HANNAH EPSTEIN, MAKING BETS IN A BURNING HOUSE

HANNAH EPSTEIN, MAKING BETS IN A BURNING HOUSE

Steve Turner Gallery, Los Angeles

Until 28 March 2020

Making Bets In A Burning House, a solo exhibition by Hannah Epstein consisting of room installations in two separate galleries, one with a selection of handmade hooked rugs and the other with algorithmically printed digital works. In the first room, the textiles are installed in a room that looks like a video game dungeon. The floor is covered with a carpet that depicts bubbling lava and the walls are finished to resemble white bricks. The wall works include a range of imagery–a ten foot tall dragon; an animal face surrounded by mandala-inspired fists; pornographic videos looping inside rugs; a woman carrying the weight of Atlas on her shoulders; and a tornado with a small hand hidden inside. The miles of looped yarn convey that Epstein labored hard to create these works, and within her labor there is an ominous danger that threatens the viewer and maker.

The second room has a green carpet which resembles a grass lawn and all the wall works are all AI generated, made from an algorithm that analyzed Epstein’s works from the past eight years and predicted what she might create next. There also is a monitor playing surveilled content, filtered through an AI image recognition software, identifying people and objects from the first room. A single handmade work sits on the grass, a colorful soft worm, whose face goes from innocent to menacing when handled.

Hannah Epstein earned a BA from Memorial University of Newfoundland (2009) and an MFA from Carnegie Mellon (2017). Recent solo exhibitions include those at HUB Gallery, Pennsylvania State University (2019); Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto (2019) and Steve Turner, Los Angeles (2018 & 2019). Recent group exhibitions include those at Long Beach Museum of Art (2019); San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles (2019) and The Rooms, St. Johns, Newfoundland (2019). Epstein lives and works in Toronto.

What i saw: John Baldessari prints, 1976–2015

What i saw: John Baldessari prints, 1976–2015

Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles

from 8 February 2020 to April 14 2020

John Baldessari (b. 1931, National City, California) has been widely regarded as one of contemporary art’s most influential artists. To celebrate the artist’s life and to commemorate his passing on January 2, 2020, Cirrus presents an exhibition of Baldessari prints, spanning nearly forty years. The exhibition will inaugurate Cirrus’s fiftieth anniversary year, and celebrate its long collaboration with the Los Angeles-based conceptual artist. It opens February 8 and runs through April 14.

John Baldessari, Studio, 1988. Lithograph, silkscreen, ed. 150

What I Saw: John Baldessari Prints, 1976–2015 comprises thirty-two prints, that capture Baldessari’s signature use of montage to combine banal images in sometimes discordant visual juxtapositions, or with unexpected text. His self-consciously populist approach, in which he employed found photographs, film stills, or photography of everyday objects, uses allegory and disjointed narrative, in sometimes obfuscating ways, and invites the viewer to construct meaning.

The exhibition includes several important portfolios and individual works produced in collaboration with Cirrus. Raw Prints (1976) includes six works with tipped-in color photographs of everyday street scenes taken by the artist as a compositional device, which he used to mark out an area of color or linear shape in the print. The Fallen Easel (1988), an ambitious and unpredictable, multi- part composition of individually-framed and mounted images takes on a noir cast as the picture physically breaks apart, suggesting a rapid, chaotic cutting of film stills. Baldessari’s humor is also on display—The First $100,000 I Ever Made (2012), and two prints from Engravings with Sounds (2015), showcase his signature wit, while the major portfolio of ten prints, Hegel’s Cellar (1986), and his Cliché series (1995), explore his biting insight.

Internationally recognized and widely exhibited, Baldessari addressed the social and cultural impact of mass culture, and reinvented the terms of display and image-making throughout his career.

New Images of Man at Blum & Poe, LA

New Images of Man

Blum & Poe, Los Angeles

Until 14 March 2020

Curated by Alison M. Gingeras, this exhibition revisits and expands upon the Museum of Modern Art’s eponymous 1959 group exhibition curated by Peter Selz that brought together artists whose work grappled with the human condition as well as emerging modes of humanist representation in painting and sculpture in the wake of the traumatic fallout of the Second World War. 

New Images of Man, Installation view, Los Angeles, 2020, Photo: Makenzie Goodman

Some sixty years have passed since New Images of Man presented key figures of the European neo avant-garde such as Alberto Giacometti, Jean Dubuffet, César, Francis Bacon, and Karel Appel alongside the ascendant figures of the American art scene such as Willem de Kooning, H.C. Westermann, and Leon Golub. Set against the backdrop of existentialist philosophy and the socio-political anxieties of the postwar period, the esteemed humanist philosopher Paul Tillich wrote of these artists in the original MoMA catalogue, “Each period has its peculiar image of man. It appears in its poems and novels, music, philosophy, plays and dances; and it appears in its painting and sculpture. Whenever a new period is conceived in the womb of the preceding period, a new image of man pushes towards the surface and finally breaks through to find its artists and philosophers.”

New Images of Man, Installation view, Los Angeles, 2020, Photo: Makenzie Goodman

Part homage, part radical revision, this two-floor presentation reconstitutes emblematic figures from the original MoMA line up of artists while simultaneously expanding outwards to include those of the same generation and period who were overlooked in the midcentury. This reprisal features forty-three artists hailing not only from the US and Western Europe, but also Cuba, Egypt, Haiti, India, Iran, Japan, Poland, Senegal, and Sudan. The overwhelming maleness of the original New Images of Man has been amended by foregrounding previously excluded women artists from the same generation. Had gender politics of the 1950s been less misogynist, Selz might have considered artists such as Alina Szapocznikow, Niki de Saint Phalle, Yuki Katsura, Carol Rama, and Lee Lozano. With the benefit of inclusive hindsight, Gingeras strives to present a fuller range of this humanist struggle, thus more acutely enacting the original curator’s vision to gather a range of “effigies of the disquiet man.”  

New Images of Man, Installation view, Los Angeles, 2020, Photo: Makenzie Goodman

As the capstone to this historical proposition, the exhibition argues for the contemporary resonance of this midcentury disquiet by judiciously including a selection of contemporary artists. These living artists are also “imagists that take the human situation, indeed the human predicament” as their primary subject, while also reflecting the legacy of the aesthetic concerns from the original period. Spanning painting and sculpture, this contemporary component includes works by Paweł Althamer, Cecily Brown, Luis Flores, Michel Nedjar, Greer Lankton, Miriam Cahn, Sarah Lucas, Dana Schutz, El Hadji Sy, Ahmed Morsi, Henry Taylor, amongst others.  

New Images of Man, Installation view, Los Angeles, 2020, Photo: Makenzie Goodman

Installed alongside these paintings and sculptures, historic and contemporary, are interventions that evoke the larger-than-life figures from the original show—de Kooning, Dubuffet, Bacon, Giacometti, Westermann. Playful tributes to these masters appear throughout the exhibition, including two wall murals by Los Angeles artist Dave Muller. Embedded at the center of this revisionist enterprise is another historical MoMA exhibition also founded upon postwar humanism—this time through the lens of photography. The 1955 exhibition Family of Man curated by Edward Steichen—the legendary director of the Photography Department at MoMA—was conceived four years before Peter Selz’s New Images of Man, and was devised as a celebration of the camera as a powerful, immersive tool for the promulgation of images as well as the affirmation of the universal human experience. While it debuted in New York in 1955, Family of Man went on a veritable world tour. According to Steichen’s 1963 memoir A Life in Photography, between 1955 and 1962 about nine million viewers all around the world had the opportunity “to see themselves reflected” in the 503 photographs of people, making it the most popular photography exhibition ever.

New Images of Man, Installation view, Los Angeles, 2020, Photo: Makenzie Goodman

As the legacy of Steichen’s curatorial endeavors lives on in contemporary visual culture, this section of the exhibition sets out to challenge the Western-centric bias of the original show. This reassessment of Steichen’s conceit focuses upon two women artists from the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The Polish, self-taught photographer Zofia Rydet was active in the mid-1950s yet she was separated from Steichen not only by the Iron Curtain. This redux presentation of Rydet’s photographic oeuvre suggests a more complex vision of postwar era humanist photography. In fact, after seeing Steichen’s Family of Man show in Warsaw, Rydet embarked upon her series of documentary images of children in the literal rubble of the Second World War in the early 1960s entitled Mały człowiek (Little Man). This presentation features a selection of Rydet’s photographs from her documentary series called the “Sociological Record” in which she captured thousands of ordinary households in Poland from 1978 until her death in 1997. 

Rydet’s reworking of the Steichen paradigm finds a jarring echo in the contemporary oeuvre of Deana Lawson—an artist whose intimate, yet iconic imagery immortalizes African-American family life. Lawson grew up in Rochester, New York, the birthplace of Kodak—her involvement with photography is deeply bound up with her family’s history and their entwinement with the photographic industry. Unlike Rydet, Lawson’s images are often staged while they strive to capture the magic and textures of everyday struggles, emotions, and plain existence. Her gaze intrepidly focuses upon members of the African diaspora while also crafting stunning formal compositions that hark back to classical painting.  As Lawson has said of her work, “I have an image in mind that I have to make. It burns so deeply that I have to make it.” 

Shown side by side in a scenography that references Steichen’s original Family of Man presentation at MoMA, Rydet’s communist-era documentation of Polish families in their humble interiors resonates uncannily with Lawson’s present-day portraiture. Despite being decades apart, culturally disparate, and approaching their medium with radically differing methods, both Rydet and Lawson create images that offer a sharp rebuttal to Steichen’s sentimental and melodramatic original opus. Both photographers share a quality that Lawson has articulated when speaking of her own work, creating images that are “thick with space, layered with otherness and belonging at the same time.” Together Rydet and Lawson provide a revisionist twist to this new Family of Man. This section of the show was curated in collaboration with Antonina Gugała with a new installation by Deana Lawson made especially for the show. 

While much has changed in social and political terms since the 1950s, we are arguably again in a period of immense existential questioning and profound collective anxiety—artists now, as then, are on the frontlines of confronting what it means to be human, therefore making New Images of Man a subject still urgent for contemplation and provocation. This past summer, Selz died at the age of one hundred. In his New York Times obituary, his daughter Gabrielle remarked, “He would say that everything—a somber painting by Rothko or a Rodin sculpture—was about the human condition. My dad responded to emotion.” Arguably, emotion is the gravitational force that draws us to images of other people—from prehistoric cave paintings to press photographs of detained refugees and children on the Mexican-American border, humans find empathetic connection, solace, or simple recognition in the act of contemplating depictions of other humans. In the spirit of Selz’s original aim, this restaging of New Images of Man and reimagining ofFamily of Man resolves to recontextualize artists’ agency in addressing the fundamental questions of the human condition and to discourage apathy about our fellow humans’ plight. 

While an art exhibition can only operate on a symbolic and discursive level, the impetus behind the new New Images of Man is to continue our collective rumination on the human condition with renewed emotional and intellectual urgency. By expanding the geopolitical and generational scope of artists, an expansive vision of humanity starts to emerge—broadening “man” to a more intersectional vision of human existence.

HUMA BHABHA at David Kordansky Gallery / Los Angeles

HUMA BHABHA at David Kordansky Gallery / Los Angeles

DAVID KORDANSKY GALLERY, LOS ANGELES
UNTIL 14 MAR 2020

Born in Karachi, Pakistan and based in Poughkeepsie, New York, Huma Bhabha has become increasingly recognized for the figurative and material vocabularies she has developed for over three decades. The humanoid subjects of her work bear the traces of numerous processes and traditions, embodying an otherworldly synthesis of the beauty, passion, and conflict that define our world.

Huma Bhabha, Third Voice, 2019, cork, Styrofoam, acrylic, oil stick, wood, and Masonite 96 1/4 x 24 x 36 inches (244.5 x 61 x 91.4 cm)

Bhabha evokes archaic and contemporary sources alike, so that cycles of time, of life and its inevitable decay, are concretized as physical forms. In any given sculpture or drawing, the grotesque biomorphic distortions that characterize recent science fiction and horror movies exist alongside painterly passages of great sensitivity and tenderness. Proceeding by way of intuition and trial and error, she imbues her figures in two and three dimensions alike with palpable emotional charge. The sculptures in this exhibition exemplify the range of Bhabha’s experimentation and have been constructed from cork, foam, metal, wood, and paint, among other materials, some of them found. In Ground (2019), the body of astanding figure, positioned against the wall like the kind of architectural relief one might find in an ancient temple, has been fashioned fromcarved cork; a shredded tire provides the circle that defines its face, lending it a haunting openness, and transforming an instance of evident physical entropy into a focal point for psychological empathy.

The artist’s only other relief-based figure of this kind was a monumental example featured in 2018 in the 57th Carnegie International. This new work, therefore, represents an important addition to her repertoire of sculptural typologies. If Bhabha’s figures can be grouped according to the largely traditional poses they assume (seated, standing, and supine bodies predominate), they can also be categorized by how they engage discourses associated with modernism and minimalism. Her work is notable for its voracious and encyclopedic embrace of inspirations from throughout the histories of art, architecture, and design, as well as its willingness to take on formal puzzles from countless spheres of visual culture. The breadth of reference and use of found materials connect Bhabha’s practice to the legacy of artists like Robert Rauschenberg, for instance; the wrought nature of her characters, and the acknowledgement of war and violence as pervasive forces find precedents in the paintings of Francis Bacon and the sculptures of Alberto Giacometti.

Mask of Dimitrios (2019), a startling new seated figure, draws from many of these traditions. The figure’s body appears to emerge from a metal armature inspired by domestic chairs familiar to Bhabha from her upbringing in Karachi; plastic bags hover in the center of its torso like lungs; its limbs are covered with mottled clay; its ribs are made of rubber; and its spine is an undulating pipe that ends in a red rubber toy and resembles the vestigial appendage of a primate from another time or dimension. Such sculptures reveal how Bhabha constructs her objects, putting faith in her materials––in their innatebeauty and energy in addition totheir structural qualities and surface textures. Working directly at scale, she eschews modes of production that require maquettes and enlargement,favoring instead techniques that encourage tactility, and that elicitongoing contact between maker and object. Several other sculptures, including a group of imposing, kouroi-like standing figures, are filled with subtleties of color and painterly gesture that animate Bhabha’s forms and further accentuate their sculpted contours. With faces on all four sides of their heads, each possessing its own shifting mood (hilarity, ferocity, astonishment, joy), these works are replete with surfaces on which painted marks can be inscribed. Cork, with its natural tones and pitted texture, performs differently as a substrate than do the bright pink and light blue of Styrofoam, for instance, though marks describing the creatures’ musculature frequently move across materials, uniting them through the power of the artist’s line.

Bhabha also employs this compositional boldness and adventurous approach to surface in the drawings, frequently large in scale, that have been an integral part of her project for many years. She begins by taking photographs, often of deserted landscapes, and collaging them with pages from magazines, calendars, and exhibition invitations; these become the grounds on which she then draws images of her looming creatures using a variety of pigments and mediums. While the majority of the drawings have focused on the heads ofthese beings, Bhabha has increasingly begun to sketch their entire bodies. Standing against lurid, iridescent skies, they seem to step forward out of the worlds they inhabit and into the spaces occupied by their viewers. Other drawings appear to be filled with multiple figures, layered on top of one another: mask-like facades hover before shifting cubist planes that suggest unexpected dimensionality. As worked as the sculptures, they share their paradoxical mixture of vulnerability and strength, their utter strangeness andall-too-close familiarity.

King Dogs Never Grow Old

King Dogs Never Grow Old

Diane Rosenstein Gallery, Los Angeles

4 January – February 1, 2020

Diane Rosenstein Gallery announces King Dogs Never Grow Old, a group exhibition curated by Brooke Wise. The show will include paintings, sculpture, ceramics, works on paper, and tufted wall hangings by Ginny Casey, Sam Crow, Tom of Finland, Haley Josephs, Jillian Mayer, Haley Mellin, Robert Moreland, Rose Nestler, Scott Reeder, Matthew Sweesy, Chris Wolston and Bri Williams. The show’s title is borrowed from André Breton and Philippe Soupault’s surrealist text Les Champs Magnétiques (The Magnetic Fields). It alludes to exploring the nonsensical and the dreamlike unconscious. The work on view will share a common dialogue and aim to explore these surrealist notions in a contemporary manner.

Rose Nestler, “Gym Shorts,” 2019

Jillian Mayer and Haley Josephs use color and whimsy to address these surrealist concepts. Mayer’s interactive Slumpies invite the viewer to sprawl out and engage with their smart phones while laying on “deformed rock[s], repeatedly vandalized with paint.” Josephs employs bright and fantastical elements in her paintings, suggesting a world that may never be realized. Ginny Casey draws inspiration from classic Walt Disney cartoons and welcomes the spectator with distorted, absurd and disproportioned objects, which play with our restrictions of logic and time.

Rose Nestler, “Deep Pockets,” 2019

Exploring anatomical surrealism, Tom of Finland celebrates sexuality, fantasy, and the body in all areas of human endeavor. Scott Reeder and Matthew Sweesy both use comedy and rhetoric in their paintings. Reeder, known for his ceramic work and text- based paintings, represents everyday objects, reimagined as fine art. Paintings that exist as mundane and hand drawn lists allow the unconscious to express itself in a permanent state. Sweesy, who paints dreamlike sequences, uses humor to promote cultural critique, as seen in Hunter, where the artist himself is seen as both the hunter and the hunted.

Scott Reeder, “Band Names,” 2014

Chris Wolston’s Nalgona chairs are humanized by his addition of wicker body parts. Sam Crow’s tufted wall works skew our sense of reality and attempt to destroy our sense of stability in her usage of geometric shapes and dimension. Rose Nestler’s soft sculptures explore the body as the subconscious mind. Her unsettling and dreamlike sculptures are informed by the notion of shame, the classic childhood fears of showing up to class naked or menstruating through one’s pants. Bri Williams uses found objectsoften with personal associations, to evoke a potent, psychic mood. Through crafting and composition, Williams allows her objects to embody the the abstract: the incommunicability of pain and our inherited mythical figures.

Matt Sweesy, “Daphne In Repose,” 2019

Minimalist artist Robert Moreland reinvents his canvas into the space between painting and sculpture, while Haley Mellin’s small paintings reinvent mundane objects such as a Warholian banana floating in space. Through comedy, rhetoric, sarcasm and the uncanny, these works all share a common discourse about surrealism, the unexpected and the unconventional.

All images > Courtesy Diane Rosenstein Gallery, Los Angeles

Adam Silverman / Punctum

Adam Silverman / Punctum

Philip Martin Gallery , Los Angeles

9 November 2019 – 4 January 2020

Adam Silverman’s pots reveal the directness and energy with which they are made. A 25-pound block of clay is laid on a spinning potter’s wheel, then “pulled” upwards by Silverman in a gesture that has sustained and fascinated humans for thousands of years. Silverman’s gesture is one that has historically provided the means by which we store the items we need; at the same time, it is a gesture that through its simple beauty, and the elegance of its product, expresses who we are. 

Adam Silverman’s pots reflect the basic questions that continually draw us back to art-making. How are art objects made? Who makes them? Why? In Silverman’s work, we see the evidence of the maker. His hands mold and push the clay during and after the throwing process. His tools – which are evident in the lines, forms and surfaces of these works – are picks and knives, sticks, and even baseball bats. His finishes are formed through multiple firings – with the pot in a range of orientations. Their colors are affixed in the molten heat of the kiln; their richly textured surfaces mark the path of the fire in that kiln chamber. Across these pots we see accretions of ash, and if we consider further, we see traces of the origin points of Silverman’s glaze materials – the beach clay, corn husks, seaweed and the other materials that Silverman finds on the streets of Los Angeles, on the shoreline or in the woods in Rhode Island where he works in the summer.

In addition to asking basic questions about human expression, Silverman’s pots reflect on Modernist ideas over a century old, such as truth-to-materials. The foot of each pot in the exhibition, for example, is the remnants of the 25-pound-block of clay from which it was made. Silverman is constantly experimenting with clay composition, form, kiln temperature, and finish. They sag and warp in unpredictable ways.

As the title of the exhibition suggests, before this show, Silverman thinks sometimes about the writing of French theorist Roland Barthes. After the death of his mother, Roland Barthes famously reflected on the unique power that artworks have – in his case a photograph – and how they strike viewers. Barthes comments that artworks have an intensely subjective effect, like a pinprick, or in his language, they have punctum. This deep connection between who we are, what we make and how we look at things is key to both the enjoyment and the critique within Silverman’s work. As dean Nader Tehrani writes in his forward to Silverman’s recent solo exhibition at the Cooper Union School of Architecture in New York, it is “a refreshing advent to witness the punishment and brutality of a process that can yield aesthetic reappraisal while tipping it into critical discourse.” Or, as Rose Slivka wrote in “The New Ceramic Presence” – her ground-breaking 1961 essay on ceramics in America – “Not unified by blood or national origin (everyone is from some place else)… we’re a restless people.” Slivka then goes on to say that, “By giving the inherent nature of the [ceramic] material greater freedom to assert its possibilities – possibilities generated by the individual, personal quality of the artist’s specific handling – the artist underscores the multiplicity of life (the life of materials and his own), the events and changes that take place during his creative act.”

Silverman’s exhibition features a series of raised platforms designed by the artist. Formally educated in architecture and with a deep interest in modern dance, Silverman has studied Le Corbusier, Tadao Ando, and Merce Cunningham as much as Hans Coper and Peter Voulkos. In asking us to move our bodies through space, and by moving his works to our eye level, Silverman creates a direct relationship between us and his pots, hopefully enabling that sense of punctum for viewers – a moment of connection, reflection and critique.

Adam SILVERMAN (b. 1963, New York, NY) received his BFA and B.Arch from the Rhode Island School of Design. Silverman’s work is currently the subject of a solo exhibition at Philip Martin Gallery (Los Angeles, CA) and was recently the subject of solo exhibitions at Cooper Union (New York, NY) and Curator’s Cube (Tokyo, Japan). His work has been included in solo exhibitions at such museums and galleries as Friedman Benda (New York, NY); Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth, TX); Laguna Art Museum (Laguna Beach, CA); Pierre Marie Giraud (Brussels, Belgium); and Tomio Koyama Gallery (Tokyo, Japan). Silverman’s two-person installation, Boolean Valley, a collaboration with Nader Tehrani, travelled from San Jose Museum of Art (San Jose, CA) to the Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, CA), followed by the Nasher Sculpture Center (Dallas, TX). In 2013, a major monograph on his work, Adam Silverman Ceramics was published by Rizzoli. Silverman’s work is in the collections of such museums as Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA); Nasher Sculpture Center (Dallas, TX); Palm Springs Museum of Art (Palm Springs, CA); Israel Museum (Jerusalem, Israel); Rhode Island School of Design Museum (Providence, RI); and Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, CT). His work has been discussed in such publications as Artforum,WallpaperArchitectural DigestThe New York Times,and Los Angeles Times. Silverman lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.

All images > Installation view Adam Silverman punctum, courtesy Philip Martin Gallery , Los Angeles

Harvey Quaytman at Blum&Poe

Harvey Quaytman

Blum&Poe, Los Angeles

November 9, 2019 – January 11, 2020

Blum & Poe presents a selected survey of work spanning three decades by the late artist Harvey Quaytman. This is the gallery’s first exhibition of work by this critical figure in late-20th century American abstraction following the announcement earlier this year of co-representation of the artist’s estate along with Van Doren Waxter.

Harvey Quaytman , Second Cupola Capella, 1969

Harvey Quaytman (b. 1937, Rockaway, NY; d. 2002, New York, NY) came of age in the downtown art scene of 1960s New York, living and working in SoHo studios first on Grand Street and later at 231 Bowery, where he would remain through the late ’90s. Long considered an artist’s artist, the painter enjoyed a close-knit and vibrant artistic and social milieu, over the years sharing studio addresses with Brice Marden, Ron Gorchov, and James Rosenquist, among others. Quaytman’s emerging career as a young painter began in the heyday of Ab Ex with a marked allegiance to Gorky and de Kooning. This approach was slowly shed as the decade unfolded, as his work began to lean towards sculpture—compositions with curvilinear shaped canvases and rectilinear U-shaped bases that inhabited a newfound objecthood. This was followed by a forty-year engagement with geometric abstraction, his approach to painting in contradistinction to the prevailing trends of the era—first with Pop Art and later Neo Expressionism. Despite painting being declared “dead” by Minimalist and Conceptual artists of the time, Quaytman maintained a commitment to the medium and to his vision throughout, helping to shape an alternate trajectory for American painting.

Harvey Quaytman , Stopwatch, 1969

The artist’s work in the ‘70s developed into shield-like forms that balance on curved platforms, conjuring a motion that would result in a critic calling them “rocking rectangles”—the body of work later known simply as “rocker” paintings. These eccentrically shaped works were hand-crafted (he would steam and bend the wooden stretchers himself), and inherently related to movement—inspired by Islamic calligraphy, rocking chairs, and the flight patterns of airplanes and birds. His experiments with shape continued in the late ‘70s, and through the manipulation of geometric intersections and overlapping forms that all the while imply motion, a unique group of paintings resembling anchors or pendulums emerged. In the 1980s, Quaytman began his cruciform paintings, investigations of the cross shape not as emblem but as two meeting vectors; Constructivist, perpendicular geometric compositions that focused on the reduced palette of black, white, red, rusted iron, and metallic gold. While these paintings represented a stark departure from his previous work, Quaytman continued to pursue visual movement as he conjured an interplay of symmetry and asymmetry.

Harvey Quaytman , Mirror to Damascus, 1971

As his paintings evolved in form and shape, variously touching upon Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, Process Art, and Constructivism, Quaytman simultaneously developed a rigorous practice of experimentation with pigment. He was interested in the history, alchemy, and chromatic effects of color, seeking out unique tonalities at specialty stores at home and abroad, becoming a master of color and texture. He skillfully poured paint, spreading Rhoplex over canvas with broad wallpaper brushes after dusting it with pure pigment that settled in thick, unpredictable strata. He later flecked canvas with glass or iron filings and used additives such as marble dust in paint he always mixed himself. On this subject, he said: “It is very important to me to be reminded that I am not an alchemist but a man engaged in coded, layered conversation with my fellow man on what I hope to be (on another) level than words or music.” Quaytman was a self-professed “art soldier,” and as his artist daughter R.H. Quaytman has said, with “the daydream soul of an aesthete.” The works on view here span the initial thirty years of the artist’s career, a body of work committed to modernist abstractions despite continual pronouncements of obsolescence, concerning both Modernism and painting itself.

Tokyo Pop Underground at Jeffrey Deitch

Tokyo Pop Underground

Jeffrey Deitch, Los Angeles

November 23, 2019 – January 18, 2020

Until the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the Japanese language did not have a word for fine art. The word bijutsu was constructed, combining Chinese characters bi, for beauty, and jutsu, for craft. This hybrid term reveals the unique trajectory of Japanese contemporary art, different from the foundations of contemporary art in the West.

Tokyo Pop Underground, curated by Tokyo gallerist Shinji Nanzuka, explores the complex history of Japanese contemporary art from the 1960s to the present through the works of seventeen artists who emerged from pop and underground culture. 

Shinji Nanzuka explains that “originally in Japan, most of what is referred to as art are practical items, developed together and in integration with popular culture.” He cites examples from calligraphy to folding screens, paintings on sliding paper doors, lacquerware, netsuke, and the Ukiyo-e prints that served as posters and commercial portraits. He also mentions art historian Naoyuki Kinoshita’s study of intricately realistic handicrafts such as iki-ningyou, life-like dolls that were made for exhibitory performances. Nanzuka’s mission in this exhibition is to present contemporary artistic commentaries on this Japanese artistic heritage.

Deviating from the mainstream current of “art for art’s sake” when he opened his Tokyo gallery in 2005, Nanzuka decided to focus on artists whose works at the time were not considered to be art. Artists like Keiichi Tanaami, Harumi Yamaguchi, and Hajime Sorayama, whose works are now celebrated in the international art world, were looked down upon as producers of commercial and popular art. Nanzuka saw them as prime exponents of the idiosyncratic nature of Japan’s culture and history.

Another reason that Tanaami, Yamaguchi, Sorayama, and Toshio Saeki did not receive recognition until recently is the radical intensity of their practice. The expressions of sex and violence in their work are statements of anti-authority and anti-uniformity. The aggressive portraits of women painted by Harumi Yamaguchi show her engagement with the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s. Sorayama’s sexualized robots predict a dystopian future.

There are strong links between the underground Japanese culture from which many of these artists emerged and the American graffiti and skateboard subcultures that were embraced by Japanese youth. Haroshi, one of the younger artists in the show, constructs his works entirely from wood sliced from skateboards donated by friends and professional skateboarders to compose a collective portrait of his enlarged, international community.

The artists in Tokyo Pop Underground reflect the strains in contemporary Japanese culture as it rebuilt itself after the ruins of war and confronts numerous natural disasters. Their work reflects what Nanzuka describes as “the crazy cross-cultural exchange” between the West, the East, and the Far East, shaping a new international artistic language. Reckoning with these central themes for over six decades, legendary artist Keiichi Tanaami presents new works in conjunction with Tokyo Pop Underground. His work has recently featured in The World Goes Pop at Tate Modern, London, and International Pop at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. In the gallery, Tanaami’s recent production further articulates the artist’s relationship with the U.S. as both an invader of Japan during his youth and source of attractive pop culture.

The artists participating in Tokyo Pop Underground are:


Makoto Azuma
Haroshi
Namio Harukawa
Hiroh Kikai
Akiyoshi Mishima
Masato Mori
Tetsuya Nakamura
Yoshiro Nishi aka Yoshirotten
Toshio Saeki
Koichi Sato
Hajime Sorayama
Keiichi Tanaami
Makoto Taniguchi
Hiroki Tsukuda
Kazuki Umezawa
Harumi Yamaguchi
Yuichi Yokoyama

Installation photos Elon Schoenholz courtesy Jeffrey Deitch, Los Angeles

Hoard Inaugural

Hoard Inaugural

06SEP(SEP 6)0:0011OCT(OCT 11)0:00Hoard InauguralL.A.C.A, 709 N Hill Street Suite 104/8 (upstairs) 90012

Anonymous, Autonomous Oral History Group, Kelman Duran, Arshia Haq, Nick Kochornswasdi, Halldora Miyoko Magnusdottir, Olivia Mole, Misael Oquendo, Rapterotica/Cephalerotica Index, Hande Sever, Alan Tofighi, Adam Wand

Organized by Scott Benzel

Collier Mansion, New York, NY, 1947

Hoard Inaugural is the ‘inauguration’ of a collection of works whose subjects or creators tread the line between the indexical, rationalized modality of the archive, the aestheticized art collection, and the ‘hoard’, a term that has become synonymous with irrationality and psychological dysfunction as manifested in material accumulation.  The title begs the question- can a ‘hoard’ in fact be ‘inaugurated’ or does it necessarily arise spontaneously from repressed, subconscious forces- either in the interior psychological realm, the ‘real’ or objective realm, or in the ossification of the irrational within the otherwise ‘objective’ historical origins of much of the work?

The standard cultural interpretation of hoarding roots it in dysfunction, in OCD and the legacy of Freudian anality as it collides with the material world. Hoarding is often regarded as a malady affecting the lower tiers of the class spectrum, however, when value judgments regarding specific materiality are removed, it bears remarkable similarity to some of culture’s most highly regarded activities. Activities such as the accumulation and preservation of artifacts in museums, libraries, and archives, and the acquisition of wealth or money above levels necessary for survival.

Photographs of the homes of Modernist collectors like the Arensbergs, or Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, or of Andre Breton’s atelier, or of Freud’s office, betray similarities to scenes on the television show Hoarders, with the important difference that the objects piled into the collectors’ spaces are considered ‘culturally significant’. This significance is very much a phenomenon of external cultural agreement; the value of a given collection or ‘hoard’ is based almost entirely on externalist considerations. The hoard differs from the archive perhaps only in the degree of its subjective definition of value.  Erich Fromm defined hoarding as:

…the acquisition of, and failure to discard, possessions which appear to be useless or of limited value. 

The hoard is thus often a source of private meaning or pride and public shame. Hidden, occulted, a family secret, it’s meanings and connections are known to only one or a few, perhaps to an amour fou, perhaps to a ‘nuclear’ family, perhaps to a generation or two of descendants.

Social Psychologists Randy O. Frost And Rachel C. Gross’s landmark 1993 study The Hoarding Of Possessions was a detailed attempt to get beyond Freudian analysis and OCD and to address instead the psychocultural roots of the phenomenon. Frost and Gross cite Furby’s analysis as one sociocultural precursor:

Furby concluded that central to the meaning of possession is control. Possessions are meaningful because people have use of them, or control over the use of them. People need to feel in control of their environment, and possessions allow them to do so. 

Alan Tofighi’s TPLRDR Stereographically Reprocessed I VII incorporates seemingly polar extremes of the ontological axis – hoarding and VR  – opposing the overactualized to the purely virtual. Tofighi’s photographic VR reproduction of an actual hoarder’s home suggests that the two phenomena are linked existentially and epistemically. The hoard which renders a home uninhabitable appears here tied to mounting terror around the crisis of homelessness which removes the body from the home entirely, exposing it to the ‘outside’, the violence of the street, and tying it to virtuality, the disappearance of ‘actual’ objects and enclosed space. Fullness and alienation, the fullness of terror in Freud’s ‘unheimlich’ (unhomely), and the ‘uncanny’ emptiness of VR are linked. The piece also suggests the ongoing critique of materiality in art rooted in twin exhibitions by Arman and Yves Klein, ‘Full’ and ‘The Void’, one filling, the other emptying the space of Iris Clert’s Paris gallery.

Hande Sever’s video works reveal the mechanisms of the index and collecting in the process of ‘othering’ political dissidents and immigrants, a methodology born in the 19th Century with the Hollerith tabulator, a punchcard based protocomputer for sorting populations. Günler Yürüdüğünde (As Days Started Walking) chronicles her mother’s experiences, told through vintage Turkish television footage and objects, following the aftermath of the 1980 Turkish coup d’état.

Olivia Mole’s VR and video work upsets cultural agreements on the values and meanings embodied by mainstays of popular and children’s culture. Across a wider project, Mole reinvents the figures of Bambi and the medieval unicorn as cultural fugitives who have rejected the work of cuteness and availability. Bambi Holes presents a Bambi unmoved by a barrage of casting agent pitches, in a state of emotional inertia brought on by an excess of manipulation. 

Misael Oquendo’s video Ladrón vertiginously accumulates AI and CGI imagery, obscure subcultures, and peculiar narratives, piling a story about a family’s multigenerational oyster addiction onto a narrative about an archive of samizdat maintained by a ‘master’ incel. The result is something like a hallucination of the contemporary through the skewed lenses of Reddit and 4chan, the fog of Youtube and Gab aesthetics, and outrageous but weirdly personal narratives.

Halldora Miyoko Magnusdottir’s ongoing Serendipity Pattern of Geomyths traces the global spread of myth. In collections of artifacts, artist’s books, and videos documenting her online and IRL explorations mapping tangled subterranean connections, she links disparate contemporary sites of myth to ancient global roots.

In Use By ۸۷ (Use by 87), Arshia Haq memorializes the television and advertising culture of the SWANA region (a region that she reimagines in her ongoing project Discostan) from the period of her youth, to create a catalog of personal and cultural ‘expired’ desires.

Kabbalah scholar and Walter Benjamin associate Gershom Scholem’s speech at the inauguration of the Golem Aleph, the first Israeli supercomputer, linked the retributive folk legend of the Golem and the alphanumerical mysteries of Kabbalah to the birth of technoscience. Adam Wand’s video The Golem of Rehovoth integrates Scholem’s speech, ephemera and publicity related to the unveiling of the supercomputer, and scenes from the early 20th Century Golem film subgenre.

Works by Kelman Duran, the Autonomous Oral History Group, and Nick Kochornswasdi raise questions of presentation, distribution, and facticity. Each incorporates the aesthetic and distributive elements of ‘entertainment’ to deliver information and data most often reserved for the sociological database or the activist meeting. Duran’s underground dance music and videos incorporate documentary sound and footage from the Dakota Water Protectors and other contemporary indigineous protection and liberation movements, bringing these movements into conversation with international youth culture. The Autonomous Oral History Group counterveils diverse individual’s relationships to power in the form of recorded oral histories with danceable music and indexical, gridlike videos. Nick Kochornswasdi’s online game Please come over, featuring a friendly yet disturbing avatar of the artist showing the player around his virtual home, drove Markiplier, a Youtube gamer with 24 million followers, to near insanity and in the process exposed 3.2 million viewers to the artwork.

Several works explore the vast world obscured by Nondisclosure Agreements, other forms of hidden information, and what could be characterized as the archival equivalent of Bataille’s ‘accursed share’. This type of illicit archive is well known to legal scholars and tabloid journalists and the viewing of it, sometimes the mere knowledge of it, can invoke a sense of rapturous disoccultation, of ‘scales falling from the eyes’. Alternatively, it can trigger one’s sense of ‘never being able to unsee’ unethical, specious, or fetishistic information. The Bibliotheque Nationale’s archive of the Marquis de Sade, the Vatican library’s collection of grimoires and other ‘opposition’ literature are but two examples of how the abject and tentacles of irrationality can be indexed, rationalized, and recuperated by the archive.

In their work with smuggled footage, Anonymous explore the subject of their own NDA’s, a Malibu based narcissist intent on turning her life into a reality television show. Another anonymous suppressed film tracks the descent into drug abuse and madness and the eventual demise of a pharmaceutical heiress. The Rapterotica/Cephalerotica Index catalogs the products of several fetish subcultures, in the case of Rapterotica a parodic fetish subculture with roots in the ‘real world’, in the case of Cephalerotica, a subculture with roots in Hosukai’s infamous 18th Century print The Fisherman’s Wife culminating in the ‘accursed’ Overfiend films of 1990’s Japan. 

A collection is a tricky thing. Somewhat akin to the creation of the Winchester house, with its chaos of useless spaces and deadend staircases (following a psychic’s suggestion, the owner, heiress to the Winchester armaments fortune, continuously added to the home as a means of placating the hungry ghosts of victims of gun violence), a rational, organized collection can devolve into chaos much as valuable artifacts can devolve into uselessness. More prosaic than the vaults of unseen artworks that termite the mountains surrounding Zurich are the overstocked vintage record and book stores of the San Fernando Valley, stores like Atomic Records and Ulysses’ Voyage,  with aisles rendered impassable by unexamined cardboard boxes full of unknown pleasures and their abject neighbors, prop houses and FX shops like Dapper Cadaver that overflow with polyfoam severed heads and limbs. Famous cultural institutions are similarly results of this process, the Watts Monument, the chaotic bookshelves of the Warburg Institute, or artistic and literary works, Benjamin’s Arcades project, Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas, Noah Purifoy’s 66 Signs, Harold Szeeman’s Museum of Obsessions…

Hoard Inaugural’s works function on a vector divorced from the model of the standardized, refined index or ‘complete’ artwork. They are works and collections that tarry with the hoard and sometimes succumb. The works suggest the possibility of endless conjugation and the impossibility of final categorization, they contain evidence of digging, of obsession, and in some cases unresolvable moral quandaries. If the index, the archive, and the collection are tools and signs of power, the hoard is itself a form of power, prerational, preconcious; transcending categorization, ‘information’, and knowledge; occasionally eclipsing human understanding itself.

GABRIELLA SANCHEZ, IN A MANNER OF SPEAKING at Charlie James Gallery

GABRIELLA SANCHEZ, IN A MANNER OF SPEAKING at Charlie James Gallery

GABRIELLA SANCHEZ   

IN A MANNER OF SPEAKING
JUNE 15 – JULY 20, 2019

Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles

Charlie James Gallery presents In a Manner of Speaking, Gabriella Sanchez’s second solo exhibition at the gallery, opening Saturday, June 15th and running through July 20th, 2019. The show will present eight new paintings, four at large scale, all of which incorporate Gabriella’s demonstrated range of graphic media including acrylic, graphite, sharpie and oil stick, but which newly integrate archival pigment printing and photo collage onto the surface of the canvases. Gabriella’s work at its core explores the space between cultures – between the Mexican and the American, between the noble and ignoble, between the main and the margins. To give form to these threshold spaces, Gabriella creates composite portraits of people and of ideas of people, which are assembled using oppositional binaries expressed through language and in form. Gabriella employs repetition both to establish and to deconstruct her signifiers. Every painted figure has an oppositional printed counterpart, the images of which derive from Gabriella’s archive of family photographs. The photographs are exclusively of men, and those selected emphasize the physical poses struck by her male family members, poses that can evoke a stereotyped form of hyper-masculinity. As in past work, the paintings in this series contain language that can be interpreted multiple ways. Some of the words included are: Form/ From, SA LUTE, Suit(able), and Gabriella frequently contraposes the hegemonic Helvetica font with the Latinx-associated Gothic font. The style of the paintings evokes collage but is organized by a design sensibility, and thus suggests another dualism – that of design and fine art. The paintings undo the process by which meaning gets assigned – they disassemble the process into steps, component parts, making visible the mechanics of representation.

Suitable, Acrylic, oil stick, oil pastel, graphite and archival pigment prints on canvas, 72 x 48 inches, 2019

Gabriella Sanchez (b. 1988, Pasadena, CA) received her BFA in 2011 from PLNU in San Diego, CA. She worked for several years as a full time graphic designer, executing projects with Nike, Toyota and other significant clients. She began exhibiting her paintings and works on paper in 2016, and her work has been exhibited in spaces such as Jeffrey Deitch (New York), Charlie James Gallery (LA), Páramo Galeria (Guadalajara), the Crocker Art Museum, LMAK Gallery NYC, and ltdla. She has shown at numerous art fairs including Zona Maco, EXPO Chicago, and the Seattle Art Fair. Her work is in notable collections including the Crocker Art Museum, the JP Morgan & Chase Collection, and numerous private collections. Gabriella lives and works in Los Angeles, CA and is represented by Charlie James Gallery.


PUBLICATION LISTED IN THE ITALIAN PRESS REGISTER BY THE SASSARI COURT OF LAW WITH REGISTRATION NUMBER 447/2017.
EDITOR IN CHIEF: ALICE ZUCCA

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