Friday, October 31, 2014

Robert Lansden at Robert Henry Contemporary

Robert Lansden In Every Direction, 2014

The first word that comes to mind when describing Robert Lansden’s show In Every Direction at Robert Henry Contemporary is “obsessive.” This show is made up of twelve drawings on paper built from algorithms, a strange technical approach for an artist, that dictate the aesthetic direction for each series. In the case of In Every Direction, we are looking at twelve beautiful graph-like drawings that from a far look completely computer generated, but up close become nuanced and subtle as the handiwork becomes more apparent.
In Every Direction detail
What makes this show especially personal is Lansden’s choice in medium. He chose to use marker, gauche, and watercolor for this series, which makes the subjects much more intimate.  For example, in the piece In Every Direction, at first glance it looks as though we are looking at a large computer rendering of an unfolded scarf or piece of burlap, there are strange ripples on each side and creases coming from the center with meticulous symmetry. However, when we look closer we see Lansden’s handwriting emerging with each obsessive stroke as each fiber crosshatches the next to make up this blue piece of fabric. There is a beautiful undulating movement to each piece, it is as if there are pieces of futuristic fabric form the land of The Matrix hanging on the wall and there is a light autumn breeze in the air. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Keiichi Tanaami's psychedelic world

(Coca-cola and flag, 1969)
The Japanese artist, Keiichi Tanaami’s has a show at Sikkema Jenkins&Co. It brings back vivid colors and dynamic characteristics of Pop art in the 60s. That period's iconography and consumerism is especially well-blended in his works. Tanaami’s work includes familiar subject matter, such as Mickey Mouse, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a Japanese flag, the Mona Lisa, Hollywood stars, and the Statue of Liberty. However, using these recognizable and symbolic objects or figures from the world, he creates an unrealistic, unusual but fascinating world in his works, which hold colorful illusions.


Tanaami creates his psychedelic Pop art by referring to fellow Pop artists’ works, and editing the Pop-culture of the 60s.Tanaami’s works reminds me of James Rosenquist’s pop art collages, Roy Lichtenshtein’s cartoons, and Andy Warhol’s consumerism works, Marilyn Diptych and Campbell’s Soup Cans, in particular. It feels like he combined all the characteristics from these masters, such as Lichtenshtein’s dot patterns or Warhol’s color combinations within each composition.  His works can be seen as typical in that manner, but he achieved uniqueness in his works by adding vivid and provocative color combinations with radically asymmetrical compositions, and erotic content in which the level of sexual expression can sometimes even be disturbing and haunting.

Roy-Lichtenstein-Girl-in-Mirror-1964-NY-Times tumblr_lqo6dlKuKB1qghk7bo1_500
           (Girl in Mirror by Roy Lichtenshtein, 1964)                  (Marilyn by Andy Warhol, 1967 )
I thought the works on display at the gallery were new, and when I learned that they were made about forty years ago, I was quite surprised. Tanaami created dozens of drawings, prints, video animations, and collages influenced by his frequent trips to New York City since 1967. Through his color choices, subject matter, and compositions, his glaring ‘cartoon style’ works from the sixties are still fresh and hip enough to have believably been made in 2014.

 5710_KT 14377
(42nd street Scissors, 1969)

(Photo courtesy of *REVIEWED

Monday, October 20, 2014

Erica Baum at Bureau

An array of works by artist Erica Baum at Bureau provides a brief survey of her diverse ways of appropriating photography. Culled from three series – Stills, photographs of half-tone book illustrations; Viewmasters, photographs of the round discs that house the film positives viewed with a Viewmaster toy; and Naked Eye, photographs of book edges left splayed open to reveal fragments of images and text – these photographs chronicle the photographer’s exploration into the place of images within visual culture.

The images in Stills are made by dog-earring book pages, and photographing the overlap. One work from the series, titled The Warren Commission – presumably taken from the infamous report on the assassination of JFK – only depicts two light gray triangles, opposed to form a square floating off center in a black field. This photograph is essentially an information-less image, belying the very function of the images within the report: to inform.

In Viewmaster the texts etched on each disc are of central concern. In absence of corresponding images the words become little more than meaningless quotes and phrases around a central axis. Blacked out squares, film positives whose detail is lost in Baum’s image-making process, encircle the text. Through a process of fragmentation and reconstitution - more than appropriation alone - Baum reevaluates the role of everyday images in our culture by reconstituting them into fine art.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Little Boxes
Anne Mourier

Small white boxes on white pedestals contain a variety of miniature domestic objects enclosed in glass. The minimalist setup includes a partition wall, corner and shadow box wall displays that viewers can navigate. A pair of binoculars on a pedestal in the center of Cuchifritos’ gallery space encourages viewers to scrutinize the domestic scenes and interiors. The expectation of how work is typically displayed is altered, and viewers must seek and at times strain to see Mourier's work. The display requires viewers  to look up, down, through, and into the episodic stagings.

Mini narratives include a dresser with woman’s interior clothing, tiny clothes hung up on a clothesline, a closed box with two windows allowing visibility straight through to the other side, and a little pile of dust/debris in the crack of an open door adjacent to a line up of brooms. These tableaus place the viewer in delicate, dwarfed, site-specific scenes frozen in time. The objects themselves conjure nostalgic sentiments about family and the household. Isolated doll arms that come out from the walls and the roof imply interaction with the objects, yet the absence of the arms’ bodies disassociates the interaction from anything real. Mourier utilizes the physical distance between shadow box scenes as well as arrangements on pedestals, walls, and corners to highlight the intimacy and personal space these scenes depict.

image from

Thursday, October 9, 2014

James Bishop at David Zwirner Gallery

From September 6th through October 25th, David Zwirner Gallery is presenting an exhibition of paintings by James Bishop. The exhibition contains some of his work from the 1960s to the early 1980s. It is on view at second floor of 537 West 20th Street location. James Bishop, while still keeping traditions of post-war abstraction, has created his own visual that captures viewer with its subtle colors and the light that is captured within. His immensely large paintings gathered together in one room as each painting glows from within. Drawn by the light, the viewers are invited to look closer and examine all of its layers and transparent nature of its paint.

James Bishop, Untitled [Stone], 1969, Oil on canvas, 196 x 196 cm, Purchased 1973, National Gallery of Australia.

His use of vertical and horizon lines divide up his delicate space into a window. He creates delicate layers to carry light on its own, and when all the layers come together, Bishop creates this frames within the painting that lets the under layers to shine through. In some of his paintings, he uses linear quality to create abstraction of architectural element. He interweaves painting and drawing to create a quiet corner of his world. Bishop’s works not only explores the linear quality and a flat form, but also his use of layering creates ambiguities of material opacity and transparency. Bishop has created unique language within the post-war abstraction era. He has mastered his craftsmanship of his medium and created subtle, light-capturing window to his world.

Sari Dienes at The Drawing Center

Circle Tred (detail), c. 1953-1955
Ink on webril
75" x 33"

The works by Sari Dienes on display at The Drawing Center embody a gritty, yet relatable image of NYC. She used a process of mark making that stood out from many abstract expressionist artists of the 50's. Thus, Dienes created black and white pictures that are textured and abstract, but more importantly recognizable. In fact, the source for the marks came from the ground beneath the feet of New Yorkers.

 Upon descending the stairs, I’m impressed to see about eight or so ink rubbings on webril (a type of cotton padding) that are rich in detail. NYC, from 1953, has a horizontal orientation with a half circle shape in the upper right section. The semi-circle appears like a sun radiating to the other corners of the image. As soon I see the letters 'N Y C' imprinted on the inner section of the semi-circle, it becomes clear that I am looking down at a sewer grate in NYC.  The layers of the rubbing bear down on the paper, the ink providing a weight that carries the stamp of the street. Another piece, Circle Tred, evokes the types of industrial-design patterns that I might step over on the way to work; such as a grid of circles with pound signs.  
About three layers were juxtaposed on top of one another, creating the effect of photo-montage. Although obscured in almost every work, there comes a point where the imprinted-subject reflects an unacknowledged beauty, history and collective memory of sites on the ground. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ai Weiwei at the Chamber Fine Arts


            Ai Weiwei’s recent show presents Rebar Casket and Marble Rebar(2014), Tofu(2012), and so forth. This exhibition recollects the disaster of the 8.0 magnitude earthquake in Sichuan province, China on May 12, 2008. Even though these works are made recently, they bring up a topic of the Sichuan disaster six years ago by asking a question: what changes occurred between 2008 and 2014?
            A series of Rebar Casket and Marble Rebar(2014) is an extraordinary tomb for marble rebar pieces, which are laid on the geometrical caskets. Rebar pieces are created through a full-scale replica. They replicate the steel skeleton from the collapsed Sichuan schools. The forms of rebar show tense moments of a catastrophe vividly. Otherwise, Tofu(2012) is formed as gigantic porcelain with wrinkled texture on the outside.
             His abstract sculpture reflects the political and social issues from Sichuan province. Especially, these works symbolize corruption and shoddy construction behind school collapses in China earthquake. As the Sichuan schools corruption scandal, a series of allegations of corruption against officials in the construction of Sichuan schools, the proverb of  “tofu-dreg schoolhouses” emerged in the Chinese public on the online. Its satirical outspoken criticism against the government shows a change of democratic awareness.
            Ai Weiwei criticizes veiling truths from his country through his artworks that he disclosed the contradictions in his society. His objective presentation toward the reality from the dark side of his country makes viewers read his cynical subjectivity.