Mar 132020
 

 

Currently at Nancy Hoffman Gallery in New York is Purdy Eaton’s delightful painting exhibition Eat and Live. Eat and Die.

From the press release-

Eaton’s upcoming exhibition is a nod to Bruce Nauman’s One Hundred Live and Die. Eat and Live, Eat and Die; the essence of all life: plants, animals, humans, kings, queens, and cockroaches are all bound to this ethos. This, like Nauman’s other phrases, Feel and Live, Feel and Die, is simultaneously fatalistic and equalizing.  The chaos of politics, climate volatility, and random violence is rightfully fear inducing and overwhelming, yet there is something hopeful and meditative about the reality you eat you live, you eat you die.  There will always be a tomorrow no matter how dystopic.

Eaton’s darkly humorous oil paintings riff on this dichotomy. As climate change and divisive politics tear at our foundations, we are placated by funny cat videos and TikTok memes. Play and Live, Play and Die. We can see the big picture, but sometimes it is just too depressing and overwhelming, and we want to enjoy that gorgeous sunset even if it is made of toxins.

In a series about state birds, Eaton examines the warped reality that many of the state birds are no longer able to inhabit the states they were legislated to represent. The California quail, California’s state bird for nearly a century, is leaving the state as their range is becoming too warm for them to stay. In Eaton’s depiction, the quail appear in front of a lovely sunset, but on further inspection, they might actually be escaping the latest wildfire. In another painting, Paul Bunyan rises in the foreground, while an American loon flies in another direction. The juxtaposition of this iconic strongman roadside attraction—symbolic of the American celebration of “man taming the wilderness”—-with a bird that can no longer live in Minnesota, hints that it might be time to reexamine our origin stories. In another painting from the series, a Northern Flicker with bright yellow plumage rises from a background of rockets in Huntsville, Alabama. As the location of early launches, these relics of NASA’s glory years are now tourist attractions. Space is no longer the purview of science and human progress—it has become the escape hatch, the place to go when we need a Plan B.

Eaton also spins Nauman’s duality to remind us that despite the apocalyptic visions we read about daily, it is not all bad for all creatures. Fireflies, for instance, are flourishing. The Canada Goose, once on the verge of extinction, has become so common as to be a nuisance. With these color-rich and storied paintings, Eaton is asking us to realize that this is our moment to be alive, before we all die, and that the flowers are indeed quite beautiful.

This exhibition closes 3/14/20.

Mar 062020
 

Spoons, 1979.

For Sandy Skoglund’s exhibition Winter, at Ryan Lee gallery in New York, she has partially recreated the environment she used to created the title piece. Many of her photographs are created by building new worlds-this is a chance to immerse yourself in one of them.

The exhibition also includes a collection of her work from the late ’70s to 2005, including Radioactive Cats from 1980 (pictured below).

From the press release-

Skoglund describes Winter as “a study in perseverance and persistence, an artificial landscape celebrating the beautiful and frightening qualities of the coldest season.” In the photographic image, a man, woman, and child punctuate an icy blue scene. They are inside of an iceberg, perhaps, surrounded by its craggy walls. Standing pensive with hands in the pockets of their winter coats, only the child, a red-headed girl, looks out toward the viewer. The trio is joined in this fantastical setting by a cluster of three snowflake-emblazoned owls and a female figure that seems to have frozen mid-slumber. The imagery evolved from Skoglund’s interest in similarity and difference among snowflakes. Her fascination with the appearance of correspondence versus the reality of difference extends from earlier investigations of the liminal territory between the natural and the artificial, or order and chaos. Through her constructed imagery, Skoglund explores the space between what the human eye and the camera can see.

Since the late 1970s, Skoglund has been celebrated for her panoramic installations—entire environments that she meticulously designs, constructs, and then re-visualizes photographically. Skoglund likens Winter to “a very slow shutter speed on a camera. Time stands still but also inches forward.” Relentlessly inventive, Skoglund challenges herself to experiment with new creative technologies, always in search of the medium best suited for her message. For Winter, which was part of a larger project on the four seasons, years of experimenting with various forms of clay modeling and 3D-printing led to the ultimate inclusion of digitally-cut metal snowflakes bearing ultraviolet cured ink, and the computer-sculpted figure and owls.

Radioactive Cats, 1980. (image courtesy of Ryan Lee )

This exhibition closes 3/7/20.

 

 

Feb 272020
 

Currently at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. gallery in New York is on the lower frequencies I speak 4U (alquimia sagrada), a solo exhibition of work by william cordova.

From the press release-

For the artist’s fourth solo exhibition at the gallery, cordova has developed a multi-media installation seeking to explore “the juxtaposition of past structures to more contemporary structures that illuminate the ephemeral nature of our existence, as beings who create material culture as a means of documentation and memory.”

The exhibition incorporates large-scale drawing collages, photography, and sculpture into an environment that reflects on abstract forms rooted in sacred geometries, while also drawing from historical moments and monuments of resistance. Two large scale sculptures, untitled (RMLZ), and untitled (palenque), reference both Brutalist and pre-Columbian architecture, specifically the temple-Citadel sites at Sacsayhuaman and Ollantaytambo. Incorporating the architectural motifs found at these sites, such as zigzags and grids, cordova’s sculptures thread an ephemeral repository, meditating on the concepts of image encoding from biological, natural, galactic, and cultural sources. The sculptures disrupt the formal structure of the gallery, creating alternative perceptions of space and time.

In his series rumi maki, william cordova takes on an ethnographic approach in addressing shared symbolism found in textile data encoding and architectural design. Named after the ancient Andean martial arts, rumi maki consists of multi-colored collages on paper, constructed from vivid layers of recycled paint chips. The arrangement of colors and patterns carry latent meanings, dependent on geography, culture, and the readings of celestial bodies. As cosmological maps, the collages synthesize the sacred geometries of architecture with the visual narratives of historical civilizations. Its form also recalls pioneering early video installation artist Beryl Korot, and her contributions to the 1970s video journal Radical Software.

ogun (el siglo de silencio) sees the artist return to large-scale collage on paper after several years focused on site-specific installations and smaller-scaled work. This work introduces viewers to a new series titled el quinto suyo (the fifth suyo), collages culled from reclaimed paint chip samples and recycled cardboard pigmented with old discarded oil stick paint. Literary references permeate cordova’s collages; texts such as El Siglo de Las Luces by Alejo Carpentier, El Monte by Lydia Cabrera and Decimas by Nicomedes Santa Cruz point to his ongoing interest in the distribution of power, spirituality, and labyrinths of perception.

In the back gallery is an exhibition of paintings (pictured below) by Josephine Halvorson, titled On The Ground.

From the press release-

On The Ground, also the title of her essay in Art In America (June/July 2018), continues Halvorson’s exploration of the ground—as a motif, material, and metaphor. Each painting registers an area of ground through Halvorson’s close observation and pictorial description, while its accompanying surround incorporates crushed rocks and debris from the site of the painting’s making. Together, they realize a faithful translation of place and time. The work in this exhibition was made in the Berkshire mountains, the Mojave Desert, and Matanzas, Cuba.

These hybrid paintings are made with gouache, site material, dry pigment, and printmaking. They expand Halvorson’s on-site practice of transcribing direct experience by hand. While her previous work in oil allowed her encounter with an object to congeal over the course of a day, Halvorson has turned to gouache, a fast drying and graphic medium, which, like handwriting, records her observations in real time. Her paint application is indelible and fresco-like, transferring color from the brush into the absorbent ground of the panel.

Touching down at various points of interest—a piece of plastic, a blade of grass—Halvorson’s notational marks establish a correspondence between environment, painting, and viewer. Like a map, they depict the literal scape of the ground while offering an escape from mimesis. The reality of proximity breaks down as one gets lost in the archeology of a single stride. Gravel becomes galactic. The surround acts as a legend or key, a space for evidence and tools of calibration. A ruler, coins, or color chart orient the onlooker in terms of scale and perception, and the site material indexes the painting to its original locale. These are paintings of verification and memorialization. They ask how we make sense of what we see, how we express that witnessing, and how an account of experience is made concrete.

Both of these exhibitions close 2/29/20.

Feb 272020
 

Currently at Pace Gallery in New York are Nigel Cooke’s ten large-scale paintings. The paintings have an exuberant intensity to them. Close up the shades of varying color, layers of paint, and the textures created by the brush strokes, show the detail that went in to creating the overall effect of the work.

From the press release-

Completed over the past year, these ten new large-scale paintings mark a significant shift in the artist’s direction toward a more performative, energetic, and abstract approach to figuration. This shift was propelled by a recent residency in the city, where Cooke remarked that “the entire philosophy of what it is I am doing has been adjusted.” These works, which reference actions, places, and people, exist as matrices in which the artist’s free and open process meets wider themes of metaphor, spirit, nature, representation, and the living material quality of paint. In this way, these new works draw on the legacies of American artists such as Willem de Kooning and Clyfford Still as well as Abstract Expressionism, British Figuration, Spanish painting, and Chinese silk painting.

…These dynamic compositions become transitional grids that unfix and multiply the idea of what a figure is, reflecting a complex interplay of vigor, chance, and intuition. They begin with a single color drawn in a loose structure that drives the painting process forward. Building up the canvas in lines and washes, the paintings move away from a defined image, resulting in a myriad of possibilities from the mud and grit of real landscapes to atmospheric emanations or presences. As such, they do not depend on a fixed viewpoint but drift between states, contradicting themselves over time and allowing for the possibility of transformation.

Furthering Cooke’s radical shift in his practice, the paintings were executed on raw canvas—a first for the artist. The natural linen endows the paintings with a unique brownish ground and a textured weave that is seen throughout the works. This material quality also impacts Cooke’s mark-making as washes develop into thickets of dark staining and lines that taper off and sometimes produce kasure or “flying white,” an ancient Chinese silk painting technique known for its ribbon-like strokes that sputter and appear to leap off of the surface of the canvas.

This exhibition closes 2/29/20.

Feb 212020
 

Currently at Blain Southern gallery’s New York location is  Mircea Suciu’s Universal Fatigue.

From the press release-

Part of the Cluj School, Mircea Suciu (b. 1978, Baia Mare, Romania) is regarded as one of Romania’s leading artists. During his formative years he witnessed the country’s tumultuous transition after the only violent overthrow of a communist government in the 1989 revolutions. Describing himself as an image creator rather than a traditional painter, Suciu mines and references art history and contemporary imagery, reducing down the elements and adding colour coded symbolism. He has ‘his own complex way of making things in which painting, photography, drawing and print all cooperate while playing their individual parts’ 1

Inspired by his former studies on the restoration of Baroque paintings, Suciu has developed a process he calls ‘monoprinting’. A photographic image is split into a grid of A4 surfaces, each one printed onto an acetate sheet onto which a layer of acrylic paint is applied. The paint acts as a ‘glue’ that adheres to directly to the canvas and once dry, the acetate sheet is peeled off. The result is a transference of the printed image with associated faults and imperfections which Suciu then ‘restores’ by re-painting with oil and acrylic paint. Sometimes, as with works in the Disintegration series, he overlays the image multiple times using various colours until he creates a surface that is barely recognisable from the original. As a final stage the whole image is repainted. This multi-layered process creates compositions of reinvented images which allude to history, memory and eventual dissolution of all things.

‘A characteristic of my work is frailty, not regarding the subject but the relationship between the surfaces that constitute the ensemble of the whole picture.’ – Mircea Suciu

This exhibition closes 2/21/20.

 

Feb 202020
 

Closing 2/22/20 at David Zwirner’s 20th Street location in New York is Stan Douglas’s fascinating video installation Doppelgänger. It is also on view at view at Victoria Miro Gallery in London.

From the press release

Since the late 1980s, Douglas has created films and photographs—and more recently theater productions and other multidisciplinary projects—that investigate the parameters of their mediums. His ongoing inquiry into technology’s role in image-making, and how those mediations infiltrate and shape collective memory, has resulted in works that are at once specific in their historical and cultural references and broadly accessible.

Doppelgänger is set in an alternative present. Displayed on two square-format, translucent screens, each of which can be viewed from both sides, the looped narrative unfolds in side-by-side vignettes that depict events on worlds that are light years apart. When one spacecraft embarks on its journey, another is launched at the same time in a parallel reality. Alice, a solitary astronaut, is teleported to a distant planet, and her double to another. Then, Alice and her ship, the Hermes II, for unknown reasons, return. Alice assumes her mission has failed and she has somehow returned home, but she has, in fact, arrived at a world where everything, from writing to the rotation of the sun, is literally the reverse of what she once knew.

The action on the two screens proceeds alternately in tandem and in parallel, seamlessly moving between two oppositional scenarios of Alice’s reception back on Earth. In one version, Alice is received compassionately and welcomed home, whereas in the other, she is treated as an outlaw or a potential threat. Douglas intentionally heightens the viewer’s feeling of displacement through a continual sense of reversal and mirroring, both in the form and content of his installation. Since the early 1990s, multi-channel video installations have been an integral part of Douglas’s practice, allowing for the simultaneous presentation of multiple, overlapping narratives or vantage points, and with Doppelgänger, he extends his ongoing exploration of both nonlinear narratives and alternate histories: the omnipresent sense of doubling that is built into the structure of the work implicitly suggests the possibility of simultaneous, diverging experiences and realities.

Intercut with quasi-abstract passages of color and light, which nod both to avant-garde cinema as well as the history of space exploration, Doppelgänger presents a nuanced and layered parable that powerfully addresses the slippery notion of objective truth, and the position of the “other” in contemporary society.

 

Feb 132020
 

For its inaugural exhibition at its Chelsea New York location, Mucciaccia Gallery is showing the work of Yayoi Kusama. The show includes sculptures, her signature infinity polka dot paintings, and several of her works on paper.

This exhibition closes 2/15/20.

Jan 172020
 

It’s the last week to see Robert Longo’s eight hyperreal charcoal drawings from his “Destroyer Cycle” at Metro Pictures.

From the press release-

The title (of the exhibition) Fugitive Images refers to the transitory appearance and displacement of impactful media images from across the globe. Longo believes it is morally imperative to secure their permanence.

Longo’s drawing of Jamal Khashoggi is central to the exhibition, which includes works depicting a range of world events from disparate locations. The journalist is shown disappearing into a field of static that recalls a television with poor reception, struggling to maintain the picture. In stark contrast to the evanescent portrait of the murdered journalist is a deeply humane drawing of a mass of migrants on a grueling journey from Central America. The work focuses on the faces and personal effects of the individual men, women, and children, who appear desperate and exhausted. Another drawing that shares the main gallery counters this sympathetic sentiment, showing a choreographed military parade of North Korean soldiers in an exaggerated, highly athletic, mechanized goose step commonly associated with dictatorial regimes and blind obedience.

The reference images that are the basis of Longo’s drawings are generally extensively altered and merged. His drawing of a Jewish cemetery in France crudely vandalized by Neo-Nazis is an exception. Longo maintains the legibility of the tombstones despite the spray-painted swastikas, which fail to obscure the engraved epitaphs of the people buried there––a widow, a religious man who lived a long life, and an honest hardworking man who died on Shabbat.

The exhibition ends with a moment of optimism, determination, and progress. Longo’s drawing of Congress during President Trump’s second State of the Union Address immortalizes the female representatives and lawmakers who chose to wear white in solidarity with the suffragette movement by portraying them as a blurred beacon of light within a sea of darkness.

This exhibition closes 1/18/20.

Jan 172020
 

Closing on 1/18/20 at Gladstone Gallery in Chelsea is Ugo Rondinone’s thanx 4 nothing, a multi-channel video installation that pays tribute to the artist’s late husband, the poet and performance artist, John Giorno.

From the press release-

Rondinone reconstructs the gallery into a black box theater, creating an immersive environment through the use of black-and-white film, minimalist score, and the rhythmic intonations of Giorno’s own voice. This exhibition is a prismatic paean to the poet, raconteur, muse, cultural icon, and New York fixture.

Curator Ralph Rugoff said of the work on the occasion of its installation at Hayward Gallery in 2016:

“In elegantly spectacular fashion, Ugo Rondinone’s 20-screen video installation, “thanx 4 nothing “(2015), presents the American poet John Giorno reciting – though ‘performing’ might be a better word – the titular poem. Written on his seventieth birthday in 2006, and framed as an extended and wide-ranging expression of gratitude to ‘everyone for everything,’ Giorno’s poetic monologue looks back over his life with frank insight and humour, reflecting on loves and losses, friends and enemies, sex and drugs, depression and spiritual acceptance. As presented by Rondinone, whose work inventively interlaces the rhythms of his images with those of the poet’s speech, it is also a dizzying meditation on duality.”

It’s a great poem and a wonderful visual. Surrounded by the poet himself on all four walls of the gallery, you are completely immersed in his reading.

If you are curious about the poem itself, below is a video of Giorno reading it for his 75th Birthday Tour at the Words Aloud 8 Spoken Word Festival at the Durham Art Gallery in Durham, Canada, in 2011.

 

Jan 162020
 

Drink More, 1964 by Ushio Shinohara (left piece) and Untitled, 1980s by Nobuaki Kojima (sculpture on right)

Souvenir, 1964, by Jasper Johns

Shadow of a Hanger, 1971 by Jiro Takamatsu

Japan is America at Fergus McCaffrey gallery in Chelsea “explores the complex artistic networks that informed avant-garde art in Japan and America between 1952 and 1985. Starting with the well-documented emergence of “American-Style Painting” that ran parallel to the Americanization of Japan in the 1950s, Japan Is America endeavors to illustrate the path and conditions from Japanese surrender in 1945 to that country’s putative cultural take-over of the United States some forty years later”.

Artists in the show include: Yuji Agematsu, Ruth Asawa, James Lee Byars, John Cage, Joe Goode, Sam Francis, Marcia Hafif, Noriyuki Haraguchi, Tatsuo Ikeda, Shigeo Ishii, Ishiuchi Miyako, Jasper Johns, Alison Knowles, Nobuaki Kojima, Tomio Miki, Sadamasa Motonaga, Hiroshi Nakamura, Natsuyuki Nakanishi, Senga Nengudi, Yoko Ono, Ken Price, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Ushio Shinohara, Fujiko Shiraga, Kazuo Shiraga, Jiro Takamatsu, Anne Truitt, and Toshio Yoshida.

This exhibition closes 1/18/20.