Friday, February 24, 2012
As you enter the gallery sculptures are spread throughout the entire first floor. At first the installation is confusing because the sculptures are not in chronological order but after spending time on the first floor you begin to appreciate the mix of sculpture. Tom Sachs' "Brute" (2009-2010) an exact replica of a Brute garbage can carved perfectly out of marble. The beautiful white gleam of the marble contrasts with the older yellowed sculptures which pulls out the vibrant creamy white of the fresh marble. The garbage can was placed on a large table and right next to it was an old yellow head. Such a strange arrangement but none the less very interesting.
"Marble Sculpture from 350 B.C. to Last Week" has prehistoric busts next to modern day consumer items rendered with such precision a machine must have taken part in some of the recent sculptures. Any type of show that has a primal feel with a contemporary glitch is sure to delight any person who enters the gallery.
|Julia Dault, Untitled 20 |
(1:00pm - 5:30 pm, February 5, 2012)
|Julia Dault, Untitled 20 |
(1:00pm - 5:30 pm, February 5, 2012)
Over thirty emerging artists, mostly from outside the United States and Western Europe and all under 35years old, have filled the New Museum with a diverse range of artwork for its second triennial, The Ungovernables. Though the subversive and rebellious premise of the show sounds promising, curator Eungie Joo fails to create a unifying aesthetic in this large, uneven exhibit. And still this show feels significant, if only for its attempt to tackle some of the complex and substantial topics that occupy our current social and political landscapes.
There are many stand-out pieces that successfully engage the socio-political themes of the show- though reliance on explanatory text unfortunately permeates The Ungovernables. Amalia Pica’s light installation Venn Diagrams (under the spotlight), is elegantly profound, but only after the description explains why. Julia Dault’s pieces are among the best here. They confront form and material in a way that tackles “ungovernability” head on and gives us the opportunity to have a dialog with art, not text. The peerless standout of the show: Adrian Villar Roja’s twenty-foot high clay sculpture, A Person Loved Me. It is nothing less than a monument to the ravaged potential of a mechanized existence and, unlike the spoon-fed explanation of the show that is reiterated on each floor, it is this piece that covey’s the momentum of the generation and ideas behind The Ungovernables.
|Adrian Villar Rojas, A person loved me, 2012|
Thursday, February 23, 2012
One exemplary work is Barricade, created from the well-worn white-and-vermilion-striped plywood typical of a railroad crossing arm. Embedded as a low relief, the barricade’s form subtly twists and turns as the eye pans across the piece, its skewed perspective strangely mesmerizing. Other works are more heavily transformed from their original configuration. In the aptly titled Ammo Box series, the works look as though they have exploded, Zelehoski’s compositions capturing the moment when the fragments have just begun to fly apart. Zelehoski’s largest work, Crate (63 x 96 inches), is also his most dynamic. Similar to an assembly diagram for a complex Ikea purchase, planks of wood are suspended in midair, inches from their target.
It is the paradox of the artworks retaining the same materials and general appearances of their namesakes, yet no longer functioning in the same manner, that is at the heart of this engaging show. By shortening the distance between the signified and the signifier, Zelehoski has pushed the contradictory message of Magritte’s The Treachery of Images to its very limit.
Friday, February 10, 2012
You Don’t Know Where Her Mouth Has Been, an exhibition at The Kitchen gallery by sculptor and installation artist Simone Leigh, explores a wide range of themes in dramatic fashion. Leigh weaves large-scale sculpture and video installation that mysteriously combine to create an alternate reality where ancient relics from the past meet a projection of a fictionalized futuristic world. The elusive narrative unfolds against black gallery walls where carefully placed spotlights reveal three large chandelier-like sculptures. The first of these, titled Queen Bee, dominates the space, presenting itself as a large hanging form made up of a cluster of smaller breast-like sculptures. This peculiar bundle of orbs seems strangely out of context in its presentation and might normally only convey a sense of fertility and nurturing, feminine sexuality or maternal protection were it not for a more threatening presence evoked by several long TV antennas protruding from what look to be the forms’ gold and platinum nipples.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Perspectives 2012 at ICP features three emerging photographers: Anna Shteynshleyger, Greg Girard, and Chien-Chi Chang. Throughout the work of these artists are themes of home and displacement. While some of the work is too personal and inaccessible for the viewer to understand it's content, the most compelling work utilizes the photograph to capture people displaced from origins, real or imagined.
Joyce Pensato's new work at Friedrich Petzel provides an intimate glimpse into the artists exhilarating if not slightly deranged studio. Pensato's large expressive paintings depict the darker side of American cartoon icons. Using wide gestural marks to abstract Batman's iconic mask, Pensato streaks her canvases with dripped black and white paint. But these drips don't end at the edge of the canvas. Soiled stuffed animals and kitsch along with the artists studio wreckage casually litter the gallery floor; seamless extensions of the paintings themselves, they are splattered with black and white paint. Pensato mixes her subject matter with her studio practice, literally, in this combination of paintings, assemblages, and photographs of her studio (which resemble still lifes of an old and abandoned Disney giftshop.) Navigate the space by stepping over strewn Mickey Mouse dolls, gunky buckets of paint, and Homer Simpson figurines. One can't discern between intentionally executed art objects and objects lifted from the artist's studio that had fallen victim to Pensato's tornado of a process.
Pensato transforms icons of our Americana youth from vestiges of our childhood innocence into demonic portrayals of the forgotten and left-behind. In reconstructing elements of her studio inside the gallery, she also transforms our expectation of the pristine white-walled gallery space. Whether or not Pensato's paintings might risk redundancy from one piece to the next, Batman Returns provides the unique opportunity to get inside the world of the artist and her practice.
The diverse collection at ICP, which spans the decades since Magnum Photos’ formation in the 1940s, provides intimacy with reading stations, but the best selections are enlarged and displayed on the walls. Outtakes from the famous “Dali Atomicus,” in which Philippe Halsman captures Salvador Dali jumping in midair among hanging objects, come complete with humorous handwritten notes pointing out badly thrown cats and a secretary in the background. Rene Burri’s shots of Che Guevera in conversation stun with their intimacy. Some gems in the collection are recent and lesser-known, such as Trent Parke’s “The Seventh Wave,” capturing the otherworldly beauty of underwater bathers in Australia. But perhaps beauty and history combine best in Leonard Freed’s “Police Work,” no longer a lone striking image of a bare torso and handcuffed arms, but a narrative of frenzied shots as police stuff the shirtless criminal into the back of a cruiser. By revealing each blurry, blown-out take on the roll of film, these contact sheets offer a fascinating peek both into historic events and each photographer’s mind.