May 202024
 

Die Spitz- I Hate When Girls Die

Twin Peaks references and heavy metal vibes combine for Austin band Die Spitz’s latest video.

This week they are playing in Los Angeles at Zebulon on Thursday, 5/23 (with Teen Mortgage and Dagger Polyester) and Friday (5/24/24) at Permanent Records Roadhouse.

May 192024
 

Ann Schaumburger, “Silver Moon in Darkened Sky House”, 2023, Flashe on wood

Ann Schaumburger

Ann Schaumburger

The three exhibitions currently on view at A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn all focus on homes in unique ways. In the first gallery, Ann Schaumburger’s paintings of houses for New Work continue her exploration of color.

From the gallery-

For over fifty years, Schaumburger has used the house as a basic structure—a scaffold—for exploring how colors interact with one another. Schaumburger builds her houses with blocks of four pigments, using stencil brushes and tape to fill each house with modular forms. Influenced by the theories of Josef Albers, Schaumburger’s approach to color is meticulous yet playful. Different colors dazzle and dance when placed in proximity, creating a sense of surprise.

The paintings in this new body of work depart from Schaumburger’s earlier explorations in one key detail: the houses are now mounted on wheels. This choice was inspired by Schaumburger’s reading of the biography of Henry David Thoreau, whose family had attached wheels to their domicile, allowing them to transport the house across different sites in Concord, Massachusetts. “The idea of taking a solid house, attached to the ground, and letting it roll away,” Schaumburger says, “seems both comical and deeply suggestive of our times.”

Schaumburger has described her color choices as an attempt to “solve an aesthetic problem.” Yet the work is not entirely abstract. Titles like Forest House Under Summer Sky and Moonscape Moving House gesture toward the fact that certain color relationships become evocative of different seasons, places, and times of day. All of the paintings in the exhibition feature a crescent or small globe in the upper left or right quadrant. Sometimes, this globe is rendered in metallic gold or bronze, recalling the sun. Other times, it is a lunar silver. The round shape of the globe mirrors the house’s circular wheels. Just as the earth rotates around the sun, the wheels rotate around their own axles, allowing the house to move.

The wheeled house becomes a spirited metaphor for Schaumburger’s practice. Dynamic rather than stationary, it embodies the liveliness and energy of Schaumburger’s color choices, as well as the open-ended nature of her process.

Roberta Dorsett’s photos for Sleepwalking explore isolation and uneasiness in her family’s suburban home.

Roberta Dorsett, “Sleepwalking”

Roberta Dorsett, “Sleepwalking”

Roberta Dorsett, “Sleepwalking”

From the gallery-

Dorsett’s Sleepwalking is a series of photographs examining isolation in the suburbs and how a sense of danger often accompanies seemingly idyllic environments. The work depicts three women, Dorsett’s aunt, her cousin, and Dorsett herself, occupying the shared space of a suburban home in Connecticut. Tension arises from the camera’s interaction with the women. The camera acts as an intrusive person, an interloper, and a voyeur as it captures the women in moments of discomfort and vulnerability.

In Dorsett’s previous work, she took on the role of family historian, photographing moments of in-betweenness that result in candid and uncontrived images. Her obsession with taking photographs of her family is driven by their lack of extant family albums or other visual documentation. Because of the family’s socioeconomic status, photography was considered a luxury and only done for special occasions. Moreover, Dorsett’s mother had to leave behind her family’s photographic history when she immigrated from Jamaica to the United States.

Dorsett initially intended Sleepwalking to be a straightforward documentation of her aunt and cousin’s experience as first-time Black homeowners. But she found herself drawn into the project’s narrative and began photographing her family in a more constructed and story-driven way, drawing inspiration from slasher and horror films. Dorsett captures the visceral thrills of these types of films by continuing to utilize her family to explore the concepts of voyeurism and anxiety. The single-family home, once a symbol of milestone achievement, now becomes a surreal site of both safety and terror. As she stood behind and in front of the camera, registering the uneasiness and distress of these three women inside their home, Dorsett dreamed up a distorted reality and asked herself, “Am I awake or sleepwalking?”

Finally, Denisse Griselda Reyes multimedia installation for Did you have a hard time finding me?  explores home and identity using a combination of original artwork and family archives.

Denisse Griselda Reyes, “Did you have a hard time finding me?

Denisse Griselda Reyes

From the gallery-

Featuring short films and familial ephemera alongside a new body of paintings, this exhibition humorously meditates on questions of self-formation, reparative representation, and archival preservation, inviting us to dwell in the absurdity these ambitions unintentionally generate. This is Reyes’s first solo exhibition in New York City.

Presenting what Reyes has called a “maximalist constellation of memory,” the exhibition juxtaposes materials from their family archives with paintings and multimedia projections within an installation space that recalls, yet does not perfectly reproduce, the domestic interiors of Reyes’s family. Anchoring this exhibition is a short film that ties together two threads. First, the border crossings of Reyes’s grandmother Anita that were necessitated by the peril of the Salvadoran Civil War, and this history’s impact on Reyes’s mother. Second, the queer dating life of Reyes’s indignant and savvy alter-ego, Griselda. Part-narrator, part-drag-persona, part-survival-strategy, Griselda offers Reyes a means to dictate the terms of their own representation against the expectations that constrict queer Latinx artists in the United States. Still, Griselda is also beholden to identitarian demands. Reyes allows their avatar to straddle the line of spectacle, flirting with failure, acknowledging that self-formation might be an impossible endeavor. By juxtaposing Griselda’s exploits with the narrative of their grandmother, Reyes interrogates whether familial, social, and historical processes have the final word on what generates a self.

Reyes has produced Griselda as a mediating figure—one who negotiates their own identity between femininity and non-binary gender, and who personifies the absurdity of any singular narrative of origin. In its plenitude and play, the exhibition exceeds the ostensible facticity of the familial and historical archive. Featuring new paintings that hazily recreate family photographs, a vitrine full of childhood teeth that parodies genres of museal presentation, screens that toggle between home videos and the simulation of archival footage, and striking blue-green walls that recall the past domestic spaces of Reyes’s family in El Salvador, the exhibition transforms processes of preservation into acts of mythmaking. The exhibition is less a recreation of the artist’s family’s domiciles than a space of critical reflection and ambiguity. Guests are invited to join in this meditation—and may find their own notions of selfhood implicated as a result.

These exhibitions close 5/19/24.

May 182024
 

“Equulus Duo (Two Horseys)”, 1993, Resin, steel, toy horses

“Noven Beastiolae et Octo Massae (Nine Animals and Eight Blocks)”, 1994/99 Resin, stuffed animals, steel, wood, paint

“Sub-Tristis (Somewhat Sad)”, steel, paper towel roll, resin, bees wax, dead fly, 1989

“Notae Litterarum (Foreign Trade)”, 2003, Book, glue, steel

Lucy Puls’s sculptures for Here Everywhere at Nicelle Beauchene encourage the viewer to think about objects in a new way, while also seeing them in the context of their own history. The thrift store toys in her resin sculptures are reminiscent of specimens in a jar or bugs in amber. A roll of paper towels, coated in resin and bees wax, also has a fly on it as if, like the people preserved at Pompeii, an event caused it to be trapped in this moment.  Casts of ships that no longer sail, and books detailing things no longer important, are made and remade into new forms with new codes to decipher. Consumerism, technology, even language itself (her titles are in Latin and English), evolve and change.  What will remain of the present day as we move into the future? Are there clues in what Puls has made using remnants of the past?

From the press release-

Showcasing selected works from 1989 to 2003, Here Everywhere highlights Puls’ unique and overlooked approach to materials and form, surveying her early experiments in making sculpture with found objects, wax, and resin.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Puls turned to making small, resin-cast sculpture with personal effects, found objects, and outmoded household items. At the time, Puls had been making large-scale fiberglass and corrugated metal sculpture; as a reprieve from this labor-intensive work, she began to experiment with leftover waxes and resins on more intimately sized works using items that were on hand in the studio or discovered during thrift shop runs.

Here Everywhere presents selected artworks made across almost fifteen years, loosely arranged into three categories that broadly describe their materials: Small Things, In Resin, and Of Book.

Comprising Small Things is an example of one of Puls’ very first experiments in wax from 1989, Dicis Causa (For the Sake of Appearances). Puls coated a fur hat in a mixture of wax and resin, tipping the form on its edge and affixing insects to its interior surface. Once a status symbol, here the fur hat transforms from a useable object to relic, recognizable, yet made distant through the artist’s material interventions and presentation on a steel shelf.

Works from In Resin include heavily sanded, amberized sculptures arranged throughout the gallery at varying heights atop artist-made shelves and pedestals. Assembled in this series are objects that made their way into thrift stores en masse throughout the 1990s, including once sought-after goods such as the Macintosh 512K and My Little Pony toys. Puls primarily acquired items that had been marked down at resale stores, thus seeking to understand the ways our consumer tendencies pave the way for trend cycles and widespread obsolescence. Children’s toys, in particular, mark this system for the artist; Res Parvus (Little Things) (1991) and Pueri Arma (Child’s Gun) (1991) reveal assembled compositions of the consumer objects that denote childhood—from the innocence and ubiquity of small, plastic figurines to the targeted marketing of BB guns to young boys.

Made a decade later, Imperfectus (Encyclopedia Britannica) (2002) and Involvo (Websters Twentieth Century, Red) (2002) from the series Of Book were created in a time-intensive process of gluing and layering. Unbinding and re-articulating the ideologic form of the encyclopedia, Puls meticulously transformed thousands of loose pages into solid, illegible objects.

The goal across all three series, Puls says, was to achieve in sculpture that which is done with relative ease in painting and drawing: to reduce “representation” to its simplest means while physically separating the object, or artwork, from real-time reality. This is to suggest the idea of a physical object that is both there and not there, devoid of any use-value yet rife with manifold meanings and associations. Through a “strangely alluring sense of loss,” as Glen Helfand described of the work in 2005, Puls turns Dada and Minimalist principles inside out, asking us to more deeply consider the influence of everyday objects and the way they reflect essential ideas of who we are.

This exhibition closes 5/18/24.

May 182024
 

Miho Ichise “Backlit Portrait”, 2024, oil on linen

Lina Tharsing, “Late Afternoon”, 2024, “It’s Not All Darkness”,2024, and “High Above”, 2022, oil on canvas

Miho Ichise “Warm, Gentle”, 2024, oil on linen

Lina Tharsing, “Golden Ginko”, 2024, and “Waiting for Us”, 2024, oil on canvas

Miho Ichise “Dancing Lights”, 2024, oil on linen

Lina Tharsing, “One Clear Moment”, 2024, and “Eclipse”, 2023, oil on canvas

Walking into the room of paintings in the Miho Ichise and Lina Tharsing two person exhibition at Scroll, the outside world seems to disappear, replaced with a sense of calm. Although their subject matter is similar, their approaches are different- as detailed in the press release below.

From Scroll’s website-

Photographing scenes of the life around her, Miho Ichise translates these snapshots into drawings before finishing her compositions on canvas. Rather than paint what is directly and physically in front of her, Ichise turns to photography, which she feels gives her a certain freedom to create her world, taking extracts of an image, changing the colors, and adding other elements. Painting is not just a replication of her surroundings, but a sensory and atmospheric translation – an attempt to capture the sight, sound, touch, smell, and feeling around her. Ichise draws inspiration and admiration from the play of light and shadow by Georges de La Tour, the lush and atmospheric scenes of printmaker Hasui Kawase, the refined and minimal compositions of Alex Katz, and the colorful textures of Pierre Bonnard.

The artist states, “I would like my work to be an open door to anyone where they can enter to enjoy a connection to their childhood or small excitement of daily life.” Her intimate paintings crop to subtle and distinct details – an element of a scene – allowing the viewer to imagine the bigger picture beyond the edges of the canvas. Whether depicting family members, friends, or strangers on a street, Ichise always draws from scenes of her life and experience.

Both intimate and visually transfixing, Lina Tharsing’s paintings are rooted in real places while possessing a dreamlike quality. For Tharsing, nature is a vehicle where she finds moments of transcendence in the ordinary fabric of everyday life. Light plays a major role in Tharsing’s compositions – whether filtering through trees or glimmering across water, light serves as a catalyst, and a reminder to stay curious.

Following the loss of her parents, Tharsing’s work has been shaped by grief, a transformative force that has reframed her perception of the world. Tharsing states, “Grief is a paradoxical experience – a profound journey into sadness, yet also a doorway to nearly overwhelming love and connection. Each of these paintings is a gateway, an entrance, a window, to what I refer to as ‘thin places’ – moments that reveal the veil between the seen and unseen. My paintings are an invitation to contemplate the presence of something beyond ourselves, something ineffable yet persistent, felt, and present. I am more aware than ever of our collective grief about our relationship to this planet, our ecological grief, and the grief associated with war and human suffering. I come back to the invitation of grief which asks us to transform ourselves and to open ourselves towards our connectedness.”

This exhibition closes 5/18/24.

May 172024
 

“Island”, 2024. Acrylic on paper

“Daredevil”, 2024, Acrylic and colored pencil on paper, and “L’Observatoire, 2024, Acrylic on paper

Yancey Richardson is currently showing two exhibitions which focus on architecture and city life. Mary Lum’s paintings and collages for temporary arrangements combine elements of city life found on her walks in New York and Paris. Fragments she discovers along the way combine to form dynamic interpretations of these environments.

From the press release-

Lum mines aspects of daily life, vistas of architecture, design, and advertising that could easily go unnoticed. These familiar and often mundane sights are transformed into something more: juxtapositions and layers of random elements, which show both spontaneity and control, perhaps revealing a glimpse into the soul of a city.

The exhibition title temporary arrangements refers to Lum’s journeys though the streets of New York and Paris, observing the fragments of a crumbling façade of a building, a vendor’s pushcart, or a poster for a vernissage, which may have a short shelf life in the urban environment. Lum takes photographs on the streets looking at geometric forms, planes of color, and text. She pulls off bits of advertising posters that are peeling from their bases and collects printed materials – all of which are collaged in her sketchbooks, becoming the basis for her paintings. These elements provide inspiration for Lum, who creates a collision of perspectives and forms that boldly announce the delights of quiet discoveries.

Susan Cross, Senior Curator, Mass MoCA, wrote that Lum’s work “suggests the speed of daily life and the fragmented way in which we encounter language in the world. Language speeds up and slows down, much in the way that when we are walking or riding a bike in the city our pace is determined by what we notice around us. Words come together and fall apart, with each individual viewer making meaning.”

Influenced by Cubism and Russian Constructivism, Lum is also interested in the concept of psychogeography, as practiced by members of the Situationist International movement in the 1950s and ‘60s. Referring to the effect of a geographical location on the emotions and behavior of the individual, one may see Lum’s interdisciplinary practice as a physical manifestation of this phenomenon. Lum also finds inspiration in artist and activist Corita Kent’s graphic style and fractured text as well as artist Ray Yoshida’s use of comics, which tell stories with isolated fragments.

Mary Lum wrote, “A couple of years ago I saw a William Kentridge exhibition at the Royal Academy in London. One of the things that kept jumping out at me from that show was the phrase: ’FIND THE LESS GOOD IDEA.’ That painted phrase was repeated several times in various parts of the exhibition, and each time I saw it I got a little jolt of recognition. I’m not sure exactly what Kentridge meant by that phrase (it’s related to his Centre for the Less Good Idea in Johannesburg), but to me it meant everything about the way I work. I took the reference to mean finding the things that are in the margins, those things that are on the periphery, those things that are between the lines, that you see out of the corner of your eye. Not through a concerted effort, but by paying attention, looking around, looking the other way. And often, later, you are not sure that you’ve seen these things at all.”

For Lynn Saville’s exhibition Elevated, she has captured NYC at its most peaceful time, twilight.

From the press release-

Twilight in the city, after the sun disappears below the horizon and the hustle and bustle has dissipated, is where Lynn Saville finds refuge and inspiration. For decades, she has documented these fleeting, dream-like moments suspended in time within the urban landscape.

Elevated showcases Saville’s mastery of the city’s natural light. Much like Edward Hopper, who painted the solitude of New York City through its buildings and rooftops, Saville’s photographs transform architectural elements and structures into dramatic geometric forms and patterns through light and shadows. Saville describes the importance of capturing images at twilight, “During this transitional time, the change from daylight to moonlight and artificial light seems to awaken the city’s own dreams, apart from the business and errands of its inhabitants. For me, these dreams are expressed in basic shapes and patterns, as if the infrastructure were communing with its own geometry while distracting details are hidden in shadow. The shifting light brings out forms that may disappear in the darkness of night or remain invisible during the more chaotic visual world of daylight.”

As the exhibition title implies, photographs featured in the show were taken from the elevated platforms of New York City’s mass transit system or from the street looking upward at structures on rooftops. These photographs explore perspectives on the language of the built environment and our perception of the cityscape. For example, Elevated subway platforms offer an expanse of skyline structures such as rooftops, water towers, and upper sections of nearby buildings, which along with the coming and goings of trains become the focal point.

Both of these exhibitions close 5/18/24.

May 172024
 

“New body, new body”, 2024, Oil and graphite on linen

“Our family portrait/ Dancing over the town”, 2024, Oil and graphite on linen

“In Bed” 2024, and “The world was different when Leonard painted Emily”, 2024, Oil and graphite on linen

“I love basketball”, 2024, Oil and graphite on linen

Tanya Merrill’s exhibition, Watching women give birth on the internet and other ways of looking, at 303 Gallery explores the way we look at the world today while referencing classical imagery from the past. What has changed in the way we see ourselves, our place in society, and our place in time? How much has changed because of self documentation and the internet? All of these questions feel even more prevalent now with technology and environmental issues moving at an accelerated pace.

From the press release-

True to her propensity for a cyclical and narrative installation, the show begins and ends with the creation of life. Each painting represents a diverse point of interest and concern to the artist— sexuality and ideas of fertility, the natural world and the fraught state of the environment, and the broader implications of contemporary technology, sports, and religion on the artist’s experience as a woman today.

The scale of the subjects in each canvas approximate life, creating a one-to-one perspective when standing in front of, say, a tree trunk, a cat perched on a fish tank, or a man admiring himself with a basketball. One work shows a trompe l’oeil stack of papers illustrating a 15th century manuscript: an early representation of a woman’s fertility cycle in relation to the stars. The modes for distributing images have changed, but the need to see them has not—jump ahead 800 years and the show’s namesake painting frames the edge of a computer screen, documenting the recent phenomenon of sharing one’s birthing story and corresponding photographs publicly on the internet.

Humans have always employed tools for looking. The earliest manufactured mirrors were made from volcanic glass in Turkey and date some 8000 years ago, the invention of the telescope advanced our understanding of Earth’s place in the cosmos, a phone now captures our own image with a recent poll finding 92 million selfies are taken every day around the world: the Allegory of Sight and mythology of Narcissus regenerates.  In I love basketball, a naked man gazes affectionately at himself in the mirror. Coyly, he holds a basketball in front of his own genitalia; pensive yet playful, he engages the long tradition of masculinity in sports seen throughout art history. Across the gallery, a pregnant woman is doubled in the frame and photographs her changing body. The technology she clutches, perhaps soon to be obsolete, will be inextricably linked to the start of the 21st century.

The North American cecropia moth is seen on its host plant, a white birch tree, one of the few plants a Cecropia larva can eat. A recent report found dramatic rates of decline that may lead to the extinction of 40% of the world’s insect species over the next few decades. And with a single nest of baby birds needing up to 9,000 caterpillars before they are ready to fledge, the looming demise and precarity of our food chain is blatant. Merrill is compelled to paint the species that are still here, a record that they really did live before they died. The ecologist David Wagner says of the insect decline, “… We don’t know if it’s an apocalypse or Armageddon.”

In Our family portrait/ Dancing over the town, three skeletons– two human and one dog– are seen romping joyfully, even in death. The couple, winged and facing eternity together, point to religious imagery from a 17th century wall tomb, while the surrounding landscape references the art movements of Europe which inspired the Hudson River School Painters— an homage to the place this exhibition was made. Merrill’s studio in the Hudson Valley can be seen nestled in the bottom left corner of the canvas.

This exhibition closes 5/18/24.

May 142024
 

“Swirl of Sounds- The Ghost in the Banyan Tree”, 1976, Oil on canvas

“Flotilla”, 1962, Oil on linen

“The Blue Drum Path to the Open Coast”, 1977, Oil on canvas

The paintings in Alice Baber: Reverse Infinity at Berry Campbell are alive with color. The delightful paintings were created using thinned-down oils and acrylics to give the work a watercolor effect.

On one wall, the gallery has included the quote below in which Baber described her process-

“When I first conceive of a painting‭, ‬I must feel it‭, ‬I hear it‭, ‬I taste it‭, ‬and I want to eat it‭. ‬I start from the driving force‭ ‬of color‭ (‬color hunger‭); ‬then comes a second color to provide light‭, ‬luminous light‭. ‬It will be the glow to reinforce the first color‭. ‬I then discover the need of one‭, ‬two‭, ‬three‭, ‬or more colors which will indicate and make movement‭, ‬establish the psychodynamic balance in midair‭, ‬allow freedom to take place‭, ‬add weight at the top and bottom of painting‭, ‬and create mythical whirlpools between larger forms‭.”

Alice Baber‭, ‬Color‭, ‬1972‭

This exhibition closes 5/18/24.

May 142024
 

 

Kris Lemsalu’s sculptures for One foot in the gravy at Margot Samel are well crafted explorations into life and death, using a lot of tongues. There’s a lot of humor in the work, and this levity is nice to see in the galleries- especially in our current times.

The press release is interesting too-

One should acknowledge, with infinite joy, the fact of being alive. We should celebrate our existence and recognize its fragility in every moment. It’s easy to forget, to get distracted by mundane circumstances of our day-to-day life. On the other hand, life’s impermanence may induce panic, an all-encompassing fear that leaves us searching for answers. Still, we are resilient to becoming just another customer at Café Gratitude, its slogan ringing in our ears like a mosquito — What Are You Grateful For? Baruch Spinoza introduced the concept of conatus, which illustrates the internal drive of every being to persevere in its existence. The conatus is inherent to every substance; it is the engine that propels life. However, older philosophies get boiled down to artificially made bite-sized snacks at Café Gratitude — Live Laugh Love — pushing us to habitually flee from quick, feel-good moments.

Celebrating life doesn’t seem to intimidate Estonian artist Kris Lemsalu. Her work emphasizes, with absolute honesty, life and its different stages. This direct form of communication is not new to the artist. In 2019, she presented the work Birth V – Hi and Bye at the Venice Biennale which was an unmediated exploration of cycles relating to birth, life, death, and (fortunately) rebirth. Lemsalu continues her celebratory, inquisitive, and pagan journey in her exhibition at Margot Samel. We are welcomed with a grand altar inscribed with “VITA”, each letter created with an anthropomorphic character that references Baubo, a figure from Greek mythology associated with vitality and renewal, famed for making Demeter laugh in her most tragic moment. This figure often recurs in Lemsalu’s work, appearing with a jaw (or vulva) as a head, wearing a pair of cargo pants with tongues leaning out from its utilitarian pockets.

Tongues multiply in various sizes and formats throughout the space. Sometimes they are raised like the bright flag of a grand country, other times they rest on a rocking chair, contemplating life. The tongue is a familiar symbol in Lemsalu’s work. The artist often correlates the body part to the Hindu deity Kali, a controversial figure, who in the ecstasy of an uncontrolled dance, extended her great tongue to drink the blood of demons, resulting in a triumph over negative forces. Kali’s tongue is a symbol that evokes both laughter and fear, simultaneously bestowing life and death, creation and destruction.

When we enter the world of Lemsalu’s work, our experience functions as a ritual. Each work acts as a rite that celebrates our conatus and the perseverance of our existence, shamelessly celebrating our fragility and the passage of time, commemorating life with flowers, with one foot deep into the gravy.

Enrique Giner de Los Ríos

May 142024
 

Kwakwaka’wakw artist and activist Chief Beau Dick’s (1955-2017) carved masks for the exhibition Walas Gwa’yam / Big, Great Whale at Andrew Kreps Gallery draw you in with their intriguing visages.

From the press release-

Our whole culture has been shattered. It’s up to the artists now to pick up the pieces and try and put them together, back where they belong. Yeah, it does become political. It becomes beyond political; it becomes very deep and emotional.” – Beau Dick speaking in the 2017 film ‘Maker of Monsters: The Extraordinary Life of Beau Dick.

Beau Dick’s works are deeply informed by the tradition of potlatch, a gift-giving ceremony practiced by Indigenous people of the coast of Pacific Northwest Canada, which focused on the redistribution of wealth as a tool for building solidarity. Outlawed by the Canadian Government for nearly seventy years as part of an ongoing history of forced assimilation, the seclusion of Dick’s birthplace on Kingcome Inlet (Gwa’yi) allowed his community to continue practicing customs relatively free from the gaze of colonial authorities. Trained in wood-carving by his father, grandfather, and other master carvers, and completing his education in Vancouver, Dick was acutely aware of inherent tensions between contemporary consumer culture and Kwakwaka’wakw teachings. Refuting his masks as static objects, his carvings reference supernatural figures, like Dzunuk’wa, the “wild woman of the woods,” and her counterpart, Bakwas, “wild man of the woods,” which are reanimated to combat what Dick saw as capitalism’s “ravenous” oppression. Frequently employing his works in dances and performances, in 2012 he took forty Atlakim (Forest) masks to his community in Alert Bay, where after one final ceremony, they were ritually burned, referencing the ongoing responsibility for rebirth, and recreation in the face of erased tradition.

May 142024
 

A large heart hangs in netting below the skeleton of a mysterious creature in one of Joy Curtis’s sculptures for Night Hike and Ocean Grandma at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery.  As you walk around the sculptures you are invited to invent the story behind them. Titles like Ocean Grandma, Sympathetic/ Parasympathetic, and Future Organs, and Night Hike (Epiphytes) provide clues.

Throughout the run of the exhibition, performers activated several of the smaller wearable sculptures. These performances are currently on view on the  gallery’s website and Instagram.

From the press release-

Joy Curtis’s new show of immersive textile sculptures takes on a folkloric quality, addressing ideas of evolution, environmental history, continuity, and change. Curtis sculpts with fabrics dyed to align with multiple historical traditions. These soft materials are quilted and sewn onto wire armatures, assembled to imply animal and plant forms, yet veering into abstraction.

Roots, vertebrae, leaves, and organs drape from figurative or animaloid fabric structures, creating canopies with an ambiguous narrative. Curtis hand-dyes her cloth using techniques inspired by Nigerian (Yoruba) Adire and Japanese Shibori processes, employing natural hues such as amber, ochre, iron, and indigo. Some pieces incorporate synthetic elements, such as reflective discs sewn into the works, causing visual sparks or glimmers amidst the more subdued textiles. The mixture of materials creates rich textures, as well as both reflective and absorbent variations in the light.

Some sculptures are large and hang dramatically from the ceiling, allowing the viewer to walk underneath and between them. A series of smaller works hang on the walls, actively wearable as garments. When dressed on individuals, these sculptures transform the wearer into an extension of Curtis’s formal style.