Jan 302020
 

It’s the last week to see Swoon: Cicada at Jeffrey Deitch’s New York location. This exhibition of Caledonia Dance Curry (aka Swoon)’s work includes a sculptural installation, drawings, and a stop motion film.

From the gallery’s website-

Cicada marks a new development in Swoon’s practice. A celebration of rebirth and transformation, the exhibition at 76 Grand Street features recent films, drawings, and installations in which her personal story becomes more central.

Moving away from her street pasted portraits that encouraged the viewer to imagine a background story, Swoon now creates narratives that draw from her personal history as well as classical mythologies. She is also inspired by the handcrafted quality of silent era and 20th-century folkloric films. In her stop-motion animations, fragments of the subconscious coalesce into subliminal images. Open-ended stories unfold and weave recurring motifs such as birth, divination, trauma, and healing.

Swoon’s stop-motion films emphasize the body’s ability to serve as a vessel carrying memories and traditions. A house, a ship, and human figures split and open to liberate a cast of imaginative and mythological creatures trapped inside. The central figure is the “Tarantula Mother,” a half-human, half-spider allegory that evokes traumatic memories from childhood. Swoon’s response to parts of her family history – and the legacy of her parents’ addiction and substance abuse – has recurred throughout her work. These components inflict a strong element of realism to the films, grounding the otherwise- whimsical atmospheres of Cicada.

In Swoon’s work, the sea often constitutes the physical and metaphorical ground for possible encounters. In Cicada, underwater scenarios become a psychological space for introspection and subconscious explorations. Surrounded by new sculptures and her portrait series, Cicada allows viewers to immerse themselves into Swoon’s world, creating a vivid experience embedded in the present moment.

Swoon’s inner circle of friends is the subject of a new series of drawings included in the exhibition. The intimacy of these portraits recalls the romantic and humane spirit of her earlier street pasted works. A tableaux vivant of performers will accompany the exhibition on the opening night, renewing her interest in the counter culture of collectives and carnivals. Whether presented without permission or realized in a traditional gallery or institutional space, Swoon’s work connects with viewers on an emotional level.

The sculptural work is incredibly intricate and its amazing watching it come to life in the film.

This exhibition closes 2/1/20.

 

Jan 162020
 

Sexy Robot_Floating, 2019 by Hajime Sorayama

Tokyo Pop Underground curated by Tokyo gallerist Shinji Nanzuka and currently at Jeffrey Deitch gallery in Los Angeles “explores the complex history of Japanese contemporary art from the 1960s to the present through the works of seventeen artists who emerged from pop and underground culture”.

From the press release-

Shinji Nanzuka explains that “originally in Japan, most of what is referred to as art are practical items, developed together and in integration with popular culture.” He cites examples from calligraphy to folding screens, paintings on sliding paper doors, lacquerware, netsuke, and the Ukiyo-e prints that served as posters and commercial portraits. He also mentions art historian Naoyuki Kinoshita’s study of intricately realistic handicrafts such as iki-ningyou, life-like dolls that were made for exhibitory performances. Nanzuka’s mission in this exhibition is to present contemporary artistic commentaries on this Japanese artistic heritage.

Deviating from the mainstream current of “art for art’s sake” when he opened his Tokyo gallery in 2005, Nanzuka decided to focus on artists whose works at the time were not considered to be art. Artists like Keiichi Tanaami, Harumi Yamaguchi, and Hajime Sorayama, whose works are now celebrated in the international art world, were looked down upon as producers of commercial and popular art. Nanzuka saw them as prime exponents of the idiosyncratic nature of Japan’s culture and history.

Another reason that Tanaami, Yamaguchi, Sorayama, and Toshio Saeki did not receive recognition until recently is the radical intensity of their practice. The expressions of sex and violence in their work are statements of anti-authority and anti-uniformity. The aggressive portraits of women painted by Harumi Yamaguchi show her engagement with the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s. Sorayama’s sexualized robots predict a dystopian future.

There are strong links between the underground Japanese culture from which many of these artists emerged and the American graffiti and skateboard subcultures that were embraced by Japanese youth. Haroshi, one of the younger artists in the show, constructs his works entirely from wood sliced from skateboards donated by friends and professional skateboarders to compose a collective portrait of his enlarged, international community.

The artists in Tokyo Pop Underground reflect the strains in contemporary Japanese culture as it rebuilt itself after the ruins of war and confronts numerous natural disasters. Their work reflects what Nanzuka describes as “the crazy cross-cultural exchange” between the West, the East, and the Far East, shaping a new international artistic language.

This exhibition closes 1/18/20.

Jun 132019
 

It’s not often an art show comes along where you wish there were more people in the gallery, but going to see Urs Fischer: PLAY at Jeffrey Deitch in Los Angeles was one of them. When you first walk into the large space filled only with office chairs, you notice them moving but in ways you might not expect- if you expect office chairs to be moving on their own in the first place.

The chairs are controlled by artificial intelligence that determines and learns from each encounter. Even alone in the gallery, it was delightful to watch the chairs interact with each other and then myself as I walked around. They come close to you and each other. They spin and travel together or seem to interact one by one. When others entered the gallery they change their movement again, seemingly without any set pattern. At one point I watched one of the chairs move all the way to the desk by the entrance, a space that seemed like it would be out of bounds.

Urs Fischer is quoted in the press release saying- “despite the complexity of the parts, the exhibition as a whole is pretty simple. It’s about what you, the viewer, project onto it. It’s not about chairs, it’s about humans.” This is what makes the show so fascinating, it is almost impossible not to anthropomorphize the chairs and their interactions.

PLAY, conceived of by Urs Fischer with choreography by Madeline Hollander, runs through June 15th.

Apr 042019
 

People, the current sculpture exhibition at Jeffrey Deitch’s Los Angeles gallery in Hollywood, fills the large room with work in a variety of media but all representing human beings in some way.

From the press release-

More than fifty standing, sitting and hanging figurative sculptures will fill Jeffrey Deitch’s new Los Angeles gallery. The artists in the show span several generations from the 1980s to the present, with an emphasis on emerging talent.

All of the works in the exhibition reflect a contemporary approach to sculpture inspired by the innovations of Dada, Surrealism, Assemblage and by the influence of non- or meta- art sources like department store mannequins.

Only one work in the show is carved or modeled in the traditional way. Some are made from body casts, others are constructed with found objects and only a few use conventional sculptural materials like bronze.

The works in the exhibition reflect the diversity of the artists who created them and the diversity of the people who the sculptures represent. The styles range from hyperrealism to allegory. The subjects range from ordinary individuals to creatures of fantasy. The works explore the uncanny confrontation of the artificial and the real while simultaneously responding to the multiple approaches to human identity in the contemporary world.

One of the sculptures, Totem, by Narcissister even incorporates live women. This adds to the unsettling feeling that some of the other sculptures, like Nobody, by Karon Davis (who founded The Underground Museum with her late husband Noah Davis), might have included real people as well (they don’t).

Karon Davis, “Nobody”, 2019

One of the strongest pieces in the exhibition is David Altmejd’s Pyramid in which a human/dog hybrid figure sits smoking while its back opens to expose insides composed of quartz, a hand, and several ears protrude from its sides. The little details are fascinating. He’s even painted one of the figure’s fingers purple, perhaps a reference to Human, the Ibizan hound with one purple leg that was included in Pierre Huyghe’s exhibition at LACMA.

People was inspired by Mike Kelley’s exhibition and book project The Uncanny, from 1993, and that’s definitely an accurate description of how it feels to wander around in this particular room of sculptures.

This exhibition closes 4/6/19.