May 202017

Julius von Bismarck’s Good Weather at Marlborough Contemporary is an interesting meditation on man’s desire to control nature. The first half of the exhibition focuses on Bismarck’s attempts to capture a lightning bolt with the rockets pictured above. In a side room there is a mesmerizing video of a storm rolling into a jungle and the lightning that he used for his experiment. The second half of the gallery focuses on pressed plant species and chickens.

In the press release his process for achieving these flattened works is described in detail-

Like a Colonial scientist, von Bismarck has collected plant species from jungle. Rather than pressing tiny flowers in a notebook, the artist has pressed large plants and entire palm trees into flattened specimens. Heated to a precise 250 degrees in an enormous custom-built oven and a 50-ton hydraulic press, the plants are completely dehydrated without losing their verdant coloration, and squashed astonishingly flat. They are then backed with thin stainless steel to maintain their shape for presentation.

This exhibition closes 5/20/17.

                                                                                       No title (room, panic doors), 2013-14

At Gagosian gallery is Robert Therrien’s first show in New York in ten years. The artist, well known for his sculptures of massive tables, chairs and plates, is now creating rooms and new objects- which include drops, a bow, and a flagpole. The rooms are the works that stand out most, both in scale and in the disconcerting feeling of environments that should feel more normal than they do.

From the press release-

Despite their verisimilitude, Therrien’s rooms impede the viewer’s ability to engage with space in any comfortable way.  Meticulously assembled features of common industrial design allow one to stand in front of architectural vistas. Elevated above ground level and cut away to show interiors that, like dioramas, become impenetrable replicas of reality, each is like a mise-en-scène or readymade. No title (room, panic doors) (2013–14) presents a set of doors in a room filled with fluorescent light. In No title (paneled room) (2017), tambourines rest silent on the floor of a room luxuriously paneled in hardwood, and a ladder leads to a trapdoor in the ceiling. Each room transports the viewer out of the gallery and into a new narrative situation, prompting connections between material details and their subconscious associations. By making use of everyday things that are often overlooked, Therrien situates the viewer in familiar territory, then allows the objects to demand reassessment as instruments of subjectivity and of consciousness itself.

This exhibition closes 5/26/17.

For a room of a different sort, there is Gabriel Lester’s Nevada at Ryan Lee gallery, in which various sections of a wall sized installation light up as assorted voices tell their stories.

                                                                                        Nevada, 2017 (image courtesy of Ryan Lee)

From the press release-

Questions of presence and absence resurface in Nevada, the second component of this exhibition. Nevada confronts the viewer with a floor to ceiling modular wall. Carefully selected objects that correspond with the individual stories combined in Nevada’s multilayered narrative occupy each compartment. Guided by light and sound, the viewer navigates the histories of a series of anonymous characters that find themselves locked out of the world they used to inhabit. In an effort to escape the parallel world in which they have come to dwell, each character attempts to understand the nature and cause of their own existence. Considering personal memories and local histories of migration, mining, gambling, nuclear test sites, and mysterious locations like Area 51 and the Nevada triangle (an area in the California-Nevada desert where numerous aircrafts have vanished), Lester’s Nevada probes the tensions that link the seemingly distinct characteristics of this place to a number of characters looking for a way back to a life they have lost.

The exhibition opens onto a room of low-resolution LED panels showing internet-sourced images of near extinct animals and their habitats. The two rooms feel like separate exhibitions but are brought together by their shared qualities of losing one’s place in the current world.

This show runs until 5/20/17.

Mar 222014

Luke Gilford / Zackary Drucker


Flawless Sabrina in Zackary Drucker’s film


Tim Hawkinson


Robert Therrien

There are twenty eight artists in the group show Unsparing Quality, curated by Farrah Karapetian, currently at Diane Rosenstein Fine Art. The title is derived from André Breton’s First Manifesto of Surrealism- “Beloved imagination, what I like most in you is your unsparing quality.”

From the press release:

The exhibition poses the question: where do Surrealist impulses manifest in contemporary practice, and why are we seeing this now? The response involves three generations of artists who engage the legacy of Surrealist practice and offer work that investigates the subtle madness of the ordinary world.

The idea of self plays an important role in the collaborative portraits by Zackary Drucker and Luke Gilford titled, This Is What It Looks Like (To Go From One Thing To Everything) pictured above (image via Luke Gilford). In Zackary Drucker’s film with Flawless SabrinaAt least you know: you exist (2010-11) the older and younger artist interact to give a sense of continuation in the exploration of identity.

In Tim Hawkinson’s Samoa (2013), the artist made a bronze cast of his body for the sculpture with chains linking his hands to his tongue. The joints of the chain extending from his mouth are made from casts of the artist’s tongue and lips, while the ones originating from his hands are from casts of his thumb and index finger.  The sculpture poses questions about the nature of being an artist and its limitations with a surrealist approach.

Surrealism’s influence can also be seen in Robert Therrien’s beard sculptures. The larger size (pictured above) and a “beard cart” with varying sizes, some of which very small, offer a chance to question the idea of this prop and its potential uses.

The exhibition also includes work going as far back as the early 1920’s to demonstrate the ways in which artists have been exploring and continue to explore the “unsparing quality” of imagination.

On March 22 at 4pm, Zackary Drucker, Luke Gilford, Ray Barrett, Masood Kamandy, Mie Hørlyck Mogenson, Max Rain and Kim Schoen will be part of a panel discussion at the gallery.

You can watch an excerpt of Zackary Drucker’s film here-

Here is a link to Tim Hawkinson talking about his work for a show at Pace Gallery which included Samoa. He explains that the name for this sculpture came in part from the Girl Scout cookies his daughter was selling at the time.