Vol 20, N.3, Summer 2013
Vol 20, N.3, Summer 2013
www.nyartsmagazine.com Vol 20, N.3, Summer 2013
INTERNATIONAL EDITION Great Britain £ 9.20 Japan ¥ 1,210 Canada $14.70 USA $15.00
In Conversation: Heidi Pollard Interview, Pg 10
6 | Ryan Wallace Interviews Timothy Bergstrom 8 | Karen Schifano Interviewed By Mel Prest 10 | Heidi Pollard Interviewed By Astrid Bowlby 12 | Forrest Muelrath Interviews Chris Kraus 14 | Leah Oates interviews Rob Carter 16 | Amanda Church Interviewed By Ed Winkleman 18 | Cristina de Miguel Interviewed By Florian Meisenberg 20 | John Phillip Abbott Interviewed By Cary Smith
On the Cover: Huma Bhabha, Twins (detail), 2011. Mixed media sculpture. Collection Marilyn and Larry Fields, Chicago. Courtesy the artist and Salon 94.Â
22 | Keith J. Varadi 24 | Adam Mignanelli
26 | Art and Ageism
38 | Arco Madrid Creates Buzz, By Alan W. Moore 40 | Interweaving Past and Present, By Yu Yang 42 | Barnaby Rule at Dorfman Projects, By Lee Klein 43 | Matt Gonzalez at Meridian Gallery, San Francisco 44 | On the Misunderstood "Privilege of Art" 46 | "Hello I Love Youâ€Ś" Huma Bhabha at MOMA PS1 48 | Jose Luis Guerin, at Pompidou, Paris, By Iddhis Bing 50 | Duchamp's Fountain, By Robert C. Morgan 51 | Mia Halton at Kathleen Cullen Fine Art, By Mary Hrbacek 52 | Adam Fowler, Escaping Forward, By Matthew Hassell
54 | Davor Vukovic, Adriatic Wonder, By Abraham Lubelski 56 | Sarah Godthart, Intimacy in Ephemera, By Rose Hobart
Featured: Art and Ageism, Pg.20
Reviewed: Matt Gonzalez, Pg. 43
n y a r t s m a g a z i n e . c o m Copyright NY Arts Magazine 1995-2013. All rights reserved.
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Contributing Writers Astrid Bowlby, Cary Smith, Mel Prest Leah Oates, Florian Meisenberg Forrest Muelrath, Amanda Church, Tony Zaza Simon F. Oliai, Alan W. Moore, Lee Klein Yu Yang, Matthew Hassell, Robert C. Morgan Cecilia Muhlstein, Iddhis Bing, Mary Hrbacek Ryan Wallace, Kathryn Arnold
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[ in conversation ]
RYAN WALLACE INTERVIEWS TIMOTHY BERGSTROM Ryan Wallace: I know that music and sound influence how you approach your paintings. Is this important to you in terms of their reception? Are you trying to conjure up more than "painting"? Timothy Bergstrom: Oh yes my friend. However, it is quite strange, I am attempting to deal with my most core interests in painting (surface, color, form, content) and most of my painter friends do not see me as one. [Laughs] I don’t mind this, not because there is anything wrong with making a traditional painting, but I like it when things slip off of sticky definitions. I think this relates to the way I go about making— pictorially describing things that are intangible, like sound. This sets up a different hierarchy of importance, leading to different and personally surprising conclusions, then if I was only painting “off the cuff.” And what about you? Do you see yourself as a painter? Do you care? I've always thought you fetishized the your surface.
Ryan Wallace, Cusp, 2012. Installation at Morgan Lehman Gallery
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RW: At the core yes, though sculpture has become increasingly important. These works still come from my understanding of painting. They are essentially still lifes. For me, abstract paintings have inherent psychological connotations. The sculptures that I make are generally recognizable things. The manner in which the realist objects are created, allow them to emote a similar tone to the abstractions I make with paint or collage materials. What they do is more important to me than what they are. I find that surface helps to unify the work. They have a kind of touch or attention to materials that is of my sensibility, rather than it all being the same style or thing. While I find beauty in your explorations in paint handling, surface and texture, I know that they are just as often received as jarring. I have heard the same painting be described as both a scab and a flower by different viewers. Are you trying to steer their reception? TB: It is always exciting when an artwork evokes contradicting responses. If one person sees my work and says "ouch" and another says "ahhh," then I'm satisfied. What I am really after is dissonance; for both scab and flower at the same time. Fascinating that you say, "these works come from my understanding of painting.” I assume you’re speaking of your sculpture specifically, but I would even venture to say that your wall-based work does this as well! My favorite art operates in this manner, by pushing what is known into an unknown direction. Some of the words that you just sent to me through cyberspace could have come directly out of Matisse's mouth. I think that is where it’s at, looking forward and backward at the same time... Janusing. Both of our painting uses unusual materials, do you see them this way? Does the material you use serve as way for you to develop your understanding of painting? Does it move your conversation with painting forward? RW: Yes. This personal conversation plays into making several “types” of paintings. Each material and approach is physically capable of yielding specific types of pictures. I look to exploit what one material can do that another can’t and this is constantly bringing new understandings to other approaches. I develop a thought or idea, find the medium or approach that seems to suit it best and then get out of the way as much as I can. Staying in dialogue with these varied approaches also keeps the studio practice fresh so I never feel like I’m just making more stuff. It always feels like a part of some quest. While we’re covering our conversation with painting, do you ever feel that the act puts you into dialogue with something more spiritual? I ask this as a staunch atheist, but can’t overlook
[ in conversation ]
Timothy Bergstrom, Tantra Timbre, 2012. Thermoplastic, wire, acrylic and pigment on canvas, 60" x 48".
some new age business that we all tap into in our private room in which we make things. This has a lot to do with why I got so interested in particular sciences as a starting point for my work, but what are your thoughts? Doesn’t there seem to be a ghost in the studio when things are going well? TB: How does it FEEL? Spiritual is actually a perfect way of describing it— and it certainly operates that way—the religion of art. [Laughs] I believe! But it is like most things; it can be used as a lens to research oneself and their surroundings. And maybe that is the “ghost”, when things are going well, like having an interesting conversation, but being the only one in the room. RW: A successful work introduces your ghost to your audience. * Summer 2013 7
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[Opposite] Karen Schifano, Pirate, 2013. Acrylic on canvas, 30 x 36 in. Karen Schifano, Red House, 2010. Oil on canvas, vinyl tape, 84 x 40 x 14 in.
[ in conversation ]
[ in conversation ]
Karen Schifano Interviewed By Mel Prest
Mel Prest: Describe your favorite studio day: one you've had or one you'd like to have. Karen Schifano: My ideal studio day would actually be a whole day in the studio. Most of the time, I can only squeeze in a few hours here and there since I work almost full-time as a painting restorer. I imagine the feeling of being in my own sanctuary with no deadlines, no computer, no place else to go—endless space and time with a feeling that anything and everything is possible. I would basically be puttering, moving around freely, letting ideas emerge without strain or too much over-thinking. My favorite times are actually beginning something new: the bravura and excitement of jumping in. But I need to feel free of all expectation and pressure in order to allow those ideas to come in the door. MP: So 'puttering,’ or play, is a part of your practice? I know that you have done several residencies, often to Provincetown in summer. Does that kind of time, and play, happen more often when you are on residency? KS: I've had a residency at the MacDowell Colony and have gone to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown every September for more than fifteen years for a Returning Fellows Residency. It's such a gift! The fact that I arrive with no old work or baggage allows me to try totally new things: the seeds that I then explore during the rest of the year. That said I also play around here in NYC as well. Sometimes, if I've been bearing down for a while on a particular series—for example, recently I'm playing with curved frame-like images—I'll need to break out and mess around with tape, or legos, or fimo oven bake clay for a kind of palate cleansing. MP: I can see you keep that freshness of inquiry in the work, the intense focus shifting from summer fellowships to navigating living/working in NY. I think so-called Concrete/Reductive painting is a tug-of-war: concentrated cultivation and then improvisation with clarity. Do you feel this is an accurate way to begin describing your work? KS: I'd more likely say improvisation with not so much clarity, but then, the focus snaps to suddenly. I'm chewing over what ‘concentrated cultivation’ might mean for me … possibly that I stick to a format that holds the general shape of a feeling that's under my skin. For example, I had a window thing going for many years, which had a fascination for reasons that only came to me later on. Now I'm ‘cultivating’ the shapes of theater stages: open mouths, framed curvy spaces and I do many variations on all of
these shapes so I guess that's the improvisational aspect. All of these shape situations are kinds of openings that are also delimited by boundaries. There's a flipping back and forth between figure and ground that's endlessly fascinating to me. Clarity comes after a lot of repetition, adjustment, and dogged pursuit of that certain ‘rightness’ when it all comes together with a feeling that it was born this way. MP: I think of you as a colorist and a space painter, working in the space between 2D and 3D. And then, the works spill onto the floor like in the show in Paris and now at the Institute Library in New Haven. Can you speak about that? KS: The 2D-3D play has always been a concern of mine ever since attending Hunter College for my MFA. Ralph Humphrey, a beloved teacher there, spoke of the notion that paintings are also objects. I liked the literalness of that idea, the dumb fact of it. In a reversal a while back, I began using tape to make shapes on my studio walls and floor that seemed like cuttings into the literal plane and so object-less. I was painting at the same time and tried adding the tape to the paintings as extensions of the line elements on the canvas. From there, I jumped to paintings that sat at the edge of the wall and floor with tapelines that continued onto the floor and out into the viewer's space. Eventually, I produced a series of painted "doors" that literally stood on the floor: literal objects combined with illusionary space; pictures of things that are things; images that are recognizable cultural conventions but also read as abstract shape. The piece at the Institute Library is tape over the spindles and banister of a stairway that runs across the floor to produce a parallelogram. This can also be read as the shadows cast by the spindles. It's painting and sculpture at the same time—2D and 3D—and plays with perspective depending on where the viewer is standing. Oh, and there's the Parking Lot Interventions I did in 2011 with tape additions to parking lot spaces. It is also a kind of onetime performance in addition to the painting/sculpture mix. This past summer, in a solo exhibition in one of the spaces at SNO (Sydney Non-Objective Art Projects in Sydney, AUS), I used tape to create a framed space for four of the photographs from this series, as well as doorway/entryways and extended window spaces— wall to floor again. MP: These works seem to exist in "families". Do you move between different bodies of work? Have you always worked in series? KS: I like your word "family" rather than series because there are groupings of spatial situations and shapes that I'm kind of married to for a while—I live with them, swim in their aura, even when I'm not in the studio. Some of them keep returning even after I'm on to something else and I try to give over to them if the impulse is strong enough. MP: Sometimes your works remind me of sets for a stage— where something took place or is about to occur. Do you ever have this feeling? KS: I do! My partner and her family came from theater and we've also spent time going to the opera. I love the empty stage, the giant curtains, the sense of possibility and excitement. This is a great metaphor for each moment that arrives—and the moment between the viewer and the painting as well. I want that feeling of a place where sparks fly. * Summer 2013 9
[ in conversation ]
Heidi Pollard Interviewed By Astrid Bowlby
Astrid Bowlby: Talk to me about naming. Heidi Pollard: Titles can offer a kind of window in or a resonating overtone to the image, but often a painting’s yelling at me from the wall while I’m working on it—‘This is my name! Rraaahhhh!’ and then, that’s it. AB: Your works each have a specific and individual feeling. Some people work in series … HP: I’m not really a series person. I ricochet between pieces—switch it up over any given stretch of time. Apparently, I’m not so capable of sustained interest in a theme. AB: I think of it as an incredible strength in your work. And you clearly love paint and all the different ways paint can go down. HP: Yes, that took a while to develop. I think I used to like the image more than I liked the paint. AB: Does that mean that the image is maybe more embodied in the paint now? Instead of just made with paint? HP: Exactly. The two can’t be separated from each other particularly. I’ve wanted to become that kind of a painter. AB: I have to ask you about humor because we’re both kind of goofy. Some of your paintings are very goofy; some are very serious; sometimes it’s what you’ve titled them. Like Boot: ‘boot’ just makes Boot even goofier. HP: There’s an aspect of humor that’s all about the pleasure of silliness. A title can point out that it’s ok to laugh; that, in fact, it is funny. Or it’s serious in a way that includes laughter, you know? It’s very human. AB: In War Paint #2, the way you’ve applied the paint is kind of cartoon-y but it’s also a very serious painting: the mood, the color. I feel it’s operating on both of those planes; using cartoon-y or animated moves as a way to temper serious feelings. I think that ‘cartoon-y’ also often means direct. Sometimes it’s like writing a shape. I’m looking at buffet right now and it feels like a table or a body with objects on top of it and the space is very shallow. HP: I go back and forth between very shallow space and having some tension between deep and shallow space in one painting. And I agree with you about 10 NY ARTS | nyartsmagazine.com
[Top] Heidi Pollard, Fort, 16 x 16 in. Oil on canvas / panel [Bottom] Heidi Pollard, Tiptoe, 8 x 10 in. Oil on canvas / panel
[ in conversation ]
the directness of the cartoon-y. I think of Hiroshige’s sketches, drawn rapidly from life in the streets. They look like caricatures but also accurate and sincere; so that’s an interesting balance to strike—how far to go to one side or the other. AB: That gets back to personality or what it needs. Because you’re the boss, you get to say ‘I’m sorry, you’re not going to be that elegant.’ HP: I’ll do something elegant—almost like I want to be part of the cool crowd in school! They’ve got the good chops, the nice clothes. They’re all so cool. They all look good and I want to be like them so I’ll make a painting that’s like them, you know? And then, I swear, I can’t stand it after about five minutes and I have to make that part go away, at least partially … AB: So it’s kind of like making a big fart sound? Or a raspberry sound? HP: Yes. OR … it’s to take the blandness out of the beauty. Real beauty is never so perfect. Beauty is, in fact, completely flawed; it has pathos. AB: There’s an idea in Japanese ceramics where they’ll make something perfect and then kind of mess it up a little bit, as a way in. HP: It’s that concept of Wabi Sabi that has a lot to do the beauty of imperfection, a sign of something soulful. But that’s just one trope. When you see a car that someone’s finishing so perfectly by hand, there’s a kind of frisson to that. Even if you are not aware that it’s made by hand perhaps there’s some kind of energy left over in it from that making. AB: Yes, that’s an interesting idea. HP: It’s one of my little theories that a lot of great art objects have a kind of aura left in them. Often it seems like there’s a real charge to the object long after it was made. Sometimes I wonder if that isn’t actually true. AB: I do think you’re getting at something: when we are privileged to see peoples’ studies or little tests, stuff that they’re working out for whatever opus they’re making, those things often have a kind of rawness or energy or potential that ends up somehow getting drained or controlled. This painting you made, it’s 4 x 4 feet, called Head … that thing looks like you threw it together in about five minutes, in a good way—and I know perfectly well that you didn’t—but it is an amazing tour de force of that kind of energy for me; if I were walking through a room that thing would stop me. HP: Thank you! It was painted in a few sessions that stretched out over several years. By the end I was painting more wet into wet—trying to get freer with my goopy-ness, you know? AB: Talk about how long paintings tend to stick around in various stages for you. HP: It can be years or a few hours. It just depends. I used to look at things for much longer. I’m less fearful now, but I do have to wait for a glimmer of something to tell me how to proceed.
Heidi Pollard, Goodnight! 2011 Solo Exhibition at the Roswell Museum and Art Center, Roswell, New Mexico
AB: Do you ever just get a hankering to do something like make a giant toy for example? HP: I’ve collected toys—especially cheap drugstore toys like a plastic ham sandwich with layers you can take apart. I love them and have been waiting for that to slide into my work. I think it has since I’ve been making 3D objects the last couple years, those little ponds. What else do you think of as toy-ish? AB: The cork pieces, Land Buoys, they are just kid-like … you want roll them around! You see the possibility of how they can be made; ‘I could so make one of these!’ HP: Yes. I’m trying to let my life in the studio become an increasingly direct exercise in joy, let’s put it like that. Life is short. You find out when you get really sick maybe …
it’s to take the blandness out of the beauty. Real beauty is never so perfect. Beauty is, in fact, completely flawed; it has pathos.
AB: Right, and then you say ‘Oh good, I’m going to do what I want!’ HP: Yes and no one cares—bottom line—whether you do or not so you might as well. AB: If Michelangelo were alive today, he might not be painting on the Sistine Ceiling with a brush and pigments. Maybe he’d do something else. HP: Which leads us to the conclusion that I’m kind of a Neanderthal when it comes to ‘making.’ It’s taken years to paint with more than one color at a time. I’m interested in digital technology; it’s just that I haven’t figured how I need it so much yet. AB: Right, right. So it’s a tool? HP: Yes, one color at a time baby. * Summer 2013 11
[ in conversation ]
GG Production Still 1- Gravity (Kristin Seth) and street band Homer Erotic
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[ in conversation ]
Forrest Muelrath Interviews Chris Kraus Forrest Muelrath: In your essay Kelly Lake Store you describe the Mexicali artists’ desire to stay in their hometown, despite many financial drawbacks, as: “radical localism, privileging authentic relationships and shared experiences over the dislocation and competition of the international art world." Would you mind expanding on that description? Chris Kraus: I never set out to counterpose the Mexicali experience against the experience of people living and working in international art centers. They're two entirely different situations. But, what drew me to Mexicali was the thrill of finding the "community" that many artists and activists long for, intact and uncontrived. The downsides to the Mexicali situation are obvious: it's isolated, there are no commercial galleries, it's dangerous, and much poorer than a U.S. city. But perhaps because of the above conditions, there is a culture intact that's more sustaining. My only other experience of this was living in the Adirondacks in upstate NY for several years in the 1980s, among people who'd never been to Albany, just 90 miles away! Before cable and internet, the culture maintained an oral tradition. A friend, Christine Macdonald, who moved there from NY to become head librarian in Glens Falls, said she wanted to be there because she felt like she was witnessing the end of something, that in a decade wouldn't exist any more. And she was right. FM: Can you relate radical localism to the Occupy Wall St. protests as they transpired via social media and physically in the Finical District? CK: Occupy was important because it wasn't just one demonstration, but a commitment of time among people who camped out, or showed up in the park day after day. It could only succeed through its resonance, as a poetic gesture, and I think the fact that all of those people were prepared to put Occupy events before their work, careers, and other concerns for those weeks was incredibly powerful. FM: Do you think you could have developed a sincere community around the Kelly Lake Store between MFA interns and long-time residents of Kelly Lake? If so, do you have any ideas about how to create community in this instance? CK: Yeah. Like beauty, community is based upon exclusion. Not of people, but of possibilities. Mexicali is many things, but it is also NOT mobility, contacts, opportunity outside itself. I've lived in a rural backwater before in upstate NY and it was one of the most memorable times of my life. FM: This concept of forming community intentionally around a creative collective resonates with collectives I know in the outer Burroughs. Much like the Tiny Creatures in L.A., there are many groups in Brooklyn and Queens functioning collectively outside of the art world with DIY values. Do you think sincere community can grow out of DIY idealism? How do you imagine contributions from non-profit institution like the Guggenheim would affect a collectivist projects like these art collectives or Kelly Lake Store? CK: Oh, well, the Guggenheim was a joke. That's the kind of grant I'd never get, let alone as a visual artist, which I'm not. That said, if it took 60K to launch a project like this, who cares where the money comes from? Does it make a difference? I'm sure ANY 60K, once traced, would have some compromising
roots. I think communities come and go—Tiny Creatures was a group of friends who were together for a couple of years. Brooklyn, Echo Park, are first-world settings, the people we're talking about are mostly in their 20s. It's funny to me that people talk about the end of Tiny Creatures as a "failure—I think the real "failure" would be if they'd stayed together for the rest of their lives! These are different kinds of community than Pueblo Nuevo in Mexicali, where generations and extended families are connected through relationships and marriages and remaining in that neighborhood over time. FM: What about the community that developed within your construction team described in Summer of Hate considering all of the trouble concerned with personal finances? Is labor (restoring apartments, running a store) art? And does art signify community? Does labor signify community? CK: I don't know if it's art, but I personally enjoyed running these construction jobs. It was a bit like making films—you bring all these people together for a purpose, there is a direct time/ money equation, though with construction the money part is not so high. Work is so under-rated in our culture! It's always amazed me how little attention is paid to work, when for most people, work is the great continuity, it's how you spend most hours of your life. So why can't something more creative be done with that? FM: In an interview with Gallerist Mexicali is NY about his retirement from art criticism, Dave Hickey was critical many things, of the Guggenheim. However, he is but it is also critical of the bureaucratic instituNOT mobility, tion's blockage of freedom, which deludes a subjective experience contacts, of beauty. Whereas your proposal opportunity wishfully asked for them to participate in a project that was all about outside itself. community, and had little to nothing to do with subjective taste. Do these divergent thoughts simply represent two opposite sides of a spectrum too far removed from the Guggenheim center or is there a correlation? CK: I thought Dave Hickey's thing was pretty funny. How can you "retire" from something like art criticism, a totally self-appointed job? Really though we're talking about the same thing. When he says "beauty," he means taste, he's talking about a particular, personal aesthetic. Perhaps Hickey and I have different tastes, but my aesthetic—which involves an ethics—is every bit as particular and subjective as his. FM: What is the place of the subjective experience of beauty within a community? And what is art's responsibility to community? Perhaps you can relate these questions to the “Radical Localism” show. CK: I feel that nobody is responsible to anything or anyone, particularly in art. I agree with Hickey in his distaste for a certain PC piousness. What impressed me most about the scene in Mexicali was that their experience of "community" had none of that. * Summer 2013 13
[ in conversation ]
Leah Oates Interviews Rob Carter
Rob Carter, Stone on Stone [video still], 2009. HD video, 14 NY ARTS total running time: 7 minutes 44 seconds
[ in conversation ]
Leah Oates: Your work involves architecture, the history and science of plants, the environment and colonialism. How did you come to focus on these themes and how do you see these themes evolving in your work? Rob Carter: The starting point of almost all my projects is architecture. It's a theme that probably became more defined and consistent when I moved to New York. Buildings of all kinds define the history of civilization and act as a mirror of society, whether it be societal needs from within or the imposition of history or authority. A building, whether it be house, castle, stadium, or church often outlives the people who built it, sometimes by thousands of years; their context is constantly changing through time. It's this evolving and malleable history
Based on an initial idea this process allows the project to evolve and grow until it reaches a point where I can commit to a creative process that will likely take many months to complete. Much of the work clearly reveals its process, but the seamlessness of the single camera lens does create illusion. I am keen to find this unsteady zone in-between seamless illusion and certainty, represented more overtly by my recent exhibit at Art in General: Faith in a Seed, but also in photographs like the Union Territory series. The work that involves the stop-motion animation of inkjet prints requires a systematic approach. Once my idea is clarified and the images are collected I commence on a period of Photoshop work to combine/collage the images so that they can relate
Rob Carter, Faith in a Seed [video still], 2012. Three channel video installation, total running time: 30 minutes
that holds my attention, and looking back it’s easy to find the origins of my interest in my family vacations. Amongst some trips to the beach, summer holidays in the Carter family usually involved exploring castles, churches, stately homes, cathedrals and pagan sites in the UK and France. It seems that moving to the USA from Europe gave me a new freedom to explore these themes as the perception of architectural time is so different in the US. In fact, to begin with, I became more interested in the disposability and fragility of buildings here, especially in terms of stadium architecture. The plants initially developed from thinking about different forms and periods of experienced time especially in relationship to video and photography. To some extent I was interested in the plants as actors, making their own stop motion performance; introducing a calculated but more random strategy into the work. As my work has evolved, the meaning and history of the plants themselves has become more significant. This can be seen as a development of my interest in their symbolic power and history, but also as a response to our evolving understanding of our relationship to food and the environment. LO: Some artists are very methodical while others are more instinctive or process-oriented. Would you elaborate on your art-making process? RC: My working process needs to be quite methodical, but I try to make it as free and instinctual as possible at certain times. One of the most significant periods that I can be most instinctive is with the initial research and planning: extensive period looking at books and exploring information available online.
to one another, and reveal or transform each other. The animation itself is the most structured and also most intuitive part of the process. The images I have created form a framework of evolvement and movements that I need to adhere to, but within the defined parameters there’s plenty of room for intuition and accident within the stop-motion animation shoot. Once the images have been shot, video editing brings everything together, and depending on the project can be as complex and significant as anything else; there’s plenty of room for conceptual and digital manipulation during this process. The final stage is the soundtrack, requiring another phase of recording and sourcing. This can involve recording sounds in multiple environments whether it be Madison Square Garden or my kitchen. These sounds then need to be synched and edited to conform to the visuals and this could apply to both the movement of a building or that of a seedling. LO: Sometimes success in New York City seems to be marked by sales at big name galleries, connections and status. How do you define success? RC: Success depends on what angle you see it from. Unfortunately money and success are very closely linked in the art world - the topic of a great deal of writing. Lets just go with this dictionary definition: “the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors” That makes it sound like the very end and I doubt I’ll care by then. * Summer 2013 15
[ in conversation ]
EW: Do you feel you are creating an alternate universe of sorts, a refuge from reality, in your paintings? AC: Yes, definitely. That’s one of the things I love about painting—the ability to create such an idealized place.
Amanda church Interviewed By Ed Winkleman Ed Winkleman: Let me start by stating that in a town where painting is practiced in depth to the point where there's virtually nothing new left to do—where everything that can been done seems to have been done—you are among that small subset of painters I am aware of that has developed a readily identifiable and consistent body of work. You can spot an Amanda Church across the room (which I did before we had even met, at a PS 122 benefit where I bought your painting). Over the years, you have traversed abstraction and representation, often seamlessly merging the two. You always seem to reference the body but your recent incorporation of the entire “figure” is intriguing. How did that come about? Amanda Church: The evolution was actually pretty organic, stemming from the paintings I made based on Los Angeles landscapes and architecture around 2010-11, wherein a figure appeared, moved through, and then ultimately disappeared. There were previous intimations of this as well, in the painting called Man with a Big Heart, for instance, which was in part a portrait of a guy. These silhouettes I am using now just sort of reappeared. The first came from a series of photos I took of shadows at the beach at sunset.
Amanda Church, Opportunity, 2011. Oil on canvas, 72 x 80 in.
EW: So you here you are in New York, surrounded by so many painters—whose work do you find influential or intriguing? AC: Why is that question always so hard to answer? Probably because there are myriad ways to respond. I recently saw the Piero della Francesca show at the Frick, which was incredible, as was Matisse at the Met. In a more contemporary realm, I find John Wesley’s work fascinating and I also like Gary Hume a lot. I just discovered Sven Lukin, a Latvian painter born in 1934 and living and working in New York. The Al Held paintings at Cheim and Read are mind-blowing—I have always loved his work. I could go on to name so many more … EW: As you move between representation and abstraction, what do you think pushes you in one direction or another? To me it seems like you veer toward representation when your world has a new focus: a new geographical area, the palette of an unfamiliar landscape processed through your abstract filter. Once you’ve assimilated and processed this sufficiently then you go on to riff on it in a variety of ways, often highly abstract. Does that make sense to you? AC: Absolutely, that’s a great observation although the process is hard to pin down. For example, when I was spending a lot of time in LA I would sketch from things around me: buildings, swimming pools, trees and flowers, and sometimes people. These drawings eventually became paintings with a different life and language of their own, filtered, as you suggest, through my own vision. EW: How do you approach the sexual aspect of your work? It’s both blatant and subsumed, but your silhouette paintings are frankly sexy. In a pop-culture context, I am reminded of the cartoon of Papa Smurf fucking Strawberry Shortcake, which somehow seems transgressive because it’s unexpected in the context. Something similar is going on in your work… AC: Without a doubt these are erotic paintings but that has been the case all along: I have been including abstracted body parts in my work for a long time. These may appear “sexier” because a female figure (of sorts) is depicted. Someone recently said to me, “You do realize what you’re painting, don’t you?” EW: Who are these figures in your new paintings—what do they represent? AC: Most of the time they are self-portraits, but occasionally I work from appropriated photographs and so those figures are more removed—they don't have counterparts in real life. EW: Some painters will use a narrative to frame out a particular body of work. Is that the case for you, or is it different, as in your show “Hollywoodland” last year at Land of Tomorrow in Louisville where you constructed it after the fact. Are you doing it now? AC: Not consciously but maybe such a narrative will develop alongside the paintings as they, and I, move forward in tandem. EW: Let's talk about this new painting with the green background. It’s clearly in progress, and I say that because there's a lot more rendering in this than in your finished work—not even necessarily intentional rendering—but any-
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[ in conversation ]
one who knows your work will know that this will eventually have a consistent super-flat color. The wide range of color and texture in there now suggests that you're making these decisions on the canvas. Is that the case? AC: Kind of. There are a lot of practical considerations here, because I don't make many drawings, apart from the sketches when traveling, but prefer to use small canvases in which to work out ideas. So, say I've finished a couple of paintings and have some extra paint to play around with—I will then use it in a much looser and more experimental way, thereby creating an arena to play around in and come up with new ideas. EW: You mentioned the recent unraveling of the line that surrounds many of your forms—but sometimes it disappears completely and then reappears. What function does the line serve when it's there? AC: Sometimes the line is an extension of the form and as an outline it serves to bring out the shape, to make it pop, as it were. At other times it’s like a halo, both literally and metaphorically.
How do you approach the sexual aspect of your work? It’s both blatant and subsumed, but your silhouette paintings are frankly sexy. EW: One last thought: In Road, maybe my favorite of all your new paintings, has an Endless Summer feel to me. I’m thinking of that movie’s poster with the silhouetted figures, which I know you had in your room as a teenager, and I also know you spent some significant time in Hawaii and that sort of landscape and climate is important to you. How consciously does this enter into your recent paintings? AC: In Road, also a recent favorite, evolved in a similar way to Opportunity a couple of years ago—both were surprising, unplanned departures that took over on their own. Everything you mention and more is a critical part of the backlog of experience I am bringing to the work, all part and parcel of the ineffable process of making a painting. *
September 9-12, 2013 - houstonfineartfair.com
Amanda Church, In Road, 2012. Oil on canvas, 72 x 80 in.
Antena Estudio | Mexico City Anya Tish Gallery | Houston, TX Arevalo Gallery | Miami, FL Art From the World Gallery | Houston, TX Art Nouveau Gallery | Miami, FL Art-Variant Gallery | Chicago, IL Artered Gallery | New York, NY Avis Frank Gallery | Houston, TX Barbara Davis Gallery | Houston, TX Beatriz Esguerra Art | Bogota, Colombia Bentley Gallery | Scottsdale, AZ C. Grimaldis Gallery | Baltimore, MD Cernuda Arte | Coral Gables, FL Cheryl Hazan Gallery | New York, NY ClampArt | New York, NY Collage Habana | Habana, Cuba Cynthia Corbett Gallery | London, UK Darke Gallery | Houston, TX David Shelton Gallery | Houston, TX Deborah Colton Gallery | Houston, TX Devin Borden Gallery | Houston, TX Dillon Gallery | New York, NY Drexel Galeria | Nuevo Leon, Mexico Eckert Fine Art | Millerton, NY Evan Lurie Gallery | Carmel, IN Flowers Galleries | London, UK Galeria Alfredo Ginocchio | Mexico City, Mexico Galeria Moro | Maracaibo, Venezuela Galerie Kashya Hildebrand | Zurich, Switzerland Gallery Sonja Roesch | Houston, TX Gallery Tableau | Seoul, Korea Gonzalez y Gonzalez | Santiago, Chile Hempel Design | Houston, TX Hexton Modern and Contemporary | Northbrook, IL Hiram Butler Gallery | Houston, TX Hollis Taggart Galleries | New York, NY Holly Johnson Gallery | Dallas, TX Hooks Epstein Galleries | Houston, TX J. Cacciola Gallery | New York, NY Jerald Melberg Gallery | Charlotte, NC John Cleary Gallery | Houston, TX Koelsch Gallery | Houston, TX Kopeikin Gallery | Culver City, CA La Casona Art Gallery | Habana, Cuba LewAllen Galleries | Santa Fe, NM Luis De Jesus Los Angeles | Los Angeles, CA Luis Perez Galeria | Miami, FL Margaret Thatcher Projects | New York, NY McClain Gallery | Houston, TX McKenzie Fine Art | New York, NY McMurtrey Gallery | Houston, TX Morton Fine Art | Washington, DC New Image Art Gallery | West Hollywood, CA Pan American Art Projects | Miami, FL Patricia Conde Galeria | Polanco, Mexico Pavel Zoubok Gallery | New York, NY PG Contemporary | Houston, TX Pictura Gallery | Bloomington, IN Polyglot Gallery | San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico Pristine Galerie | Monterrey, Mexico Projects Gallery | Philadelphia, PA Salar Galeria de Arte | La Paz, Bolivia Sammer Gallery LLC | Miami, FL Schroeder Romero & Shredder | New York, NY Sicardi Gallery | Houston, TX Susan Eley Fine Art | New York, NY Talley Dunn Gallery | Dallas, TX ten472 Contemporary Art | Grass Valley, CA The McLoughlin Gallery | San Francisco, CA The Mission | Chicago, IL Thomas Paul Fine Art (Art of the New America) | Los Angeles, CA Toca Galeria | Mexico City, Mexico Tomlinson Kong Contemporary | New York, NY Universal Limited Art Editions | Bay Shore, NY Valley House Gallery & Sculpture Garden | Dallas, TX Villa del Arte Galleries | Barcelona, Spain Von Lintel Gallery | New York, NY Wade Wilson Art | Houston, TX Western Project | Los Angeles, CA Woolff Gallery | London, UK Zane Bennett Contemporary Art | Santa Fe, NM
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[ in conversation ]
Cristina de Miguel Interviewed By Florian Meisenberg Florian Meisenberg: How do you perceive and process the images or ideas you are trying to visualize in your paintings? Cristina de Miguel: Most of the images I use come from my mind. Normally I visualize them in my mind unexpectedly, especially when I’m lying on my bed about to sleep and my eyes are closed. A lot of ideas for new paintings pop up then. I also pay a lot of attention to the formal side of daily images and events. It is like thinking in images all the time: then painting becomes a life style. FM: Do you like sitting in front of a blank canvas? CM: Yes. I enjoy the silence of a blank canvas while my mind is speeding, full of thoughts - thoughts of what to do or not to do on it. I’m always very sure of that starting decision. I need to have pride in the work from the first step, otherwise the painting won’t work. I have never given birth, but I think you need to be proud of your child to raise them properly. FM: Do you use a sketchbook or sketches to prepare/construct a painting? CM: Not really. Every so often I will just to be sure of how a painting will end up. Every time I try to use a sketch I end up doing something different. I get very rebellious with any kind of auto imposition. So, sketching serves me for not following a sketch. A planned process bores me. When I know what exactly is going to happen everything loses it sense, I don’t have interest in doing it anymore. What I want with my paintings is to bring the unexpected. However, when I see or imagine a certain form that may interest me for future paintings, I usually draw it in order to remember it, but that is different. I guess the sketches I use are mental ones, so they are easier to modify depending on what the actual painting is asking for. I keep things very flexible. FM: What is your relation to the idea of genius? CM: I always wanted to be a genius. When I was an early teenager I used to make comparisons between Dali’s and Picasso’s biographies and mine, things like, “Ok, he started to paint when he was 10, so I’m in the right track, I’m 11 and painting as well.” Cézanne’s late artist vocation really cheered me up to keep painting; I had a lot of years to become a genius. All these were secret thoughts, in that time I’d be very 18 NY ARTS | nyartsmagazine.com
embarrassed to tell somebody about that ambition. Now, all that makes me laugh, obviously. FM: How does the clay work of your childhood relate to your recent work? CM: I think they are connected in the way that I was free to do pieces with no relation between their subjects. And I wasn’t worried if they made sense or not. That was not important for me in that time, and neither is it now. FM: And how to you see and apprehend the clay sculptures today? CM: I like to see how some of them can be conceived with a different approach than others. I try to do that now in my paintings—to be so free to contradict myself. FM: Do you think that you are a conceptual painter? CM: If a conceptual painter is one for whom the idea is more important than the form, I’m not. For me, in my painting, the idea is the form. FM: Are you trying to tell anecdotes? CM: I think that what I do is closer to visual poetry than to pure narrative. I want my paintings to be open to different interpretations rather than forcing the viewer to have just one. FM: How do you feel as a painter and object maker in a world of contemporary ephemeral ecstasy? CM: Perhaps because I belong to that world, I don’t have the distance necessary to see it. I like when paintings collect the passage of time and events. For example, when the canvas’ edges get scuffed from dragging them along the studio, and have the marks of accidents, hairs, cigarette butts and loose staples crusted on the paint. All this tells us something else about the paintings that an image can’t. Something about a certain time and space that is already gone. Paintings are ephemeral. That’s something I am conscious about. FM: Are you a natural born painter? CM: Yes, I always wanted to be a painter. It is something I didn’t choose, it is just what I do the best. Sometimes I dream about painters I like too. FM: Are you writing, or follow any other way of trying to express the inexplicable? CM: Sometimes I write, but just to clarify what is on my mind. In this moment of my life I only want to do paintings. But who knows what I will want to do in 10 years! FM: How do you perceive the struggle (if it is one for you) or relation of intuition and concept? CM: Ah, intuition is so powerful. There are so many things we don’t notice –rationally- that are there! I do believe that intuitive decisions are the essence of
[ in conversation ]
painting. Once decisions are made, if I examine them rationally I will find the reason why I chose to do this or that. It is really surprising. FM: Why is the NIKE logo painted so awkward? CM: The actual Nike logo comes from the idea of the Greek deity Nike, god of speed and victory. That is why it has that stylized wing shape, which gives a sense of forward movement. It is very hard to draw a perfect Nike sign, I don’t really know why. In Nike Painting the logo has the opposite features of the real one; it is really chubby and rudimentary, but does it still represent the actual one? It is claiming its dignity as a painting. FM: Do you consider painting as another form of existential philosophy? CM: Oh yes. Paintings are based on personal experiences and offer a subjective way to perceive reality. I think painting can’t escape from containing any kind of existential statement because it is conceived from the uniqueness of the individual. It is implicit in its own nature of human expression.
Intuition is so powerful. There are so many things we don’t notice –rationally–that are there! I do believe that intuitive decisions are the essence of painting. FM:What is the drama of human existence for you? CM: The fact that we are each a self-contained unique universe, makes every second so rich. It is inconceivable how easily time vanishes. FM: Do you like Nietzsche? CM: I’m not very into Nietzsche. But I’m truly inspired by what he says “He who has a ‘why’ to live can bear almost any 'how.'” FM: Do you have a mission and what is your mission? CM: Yes. and I think we all have a mission. Mine consists of going every day to the studio to paint. FM: Do you believe in God? CM: Oh yes. I believe that God is with and within every person in the form of love. I also believe in Jesus. All what he said and did amazes me. I wish I could always act as he suggested in his teachings.
[Top] Cristina de Miguel, Cheap Dripping or Starry Night, 2012. Acrylic on canvas, 96 x 84 in. [Bottom] Cristina de Miguel, New Yorkers Seeing a Painting Show, 2012. Acrylic on canvas, 96 x 84 in.
FM: What is painting for you? CM: It is a lifestyle. A way to live and understand life. FM: Tell me in a sentence who you are. CM: A painter with pimples. * Summer 2013 19
[ in conversation ]
John Phillip Abbott, In the Pines, 2013 Spray paint on unprimed canvas, 16 x 12 in.
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[ in conversation ]
John Phillip Abbott Interviewed By Cary Smith Cary Smith: The words in your paintings seem funny, ambiguous, and have a precision about them, all at the same time. Where do they come from, and what do they mean to you? John Phillip Abbott: The words come from memories and personal experiences. For example, a painting might reference my first car, a Pontiac Fiero, or a girlfriend from high school, Kamisha. Painting words or names that I have a connection with allows me to draw from entire blocks of time associated with that word or name, and to arrive at informed formal decisions. If I paint words that I think sound cool, or look cool, without any association whatsoever, the images feel contrived. I think the specificity of certain words and names, and not others, make the paintings often seem funny. For example, my paintings of Fred Lynn, a baseball player from the 70’s, might seem really random, but somehow specific too. It turns out that my dad had taught Fred Lynn when he was in middle school. When I was growing up and found this out, it was quite exciting for me. As a result, I have painted paintings of Fred Lynn, but wouldn’t choose to paint someone I have no connection to like, say, Jim Rice, another baseball player from the 70’s. I think there is some inherent humor in the perceived randomness of the use of his name. The choice of words comes down to personal and formal associations. The words are also ambiguous enough to suggest alternate meetings and are not bogged down, or defined, by only my experiences. Most often I have a pretty good idea what I want to paint. Like a sort of plan, but I’m still open during the process, and continue to have a dialogue with the paintings as I make them. Sometimes the paintings become something quite different than the original plan. The idea is to avoid being formulaic. I force myself into new directions when things begin to feel repetitive, like using old colored t-shirts as a painting ground or substrate. At the same time, I’ve been finding many new possibilities in using the same language and formal elements repeatedly. CS: I'm also fascinated by your painting technique. It seems that you create the images of the words, and other shapes, by leaving areas unpainted, and by layering. Also, you seem to predominantly use spray paint. Tell us about this. JPA: I’m striving for an economical and direct image and spray paint offers a way to achieve both, simultaneously. With spray paint, I don’t feel in control as much. I enjoy accidents, such as the bleeding that occurs under some taped edges. I’m also able to cover large areas fairly uniformly and quickly. It continues to amaze me. Sometimes I’ll use a brush and acrylic in areas as a counterpoint to the mechanical uniformity of a spray painted surface.
I am interested in having a connection to the historical use of the grid. Letters make direct connections to verticals, and horizontals, and in some cases diagonals, as is the case with the letter “k”, for example. The diagonals can be used to create triangles, and diamonds as well. Other shapes and lines can be layered on, and within, words in each painting. Layers of all of these elements allows for figure/ground play, resulting in the melding of image and text; reading and seeing. CS: In some of your paintings you use only one color and in others there is a complex chord of colors. Yours colors have a fresh brightness about them. They seem sophisticated yet youthful. What are your thoughts about color? JPA: When I was in the fifth grade, in the mid eighties, all the cool kids had really wide, fluorescent shoelaces. I was all about those laces. I even dreamt about them. I’ve been preoccupied with those colors ever since. Fluorescent, metallic, and other highly saturated colors find their way into the studio, but from there, decisions happen very intuitively. I most often use one or two colors in the smaller paintings, whereas in the larger paintings there is more room for intuitive mark making, and surprising color combinations. Here in New Mexico where I live, the light is incredibly bright. It has definitely been an influence on the intensity of the colors that I use. Sometimes
I am interested in having a connection to the historical the use of the grid however, a need arises for the use of less bright colors. For example in the painting In The Pines, I used only black paint on the raw canvas ground. In The Pines was inspired by the Huddie Ledbetter song of the same name that I grew up listening to. The color choices were informed by the title of the song, whereas in other paintings the title may be a response to the intuitive use of color. CS: I'm interested in that "sweet spot" where looseness and accuracy in a painting meld perfectly. Do you think about this? JPA: I do, and this has led me to use tape in my process. I use tape as a tool to organize space. It also provides an economical structure that corrals previous layers. With the tape I’ve also found that there can still be a human presence, and evidence of the hand. A tear, or an imperfect cut of the tape, using a ruler and blade, becomes indexed in the process. I’ll often begin painting with acrylic and brush, or spray paint. Referencing the grid, with stripes, dots, diamonds, etc. I know the “sweet spot” will be arrived at when these layers, applied relatively quickly, will be overlapped with the perceived accurateness of the tape and slowness of it’s application. Eventually there is a zeroing in, and this is when a loss of time occurs and I find myself concerned only with the success of the image. In that moment, nothing else matters. * Summer 2013 21
Keith J. Varadi From 16 Bit to 60 Inches
Photography, Anna Carnochan
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î CURATED I have been in New York since the summer of 2011, when I moved to the city upon graduating from the MFA program at VCU in Richmond, Virginia. My interest in ‘curating,’ probably stemmed from having an interest in making new meaning simply by putting together things that already exist. When I was very young, I was really into the original version of Sim City on Super Nintendo and then the computer game, Age of Empires. I would build elaborate cities and civilizations out of frugal means. Once I got a little older, I made mix CD’s for all of my friends, especially my exgirlfriends. By the time I got to art school, I started to hang my paintings and other works, and was beginning to think of them as sentences. I still find this to be a novel way to look at works of art, though I suppose it’s easier to do so with wall-based art. Later, I devised ways to apply this to my writing and other projects. Eventually, I decided to give it a shot with other folks’ work and tried to legitimately assemble a ‘proper show.’ I started by co-curating a show at the incredibly progressive, yet somewhat short-lived gallery, Reference, in Richmond. Props to them for showing so many great artists before they became majorly hot commodities! Anyways, I curated this show, titled Exit Light, with Michael Kennedy Costa, who at the time was a fellow VCU graduate student. Reference was a gallery that was beginning to gain a reputation as a space that showed a lot of Internet art and new media work, and the guys who ran it were really lovely and great party hosts. Michael and I thought it’d be interesting to create a show that served as a loose metaphor for the arc of a party, where the works wrapped around the perimeter of a gallery from the ‘start’ to the ‘finish’ of the ‘party.’ We used no Internet art and really no new media, at least as far as 2010 was concerned. This exhibition included many artists for whom I have endless respect and many who have since found a great deal of success, including Joshua Abelow, Talia Chetrit, and EJ Hauser. The show also propelled my ongoing interest in collaboration. In the past three years, Michael and I have begun making work and putting together shows under the name Picture Menu. This is a fairly open cooperative practice between the two of us, and one project often leads into the other, naturally and organically. Picture Menu has become a gallery, a press, and we’re open to see where it goes from here. Aside from Picture Menu, I have been working on many other curatorial projects. I recently hosted a closing reception / performance event at Open Space in Baltimore for a show I curated there, titled Liberti(n)es. I am co-curating two upcoming three-person shows with Rachel LaBine. One is titled Style Points & Substance Pangs and will take place at Tiger Strikes Asteroid; the other is titled Style As Substance and will take place at David Shelton Gallery in Houston. These two shows will both concurrently open on April 5th and as evidenced by the titles are designed to be semi-complementary exhibitions. Something that I think has strongly affected my relationship to making art and curating art is my sort of unorthodox artistic background. I came to art later than a lot of my friends who are artists, including Michael and Rachel. I didn’t start making art until I was in college. I grew up playing team sports and playing in somewhat wild bands. So I was sort of initiated with a sense of camaraderie I haven’t been able to shake. I went to school for painting. Like anyone, I need my alone time. But unlike some painters, I can’t revel in the precious alone time of the studio. Whenever I read interviews with or articles about artists who are able to do that, part of me gets jealous. I just can’t work that way. But I also don’t sleep much, and I can’t help but bounce ideas off people and work with other people. When working cooperatively, I tend to enjoy some element of trust and comfort; I think it’d be weird and uncomfortable to be assigned to co-curate something like what happens with monumental survey exhibitions. Much like the relationships I’ve forged with teammates, band mates, or best friends such as Michael, or with my girlfriend, Rachel; I believe it’s true that your biggest critics are those closest to you. If I work on projects with those closest to me, I believe that we’ll scrutinize each other’s ideas in a fruitful and productive manner, for the sake of the others involved. I am not simply interested in putting together art shows, or at least the sorts of art shows I think we have come to expect and accept. This goes for me working by myself or with others. I think I am really eventually interested in bringing back a vaudevillian vibe in opposition to the spectacle that has become the art world, without all the superfluous and superficial associations. I suppose I just want exhibitions to have more energy. I want to create environments that are at once inclusive and jarring without claiming to have some sort of political agenda like relational aesthetics. I think I’m more interested in relative aesthetics— or how text relates to image, which relates to sound, to space, and back to text. * Summer 2013 23
Adam Mignanelli: Even Keel on Exciting Seas
I grew up in a small state, (the smallest) Rhode Island. When I was a child I had many ear infections and my mom would drive me to the East Side of Providence, for what seemed like weekly visits to the pediatrician. We would drive up College Hill past RISD and their famous lawn, and I remember always seeing the typical 90’s punk “Art School” kids with purple dreads and chains carrying their drawing boards and utility boxes. I always knew them as the “RISD Kids.” At around age six, I started taking classes at RISD. I did this until I graduated from high school, meeting many likeminded young artists with whom I still have strong bonds. My passion to become one of those art students and make art and design my career began then. I went to Parsons at the New School, here in New York City, to focus on my design career, and I like to think that choice has shaped how I approach all of my artistic endeavors. When I moved to New York ten years ago, I majored in graphic design and began a career in creative marketing and art direction. After college graduation in 2007, on the cusp of the economic recession, I worked for a magazine making designs for marketing programs. I moved on to a swiftly growing youth media colossus that was artistically minded. Amongst all of this, I still felt a pull to get back to my roots, to build upon my passion for art and design. During these ten years in New York City I have met many extremely talented people, and continued to make my own art. After years of planning and building upon my experiences in marketing and advertising, in 2012 I launched Ballast Projects. I began working with my network of friends and looked to the emerging artists I respected, those who I believe to be the next, new generation of remarkable artists. One of my passions is painting, and so that was the area of art on which I focused. I feel it is one of the most humanistic of art forms and one that people seem to relate most to on a personal level. Ballast Projects is not a space, not just a gallery, but a curatorial initiative amongst a growing group of young, contemporary artists and supporters who believe in the necessity of showcasing the new generation of artists who are breaking boundaries, both large and small. Ballast Projects is what keeps me working every free hour, constantly making sure it continues to grow, show after show. The programming has been able to expand incredibly fast as these talented artists and peers come out and voice their excitement for the new platform that Ballast Projects provides. My goal is to build a bridge with emerging artists who take themselves and their work seriously, with new and established collectors and institutions that are open to seeing a new generation mold the art world into what it will become in the twenty-first century. My most recent show was with the SPRING/BREAK Art Show this March at a former Catholic school on Mott Street in Soho. It was a pleasure to curate a show in a venue with so much character, esBallast Projects pecially given the location. Knowing that it was an empty building has been established in one of the high rent areas of the city that was to allow curators to to create open show fine art really made me smile. I appreciated what a rarity it was. programming and to A large majority of the work that was shown throughout the fair was showcase and video art, installation based sculptures, and interactive pieces. I felt embrace the that the theme of New Mysticism was perfect to showcase the rituemerging, intelligent, alistic nature of paintings and sculptures. Having a history of showcutting-edge artists ing young contemporary abstract work, I felt I would go this route of our generation. again to illustrate to the the public that Ballast Projects's goal is to exhibit strong paintings from this new generation of successful abstract painters. Myself and two of the artists spent a rigorous day (and night) using fifteen gallons of white paint to bring the gallery atmosphere to the school. A few months before the show, I was on a studio visit in Bushwick, and saw these intimately wrought hand sculptures that had recognizable objects cast within them. They were colorful and raw, and I knew this would be the finishing touch to the show. I wanted to juxtapose the paintings with a figurative, humanistic element that would bring the viewers back to how the works were created. Rachel Rossin created the hand sculptures that encircled the paintings of Russell Tyler, Matthew Hassell, Chuck Webster, Matt Mignanelli and Ted Gahl. The SPRING/BREAK SHOW has been a springboard into early summer programming for another show with the SPRING/BREAK founders and the New Museum as well as a show at Kinfolk Studios’ gallery this June. In addition I am planning an outdoor show that I will be announcing in May for the end of summer! Ballast Projects has been established to create open programming and to showcase and embrace the emerging, intelligent, cutting-edge artists of our generation. Thank you Adam
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Photography, Erin Smolinski
Summer 2013 25
Art and Ageism: The Decisive Eye of Fellow Artists
Selection Committee: Katherine Bradford (+40) Karen Schifano (+40) Beverly Knowles (+40) Gary Petersen (+40) Mark Sengbusch (-40) Trudy Benson (-40) Lynn Maliszewski (-40) Emily Auchincloss (-40)
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Artists are really reaching back into the bag of tricks these days. The rampant discourse about postmodernism has seemed to cool off a bit, but the effects of its presence are clear. The standard bag has been stretched into something more of a gaping sack. All across the spectrum of ages, artists are doing things that were previously unthinkable, unattainable, or just under-recognized. Being an artist has always been so much about one’s handle on previous visual history. Our access to information is now blown wide-open thanks to the Internet. It’s a resource quite available to all of us, but as with most things, it means a different thing to grow up with a technological innovation than it does to realize that the same innovation is causing rampant change within the world you are accustomed to. It must be similar to the ripple of disruption that happened the first time the camera was being fully utilized as an artistic tool. The reality of it all is, thanks to this proliferation of information, now all artists have to be aware not only of the generations before them, but also of contemporaries by their side, not to mention the young up-and-comers who are greedily sucking up information in their wake. An artist has to have his or her head on a swivel, constantly keeping an eye on all other creatives around them, knowing that with the vast sea of information available, any artist could be the next daunting aesthetic pirate. As we all know, art has always been very much about stealing. Some young artists are making work that takes on a refined look in order to bump their name into the ring of commerce, while some older artists are making work that appears fresh and young, hoping to stay in the conversation by taking on the look of those breaking onto the scene. Meanwhile the Internet has its eyes on all of it, doing what the Internet does best, widening the spotlight and democratizing information. The funny thing is, regardless of their technological prowess, this actually means the young people have to be watching their back just as closely as the old. There’s something great about it all. In 2009 the New Museum ran a blockbuster of a show called Younger than Jesus, showcasing a promising group of artists who at the time were younger than the age that arguably the most documented historical figure was when he died. As far as we can tell, maybe Alan Kaprow would consider Jesus an artist, but for us it’s a bit of a stretch. This got us thinking, “Who the fuck cares? What does it mean to be young as an artist anyway? Isn’t the point that you are engaging in a lifelong pursuit? Why should your age matter at all?” We know, it’s a lot of pointed questions. Once we cooled off from our little fit, what this really got us thinking was, “How long does a typical artist
 Linda Francis
 Aaron Stephan
 Wendy White
 Abigail DeVille
 Stanislav Kolíbal
 Esperanza Mayobre
 Abel Barroso
 Fawn Kreiger
 Xenobia Bailey
 Helen Benigson
 Jane Evelyn Atwood
 Ilona Szalay
 Tom Butter
 Jacolby Satterwhite
 Roberto Molla
 Jacqueline Cedar
 Jim Lee
 Lauren Seiden
 Bram Bogart
 Mala Iqbal
 Johnny Mullen
 Mark Sengbusch
 Armen Eloyan
 Matt Mignanelli
 Annie Albers
 Nichole Van Beek
 Christian Bonnefoi
 Osamu Kobayashi
 Imi Knoebel
 Rudolf Reiber
 Kes Zapkus
 Sarah Maple
 Peggy Ahwesh
 Sinsuke Aso
 Nancy Shaver
 Tameka Norris
 Taylor Davis
 Laura Bottin
 Rose Wylie
 Nate Ethier
live, maybe 80 years?” A quick check into the standard life expectancy revealed an actual statistic of closer to 78.6 years. We decided to draw a line in the sands of time at the age of 40, conceivably half way between an artist’s birth and death. Instead of taking it upon ourselves, we asked a group of artists younger than forty years old to pick a group of twenty artists they admired older than forty, and we asked a group of artists older than forty to select a promising group of twenty artists under the age of forty. Artists have a very discerning eye, keeping their mind tuned by viewing a multitude of work, often what they really like can be quite different than the work they make themselves. Always being on the scene, on cannot follow all the trends but instead must pick and choose patterns they see as relevant and built to last. The people we selected to choose their favorite artists from across the age divide are people we knew were always out surveying the openings, meeting new people, shaking hands and forging new connections and professional relationships. In asking them to select the artists that had caught their eye, we knew they would filter out the bullshit. The selected work is only showy when appropriate, poetic but not inaccessible, and ranges many media. Although it was a pretty specific idea, requiring a good amount of explaining on our end, we ended up with a solid group of artists doing their thing with aplomb. Age be damned, really. The more interesting thing that came out of this little experiment was the reality of how little age mattered to an invested artist these days. It seems a talented artist will always be making engaging work. The artist’s age comes into play more readily in the way others approach the work. Gallerists and collectors will project value on the art based on the stage of development they connect to whatever age the artist seems to be. There is a perceived gamble involved with collecting young artists work in that it may be strong now, but later may unravel as studio process proves not to be sustainable. These selections represent a group of individuals who have been chosen by attentive contemporaries as artists engaged in sustainable, serious work that is built to be part of a life-long pursuit. It proves that age matters less than ever. With the expanded field of accessible knowledge open to all and growing wider by the second, information is sometimes able to bypass actual experience when in the right young hands, paired with hard work, and a sprinkle of luck. It also doesn’t hurt to have someone else pat you on the back once in a while. This piece began as a bit of an experiment, evolving as we began to feel out its strengths and weaknesses along the way. In the end we are pretty excited by the result. The forty artists we ended up with are making work that is only showy when appropriate, poetic but not inaccessible, and ranges many media. In the end, we feel like it’s an eclectic mix of pertinent work that may only share one thing in common: collective admiration. * Summer 2013 27
FORTY Abel Barroso, Casa Mochila, 2012. Collage on paper, 39.50 x 27.50 in. Courtesy Pan American Art Projects
+40 | Abel Barroso 28 NY ARTS | nyartsmagazine.com
+40 | Bram Bogart
Bram Bogart, Rozerougue, 2007, Mixed Media, 56 x 55 in.
Summer 2013 29
FORTY Nancy Shaver, Incline, decline, outside WalMart, 2009. Wood, wooden blocks, fabric, metal, house paint, flashe acrylic paint 76 x 55 x 7.5 in.
+40 | Nancy Shaver
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- 40 | Nicole Van Beek
Nichole Van Beek, Encarnalization, 2013. Acrylic on canvas. 15" x 15"
Summer 2013 31
+40 FORTY | Linda Francis
Linda Francis, Interference, 2012. Oil and silkscreen on wooden panel, 87 x 87 in.
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-40 | Mark Sengbusch
Mark Sengbusch, UFO Grinder, 2012. Scrimshawed Acrylic on Panel, 15.5 x 15.5 in.
Summer 2013 33
FORTY -40 | Osamu Kobayashi
Osamu Kobayashi, Vile Flow, 2011. Oil on linen, 12 x 12 in.
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-40 | Jacolby Satterwhite
Jacolby Satterwhite, Reifying (performance still), 2012. 2-channel video installation; painted wooden platform, spandex catsuit and live performance Dimensions variable. Photo credit: Scott Rudd. Courtesy the artist and Monya Rowe Gallery, New York.
Summer 2013 35
+40 |FORTY Christian Bonnefoi
Christian Bonnefoi, Eureka VIII 8, 2010. Acrylic on nylon, 98.5 x 79 in.
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Lauren Seiden, Untitled (Wrap #6), 2013. Graphite on paper wrapped on stretcher, 22 x 34 in.
-40 | LaurenSummer Seiden 2013 37
Mario Ybarra Jr., Like a Meat Shop, installation view Honor Fraser Gallery booth.
ARCO Madrid Creates Buzz, Social Change & Rising Stars By Alan W. Moore
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reviewed Nilbar Güres, Circir series, Playing with a water gun, 2010
Madrid isn't that big of an art town. It's more about the patrimonio, the magnificent treasures of the Prado, Escorial, et al. It's the center of the State, recently very much under siege by the rabble. So it's refreshing for the few days when the city's contemporary art fair—the ARCO—is in town, the 32nd edition of which closed 17 February. It's held in two bays of the giant fairgrounds at Campo de las Naciones, and, with a meal, coffee and perhaps a cocktail at one of the many stands, it's a daylong comprehensible visit. (Not cheap, of course, but then aren't we all bourgeois now?) There was a lot of buzz that this year's mood was down, very subdued because of “the crisis.” Still, it pretty much seemed to be business as usual; but nothing too very adventurous. The big news was when someone knocked over a Bernardí Roig sculpture. Last year it was a wax effigy of Franco in a freezer (so he couldn't melt, I guess). An article in El País by Fietta Jarque and Ángeles García profiled the happy, rising art scene in Istanbul that, unlike Spain, has not succumbed to economic crisis. Turkey was featured this year at ARCO, organized by Vasif Kortun. Despite that young artists are “bored with the endless Orient-Occident dichotomy” that marks Euro-Turkish relations, the next Istanbul Biennial is entitled “Mom, am I barbarian?” Still not sure about that one, it seems. There were talks for ARCO of course, like that on “peripheries, use value and social change”—on the periphery of the main event. These featured New Yorkers Chus Martinez (El Museo del Barrio), Laura Raicovich (Creative Time), and Richard Flood (New Museum). They were held in a box way off to the side of the hall, well out of view of the crowds of, it is hoped, buyers. There was also a lot of spin-off action, with two other fairs, Art Madrid and Just Mad, and their related events at the newly-born cultural center Matadero. (That's the old slaughterhouse of the city that has been renovated for art events.) Their two spaces were ARCO-related: an exhibition of young Turkish artists and a show coordinated by Creative Time 2012 prizewinner Fernando García Dory called “Inland Station/Campo Adentro.” This is a large-scale ongoing project, a “line of work” which uses cultural strategies to link city and countryside. As always, it's nice when the ARCO can include some part of what the traveling circus of the international art market leaves behind. *
Summer 2013 39
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Yin Xiuzhen, Collective Subconscious, 2007, minibus, stainless steel, used clothes, stools, audio, 38-feet long. Collection of the artist.
Interweaving past and present By Yu Yang
Arguably one of the best-known Chinese artists today, artist Yin Xiuzhen, has been exploring personal experiences of social transformation in her installation works from a subtle, female perspective. Contrasting personal clothes, handmade crafts, and daily objects with industrial --Yin Xiuzhen products, Yin visualizes the intertwined relationship between urban modernization and memory, society and the individual, gender and body, in an appealing and intimate way. As a local who was born and grew up in Beijing, Yin began her professional artist career after graduating from Capital Normal University of Beijing in 1989. Inspired by new ways of artistic expressions, Yin, bored of traditional media, became interested in making three-dimensional and outdoor works. She married another artist colleague, Song Dong, in 1992 and continued to live and work in Beijing. The couple’s home, a small traditional courtyard house (siheyuan), was demolished alongside many other siheyuan houses during the massive urban reconstruction of Beijing in 1998. The artist’s personal feelings towards the rapid urban transformation of her hometown and the sudden emergence of new ruins in central Beijing culminated in the installation piece Ruined City (1996), which was displayed at the art museum of the Capital Normal University of Beijing. In Ruined City, which occupies the 300-square-meter exhibition space, Yin reconstructed a ruined siheyuan house by using fragments of roof tiles and pieces of abandoned furniture, all collected from demolished sites. She poured tons of dry cement dust all over the place, piling it on the top of the bed, chairs, closet, desk, dresser, and water washstand. Roof tiles were laid out in a diagonal path across the entire space. The installation, which looks like an interior of an old, collapsed house buried under cement dust, is a metaphor for the disappearance of old Beijing under rapid urban modernization. The constellation of fragmented pieces of roof tiles and furniture in the debris expresses a sense of nostalgia that has haunted many Beijing citizens who have shared the intense moment of witnessing history be erased. Cement has been one of Yin’s most powerful visual languages and her juxtaposition of cement with clothes and personal objects has become a recurring theme in her works of the 1990s, such as Suitcase (1995), Dining Table (1998), Scenery (1999), and A Thousand Shoes (1999). For example, in Suitcase, Yin laid out her own clothes on the ground, folded them into a suitcase, and then sealed the clothes with cement. In Dining Table, she embedds fresh fruit into a cement table, which was left with dots when the fruit eroded gradually. Yin’s longstanding obsession “I like clothing as a material. For me it is not simply cloth, but a ‘second skin’ that carries many other things, like personal memory and different historical epochs and social backgrounds.”
with handmade crafts and clothes can be traced back to her childhood hobby of sewing. The contrast of extremely opposite textures—hard, industrial, and permanent cement versus soft, personal, and perishable cloths or fruit—have led critics to interpret her work as an allegorical comment on the relationship between an immobile industrial society and a suppressed, fragile individuality. The artist’s performance of sealing clothes and fruit into the cement therefore represented her attempts to “coagulate” her personal past, a futile project that failed alongside the decomposition of objects. The dotted holes in the cement table, left by the decomposition of fruit or clothes, parallels the dust-covered furniture and roof tiles in Ruined City, as both were traces of a process of disappearing and fragmentation of the past in the present. However, the dry cement dust in Ruined City uncovers new meaning. In an interview, the artist recalled the pervasive existence of cement dust when working in a factory. The soft and refined cement dust was not merely a symbol of industrial power but also, of personal interest to the artist. It became a tangible form to express her private memories as well as an intersection of past and present. Having participated in various international exhibitions in the recent decade, Yin has become increasingly interested in expressing personal experiences in the context of globalization. Inspired by international travel, Portable Cities (2001-present) is an on-going series of opened suitcases, on each of which the artist has made a cluster of landmark architecture out of old clothes. The number of suitcases increases as the artist visits more new cities. Personalized and souvenir-like, they not only represent the artist’s experiences of living in transit, but also give each city a distinctive character against the monotonous uniformity of globalization. In addition to shifting to the global context, Yin’s recent work also grows in scale. She has wrapped entire airplane fuselages with cloth in International Flight (2006), and in the installation Collective Subconscious (2007), exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in 2010, Yin wrapped a long tube structure with four hundred different pieces of clothing and inserted it into a bisected blue minivan to form a 38-foot-long sculpture. Visitors could enter the vehicle and sit on the small benches inside the colorful tube, while listening to an old-fashioned Chinese pop song from a speaker. Clothes collected from different people transformed the minivan into a public space of personal memories. The cozy atmosphere in warm-toned lights recalled a time tunnel of the recent past in Chinese urban progression, when the minivan was the symbol of a Chinese car dream. In this piece, as well as in her other works, Yin expresses her keen sensitivity to personal stories in everyday life, characterizing a unique living experience in contemporary Chinese society, namely, a changing present infused with a fragmented, haunting past. * Summer 2013 41
Barnaby Ruhe at Dorfman Projects By Lee Klein
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Courtesy of Barnaby Ruhe.
I first really got to know Barnaby Ruhe as the actor who portrayed Jackson Pollock, while I did a much more minor turn as Clement Greenberg, in Bill Rabinovitch’s fantastic fiasco "Pollock Squared.” Ruhe is foremost a painter, while also practicing moving energy around as a healer, a shaman, and a boomerang thrower, he transfers his quick-witted dynamism into his handling of paint. Sometimes, he dresses the part to take on another character. His opus is as much about his character as it is about being a plastic visual artist. His canvases are sometimes slapdash, less De Kooning than Morris Katz. Over the last few years, in a series of art history vignettes in the form of collages and painterly essays on boxes, Ruhe has tuned toward art history and momentarily veered away from the fun, party-time vanity his portrait marathons have sometimes engendered. There was a great array to choose from among the exhibition at Dorfman Projects, including “Full Disclosure,” the Hunter S. Thompson piece. (The sometime poet wrote the piece for the catalog, which he composed right after being offered a series of choices in an email he read the morning after returning from California.) In a buffet of history, nothing was to be taken lightly from this man who channels other beings, very often, quite believably. Later, in the exhibition's short run, Ruhe focused in on a very small work whose subject was not Kostabi but Gaddafi. Fascinated as I am by Italo-Arabia, the colors of the two flags, the turnover chromatics from Mussolini to the present day, the wavering paint, and the almost defacement of the dictator’s countenance in this work speaks volumes. Then perhaps it should be remembered that at times, this man did as much good for his formerly impoverished land as the well-recorded evil which he has been immortalized by. Now while giving a tour of NYC (to what seemed to be the Algerian Foreign Service Training Corps at the end of a hostile trip) this writer warmed them up with a story about giving a tour to terminal cancer patients. Followed by an offhanded mention that I wished to venture to post-Muammar Libya, and that furthermore I wished to survey the art, especially the Roman antiquities. I was told, “Go there and they will really take care of you.” All the while, having read Ann Marlowe’s horrendous piece criticizing the post-conflict worthiness of visiting Tripoli to see what was there, made this international shopping mall correspondent all the more curious after seeing pictures of the treasures online: "Libya was a backwater during the empire…it is substandard." What is she reviewing, a new Cuban deli in Miami Beach? She had just described the wonderful pop sensibility or
surrealist juxtaposition of Gaddafi’s autos amidst antiquities and was now a disapproving art tourist. Or maybe she was being sarcastic rather than problematic? It surely has to be one of the most insulting and flippant pieces on the far-flung realms of art to be published by a major United States newspaper in sometime. Back to Ruhe’s Michelangelo redux which was so Rubenesque so as not to be Buonorattian at all. It got me thinking. Research brought me to "Beyond the Candelabra," a forthcoming HBO biopic on the ivory twinkle across the Sistine chapel, redone on the master bedroom’s ceiling of Wladziu Valentino's now abandoned Las Vegas home. A descendant of the immortal Florentine supposedly painted it. Further, in order to recreate the life of the virtuoso, a re-staging of his funeral in Palm Springs took place in (of all places) Palm Springs with extras on hand such as photographer Jim Budman. Ruhe's takes on Warhol and DeKooning left me baffled for quite a while. He takes on who the platinum wigged painter was as a spiritual entity—but then again, the art prince was really more of a Jonathan Swift: making a comment and moving on (until later waylaid). However, Ruhe's works here are rather enjoyable as conversation pieces. They are stops on a tour as Ruhe integrates them into his/our consciousness which is deep enough for him to pay a visit to all of them, perhaps though just one at a time; pulling off the interstate to stay at the Rubens, the Dali or even the Frida Kahlo. *
Matt Gonzalez at Meridian Gallery, San Francisco By Kathryn Arnold As part of a two-person exhibition at Meridian Gallery with collagist Dennis Parlante entitled “Regarding Configurations”, Matt Gonzalez has created works with both paper and found wooden objects. On view, congested layers of materials visually intersperse in both color and medium. Intricate layering of paper shapes rise up to form an actual shallow space that incorporates shadow and relief. The mystery of how each of these forms could possibly create a unified composition remains undisclosed. Gonzales appears to rely on intuitive methods. Gonzales undermines his formal arrangements with a sense of play. Simultaneously, he brings in San Francisco’s visual culture through his use of locally found materials. The copy-cutpaste cycles that are incorporated into collage make his work not only a reflection of our time or place, but also a reflection of a personal cul-
Gonzalez makes collage a new and experimental medium, as he references visual culture and the identity of a specific place whether seen in found materials or layered typography.
Meridian Gallery, Dennis Parlante 502, 2011. Mixed Media on Paper Collage 14 7/8 x 19. Courtesy of Meridian Gallery.
ture that is unique to Gonzalez. He employs materials that have been scouted from the streets of his hometown San Francisco. A sense of identification arises upon viewing his series of collages in yellow containing textual information that point to the San Francisco MOMA, the Meridian Gallery, the Art Institute, the De Young Museum, and to local businesses. Not all of the collages contain text, however. There is a room donned with all-white compositions with titles such as Beauty, Paleness and Minima Moralia. These pieces essentially reflect Robert Ryman’s interest in whites and Louis Nevelson’s white wood works, such as Dawn's Wedding Chapel IV. However, Gonzalez’s works function as small-nested paper pieces that are rectilinearly formatted in composition. The interplay of white upon white incites intrigue by bringing the viewer’s perceptions into tight focus on the use of subtle colorations. The tonal qualities and brightness variations are masterful in their expression. Another room filled with all black collages display titles such as November, Fresh and Cult of Beauty. The viewer is immersed into these miniaturized, intimate fields with multiple variants of black. The works containing text draw one in to examine typographical features. They become a reference and a marker of our visual culture. Most edges are clean and crisply defined with geometric shapes coalescing into a grid. This is quite fitting, as the found paper pieces that flood the collage are from an urban setting. The multiple small paper works hold their fragments tightly in the center at times. To differentiate, other collages spread across the entire page to create a sense of expanded boundaries. Are these avenues employed to create meaning or are they instead a meandering of experimentation—or are they both? The question remains unresolved. Not all of the works in this exhibition are monochromatic. Small sets of multi-colored paper collages engage us near the entry—exhibiting bright blues, lime greens, yellows, oranges, and reds. The exciting stimulation of color with various interactions is found within tiny, enclosed spaces. The synthesis of color and varying intensities is just another avenue Gonzalez explores. This is mirrored in a number of his wood collages, such as in the simply titled #2. Strips of colored wood present a grid-like framework that overlays collaged paper—this time with torn paper pieces. Organic meets mechanic in this particular all-over composition of a synthesis of disparate parts. It will be of interest to follow future, formal explorations of Matt Gonzalez. His work is connected to artistic traditions of the past—future. Gonzalez makes collage a new and experimental medium, as he references visual culture and the identity of a specific place whether seen in found materials or layered typography. The formal approach he engages is endless, yet non-repetitive. Gonzalez is sure to continue producing surprising results. * Summer 2013 43
On the Misunderstood “Privilege of Art” By Simon F. Oliai
In the wake of Marcel Duchamp’s celebrated and oft-misunderstood debunking of the myth of the sacred artwork, is it still possible to ask what “Art” signifies in our contemporary cultural context? That is to say, is art necessary in a globalized and confusing world? Does art name an external object of perception (“objet d’art”) as unattractive as it might appear to its contemporary spectators and consumers as Duchamp’s Fontaine still do? Or, rather, does art (to borrow the expression of my avant-garde fashion designer friend, Ilanio) express the “visceral experiences” of its creators and viewers? True, such questions are not new and asking them, in general, would not necessarily amount to undertaking an intellectual revolution. Yet, this does not at all mean that asking them in a specific socio-cultural context would not be critically necessary or even revolutionary. In San Francisco, the oft-overrated capital of contemporary American cultural “radicalism,” asking such questions is most pertinent for a variety of reasons. In a 1950 letter, addressed to his friend and poet René Char, George Bataille wrote, “Literature, when it is not indulgently considered a minor distraction, always takes a direction opposite the path of utility along which every society must be directed.” By “literature,” Bataille was referring not only to writing novels but also to all serious art which names the sovereign activity that “conforms to the devil’s motto”—“I refuse to serve” (Non serviam in Latin). Defined rigorously, true art cannot be made to serve a “master.” That is why, as Bataille put it amusingly, art is “diabolical,” but above all, “sovereign” in character. Indeed, it is in the very nature of art to designate a “movement that is irreducible to the aims of social utility.” Admittedly, after the emergence of post-World War II consumer society, terms such as utility and consumption have acquired connotations that differ from how Bataille employed them in his 1950 text. Yet, Bataille’s essential point remains valid. That is to say, art cannot be understood adequately if its movement—which could potentially result in the creation of an object-work—is subordinated to an end other than that of be-speaking the supreme “privilege of humanity.” Today, this means that all high art must actively contribute to the liberation of the self from the necessity of undertaking productive labor in the struggle to preserve one’s existence in an external world of homogenized objects. This movement of liberation from different sorts of limits (psychological, social, political, etc.) is what Bataille terms sovereignty and constitutes the ultimate aim of all human existence. In historical terms, this means that, in the wake of the decline of Christianity and the public execution of the its last absolute vicar, Louis XVI, the ultimate aim of each individual and collective will must be the joyful celebration of life’s fragile and free nature. After the death of Louis XVI and the abandonment of the “God-Head” whom 44 NY ARTS | nyartsmagazine.com
he had traditionally embodied, high art no longer had, at least in principle, a “master.” Be it the king or anyone else. After this shift in power, high art’s only legitimate ambition seems that of expressing man’s “measurelessly divine desire” for eternal being—a “deep joy in being” to echo Nietzsche’s famous poem. Can high art be expected, more than two centuries after Louis XVI’s dramatic beheading, to subject itself to what Bataille calls “downward pull of self-interest?” The self-interest in question has been, historically, that of the traditional and oft philistine American and European bourgeoisie for whom art was either a minor distraction or a means of self-promotion. Yet, in present day Northern California, the historically illiterate nouveaux-riches, the intellectually undereducated, or upstart cultural actors have also managed to debase the inspiringly unproductive expenditure of excess wealth (which the exhibition of high art requires) by devising a system of “petty displays.” In San Francisco, such petty displays are not necessarily those of expensive art objects. Rather, the term here denotes the stultifying overestimation of oneself and one’s actions, which frequently bedevils the entire socio-cultural context of the region. For example, a mere reference to the Franco-American artist Suzanne Husky on the much-hyped Wendi Norris Gallery’s website dared to style itself an essay whilst referring to the “sophisticated US media-cracy” as a “persistent topic” of Husky’s “media practice.” N’est pas intellectuel qui veut, a well-read observer might have thought after encountering such pretentious dabbling in a cultural context as allergic to serious theoretical reflection on high art as that of San Francisco’s vaunted art institutions. Nonetheless, Husky’s work has the great merit of examining the contemporary sense of our productive relation to nature by placing that relation in the historical lineage of the “Physiocrats,” an 18th Century school of French economic thought. One might not share her fascination with the practices of those who Animals do purport to live “off the grid,” but her manner of underscornot transcend ing the complexity of the nature and contemporary sense of our productive relation to nature self-preservation. stimulated much-needed theoIn contrast, our retical reflection on the inherent limits of all production. In trajectory veers a film entitled Wash, Husky towards pleasure in portrays the unorthodox bathing practices of members self-transcendence. of the so-called countercul-
Suzanne Husky, Wash, 2011 – 2012. Video HD, 1h 15min
ture. The film portrays people who don’t use regular tap water and have drawn on other methods of heating and using it. As alternative as these methods might appear to outsiders, their profound implication was perhaps as simple as the French neoclassical painter François-André Vincent’s depiction of the 18th Century bourgeois’ education in his piece The Plowing Lesson, which Husky replicated in a work with the same name. Animals do not transcend nature and self-preservation. In contrast, our trajectory veers towards pleasure in self-transcendence. Only humans would heat water and wash themselves in a bathtub. Such washing is, above all, a pleasurable act of self-purification. Strictly speaking, washing in a bathtub filled with hot water is not just pouring water on oneself for it amounts to as uselessly indispensable a luxury as all high art. Yet, Husky’s fashionable, Northern Californian ecological “primitivism” (reflected in her over-emphasis on alternative objects made to address man’s needs) tends to obscure this unique trait of man’s creatively sovereign interaction with nature. This same confusion permeated the display at the Legion of Honor’s important exhibition, “Treasures of the Louvre Museum: From Louis XIV to Marie Antoniette.” The well organized and historically informative exhibition featured objets d’art that the Louvre Museum in Paris has lent to the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. Among these, some have been displayed outside of France for the first time. I thought it a pity that, despite its laudably detailed character, the catalogue of the exhibition made no reference to the “uniquely sovereign” character of the patronage of the art which Louis XIV’s boîte à portrait (the king’s portrait encircled by large diamonds and given as a gift to foreign diplomats) exemplified. Far from being a luxurious objet d’art used to impress the Sun King’s foreign equals, its highly symbolic construction
was meant to convey a novel noToday, this means tion of royal sovereignty in Europe. that all high art Indeed, the image of Louis XIV at the center of the boîte à portrait must actively suggests the equidistance of the contribute to King in relation to the surrounding the liberation diamonds (perhaps various rival factions of French society). of the self from Of course, today, the absolutist the necessity kingdom over which Louis XIV ruled of undertaking no longer exists. Yet, the profound signification of the objet d’art that productive labor celebrated it transcends its hisin the struggle tory. It reminds us that the movement of sovereign transcendence of to preserve one’s man’s finite existence, namely high existence in an art, exceeds its historically specific external world utility. Much like the eclipsed but irreducibly contiguous backdrop of of homogenized Louis XIV’s portrait, sovereignty oft objects. lets itself be spoken by an objet d’art. Yet, no matter how spectacular or expensive the objet d’art may turn out to be, the transcendently sovereign movement of its creation—high art—typically exceeds its social value. For such is the accursed privilege of all high art. As the enduring expression of the appearance of sovereignty in history, high art must, as Bataille put it, “prevail over the political and the financial consequences of its manifestation.” Will the practitioners of tiresome petty displays of art ever begin to understand this simple truth? I would say, lucidly, that it is high time for them to do so. But when I say this lucidly, this also means, to quote Bataille again, “without the least hope.” * Summer 2013 45
“Hello I Love You…”
Huma Bhabha at Moma PS1 Has humanity become so alien-like that our identity is only a vector of consumerism?
By Cecilia Muhlstein
At the entrance to the exhibit “Unnatural Histories” at MOMA PS1 visitors are welcomed by two giant punk/alien figurative sculptures. One entitled, God of Some Things, complete with iconic Princess Leia hair, and the other Ghost of Humankindness are both examples of Bhabha’s interest in science fiction. A hybrid of human and alien recognition, they both guard the entrance in a stance that demands a recognition of a similar kinship, however ephemeral, with the viewer, but they also produce a paradox crucial to her work. Expertly curated by PS1’s Peter Eleey, Huma Bhabha’s first major solo show excavates a series of carefully organized rooms, a lineage between the past and present, and rewards the spectator with infinite possibilities, dreams, and encounters. Simultaneously it’s also a reckless, fragile, and violent planet complicated by the presence of human artifacts. Think of debris and people scattered in many forms and dimensions at a favorite flea market. Besides the punk quality, the exhibit also reveals her empathy for anything alien or “unnatural” as it gather faces and sites that look familiar, because they are usually returning your gaze in a mix of contemporary and classical portraiture. A scrutiny of a curve, face and the gesture of a hand, invoke Bhabha’s numerous influences, besides the obvious use of science fiction. They include African art, Greek kouroi, Giacometti, Rodin, and horror films. This diverse confluence is important when considering the work as not a stabilized experience, but of a temporally slowed down movement in a rapidly spinning world. Employing various materials Bhabha incorporates discarded, industrial produced and non-biodegradable products with organic materials. Styrofoam, chicken wire, and found objects, collaborate with cork, clay, and animal bones. In the piece Twins, clay, wire, styrofoam, and wood produce a sculpture whose exaggerated features are both a simulation of death and a visage of life. The piece, an idol settled on its plinth of wood, displays a violent elegance amid decay. What is so critical about the work is how so many questions become articulated including the title, Twins. There is no companion to the piece except the viewer. Like many of the other works, the structural elements expose the works’ makings. By its own reflexivity, this is where the work provokes its own displacement from the spectator who’s suddenly confronted by his/her mortality. Another piece, Chain of Missing Links, with its metal, animal skull, and plexiglass, suggests that our future might reside in how we re-invent ourselves when faced with an unknown future including the evolutions of the body. This piece connects to the title piece Unnatural Histories; where a fusion of clay, rubber tire, wire, and wood project a childlike landscape that consumes a cutout picture of a man. It is a work that begs certain questions: What is “unnatural?” What is “history?” What is the future? Are we consuming nature or is nature becoming mastered? What does it mean to re-configure the body as a production of various waste products either organic or commercial? Has humanity become so alien-like that our identity is only a vector of consumerism? Or is it an attempt to reconcile the two? It’s like a scene out of Blade Runner when the very person you’ve fallen in love with is only a replicant created to implode on a given expiration date. The singularity of her work is evident in other pieces that depict her native Karachi, meditations on war, and finally, love. They could belong in any period, except they don’t. Like some extraterrestrial creature, her work at its best, echoes our primordial past. Each piece holding a rhythmic trance, but ultimately it’s the visitor who is interrogated in this beautiful nightmare of unearthed corpses beneath landfills and war and surface. In the end, it’s a beautiful world to get lost in. *
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reviewed Huma Bhabha, Twins (detail), 2011. Mixed media sculpture. Collection Marilyn and Larry Fields, Chicago. Courtesy the artist and Salon 94.
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José Luis Guerin
La Dame de Corinth at Pompidou, Paris By Iddhis Bing
Every art student knows Pliny the Elder's story about painting and sculpting: "Butades, a potter of Sicyon, who first invented, at Corinth, the art of modelling portraits in the earth which he used in his trade. It was through his daughter that he made the discovery; she, being deeply in love with a young man about to depart on a long journey, traced the profile of his face as thrown upon the wall by the light of the lamp." One story, one version but an attractive one. Genre painters in the second half of the 18th Century had a short run with it, as have photographers over the course of the last twenty years. The first painting was an act of passion, the desire to hold onto something soon to be lost. To put it in terms even a Hollywood producer could comprehend: Girl loses Boy, goes a bit mad on their last night, initiates Western visual tradition. Leave it to the broken-hearted, the manic-depressive, to come up with an eternally unrequited romance: the endless voyage of art. Some few millennia after the discovery made by Butades' daughter, far from the madding crowds in a Parisian cavern most tourists miss, the scene was recreated by Spanish filmmaker José Luis Guerin. He was using the ancient technique—light and shadows cast upon a wall. Part of the Pompidou's Mekas/Guerin, a full-scale retrospective of Guerin and his cinematic frére, New Yorker Jonas Mekas. The Barcelona-based filmmaker constructed an odd-shaped corner as homage the to and meditation on the moving image, an esquisse or sketch one could walk into and observe from countless angles. The catch is, to truly see it, viewers must forget what it means to be an audience at a film—a demanding task in this movie-mad city. La Dame de Corinth is not a movie precisely, although Guerin has made plenty of those. There are only few cubes to sit on to view the work, which is not projected on one big screen but many small, unconventional ones (a canvas, small rectangles placed in a wall, images splashed across a ribbed surface). There is no audience with their eyes trained in one direction, nothing to stuff in our mouths, (you can get plenty of popcorn upstairs at the Dalí expo) and perhaps most subtly and devastatingly, no soundtrack. Sound is divorced from image. Guerin seeks to unsettle preconceived notions about how film is viewed, and what, in fact, a film is. The adhesion of sound to light is crucial to what we might call film reality. A door swings open on its hinges or slams shut and if we hear the appropriate sound, we know exactly where we are and we stop thinking, even in the dark. We no longer have to think—the film is thinking for us—situation normal. But if we separate sound and image, if we insert another sound or none at all, we enter some other terrain where our senses are confused. Not for nothing were the Surrealists (and one of their many ejectees, Artaud) appalled by the way moving im48 NY ARTS | nyartsmagazine.com
age changed with the introduction of sound; cinema magic was traumatized by the banal. So you walk—probably by chance (whatever that might mean)—into a dark and oddly-shaped room, whether or not you know the story, if you have seen the explanatory panel outside or not (I did not—even better), you are confronted with images. Some are moving, others are still. A woman lifts a brush projected onto an illuminated easel. A man's shadow is cast on the rough surface of the wall—not the actual wall you are seeing the image on, but another imaginary wall—as if he were the subject of an enormous floodlight passing through the branches of a tree. There are images of a couple embracing, text ("Pour fixer une ombre"), and sounds that come from elsewhere in the room. It is disorienting and meant to be so. You are physically lost. "My approach is to create a more physical and intimate rapport with cinema, not the ’world of cinema,’ but a bare cinema—fragments of time and space preserved on reels of film," Guerin said in the Debordements interview. The entire experience is designed to be incomplete. It is not a retelling of Pliny's story, a kind of rumor or cliché floating around the ancient world that the Roman bibliomane recorded as fact. Guerin's La Dame de Corinth is, instead, a kind of dream-box. "Baudelaire wrote a text celebrating the sketch for a salon. In the text he discusses academic painting, but the substance of what he says is that with all inspiration, the genius is in the esquisse, sketch. The final tableau is nothing more than the academic execution of a brief flash that exists in the sketch. The sketch interests me greatly because starting from a small line, the spectator must create the image. There is a very intense involvement with film on the spectator's part. The same applies to ruins. Ruins and sketches are very similar. With ruins, starting from a few signs, whatever they may be, one reconstructs an image of something that no longer exists."
We are in a quandary right now. Except for Mekas and a few others, the great innovators of film are gone. Old masters are content to reiterate. Film was once in a breathless race with time to discover new modes of being. Viewers are lost in a Multiplex from which they cannot escape. The over-priced thrill-killer, the busted blockbuster, the cutsey rom-com, the narrative rehash (Play It Again and Again, Sam, Just Like You Did the Last Time) are all on offer. It's the segue between generations. No way out? Guerin offer us silence, images that are simultaneously moving and still, along with strange sounds in black and white. Too primitive for you? You want 4D, perhaps? It is an experience to reenter the ancient cave, to witness fragments which we assemble into a story, and which, if not a solution to the Big Question, gives us room to think and feel for ourselves. *
"A film isnâ€™t shot with live sound, a technical innovation which arrived in Spain very late. I always put a lot time working on the sound of each film. Even when I work with live sound, I like to think of the film as having a gap between image and sound. I start to work on the montage as if it were a silent film. I look at the images alone, without sound. I keep separate notes, on paper, about the sound I want. I hate current films where one understands absolutely everything. I'm much more inspired by the films of the 1930s where one understands very little but there is a choice of what one understands. I came to Paris several times to talk to Bresson. He said that once the footage was complete, he immediately left Paris to work on the sound, the recording of sound, of sound materials. To imagine films starting from a silent identity which will transform itself in confrontation with a soundtrackâ€”that's always been my approach." (All of Guerin's comments are translated from an interview with Judith Revault d'Allonnes in Revue de Debordements.)
Summer 2013 49
Duchamp’s Fountain A psychic retort to the functionless armory By Robert C. Morgan
The original Fountain by Marcel Duchamp, 1917, photographed by Alfred Stieglitz at the 291 after the 1917 Society of Independent Artists exhibit. Stieglitz used a backdrop of The Warriors by Marsden Hartley to photograph the urinal. The exhibition entry tag can be clearly seen.
After much duress and rhetoric, Fountain by Duchamp as lowly as it once appeared, has been chastened by Meister Eckhart, who proclaimed: “And behold! All in One.” Not merely a gaff of raw Dadaist vulgarity, but a heightened amplification usurping the serene bypass taken by artists on the aftermath of Duchamp’s storm of acrimony. R. Mutt, after all, is none other than a piss-wad, rant with of sullen relief, at best an industrial designer. Where lies his offal desire, his exterminating lethargy that makes him a true Duchampian protagonist? A howling indecency for some admits a reclusive gambit for others. After the Armory, heathen Duchamp had no other choice. With all the recourse mustered within his petulant breath, Duchamp waited in the wings over four impetuous years. He then broke free with canonical fodder, a Cubo-futurist Madonna and child wound into the lid of Buddha’s brisket, and there, anointed by the halo’d historians with galvanized shit. The magpies began to howl, the lizards held their leap. Duchamp had turned the furnace valve into a saturated fricassee. He waited four years to release his uronic substance that would transform the reality of art in all hemispheres, waiting for the unctuous touting of post-art. He let it go, by cracky, into the porcelain mist. The cauldron of distinct believers, left alone, fraught with utopian scorn: by necessity, his anesthetic provocation. Fountain’s psychic mixture of altruistic pain and frivolous insouciance, opened the threshold of twentieth century art, a forecast none could expect, yet came to know, to frolic, and denounce, only until the psychic charge became reeled on screens of lost consciousness. The death of Armory humiliation was a long-lasting triumph, as it would have been for Arsenal Craven. Indeed, Fountain has regained its force to dispel the laggards whose art still remained petrified on museological walls.*
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Mia Halton at Kathleen Cullen Fine Art By Mary Hrbacek
[Top] Mia Halton, Everyone Wore Khaki, 2008. Solar intaglio on paper, 16 x 16. [Bottom] Mia Halton, Mudling Through, 2011. Chalk on Board, 16 x 16.
In her meditative approach to creating art, Mia Halton focuses on the sense of touch. She creates microcosms of softly stroked lines and forms that she packs into condensed formats. Halton’s concentration and patience seem infinite. By developing an overall format with aggregates of miniature images, she creates the illusion of cosmic aerial space that hints at spiritual underpinnings. Here all things may be considered equally endowed with universal energies. The artist seems to have great sympathy for her fellow humans. Halton depicts them in a cartoon-like unassumingly benign manner that recalls both the art of Jean Dubuffet and the cartoon character Charlie Brown. This art retains its innocent quality, despite its obvious sophistication. Pattern is another aspect that captivates the artist’s imagination. Her dotted and gridded graphite and conte crayon drawings resemble metaphoric intimate private love notes. The sensitivity and modesty of her works suggest an unpretentious personal view of her compatriots and her attitude toward life. Intimations of strain in the drawings of intensely close human forms surface as one focuses on their compositions and their titles. Halton seems to distrust a conformist approach to life’s complexities. She reveals herself through her art as an independent thinker confronted with the frailties of group dynamics. Her drawings entitled Group Think II, Muddling Through, and Everyone Wore Khaki signal her strong response to the “blind leading the blind” formula that often holds sway in the group decision process. She expresses her anxiety about crowded situations in images that elicit the undercurrents that drive her feeling of distress when faced with the sense of confinement inherent in large gatherings. Her works evoke a universal panic typically experienced by those caught in a mass of other people, with no obvious means of escape. The artist seems to imbue her images with chagrin at humanity’s predicament. The piece entitled Breath clearly displays individuals within a freer, less dense spatial arena, whose smiles show their pleasure at the chance to breathe freely. The picture suggests liberation from emotional pressure, or a state lacking harsh hidden constraints. Halton’s delicately rendered drawings of dotted patterns hint at her urge to explore the theme of “escape” to a better or a different world. Both Neverland, (2012) and Walkabout (2012) provide aerial spatial views that may be construed as vast expanses of uninhabited pristine landscape. The artist’s works investigate her response to the pressure to conform to society’s standards, to assimilate one’s personality into a pluralist identity. Several of Halton’s images deal with positive joyful feelings, in light poetic motifs such as a ‘Happy Face’ entitled Mr. Right, or a piece with cloud forms embedded with pink colored circles called Happy Little Thoughts. The drawing entitled Heart Patch (charcoal on rice paper, 2013) implies feelings of hope for the kind of connection that takes root and flourishes naturally, like the plants in a rice paddy do. Halton’s lyrical positive messages can be taken as irony, but she manages to make her statement on her own terms. Her works are at once playful and serious, as she explores issues that evoke an undercurrent of desire to preserve and freely express her individuality without fear of social consequences. The signature of this softly rendered work makes a personal point with universal relevance. * Summer 2013 51
reviewed Adam Fowler Untitled (41 Sheets), 2011 Graphite on paper, hand cut, 36 x 120 inches.
Adam Fowler Escaping Forward
Utilizing a cunning ability to compose marks in both two-dimensional and low relief space, paired with a zen-like concentration abilities and a steady hand, Adam Fowler frees the mark from the page with the help of a sickly sharp blade.
By Matthew Hassell
52 NY ARTS | nyartsmagazine.com
Adam Fowler, Escaping Forward, installation view. Courtesy of Margaret Thatcher Projects.
Once a mark exists on a page, for the most part that’s it. Erasing can make the pigment seem to disappear, but the impression the drawing implement has left on the surface remains. It usually cannot be moved around. Usually. Adam Fowler’s exhibition of new work titled Escaping Forward at Margaret Thatcher Projects offers one way to free the mark from it’s static position on the page. Utilizing a cunning ability to compose marks in both two-dimensional and low relief space, paired with a zen-like concentration abilities and a steady hand, Adam Fowler frees the mark from the page with the help of a sickly sharp blade. Layers of mark making are then able to be placed over each other in space, laid one on top of another before being fixed into their eventual compositional home. The negative space has been separated from the mark, but it has not disappeared from view. One can even argue that the paper that has been cut away was only temporarily holding the space of the areas between Fowler’s lines. The removal of this dead paper has enlivened and lifted the mark to a more liberated state where its character is able to be recognized without need for registration to a superfluous, restrictive ground. Working in this way for many years, Fowler’s work is seen to be growing steadily. Although one could never know this without seeing the old work, compositions have become more confident and engaging, feeling less calculated. The best example of this comes in Fowler’s wall installation named Untitled (41 Layers). In this piece the layers of unbound line work are further able to breathe in their unframed installation. Overlaid in a progression that expands horizontally, the work spans a distance of some 120 inches across the wall that confronts the viewer as they enter the space. The upper limits of the lacy layers of
paper are aligned to mimic the rectangular shape of a frame while the bottom hangs free of delineation in a seemingly organic dispersion of looped line work. The work is almost imperceptibly fixed to the wall by incredibly minute insect mounting pins so that the work seems to hover magically, breathing ever so slightly at times with the caress of local air currents. The gorgeous fragility the work presents is able to be fully appreciated in it’s openness to the same air the viewer holds on baited breath. The beauty of Fowler’s process is in the simplicity of his project being elevated to a heightened sophistication. Fowler is simply cutting out and rearranging marks in space, but the level of expertise that he brings to this task is what makes the work so engaging to look at. Lingering with the work is one of those pleasantly evolving viewing experiences where one is able to float in and out between wonderous marveling at the tightness of the artists control of hand and the joy of becoming lost following one gesture or another as they wind in and around each other, never seeming to begin or end. Countless artists have used these materials, and somehow none come to mind in relation to seeing the work in person. Fowler is an artist’s artist. He has a supreme confidence and patience in his aesthetic pursuit that drives his work to levels of sophistication rarely reached by an artist of his age. The amount of time spent with each work and the complexity of the compositions seem to point to an artist far beyond his years. The work seems pointed in the right direction, and now that he has begun to work larger, in unframed wall based installation, the next works will definitely take time. Time is something that is on Fowler’s side. I can’t wait to see what’s next. If this show is any indication, it’s going to be gorgeous. * Summer 2013 53
Adriatic Wonder By Abraham Lubelski
If you’re brave enough to enter into a world where objectivity is replaced by raw emotion, then feast your eyes on the works of Davor Vukovic. Visceral in their application of layered abstractions, paintings full of vibrant color confront the viewer. Vukovic’s work seems innocent at first. The vibrant color and free dashes of paint on the canvas invite a lighthearted atmosphere that is as bold and intense as any first impression. Upon analysis, the paintings seem less abstract and more mystifying. His inspiration sprang from Mediterranean lights, the Croatian part of the Adriatic, pure maritime air, clear and “drinkable” sea, wonderful and unique starry nights, and especially the characteristic silence of Indian summer. His most recent and largest paintings (300x300 cm) are to be shown in the artist’s second one-man exhibition at New York’s Broadway Gallery in October 2013. Although they depict the sea, islands, and submarine landscapes in tones of dark blue and indigo, they also reflect the sky, the infinity of the space, and the moving of myriads of stars and galaxies. The work involves reflections of dark and light sky with the bottom of the sea on the surface and in the deep water. These shades, spots, and effusions of paint evoke Monet’s large-format paintings, although they are carried out in a completely different way by using the techniques of action painting. The background, due to the artist’s tectonic All images courtesy of the artist. moves in the process of constructing and deconstructing, emerges on the very surface of the painting like islands emerge from the sea. They are the images of brightness and the future, but also of the depths of infinity where we can easily vanish and disappear in the artist’s ecstasy. We can also experience the paintings as our inner fears if we are unfamiliar with the unknown. When we indulge in them, we see the tide and the ebb flow Vukovic’s childhood and first inspiration. The author of the forethrough the magma of paint. We see the glittering flicker of the sun, word, a prominent Croatian art historian, Mirjana Repanic Braun, the moon, and the stars on the surface of the good old inexhaustible PhD pointed out, “This procedure resulted in the ultimate duel sea. Soaked with the thick, vibrantly alive energy from the miracle of of two almost equally important layers: the chaotic and dynamic unspeakable beauty which Vukovic unreservedly depicts, his most lower layer spread over the entire surface of the canvas and the recent works pulsate in harmonic rhythm so that the dense radiant ‘soothing’ upper layer of untainted colors applied in broad brushopen colors of the coast, undersea, and the islands, are poured into strokes to determine the whole. his paintings like the sea itself. They are as transparent as watercolor On one side, there is the impression of fragile diffusion, instapaintings but also saturated with ultramarine blue, the trademark bility and motion, the permanent interaction with the sea, the sky, color of the people living in southern Croatia. the light, and the chromatic and tonal varieties of color. On the While composing the painting, Vukovic continues with the other hand, hidden from our eyes, there is the static nature of arprocess of superimposing layers, a process described in an in- chipelagoes, their primordial character, their hidden connection spired foreword of his last exhibition held in Old city hall in Split, to the land, their deep roots in the ground—an almost metaphorithe Old City Hall of Roman emperor Diocletian and the city of cal paraphrase of the artist’s being." * 54 NY ARTS | nyartsmagazine.com
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Sarah Godthart Intimacy in Ephemera By Rose Hobart Austrian-based artist Sarah Godthart’s personal statement mirrors her work. It is a sparse but telling poem, a haiku by an unknown Japanese poet. Written in German it states: Des Menschen Herz ist unergründlich – doch in meiner Heimat blühen die Blumen wie eh und jeh. Roughly, this translates to: The human heart is unfathomable— But in my home the flowers bloom as ever.
Courtesy of the artist.
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Consider Godthart’s art itself to be a home cosmos of sorts—to her, her subjects, and her viewers. Her portraits, composed with watercolor and pastels, are a space in which her subjects bloom with sweeping strokes of rosy pinks and hydrangea blues, displaying the striking unfathomability of the human heart. There is a sense of intimacy achieved in Godthart’s sparsity—an intense knowing of her subjects is conveyed in the thinly applied colors and reduced formal signifiers that compile her figures. As a self-taught painter based in Vienna, Godthart has achieved a style completely her own. Several of her newest pieces, on display at the Broadway Gallery in New York City, further the artistic efforts of her earlier paintings, but pare back the vibrant chromatic omnipresence characteristic of previous work. In these five new paintings, all portraying human figures, Godthart moves further towards the
minimal in leaving more blank space on the canvas and painting facial and bodily features with less definition than seen before. In the painting, On the Run, two presumably male figures face the viewer, with their feautures signified solely by loose brush strokes, by fluently dripping, effortlessly applied watercolor. The nikel titan yellow background seeps into the face of the figure closest to the picture plane, recalling the early Fauvism of Matisse but with less concern for viewerly emotion brought about by shock, and instead lending more attention to the way the color illuminates the figure’s dejcted aura. With his lips pouted together and eyes downcast, he emotes a sense of loss or emotional strife; the other figure in the work, painted entirely with grayish-blue, gives this loss a figurative grounding point. The sparsely applied but poignant color that composes these figures without outline or definition is apparent in the other works being shown at the gallery, and renders the sadness of the subjects to an even greater extent. The blushing lips again stand out in two of her portraits of female figures. Both are pursed into looks of dissapointment and self-rejection. In Murren, the figure longingly looks outward from the confinements of the painting with blurred cobalt drops of color for eyes. A vertical line of charcoal stands in for her nose, and a wide stroke of gauzy pink sweeps over an eye, a lucid colorization of her seemingly desperate confusion. There is a striking ephemeral quality to Godthart’s recent works, especially in this piece. A simultaneous sense of knowing and longing to know these spliced figures’ creates a gorgeous tension in Godthart’s paintings—through the ephemerality of their features, the loose but carefully applied colors and sparse lines, just enough information is provided for a viewer to grasp a sense of feeling from the figures. But when one looks at the painting more closely, they find themselves wanting to draw in the rest of the figure’s features, to create a fuller picture of where this painted being is coming from, and where they are going. Godthart establishes an intimate space in which the viewer and subject interact on an emotional and artistic level. Though the works are sparse and leave much to the imagination, a home is constructed within them in which the flora of the unfathomable grows. *
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ART FAIRS INTERNATIONAL art fairs are the new biennials/biennials are the new art fairs
artfairsinternational.com Vol 20, N.3, Summer 2013
Summer Art Fairs June Fairs VOLTA 9 Basel | 10–15 June 2013, Basel, Switzerland Hong Kong Contemporary Art Awards | TBA June 2013, Hong Kong Scope Basel | 11–16 June 2013, Basel, Switzerland The Solo Project | 11–16 June 2013, Basel, Switzerland Art Basel | 13–16 June 2013, Basel, Switzerland The Solo Project | June 16–12 | Antwerp, Switzerland New Art Fair | June 20–22, 2013 | Bordeaux, France July Fairs ArtHamptons | July 12 — 14, 2013 | Bridgehampton, NY Ann Arbor Street Art Fair | July 17 — 20, 2013 | Ann Arbor, MI Art Southampton | July 25 — July 29, 2013 | Southampton, NY artMRKT Hamptons | July 11–14 | Bridgehampton, NY Bellevue Art Museum Arts Fair | July 26 — 28, 2013 | Bellevue, WA Master Drawings London 2013 | June 28 — July 5, 2013 | London, England August Fairs Art Aspen | August 1–4, 2013 | Aspen, CO Art Copenhagen | August 30 — September 1, 2013 | Copenhagen, Denmark Antique Indian Art Show | August 12 — August 13, 2013 | Santa Fe, NM Silver City Clay Festival | August 2 — August 4, 2013 | Silver City, NM The 5th Auckland Triennial | May 10 — August 11, 2013 | Auckland, NZ 2 NY ARTS | nyartsmagazine.com
Art Fairs International ARTISTS AT HOME & ABROAD
4 | Alika Kumar 5 | Anna Lukasik-Fisch 6 | Claudia Salguero 7 | Gabriela Culic 8 | Regina Miele 9 | Antonio Russo 10 | Claudia Luthi 11 | Dorel Topan 12 | Henriette Lorentz 13 | Dr. Peter Hartel 14 | Marlies Koster 15 | Leyla Munteanu 16 | Claudia Casaletti 17 | Anne Kristine Thorsby 18 | Jenny Gravestam 19 | Mario Passarello 20 | Naydene Gonella 21 | Debbie Head 22 | Sam Heydt 23 | Maxine Nienow 24 | Brittany Schall 25 | Joshua Hendrickson 26 | Dariusz Mlacki
Publisher Abraham Lubelski Executive Editor Rose Hobart Art Director Lee Miller Copyright NY Arts Magazine 1995-2013. All rights reserved.
Page 24. Brittany Schall
NY Arts Magazine
artfairsinternational.com Notes from Frieze NYC, 2013 Art Beijing Rises Wish Meme Highlights Fresh Paint, Tel-Aviv Art Revolution Taipei Hearts Aflutter: Pulse Art Fair New Talent at Scope
On the Cover: Nate Ethier, Niagara, 2011. Acrylic on canvas, 46 x 44.5 in
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Artists at Home and Abroad
ALIKA KUMAR alikakumar.com
Courtesy of the artist.
Freedom to express my creativity in a variety of ways has led to the creation of several series of abstract paintings. What unites my work is my unbridled passion for color. I work mostly with acrylics, as is efficient, yet flexible and challenging. Recent works have incorporated oil pastels. My style is unstructured, spontaneous and experimental, choosing to create art that reflects positive images of life, and provides respite, or an escape. The Series “India Remembered” celebrates my origins pieces such as “Diwali Diyas” that depicts the vibrant colors of India. *
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Artists at Home and Abroad
ANNA LUKASIK-FISCH lukasik-fisch.de
It's a bit of a strange feeling to call my ironic themes "art." I always feel my drawings are the opposite of the common ideas about what art should be. Opposite to the kind of serious art that is performed on a large format with expectations of what it has to express attached to it. And also opposite to contracted works: portraits, designs etc which i create on a professional basis. And by the way, I am a professional artist. The only motivation to create these works has been the fact that I love and need to create them now and then. Sometimes they are based on a book or lyric, sometimes they are completely free. They are also a comment on all the things happening to me everyday. And if I had any artistic goals, it would be just to make my spectators smile, the same way I smile when developing my ideas. There are no words to express how proud I am to see them leave my drawers and go out into the public. I'd be happy to make you smile at them as well. * ď€Ş
Courtesy of the artist.
Summer 2013 5
Artists at Home and Abroad
CLAUDIA SALGUERO claudiasalguero.com
Painting stroke by stroke over my photographs I add by hand what the camera can't capture: sounds, emotions and vibrations. My work is a magical combination of photography, digital and traditional art. *
Courtesy of the artist.
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Artists at Home and Abroad
GABRIELA CULIC gabriela-culic.com
The concept that underlies my paintings is related to the border between past and present. The gesture is essential. My approach creates a bridge over the gap between conceptual and gestural painting. If I should define the present, I would rather focus on its nonappearance. The present is the very negation of time, an abstract point where time concentrates its flow. The material of my painting is a far-away time. I want precisely to grasp this abstract concept and give it a concrete form, to materialize it through colors and gestures. Here you will find your most sensible feelings. *
Courtesy of the artist.
Summer 2013 7
Artists at Home and Abroad
REGINA MIELE reginamiele.com
Courtesy of the artist.
8 NY ARTS | www.nyartsmagazine.com
My artwork is rendered using traditional materials and techniques and visualizes landscapes and cityscapes on the cusp of change, either through gentrification or environmental changes. They are all, in a sense, autobiographical; visualizations that are omnipresent in my day-to-day life and travels. *
Artists at Home and Abroad
ANTONIO RUSSO arussoart.com
Courtesy of the artist.
I don’t really know if I have an artist’s statement or style, I don’t really see the need. I love painting to music and I never know what I’m doing until I look at a blank canvas, and at that point the colors, music and inspiration hit me, and it all starts to flow. Art speaks for itself, especially abstract expressionism, why should I complicate things by expounding on how or why I do what I do? I paint what I paint based on how I feel, and I try to paint from my heart. I do my best to present movement, emotion, energy, and visual excitement. I never shy away from bold colors. Color is life! Colors make people feel happy, and happiness is what life is all about. Abstract painting is easy to approach once you open your mind and have no fear. I also make music, I am a music producer and I do the same when I write a song as when I paint; I start with a blank sheet and then apply musical notes; that’s why I paint with music. I paint to sooth my soul. *
Summer 2013 9
Artists at Home and Abroad
CLAUDIA LĂœTHI kunst-grafik.ch
Courtesy of the artist.
I want to realize the possibility to give my paintings and drawings a soul and life. Most people tell me that the animals in my paintings really look back at people. So my personal goal for my art is, that the people not only look at the paintings but they smell the woods, or they hear the hoofs from the horses on the floor. So they go into a special world and they are relaxing there. I realize my paintings with oil color on canvas and also on velvet. This technique is very rare because it is difficult to get a good result. I also play with the texture of the velvet so that it doesnâ€™t lose its character. *
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Artists at Home and Abroad
DOREL TOPAN doreltopan.com
Courtesy of the artist.
I paint contemporary realism, inspired by pop art, approaching a hyperrealist style. I arrange puppets or objects of consumption that evoke sentimental moods while personally witnessing the hypocrisy of contemporary man's relationship with objects of consumerism. I want my work to expose contemporary idols and highlight the loneliness of the individual in question. *
Summer 2013 11
Artists at Home and Abroad
HENRIETTE LORENTZ henriettelorentz.dk
Courtesy of the artist.
Henriette Lorentz was educated at Aarhus Kunst Akademi (Art Academy). Her surreal and dynamic universe is populated by personified animals, fables and women who all send subtle glances. The works, which are full of life, show both humans and animals in touching situations. Henriette Lorentzâ€™s works express a pronounced energy, with crisp, subdued colors in variety of color, glimmer, glow and rich texture. The rich texture of the works, achieved very effectively by many layers repaints, is a common feature that supports the experience of the thoroughly prepared work. Henriette is an artist in rapid development. *
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Artists at Home and Abroad
Courtesy of the artist.
Dr. Peter Hartel
After graduating high school in 1959 with a final bad grade in Art Education, Dr. Peter Hartel decided to study medicine. In 1965 he passed he´s doctorate with magna cum laude and started practicing as a radiologist in a private office. Since 1959 he worked consistently in arts, first in Japanese ink, then waterbased acrylic, and now oil. He is President of “ALLOTRIA”, which was founded in 1873 by Franz von Lenbach and Lorenz Gedon in Munich as a meeting place for the revolutionaries of the Munich art scene. He is also Founder of the Academy "Sarbocar" together with Mike Keilbach, a fellow artist who also lives in Munich. He graduated from the Artclass of Sean Scully at the Academy of Art in Munich and since 1980 he has participated in numerous single and group exhibitions. * Summer 2013 13
Artists at Home and Abroad
Marlies Koster marlieskoster.nl
Courtesy of the artist.
All pieces of my seven-part series of levensdingen (life episodes) represent universal experiences during the life of a human being. Love, hatred, joy, sorrow, friendship, animosity, fear, security, victory, defeat life and death.The pictures are painted with strong contrasts. Vigorous brushstrokes in sober colors depict strong emotions. The vulnerable skin is soft and transparent. The fierce red hair stands for passion and for survival instinct. The pieces are relatively big to make it impossible for the viewer to deny the inescapable facts of life. * 14 NY ARTS | www.nyartsmagazine.com
Artists at Home and Abroad
Courtesy of the artist.
Leyla Munteanu saatchionline.com
For me, the process of creating is what is important. The energy and feeling in those moments is what breathes life. Through my work, I want the audience to see the beauty that I see, a beauty that some people fail to notice. My artwork is not a copy of reality but my own representation of reality. It is a world that brings back memories and records time, a complete sensory experience. Everything that surrounds me is interesting and new; everyday brings something to include in my work. *
Summer 2013 15
Artists at Home and Abroad
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Claudia Casaletti kranegaller.com
16 NY ARTS | www.nyartsmagazine.com
Walk-on actors are an endless succession of etched portraits, where both background and theme take possession of the image with equal amounts of power. Uninterrupted lines flow from faces to the surrounding area, and vice versa. The etched mark is the only protagonist; everything else is simply a walk-on actor. *
Artists at Home and Abroad
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Anne Kristine Thornsby annekristinethorsby.com I am an artist from Norway who graduated from the Oslo National Academy of the Arts in 1989. My art has developed from powerful drawings to colorful and expressive oil paintings with abstract elements from nature. My art has been described as having a signature element of light reverberating throughout all my paintings, whether from an external or internal source. My work displays an expression of turbulence and harmony through a balance of dominating and delicate hues. One of my goals in my paintings is the harmonization of colors. I believe that paintings are not invented, they are discovered. When the colors chime, the paintings shine. *
Summer 2013 17
Artists at Home and Abroad
Jenny Gravestam gravestam.com
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Street Fusion came to life in 2010. A colorful explosion with an urban street feeling, this piece was inspired by old school funk music and street art. My aim is to make people feel happy while enjoying my art. Enjoy color, enjoy life! * 18 NY ARTS | www.nyartsmagazine.com
Artists at Home and Abroad
Mario Passarelo arteindaco.com
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My art is emotional and sentimental. It is painting in motion. Everything flows, everything passes quickly, like life itself. My painting depicts the poet of the infinite, the world, and his inner strength. I attempt to pass this along to the audience. I aim to make my paintings feel alive, strong, and full of hope. It is the concrete abstraction, the rational representation of colors and nature, harmonious with shapes that leave everything to the imagination - the ability to represent something that isnâ€™t there with a sensation that coincides with fantasy.*
Summer 2013 19
Artists at Home and Abroad
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Naydene Gonella antiguaartists.com
20 NY ARTS | www.nyartsmagazine.com
My paintings reflect a search for reconciliation between apparent contradictions. Whether it be creation and destruction, sexuality and spirituality, light and dark, or accidental and intentional; I express these dichotomies through process. My pieces are created by layering, collaging, glazing, and painting different elements together. I then destroy certain parts of the image by stripping away layers to reveal my contradicting techniques. I work with encaustic as well as some acrylic with inclusions. *
Artists at Home and Abroad
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Debbie Head debbieheadphotography.com
My photography is about sharing. Sharing my love of life, of the human spirit, of natural wonders, of Godâ€™s creatures, and of the unexpected. We live on a fragile planet. It is my hope that my work will evoke and inspire joy in nature, an awe and respect for the earth and appreciation of the beauty of light and shadow. In our hurry-up and stressful technological age, we should take the opportunity to step back and observe our world apart from manâ€™s influence as it once was (and still is). I believe that the stimulation and use of imagination is essential to our health. *
Summer 2013 21
Artists at Home and Abroad
SAM HEYDT heydtstudio.com
My photographic work is united by its unconventional exploration of semiology and its role in cementing a cultural phenomenology of consumerism, corporal commodification and a mythology of a fictional past. Ironically employing the very medium I critique, my images speak to the decay, disillusionment, and disenchantment of the social psyche at the hands of the media apparatus. *
Courtesy of the artist.
22 NY ARTS | www.nyartsmagazine.com
Artists at Home and Abroad
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Dancers trapped in jungle mazes, nymphs and butterflies drifting through industrial spaces; I am drawn to capture the duality of beauty and destructionÂ â€“and the awe in it all.*
Maxine Nienow maxinenienow.com
Summer 2013 23
Artists at Home and Abroad
Courtesy of the artist.
24 NY ARTS | www.nyartsmagazine.com
Though it is ever evolving, my work is consistently about identity, form, and experimenting with new mediums. The imagery I produce is a dialogue about conflicting ideas that exist within the same plane. Visually, I produce a portrait of an individual where their face is incomplete or omitted all together, yet the audience is able to grasp the essence of this person despite the lack of key elements. Metaphorically, my works talk about contradictory roles that we have within ourselves, particularly with women. Femininity is both soft and strong, sensuality can empower or subjugate, and vulnerability can be courageous or cowardly. My pieces also express the dynamics of relationships, specifically submitting yourself with another while still trying to maintain your own sense of self.*
Artists at Home and Abroad
Courtesy of the artist.
Joshua Hendrickson infiniteformsphoto.prosite.com
I am conceptual photographer that infuses existential philosophy and experiential knowledge into my work. A meticulous and reflective attention to human communication both verbally and non-verbally and the interplay of what social infrastructures afford shape and inspire my work. I view my work as a process that does not necessary end with a finished product but as infinite form of expression that can be seen in the work with my subjects, their stories, and the impressions that are created through the shared experience and the presentation of the work. I am also a practicing social worker, adjunct professor, musician, and a public health presenter. This work is from my work in progress movement series. I am using long exposures to depict movement which is a quality of everyday life. Human experience can not be captured or reduced into single frames of experience but is an ever unfolding process of changes.*
Summer 2013 25
Artists at Home and Abroad
Courtesy of the artist.
Dariusz MlAcki darekmlacki.art.pl
26 NY ARTS | www.nyartsmagazine.com
My art is clearly contemplative in nature. I paint on canvas, timber boards, and cork sheets. I make sculpted objects using string, or make spatial and illusive painting objects. The array of colors is quite limited to various shades of white, grey, black, or brown. As an artist, I oscillate on the border between a minimal geometric abstract art and representation. Turning paints into colors, colors into light, light into space, and space into a meaning. I harbor an incessant desire to achieve a harmony of consonance, a perfect form. Objects which can be found in my paintings are strongly meaningful: candles, envelopes, windows, doors, and mirrors. However, I do not set the process of symbolizing in motion. My symbols are resting ones, and thus they provoke the viewer to be taken up on his or her own, and are followed up mentally in an unknown direction. My works always enter into strong relationships with the space, and with the architecture of the place they are displayed. They interfere, complement, and as a result, transform the space. What I do is not really painting the objects as such, but rather, trying to reconstruct them within a new space. It becomes rather hard to decide to what extent it is still physical and to what an extent it is already imaginary. I do not paint a window in my picture; rather, I strive to make the painting itself become a window. The works, hanged on a wall, open before the viewer illusively. They contain new areas, which are sometimes filled with dispersed mild light, and which sometimes can be a black abyss. *
Artists at Home and Abroad
THE YOUNG ART FAIR IN BASEL June 11-16, 2013 LISTE, The Young Art Fair, Burgweg 15, CH-4058 Basel
www.liste.ch Summer 2013 27