own brand
of dark humor. It is through such humor, that they manage to negate any particular ideological position and instead foster reflection on many ontological and ideological absurdities. Bad News brings together a selection of new work by littlewhitehead. The Glasgow-based duo have a knack for summoning up our collective fears in their cryptic, humorous style. Indeed, a glut of bad news preceded the making of the work and in turn formed the foundations for the show. Although the news was very personal, it allowed them to notice the misfortune of others more readily and, fueled by their own misery, beart it as their own.
The exhibition features the artist's newest and most ambitious work to date, showcasing more than twenty canvases and large-scale woodcut sculptures up to fourteen feet high. Supine has transformed the entire gallery into a personal installation space, covering every inch of floor, wall and ceiling with silk-screened wallpaper, his signature fluorescent colors and dreamlike narratives. LADYBOY references the "genderqueer". Supine describes the title's significance as "themarriage of opposites in
one person - comparable to the technique of collage, combining seemingly disparate images to reveal something that wasn't previously apparent". Brooklyn-based Supine uses his hyperactive imagination to merge images of people, pornography and design elements. He describes his materials as “free or at least really cheap”: X-Acto knife, glue sticks, low-cost paint, thrown-out books, and magazines. Figures with disproportionate features are created, revealing gritty and sophisticated style, expertly rendered.
EXHIBITIONS Overs & Unders: Paintings by Bob Neuwirth, 1964 – 2009, a restrospective of the artist’s work curated by Kristine McKenna, includes sixteen canvases produced over the course of his forty-five year career. Difficult to categorize, Bob Neuwirth has moved from one medium to another, but has always returned to his original disciplines of drawing and painting. As he says, “all art is visual for me, whether I’m painting or trying to write a good song.” Although Neuwirth’s work has been making its way into private collections for decades, he’s remained largely indifferent to exhibiting throughout his career; Overs & Unders offers the first comprehensive overview of his stylistic development. Neuwirth came of age during the glory days of New York action painting, and abstraction has always been central to his art-making practice. Overs & Unders includes a selection of work from the early ‘60s, when he was producing quirky hybrids of Cubism and Surrealism. The ‘70s found him exploring various experimental materials, and he went on to produce a series of wall works that straddled the zone between painting and sculpture, and a cycle of haunted landscapes that are poised between abstraction and figuration. Neuwirth’s work has grown increasingly lyrical and fluid over the course of his career, and
in recent years he has been producing exuberant, expansive pictures filled with space, light, and blazing color. Born in Ohio, Neuwirth began painting as a teenager. While a student at Ohio University, he met Jim Dine who was working as a graduate assistant to one of his professors. Dine encouraged him to go to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. After two years at school, Neuwirth made his way to Paris where he spent time wandering the Louvre and the Orangerie absorbing classical and Impressionist painting influences. He returned to Boston and became part of the Cambridge Folk scene that launched the careers of Joan Baez and Geoff Muldaur among others. As a result of playing music in various folk venues Neuwirth entered the fluid world of transcontinental folk-slingers and traveled the axis between Cambridge/New York, and Berkeley/San Francisco, with detours in between. In 1964 while living in Berkeley, Neuwirth got a call from his friend Bob Dylan asking him to join a tour that resulted in the now classic D.A. Pennebaker film Don't Look Back. Throughout his life, Neuwirth made music while working on tours for musicians like John Cale and Kris Kristofferson. Neuwirth maintains studios in Manhattan and Santa Monica, and splits his time between the two cities.
Brazilian artist’s Dias Sardenberg in her first United States solo exhibition. Holidays in an American Desert, will feature monumental, multi-media paintings. Her latest works, “The Mocambo Suite”. are rich and intimate portraits re-appropriated entirely from her signature medium, vintage kimono silks. Mining such diverse sources as art brut, Matissean figuration, popular culture and animist iconography, Sardenberg’s work reveals an anachronistic world of natural order and chaos, teeming with sensuality, mysticism and sophistication. Spanning 9 by 16 feet, the charged, fantastical tableau of Holidays in an American Desert reveals primal female forms dancing amongst the saguaros, a contemporary beauty lying on the sand and jewelencrusted desert floor embracing the tail of an orange and black checkerboard panther and a blue man following the traces of an
other-worldly spirit… all while two American tourists look on from the safety of their 1959 DeSoto Adventurer convertible. The physical toughness of the collage and compositional planes reflects undercurrents of violence and psycho-sexual tension in contemporary society. “The Mocambo Suite” is loosely based on the notorious 1940s West Hollywood nightclub, frequented by Marlene Dietrich, Rock Hudson, James Cagney and Grace Kelly. Of the work, Shamim M. Momin--founder of the non-profit arts organization, LAND (the Los Angeles Nomadic Division) and Adjunct Curator for the Whitney Museum of American Art—says, “The artist’s stated desire to use the typically hidden layers of the kimono… adds a conceptual layer to the images: a reveal, as it were, of the faces or identities hidden beneath the ‘outer layer of one’s public persona.”
Bob Neuwirth Track 16 Santa Monica [May 14 - June 11]
Bob Neuwith: (top) with his work, ca. 1968, photo by John Byrne Cooke. (bot) Untitled, acrylic on canvas, 40”x34"
Dias Sardenberg Blythe Projects Culver City [through May 14]
Dias Sardenberg, The Mocambo Suite (Diamond Girl), 2011, vintage kimono silks, 13”x9”.
EXHIBITIONS Pablo Sigg ltd Los Angeles [through Apr 30]
Pablo Sigg: (top) 3600 Prospect St, 2009, cardboard model, 34”x28”x25”; (bottom) installation view with 134 Exhibits, 2009-2010, film installation (MiniDV, NTSC, color, audio Dolby digital), 42 min 8 sec, Edition of 5, 2 AP. Both images courtesy of ltd Los Angeles.
Michael Benevento Los Angeles
[through May 7]
Ned Vena, installation view.
Dennis Loesch Galerie Anais Santa Monica [April 16 - May 12]
Dennis Loesch, Playboy (Corset), 2009, paper, pigment ink, 15”x20.5”.
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Within the context of the Swedenborg Room’s research of cinematographic space as utopian space, Pablo Sigg’s The Swedenborg Room features four films, a cardboard model, a text and a neon light sculpture. The four films are: 134 Exhibits (a 43 minute film of Belgian painter Luc Tuymans under hypnosis announcing a list of his own exhibitions), What an excellent day for an exorcism (a 3 minute video of the possessed child’s room in the film, The Exorcist (1973), void of all human presence, composing a still life), Room (a 10 minute cut of a 3 month hypnosis film project shot in Sweden circa 2009) and Anemic Cinema (an animated film of the exorcism session
in The Exorcist). The exhibition also includes The Swedenborg Room (a series of 5 prints with a text about the notion of “Swedenborg Room”), 3600 Prospect St. (a cardboard model of the house featured in The Exorcist) and Inf. III 9 (a textual quote in neon of the last line of the inscription on the Gates of Hell in Dante’s Inferno –“Abandon all hope ye who enter”– a mental door, an invisible limit in the form of a footnote). This is the artist’s first exhibition in the United States. Sigg’s most recent solo exhibition was at the Museo de Arte Raúl Anguiano, Guadalajara, Mexico in 2009. His work has also been featured throughout the world. He lives and works in Mexico City.
This exhibition will feature a new body of work by Ned Vena, including seven white paintings, a group of rubber, “target” paintings, a vinyl wall relief, and a 16mm film. Vena’s White Paintings have their roots in motifs originating from Frank Stella’s iconic ‘Black Painting’, Die Fahne Hoch (1958). Breaking down, reassembling, rearticulating and inverting the ratios and relationships of particular histories of minimalism, Vena’s White Paintings are composed of four quadrants of repeating right angles originating at the center of the canvas at the intersection of two perpendicular line, a conceptual and formal thread throughout the exhibition. Using flat white Rustoleum enamel, Vena’s paintings incorporate a layer of vinyl, which is painted over before ultimately being removed, leaving behind ridges of white paint in a four-quadrant formation. For this exhibition Vena created six long, thin paintings and one large vertical work, all on canvas, gesturing towards a reflexive way of thinking about
certain histories of painting and representation. Extending from Vena’s interest in linen as a historical component of painting, Vena’s three “Target” paintings are created through a series of concentric vinyl circles – ‘crosshairs’ – stenciled onto linen with a sprayed rubber. Rather than maintaining perfect symmetry, Vena’s material process skews the center of his images, examining the mis-registration of patterns and distortion of images. His works pun the literal, gesturing towards the cannon as something to both aspire to and aim to destroy. Vena’s vinyl patterns also emerge in his 16mm film. While Vena’s works in other media often meditate on the unintentional and uncontrolled marks occurring when one set of materials is introduced and removed from another set of materials during production, Vena’s film not only visualizes the particular vinyl patterns the artist has painstakingly composed onto the filmstrip, but also reveals the dust, scratches and fingerprints amassed during production.
Dennis Loesch's first solo US gallery exhibition, Auto Versicherung, features works on paper and a sculpture. Loesch is interested in the edges, the margins and the periphery of mass media imagery, and by intervening within the image, “rewriting” it, the combination of source material and that of the artist’s intervention expands and enlarges the possibilities of the original image. Loesch emphasizes copy, revis-
ing, reversing existing images, the resulting images appearing like a new window over the original. The SCANs and Transfers that explore these ideas are complemented by a sculpture, a self portrait of sorts, of the artist’s distinctive YSL glasses, bent, distorted and misshapen, becoming a metaphor for a distinctive way of seeing. [An exhibition of the artist’s sculptures run concurrently at Art Center Los Angeles.
EXHIBITIONS This exhibition of work by David Benjamin Sherry, titled Form Forming Formation, studies concepts of geometry, science, color, materiality, and the course of change. It includes both traditional color prints and photographic collage work. Through the artist's analog approach to producing images, he examines aspects of arrangement and the visual results of alchemical and light analysis. With his photographically based constructions (Solar System In Blood System, 2011), Sherry explores specified geometric formations, based on the mathematical design of our planet and solar system. Also referencing crop circle phenomenon, these rectilinear configurations aim to address the varied changes Earth undergoes. The work also serves to chronicle this moment in history, and to raise awareness of the natural world around us, through a visual combination of minimal form and complex pattern. Sherry's series of highly saturated chromogenic prints, depicting expressive rock-like structures, continue the dialogue between object and interpretation. Sculptures painstakingly created over time, then later photographed as in Royal The exhibition features the artist's newest body of paintings and metal sculptures. As a child, Christophe Leroux was drawn to trains, ships, planes and factories. This fascination with visually complicated machines is evident in the graceful, yet powerful paintings and metal sculptures of this French artist. Leroux translates urban intensity into a bold statement of originality and beauty. The newest series, entitled Bomb Shell, was inspired by Leroux's fascination with the "bombshell beauties" pilots painted on their planes during the 1940's.
Ruin Ultramarine Umbilical Fiend Fallen Cobalt Core, 2011, provoke an explanation of how and why these seemingly figurative forms evolved into abstracted artifacts, and are now frozen in a moment. The anthropomorphic imagery deals with ideas of evolution and shift - the systematic process of alteration and the aesthetic conclusion of transformation. These contrasting bodies of work create a tension between each other, while they simultaneously begin to draw parallels between Earth's properties and human existence. Sherry not only uses photography as a documentation of fact, but also as an expression of an unknown future. Each monochromatic image is then both an examination and a certainty, questioning the genesis of how thoughts become reality and illustrating the result of that action into form. David Benjamin Sherry is a New York-based artist, with a graduate degree from Yale University. His work is shown nationally and abroad, including recent exhibitions at Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO; Garage Center for Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia; and PS1/MOMA Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NY. He modernized this Pin Up/Bomb Shell girl - integrating his graffiti-style stencils with his color field grounds and drip patterns in oil on canvas and oil on Arches paper. In addition to the Bomb Shell series, the exhibition features Leroux's aluminum wall sculptures which he calls "Froissee" or "wrinkled" in French, his native tongue. Leroux changes the aluminum color ever so slightly and bends the sheetsinto three dimensional forms that come off the wall creating shadows and depth that are both sophisticated and seemingly effortless.
David Benjamin Sherry OHWOW Los Angeles [Apr 30 - May 27]
David Benjamin Sherry: (top) Fuchsia Future Bismuth Boiled Puce Poised California Coral Sand Stone, 2011 (bot) Royal Ruin Ultramarine Fiend Fallen Cobalt Core, 2011.
Christophe Leroux George Billis Culver City [through May 14] Christophe Lerouz, BS 27 YK 43, 2011, oil on paper, 30”x22". Gika, zinc engraving on arches paper, 2004, 13”x19”, #8/15.
“SELF-PORTRAIT” 1932 FROM THE BAYER FAMILY COLLECTION
EMIL NELSON GALLERY 2864 COLORADO AVE SANTA MONICA, CA 90404 310-266-9904
CIRCUS DADA: SIDESHOW
Circus Dada: Sideshow is an eight foot by sixteen foot oil triptych on canvas painted by L.A. artist Hugo Anderson. The painting was begun in October 2009 and completed in February 2011. Also included in the exhibition are the original full scale cartoon (drawing) for the painting and twenty five related studies and other circus drawings. The circus painting is part of a series of three paintings, all triptychs of the same size; it is the second in the series. The first was about the making of a movie on Napoleon, exhibited at the Hangar in 2008. The third is about a ballet and is currently in progress, scheduled for fall 2011. The setting for all three paintings is the 1920â€™s. They are paintings about the arts and enter-
tainment in which the artist has used contemporary performers and entertainment professionals as his models: actors, musicians, writers, directors, producers, cameramen etc. His models are the friends he has made since moving to L.A. in 2006. The three paintings are actually the outgrowth of a series of 36 L.A. portraits he painted in the first year he was here, which were also exhibited at the Hangar Gallery in 2007. That painting was nine and a half feet high by forty four feet wide, consisting of three rows of 12 portraits each, 36 in all. The subjects were all people he met in the first year living here: again they were predominantly people in the arts, living on the Westside.
Anderson has a studio in Santa Monica, where he also lives. He has been working as a practicing artist for almost 40 years. The current paintings are a return to figuration after 20 years of landscape painting which evolved to almost abstraction. He began with figurative art and even when painting minimalist paintings, continued his interest in the figure through life drawing. He plans to release a catalog of recent drawings along with an exhibition of nudes this summer. The current exhibition is housed at Hangar Gallery at Santa Monica Airport. It runs through May 21.
Lisa C. Soto
IN HER OWN WORDS My experiences, memories and diverse cultural background directly contribute to my work. My grandparents came from Jamaica and Puerto Rico, immigrating to Harlem in New York City in the early 20’s. I was born in Los Angeles but grew up in Spain and New York City, in a household of multiple cultures, languages, and arts. Although I was always creative as a child, I hadn’t discovered that I was an artist until I was taking graduate courses towards my masters in psychology. At that time, I lived with my boyfriend who was a painter, but had given it up for cinematography. I came home one day to find the coffee table covered in his acrylic paints, boards, and brushes and a note that read, “Start”. I did. I left school without completing my masters, and I moved to Paris for a little while, where I indulged in some of the greatest museums in the world. As I continued to explore the process of painting, I realized that this was going to be my lifetime work. I had moved to Amsterdam by then and enrolled in the Amsterdams Instituut voor Schilderkunst directed by Gert Meijerink. After attending the school I returned to the States and began exhibiting and selling my works. I am drawn to new identities, world cultures and diminishing borders. I am interested in the notion of boundaries, both self-imposed and man-made territories, shifting or opening up. I am fascinated by the idea that technology can allow us to cross even normally restricted boundaries. People are able to communicate, travel and exchange views more than ever before. Aesthetically, my work focuses on colors, textures, and contours through reinvented maps, topography, and landscapes. I am also attracted to details of landscape, to shapes repeating in nature.
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For instance, the forms of underwater coral plants look like grooves in dry riverbeds as well as the patterns of Mandelbrot sets in physics. Within these elements and imagery, lies a social political undercurrent, reflecting aspects of the world’s interactions.
My work has evolved from faces to maps, though the theme has always been about landscape, even the faces look like landscapes. My early work was very intimate; I painted mask-like faces eventually evolving into paintings of figurative faces emerging from a land-
Lisa C. Soto
scape of color and texture. I wanted to explore this concept of geography further and from a different point of view. I started to think more literally about different kinds of “scapes” (landscape, seascape, mindscape). My paintings began to include diverse imagery appropriated from traditional symbols, patterns, foliage, insects, sea life, bodies of water, tectonic plates and the reinvention of maps to create imaginary and fragmented landscapes. In the past few years, I have been creating a series of 3D drawings (as I refer to my sculptures) including the world, the U.S. and Europe, as well as a 9-foot fishing net made out of imaginary islands. For the U.S. piece, for instance, I cut out the shape of every state and territory in Mylar. Then drew symbols derived from different tribes of Northern America and colored the states the color of earth. These mostly rectangular pieces were sewn together
in a circle. The configuration symbolizes the circle of life as the different tribes believed. “U.S. & territories”, speaks of how this country has not acknowledge the treatment of the original peoples of this land and this ill treatment still continues to this day. The latest piece I am beginning is on the continent of Africa in silver and gold Mylar. It will be the first time I am using this kind of Mylar. I am curious as to the different ways the material will lend itself and the different meanings that will be derived out of this work. On one hand, I am bringing up the fact that Africa has been stripped of its wealth for hundreds of years. On the other hand, I am referring to the inner wealth of the African peoples. That it is time for African nations to shine. Unlike design, which is about solving problems or architecture, which has the function of creating a space for people to inhabit, art traditionally is not
about function but about raising questions. I am asking the viewer what if the boundaries they live within change or diminish altogether? What would that mean to them or provoke out of them? In my 3D drawings, I am taking a place in the world and randomly rearranging its geography, asking what if this country was now next to that one? What would their relationship be like? Would they learn something from each other or would they be at war? I turn these places sideways or upside down because just like anything, when you turn something upside down you to see it completely differently and new meanings can be derived.
Lisa Soto will be participating in the 2012 Biennial of the Perm Museum of Contemporary Art in Russia. For more information, visit lisacsoto.com. Artists
Landscapes That Reflect Colliding Forces
(clockwise from bottom left) fluid redux, acrylic on panel, 36”x48”; safe keeping, acrylic on canvas, 36”x48"; deconcretize, acrylic on canvas, 48”x36”. All images 2010.
Ricky Allman's paintings are a hybrid of mountainous landscapes and architectural structures that juxtapose nature with the environment constructed by man. The artist manipulates light and space to create new experimental worlds that are both foreign and familiar to the viewer. Allman's paintings capture a sense of movement and space through the heavy use of varying perspective, layering, and complex connections. Tight, fine lines are balanced with loose, painterly strokes. Bold colors are contrasted with subtle, grounded tones. Geometric shapes commingle with organic masses. Allman's fascination is with contrasting forces that work with and against each other, that intersect and collide, shaping natural and man-made structures alike to create a captivating, challenging landscape for the viewer to experience. Allman's works often explore his struggle to reconcile the religious belief system he was raised with and his current
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world-view. His paintings are tinged with both an existential concern and a cautious optimism for the future. Although he grew up in a tradition concerned about apocalyptic events, he has become more interested in humanity's disregard for the future and the hope that such disregard can be overcome. Allman's inspiration for his work comes from a myriad of sources: everyday experiences and observations, environmental surroundings, current events, sci-fi movie stills, and reflections about the past and present. This series of works represents a new level of experimentation, maturity, technique and sophistication for the artist. Ricky Allman is an American painter born and raised in Provo, Utah. He is currently an assistant professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He received a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art, and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2007. For more information, visit rickyallman.com.
IN HER OWN WORDS
Discovering Freedom in Artistic Expression
Myungwon Kim, Untitled 02, 2010, oil paint and 4 different black pigments mixed with acrylic paint on Mylar, 9.8’ x 16’.
I am interested in the physical act of making marks and the physicality of the materials that I use in my art work. My body becomes a tool, and I begin to explore the medium. The series of black paintings are an investigation of color and medium as well as a documentation of my intimate relationship with them. I believe my intuition to study my medium could be credited to my father. With a doctorate in western philosophy and as a professor at university in Korea, my father is also a published poet and calligrapher. Growing up in Korea, I have spent a lot of time watching my father perfect his calligraphy. He practiced his brush strokes over and over until he mastered them. Each stroke and the marks symbolized precision and discipline and a clear meaning. It was fascinating to watch the controlled movements of his body and the direct results of the ink on the tip of his brush leaving a purposeful mark on the paper. He fully understood his materials; the brush, the sumi ink and the rice paper and the relationship between them.
I decided I wanted to be an artist and attended Maryland Institute College of Art. In my drawing class, the professor challenged us to create a drawing with unusual tools. I was always drawn to Janine Antonil’s photograph of her using her hair. I was inspired and decided to use my hair. With a big piece of paper on the floor and a bucket full of sumi ink, I dipped my hair and began to draw. It was one of the most liberating experiences of my life. I gave up a certain amount of control because I could not see what kinds of marks I was making and instead I relied entirely on my body and my movements. After I finished, I looked at my work, it was almost calligraphic, I knew where I started and where I finished and was left with an imprint of my experience. I was also interested in lithography, a printmaking technique, during this time. I was drawn to lithography for its labor-intensive and process-oriented medium and I wanted learn more about it. I applied and was accepted to Tamarind Institute, a print shop Artists
Myungwom Kim, Untitled 01, 2010, oil paint and 4 different black pigments mixed with acrylic paint on Mylar, 9.8’ x 12’.
and school to train future Lithography printmakers and masters. After graduating from the most intensive printmaking program, I then realized that I knew how to deal with the process of lithography, that I had a feeling for it, and that I could use the technique in a way that it hadn’t been used before. So I had a certain freedom to move right into it and incorporate the process of lithography into my drawings. I started using mylar (thin transparent film) instead of paper and Xerox toner instead of sumi ink, which is commonly used in the process of printmaking. I started to invest a lot of time not only drawing with my hair and body but also slowly started to use different domestic tools around me to create different sizes and style of marks. I became more physical with my work. There was still something to work-out in my black and white drawings. The drawing created a type of discourse that I did not want in terms involving the viewer’s experience. I did not want the viewer to look at the work and automatically assume the piece purely as abstract expressionist and walk away. I slowly realized that the white brought out drama, emotion, visual
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texture, and the illusion of dimension to the work. I had to eliminate the white and started spending more time on my primary material - black. I had always been using the color black in my work but something about the Xerox toner black on top of mylar gave a different kind of sensibility and physicality to the work. I researched more about black pigments and realized that black is very complex color. I started to mix different pigments of black with oil and acrylic base ink. I used the process of lithography and started to roll up the mylar with a roller. The lithography oil base black gives a physical depth to the work, which absorbs the light and blocks the visual sensation. On the other hand, the black pigments that I mixed with acrylic transparent ink slowly reveals itself when the viewers physically move around the work, which provides the visual sensation. What I strive to achieve is to engage the viewer's body - the viewer's physical movements dictate his/ her personal experience of the work - like my experience as the artist when creating the work. For more information, visit myungwonkim.com.
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