Culture: January 2006 Archives

Karen Heagle Bound Man 2005 oil on panel 61" x 68" [pretty large detail]

Kaen Heagle Low Tide at Rialto Beach 3 (Lone Starfish) 20o5 oil on panel 45" x 42" [detail]

Karen Heagle's show opened I-20 gallery's very impressive space on 23rd Street tonight and the beauty of both the work and the opening-night crowd represented a certain aesthetic and intellectual nobility not sufficiently represented in large Chelsea shows these days.

I've been hooked on Heagle's imagery for years, but until now I've always felt I had to work very hard to find it. Actually it was even a number of years after I first met and talked to the artist before I even discovered that she painted.

These canvases and these drawings are really extraordinary, and extraordinarily sophisticated, in spite of a style which might initially appear conservative, even primitive. Surprisingly, in spite of their simplicity, they never suggest the faux-naif. So is this the twenty-first century?

The portraits, and they are portraits (even if the sitter may be a turkey or a starfish), or at least that's where they start, are ennobled by the sensitivlty and brilliance of the more-or-less abstract "landscapes" which frame the subject.

May I be excused if I say that those are absolutely the sexiest starfish I've ever seen (not that I've really ever thought that way about echinoderms before)?

For more on Heagle, see the wonderful Ed Winkleman.


an extremely photogenic installation

Jeffrey Deitch is currently hosting a collaborative show by Jim Drain and Ara Peterson in the Wooster Street space. The very long run of this show will end on Saturday.

the auteur confesses once again, "I heart Garfunkel"

Cory Arcangel entertained a packed room at Monkeytown last Saturday night.

We were treated to an evening of some of his wonderful, idiosyncratic videos, all of them accompanied by the kind of engaging personal remarks that have helped attract an enormous fan base to this very generous young genius.

It's just a thought, but there's no telling how far that Mathew Barney guy might go if his videos could be shown with a director's commentary.


Tamy Ben-Tor The Artist In Residence 2005 DVD [still from installation]

The New York-based Israeli artist Tamy Ben-Tor showed five videos and regularly performed live during the run of her recent show at LFL. That last bit seems like an excessive demand for anyone's gallery show, but Ben-Tor, who has been described by Jerry Salz as "a hair-raising fusion of Cindy Sherman, Kara Walker, Alex Bag, Kafka, the Yiddish theater, and Greek tragedy" seems to have been up to it, by all reports. What I saw on the monitors was totally engaging and I wish I could go back now, especially for the live acts which I missed altogether.

Confession: This particular image probably made the cut for this post based on the singular color of the artist's costume alone.


Niclaus Gerhaert von Leiden reliquary bust of Saint Barbara c. 1465 ashwood with polychromy [detail]

It's a totally weird story, but her legendary beauty has inspired gorgeous work by artists for more than a millenium, including this one which grabbed my camera on my last visit to the Metropolitan Museum.

The attraction of the Catholic faithful to human beauty has ever been thus, and the current Roman pontiff appears to be no exception, judging from stories and pictures documenting the charm of his personal secretary.

Joe Ovelman [detail of installation]

Oliver Kamm's 5BE is another gallery which is a part of the new life on 27th Street. I was there the night of the opening of the current group show, mostly hanging out in the back gallery where the work of Joe Oveman and Tom Meacham can be spotted for the next couple of weeks. The large and lively crowd at the reception is my only excuse for having to limit my comments at least for now to the work of these two artists.

Ovelman's piece is actually described in the check list as an 8 x 11 inch color photograph with the slightly ungainly title, "James Baldwin on the Dick Cavett show: 'I know as Malcolm X once put it . . . The most segregated hour in American life is high noon on Sunday'". Since the huge wheat-pasted piece shown in detail above doesn't appear on that paper at all, and Joe is out of the country right now, I have to assume that it must have been intended to serve primarily as the environment for the much smaller image mounted on the wall to the right: That photograph displays the text of the title hand-drawn on the back of two identical old tombstones planted in a cemetery. I think I understand what's going on here.

Tom Meacham The Real McCoy 2006 acrylic on canvas and wood sculpture 90" x 60" x (not indicated) [installation view]

The meaning of Tom Meacham's piece is perhaps a bit more obscure, but after looking at the press release which accompanied his gallery show last fall, I'm thinking he probably wouldn't have a problem with my adjective. I have to say however that I do like what I see.


Alyson Shotz Arnolfini 360˚ x 12 2006 twelve domed surveillance mirrors, hardware 132" x 120" x 14" [large detail of installation]

Alyson Shotz is one of the artists included in the strong group exhibition which inaugurates Derek Eller's new space on a reborn block of West 27th Street.

Too many things, and I mean too many images of artists' works, are slipping through because I don't sit down often enough to do some kind of blog with an accompanying text.

I've decided to introduce a new form of post, one which would be no more than an image or two with a few scribbled words, although each item will also include a link to more information whenever possible.

As they turn up, I'll designate each of these miniatures with the sub-head "POST CARD" below the subject line at the top.

Barry and I get to see a lot, but we never have enough time to show or talk about most of it. I've always regretted that what finds its way onto our sites is only some of what either of us might find worthy of sharing. Sadly, even the work we do show isn't necessarily the most outstanding we've seen, since much depends on a good camera image, a decent focus on our responsibilities as witnesses, the pressures of a larger schedule, or in my case at least, simply an absence of mind.

I'm sure the modest innovation of an occasional POST CARD or two isn't going to change everything, but I hope it will at least help me to feel less of a truant.

Aissa Deebi [studio view]

Aissa Deebi [studio view]

Eager to respond to the artist's invitation, we recently enjoyed a visit to the short-term LMCC studio space of Aissa Deebi. We got there well in advance of next Tuesday's open house, when we can expect to see more complete versions of the work shown in detail above.

The New York-based Palestinian artist has stepped away from the subjects, war or isolation, of the works we had seen before in Elga Wimmer's space and at the Queens International. At least for the time being we will be looking at the world of love when we come to his art.

The image at the top is of several working prints which document the reanactment by couples (in some cases strangers to each other) of romantic scenes chosen by themselves from Arabic movies in the artist's collection. The second shot is of a series of canvases painted with various caligraphic forms of the arab word for love, and I believe he said that the colors used are those specifically forbidden to islamic art.

The shape and even the form of the final work inspired by the films was still not pinned down at the time of our visit, and none of us really knew how the canvases would be shown, but it's precisely this raw or immediate exposure to the creative process that I find most exciting about art in any medium, including that of performance. There was a time when I worried that I was really only interested in things not finished, but I think I've now sorted that out, to my own satisfaction at least. Finished is okay; lifeless is not.

The studio open house, which includes some ten other artists or collaboratives, is next Tuesday from 6 to 8. Details.

Adin de Masi Nostalgia Severed oil on canvas 60" x 60" x 2"

Adin de Masi Saint Angry mixed media on paper 52" x 90"

Adin de Masi Blowing Boy mixed media on paper 60" x 84"

I spotted these and other wonderful works by Adin de Masi on a casual visit to the artist-run virtual gallery Projekt30 a few days ago. Please forgive this New Yorker for observing that while Arizona can be a wonderful place (and I have the greatest respect for Art One Gallery for discovering and showing de Masi's work), on the basis of these on-line images alone it shouldn't be hard to find a gallery which could bring this remarkable young artist (born in 1980) to the attention of the world way beyond Scottsdale.

De Masi includes a charmingly ingenuous statement on the Projekt30 exhibit, but I think it only describes the occasion of his inspiration; everything else has been left to the drawings and paintings, meaning that for the viewer there won't be any easy disengagement from these complex images. I prefer it that way:

I am very interested and bewildered by the daily drudgery/effortless ballet of relationships. Muttered insults, exasperating habits, whispered sweet-nothings, all-out debates and violent, delicious kisses become subject matter for these silly/ serious pieces.

[first two images from Projekt30, third image from Art One]

Jacob Ciocci [installation detail]

Jacob Ciocci [installation detail]

Kirsten Stoltmann [installation detail]

Kirsten Stoltmann [installation detail]

Some half dozen of the most interesting galleries in the city will be opening new spaces on West 27th Street tomorrow night (Thursday). For those who follow these things it should be the most exciting development in the history of Chelsea's identification as an art destination.

All of the galleries will be immediate neighbors on the block between 11th and 12th Avenues, in the base of a massive 19th century warehouse which towers above a fine old street paved in stone. The last time a party crowd found its way inside these walls it was to visit the Tunnel, whose party ghosts may still haunt this magnificent brick and stone monument to maritime New York.

Our newest hosts include John Connelly Presents, Wallspace and ATM at Wallspace, Derek Eller, Foxy Production, Oliver Kamm/5BE and Clementine. All of them will open their doors early tomorrow evening (the classic 6 to 8 pm, of course).

I was fortunate to get a peek at two of the shows tonight, and I've uploaded a few undocumented images above. The first two are from Foxy Production, where Jacob Ciocci has installed his "Inspiration Superhighway" and the second two are from Kirsten Stoltmann's show at Wallspace, "I Know What I'm Doing".

For more, see Barry's notes and photos.

Gae Savannah Shasta 2006 fabric, metal, wood 69" x 15" x15" [detail of installation]

Michael Schall Scenic Collection Facility 2005 graphite on paper 42" x 60"

The gallery is on the edge of Williamsburg, in more than one sense. Since 1998, Dam, Stuhltrager has been operating generously and tirelessly, more or less as a non-profit, showing adventurous work in a tiny space just west of the BQE. In the best tradition of the Williamsburg gallery scene, the two principals, Leah Stuhltrager and Christobal Dam, have from the beginning simply shown work which they found they like, without commercial calculation or compromise.

Lately they've been attracting the attention of critics and curators both near and far, and a few months ago they were sufficiently encouraged and emboldened to just about triple the size of their exhibition space. This Marcy Avenue corner now offers even greater temptations to adventurous gallery fans, especially [and here comes a blatant plug] now that our ArtCal listings include a convenient [Google] map to direct art pilgrims still unfamiliar with the cooler precincts which lie east of Driggs Street.

The two shows which opened last Saturday display outrageous, luscious sculptures by Gae Savannah and serious, provocative drawings by Michael Schall. For almost ten years I have been more than a little flabbergasted each time I have encountered Savannah's wonderful and extraordinary assemblages, and while I had never seen Schall's disturbing drawings before, I expect I'm going to see much more in the future.

David Gibson curated Savannah's installation.

We were there the night of the opening. Although the excited, and exciting, crush of friends and the curious made it impossible to grab an image of an entire work in either room that night, I'd already found that these eccentric sculptures just can't be properly represented except in person, and it would take more than a quick hand-held shot to do justice to Schall's meticulously-pencilled worlds.

So, as far as this site is concerned we'll all have to be content with the teasers I'm showing above. The real show is in Brooklyn.

Antonello da Messina Portrait of a Young Man ca. 1470 oil on panel 10.5" x 8.25"

Yes I saw the Fra Angelico show at the Met, but I try to keep this blog focused on what Barry and I like to call "underknown" artists [the still increasingly popular adjective "emerging" is too narrow a word to describe my attraction to the new as well as the obscure in all the arts].

For me the real excitement of my day on the edge of Central Park was a tiny temporary exhibition of work by the Sicilian Quatrocento painter Antonello da Messina (ca. 1430┬ľ1479). It's a very small, jewel-box of a show which fits into a single dark cube of a room on the second floor of the European Paintings Galleries.

Although I've included his beautiful image of the Virgin at the bottom, a piece which the Met notes would have as the highlight of the installation, it was really da Messina's almost-embarassingly profane portraits of young Italian noblemen that impressed me most.

The image at the top is by da Messina, but the one just below, like several other works included in the show as somehow relevant to his story, is actually by a different artist. It seems that Jacometto Veneziano also knew how to render a handsome face.

Jacometto (Jacometto Veneziano) Portrait of a Young Man ca. 1470 oil on panel 10.5" x 8.25"

I wish the curators had managed to include either or both of these two handsome da Messina portraits in the show, even if it would have meant sacrificing some of its didacticism.

Antonello da Messina Portrait of a Man ca. 1475 oil on panel 14.25" x 9.75"

Antonello da Messina Portrait of a Man (Il Condottiere) 1475 oil on wood 13.75" x 15"

Oh yes, the show does include a very, very sad Ecce Homo portraying an extremely vulnerable (and approachable) Christ which is unlike anything else produced by the Renaissance.

Antonello da Messina Christ Crowned with Thorns possibly 1470 oil, perhaps over tempera, on wood 16.75" x 12" [large detail]

At first I thought da Messina's homoeroticism was all in my own head. But when I was home and able to look at the images again, and when more beautiful youths turned up in a quick Google search, I became convinced that the artist really loved men. The revelation was nearly as exciting as the moment several years ago when I came across, on an obscure pedestal behind the Met grand staircase, a 1st century Roman silver cup with reliefs of two men enjoying themselves in scenes of exceeding profanity. There was no curator's note on the homo thing at that time either.

But of course there was plenty here on the Virgin.

Antonello da Messina Virgin Annunciate ca. 1476 oil on panel 13.5" x 17.75" [large detail]

[the two thumbnail images are from Web Gallery of Art]

RichterWald.jpgGerhard Richter 891-1 Waldhaus 2004 oil on linen [detail, including portion of gallery wall]

Gerhard Richter 892-10 Abstraktes Bild 2005 [detail]

Gerhard Richter 892-12 Abstraktes Bild 2005 [detail]

Gerhard Richter 887-2 Abstraktes Bild (Haut) oil on linen [detail]

Of course he's virtually an old master and he's beyond "emerging" or "underknown", but just as I absolutely had to make the pilgrimage itself this week, I couldn't resist putting up these very imperfect detail images from the current Gerhard Richter show at Marion Goodman in midtown.

There is nothing else I can add except to recommend this magnificent installation to anyone who can make it to 57th Street before the 14th of this month. You won't be disappointed.

Jˇhannes Atli Hinriksson Dr. 2005 video [large detail still from installation monitor]

Jˇhannes Atli Hinriksson Untitled 2005 mixed media collage 23" x 20" [installation view]

Jˇhannes Atli Hinriksson PietÓá mixed media 6.25" x 4" x 4" [installation view]

It was a show at HaswellEdiger, so as usual I knew I had to pay attention. The opening reception two nights ago was so crowded however, that there was little chance then of digesting the work being shown.

I'll be back, and not just to sit in front of two videos which were advertising their charms very effectively. As I stood about talking to friends I was becoming more and more engaged with the videos, sculptures and paintings of the Icelandic artist Jˇhannes Atli Hinriksson. I found it difficult to leave any of the bizarre images scattered about the room: Even without any other information to help they were quickly becoming both more and less inscrutable.

A tease from the gallery press release:

The work of Jˇhannes Atli Hinriksson, although Western in its visual assault approach to aesthetics, is still somehow rooted in the sense of drama, irony and animism found in the legends of his native Iceland. His start-stop animation videos, complete with stripped down audio tracks of howling Nordic winds, put claymation metal-heads slackers and other hybrid fuck-ups through a series of neo-Norse, mini sagas that ultimately challenge the viewer to pinpoint where destruction ends and creation begins.

Nayland Blake The Big One 2003 white nylon 192" x 180" x 6" [large detail of installation]

This is almost certainly going to be the last post to include an image from the December Miami shows.

I found this wonderful outsize work by Nayland Blake so irresistable - on many levels - that I had to share it. "The Big One" dominated the booth of London's Fred at PULSE.

Were the edition large enough, and if I had an extra, aircraft hanger-size bedroom and a trust fund I'd get me two of these humungous sleeping bags. One would be kept for contemporaries and posterity, museum-virginal, displayed or loaned, and the other would always be available at home when, . . . needed.

Sure it's scary [see next paragraph], but it's also damn delightful.

For anyone new to Blake, here is an excerpt from Sarah Valdez's review in Art in America of Blake's show at Matthew Marks last fall:

Bunnies and extreme physical ordeals--the two main ingredients of Nayland Blake's work--turned up again in his latest show, "Reel Around." The recent offerings also found the artist treading, typically, between the sinister and the hilarious, between the transcendent and the banal. A huge, fluffy, white rabbit suit some 16 feet in length, The Big One (2003) was sprawled out like an enormous animal-skin rug on the floor of the main gallery, doing a good job of controlling the cavernous space. The oversize costume also brought to mind other times the bunny has shown up throughout Blake's oeuvre. Though probably inscrutable to the uninitiated, Blake's lop-eared albino mascot references a range of cultural signifiers related to the artist's identity as a biracial gay man, including Brer Rabbit, Playboy, drugs and the real-life rabbit's proclivity for fucking. To those not in the loop, however, the piece may have appeared a good, soft spot to take a nap.
I suspect it's down-filled.

Jack Pierson Psycho Killer 2000 plastic [sic] 10" x 40" x 36" [view of work as installed lying on floor, with ambient lights eliminated]

Jack Pierson Black Jackie 1991 acrylic paint, plywood, silver and black rain curtain, cigarette and ash, christmas lights, color gel (dimensions variable) [large detail of installation, with ambient lights eliminated]

Jack Pierson Breakfast, Hope  Dinner, Fear 1982 plastic panels and lettering 20" x 15.75" each [installation view]

While we were still in the midst of this wonderful installation Barry had said that the Jack Pierson show at Daniel Reich felt like a small museum retrospective. I totally agree, but I would add that it's a interestingly selective survey, since there are almost no photographs. in "Jack Pierson: Early Works and Beyond - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road".

Hmmm. Would I be reading too much into the curious omission of examples from a medium through which most people came to know Pierson's art if I were to dwell very long on it? I mean, is photography supposed to be over?

I certainly hope not, and not just because it's the only form I've ever worked in myself. For at least thirty years I haven't been able to think of photography as distinct from the aggregate of the other visual arts, and so I've always thought it strange to see "photography" indicated as a separate category in so many gallery listings. Also, ever since I began regularly visiting galleries I've been uncomfortable with the fact that some only show photography, while others show everything but photography. While it survives in some quarters, the distinction has gradually dissolved over the years as even smaller and less nimble imaginations within the wider world of monied art [shopkeepers and hoarders] have had to come to terms with the fact the artists themselves have increasingly refused to have their work pigeonholed.

Pierson of course should not be described as a "photographer", and he never could be. Actually, in 1992, when I first saw his work it was in Tom Cuglioni's SOHO gallery and there wasn't a photograph in sight. Instead I saw just a breathtaking, but incredibly casual installation of a lot of hand-written notes (mostly to self) on white paper.* They expressed, individually or collectively, what appeared to be the lovesick (sexsick?) longings of an artist who seemed to know some of my own private obsessions very well.

He still does.

Anyway, it's a great show and you still have until the end of this month to see it.

I couldn't find texts or images from the 1992 show, but see Alison Jacques Gallery for examples of relatively recent word drawings by perhaps a more grownup [and more cynical?] Pierson

This page is an archive of entries in the Culture category from January 2006.

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