Jun 012024

Wealthy figures gaze into the distance while holding strange pets in AES+F’s exhibition of paintings Inverso Mundus: Chimeras at Sargent’s Daughters. The Russian artist collective’s creations act as a commentary on the excesses of the privileged class.

From the press release-

Inverso Mundus: Chimeras, will present a series of never before seen paintings, correlated to images and themes from Inverso Mundus, their video installation and performance work that premiered at the 56th Biennale di Venezia in 2015.  This marks the first presentation of the group’s work to feature exclusively paintings. Produced in the style of the Old Masters, these works present the groundbreaking and challenging work of AES+F in a new medium for a new audience.

AES+F works in photography, video production, sculpture, and painting with the goal of creating large-scale narratives that explore our contemporary global landscape and its culture, vices, and values.  First founded in the former Soviet Union in 1987, they have shown at major institutions across Europe, Asia, and the United States.  Their painting practice, produced collectively in the group’s Berlin studio, employs hyper-realistic oil painting techniques to mimic the digital glossiness of their video and digital work, tethering their complex renderings to the two-dimensional and the handmade.

Inverso Mundus takes as its initial reference point the sixteenth-century Carnivalesque engravings in the genre of “world upside down,” an early form of populist social critique that emerged with the advent of the Gutenberg press. This body of work presents contemporary life turned “upside down,” depicting a tragi-comic apocalypse where social conventions are inverted to highlight the unspoken premises of our social contract.  In the Chimeras series, various archetypes of contemporary life are portrayed cradling uncanny monsters on their laps like cherished pets. The series asks viewers to confront the monstrous contradictions we all hold dear in contemporary society.

In the wake of Putin’s re-election, the violence against dissidents such as Aleksei Navalny, and the recent amplified persecution of artists across Russia, AES+F’s critiques of the oligarchy, power, and military aggression are particularly pointed. Their public stance against the war in Ukraine has made them a target, and informed their decision to leave Moscow and relocate to Berlin in 2022.  This exhibition brings AES+F’s groundbreaking and urgent work to New York, adding new context to the international conversation.

This exhibition closes 6/1/24.

Jun 252023

Frederic Leighton’s 1895 painting Flaming June is currently on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is on loan from Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico, which is currently undergoing earthquake-related renovations.

From The Met’s website about the work-

According to Leighton, the composition was inspired by the posture of a tired model. He elaborated her sinuous pose and then added sheer orange draperies. Her skin flushed by the sun, she is transformed into a personification of summer heat. The image reflects Leighton’s allegiance to artistic ideals that emphasized harmonious color and form over narrative.

This and Lachrymae (hanging nearby) were the last great pair of paintings he exhibited at the Royal Academy in London, in 1895. Critics raved, but tastes soon changed; Flaming June did not regain its fame until the Museo de Arte de Ponce acquired it in the 196os. The frame is a reconstruction of the lost original designed by the artist.

This work will be on view until February of 2024.

Mar 232023

Stefan Kürten, “We are all made of stars”, 2013

Stefan Kürten, “Running to Stand Still”, 2014

Stefan Kürten, “Running to Stand Still”, 2014 (detail)

Stefan Kürten, “Fine Wrinkles”, 2000

Rita McBride, “Mae West Mandala (Oaxaca), 2009 and “Color Test (Green Bar)”, 2009

Stefan Kürten’s paintings of houses and Rita McBride’s wall coverings (and other sculptures) work with each other to question the concept of home, as well as the objects you might find within one. The exhibition, titled I Continue To Live In My Glass House, is on view at Alexander and Bonin until 3/25/23.

From the press release-

Stefan Kürten is known for detailed depictions of homes. Although constructed from both found and invented imagery, his homes feel known or experienced. The slippage between archetypes, memories, and dreams are central to his compositions. Set in lush landscapes and mysteriously unpeopled, Kürten’s homes evoke modern art or design museums with iconic sculptures and furniture viewable inside and outside of their transparent walls.

Rita McBride’s work invites us to reconsider structures and design elements such as ductwork, awnings, wall coverings and other utilitarian objects. McBride represents a bentwood chair in Murano glass, fastened together by a material that evokes spun candy or plastic wrap. Chair (1999) comments on the life of a domestic object whose usage necessitates an inventive approach to repair or stabilization.
McBride is also showing Particulates, an art installation that combines lasers with ambient dust and water molecules, will be on view at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles starting 3/27/23.