Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Woman on Top by Emily Mullin

Emily is an artist works and live in Brooklyn, New York. Her work Woman on the top is a series of wall-mounted reliefs of ceramic vessels and flowers on hand painted steel shelves. Each individual sets are showing different style and they are constructed by 3-4 elements: a bent metal sheet, vessel, real flower and patterns. The work attracts me the most is a set which has 4 vessels in dot background. When the audience face to the front side of this piece, the metal sheet and vessels are all blend in to the environment, which all contributed to the dot repetition among the vessel that expand to the sheet and indistinct the boundaries between them. Every subject is uniquely shaped with crazy structure expanding out from the body of the vase and having the repetition going on. The use of color for the sheets are really vibrant and brave, making a big contrast to color of vases with either white or black the the natural color of the clay and ceramics exposed to the air. Looking through the whole exhibition, I feel that Mullin bring a strong sense of graphic into both of her ceramics work and her way of display them. Even the flowers placed inside the vessels show how she deliberates everything, even the height of each plant to make her work a harmony as a whole.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Woman On Top - Emily Mulin

Emily Mulin’s, Woman on Top exhibition at John Hanley Gallery immediately draws the eye in with bold patterns, beautiful plants, and unique ceramics. It strays from being perceived as nice wall art at a trendy restaurant in Nolita by its intricate craftsmanship and clever display techniques. The series of wall-mounted reliefs of ceramic vessels and flowers on hand-painted steel shelves come across as three dimensional still lives. By putting real plants in the works, Mulin may be playing with temporal reality in a more observable sense than typical still life. The viewer must contemplate both what happens when these plants wilt.

Currently, there is a boom in digital art with the new capabilities artists have access to, and these works often take to moving much faster than Mulin’s work. A painted still life is a preservation of a moment, whereas the Woman On Top exhibition consists of continuously transforming pieces, too slow to be perceived in the average 10 second glance from passers by. Though the works are three dimensional, they hold a beauty which would translate to a flat page easily, the aesthetics are memorable due to the bright colors and intriguing patterns that help draw the onlooker.

Woman On Top. Is this title alluding to women’s power, or maybe in a sexual context? Both interpretations seem far fetched. The pieces do appear feminine but the title doesn’t fit. The title is bold, and grabs attention like a magazine headline, but the three dimensional still lifes don’t feel as charged.

While the depth of the work is questionable, the visual decisions are staged, simple, and elegant with cohesive color choices. Either way, to view Mulin’s work was simple and beautiful.

Nathaniel Mary Quinn at the Drawing Center

Working in black charcoal, gouache, soft pastel, and oil, then cut, collaged and pasted on Vellum, Nathaniel Mary Quinn’s work at the Drawing Center is a testament to anguish. He is a butcher of the traditional portrait, through a chopped, shattered and reassembled composition. He imbues his work with a childlike loneliness and the search to resolve a fractured identity.

I’d read about his life in a vogue article here before seeing his work in person and was impressed by his life, overcoming tragedy and finding international success as an artist.
Essentially, as a child in Chicago, he survived major trauma, including violence, poverty, and sudden abandonment by his family upon the death of his mother. His work feels cathartic, as though through collaging rendered images from iconic imagery, including JZ and the girl with the pearl earring, he is working through this trauma.

A child under pressure, almost crushed by the tension of truncated and chopped features, is a theme in his work. One striking piece, Elephant Feet, shows a sort of monster child. The face has been cut and reassembled, with fractals of eyes, a pig nose, accentuated lips. This drawing solicits both tenderness and a recoiling at the horror of this lonely, tortured elephant- pig-child, the other. It also speaks to the duality in all of us: the primal, the animal, the impolite shadow side, as well as the innocent child, tender with a red satin bow tied around the child’s neck.

Unlike light handed touch of Elijah Burgher, also in this three person show, Quinn’s mark making is fierce. The charcoal and soft pastel are saturated, the material rubbed into vellum repeatedly, polishing and condensing the material into deep, waxy blacks, greys, whites. This is indeed a drawing show, showing a wide range of three masterful hands (Toyin Ojih Odutola and Elijah Bergher as well), and Nathaniel Mary Quinn truly imbues his dark, fractured drawings with a sense of soulful tragedy.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Body Double by Bianca Beck at Rachel Uffner

When I walked into Bianca Becks’s Body Double at Rachel Uffner Gallery I was intrigued by many colorful abstract paintings. I thought they were beautiful but as I  continued I found the true showstoppers to be the "body double" sculptures. I was instantly mesmerized by these giant, colorful sculptures towering above me. They captured my eye as soon as I saw them because of the presence they demand in the room. The experience of wandering this room was incredible. The forms all stand approximately seven feet, and are arranged in a small room. Being in the room gave me an up close experience and as I walked through I saw the works from different perspectives and in relation to the other sculptures. I was close enough to see every detail and be able to walk all the way around them. The fact that they were free standing and in open air gave them a more authenticity and created an up close and personal experience. 

The sculptures are inspired by political protests and the enormity of them. It’s also representative of Plato’s concept that humans were once two bodies in one. The size of the sculpture indicates the size and power two bodies combined might have. The mass of them also reflects the political protests.

The paintings together with the sculptures imagine the future and allude to radical thinking. The form and color are so abstract and show a new way of art not seen before. For me it is an exploration of a more perfect world. Beck’s vibrant colors and beautiful shapes are imbued with optimism that allows me to see this positive future Beck is alluding to. The colors throughout the sculptures create a happy feelings.

While all the works are beautiful and important, I was somewhat underwhelmed by the paintings. They are beautiful and deserve a better installation. The paintings were outshone by the sculptures, and because of this can seem forgettable. The display of the sculptures was perfect, and the paintings deserve a more well thought out and intentional display. They should be as memorable to a viewer as the sculptures. Beck's "body double" sculptures are extremely beautiful and have me an amazing feeling, however, the paintings were somewhat disappointing in comparison. 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Emily Mullin's Woman on Top

After viewing the larger than life topical-like drawings downstairs, Emily Mullin's show "Woman On Top" at Jack Hanley Gallery was refreshing and cleansing to all the senses. Starting with the show's title, Mullin takes the symbols of feminine domesticated life -- ceramics, floral arrangements, and interior decoration -- to a level of sophistication that elevates how these are not just hobbies but also forms of art. With the fresh flowers creating a fragrant atmosphere and whimsical colors awakening the eye at every turn, the show was more than a visual experience. The mounted shelf pieces had ample white space between them and allowed intimate moments that transformed when you looked at them in different angles. Mullin does not limit her art to one object but also integrates the gallery's walls and creates an illusion of flatness to three-dimensional ceramic vessels by extending the painting onto the white walls with continuing patterns. Her art's sensibility separates itself from a household craft. Her work alludes to so many points in history including ancient Egyptian ceramics, Cycladic vessels, the Bay Area during the 70s, and quirky patterning of the 80s. Garniture is the greatest piece that focuses on the relationships of color theory, with bright yellow-orange flowers and a blue brick design. The intensities of the colors vibrate against each other and meld the vessels in and out of the background space. Peinture Au Point breaks out of the frame of the shelf itself and expands its polka dots on the wall, creating a dizzying appearance of dots everywhere. The continuation of the art onto the gallery wall takes away from viewing the piece as mere decoration. Bananas is fun: a leaning small pot and bold squiggles wave from the pots to the borders. The asymmetry of the piece is not offputting and rather reflects the movement of the liveliness of the yellow blossoms. Mullin takes what was historically known as women's hobbies into an art form that requires intelligence and respect from its viewers as works of art. Just as the flowers are bound to wither and be replaced, the idea of what women are limited to changes with liberation.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A moving Middle Eastern myth in Thunderbird at Bureau

Named for the Sumerian god Ningirsu, the show Thunderbird offers a contemporary take on ancient Middle Eastern history by the artist Christine Rebet. In the exhibition, Rebet recounts the story of a temple commissioned by the Sumerian ruler Gudea for the god Ningirsu, whose avatar is a thunderbird. Through this narrative, Rebet explores the Middle East’s struggle in preserving their heritage, in terms of both historical sites and shared mythologies, in the wake of contemporary destruction and racism.
  Working with Dr. Sebastien Rey, an archaeologist conducting fieldwork at the temple site in Iraq, Rebet lends weight to her pieces with historical scholarship. Dr. Rey contributed writing to the first series of drawings in the exhibition which are loosely-rendered illustrations depicting symbols related to Ningirsu’s temple. Dr. Rey’s captions provide background on motifs seen throughout the rest of the works, giving viewers a base knowledge to understand the exhibition.
The narrative of the Ningirsu’s temple is presented in Rebet’s animated film, which elaborates on the temple's origins in Gudea’s prophetic dream and emphasizes the Sumerians’ connection to their land by showing rain-soaked earth being used to create mud-bricks for the temple’s construction. This animation is the highlight of the show. Including 2,500 hand-inked drawings, it entirely incorporates Rebet’s conceptual, historical, and stylistic elements of Thunderbird. Projected on a large wall in the back of the gallery, one becomes engrossed watching the drawings seen throughout the gallery transformed into active images. The animation also has a historical context, referencing narrative images on ancient tablets and ceramics. This is alluded to in a small series of paintings which depict the Uruk Vase, an important Sumerian vessel in the National Museum of Iraq. In the paintings, the subtleties of Rebet’s technique become apparent, namely her delicate layering of thinned acrylic and ink line drawings. Engaging both visually and historically, Thunderbird is a distinctly contemporary translation of Middle Eastern mythology, expounding on universal connections to the earth and narrative traditions. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

“Thunderbird” by Christine Rebet at Bureau

The exhibition of Christine Rebet is built upon the story of Sumerian ruler Gudea, who received a divine vision from the gods in his dream inspiring him to construct a temple. Archaeologists spent decades excavating this site in Iraq from the late 19th century to the early 20th century, and found numerous important monuments of Sumerian art and architecture. Currently, this archaeological site is the fieldwork venue for the British Museum's “Iraq Scheme” led by archaeologist Dr. Sebastine Rey. Dr. Ray and Rebet worked together to transform the archaeological researches from the original symbolic content of the temple to the story “Thunderbird”. The title “Thunderbird” is named after the avatar of the god Ningirsu, which is used as a metaphor by the artist to thread the ancient myth of Gudea, her appreciation to the archaeologists research, and the theme of the exhibition together.

The artist interprets the story through different formats, including animation, film, ink, drawing and painting. In the entrance of the gallery, several ink drawings with descriptions are displayed. Each of them illustrates a symbolic pattern found in the temple rendered in the artist’s unique romantic style. Loose line drawings and subtle ink colors seems premature, but they give the each painting emotions and life. Every single touch from the artist is telling a different story through the seems imperfect lines. The intuitive poetic practice of using colorful inks soaked into the paper and the unpretending simple line frames introduce the viewer to the aged myth of King Gudea.

At the center of the exhibition is a five-minute animation which imagines the conversation between King Gudea and Nanshe, goddess of prophecy, who helped the King interpret his dream. Every single scene in this Animation served as an individual painting by itself and display in the gallery. Also interestingly, the video is wrapped up by the close up of the hands of archaeologist Dr. Rey, exposing the relief image of the Ningirsu’s avatar, Thunderbird. in this way, the artist shows admiration towards the decades of labor by numerous archaeologists on this particular site, and leave viewers to fantasize their own version of the Thunderbird story.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

"Hiroko Koshino: A Touch of Bauhaus" at WhiteBox

Celebrated in Japan for decades, Hiroko Koshino makes her long overdue NYC debut at WhiteBox Gallery. The theatrical exhibition presents Koshino's bold clothing designs, lush Sumi-ink drawings, and abstract paintings--all connected by a Bauhaus sensibility.

Koshino's obsession with synthesizing all forms into a total artwork, a tenet of the Bauhaus, is brought to life by the teamwork of the artist herself, curator Kyoko Sato, and gallery director Juan Puntes. Gelled theater lights are used in lieu of typical gallery lights, casting Koshino's paintings and designs in dark, geometric shadows that highlight the shapes like dancers on a stage. In fact, the clothing pieces, paintings, and curatorial design in tandem seem to reference Triadisches Ballett, a ballet developed by Oskar Schlemmer in 1922 while at the Bauhaus. 

Furthering the Bauhaus quality of the show, clothing and paintings are grouped in thematic clusters, like scenes in a ballet. At the start of the main room, two mannequins are shown wearing the most conventional, ready-to-wear dresses of the exhibition in front of twenty-two pieces from "Colors," a series of mixed media paintings. Framed in a spotlight, this "scene" acts as a prologue to the more abstract, fantastical story to come. 

Sure enough, in the center of the room, there are four paper dresses from Koshino's "Kishiwada" collection beneath stark overhead lighting. Dangling from a bar without conventional clothing hangers, the delicate dresses gently tremble in midair, intensifying their phantasmagorical appearance. To the left is the stand-out of the exhibition, "Kimono with Work #757": a block-color kimono suspended from the ceiling several feet from the wall, casting a specter-like shadow on the Sumi-ink and acrylic painting behind it. Throughout the room and downstairs, there are several more of these ghostly dress-and-painting pairs. The staging of these spirits, inspired by Bauhaus and Japanese aesthetics, is effectively haunting. But more importantly, it exquisitely showcases the brilliance of Hiroko Koshino, whose work had been relatively unknown outside of Japan until now. 

Friday, November 23, 2018

Toward a Concrete Utopia

During the World War II, Yogoslavian architecture formed the nation’s ideals and uptopian with a large number of architects, designers as well as artists. This multiethnic country with six republics and two provinces brought together the aim of having affordable massive housing, educational institutions and public spaces made in concrete. Walking into the show, I was shocked by the aesthetic of the buildings, the bold sculptural forms and the large volumes of those buildings. I started to understand how those architects struggled to look for a new form of architecture for their new country. One of the beauties of concrete is its possibility of transforming into different shapes and volumes, this allows explorations of architecture in Yugoslavia. For example. the Museum of Contemporary Art has a system massive grids interconnecting with one of the other, shifting from one side to the end, forming the main structure of the building. Each unit of the volumes rotates 45 degrees in relation to the other, creating this angular contours that forms the facade of the building. This allows expansions of volumes. Concrete works well with the glass and steel frames to create dynamic connections from interior to exterior. It’s hard to believe that this was made more than 50 years ago while it seems so unique and brave today. Another building that stands out of the sight is the S2 Office Tower in Ljubbljana, Slovenia. This tall concrete tower with a steel grid structure for office areas is organized by an innovative structural and functional system. The tall vertical architectural mass was broke by a perpendicular cut from the middle, making the office volumes appear suspended above the street. With precise architectural documentations in the drawings of its plan and section as well as the delicate model, I started to see how the architects in that period strove to explore the expressive qualities of concrete from office to museums and churches. Although the political experiments in Yugoslavia failed, the achievements towards the architecture’s potential continues to inspire us today. 

Charles White: A Retrospective

The Museum of Modern Art

Charles White’s commitment to powerfully interpret African American lives, culture and the struggle for equality that defined 20thcentury American history was unwavering over the course of his career. Organized chronologically, Charles White: A Retrospective portrays the artist’s full body of work with more than 100 pieces - including drawings, prints and paintings. White’s remarkable drawing skills can already be seen in his sketchbooks from student years. But the artist was not only a superbly gifted draftsman. His unique way of capturing emotions in the expressions of his subjects is what makes his work– and this show so remarkable. In the 1940’s and 50’s White used these skills to reflect on current events connected to discrimination against African Americans, women, laborers and political radicals. Oftentimes he invokes historical African Americans and their successes in these artworks, such as in Exodus 1: Black Moses: This linoleum cut shows the abolitionist Harriet Tubman as a labor leader. The worried workers gather behind her powerful, confident figure, while she is leading the way, two fingers pointing towards the horizon. 

During the last decade of his career, White explored new technical terrain. This included developing a layered oil-wash drawing style, in which he mixed oil color with turpentine and then used a variety of utensils, such as brushes and cloths, to apply the paint onto the canvas. This highly detailed monochromatic drawing style can be seen in the Wanted Poster Series. The posters include stenciled letters, fragments of texts and images of women and children, sometimes combined in a collage from different perspectives. Everything is woven together into a patterned background that resembles the texture of wrinkled paper. Inspired by posters seeking the recapture of slaves who had escaped, the drawings link the challenges of contemporary African Americans with those of their enslaved ancestors. 

White’s belief in his responsibility as an artist to create thought provoking work with a deeper meaning remained consistent throughout his entire career. His interpretations of contemporary events make his work influential, and serve as a source of inspiration of how art can create awareness and instigate change today.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Charles White: Charcoal works

Charles Wilbert White was born in April 2, 1918, his work was exhibited at in MoMA recently. White is an artist who liked working with different types of art materials such as acrylic, color pencil and watercolor, and charcoals, all of these works give people a deep impression of his skills. Most of Whites works focus on black peoples faces and most of them only have one figure in the drawings. The characters hands are exaggerated in all of his paintings, combined with their austere cotton and linen customs, these people look like workers or tailors, who form the low classes in the society. From their eye expressions and actions, White tries to tell the story of what they are doing and thinking. For example, the painting below reminded me of the black people in Civil war. The first word comes to my mind is freedom, because the mans facial expression looks relaxed and relieved, which make me think of the slaves finally got their freedom at the and of the war. Also his hand is open with sand released and drift through the air is creating a feeling of the tough time finally end for these suffering people. The show and works really forced people to think about the meaning behind the gestures and expression, and also each work is related to others because they capture ephemeral moments which arouse eternal imaginations in audiences mind.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams

I was in a state of awe as I walked into Bodys Isek

Kingelez’s “City Dreams” exhibition. I felt drawn to the bright

colors and immaculate details. Many small scale models of imagined cities

made mostly of trash or packaging materials, sprawl

out in front of the viewer. One must peer down at many works

of art, each roughly the size of two queen mattresses now on view

at the MOMA. These intricate, imagined realities first spark

connection to the whimsical and colorful architecture of Dr. Seuss'

illustrations but then turn slightly more

practical and tacky, in the realm of Las Vegas. Kingelez’s

works, which were crafted in the 90's, were then transformed

by other artists into a virtual reality medium shown in a related project,

 which expands the experience much further.

The works pose a stark contrast between the existing Congolese

 architecture, and what is imagined. They also introduce a modern-

looking craft from a Congolese artist, when many viewers have a

preconception that art coming from this region is “tribal

African art”. Even if the viewer missed the video documentary

on the artist making these pieces outdoors with limited resources

on dirt floors, the details, cityscapes, and color are enough to

entertain the viewers eyes.

Kingelez did well with the exposure curated by the MOMA to

open the minds of viewers, break architectural preconceptions in 

central Africa and remind the public to dream outside there small

world and work diligently with whatever materials they may have.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Hilma af Klint, "The Paintings for the Temple" at the Guggenheim

This temple series is about as welcoming a show as any I've experienced. A palette of pastel pinks, chalky oranges, and easter egg violets envelop the viewer through larger than life canvases that practically wall paper the second floor of the Guggenheim. These large blocks of color contain images that seem a cross between botanical and scientific charts, filled in with curlicues and calligraphic flourishes. Her sizable body of work continues to spiral upward with multiple floors of sumptuous patterned paintings.

Yes, the paintings are teeming with references to the spirit world, represented by the visual spirals of life and death. Yes, Hilma Af Klint declares herself a medium and so not the true author of the work. Yet, whether one is spiritual or atheistic ought not to cloud the experience of being bathed in these giant lyrical pieces. (And if you happen to be a theologist, as she was, or on the path to spiritual enlightenment, all the more to decode and enjoy.)

One of the most striking works is composed of two swans, spiraling in from opposite diagonals of the painting, meeting in a center horizon line. The geometric balance of organic forms cleverly repeated through opposite colors precedes Escher drawings. The imagery in the painting represents life and death; the world we live in and the underworld, separated by a horizontal line or a veil that splits the composition of the drawing. The Guggenheim is a wonderfully appropriate stage for her work, especially when noting that Frank Lloyd Wright's wide curving space reference the golden spiral, a common theme of her paintings. As the Guggenheim has suggested, perhaps the museum and show combined have transformed into the "Temple of the future" that she intended the work for.

The Influence of Judson Dance Theatre

Judson Dance Theatre: The Work is Never Done exhibits the various artists that practiced and performed in the Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village in the 1960s. The Judson Dance was revolutionary because in many ways the artists in this movement redefined what dance could look like. The exhibition was curated mostly in chronologically and showed a range of mediums including photography, film, sculpture, and music. The show opens with a video tryptic of two dances and footage of the MoMA sculpture garden. This leads into the next room which shows how the Judson Dance Theatre started. 

One of the most interesting parts of the Judson Group is the nature of the dances. In one part of the exhibit photos about performances on an outdoor deck are shown. The way the Halprin company incorporated nature and the natural world into dance was extremely influential and introduced a way of dancing outside of a studio setting. 

In addition, the artists and dancers of Judson Dance Theatre took inspiration from everyday occurrences and used them in dance. In their performances walking and running were often employed in addition to other mundane actions. The exhibition does a fantastic job of portraying the immense influence of the Judson Dance Theatre by allowing the viewer to experience the performances.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Creating a concrete future in Towards a Concrete Utopia at MoMA

After World War II, Yugoslavia was looking for an architectural language to unify their new country. Concrete, it seems, was the best grammatical framework. The Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition, Towards a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980, explores how Yugoslav designers used architecture to express the optimism of a new era, one of collectivity bound by socialism. Geometry, civic construction, and, of course, concrete, were the elements that formed the post-war building boom surveyed in MoMA’s show.
Photographs, models, renderings, plans, and video all serve to illustrate the ideation, creation, and function of Yugoslav architecture. With this material, the show really requires more than one visit to fully absorb it all. The exhibition is organized around several major themes, including modernization, public buildings, global networks, and everyday life. Perhaps the most intriguing part is the final section covering monumental architecture; the forms become more organic, open, and flowing rather than rigid and angular. It was in these memorials to fallen soldiers and anti-fascism that Yugoslav architects tested the limits of reinforced concrete as both a material and as a representation of globalist, utopian and nationalist ideas. With this Eastern lens, Towards a Concrete Utopia sets the stage for broader scholarship of modernist architecture and its relation to post-war socialism in the twentieth century.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Sarah Lucas "Au Naturel"

British Artist Sarah Lucas’s first survey show in the US is named by the title of her well-known sculpture “Au Nature”, in which sexual organs are represented by common objects and placed on a mattress. The french phrase “Au Nature” with the meaning of “ in the nature” and “in the nude” suggests both the idea of boldness in her works and the “natural” state under the social structure.  It is a show simply about sex and genitals, but not simply about sexuality and eroticism.
Sexual organs are the main objects of her sculptures, in various forms or aspects. It could be straight forward like plaster male genitals sculpted in distinct scales with four sickles growing on the top or metaphoric as two oranges and a cucumber attach on a giant spring mattress. In either way, the viewers are put in front of these sexual contents by the most overwhelming way and led towards either a little intriguing humorous scene or an aggressive arguments of gender and power.
Metaphor and humor are the two most frequently used methods in her works. For instance, the series Bunnies and NUDS, in which figure-like stuffed-stocking with long limbs posting sexual suggesting postures on the chair perhaps has the same implied meaning to her series of enlarge newspapers with the erotic information which highly objectified women. It could be a sarcasm towards the society that objectify and dehumanize female, but it could also be the sneer to those woman under the society who are dehumanize themselves through putting those objectified labels on them. The most attractive part of her works is that there are so many different metaphors about the society in a single piece of work. There are always something more behind than what we could read.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Hilma af Klint at the Guggenheim

Architecturally, the Guggenheim is a perfect structure for exhibiting a lifetime of work by Hilma af Klint, Swedish artist and mystic. The spiral climb to the peak of the building mimics the artist's obsession with geometry evident in her now-celebrated abstract works.

Klint's paintings are often visual representations of complicated spiritual ideas. In fact, much of Klint's art was made in response to her seances with a collection of spirits she referred to as the "High Masters." Despite her prolific career, her abstract works largely went unseen for two main reasons: the High Masters instructed her not to show them, and Rudolf Steiner, philosopher and esotericist, advised her to wait fifty years before exhibiting them. Humble and earnest in her spiritualism, she willingly stored away more than 1200 works. As the century progressed, she watched as male artists went on to be lauded as pioneers of a style she had been working in for years.

Now, Klint's prescient genius is openly on display. “The Ten Largest” (true to their name, each painting measures around 129" x 95"), are the most impressive of the collection. Bursting with delirious color and experimental renderings of shapes in nature, the paintings look as if they could have been made this year by some young ingenue. That they were made in 1907 might make you believe in all-knowing High Masters.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Hilma af Klint The Paintings of the Temple

Hilma af Klint, a painter who creates abstract paintings, use a range of colors, biomorphic shapes and vigorous lines to represent her understanding of the spirit of the world in the universe. Her geometric abstraction allows her to go beyond the visual world, to communicate with spirits in another realm. Her understanding of life, gender and the universe are all evident in her collection of The Paintings for the Temples. The show began with the ten large paintings. She used gigantic scale, bright colors to represent the life cycle of humans from birth to death. With a sequence of colors shifting from blue to orange to purple, you start to see the scientific and spiritual messages that Klint creates to communicate with the spirtual world. Klint believes she is able to communicate with and receive messages from beings of higher consciousness by entering trance states. Snail’s shells are used frequently in her early work, representing continual growth and the concept of evolution. Spirals and circles are then developed to represent on the stages of life and humanity’s connection to the universe. They extend and expand to bring you with the idea of life, bodies and continuity. In her later work, Klint shifted her style with new mode of working with less free moving lines instead of geometric forms in her work. The final group of the work is called the Altarpieces. She used a three-level structure with rings and triangle stacking together to represent the theme of dualities. Klint brings out the spiritual messages in this collection by using circular forms and amid glowing colors. 

The Future with DOGSKULLDOGS

The dark space envelopes you as you walk by the larger-than-life skulls and into the shifting LED lit space. Blake Rayne's solo exhibition, DOGSKULLDOGS, at Miguel Abreu Gallery was a new and ominous experience with its peculiar atmosphere. It creates a futuristic space that does not encourage linear thought because of the randomness to it. There's a metal dog bowl, Cupule, and iron spheres, Rastor Tin Shot, laying around in irregular places. The spraypainted chrome fig tree, Vertical Stanchion, adds to the cold decor of the gallery. Objects, alluding to things found in a home, are placed in unexpecting spots and shift the gallery space into a surreal experience. Each piece is placed with questionable intention as there is no logical explanation.
When looking at the room of black and white oil paintings, you witness the evolution of human beings. The theme of biological development juxtaposes how they were painted in pixelated and digitized fashion with such a traditional medium like oil painting. The paintings hang on the wall and the sculptural objects are haphazardly strewn about so the meaning or function of their relationship is ambiguous. As aimless as the gallery space seems, it perhaps alludes to the uncertainty the future holds for mankind's domestic life.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Marguerite Humeau: Birth Canal

New Musuem

Marguerite Humeau’s “Birth Canal” is a show that engages the viewer on multiple levels. Ten figures, cast out of bronze or carved in stone are positioned on top of multiple grey, stone-colored platforms at the end of one of the New Musuem’s darkened South galleries. Ambiguous in form, the sculptures resemble both female figures and animal brains. Spotlights highlight the differently sized casts and elongate their shadows, making the whole scenery resemble a stage. The voluptuous sculptures are the French artist’s reflection upon some of the earliest forms of sculpture in human existence – the Paleolithic Venus figurines. The mystery surrounding both the purpose of these objects as well as the sculptors who created these figures fascinates Humeau. She drew inspiration to pair the figurines and animal brains from anthropologist Bethe Hagens, who theorized that ancient shamans may have eaten animal brains. The healers believed that by doing so they would acquire the respective animal’s capabilities - such as flying. This allusion to an ancient ritual is perceptible inside the cave-like, dark gallery space. A soundtrack rising from heavy breathing to raw, indecipherable chanting and a deep bass sound accompanies the installation. The whole setting is covered by a sweet, mineral-like scent that is supposed to evoke an association with the odor of bodily liquids during childbirth. Visiting the show is both a fascinating and disturbing experience. The diverse shapes and forms of the sculptures ask for a closer look, whereas the soundtrack and the overwhelming atmosphere prevent the visitors from lingering.

Thursday, October 18, 2018


‘PLAY’ is the theme of URS FISCHER’s office chair show. When you walk in to this show, it did actually attract people’s eyes: a large interior space with six automatically move office chair. The contrast between the empty white wall and bright color on the auto move chair did remind people they are the protagonists in the show also force them to imagine they are not a furniture but a living creature. The material selected with specific color defined these chairs have their own characteristics, For example, from my aspect, the one in light orange with more traditional looking is acting a mature adult in the group. For creating a mysterious high end tech atmosphere in the show, the designer also did a great job in the detail: caution. On the floor in front of the backup room, “DO NOT ENTER” was projected with blinking. Although the show is well designed, I still confused about the lighting they chose. The dim yellow light reminds me of a warehouse and a space is preparing for a exhibition instead of a formal show. At this point, a bright Strong white light looks more fit to the topic of this show.

Monday, October 8, 2018

David Wojnarowicz' "History Keeps Me Awake at Night"

“History Keeps Me Awake at Night” features David Wojnarowicz’s work. He was a New York based artist who died at age 37 of HIV related complications and his works included photography, painting, music, film, sculpture, writing, performance and activism.
Wojnarowicz dives into topics such as politics, love, philosophy, and beauty. His collages at his Whitney Museum of American Art exhibition consist of stunning, vibrant flowers, sensitively written commentary and powerful black and white images of illness and death while an American flag gives the viewer context. Noting the dates of these pieces to be from 1990 (in the heart of the Aids epidemic), and the fact that Wojnarowicz was gay, his work during this period appears to relate to the hardships and struggles of the AIDS epidemic. There seem to be stark contrasts within his four large-scale paintings of exotic flowers in that they combine three quite separate ideas of grimness, contemplation and hope. He depicts objects of beauty through his paintings to remind the viewer that beauty must persist through difficult times, for the sake of hope. He expresses his understanding of cultural issues such as how Americans Can’t Deal with Death through eloquent commentary and he exposes harsh realities, the apparent darkness of the times, in black and white images. Wojnarowicz uses this contrast as a sign of the time.

Heavenly Bodies at the Met Fifth Ave

Heavenly Bodies at the Met Fifth Avenue is a beautiful show that displays extravagant clothing designs based on the Catholic religion. The main portion of the exhibition takes place in the  medieval gallery. This is unexpected but contextualizes the fashion with earlier objects that it relates to. It features mainly designers who grew up in the Catholic faith and then explored their relationship with the religion through their art, fashion. Many of the featured designers and brands are well known such as Versace, Yves Saint Laurent,  Alexander McQueen, and Valentino. The show however seems to display significantly fewer pieces than in previous Costume Institute shows. There is limited space available in the medieval gallery and the show is spread over multiple locations including the Anna Wintour Costume Center, in the basement of the Met Fifth Avenue, and the Met Cloisters further uptown. Because of this the effect of the pieces is more underwhelming. The way the show is spaced over different locations around the city gives less flow to the exhibition. Because you have to walk through so many different and unrelated exhibits in order to see only the second part of the show, there is a distraction that leads to a choppy experience. 

Friday, October 5, 2018

“Huma Bhabha: We Come in Peace.” At the Met’s rooftop garden

Two sculptures interact, the first a 12 foot tall totemic figure. It is a looming, sour faced, battle scarred, gender ambiguous alien of a figure. The materials are rough, hand sculpted by Bhaba herself. It seems to exert power over the second sculpture, a figure bent forward with arms extended towards the first, covered in a garment likened to a garbage bag. This second sculpture is called “Benaam”, the Urdu word for “unnamed”. 
This second sculpture taps into America’s fear of Islam, as its posture echoes the traditional Muslim ‘sujood’ position, an act of worshipping Allah with knees and head touching the ground. The first sculpture seems to demand complete dominance from the first. Perhaps this is a symbol of America’s need to dominate in world affairs, specifically in the Islamic world. 
These two sculptures elicit a reaction of fear, lack of understanding, ‘otherness’, perhaps also referencing our sci-fi fear of aliens attacking and taking over humanity. “It’s an anti-war narrative. It’s about a dead body… but it’s not necessarily dead, either,” Bhabha explains in an interview for the Met exhibition catalogue. She continues that "the potential for rebirth" also exists, leaving the audience with a glimmer of hope for change. 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Masters Mingle, but don’t Match, at David Zwirner Gallery

At David Zwirner Gallery, modern and medieval art mingle in an exhibition with strong pieces but a weak concept. Endless Enigma: Eight Centuries of Fantastic Art, participates in today’s curatorial trend of placing artworks from across centuries together with the intention of drawing historical and cultural connections. Featuring hard-hitters like Bosch, Titian, Goya, Munch, Bourgeois, and Dalí, the show explores surrealist themes in their work, such as myth, the subconscious, and religious narratives. However, this theme is interpreted quite loosely. The juxtaposition of Ernst’s Forêt, soleil, oiseaux ou le chant à la lune with an old master Judith Beheading Holofernes emphasizes the time of the day the paintings depict (both being night scenes) rather an investigation of surrealist and grotesque subjects. Taking up the entire two floors of the gallery’s 20th Street location, the expansive exhibition underscores Zwirner’s power in both the modern and old master markets. There is quality at the level of each individual piece, however. Taken as a whole, the exhibition comes off as a fever dream garage sale instead of a study of the fantastical mind.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Mary Corse: A survey in Light

Whitney Museum of American Art

Upon entering the exhibition Mary Corse: A Survey in Light, I was immediately mesmerized by a gigantic 240-inch long canvas. What first appeared to be a monochrome painting came to life once I started walking alongside it. 

The vibrating surface of the artwork, part of Corse’s “White Light” series, seems to be constantly in flux as the glass microspheres in the paint glisten as the viewer moves. The artist was inspired to create this glistening concoction of paint and glass particles by the reflecting paint used to mark highway lanes. It makes the painting’s surface shimmer and flicker.

The vertical bands that define the subtle rectangles seem to continuously shift. Strongly influenced by minimalist and monochromatic painting, the artist was interested in playing with light and perception very early in her career. The exhibition shows the variety of Corse’s artistic explorations, highlighting key works - such as her monochrome diamond-shaped canvases and her electric light box “paintings”– white Plexiglas boxes of fluorescent tubes that emit light from the surface.Walking through the exhibition becomes an almost meditative experience, as the paintings and sculptures adopt infinite permutations. Exiting the show through the last room, I was confronted by Corse’s “Black Earth” series. These two gigantic, shiny black ceramic tiles stand in strong contrast to the “White Light” paintings. Stacked on top of each other on the museum floor the two squares close the exhibition, which comes full circle by returning the viewer from earth back to light – into the hallway, where I find myself once more enchanted by the hypnotic force of Corse’s massive “White Light” painting.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Mary Corse: A Survey in Light

The show starts with an installation of a tetrahedron n painted in white. The artist treated the sculpture as a single object to test them in the different relationship to each other in spatiality. 

Course is an abstract painter who explores the light. The materials used for each artwork are varied. Her passion for exploring the light and space began in the abstract paintings to the installations with fluorescent lights. Her goal of representing light in her painting gives the viewers a different feeling of light and space by the layers of colors and compositions of each part. All of the works use the color of white. The three dimensional work installed with fluorescent light really interacts with the viewers by letting them see the reflection of surrounding environment. In the end of her art career, Course starts to use only black in her work because it is the opposite of white that represents the ground. Some paintings in the exhibition are too similar to each other, it would be more experimenting to start exploring the natural light with the paintings together. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018


Toyin Ojih Odutola’s series of pastel paintings pay tribute to the Nigerian noble family and offer a unique and personal visual experience. The artist utilizes common objects and environments, but rehashes their appearance in her own idiosyncratic style. The movement and vitality embodied in the wriggling pastel patterns fights against her calculated composition and the rigid canvas frame. These are not generic artistic techniques, but bold innovative risks taken by the artist. The overwhelmingly bright ripple-like textures create fuller identities for the figures accentuate the space between them. Using her unique technique, Odutola brings an undeniable sense of life and excitement to the canvas. Hers sentimentality, humanity and individualism are reflected through the unique hues each figure is painted in.
It may be nitpicking to say the artist’s scientifically inaccurate use of dazzling and illusional shading makes the paintings flat and two-dimensional. However, indeed, In some of her larger paintings, because of the overly repeated techniques, the depth and saturation seem to be missed out as well.


Data through Art with Analia Saban

   With both literal and content-driven approach, Analia Saban's solo exhibition Punched Card at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery reveals the transcendental methods of combining technology with art. Viewers are invited to question what makes a particular object a painting or just a piece of equipment used to store data and function.
   The highlight of the show was the upstairs gallery where works incorporated linen as an open surface to explore. In particular, Transcending Woven Horizontal Line (Black), held me in front of it with its bold minimalism. The artist took the time to weave the dried black plastic black acrylic gently between the fragile linen threads of the canvas. The moiré pattern that appears once you step away from the work takes you into the complex weaving and leaves you wanting to connect the loose strands of black that dangle off the ends of the canvas.
   The process-intensive art ranging from tapestries to pressed in Punched Card requires time to be spent with each piece to fully appreciate the number of layers that the circuit boards, memory chips, and paint themselves project. By repurposing objects used in modern technology, Saban shows a poetic connection of information being transposed in art. 

Urs Fischer's PLAY at Gagosian

Jubilant at first, PLAY by Urs Fischer has sinister undertones. Walking into Gagosian, visitors are encouraged to interact with nine office chairs, equipped with motors, autonomously exploring the gallery space. Initially, weaving in and out of the chairs’ whimsical performance is delightful: their dance, choreographed by Madeline Holland, feels spontaneous as they react to each other and passersby. The piece soon begins to take on a darker feel as you bend to investigate the cameras attached to the chairs, count the many sensors on the ceiling, and witness the ominous room each chair is sent once it begins to lose battery. Considering all these features, PLAY reads as a reflection on automation and the workplace. Though Fischer recoils at attempts to tidily explain the meaning behind his work, the specific choice to use office chairs as his objects of mechanized manipulation seems intentional. So ubiquitous are these ergonomic chairs in present-day offices, their presence immediately brings to mind soul-deadening jobs in fluorescent-lit buildings. Holland's choreography lends itself to this interpretation as well: the chairs move like phantom workers navigating an office. With extraordinary technology behind the humanity of the chairs, PLAY examines contemporary concerns of artificial intelligence replacing human consciousness in the workforce.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Sean Landers: Woke or Willing

The pale yellow with blue lines of a legal notepad are printed onto twelve canvases before it is stretched over bars and ready for Sean Landers to paint on. Except that the printed canvas is of archival quality it’s much like a jumbo size of the real thing—an existing surface for Landers to apply his thoughts. This easily recognizable background references some paintings and work on paper from earlier in his career, but does little else for this selection of work. The integrity of this work is in the painted text and cartoony imagery that Landers’s applies as if with a permanent marker. In black strokes the artist’s flushes out with what he grapples, his role in and concern for the present social and political climate. Landers literally presents his inner dialogue to the viewers, blurring his personal stance with public concern in a public manner. What comes across a sincere awareness of his white male privilege and consciousness of his success as a middle-aged artist captivates the viewers’ attention and keeps it so that one reads every word on each of the twelve paintings. The message is what people want to hear, and it’s genuine. As a viewer I was nodding, thinking this dude is woke. It was disappointing to learn that the truths Landers painted in these twelve paintings were reiterated in ten other paintings also from 2017. These were presented at the ADAA Art Show in conjunction with this gallery exhibition, as if to differentiate the legal notepad paintings as lesser. In this other series the canvas is covered in paint (i.e. no printed canvas) and more physical labor was involved. The text appears to be carved in the bark of birch or aspen trees, another throw back to earlier works. This referencing to earlier artworks and reiterating of truth makes me think Landers is aware and willing to play into a saleable market instead of argue a point.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Review: Beryl Korot: A Coded Language

                    Beryl Korot uses computer language as material in her art practice, combines elements of weaving, painting, video projection and photography to shape a space that confused me whether I am in the real world or the machine world.
                    Because of the development of computer networks, "data" has become a distinctive feature of this era. Data can be used as an object of artistic creation and can be visualized in a "visual" way. 
                    In Korot's works, she uses computer data as the primary material and visual element to materialize the data in the real world poetically. She uses the coding language from the machine with weaving, a very traditional handicraft technique. The information in machine data and weaving is encrypted by line. The pattern on the loom is placed line by line, and machine data is also displayed line by line. By grafting machine data into the weaving linen, thus showing a sense of extreme contradictions between humane and rational. From the relatively cold tone she used on the linen, we can clearly sense the rational metaphor of the machine. 
                  Traditionally, we use brushes, paints, brains, eyes, and hands to organize information, present a world of visual images on paper or canvases; in the mechanical era, we can use machines, films. In the digital era, we began to use a new device—computers—to enter mathematic languages into computing systems and output a brand new image world through the screen. 
                  Looking at her work is easy to think about whether she is trying to explore or praise the beauty of machine data because she presents the data in such a delicate way. But from one of her work named Babel, we can learn exactly her attitude towards machine language is critical. On the one hand, I think she regards machine code as a language, on the other hand, she thinks that this language, like other languages, has lost information in translation or conversion. This language also has the privilege of dividing human civilization into upper and lower levels, since the acceptance of this language also depends on the class attribute in the real society.

Beryl Korot uses computer language as material in her art practice, combining elements of weaving, painting, video projection and photography to shape a space that confuses the real world and the machine world.
Due to the development of computer networks, "data" has become a distinctive feature of the present era. Data can be used as an object in artistic creation and can be visualized.
In Korot's works, the artist materializes the data in the real world poetically. Compared to just watching one of the works, the exhibition let us feel the fictional abstract space created by her works. She combines the coding language of the computer with weaving, a very traditional handicraft technique. Thus she invented the first computer that uses Jacquard loom. The information in the computer data and weaving is encrypted line by line. The pattern on the loom is placed line by line, and machine data is displayed line by line. Grafting the machine data into the weaving linen thus shows a sense of the extreme contradiction of the perceptual and the rational. From the relatively cool color threads she uses on the linen, we can sense the rational aspect referring to lifeless machines.
Traditionally, artist use brushes, paints, brains, eyes, and hands to organize information and present a world of images on paper or canvases. In the mechanical era, the artist can use cameras, films. In the digital era, we began to use a new device—computers—to enter mathematical languages into computing systems and output brand new image world through the screen. 

Looking at the Korot's work, it is tempting to consider whether she is trying to explore or praise the beauty of data because she presents it in such a delicate way. However, from another of her works, named "Babel," we learn what her attitude towards to machine language is. On the one hand, I think she regards machine code as a language, and on the other, that she thinks that this language, like other languages, loses information in translation or conversion.