"Lauri Chambers: Soundings," Francine Seders Gallery, Seattle, WA. Through Nov.30.
Sean Landers is best known for his layered text paintings, which typically advertise his artistic triumphs and failures in tragicomic fashion. In his current installation, “Set of Twelve,” at Friedrich Petzel, Landers reconfigures a series of videos he made in 1990 that feature obsessive monologues spoken rather than painted. Appearing in his empty studio, speaking directly into the camera, Landers satirizes the solipsistic formula of 1970s video art as he tests the limits of his logorrhea.
In the NY Times, Karen Rosenberg writes that Landers is a writer at heart, so the video camera sometimes seems like an unwelcome intermediary. "He makes faces, swigs wine from the bottle and ambles across the rooftop of his studio, but mostly he sits and talks (and talks and talks). More than anything, the installation reminds you how much of a '1990s artist' Mr. Landers is; in the current art world his professed ambivalence about fame and fortune seems as dated as his grunge hairstyle. But you could also say that his unchecked ramblings anticipated the pathological narcissism of the blogosphere. " Hmm...let me check my stats and update my new "Daily Progress" Twitter feed while I consider whether I'm pathologically narcissistic. Aren't all artists overtly, unapologetically self-absorbed?
"Sean Landers: Set of Twelve," Friedrich Petzel, in conjunction with Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York, NY. Through Nov. 15.
Jonathan Lasker celebrates the act of making in highly controlled compositions of thick impasto elements and dense linear circuitry. Using color, silhouette, and pattern, Lasker invents a fresh vocabulary of abstract signifier and painterly glyph. "In The Oregonian, DK Row reports that Lasker, especially in the larger paintings, is like a cartographer of the abstract, arranging colors and shapes that project a restrained whimsy. "Usually, in each painting, Lasker creates several large geometric shapes filled in by a vortex of scribbly corkscrew designs. Each awkward shape is a different color -- purple, blue, yellow, red, green, black, etc. -- and almost a painting unto itself. Lasker also opens up each painting by creating an expanse of white or yellow that's surrounded by thickly built-up paint of the same color. One way to interpret these flat spaces is as little windows that have been opened up in the middle of each painting. Peek-a-boo. There is indeed a rivulet of impishness to these large paintings, a rascality that is actually more pronounced in the smaller works, where Lasker's graphic marks realize greater flourish. But light-heartedness is not Lasker's objective here; he's expanding upon some longstanding art historical ideas about painting.
"I wish that circuitry would dazzle more often and in unpredictable ways. Lasker produces taut, complex structures, but this mastery also seems to hem in the artist's waggish impulses. The winding corkscrew squiggles want to push beyond or outside of their strictly outlined geometric containers, but alas, clerkish exactness prevails. " Read more.
Watch James Kalm's video of Lasker's 2007 opening at Cheim & Read. At first his camera runs out of memory, but hardworking Kalm returns the next day to finish his report.
Also check out the now-dormant PaintersNYC, where the rambling, hard-to-please regulars actually had a fairly interesting discussion of Lasker's work last year.
"Jonathan Lasker," organized by Bruce Guenther. Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR. Through Jan. 11.
In the NY Times Shaila Dewan reports on "Prospect.1," the first New Orleans Biennial. Opening on November 1 and running for eleven weeks, the biennial is the largest international contemporary art festival ever organized in the United States. "Billed as the largest exhibition of contemporary art ever held on American soil, the biennial is intended to help restore the cultural vibrancy of a city that remains on its knees three years after Hurricane Katrina. With a star-filled roster of 81 artists and a projected 50,000 visitors from out of town, it may indeed bring benefits to New Orleans. But it is already clear that the arrangement has not been one-sided, and the New Orleans contribution has been rich. With its history of destruction and rebirth, artistic triumph and economic struggle, this crumpled crescent of a city provides a singular interpretive context that acts as a resonance chamber.
"Curator Dan Cameron said it's 'just 81 people running around with good ideas, and basically everyone they meet goes, Oh yeah, sure, I’ll help. It is American, but it’s no longer what we think of as American — it’s drop what you’re doing and go do what your neighbor’s doing.' This is, after all, the city of spontaneous parades. Mr. Cameron said he was careful to select artists for the first Prospect who would attract critics and collectors but were not divas whose expectations might exceed the abilities of a first-time exhibition on a shoestring budget of $3.2 million. 'I would have liked to have taken a few more risks,' Mr. Cameron said. 'Curatorially, I like high-risk situations.'" Read more.
He also sees her oeuvre as being related to Antropofagia, a Brazilian movement of the ’20s and ’30s whose name means cannibalism. Mr. Pedrosa described it as 'this concept where the Brazilian native artist appropriates foreign elements and digests them to produce something personal and unique.' In fact Ms. Milhazes often says her major influence is Tarsila, a Brazilian painter who came out of that movement, as well as Mondrian and Matisse.
"'In the beginning,” she said, “I felt a connection between Spanish Latin American and Brazilian, which is more Portuguese: the Baroque churches, the costumes, the ruffles, things that have volume or a sculptural shape.' But ultimately, she said, although she wanted to incorporate all those things into her work, 'I wanted to put them together based on a geometric composition. Because at the end of the day, I was only interested in structure and order.'” Read more.
"Beatriz Milhazes," James Cohan Gallery, New York, NY. Through Nov. 15.
Last year, my first article published in The Brooklyn Rail examined how an impending art market "correction" might affect artists. "In a fairly typical scenario, the gallery an artist has worked diligently to cultivate, having been powered by the bull art market, doesn’t make the rent when it turns bearish. The artist is left without representation. He or she may lose artwork kept 'in storage.' Furthermore, as Edward Winkleman has chronicled in his well-regarded art blog, check kiting becomes de rigueur in times of financial distress, and even formerly fair galleries may resort to withholding payment for work previously sold. Widespread gallery closings also mean fewer exhibition opportunities for younger artists. The abundant part-time jobs—often at the galleries themselves—that kept them solvent dry up.
"Some artists will simply hunker down, eke out work at restaurants and bars, and wait for the market to grow again. Others may start collectives or DIY galleries to generate new collector niches. This strategy has worked in the past. Witness iconoclastic successes like Joe Amrhein’s Pierogi 2000 and the proliferation of artist-run galleries in Williamsburg after the art market contracted due to 9/11. The lack of exhibition opportunity actually creates a more experimental atmosphere since few artists are tailoring their ideas or curbing their impulses to cater to a particular audience. Another hidden bonus is that as real estate development plateaus and gentrification slows, artists have more time before they are squeezed out of their once grittily affordable neighborhoods."
This week in New York magazine, Jerry Saltz addresses how the downturn will affect not just artists, but all the different spheres in the art world. "If the art economy is as bad as it looks—if worse comes to worst—40 to 50 New York galleries will close. Around the same number of European galleries will, too. An art magazine will cease publishing. A major fair will call it quits—possibly the Armory Show, because so many dealers hate the conditions on the piers, or maybe Art Basel Miami Beach, because although it’s fun, it’s also ridiculous. Museums will cancel shows because they can’t raise funds. Art advisers will be out of work. Alternative spaces will become more important for shaping the discourse, although they’ll have a hard time making ends meet.
"As for artists, too many have been getting away with murder, making questionable or derivative work and selling it for inflated prices. They will either lower their prices or stop selling. Many younger artists who made a killing will be forgotten quickly. Others will be seen mainly as relics of a time when marketability equaled likability. Many of the hot Chinese artists, most of whom are only nth-generation photo-realists, will fall by the wayside, having stuck collectors with a lot of junk....The good news is that, since almost no one will be selling art, artists—especially emerging ones—won’t have to think about turning out a consistent style or creating a brand. They’ll be able to experiment as much as they want."
"If someone wanted to send you a postcard from hell, Patrick Welch would be the best living candidate to paint it. But it might make you want to visit. Welch's hell is goofy, cryptic, fairly self-aggrandizing, and inviting." Seth Sanders, The Chicago Reader, 2002
"Reeves's approach, ironically, is to get to an almost sub-atomic level in his argument about what is real and what is not, which is part of the pleasure of this show. There were times when I almost laughed out loud at the hugeness of those globs of paint. Once, I touched one of them, though I shouldn't have. It was soft and gave slightly, then poofed back. It hadn't dried yet and God knows when it would." Read more.
At Belzer's website, check out her lovely, blog-like artist's statement. "Maybe it’s just me, but the idea of crawling along the bark of a tree and then, somehow penetrating to the tree’s interior is enticing, even thrilling. I would find myself exploring an alternate landscape, completely strange and yet in some respects peculiarly familiar. Would I be a tiny ant-sized being gazing upon monumentally scaled ridges, peaks and valleys busily pushing their way through space, or would I be a giant looking, as if through a microscope, at pulsing veins of energy in constant motion? I imagine it might be an unlikely combination of the two perspectives. My tree fantasy returns me to elementary school science class and to words like cambium, xylem (up) and phloem (down), and then pitches me forward into a horror movie in which the heroic trees are striving madly to suck carbon from the atmosphere as fast as the humans and their infernal machines can spew it out..."
In the NY Times Roberta Smith calls Elizabeth Peyton's portraits girly. "By fits and starts, this exhibition reveals the complicated fusion of the personal, the painterly and the Conceptual that informs Ms. Peyton’s work. Each image is a point on entwined strands of artistic or emotional growth, memorializing a relationship, acknowledging an inspiration or exposing an aspect of ambition. This implies an overriding narrative, which is unusual for an exhibition nearly devoid of text labels and unaccompanied by a meet-the-artist introductory video....Ms. Peyton’s prominence is either a fluke or a further sign of the ascendancy of the feminine. Her art seems to belong to a strand of painting that has historically been dismissed or marginalized, and for which respect tends to come late, if at all. You could call it girly art. It includes the small still lifes of late Manet and the long careers of Giorgio Morandi and William Nicholson; the work of Marie Laurencin and Florine Stettheimer, who, like Ms. Peyton, chronicled their artistic circles; and the suggestive abstractions of O’Keeffe. The painting of O’Keeffe that concludes the show, based on a famous photograph by Alfred Stieglitz, is one of the weaker and larger works here. But that doesn’t stop this exhibition, which wears it heart on its sleeve and sheaths its ambition in a velvet glove, from striking a blow for the girl in all of us."Read more.
At the L Magazine, Paddy Johnson thinks the show is ill-conceived and many of the paintings weak. "Though arranged roughly chronologically, it’s hard to get a sense of the progress and success of the work given its hanging. Dwarfed by the museum’s towering walls, Peyton’s already small works blend together, one almost indistinguishable from another. It doesn’t help that the changes in Peyton’s work over the last 15 years have by in large been subtle: the difference for example, between her early work drawn from photographs and some of her life-based pieces in later years is often only faintly apparent. The larger issue within the work itself, however, is the number of pedestrian paintings the artist has produced....for every good painting and drawing Peyton produces, two or three average works accompany them. Her landscapes are consistently poorly executed, and she has yet to resolve the backgrounds in her later portraits." Read more.
"Martha Rosler: Great Power," Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York, NY. Through Oct. 11.