Friday, February 12, 2016

Doug Wheeler, Encasements at David Zwirner

Light - the main ingredient for sight. Walking into Doug Wheeler’s exhibition at David Zwirner is an intense elliptical and almost hallucinatory play of light that alters our perception of space. The most comprehensive collection of five ‘Encasements’:  a light immersing environment presenting square ‘painting like’ neon light boxes positioned on a white wall with altered curved corners, creating a seemingly boundless space.

The illusion of perception of dematerialized space created by Wheeler left me feeling uncertain about the depth of architectural form. It is experience as art - there was no image or object, just a hint of an expanded physical space one which leaves the viewer completely blind sighted. These ‘Encasements’ are the epitome of the light-and-space movement of the 1960’s and 70’s: they make the immaterial – material. Like the artists affiliated with the group active in Southern California, notably James Turrell and Robert Irwin, Wheeler expands upon the work of ‘experimental psychology’ by showcasing it into a gallery setting. Wheelers works simultaneously challenges the notions of neutrality in the ‘white cube’ gallery space by making ones own consciousness its medium.


In all of the chaos of New York, Wheeler’s ‘Encasements’ serves as an uplifting meditation of seeing: it rewards the viewer’s gaze by transforming looking into a phenomenological physical experience. In fact, I didn’t want to leave.

Doug Wheeler: Encasements, David Zwirner, New York, 2016. 


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Doug Wheeler, Encasements at David Zwirner

It is very interesting to see how the show is extended to the external aspect, which is the viewers are required to cover their shoes in white to walk into this holy and purified showroom. In this futuristic white cube, a sense of void strongly hit me. Although it is a shrining structure with highly stylized aesthetic that the artist created, the void in the show is not only about the ideology of the artist, it is a void that welcomes everyone to be immersed in. Within the space, I am able to meditate. The white squares become mirrors, then I stare at them and see myself in there.

The mellowed edges challenge the spacial perception of the audience. The meditative limitation is abolished. In each separated room, the artwork let the viewers to define the discrepancy according to their personal perceptions. I would say one of the crucial twist is the square-shaped light rim in the center of the show. Compare to the obviously artificial light boxes, the light rim refers to the natural light, and slightly hints me that there is an outside world, and I am trapping in this ideological ambiguity. It is a show about almost nothing but everything, which is fulfilled by the audience.


Above: Installation view, Doug Wheeler: Encasements, David Zwirner, New York, 2016. © 2016 Doug Wheeler

Berlinde De Bruyckere, No Life Lost at Hauser & Wirth

It was like walking into a cave; strategically placed lights, so that not everything was illuminated. Beautiful dead horses piled on top of each other, with the weight of their useless bodies physically visible, stuffed inside a vitrine. A baby colt twisted on top of a table as if on display to be a precious centerpiece. Hanging carcasses from iron beams that smelled of preserves, of wax, insinuating that yes, this is a casting of something that was once alive and is now decaying. An encaustic tree almost the size of the 5,000 square foot room it was resting in. No, not resting- dead.

No Life Lost is subtle in its use of content and material: tricking a viewer into the allure of its guttural nature, and manipulating material perfection.

There is something to be said when works that are full of meaning are hard to look at. Once majestic, dead horses and trees become metaphors for contemporary values; a consumer culture that leaves us void, and a society that is unwilling to understand others.


De Bruyckere is challenging an audience to think of what purpose their lives should lead by giving us her unwavering answer; pretty things become pretty empty.


to Zurbaran, 2015

to Zurbaran, 2015, 2015
Horse skin, fabric, wood, iron, polyester
116.8 x 160 x 127 cm / 46 x 63 x 50 in 
Photo: Mirjam Devriendt


Kreupelhout – Cripplewood, 2012 – 2013


Kreupelhout – Cripplewood, 2012 – 2013, 2013
Wax, epoxy, iron, wood, fabric, blankets, rope
230 x 1790 x 410 cm / 90 1/2 x 704 3/4 x 161 3/8 in 
Photo: Mirjam Devriendt



Gregory Crewdson, Cathedral of The Pines @ Gagosian Gallery at West 21st

Stepping out of the frigid February weather and into the Gagosian Gallery on 21st Street, one is hit with a similar chilliness within the large format photographs of Gregory Crewdson. Upon first glance, the smooth quality of the images tempted my eye to believe they were not photographs at all, but rendered oil paintings, urging me to step closerThough I was not initially convinced of the work as I stood in front of the first photograph-consequentially the headline image, The Haircut,-as I walked through the gallery the group of images worked together to create an ambiance that thoroughly saturated the space. This was an atmosphere of indistinct tension--of cool and warm, exterior and interior, static and theatrical, where the pathetic and mundane seemed to be teetering at the edge of the dramatic. 

This feeling is especially strong in the piece, Woman at Sink, where a middle-aged woman stands in the kitchen of her seemingly unremarkable rural-american home. She looks off into her thoughts with a sullen expression. In front of her is a sink brimming with water, slightly tainted with the unsettling red hue of blood. 

Crewdson has cleverly crafted palette, perspective, and props to provoke a subtle mystery which lures you into the ambiguous and often awkward narrative, drawing out your empathy and tempting your curiosity to step into this cold and uncomfortable world.


"Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines"
Installation viewArtwork © Gregory Crewdson

Photo by Rob McKeever




Woman at Sink, 2014
Digital pigment print
Image size: 37 1/2 × 50 inches (95.3 × 127 cm)
Edition of 3 + 2 APs
© Gregory Crewdson

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Walter De Maria: The New York Earth Room at Dia Art Foundation

         Walter De Maria filled Dia Art Foundation's Soho gallery with soil in 1977, and his exhibition, The New York Earth Room, continues to amuse viewers today. Although the installation have been shown in Munich and Darmstadt, Germany, The New York Earth Room is the only one still remaining thirty-eight years later. Like the dinosaur skeletons in the Museum of Natural History, the soil has occupied the gallery space in frozen time, disconnected from the changes of the outside world. While generations of viewers have stepped in and out of the exhibit in the past four decades, the soil stays capsulated in a uniformed layer behind the glass fence, giving a sense of sacredness to the space.



          Using soil as the singular medium, The New York Earth Room provokes the power of nature in minimal expression. As the viewers walk into the white gallery space, the aroma of earth fills the humid air, strengthening with every step closer to the soil collecting behind the low glass fence. By hovering the hands over the soil, viewers would feel the cold air flowing into their skin as if the soil is breathing. The sunlight penetrates through the windows and illuminates the textural soil in different shades of brown contrasting the white concrete walls. The force of nature dominates the artificial space, providing viewers with a meditational experience to concentrate their sensory on the soil.

          Located in the heart of one of the largest city in the world where the odor of solid waste and exhaust gas clogs the lungs , The New York Earth Room brings the status of soil, abundant in rural regions, to sacredness. Walter De Maria communicates environmental awareness with the viewers by ironically containing nature in a man-made structure. Perhaps one day, The New York Earth Room would be the only place to see soil, like the dinosaurs skeletons in the Museum of Natural History, if nothing is done to change the outside world.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Frank Stella, A Retrospective exhibition


I was so excited to see the breathtaking show, Frank Stella, A Retrospective. It is located on the 4th floor of the Whitney Museum, a huge exhibition gallery, facing the East River. It includes Stella's earlier abstract paintings, such as his famous square series, the geometric solid color series, and some drafts of his thoughts. Also, there are a number of his recent installations.
  
One of his most famous paintings, The Marriage of Reason and Squalor. (1959) is exhibited in the  foyer of the gallery. This painting is composed of white parallel strokes on a black canvas, and depicts a minimalistic perspective. In fact, though there were other minimalistic geometric paintings, the entranceway still looked spacious and empty. It felt as if the gallery had been unified by Stella's paintings. It is similar to the MoMA abstract painting gallery, where Stella’s work is also being exhibited. The Whitney did an excellent job of presenting Stella’s abstract paintings in such a roomy and less distractive space. The neutral lights were perfectly fitted to the environment.
As I entered the main room of the gallery, several grand and extremely vibrant sculptures rushed into my eyes. They belonged to Stella's Indian Bird series. To be honest, I didn't really appreciate those sculptures, which are his most recent series. Perhaps it is because his abstract paintings and his theoretical reflections about them are highly sophisticated and well-done. In contrast, the sculptures or they might be called installations, were so chaotic and disorderly; they were a riot of colors, and seemingly lacking in theme. I believe Stella is an excellent artist and had thought about these works thoroughly. This was apparent from the models and the drafts presented there. Still, I could not read or feel these works as much as his paintings. Although the quotations on the walls revealed his thoughts and theory clearly, they did little to help me understand the sculptures and the installations


Despite my misgivings, the exhibition overall did have a profound impact on me. It helped me to clarify my thoughts on the last 30 years of abstract art. It also underscored the importance of Frank Stella’s work and his contribution to the abstract art canon.

Alberto Burri (1915-1995) : The Trauma of Painting _ Guggenheim Museum


Guggenheim Museum presents a retrospective exhibition of Italian artist Alverto Burri(1915-1995) for the first time in nearly 40 years. He is Italian representative modern artist who has explored materials such as burlap, wood, iron, etc in abstract painting. Although he was majoring in medical science, he started painting when he was captured in Camp Howze prisoner of war camp in Texas during Warld War II.

The famous architect Guggenheim museum space led me to see his paintings by going down the hallway from the top of the museum. Space specificity of Guggengeim was perfect to continue the context between his paintings. Viewers were able to keep an emotional state smoothly while seeing the exhibition from top to bottom.



When I just started to see the exhibition, even though it was the first time to go to Alberto Burri’s exhibition and I did not know about him before, I recognized that he relies on very strong trauma through his painting at once.

His using of multiple materials which are cultural, organic and artificial and dynamic gestures in his painting conveyed haunting fears and pains of war. Melting red plastic painting, Rosso Plastica M2, was so strong and heavy. It seemed bloody evil. This intensive red color and painful gesture caught me that I was not be able to escape from it. Sticking, stapling and soldering in his works implied scattered tore skins, scars, and bloody wounds in war. Cracks which was like an extreme drought in his paintings express unstable and fragile human in war metaphorically as well.

Combustione legno (Wood Combustion), 1955. Wood veneer, fabric, combustion, acrylic, nails, and Vinavil on black fabric, 88.5 x 160 cm. Private collection 
Rosso plastica M 2 (Red Plastic M 2), 1962. Plastic (PVC and PE) and combustion on black fabric, 120 x 180 cm. Private collection

The most impressed work was his documentary film Grand Cretto. This was the massive land memorial installation work for earthquake which destroyed the old city Gibellina in Italy. Grande Cretto has been building with 8000 squares of concrete pieces since 1985 and this project will be completed after 30 years. This work was perfectly expanded his Cretti painting series on the earth. Grande Cretto was different with his other series works which had to fear and pain. His documentary film took the path of white gigantic cracks. There were healing, meditation and self reflection. White cracks which were covering spectacle surface of land met the endless sky. This state conveyed sublime beauty to viewers.

Grand Ceratto, 1984-1989, Cement sculpture, 150 cm × 35000 cm × 28000 cm (59 in × 14,000 in × 11,000 in),  in  Gibellina Sicily 

Grand Ceratto, 1984-1989, Cement sculpture, 150 cm × 35000 cm × 28000 cm (59 in × 14,000 in × 11,000 in),  in  Gibellina Sicily 

Grande bianco (Large White), 1971. Acrylic and PVA on Celotex, 126 x 201.7 cm. Private collection, United States.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Dia Foundation in Soho- The Earth Room (revised)



  The Earth Room is an interior earth sculpture made by Walter De Maria in 1977,presenting in the same spot at Soho for over 30 years. This is not the first Earth Room Walter has made, but it is the only one maintained by the Dia Foundation.




  
  The sculpture takes up about 3600 square feet of floor space, 22 inch earth, with a weight 280000 lbs. The whole room is filled evenly with soil but has an amazing clean and tidy white wall. The space has been partitioned in up and down, like a ground and the sky. Visitors are not allowed to go through the room and stand on it. People can only stand outside and look. There are some small rooms inside the big room. Sometime you feel like there is no end to the room. When you come closer to the Earth Room itself, you can feel the air and the moisture differences compare to the outside space. The temperature is a lot lower in the room, like natural air conditioning in the hot summer. Outside the building, busy people walking by, and time is passing. However, inside the building, I feel time is frozen at the moment in 1977, the time when the sculpture had been made. 

The location of Soho, Manhattan can specially emphasize the contrast of busy life and still moment. Besides, it is sarcastic to see the artist trying to save a beautiful nature of land inside a building in the jam-packed New York City.