Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Review of BRUCE CONNER: IT'S ALL TRUE by Lia Kim Farnsworth

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Bruce Conner’s EASTER MORNING (2008). A lot could be said about Conner’s first full retrospective at the MoMA, covering fifty years of works ranging from painting and drawing to assemblages and film, but something about this piece (positioned aptly in the last room of the sprawling exhibit) has a particular immensity to it. (Yes, even in competition with the 37 minutes of mushroom clouds in CROSSROADS (1976).) The film reworks footage from his 1966 Super 8 film EASTER MORNING RAGA, with shots flooded in various degrees of additive lens flares that alternately canonize and obscure images of plants, a nude woman, and a chair. These stop motion-esque shots are punctuated by the trancelike instrumental chant of Terry Riley’s Minimalist composition in C (1964). The humming pace of the cuts work with the sometimes blue, sometimes honey amber light to build towards something that is, in a word, transcendent.
Conner envisioned the piece as a “metaphysical quest for renewal,” and the piece acts as a triumphant closing act to a retrospective – and a life – filled with anxious questions about the power and travesty of human intervention. With his final work, Conner seems to suggest that the next step in a world filled with fear and destruction is, simply, a step out.

Through October 2
Museum of Modern Art
Organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Co-curated by Stuart Comer, Chief Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art, The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Laura Hoptman, Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture, MoMA; Rudolf Frieling, Curator of Media Arts, SFMOMA; Gary Garrels, The Elise S. Haas Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture, SFMOMA; with Rachel Federman, Assistant Curator, Painting and Sculpture, SFMOMA.

2008, 8mm/Digital, color/sound, 10min.
Music: “In C” by Terry Riley

Friday, September 16, 2016

Jonas Wood Portraits at Anton Kern Gallery

If you are not a bar or bat mitzvah, then let me accurately depict the scene for you; the height of luxury and ending of your childhood and transition into young adulthood are three things to expect, along with the ever posh middle school cocktail attire and the excitement of having your first slow dance during the game of snowball.

In Jonas Wood’s fifth solo exhibition at Anton Kern Gallery, Portraits presents a group of oil and acrylic paintings that depict his family, close friends, and himself. Through the use of vibrant color, line, and blurring the differences between classical painting and contemporary abstraction, Wood interprets personal moments from his own life, as well as immortalizes figures who are central to him.

Wood’s practice encompasses multiple different facets of art; most of which reflect his family life and childhood, piecing together and quilting a collage of memories, places, events, and people. He first starts his work by collecting an item of significance, such as photos or drawings and continues by layering blocks of color.

Wood’s works allow you to enter the artist's world: whether it be through an idolized basketball player or a young bar mitzvah boy, Portraits will feel like you are stepping into a photo montage of the artist's life.

Sol LeWitt and Liz Deschenes at Paula Cooper Gallery

Sol LeWitt returned to all public locations of the Paula Cooper Gallery on September 8th, sharing the space at 521 W 21st Street with Boston born photographer Liz Deschenes. With works spanning almost thirty years of LeWitt’s career viewers are treated to a variety of the artist’s methods.

On each of the walls in the 521 W gallery is a series through which LeWitt explores space, whether it be through light (A sphere lit from the top, four sides, and all their combinations), proportion (Sol LeWitt Cube), or habitation (Autobiography). In a room of black and white photography Liz Deschenes’ Untitled (LeWitt) #2 and #3 excites the austerity with two pairs of UV-prints on plexiglass. The pink monoliths act as voids echoing a map of New York with a section removed.

At 534 W LeWitt engulfs the viewer in his work. The jagged texture of Black Styrofoam on Black Wall and White Styrofoam on White Wall are contrasted by the bold, playful lines of black and primary colored India inks used in Wall Drawing #368. The space demands to be viewed from the center then traveled along up close – both equally disorienting. Here, the artist’s mastery of space is on full display.

Paula Cooper Gallery 521 W 21st St

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Afteur Pasteur by Slavs and Tartars

With subtle humor and an anomalous style, artist collective Slavs and Tartars negotiate cultural identity through the concept of bacterial ingestion in their multifaceted exhibition, Afteur Pasteur. Occupying two floors of the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, the cultural clout of otherness is considered through army cots, multilingual wall sculptures, skewers of books, two-dimensional media, and a fermented milk bar.

The collective, self-identified "[devotees] to an area east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China”, discusses the overlooked intricacies of Eurasian history with keen aesthetic attention. The exhibition succeeds where many gallery shows fail: it educates without being too lofty and captivates the senses without adhering to sensationalist art.

In conversation with the concept of fermentation, fuchsia and mint fluorescent lighting set the sour tone of Afteur Pasteur. This arrangement (and the yoghurt drink) made me quite nauseated, but perhaps that was the appropriate state to be in when viewing works that tackle on a dizzying historical narrative. Despite this, the exhibit presents a symposium that marries fermentation with cultural dissonance. Afteur Pasteur may impart a sense of shame on your lack of Central Asian knowledge, but at least it makes bacteria and alienation look stylish.

Rashid Johnson's "Fly Away" at Hauser and Wirth

Rashid Johnson’s use of tropical flora and fauna at the Hauser and Wirth Gallery provides an aesthetically refreshing escape from the concrete life of New York City.  Through the use of carefully selected materials, Johnson’s work has serious undertones that take a stab at racial injustices and the instability of social structures.

While the work is very aesthetically pleasing, its impossible to ignore the issues and questions that Johnson poses in his work.  As viewers enter the gallery they are immediately confronted with a series of faces made of black soap that are sculpted in a low relief fashion onto white tiles.  The faces have a very eerie quality to them and fill every wall in the large space.

Navigating into the next two rooms there is a much different atmosphere.  The imagery employs heavy use of rich and bold colors. These colors along with the use of real plants on a huge metal framed cube sculpture provide a window into what seems to be a warm tropical paradise.  There is a strong sense of escape that comes up, a sort of departing from the city while you sit with the work. Overall, Johnson’s use of materials is wittily done and the scale of the pieces fit perfectly into the large rooms of the venue.

Nan Goldin: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, The Museum of Modern Art

Nan and Brian in Bed, New York City. 1983. Silver dye bleach print, printed 2006, 15 1/2 × 23 3/16". The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

If you were around for the late-1970s and early-1980s in New York City, you probably know of Nan Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexually Dependency. If you are 20-to-30-something, interested in that “scene”, and/or live outside of New York, you probably own the photobook—or have at least flipped through it in a bookstore. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you must at least be curious from the title alone. No?

MoMA’s iteration of The Ballad is set-up in three rooms: ephemera from previous exhibitions/screenings, framed photos from the series traditionally hung on the gallery walls, and a slideshow—with a soundtrack—depicting the intimate moments that compose The Ballad. Goldin didn’t shy away from much with her camera; “[it] is the diary I let people read.” This buckshot-style of photography is common today since everyone has a camera in their pocket or purse, but what makes The Ballad so powerful is its voyeuristic feel and its scattered narrative quality.

In the slideshow room, visitors sit in the dark and watch the images clip by at a steady pace, smiling because there is something for everyone in The Ballad, whether it be a kiss or evidence of abuse from a lover, motherhood or family, cigarettes or drug-use; There is a sense of nostalgia. Even though you weren’t there in the pictures, you walk out of The Ballad happy knowing that you are not alone.

Jonas Wood by Adam McGowan

The exhibit of the work of Jonas Wood titled "Jonas Wood Portraits" is at the Anton Kern Gallery in Chelsea from Sept 8 - Oct 22.  The exhibit consisted of portraits of friends and family.  Most of the portraits were oil and acrylic.  

The paintings were representational but they had many abstract attributes and mechanics such as flat colored shapes, hard edged contours, and the color in an exaggerated palate.  

One of the signs of a great portrait painter is the ability to express or illustrate the true personality of the subject and sense of identity.  Jonah Wood does this very well.  You have a sense of familiarity when looking at the people in his portraits. This was the most appealing factor in the paintings.  It is what drew me to his paintings.  It almost seemed to be like an invitation to be introduced and meet his friends and family. 

His use of these flat shapes help to create a satirical campy aesthetic. For example, in the Bat/Bar Mizvah Weekend, these shapes create a sense of a cardboard cutout which emphasizes this satire.  I feel this is very contemporary. Contemporary pop art can deal with social issues and in this painting, the Bar Mitzvah which is a traditional religious spiritual ceremony is reinterpreted in a satirical way.  

Blockchain Future States by Simon Denny

      Blockchain Future States wants you to delve right into the inner workings of cryptocurrency and globalization. The exhibit by Simon Denny, being hosted at the Petzel Gallery, explores the idea of globalization and inclusivity through non-traditional artworks and a lot of techy talk. You’re introduced by iconic images from the popular video game series Pokémon. The backs of these works, aided by the displays of key players in the Bitcoin game, introduce you to the subject of cryptocurrency and blockchain, and what it can do for the social climate of the entire world.
      Entering the next room, the topic is elaborated upon. The classic board game Risk has been reimagined as a way to illustrated the idea of blockchain as a way of breaking free from globalization. Repurposed computer cases display more informational pieces discussing the topic along the wall, while a short film plays on loop at the back to define blockchain for the viewer.

      Blockchain Future States is by no means a traditional gallery experience, and that’s definitely why I find it so successful. If you’ve never heard of bitcoin before, you may want to brush up on your cryptocurrency knowledge before taking a peek at this intriguing exhibit.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Projects 102, Neïl Beloufa in MoMA

Projects 102 is a projection installation crated by Neïl Beloufa, an young artist who  combines moving images and sculpture to create immersive installation and opened the first solo New York Show in MOMA. This work is a part of The Elaine Dannheisser Projects Series which uses projector and transparent materials to show different videos at the centre of this big installation. Also there is a big mental structure at the bottom of this installation which can move these transparent layers around. Because the projectors don’t move, participants can see the videos overlapping together and separate away. 

All the videos at the centre of the installation are about people’s life, talking ,passion and  daily lifestyle. When after reading a description of Project 102 on the MoMA website, I know these videos want to describe the experience some young people who live in an unnamed city that I really like this idea. These parallel transparent  layers represent different people’s lives, horizontal and never touch even through they will overlap in a moment visually. I feel a kind of deep lonely from this work. People are talking and laughing in the video, but when the transparent layers moved, everything will change. The smile is no longer the same smile before. This project perfectly represent the people’s relationship In the real life, everyone shows their lives on public just like these videos showing on different layers. An invisible path is already set up and will change our life,  relationship based on moving the layers. We don't know the rule of path and  cannot control it.  

Friday, April 29, 2016

Dave Hardy at Queens International 2016

Destiny 2014, by Dave Hardy, is exhibited in the biannual Queens International exhibit at Queens Museum, New York. Destiny is a sculptural assemblage consisting of foam (soaked in concrete), glass and other found materials pressed into the foam’s surface. They are stacked into a formation, at the base, rectangular volumes resemble a pair of legs and indicate the center of gravity and stability of the piece. The upper portion transcends into more curved and haphazard sections, yet equally securing the positions of neighboring pieces, which almost resembles an anthropomorphic form or the skeleton of something else. Hardy truly conveys the
significance of sculptural materials – if, when, and how materials matter.

 The artist questions the nature as shapeable matter or found commodity, its historical and cultural semiotics or transcendence thereof. It reflects upon the movement of Arte Povera at the beginning of the late 1960s. In particular- Robert Morris’ Felt Pieces, where he invited the material’s properties to take central stage, in his case, gravity combined with the weight of the fabric, allowed the felt to drape and take form organically. Hardy touches on the industrial and architectural, experimenting with a play of extreme opposites. His use of malleable materials such as foam and concrete may appear industrial and harsh however, it is this challenge of finding equilibrium between the two concepts that I find compelling about his artworks. The materiality and physical aspects of his works conveys an embodied bodily function, almost creating a ‘skin-like’ material. I believe Hardy’s sculptures draws the viewers attention with the tactile qualities as opposed to merely visual appeal or use, its existence in time and possible demise, its function in shaping and withdrawing monetary or cultural value, and its very role in shaping the identity and definition of what art is. Even though Hardy’s work questions the use of traditional craftsmanship, the use of materiality truly ties in his unique imagination with technique and places the viewers in center stage within the play of space of materiality and perception.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

"Marcel Broodthaers: A Retrospective" at Museum of Modern Art

     The Belgian conceptual artist and poet Marcel Broodthaers had an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The show consists of around 200 films, sculptures, poem, photographs and installation for Broodthaers’s first New York retrospective. He used words and text as materials in his wide-ranging conceptual works and ready-mades is also placed at the center of his work. The most identified with his sculptures, made out of mussel and egg shells are well represented at MoMA.
     In addition to his sculptures, the intriguing part of the show is how he conceptually explored the idea of absence. Broodthaers was deeply influenced by French Symbolists Stéphane Mallarmé, as well as the surrealist painter René Magritte, who gave Broodthaers a copy of Stéphane Mallarmé’s poem Un Coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard (A throw of the dice will never abolish chance) in 1945, which would become an important inspiration for Broodthaer’s own art making practices. He engraved Mallarmé’s poem on aluminum plates and redacted words with black rectangles on transparent paper. In his further visual representation of the poem, he explored the relationship between the words and the blank space, transforming the words into an abstract image of the poem. The contents are now missing, the viewer only can have sensory experience with the pure image of text. His idea of absence is embedded in material forms, which represents his poetic sensibility, just like an empty egg shells.

Un Coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard (A throw of the dice will never abolish chance)Artist’s book, offset lithograph on transparent paper, 32.4 × 24.9 cm, Edition of 90, 1969 at Museum of Modern Art, New York

Etching. Marcel Broodthaers. Un Coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hasard. Artist's book on twelve aluminum plates.

"Queens Internation 2016" at Queens Museum

Thirty four artists who work in Queens participated in this biennial group show at the Queens Museum. The show presents a huge variety of material. The mixture of the artwork represents a circumstance that combines with divergent regional and cultural elements. However, the show is hard to enjoy.

The space is too crowded. In the gallery, all the artwork are squeezed into a narrow hall. The space between each piece is isn't clear. Since each individual piece has a strong content, they are basically cancelling each other because of the lack of distance. Moreover, according to the huge amount of the selected work, the artwork aesthetically failed to fit together. Some of them are dominating, meanwhile the others are just ignorable. Some of them are yielding, meanwhile others just whisper. Those are parts(artwork), but they do not fits each other to compose a whole(the show). From a curatorial point of view, the arrangement of the space is unsuccessful.

 Since the show itself is an open call, the direction of this event is way too broad. The goal is to curate work of international artists who live in Queens. The show displays a hodgepodge, and the curating is lack of guiding. The audience are not able to know where and how to engage the show. The voice of the show is loud and noisy.