Random stuff I saw in NYC – part III

More from Chelsea galleries …

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Deborah Zlotsky: It happened, but not to you
Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, 529 W. 20th St., New York

I loved these bold geometric paintings with their strange, ambiguous perspective. The artist keeps them from looking too pretty or perfect with deliberate application of drips, blobs and splotches. I like the fact that she varies her bright, demanding color schemes with one or two that have a quieter feel. Her artist’s statement:

“It happened, but not to you” fuses the ambiguity of what has happened with imagining what might happen: navigating the rich interstices between the past, the present and the future.  When I begin a work, I start with something both incidental and familiar — a few colors or shapes, a memory of a tangled pile of laundry or the movement of sunlight through my grandmother’s apartment. Responding to relationships and discovering unanticipated proximities fuel my actions: correcting, repairing, adjusting, and connecting parts in a responsive process of accumulation and revision. Accidents repeatedly redirect me, blurring my understanding of the differences between accident and intention, memory and history. The rhythm of my process is to continually rupture the interactions between the forms until the work reveals this oscillation and a unique situation emerges. I think of my paintings as chronotopes or palimpsests, conflating time and space within the compression of the canvas. Such confusion is an ordinary, human experience, especially when memories surface and coincide with the unfolding present. Eventually, the mutability of things slipping out of balance creates anomalies in the structures. These shifts and accumulations become a way for me to respond to the necessity of change, and the beauty and complexity of living. As I work, my process both brings me closer to and gives me distance from the friction between intention and coincidence, subtle forces that cause things to happen, which, in turn, shape my understanding of being in the world.

You can see an electronic catalog of Zlotsky’s exhibition here.

Adams-Chelsea2-02Deborah Zlotsky, Sonetto, 48 x 48 inches, oil on canvas
Adams-Chelsea2-03Deborah Zlotsky, A Tricky Subject, 48 x 48 inches, oil on canvas
Adams-Chelsea2-04Deborah Zlotsky, A Tricky Subject, detail

 

Deborah Butterfield: New Sculpture
Danese / Corey, 511 W. 22nd St., New York

Deborah Butterfield has been making sculptures of horses since the 1970s. Her earliest creations were made using mud, clay and sticks, before she moved on to using scrap metal in 1979. These life-size sculptures look very much like wood, but they are actually cast bronze. She carefully, intuitively, selects the branches and sticks which are used to ‘draw’ her horses. The lines of the branches do not simply outline the forms of horses, they create contours through an accumulation of simple or energetic lines that seem to build up from within. This is three-dimensional gesture drawing, and the result is both skeletal and muscular. These models or ‘ghosts’ (as the artist refers to them) are then cast, burning the wood away with molten bronze, creating one, unique sculpture to which she then methodically, expertly applies her patina (from the gallery press release).” 

Adams-Chelsea2-05Foreground: Deborah Butterfield, Whitebark, 86.75 x 108 x 25 inches, unique cast bronze with patina

 

Adams-Chelsea2-06Deborah Butterfield, Silver Star, 89 x 112 x 46 inches, unique cast bronze with patina

 

Adams-Chelsea2-07Deborah Butterfield, Otter, 91.25 x 117 x 33 inches, unique cast bronze with patina

Mary Ellen Bartley: Paperbacks
Yancey Richardson, 525 W. 22nd St., New York

Adams-Chelsea2-08Mary Ellen Bartley, Untitled 56

 

Random things of interest


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Posted in Art

Random stuff I saw in NYC – part II

A small sampling of Chelsea galleries

Peter Sacks: Aftermath
Robert Miller Gallery, 524 W 26 St., New York

The first thing you notice about these paintings (or collages? or constructions?) is their monumental size, drawing you in even from the street. Then there’s the texture – what’s that all about? So you have to go in and take a closer look, and there, you will not be disappointed. The texture is all from physical objects: Shirts complete with collars and buttons, crocheted doilies and other frou-frou lacey and fringey household things, corrugated cardboard, chunky blocks, and lengths of fabric upon which the artist has typewritten passages from texts of interest to him. All of it is pressed down onto a canvas, stiffened with some kind of medium, and in some cases painted over to obscure most of the original color, but in some cases left as is. The result is a mesmerizing visual feast.

From the press release:

Sacks uses an original, almost ritualistic technique of combining painting, adhesion, typewriting, burning, and compressing so that the works resemble archaeological sites or debris fields. He evokes a shared history of suffering, displacement, imprisonment and exile, all implicit themes that were drawn from Sacks’ experiences in South Africa and ongoing in our world at large.

Sacks applies multiple layers of materials on canvas, such as handmade lace, cloth, and threadwork, corrugated cardboard, clothing, shrouds, prison shirts, fishing nets, which he transforms by burning or painting over. Where they include textual elements, these are hand-typed by the artist on fabric using a manual typewriter and then incorporated into the overall matrix. Through this process, the artist alters our understanding of the medium of painting itself. From a distance, the canvases read as abstract and painterly, but close up, they abound with astonishing and vertiginous detail. Rigorously formal, they are at once encyclopedic yet intimate, creating a series of highly charged encounters.

Sacks has a very good website with great zoomable photos of lots more work plus reviews and downloadable catalogs of past shows.

 

Eric Wesley: Daily Progress Status Reports
Bortolami Gallery, 520 W. 20th St., New YorkAdams-_MG_3045-

This show consists of a series of 20 48×37-inch works with a limited color scheme. They look like oversize pieces of heavy paper complete with doodles, sketches, spills, folds, and other markings, but the medium is listed as oil and/or acrylic on aluminum. There are some impressive trompe l’oeil effects, like the oil paint blob with its surrounding stain. The paintings’ sketchy, impromptu appearance is fresh and appealing, possibly belying what may be a much more rigorous process. It appears that the artist wanted to indulge in exploring a multitude of techniques and styles, and he created the “Daily Progress Status Reports” device as a underlying unifying theme — although in some cases the Progress Report is missing entirely, as though he just got so caught up in the joy of making a painting that he covered it completely. From the press release:

An artist who often thematizes various rubrics of success and failure, Wesley’s newest works are large paintings that depict “Daily Progress Status Reports.”  Each DPS is a blank form for assigning and evaluating the efficiency of a workday; broken up by the hours of the day (from 10:00 am and 6:00 pm), it has space for delegating an “assignment” for each hour and a box to note whether or not these tasks have been finished satisfactorily. Wesley’s paintings show these DPS worksheets after they have been “completed”: scribbled on, evaluated, crumpled up, stained, faded and folded.

Wesley constantly reinvents his means of working — each body of work bears little if any resemblance to previous projects — and for these new works he experiments with ”trade secrets” of painting, using  oils, acrylics, airbrushing and various methods of screenprinting and stenciling.  The painstaking trompe-l’œil technique at which he ultimately arrived contrasts extravagantly with the apathy and ennui which the marks on each form convey, making the exhibition a droll meditation on artistic labor and the constant demand to be productive.

 

Antony, Jorge Queiroz, Kara Walker, Marc Handelman, Marlene McCarty
Sikkema Jenkins & Co., 530 W. 22nd St., New York

This was a group show of five artists, but evidently I only found two of them interesting enough to take pictures of. More information on the group show is here.

By far my favorite of anything I saw in the galleries are these smallish (9×13 or so), delicate mixed media pieces by an artist who just goes by the name Antony, thus making him a bit difficult to Google. Antony also has a “critically acclaimed musical career as a singer and composer.” His musical career proved more easily researchable. As far as I can tell, he doesn’t have his own web site for his art work, but you can read an interview of this “future feminist” and see more of his work here. These particular works are “made from found, and sometimes ephemeral materials that reference the natural world and our relationship to it.” There is no information regarding the materials used other than “mixed media.”


Adams-_MG_3098Antony, Untitled, 13 x 9.75 inches, mixed media
Adams-_MG_3096Antony, Untitled, 8 x 10.625 inches, mixed media
Adams-_MG_3094Antony, Untitled, 13 x 10.25 inches, mixed media
Adams-_MG_3095Antony, Untitled, detail
Adams-_MG_3093Antony, Untitled, 16 x 22.125 inches, mixed media

 

I also liked these large-scale graphite and ballpoint pen drawings by Marlene McCarty. These drawings “represent the final gesture to her earlier body of work known as the Murder Girls, a series of monumental portraits of teenage girls who had committed murder.”

Adams-_MG_3099Mary McCarty, installation view
Adams-_MG_3091Marlene McCarty, 14, 71 x 94 inches, graphite and ballpoint pen on paper

 

Note the interesting hanging method.Adams-_MG_3092

 

Paul Sietsema at Matthew Marks Gallery
522 W. 22nd St., New York

“Sietsema’s works address the production, consumption, and proliferation of cultural objects and the systems in which these objects circulate. One work, addressing the idea of transfer between the artist and viewer, portrays a phone with its receiver lying beside it. Another depicts a red expanse of paint with exposed areas of raw linen. The image, which resembles a materialist painting in the vein of Arte Povera, suggests that paint can make its own forms. The exposed linen sets the rendered image of paint beside the actual material of painting.”

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Adams-_MG_3086Paul Sietsema, White Painting, 69 x 46 inches, enamel on linen
Adams-_MG_3088Paul Sietsema, White Painting – detail

 

This is getting way too long, so I’ll break here. More to follow tomorrow.

Posted in Interesting Artists

Random stuff I saw in NYC – part I

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Lately, when thinking about the idea of blogging, I’ve had a big mental block about doing it.  It just seems like a lot of work when there are so many other fun and exciting things to be doing. I have seen a lot of things in the last few weeks that I want to share, though, so I’ve decided to make it easy on myself and just do this in a loose way without thinking so much about how to make it interesting. If people find this less than compelling, well, at least I’ll have my own record of it for posterity.

I have been in New York for most of September, thanks to the generosity of some wonderful friends. Among the many art-related things I did while here were the mandatory visit to MOMA, a wide-ranging survey of Chelsea galleries, the Jewish Museum, Pioneer Works Center for Art & Innovation (twice!), Museum of Arts & Design (MAD), the DUMBO arts festival (withing walking distance of where I’m staying), and visits with some artist friends in the area.

I’ll start with MOMA. I thought I’d blogged about this before when I was here the first time, but apparently not. The most exciting thing about this place the first time you get to come here is seeing so many things in their permanent collection that before you’d only had the pleasure of seeing in books. This includes Rauschenberg’s Bed, Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory (surprisingly tiny!), numerous Picassos, Cezannes, Warhols, Kandinskys, and so on and so on.

I’m only going to post a few specific objects  I’d never seen nor heard of before that caught my attention.

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Georg Herold
German, born 1947
Muttler, 1985. Wire, underpants, and glue on base with lettering

(no further information on the wall label) — I found myself unable to contemplate this with the gravity it probably deserves because my mind was busy obsessing on what had happened to the waist band, or if there never was one to begin with, how would the thing stay on?

 

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Sam Gilliam
American, born 1933
10/27/69. Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

“Gilliam is best known for works such as this one: unstretched abstractions that he draped from the ceiling, pinned to the wall, or slung over sawhorses. Ranging in size from a single sheet hung like a towel on a doorknob to giant, mural-sized canvases, Gilliam’s ‘drapes’ were reportedly inspired by the artist’s observation of laundry hanging outside his window. … The delicacy of the work’s improvisational image belies the momentous political context in which it was made: Gilliam was an African American artist living and working in Washington, D.C., in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement and not long after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Adams-MOMA-4Another view for scale. I wonder how they store this when it’s not on display.

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Pino Pascali
Italian, 1935-1968
Bridge, 1968.  Steel wool and wire.

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“An Italian critic coined the term ‘Arte Povera’ in 1967 to describe the work of Pascali and other Italian artists who worked with ‘poor,’ nonart materials. These artists renounced the separation between art and life and aimed to expand or dissolve the traditional parameters of painting and sculpture: ‘I do not believe you make shows in galleries,’ Pascali said, ‘you make the gallery, you create the space.’”

 

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Simryn Gill
Singaporean, born 1959
Where to draw the line, 2011-12, typewriting on nine sheets of paper

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“Gill’s photographs and installations have often taken books and the printed word as source material. In 1992, she began a series of pieces that appropriate and transform books, often rendering them indecipherable. For Where to draw the line, Gill hired a typist to copy on a manual typewriter five essays she wrote (and revised with the assistance of an editor) over the preceding year, titled “Women,” “Work,” “Snake,” “House,” and “Copycat.” The typist was instructed to omit spaces, overtype any errors, and repeat words as necessary to fill nine long, scroll-like sheets.

“These highly personal texts are enormous, densely printed, and virtually illegible. In Gill’s words, the work poses the question of “how much . . . we really give away” by putting such stories into the public sphere. Gill’s text-based works allow her to experiment with the medium while maintaining a degree of privacy. They invite close looking, but remain inaccessible, and when seen from a distance they read as an abstract, variegated textile.”

I absolutely loved this piece. Sorry my photos aren’t great. The subtle variations in tone and texture that could be achieved by such a simple means is a great lesson for me. It looked like a beautiful weaving. Typing seemed to be a recurring theme I saw multiple times on my art scouting adventures. Another example or two will be forthcoming.

 

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Charles Gaines
American, born 1944
Manifesto 2

Manifestos 2 consists of four large graphite drawings of musical scores—each a transcription, as it were, of an abridged version of a revolutionary speech or political manifesto, made by assigning a note to each letter and a rest for each space—and four video monitors that display Gaines’s variants of the original texts. The four texts are “An Indigenous Manifesto” (1999), by the Canadian activist and educator Taiaiake Alfred, addressing the history and future of indigenous peoples; Malcom X’s last public speech, from 1965, in which he advocated unity among oppressed communities; Raul Alcaraz and Daniel Carrillo’s “Indocumentalismo” (2010), which calls for rights for undocumented immigrants; and the “Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen,” written by Olympe de Gouges in 1791, which champions equality of the sexes.
In the videos, recordings of each piece of music accompany each gradually scrolling text; once all four have played on their own, they all play simultaneously, allowing the manifestos to act both individually and together. The resulting work considers the ways in which, in Gaines’s words, “the activist posture [of these texts] is complicated by the affect of music.”

Although this work is notable for the important nature of its content as well as for the obsessive nature of the process, which involves meticulous hand drawing of each individual note and other musical notation, would it be terrible of me to say that I thought the most interesting thing about this presentation was the handsome museum guard who made a point of explaining and discussing the work with all the visitors to his area?

 

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