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.