January 31, 2010

Twitter Notes

Here are some items cut and pasted from the Two Coats Twitter feed. For readers unfamiliar with Twitter, "RT" indicates the item has been repeated, or "retweeted," from someone else's Twitter feed.

 Cara Ober, "Only Dying Makes Us Grow," 2009, oil and acrylic on canvas, 64 x 60"
  1. BMoreArt blogger Cara Ober mixing word and image at Randall Scott through Feb 13 http://bit.ly/d0S9UD13NX

    Randal Wilcox
  2. RT @ArtCatNY: Randal Wilcox: In My Secrecy I Was Real at Famous Accountants http://dlvr.it/13NX 

     Zack Bent,. "Preaching to the Choir," 2007
  3. People are Important: Regina Hackett rounds up some advice art http://bit.ly/8YNzYe

  4. Austin Thomas blogs from the  Statler Waldorf Gallery, artist Molly Larkey's new space in Echo Park, LA  http://bit.ly/9OVEpK

  5. RT @fecalface: What's the deal with that new Mural at 14th and Valencia? We did some investigation http://bit.ly/dsm4OB

  6. Finch: Naked breasts=Best in Show //RT @artnetdotcom: Charlie Finch on new paintings by Les Rogers http://bit.ly/cdr0l3
  7. Did anyone think otherwise? // RT @gerhardrichter: This account is run by the Gerhard Richter web team, not GR personally -Gerhard is busy with his art!! http://bit.ly/16F1ak
  8. RIP J.D. Salinger RT @bookbench: Links to every story Salinger published in The New Yorker http://bit.ly/dyfe4Y (via @yalepress)  
  9. Excuse me Tyler: Does the AAM condone this type of activity?? ;-) RT @hragv // Super Bowl trash talk: Serious...bets of significant paintings: http://bit.ly/5cFc22
  10. RT @KnightLAT: Haiti's art museums & galleries, like much of everything else, are in a terrible mess http://bit.ly/5MRbky 12:30 PM Jan 24th
  11. I've been wondering this myself// RT @nicolejcaruth: Art bloggers of color: Where are you? http://bit.ly/5hLjTu
  12. Fine Art Adoption Network at X-Initiative ! //RT @artfagcity: X-Initiative Announces Art Free For All! http://bit.ly/66XvAr

  13. Two Coats will be at CAA ARTExchange Friday, Feb. 12, 6-8 --Please stop by and say hello // RT @collegeart Register for CAA Conference in Chicago http://bit.ly/8lnOjm #CAA10  
  14. Leah--thanks for the shout out//"A Plague of Bloggers? Really?" http://neditpasmoncoeur.blogspot.com (via @leahsandals)
  15. I just applied for a studio at the Marie Sharp Walsh Foundation. If you know anyone over there, please put in a good word for me. Thanks!
  16. Look for my review in the upcoming issue of The Brooklyn Rail//RT @ArtCatNY: New Mirrors: Painting in a Transparent World at Exit Art: http://bit.ly/7ndHw5

January 30, 2010

NY Times Art in Review: John McLaughlin and Charles Steffin

John McLaughlin, "L-1958," 1958, oil on canvas, 22 x 30"
John McLaughlin, "Untitled," 1962, oil on board, 12 x 15" 

"John McLaughlin," Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York. Through Feb. 13. Holland Cotter: With abstract painting again in the art world’s eye, the time is right to renew an acquaintance with the American artist John McLaughlin.... He started painting full-time when he was around 50 and continued until his death in 1976. He was self-taught in the sense that he had no formal training, though as a practiced examiner and trader of art his education was hands-on and deep.... He pushed Malevich’s monumentalizing geometric forms off-balance or made them so big that they stopped being forms and started being space. He pulled Mondrian’s programmatic primary colors into the ordinary world, mixing the blue and yellow to make a grassy green, fiddling with red until it was a brickish vermilion. After the 1950s McLaughlin stuck pretty much with black, white and ivory-gray, seemingly intent on making his paintings as simple and limitless as possible. His physical pleasure in painting is evident; his best surfaces are fine-touched like Mondrian’s. But his motivation for doing the work was always, it seems, the same: to encourage the passer-by to stop, look and linger. He once wrote, “I want to communicate only to the extent that the painting will serve to induce or intensify the viewer’s natural desire for contemplation without the benefit of a guiding principle.” So there it is: he had faith in our “natural desire for contemplation.” What a concept.

Charles Steffin, "Damsells de Aronon, (I guess)," 1992, brown wrapping paper, 62.5 x 64"

"Charles Steffen: Drawing Nudes Is Like Saying a Prayer, Amen," Andrew Edlin, Chelsea. Through Feb. 27. Ken Johnson: The Chicago native Charles Steffen (1927-1995) attended art school briefly and worked as a draftsman in his youth. A mental breakdown led to a 13-year stay in a psychiatric institution, after which he lived with his mother and drew so prolifically that the family had to throw out decades’ worth of work for fear of fire. His known oeuvre dates only from 1989. The two main subjects in this disarming show, female nudes and sunflowers, are drawn in pencil and colored pencil mostly on large sheets of brown paper. Rendered in serpentine lines, the naked women have bug eyes and a stocky corpulence like sexed-up troll dolls. The layering of lines makes it seem as if they had been flayed, revealing underlying nervous and circulatory systems. At once grotesque and cute, they call to mind the cartoons of Gahan Wilson and Basil Wolverton, but without the professional illustrator’s self-consciousness and with a sweet eroticism of their own....Profuse handwriting fills spaces around the drawn imagery, much of it fairly mundane. Mr. Steffen thanks the lord for his help and inspiration; observes that he’s been drinking brandy all morning and is “sorta tipsy”; and, revealing that he’s not a complete Outsider, writes on one that de Kooning’s nudes “are the best I have seen in a long time. If I could paint like him I would be happy.”

Read the entire Art in Review column here.

January 29, 2010

Chris Ofili: Not afraid to fail

Chris Ofili,"Afrodizzia (2nd version)," 1996, Courtesy Victoria Miro Gallery, London

Chris Ofili, "Lover's rock - guilt," 2007, oil on linen, 110 5/8 x 76 7/8." Image courtesy David Zwirner.

Chris Ofili, "Douen's Dance," 2007, oil on linen, 110 5/8 x 76 3/4."

In the Guardian, Charlotte Higgins blogs that she isn't sure what to think about Chris Ofili's show at the Tate. "I'd seen some of Chris Ofili's new work in the lavish new Rizzoli book he has helped put together. Even so, after walking past so many greatest hits and old friends in the galleries at London's Tate Britain, where his latest career survey opens to the public tomorrow, I got a jolt when I walked into the final pair of rooms, filled with his most recent work. In the first, the paintings are entirely blue – deep, midnight shades of indigo, ultramarine and bilberry. In the second, the paintings are screaming with acid colours: strident purple next to citrus orange; a tintinnabulating turquoise; egg-yolk yellow. And there is no elephant dung. And no glitter.

I have to confess I'm a bit of an Ofili fan. I've always loved the unashamedly stuff-encrusted surfaces of his paintings. So it's a bit odd to see works stripped of their jewels, so to speak. I'm still figuring out whether I like the new work, which is steeped in the landscape and mysterious atmosphere of Trinidad, where Ofili has lived and worked since 2005. The moment I walked into the final room of the show my heart, I have to confess, sank. Then I looked at the paintings a bit more, and concluded that I kind of liked them. Then I was sure again. There's something slightly off-key about them. In fact, I just don't know."

Adrian Searle: "Chris Ofili's new show is a lesson in learning to be free. Not of the shadows cast by other artists, but of his own. Early success makes some artists grow scared of their shadows; they get so stuck with the thing they have become known for that they are paralysed, ­unable to find a way forward. Ofili, ­instead, has raced ahead. On Sunday he told me that he is letting his new work lead him where it will."

"Chris Ofili," curated by Judith Nesbitt. Tate Britain, London. Through May 16, 2010.

January 25, 2010

Tom LaDuke: Exposing handmade deceptions

Tom LaDuke,"A Gothic Plot," 2009, oil and acrylic on canvas over panel. 60 x 80"

 Tom LaDuke, "You're Like Me,"2010, oil and acrylic on canvas over panel, 75 x 100"

Installation view

In the LA Times, Christopher Knight reviews Tom LaDuke's show at Angles Gallery, which recently opened in Blum and Poe's old space on La Cienega. Knight calls LaDuke a latter-day Romantic, in full revolt against digital-age norms. "All of LaDuke's paintings are layered, shifting between abstraction and representation and with bits of suggestive visual information that don't coalesce. In one, a precarious stack of cardboard boxes is interrupted by elements of Jan van Eyck's 1434 'Arnolfini Wedding Portrait,' in which the painter acted as a literal witness to the marital union. In another, a pack of hunters and their dogs from a wintry picture by Pieter Brueghel the Elder seems to descend onto Isabella Rossellini's luminous face in a still from the 1986 movie 'Blue Velvet.'

"In all of these, a sinister (or at the very least melancholic) world lies just beneath the surface of perception. Light –whether directly experienced, reflected, remembered or depicted – is critical. Taking a page from Gerhard Richter, albeit in his own distinctive way, LaDuke exploits a painting's capacity for exposing handmade deceptions – a useful tool in a culture awash in the slippery photographic phantoms of reproduction. One of the nicest touches in these large-scale paintings is the little cliffs of oil paint that hang precariously off the edges of the canvas. LaDuke emphasizes materiality, even when his own deft handling suppresses the paintbrush's tracks."

"Tom LaDuke: Auto Destruct," Angles Gallery,  Los Angeles, CA. Through February 20, 2010.

January 24, 2010

RIP Art on Paper


 Shelly Bancroft and Peter Nesbett, publishers of Art On Paper, one of my favorite art journals, have recently announced that they are ceasing publication. The project was founded in the late 1960s as The Print Collectors Newsletter and for more than twenty-five years, under the direction of Jacqueline Brody, it provided collectors of limited edition prints, photography, and artists' books with a highly respected resource. In 1996, the newsletter was purchased by Gabriella Fanning, who changed its name to On Paper, expanded its coverage to include drawings, and converted it to a journal format. Two years later, in 1998, the publication became Art on Paper, a full-color magazine. It maintained an editorial commitment to works of all periods, from Old Master drawings to contemporary multiples. Many  prominent art critics and art writers have written for Art on Paper including Tim Griffin, Nancy Princenthal, Holland Cotter, Arthur Danto and Vicki Goldberg. (via)

Here's an excerpt from their email notification.

"Emotionally, this has been very hard for us. We know, for instance, that the magazine's absence will leave an important segment of the art world - namely, publishers of limited editions prints, multiples, and artists' books - unattended at a difficult time. Nevertheless, all of our efforts to ride out the recession (reducing the magazine's size and thereby cutting our printing costs in half, laying off staff, creating other revenue streams) have proved inadequate in compensating for the 65% drop in advertising revenue we experienced over the past year and a half.

"We want you to know that we did not go gently. In addition to making drastic changes to our daily operations, and exploring a variety of long-term strategic options, we also spent six months looking for new financing, possibly even a new owner. We set January 15, 2010 as a final deadline. When that date arrived without an investment, we had to close shop. It is certainly our hope that six to twelve months from now, when the economy has improved, someone new will come along and revive the publication, either in print or digital form."

Read an interview with  Shelly Bancroft and Peter Nesbett here.

Note to out-of-work art critics: This would be an excellent project to revive as a blogozine.

January 22, 2010

NY Times Art in Review: Schinwald and Wong


Markus Schinwald, installation at Yvon Lambert, 2010.

"Markus Schinwald," Yvon Lambert, Chelsea. Through Feb. 20. Roberta Smith: If you want to feel the wind on your eyeballs, stop in at Yvon Lambert and mull over the New York debut of Markus Schinwald. This young Austrian artist divides his time between Vienna and Los Angeles, and his initial appearance here reflects almost too perfectly an existence divided, as it were, between Old Europe and the old New West. At one extreme, small, dark portraits and figure paintings redolent of late-19th-century academicism — supposed antiques-shop finds — dot the walls. Each subject has been turned mildly freaky with the deft addition of bandages, blindfolds or attenuated prosthetic devices. Some images are messily overpainted and look unfinished or vandalized. All together, they resemble neater versions of Asger Jorn’s altered thrift-shop paintings from the 1950s.

At the other extreme, white perpendicular beams span the large gallery, wall to wall and ceiling to floor, like the scaffolding of a Mondrian painting wrought large and three-dimensional....They form an environment that might almost be included in “Primary Atmospheres,” the show of Los Angeles installation art of the 1970s at the nearby David Zwirner Gallery. Sol LeWitt and Donald Judd should be alive to see it. The beams are both enlivened and betrayed by the paintings and are startling prosthetic additions in their own right....Also on view are a life-size male mannequin, gray of face and suit, seated on one of the beams (very Kippenberger), and a series of sculptures made of the legs of Chippendale furniture that resemble well-behaved versions of Sarah Lucas’s slatternly efforts. All told, too many ghosts populate Mr. Schinwald’s ambitious machine. The result is stylish verging on cynical, but it’s great for mulling.

Martin Wong, "Everything Must Go,"  1983, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 60"

Martin Wong, "Untitled (Pepe Turcel)," ink on paper, 8.5 x 11"

"Martin Wong: Everything Must Go," P.P.O.W., Chelsea. Through Jan. 30. Karen Rosenberg: The Lower East Side today doesn’t much resemble the neighborhood where Martin Wong lived and worked during the 1980s and ’90s. Mr. Wong, who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1999, made dark but beatific paintings of tenements, jail cells, hustlers and drugged-out poets. But nostalgia for the demimonde isn’t the dominant theme in this small and thoughtful survey, organized by the artist Adam Putnam and coinciding with “Downtown Pix” at the Grey Art Gallery at New York University. The selection of paintings, photo collages and sketches emphasizes Mr. Wong’s interest in surfaces (he trained as a ceramicist) and symbols (sign language and astrology figure prominently here)....Keith Haring and David Wojnarowicz come to mind, but so do Jasper Johns, Gordon Matta-Clark, Paul P., Terence Koh and Kehinde Wiley. Perhaps the most surprising link is to Georgia O’Keeffe, in Mr. Wong’s paintings of spiky cactuses. Subculture will always be part of Mr. Wong’s appeal; in the show’s brochure, the critic Carlo McCormick calls him a “kung fu hippie hip-hop punk.” This show gives us many other points of access.

Read the entire Art in Review column here.

January 20, 2010

Dexter Dalwood's disrupted images

 Dexter Dalwood, "Jackie Onassis," 2000, oil on canvas, 214x 244cm

Dexter Dalwood, "Altamont," 2007, 210 x 174 cm, oil on canvas

At Art in America this month, David Coggins interviews Dexter Dalwood after walking through "Endless Night," his recent solo show at Gagosian in LA. A mid-career survey of Dalwood's paintings opens this week at Tate St. Ives in Cornwall. Here's an excerpt of Coggins's interview.

DC The canvases in “Endless Night” depict the sites of the deaths of various real and fictional figures. Gorky’s Studio (2009) represents the scene of the artist’s suicide; Under Blackfriars (2008) shows the dangling feet of banker Roberto Calvi, who was found hanging under London’s Blackfriars Bridge. How did you come to this body of work?
DD Often I think, “What do you want to see?” Why don’t I see paintings that have an urgency about the real themes—like death or sex—that isn’t gratuitous? Why don’t I see something that has a little bit of grist to it? If I had to do a painting about someone being assassinated [referring to The Assassin, 2007, which treats the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi], how could I do that and not make it gratuitous? I’m not into blood and gore, I’m after how to make a deliberately disrupted image that makes the viewer think about that event, the violence of the image, how that image was made, and how it relates to the history of painting.

DC A continuous theme in your work is history, including the divide between art history and history at large. You’ve said people are always surprised to learn that Picasso was still painting during the Vietnam War. Can you talk about your relationship to art history and history in general?
DD Art history runs in a current alongside “real” history but isn’t linked to it. I’m interested in how you pull an artist’s work back into the period when it was made, and how you can connect painting to something you’re involved with, not just art.

DC Do you think when we go back and make these connections—say, Edouard Manet painted at the same time the American Civil War was raging—that it helps us understand the artists better or to understand the work better?
DD I don’t think it makes you understand Manet better. It makes the work jump. History, just like art history, is a construct. You always wonder if the titans are going to last.

"Dexter Dalwood and the Tate Collection," Tate St. Ives, Cornwall, England. January 23 through May 3, 2010. Accompanying Dalwood's exhibition will be a display of works from the Tate Collection. Selected by Dexter Dalwood, he uses the year 1971 as the point of departure to explore cultural activity in the western world. Includes work by Pablo Picasso, Roger Hilton and Dan Graham.

January 19, 2010

Josh Dorman: Madcap Darwinian visionary

Josh Dorman, "Of Human Error," 2008, Ink, acrylic, antique maps and paper on board, 34 x 42"

Josh Dorman, "Untitled, (If On A Summer's Night, A Traveler)," 2009, ink, acrylic, and antique maps on panel, 28 x 56"

Josh Dorman, Thirty-Five Percent, 2009, Ink, acrylic, and antique maps on panel, 28 x 56"

In The Village Voice Robert Schuster writes that had Josh Dorman been born in the 17th century, he probably would have become one of those eccentrics who curated the Wunderkammers, the room-size collections of oddities taken from nature, science, and myth. "Aesthetically rooted in the past, Dorman is doing something similar in two dimensions, assembling found, antique images into marvelous collages of retro fantasy that suggest (as Dorman admits) Bruegel, Redon, and Chinese landscapes. On old U.S. Geological Survey maps, Dorman conjures new worlds based on the original locations. Careful in his progressions of color and shape, but never far from dreamed chaos, the artist inks backgrounds and textures, and layers dozens of items (often engravings) meticulously clipped from 19th-century miscellany.

"In 'Thirty-Five Percent,' a kind of madcap Darwinist vision, Dorman has surrounded the Pacific with monkeys, outmoded mechanical devices, and zoological imagery, all embedded in sinuously flowing topographies of jungles and mountains. In Versus, emphasizing the collection's recurring dualism, a precarious pile of manmade things (devices, tools, architecture) stands across from a hill populated by animals and insects both odd and familiar. Like a 'Where's Waldo?' puzzle, Dorman's rich clutter keeps you searching for the next intriguing detail."

In City Arts Mario Naves reports that Dorman's new work has an welcome philosophical concentration. "It’s a spoiler’s game to pin-down the meaning of art as various (and fun) as this, but Dorman’s thoughts about the limits of human understanding are fairly patent.  Pseudo-Biblical, pseudo-mythological, pseudo-Darwinian and uniformly wistful, Dorman’s art posits a cosmos where fact is forever embellished and sometimes hoodwinked by caprice. He may be more of a realist than we think."

"Josh Dorman: New Paintings," Mary Ryan, New York, NY. Through February 6.

January 18, 2010

Schulnik: Slathering the paint "like nobody's business"

Allison Schulnik, "Hobo with Bird, 2009, oil on linen, 84 x 68"

Allison Schulnik, "Klaus #2," 2009, oil on linen, 60 x 72"

Allison Schulnik, "Man with Cats," 2009, oil on linen, 84 x 68"

At the LA Times art blog David Pagel reports that Allison Schulnik, whose hits at Mark Moore outnumber the misses, is an artist worth watching. "The cast of characters in Allison Schulnik's messy paintings comes from society's underbelly: hobos, clowns, losers and vermin. "Such out-of-luck figures have been favored subjects by artists for several centuries, forming the core of much gritty Realism, dreamy Romanticism and angst-addled Expressionism.

"Schulnik piles on paint with abandon, slathering it on thickly and vigorously, like nobody's business. She shifts scale like a pro, going from page-size pictures of flower-filled vases to larger-than-life-size portraits and landscapes that measure more than 7-by-11 feet. And she crafts loosely realistic animals, a raccoon and two possum in ceramic and porcelain.

"Her best works feel hard-won, struggled over, resolved. 'Man With Cats,' 'Hobo With Bird,' 'Black Monkeys,' 'Red Flowers #3' and 'Raku Raccoon' make vulnerability, trepidation and doom palpable. These powerfully subjective states correspond to the way her works have been painted: urgently, unself-consciously, even desperately. In contrast, Schulnik's duds seem to have been tossed off, the result of motions gone through mechanically, without the emotions being awoken."

"Allison  Schulnik: Home for Hobo," Mark Moore Gallery, Santa Monica, CA. Through February 6, 2010.

January 16, 2010

Bloggers aren't LIKE artists, bloggers ARE artists

Blogging: The new Cedar Bar...or an integral part of my art practice?

During the ArtTable Blog This! panel at X-Initiative, Paddy Johnson, Kelly Shindler, Barry Hoggard, William Powhida, and Ed Winkleman held forth on basic blog culture and strategy to a standing-room-only crowd that included plenty of art blogging luminaries as well as New York magazine critic Jerry Saltz. This morning on Facebook, Saltz declared to his 4500 followers that online criticism is the way of the future.

"Good bloggers put it out there, write with a distinctive point of view, in a readable voice, in clear language, with energy, surprise, and a willingness to be wrong or embarrassed in public." Saltz writes. "Like ARTISTS! Moralism has no place in criticism. Moralism has no place in blogs. Moralism is the voice of the Father, of authority. A blog is made-up as one goes along, is by force fly-by-night, a way to be part of the crowd, not ABOVE or BETTER THAN the crowd.

"Me? I see them or this [his Facebook wall] as a new Cedar Bar.

 Cedar Bar, c. 1951

"Anyone can come into the new bar and participate. Pecking orders break down; authority peters out; things get said; ideas are tried out and shot down. One day you've nailed it; the next day you're clueless. Just like in your own work. At 4:06AM you are certain that everything that you're making must be torn apart. By 4:13AM you are madly inventing ... See Morea new way to do this. It goes on every night of your working life. Blogs seem to have this in something like real time. Darkness and changes of weather and mood are built into their DNA."

I agree with Saltz but would go a step further to say that the most obsessive bloggers aren't LIKE artists, we ARE artists. Our medium is blogging, and the blogs we create are site-specific projects. The blogosphere is undeniably a gathering place akin to the Cedar Bar, but more importantly, like other art practices, the process of maintaining a blog provides a distinctive form of existential clarity. And, as Saltz says, anyone can watch the process unfold, in real time.

Related article I wrote last week for the New Haven Advocate:
Everyone's a Critic
Check out Lindsay Pollock's Twitter coverage of the panel discussion. 

January 14, 2010

"Artists are at their most canny and resourceful when backed—or painted—into a corner"

Installation view of “Besides, With, Against, and Yet: Abstraction and the Ready-Made Gesture."

In Artforum, Colby Chamberlain suggests that “Besides, With, Against, and Yet: Abstraction and the Ready-Made Gesture” makes an important proposition. "Arguably the two key artistic inventions of the twentieth century are abstraction and the readymade. Abstraction was by turns utopian and expressive, purporting to withdraw from painting the burdens of history or to channel a pure emotional charge. The readymade smuggled the everyday into art, a stealth move that illuminated and unsettled its linguistic, legal, and institutional supports. The two inventions have on occasion converged—see: Johns, Jasper—but like oil and water remained distinct. In the twenty-first century, however, artists have begun to treat the history of abstraction itself as a catalogue of styles open to appropriation. In short, the readymade devoured abstraction whole.

"This argument commands attention given the many compelling artists whom curator Debra Singer corrals into it—Jutta Koether, Seth Price, Cheyney Thompson, and R. H. Quaytman, to name a few—but it also invites ambivalence. Thus merged, abstraction and the readymade risk canceling out each other’s legacies. The secondhand status of a readymade sunders abstraction from its aspirational and emotive content, whereas the uninflected appearance of an abstract painting curbs the readymade’s penchant for mischief. (To this day, nothing accommodates the definition of 'art' so comfortably as stretched canvas.) Hung together in this context, the works dangle precipitously over a conveyor belt of art as art as art—the endless concatenation of an emptied category. Singer raises the stakes by forgoing wall texts for the individual works, leaving the conceptual maneuvers that differentiate them up to the viewer’s astute deduction or prior knowledge.

"The participating artists’ larger bodies of work complicate this account, but the exhibition nevertheless demands reckoning. Either it restricts to a disheartening extent what painting today can say and how it can function or it bolsters confidence in a still defensible belief: that artists are at their most canny and resourceful when backed—or painted—into a corner."

In a Village Voice review of the show RC Baker concluded that just when he thought the aesthetic chops of some artists had trumped the show's conceptual conceits,  Kelley Walker's small canvas, 4870 Series presented itself. "The size of a notebook page, I'd barely noticed it, but when I leaned in to study the almost blank white ground, my eyes registered tiny Benday dots. What I'd thought was a spare painting was actually a 'four-color process silkscreen on canvas' and the unassuming image suddenly became a sly koan—a mechanical print scarcely discernible from the wall it hung upon. Depending on your mind's bent, such an image might conjure Magritte's picture of a pipe, which is, of course, not a pipe, or Malevich's white on white Supremacist painting, or ruminations on the visual prevarications of our Photoshopped age. Not enough to look at, but plenty to think about."

Besides, With, Against, and Yet: Abstraction and the Ready-Made Gesture,” curated by Debra Singer. The Kitchen, New York, NY. Through January 16. Artists include Richard Aldrich, Polly Apfelbaum, Kerstin Brätsch, Ana Cardoso, Jessica Dickinson,Cheryl Donegan, Keltie Ferris, Wade Guyton, Jaya Howey, Alex Hubbard, Jacqueline Humphries, Jacob Kassay, Jutta Koether, Nate Lowman, Seth Price, R.H. Quaytman, Blake Rayne, Davis Rhodes, Cheyney Thompson, Patricia Treib, Charline von Heyl, and Kelley Walker

Beth Urdang reopens in Boston

Olga Antonova, "Blue Striped Teapot," 24x24"

Olga Antonova, "White Cup Composition with One Yellow," 24x24 inches

Beth Urdang, believing the worst is over, has reopened her gallery on Newbury Street in Boston. In the Boston Globe, Cate McQuaid reports that Urdang's first show includes Olga Antonova’s exquisitely rendered still life paintings. "Olga Antonova’s still life paintings explore pattern, design, and the reflective power of porcelain. In 'Cup Pyramid on Turquoise,’' a haphazard stack of teacups may look like a jumble, but Antonova artfully conveys the delicacy and character of each one. A tall, lavender, cylindrical cup sits at the top, a shaft of light shining on it. It looks a bit like a flower’s stamen, with the rest of the cups forming graceful, if varied, petals around it."

"Olga Antonova: Recent paintings," Beth Urdang, Boston, MA. Through February 10, 2010.

Matthew Langley and Heejo Kim at Blank Space

Installing Matthew Langley's work at Blank Space.

Matthew Langley, "Everybody Knows," 2010, oil on canvas, 30" x 40"

The Matthew Langley / Heejo Kim exhibition opens at Blank Space tonight, 6 - 8pm. In a 2008 Washington City Paper review, Kriston Capps gave Langley extra points for audacity. "His paintings draw easy comparisons to a host of latter-day abstract-expressionist titans, from Agnes Martin and Sean Scully. Make no mistake, Langley courts those comparisons—his emphasis on the grid places him squarely within that Lacanian camp that finds the sublime through repetition, variation, and trauma. It’s a dangerous proposition—Langley risks being derivative—yet in several respects his work proves to be more recidivist than redux."

In 2003, Heejo Kim moved to New York from South Korea. Suddenly surrounded by boatloads of artists, she began questioning her artistic identity.  A sense of estrangement and growing awareness that new ideas are in short supply led to a series of paintings depicting Dolly the sheep, the world’s first mammal to be genetically cloned.

 Heejo Kim, "Dolly 23," 2009, oil on canvas, 12 x 12"

 Heejo Kim, "Dolly 28," 2009, oil on canvas, 12 x 12"

Matthew Langley and Heejo Kim, Blank Space, New York, NY. Through February 2, 2010.

January 12, 2010

But what about Deitch Projects' artists?

Here are the artists listed on the Deitch Projects website (the info is out of date, but interesting nonetheless) with its descriptions (edited) of their work. Now that Jeff Deitch has officially accepted the directorship of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, vowed to close his gallery and sworn off art dealing, what will happen to these artists? Will they end up at new, equally prestigious galleries? Will he still quietly promote them despite the impropriety of doing so? Will other galleries eagerly snap them up to get an inside track on MoCA exhibitions...or will they steer clear? Will the lousy art market limit their opportunities? Will the artists fall off Deitch's radar as he discovers new up-and-comers? Will Josh Smith get a solo show at MoCA? Check out Art Fag City for a complete set of links to all the commentary on MoCA's controversial new hire.

Haluk Akakçe was born in Ankara, Turkey in 1970. He received a B.F.A. in Architecture at Bilkent University in Ankara and studied video and performance art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Writing about Akakçe in the January 2001 issue of Artforum, Douglas Fogle noted the “paradoxical sense of the future as a future anterior that pervades” his work. “Akakçe takes us through the looking glass,“ he continues, “into a world where the future is often yesterday and flatness manifests a new kind of depth.” Akakçe’s videos fuse painting, sculpture, architecture and sound in mesmerizing sequences of art historical and futuristic references. Akakçe has recently exhibited at Whitney Altria, and the Drawing Room in London.

Tauba Auerbach, "Shatter III," 2009, acrylic and glass on panel, 40 x 32"

Tauba Auerbach’s fascination with the origins of language, its break-downs and slippages especially, has led her to an artistic study of language qua gestalt. How does verbal language relate to the symbols used in written language, and do these symbols reveal anything about the structure of the human brain? How arbitrary are the marks, both analog and digital, used to express language, and where do they begin to muck it all up? Her answer, of course, is that they are largely arbitrary, but rich with abstract beauty and conceptual depth.

Kristin Baker, "Splitting Twilight," installation view.

Kristin Baker graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and received a M.F.A. from Yale in 2002. Her work was presented in a solo exhibition at the MNAM Centre Pompidou in 2004. Deitch Projects presented her first solo exhibition, Flat Out, in September of 2003. Most recently she has been commissioned by the Denver Art Museum to create an artwork responding to the Daniel Libskind architecture.

Jonathan Borofsky, One of the "Five Large Paintings" series, installed at Deitch Projects on Grand Street in 2009

Jonathan Borofsky (jointly with Paula Cooper) is one of the most influential artists of his generation. His gallery and museum exhibitions in the 1970s and ‘80s redefined the way art was installed and experienced. During the past fifteen years, Borofsky has concentrated on public sculpture and has produced over thirty large-scale works for public settings in cities around the world.

Puerto Rican artist Dzine has straddled the thin line between the auditory and the visual, whose two forms of artistic expression have a strong interrelation. His articulation of sound takes on various fluid abstract forms, with vivid colors, patterns and textures unleashing a visual punk/funk/psychedelic energy that cause his paintings and site-specific wall installations to vibrate with rhythm. Recently, Dzine’s practice has explored the artistic expression used by Chicano Lowrider culture.

E.V. Day had a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum at Altria in 2001, where she installed G-Force, a work in which she suspended hundreds of thongs from the ceiling in fighter jet formations. Day had a ten-year survey exhibition in 2004 at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University for which a color catalogue was produced. E.V. Day’s exhibition Intergalactic Installations was on view at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum in the spring and summer of 2006, and then appeared at Art Basel Miami Beach.

FISCHERSPOONER is an ongoing project about entertainment and spectacle. Its first incarnation was a two-person, low-fi electro-pop performance by Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner at a Starbucks coffee shop in New York City. From this humble beginning, FISCHERSPOONER has evolved into an elaborate combination of elements associated with pop entertainment. Music, performance, dance, fashion, film, design, photography and the Internet are all tools that FISCHERSPOONER uses to fabricate its illusion of glamour and popularity.

Matt Greene, "The Membrane," 2009, collage, acrylic and oil on canvas,
96 x 96"

Known for his ethereal landscapes of fleshy fungi and bushy bombshells, Matt Greene explores his favorite shelves in the library: horticulture, vintage pornography, horror films, fairy tales, 19th Century Symbolist art, and of course the history of Modernism. These disparate interests—and the weighty themes of gender, sexuality, and epistemology that accompany them—Greene masterfully approaches in a hallucinatory, visionary manner allowing them to come together in phantasmagoric splendor on his canvases.

Evan Gruzis, "Self Portrait As A Self Portrait," 2009, acrylic, oil and digital print on canvas, 49.8175 x 36"

Evan Gruzis creates a New Wave Noir world through his complexly layered ink paintings. With the sardonic wit of Wayfarer-toting Brett Easton Ellis, and a unique technique of manipulating inks to keep you guessing, Gruzis’ work sticks with you like a half-remembered name or intangible word. His figures often appear as layer upon layer of ink splatter building up to the illusion of form. What you see is often only half there, or mockingly not there at all. His mirrors, Venetian blinds, drop shadows, palm trees and other pop paraphernalia may remain aloof, but compel us to examine the way we look at looking.

The Estate of Keith Haring

Noritoshi Hirakawa: "Although sexuality is non-institutional, it possesses at the same time a quality found both within and without institutional life. In our institutional lives, this quality produces a division of the human being into two images: the one public and the other private. When the private image, one's own sexual attraction, is censored in the public realm, while at the same time printed information about a person from familiar surroundings is provided in place of the missing criteria, the question arises as to how the observer would react to the new image of the person. The result is quite possibly the temptation to establish a personal relationship with the person if the observer has the means with which to deal with the censorship on his own."

Jim Isermann’s twenty-five years of art practice have fixated on the exchange of visual information between high art and post war industrial design. While his influences certainly include Op Art, “supergraphics” and mid-century interior design, Isermann is an artist more in the tradition of a Renaissance architect--using simplicity, elegance, industry, and economy to chase utopian ideals of harmonious form and mathematical proportion.

Asked about the motivation behind his art, Chris Johanson responds that "life is about looking at and being a part of life. We need to be a part of each other. If we separate we are alone. That is a world of walking dead people. That is why I make art, to talk about how important it is to stay in the now and look at life." Johanson believes that life is a series of actions and projects. That is why he makes many things in many media: painting, sculpture, installation, film, video, music, writing, bands. He likes to collaborate with friends and strangers. Johanson explains that he likes to look at the little pictures in life as well as the big picture. A smile is just as important to him as a cosmic question about the nature of god.

Brad Kahlhamer fuses an exuberant embrace of expressionist painting with the visionary tradition of Native American art. Drawing from country western and the Native American rock music scene, the artist’s visionary landscapes swirl with an atavistic energy; the paintings seem to have a sound that accompanies their visual rhythm. The great American bald eagle sweeps though the paintings almost as a surrogate for the artist, representing his immersion into his personal American landscape. Kahlhamer has created his own world in these paintings mixing representations of the real into a visionary “third place,” as the artist describes it.

Kurt Kauper, "Derek,"2007, oil on birch panel, 93 x 58 1/2 x 1 7/8"

Kurt Kauper’s work was shown at the Whitney Biennial in the spring and summer of 2000, and appeared concurrently with his exhibition Diva Fictions at Deitch Projects. In 2007 Deitch presented Kauper's nude portraits of old Boston Bruins hockey stars.

Jon Kessler was born in Yonkers, NY in 1957. He received a BFA from SUNY Purchase and attended the Whitney Independent Study Program. The Palace at 4 a.m., a site-specific installation was on view at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center from October 23, 2005 through February 6, 2006.

"Robert Lazzarini’s sculptures are at once rigorously formal and intensely expressive. As distorted versions of familiar objects, they appear in the process of slipping- from three to two dimensions, from realism to abstraction, from this world to the next. Products of a dense and innovative process, his works seem both real and unreal: their striking immediacy is belied by a quality of ghostliness, as if they were hardly there at all." - John B. Ravenal, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, VMFA, 2004.

Fusing together found and invented imagery, tags and assorted objects Barry McGee draws on a range of influences including the Mexican muralists, tramp art, the graffiti artists of the 70’s and 80’s and the San Francisco Beat poets to create a unique visual language. The work has the strong immediately recognizable visual signature of the best graffiti art, but is also enormously poetic and evocative. It communicates the artist’s strong empathy with people who have been left behind by contemporary society. Also known by his street name, twist, Barry McGee has a large following in the street art community.

"In the past decade, Ryan McGinness has become an art star, thanks to his Warholian mix of pop iconography and silk-screening.”—New York Times
“McGinness is God.”—Metropolis

January 9, 2010

Xiaoze Xie in San Francisco

Xiaoze Xie, "Library of Congress (M1470)," 2009, oil on canvas, 32 x 67"  

Xiaoze Xie, "Library of Congress (BNP)," 2009, oil on canvas, 24 x 36”

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Kenneth Baker wonders if anyone has proclaimed the still life dead. "If not, paintings' own nature as static objects may account for it. Xiaoze Xie, who emigrated from China in 1992 and now teaches at Stanford, appears to exploit this fact smartly. He bases his paintings on photographs he takes of books in library stacks. His canvases exude an air of oppressive inertia evoking the weight of the past - a concern of traditional Chinese painters for centuries - and of the intangible burden of information that each of us bears today, even if books no longer deliver it first or foremost.

"Xie's 'Library of Congress (M1470)' (2009) looks almost abstract at its left edge, which crops the parallel colored bands describing slender book boards and manuscript wrappers. A hazy depth opens in the right half of the painting, about as inviting as the interior of a parking garage, or a crypt. We might take the claustrophobic atmosphere of Xie's pictures as elegiac, a silent lament for the passing of the non e-book. Or we might see him forming an equation between paintings and books as treasuries of silent meaning...."

"Xiaoze Xie: New Paintings," Gallery Paule Anglim, , San Francisco, CA. Through Jan. 30, 2010.