SANDY SKOGLUND: WINTER at Ryan Lee Gallery / NYC

SANDY SKOGLUND: WINTER at Ryan Lee Gallery / NYC

RYAN LEE GALLERY, NEW YORK
UNTIL 7 MAR 2020

Skoglund describes Winter as “a study in perseverance and persistence, an artificial landscape celebrating the beautiful and frightening qualities of the coldest season.” In the photographic image, a man, woman, and child punctuate an icy blue scene. They are inside of an iceberg, perhaps, surrounded by its craggy walls. Standing pensive with hands in the pockets of their winter coats, only the child, a red-headed girl, looks out toward the viewer. The trio is joined in this fantastical setting by a cluster of three snowflake-emblazoned owls and a female figure that seems to have frozen mid-slumber. The imagery evolved from Skoglund’s interest in similarity and difference among snowflakes. Her fascination with the appearance of correspondence versus the reality of difference extends from earlier investigations of the liminal territory between the natural and the artificial, or order and chaos.

Sandy Skoglund, Winter, 2018. © Sandy Skoglund; Courtesy of the artist and RYAN LEE Gallery, New York.

Through her constructed imagery, Skoglund explores the space between what the human eye and the camera can see. Since the late 1970s, Skoglund has beencelebrated for her panoramic installations—entire environments that she meticulously designs, constructs, and then re-visualizes photographically. Skoglund likens Winterto “a very slow shutter speed on a camera. Time stands still but also inches forward.”

Sandy Skoglund, Winter (framed), 2018. © Sandy Skoglund; Courtesy of the artist and RYAN LEE Gallery, New York.

Relentlessly inventive, Skoglund challenges herself to experiment with new creative technologies, always insearch of the medium best suitedfor her message. For Winter, which was part of a larger project on the four seasons, years of experimenting with various forms of clay modeling and 3D-printing led to the ultimate inclusion of digitally-cut metal snowflakes bearing ultraviolet cured ink, and the computer-sculpted figure and owls. A selection of photographs from the 1970s and 1980s, including Radioactive Cats (1980), will also be on view.

Sandy Skoglund, Winter, 2020. © Sandy Skoglund; Courtesy of the artist and RYAN LEE Gallery, New York.

James Casebere: On The Waters’ Edge

James Casebere: On The Waters’ Edge

Sean Kelly Gallery, New York

December 13 – January 25, 2020

In this arresting new series of images, Casebere continues his ever-evolving exploration of form at the intersection of architecture, sculpture and photography. In previous, well-known bodies of work, the artist depicted buildings and interiors based primarily on extant structures; this series, however, is distinguished by a marked change in Casebere’s conceptual approach. To create these salient new images, Casebere became the architect, often designing and building the structures he produced and then photographed.

Over the course of forty years, James Casebere has developed a unique and increasingly complex language of “constructed photography” in which he builds structural models, which he then lights and photographs. Based on art historical, cinematic and architectural sources, his table-sized constructions are made of simple materials and pared down to essential forms. Throughout his practice, Casebere’s images have expanded to accommodate his exploration of different aesthetic and technical challenges. For instance, Casebere’s previous series of images, inspired by world-renowned Mexican architect Luis Barragán, embraced modernist architecture’s use of space, color and light to create images that engendered warmth, meditation, and reflection. In this new body of work, Casebere continues with a nod to the influence of Barragán, but also architect Paul Rudolph in his visionary mid-century modern Florida homes and later shift to Brutalism. In these images, Casebere re-imagines both the context and the content of the original structures.

The works in this series are hybrids of public/private spaces. Geometrically designed edifices rendered in a rich and vibrant palette; these buildings appear simultaneously concrete and abstract; they are open, even unfinished buildings of the sort that provide sanctuary, such as beach houses, cabanas, bathhouses. Neither utopian nor dystopian, these images are meant to inspire an appreciation of pure beauty coupled with a twinge of uncertainty. Indeed, in these unmoored, flooded pavilions, Casebere sees human ingenuity in the face of global warming. Acknowledging the imminent unknown future these pictures embody, he also insists that we “can’t afford to throw our hands up in…resignation.” In fact, Casebere acknowledges that these structures are about tenacity, adaptation, ingenuity, and perhaps, optimism, describing them by saying, “there is such a playful atmosphere to them. It feels like an expression of the indomitable human spirit. These things could be rising out of the water like the first creatures to emerge from the sea and live on solid ground.”

James Casebere is the winner of the American Academy in Rome Abigail Cohen Rome Prize Fellowship for 2019-20.  In addition, he has been the recipient of three awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, three from the New York Foundation for the Arts and one from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. His work is featured in international museum collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Goetz Collection, Munich, Germany; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Mukha Museum, Antwerp, Belgium; the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art; the Los Angeles County Museum; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England, amongst many others. In 2016, Casebere was a New York Foundation for the Arts Hall of Fame Honoree and the subject of the important survey exhibitions: Fugitive, at the Haus der Kunst in Munich, curated by Okwui Enwezor; Immersion, at Espace Images Vevey in Switzerland; and After Scale Model: Dwelling in the Work of James Casebere, at the BOZAR/Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels, Belgium. James Casebere lives and works in New York.

James Casebere’s photographs will be featured in the forthcoming group exhibition Paradise Lost – Gazing at Contemporary Urban Civilization and its Metaphor at the JUT Art Museum, Taipei, Taiwan, on view December 21, 2019 – April 5, 2020.

All images > courtesy of Sean Kelly Gallery, New York and the artist.

Paul P. / Slim Volume

Paul P. Slim Volume

Queer Thoughts, New York

November 7 – January 18, 2020

On the occasion of his 20th birthday in 1926, Stephen Tennant requested to be photographed by a young Cecil Beaton. The photographer set his model in front of a backdrop of silver foil, pivoted his naked torso in a way as sly and signaling as a wink, and took the picture. Tennant was already admired as a poet, having published a slim volume, yet nothing concrete would follow it. In a subsequent decade Cyril Connolly would explain, ‘whom the gods wish to destroy they first call promising.’

In Paul P.’s exhibition, Slim Volume, a photocopy of Tennant’s portrait is featured in a small collage on notepaper, which hangs alongside works from P.’s ongoing repertoire of oil paintings, drawings and sculptures. The premature brilliance of Tennant’s oeuvre failed to advance beyond an endless string of promises for poems that never appeared, or sketches for novels never written, and yet his indolence, pretense, and superficiality made him a human directory of queer gestures and inflections. Like the person of Tennant himself, P.’s collage offers a codex for the indirect modes of presentation and signification that inform the artist’s work, such as the relay of affinities across time, the filigree that encodes inclinations, and the oblique queer reasoning that doesn’t necessarily require the effable and the plastic to perform its seditious role. P.’s meticulous and enduring aesthetic project excavates forms of fantasy particular to eras of criminalized homosexuality, such as dandyism and the early gay erotic industry, which, although outdated, remain useful examples of resistance.

The ongoing body of painted portraits that define much of P.’s practice are appropriated from gay erotic magazines produced during the years bracketed by the beginning of gay liberation/Stonewall, and the advent of the AIDS crisis; a period of provisional freedoms. The models, Janus-like, look forwards and backwards from their original position in time; back to the transient wellspring of homosexual aesthetics and innuendo, and forward to AIDS and other future tragedies, wherein aesthetic energy may lose or regain its unruly value. The artist re-imagines their faces to contain both the foreknowledge of their potential destruction and ulterior, ancient queer motives. Despite the origin of P.’s images as explicit materials of desire, the transactional alliance between model and artist leaves behind an implicit history of negotiation, fragility, impermanence, and revolt from conventional narratives. Other oil paintings describe laundry hung to dry in the closed, colored stucco alleys of Venice neighborhoods, and a yellow monochrome painting describes an area of light itself; all roundabout analogies, devices for further picturing ephemerality. Bed sheets moving in the breeze in a city known in the 19th century for unraveling the English and North American consciousness into permissiveness and violent sensualities, is today yet another symbolic echo.

P.’s sculptures, a folding screen and stool constructed from a transparent lattice of ash wood, similarly allude to the interface of the artist and model; not the click of the camera, but the societal forces precipitating their meeting, the cusp of the experience, and after, the traces left behind. The sculptures function allegorically, and their slender, rakish image belies the exacting precision of their construction. Like the ill-fated figure of the dandy, whose inverse logic exposed the hostility of a predominant moralism, P.’s sculptures suggest that withstanding perennial external pressure may sometimes yield a paradoxical fortitude.

Completing the exhibition are three ink drawings of the facial profile of a statue of Pan, drawn from life in the Musée d’Orsay; an erotic figure whose classical guise has granted safe passage through time. Reclining on his belly, goat legs splayed, he teases bear cubs with pieces of honeycomb. His hand raised before his lips, forefinger and thumb touching and pinkie extended, in a delicate and selective gesture that seems to display the delight of the eternal faggot.

All images > courtesy of Queer Thoughts, New York

Monica Majoli, blueboys

Monica Majoli, blueboys

Galerie Buchholz, New York

November 8 – December 21, 2019

People still die of AIDS—or of AIDS-related complications or illness, as the dispiriting boilerplate has it. Hooray for those who can afford the drugs that make the syndrome manageable, hooray for those who can afford to party without a care in the world, since there should be no worry when one is horny or “in love” or dancing, lustfully unthinking, but close to a million people died of AIDS, just last year.

In an exchange between Dodie Bellamy and Kevin Killian that would have been called Eyewitness, had Kevin’s death from cancer not interrupted it, at one point Dodie writes: “I’m thinking of how Dennis Cooper said AIDS ruined death.” Not immediately (they reconnoiter the fact of Kevin’s diagnosis), but soon enough, Kevin, after taking a few beats, glosses Dennis’ epigrammatic observation. “Dennis’ point is that once we were in love with death in the Punk Era. It seemed like the real thing, the point of living. Then came AIDS,” Kylie Minogue’s most dedicated fan explained, “and death was reduced to nothing. Just the end. It was stripped of meaning.”

Once we were in love with death… Do you hear Keats’ nightingale in Kevin’s explanation? “I have been half in love with easeful death, call’d him soft names…” Who hasn’t called certain darkling attractions by soft names? Sometimes you live to regret it, sometimes you don’t.

Monica Majoli took inspiration for her newest body of work from the sexy post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS hiatus still known as the ’70s, particularly centerfolds from Blueboy, which billed itself as “the national magazine about men.” In 1980, when I was 15—hold on. I find myself striking out for memory lane again, and I have to say that for the most part I just couldn’t care less about memory lane. (I guess people now call it autofiction.) Instead I’ll relay this little fact: In an interview for High Times, published in the early summer of 1977, Andy Warhol was asked what his favorite magazines were. He replied: “Blueboy, Pussy, Penthouse. Whatever I’m in.”

Or, whatever I’m into. Andy, like others, would have been into the range of Blueboy’s editorial content: interviews with author James Purdy or Perry King, the hunky lead of Andy Warhol’s Bad, co-written by Pat Hackett and directed by Andy’s longest live-in partner, Jed Johnson; into the first English translation of Verlaine’s erotic poetry; into “what really happened to” Montgomery Clift, a profile of Casablanca records, the “photoerotica” of Baron von Gloeden; into commentary on the political debacle initiated by Anita Bryant, via “Save Our Children,” to pass an ordinance to legalize discrimination based on sexual orientation or on the assassination of Harvey Milk; into keeping up with culture almost as much as they were keeping up with cock.

Blueboy’s founding publisher, Donald N. Embinder, a former ad exec at Benton & Bowles as well as an ad rep for After Dark, told the New York Times, in 1976, that “Playgirl and Viva made male nudity on newsstands viable”; it was the same year he took out a full-page ad in the trade magazine Advertising Age, headlined: “Now you can reach America’s most affluent minority…The Male Homosexual.” TMH was seen to be single and to have money to spare. The ads in Blueboy targeted an audience interested in self-care, bodily upkeep, and places in which clothes could be easily shed. The tagline for a K’WEST skin products ad made it clear: “Fashion Pointers for the Well Undressed Male—Clothes may make the man but only K’WEST makes the man touchable.” Contourex offered “a new exercise system designed to give you tighter, shaplier [sic] buns.” Cabana wear by International Male. Caftans by Ah Men.

Blueboy had a small part in the push to transvalue issues of class specificity into issues of taste—what’s classy, what’s not—rather than only into realpolitik. Some of the magazine’s models were trade, which was the vernacular before gay-for-pay, and before the entire mainstreaming of sexual preference—with its radical potential for undoing rote and rigid forms of relationality—became gay-for-pay or pay-for-gay—PayPal (read GayPal) in a sense, before the fact. In the quest to sell its dream, America has always privileged affluence, a dream of financial security, even clout, wooing a striving majority, whether they were part of a minority population or not, to vote with their wallets.

The fight to end the AIDS pandemic would rally grassroots coalitions and would stymie that push, if only for a moment; putting the action between the sheets into the streets. Fran Lebowitz has provided some of the most searching thinking on how we still live in the wake of that moment, the consequence of kinds of audience, many of whom would have read Blueboy alongside Interview: When I was young, you know, later ’70s early ’80s, my first real audience was from Interview magazine, and at that time that audience was 99.9% homosexual, male homosexual. And that audience was very important to me. This is part of what formed my voice. Everyone talks about the effect that AIDS had on the culture—I mean, people don’t talk about it anymore, but when people did talk about it—they talked about what artists were lost, but they never talked about this audience that was lost. When people talk about, like, Why was the New York City Ballet so great? Well, it was because of Balanchine and Jerry Robbins and people like that, but also that audience…was so… I can’t even think of the word. I mean, if Suzanne Farrell went like this [tiny gesture of fingers] instead of this [the reverse of that tiny gesture] that was it: she might as well just kill herself. There would be like a billion people who knew exactly every single thing. There was such a high level of connoisseurship…of everything that people like this were interested in. Of everything. That made the culture better. A very discerning audience, an audience with a high level of connoisseurship, is as important to the culture as artists. It is exactly as important. Now, we don’t have any kind of connoisseur audience. When that audience died, and that audience died in five minutes. Literally, people didn’t die faster in a war. And it allowed, of course, the second, third, fourth tier to rise to the front. Because, of course, the first people who died of AIDS were the people, oh, I don’t know how to put this, got laid a lot. Okay, now imagine who didn’t get AIDS? Okay? That’s who was then lauded as the great artists, okay? If the other people who hadn’t died, if they were alive, if they all came back to life, and I would say to them, Guess who’s a big star? Guess! Guess who has a show on Broadway? Guess who’s like a famous photographer? They would fall on the floor. Are you kidding me? Because everyone else died. Last man standing. […] Things in the culture that had nothing to do with the New York City Ballet, it just got dumbed down, dumbed down, dumbed down—all the way down. What we have had, in, like, the last 30 years, is too much democracy in the culture, not enough democracy in the society.

Inspired by mokuhanga, Japanese woodblock printing, Majoli’s large-scale Whiteline woodcut watercolor paintings are based on images from Blueboy, circa 1976-79, a period she considers “the halcyon years of gay liberation, when homosexuality was understood to be politically charged and under threat, presaging the trauma of the AIDS epidemic.” Halcyon provides a way to understand the aesthetic of the soft-core centerfolds of the magazine: the lighting is sun-kissed, the palette warm with rose-golds’ ember glow, the bodies toned and unmanscaped. Mother Nature smiles on these men making themselves available to other men, a possibility she always intended. (Long before homosexuality was legal, porn would show men in showers or out in nature, among flora and fauna, and it would be theoretically stingy not to see such scenarios as emphasizing the cleanliness and naturalness of such pleasures, when they were still seen to be “dirty” and “unnatural.”) The models were known by their first names (“Joe”, “Roger”); some appeared a single time, while others became featured players; they all had histories, lives, and they’re seen in repose that is also work. Their cocks, balls, and buns remain, as they were, magnificent and inviting. The hard-edged, roided body of the 1980s—a “built” body weaponized, Ramboized (apotropaically and/or phantasmatically) against viral invasion and wasting—is nowhere to be seen.

While considering all that is lost when the map of masculinity permits few ways to trace the radical potential of male vulnerability, tenderness, as a source of strength and communing, don’t fail to reckon with what Monica achieves with the gentle but grand shift in scale from the magazine centerfold: these works are history paintings. They chronicle not only soft power rather than toxic masculinity, but also sexual fantasy, intimacy in which the nameable earns no more importance than the nameless or unnameable. The pigments with which the paintings are made, water-soluble, suggest tears and/or sweat (synecdoches for other bodily fluids), no longer mistaken as dangerous, contaminant, but, whether joyfully or sadly, communicating without need of language. These radiant, touching pictures embody a vision of how once we were in love with life.

Bruce Hainley

All Images > courtesy of Galerie Buchholz

Karen Kilimnik

Karen Kilimnik

303 Gallery, New York

Nov 2019 to 20 Dec 2019

303 Gallery presents the twelfth solo exhibition of the work of Karen Kilimnik. Throughout the gallery, more than 70 works of painting, photography, collage, sculpture and video, are displayed in the Petersburger style.

Karen Kilimnik
the theater of the gods, 2015 
Water soluble oil color and glitter on canvas
14 1/4 x 18 inches (36.2 x 45.7 cm) Signed and dated verso
© Karen Kilimnik, courtesy 303 Gallery, New York

Included in the exhibition is a new video of excerpts from the 19th century ballets, The Awakening of Flora by Marius Petipa, Reconstruction by Sergei Vikharev, music by Riccardo Drigo, with additional excerpts (Le Talisman, Pas D’Esclave and Animated Frescoes), as performed by the graduate students of The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, on the occasion of Opening Day of the 57th Carnegie International, and the 200th anniversary of Petipa’s birth. The video, The World at War, (2018) brings together clips from color and black and white films primarily set during World War II, selected for their music and their depictions of camaraderie between troops and officers singing, seen amid battle as well as off the field.

Karen Kilimnik
the fairy ship, 2016 
Wood ship, gems, archival glue
12 1/2 x 14 x 3 inches (31.8 x 35.6 x 7.6 cm)
© Karen Kilimnik, courtesy 303 Gallery, New York

These works combine the worlds of history, architecture, art, fashion, film and television, music and ballet, animals and nature, science and literature.

Karen Kilimnik
Untitled, 2019 
Acrylic and gouache on unstretched canvas
59 1/2 x 64 inches (151.1 x 162.6 cm) Signed, dated verso
© Karen Kilimnik, courtesy 303 Gallery, New York

Recent major solo exhibitions dedicated to Karen Kilmnik’s work include Château De Malmaison, Rueil-Malmaison (2016); Le Consortium, Dijon – La Romanée Conti (2014); Brant Foundation Art Study Center, Greenwich (2012); Belvedere, Vienna (2010); Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (2006); Serpentine Gallery, London, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami (2007); Fondazione Belvilacqua La Masa, Venice (2005); and Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2002). Major group exhibitions include the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (2018); Rubell Family Collection, Miami (2015); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2008), Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, and MoMA PS1, New York (both 2006); MoMA, New York (2005, 2001, 1999); Institute of Contemporary Art, London (1997, 1992); and Secession, Vienna (1994). In 2011, Kilimnik created a stage setting for the ballet Psyché by Alexei Ratmansky, at the Opéra national de Paris. Kilimnik lives and works in Philadelphia.

Karen Kilimnik
wind and lightning at the Tower of Pisa, Daron Puzzle Inc., 2019 
Foam board with plastic, glass and Swarovski crystals
12 x 5 3/4 x 5 3/4 inches (30.5 x 14.6 x 14.6 cm)
© Karen Kilimnik, courtesy 303 Gallery, New York

The Fletcher Family: A Lifetime in Surf

The Fletcher Family: A Lifetime in Surf

25JUL(JUL 25)0:0030AUG(AUG 30)0:00The Fletcher Family: A Lifetime in SurfGAGOSIAN NYC, 980 Madison Avenue NY 10075 New York , USA

The practice of the artist . . . is no different than that of the surfer, who inscribes his or her self in the ocean—a bigger canvas could not be engaged, defining their humanity in the most personal way, using themselves to draw their lifelines through the massive fleeting freedom of that power. The power and majesty of the sea—Herbie shared that with me and with my family as well as his own.
—Julian Schnabel

Herbie Fletcher, Wrecktangle #12, 2014. Foam, fiberglass, acrylic paint, and steel 90 x 264 x 24 in 228.6 x 670.6 x 61 cm © Herbie Fletcher. Courtesy Fletcher Family and Gagosian

Gagosian presents an exhibition celebrating the publication of Fletcher: A Lifetime in Surf by Rizzoli in 2019. The legendary Fletcher family has been an institution and guiding presence in surf and skate culture for decades, with an influence that extends to the worlds of fashion, music, streetwear, and art. Now, Fletcher: A Lifetime in Surf, written by Dibi Fletcher—wife of Herbie and matriarch of what Esquire has called “surfing’s first family”—simultaneously traces the evolution of the Fletcher family’s life and offers an oral history of surfing’s counterculture from the 1950s to today.

Throughout the volume, the family’s intimate storyline is augmented with anecdotes from luminaries including surfing legend Gerry Lopez, Mike Diamond of the Beastie Boys, artist Julian Schnabel, eleven-time world champion pro surfer Kelly Slater, and Steve Van Doren, of the Vans skate shoe company. Dibi’s recollections begin with her childhood memories of her father, big-wave surfing pioneer Walter Hoffman. She then goes on to narrate her union with Herbie, as well as the lives of their sons Christian and Nathan, both surfers, and their grandson, Greyson, a renowned skateboarder, all of whom have erased the boundaries between surfing and skateboarding.

To commemorate the publication of the book, Gagosian will install artworks from four different series by Herbie Fletcher at 976 Madison Avenue. Fletcher’s Wrecktangles are large sculptures made from once-perfect, custom surfboards that have been ridden and broken by the greatest contemporary tube riders at the Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii. For years now, elite surfers, known as “Wave Warriors,” have saved their boards to be made into Wrecktangles. The accumulated boards tell oblique stories about the culture of surfing. The board recurs in the Wall of Disaster series, which features masses of skateboards mounted to the wall in anarchic accumulations. Similar to their surfboard counterparts, they form a cacophony of logos and images.

In his Blood Water paintings, Fletcher uses mineral-rich earth from the Waimea River, Hawaii. After the winter rains on the North Shore of Oahu have subsided, he paddles up the river with large pieces of untreated canvas on the nose of his surfboard, staining them in the iron-oxide-rich red earth washed down from volcanoes. After they are completely saturated, he paddles back to the coral sand beach and lays the canvas out to dry, creating visions reminiscent of ancient petroglyphs. Similarly, in his Connecting to the Earth paintings, Fletcher affixes found objects from the Hawaiian shores such as netting, and burlap used to carry taro, to the canvas, paying homage to native Hawaiian traditions.

Alongside these works will be an installation of ephemera—including photographs, posters, sketches, maps, surf magazines, boards, and memorabilia—accumulated from the family’s life of surfing. Gagosian Shop will also feature magazines, T-shirts, limited-edition skate decks, surfboards, and other items linked to the Fletcher family, including a Gagosian/Fletcher designed T-shirt to commemorate the exhibition.

Gagosian will also screen the film Heavy Water, released in 2019, a documentary about Nathan Fletcher, at 7pm on Monday, July 29, at Guild Hall, East Hampton, with an introduction by Julian Schnabel.

Herbie Fletcher was born in 1948 in Pasadena, California, and lives in San Clemente, California. Exhibitions include Harder. Betterer. Fasterer. Strongerer, Brucennial, New York (2012); Wrecktangles, The Hole New York (2013); Path of a Wave Warrior: Selections from the Fletcher Collection, Museum of Art & History, Lancaster, CA (2014); and Barry McGee: SB Mid Summer Intensive, Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, CA (2018). Fletcher is globally recognized as a surfing legend and a pioneering inventor who helped shape the way surfing is practiced today. He has produced and starred in numerous surfing films, and in 1976 founded Astrodeck, a company that produces equipment for surfers.

Roy DeCarava Light Break at David Zwirner, NYC

Roy DeCarava Light Break at David Zwirner, NYC

Roy DeCarava: the sound i saw

September 5—October 26, 2019

David Zwirner, NYC

David Zwirner present concurrent exhibitions of photographs by Roy DeCarava at two of its New York gallery locations: 533 West 19th Street and 34 East 69th Street. Curated by art historian Sherry Turner DeCarava, this will be the gallery’s first presentation since announcing exclusive representation of the Estate of Roy DeCarava in 2018, and the first opportunity to view a major grouping of the artist’s work in New York since his 1996 retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art. 

Roy DeCarava, Curved branch, 1994 (detail)
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Over the course of six decades, DeCarava produced a singular collection of black-and-white photographs that combines formal acuity with an intimate and deeply human treatment of his subjects. His pioneering work privileged the aesthetic qualities of the medium, providing a counterpoint to the prevailing view of photography as mere chronicle or document and helping it to gain acceptance as an art form in its own right.

Having trained as a painter and draftsman, DeCarava began working with the camera in the mid-1940s, seeking an inclusive artistic statement for the culturally diverse uptown Manhattan neighborhood of his Harlem youth. Working without assistants and rejecting standard techniques of photographic manipulation, DeCarava honed his printing technique to produce rich tonal gradations, enabling him to explore a full spectrum of light and dark gray values more akin to a painterly mode of expression. Relying on ambient light and a point of view that neither monumentalizes nor sentimentalizes his subjects, he was able to produce a highly original oeuvre that carries significant visual and emotional meaning.

 On view at the gallery uptown will be a selection of photographs from the sound i saw, DeCarava’s unwavering exploration of the relationship between the visual and the aural. Created between the mid-1940s and 1960 and first assembled as an artist book, it has never before been exhibited in its original form. This work delivers musicians, those known and unknown, including Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, and others in their milieu, into a sound and a sense rarely seen in visual arts. These figures are glimpsed both mid-set and off-stage in moments of repose, emphasizing their status not as musical icons, but as people deeply engaged in the everyday process of living.

Presented in Chelsea, Light Break features a dynamic survey and range of images that underscores DeCarava’s subtle mastery of tonal and spatial elements across a wide array of subject matter. Spanning the years 1948 to 2006, the photographs in the exhibition—including a number of images that have never been seen before—provide an introduction to the artist’s singular vision, particularly his ability to see with great sensitivity into people and to find a complexity of relationships that coincide with our lives. 

Wang Yan Cheng at Acquavella, NYC

Wang Yan Cheng at Acquavella, NYC

Wang Yan Cheng

SEPTEMBER 11 – OCTOBER 18, 2019

Acquavella Galleries, NYC

Acquavella Galleries presents the first exhibition of works by Wang Yan Cheng, from September 11 – October 18, 2019. This exhibition of new work, featuring 20 paintings from this year, is the artist’s first solo presentation in the United States.

Since his early training as a representational artist, Wang Yan Cheng has developed a deep understanding of painting in terms of structure, color and technique. In recent years he has frequently gone beyond the “abstract.” He hopes to merge Eastern and Western aesthetic development, to guide people away from traditional concepts, and to feel the artist’s love for creation. Wang Yan Cheng’s foundation is never a pure canvas in the metaphoric sense. He has reached beyond the canvas with various methods to make the works “immersed and cultivated.” Using his ideas, he is able to exercise artistic control over his medium; his paintings thus inhabit a wonderful place between inevitability and chance and achieve “imperfect perfection.”  

Wang Yan Cheng Untitled (Triptych), 2019 Oil on canvas in three panels 82 5/8 x 307 inches (210 x 780 cm)
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Born in 1960, after graduating from Shandong University of Arts, Wang Yan Cheng went to Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing to complete his academic art education in China. Later in 1989 he traveled to France and studied at Jean Monnet University (Saint-Étienne), where he was able to broaden and expand his creative vision of art. In the past 30 years, Wang Yan Cheng has traveled from the East to the West and has returned from the West to the East. Over time, he has found a profound affinity between Oriental philosophy and Western science and pushed his paintings to engage micro and macro themes. 

Wang Yan Cheng Untitled, 2019 Oil on canvas 45 5/8 x 35 inches (116 x 89 cm)
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In the 20th century, Chu Teh-Chun and Zao Wou-Ki introduced Eastern aesthetic concepts into Western abstract painting working in the form of lyrical abstraction. Following in the tradition of established lyrical abstractionists Zao Wou-Ki and Chu Teh-Chun, both of whom are recognized internationally, Wang Yan Cheng approaches painting with a different texture, language and visual energy than his two predecessors. In his paintings, Wang Yan Cheng elevates the image to the level of microcosmic vision, using energy, detailed texture and traditional culture to create his unique artistic language. Continuing in the traditional of lyrical abstraction, Wang Yan Cheng builds a majestic momentum from the shapes and colors, drawing on an atmospheric flow that comes from his soul. Each composition follows traditional Chinese cosmology to explore the mysterious driving force of the origin of the universe. The artist departs from the restraints of techniques and concepts, embracing instead the power of spirit and the experience of love. Thus, Wang Yan Cheng’s paintings form “a cosmic rhythm that embodies the spirit of the Oriental and Taoist philosophy, that open a universe, in bigger and bigger collisions.” (quote by art critic Jia Fangzhou). 

Wang Yan Cheng Untitled, 2019 Oil on canvas 102 x 82 5/8 inches (260 x 210 cm)
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Today, Wang Yan Cheng maintains studios in Paris and Beijing. Major solo museum exhibitions have been held at the Guangdong Museum of Art (2000) and Musée de Montparnasse, Paris (2010). In 2014, the National Museum of History in Taipei mounted an extensive retrospective of the artist. Wang Yan Cheng was also selected to participate in the Shanghai Museum of Art Biennial (2002), the French Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo (2010), and the Chinese Pavilion at the Milan International Expo (2015).  Over the past 20 years, he has won the honor of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, the Legion of Honour and the Commander Medal of French Arts and Literature. He is the first Chinese artist to have won three medals of honor from the French government.  

Constructing Her Universe: Loló Soldevilla at Sean Kelly Gallery, NYC

Constructing Her Universe: Loló Soldevilla at Sean Kelly Gallery, NYC

Constructing Her Universe: Loló Soldevilla 

SEPTEMBER 6 – OCTOBER 19, 2019

Sean Kelly, NYC

Sean Kelly presents Constructing Her Universe: Loló Soldevilla, the first comprehensive exhibition ever mounted in the United States devoted to the work of this pioneering Cuban artist. Dolores “Loló” Soldevilla (1901- 1971) was one of the only women to be prominently associated with the development of geometric abstraction in Cuba, and one of the key figures responsible for promoting its development from the 1950s onward. Featuring over 60 artworks, including painting, sculpture, works on paper and constructions, as well as rare historical documents, photographs and personal ephemera, this wide-ranging survey will examine the breadth of Loló’s entire career. Concurrent to the exhibition, a fully-illustrated monograph featuring essays by Rafael DiazCasas and Olga Viso will be published, the first book devoted solely to Loló’s life and work. There will be an opening reception on Thursday, September 5, 6-8pm.w

Loló Soldevilla Paisaje Estelar, 1959

Loló Soldevilla was a passionate, largely self-taught artist whose career blossomed in the 1950s. A self-styled impresario and autodidact, she was a formidable artistic talent and an astute cultural promoter. Following earlier professional turns as a musician, political activist and party politician in Cuba, Loló was appointed the country’s cultural attaché to Europe in 1949. Residing in Paris, she began studying in the ateliers of prominent European artists. Although she did not take up painting and sculpture until her late-forties, she quickly gained command of her métier and was soon exhibiting her work in Parisian galleries and Salons transitioning from figuration to abstraction. By 1950, Loló was producing abstract paintings and sculptures inspired by geometric forms. In the ensuing years, Soldevilla developed her groundbreaking Color Luz theory that opened pathways to her Reliefs Lumineux, unique constructions that incorporated light as a working element in abstract designs, which premiered in Paris at the 1955 Salon des Réalités Nouvelles. Her paintings, collages and panel constructions explored the dynamics of light, shadow and relief, suggesting movement and rhythm through the use of geometric pattern and color.   

After returning to Havana in 1956, Loló played an active role as an artist, curator, and gallery owner. A fierce advocate for social justice, women’s rights and the working class in the 1930-40s, she began championing abstraction through ambitious international projects, gaining attention for her voice within the island’s abstractionist landscape and serving as a vital link between Cuba, Europe and Latin America. She organized the important exhibition Pintura de hoy: Vanguardia de la Escuela de Paris (Painting Today: The Avant-Garde of the School of Paris) at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, Havana, which featured the work of forty-six leading Hard-Edge, Op and Kinetic artists, including Jean Arp, Sonia Delaunay and Jesús Rafael Soto, amongst others. This pivotal exhibition introduced Cuban audiences to international abstract art for the first time.

In October 1957, Soldevilla along with fellow artist Pedro de Oraá founded the Galería de Arte Color Luz, a venue instrumental in fostering the development of abstract art in Cuba and solidifying the presence of the concrete art movement on the island. The gallery served as the incubator for a group of artists who would name themselves “10 Pintores Concretos,” of which Loló was the sole female member, its most public face, and strongest force. As Castro’s revolution began to transform Cuban culture, abstraction, though never explicitly censored, was deemed “obsolete” and “out of touch with the new society.” Although Loló’s activities around the visual arts diminished, she stayed active establishing a new association, Grupo Espacio, and continued to paint and exhibit her work until her death in 1971. Sean Kelly states, “we are delighted to have organized Loló Soldevilla’s first retrospective survey in the U.S. and the first outside of Cuba. This exhibition and the major monograph we have published position her as one of the strongest Latin American artistic voices in the years after World War II, as well as one of the first women to bring postwar abstraction to Latin America, firmly establishing her as a key figure in the development of abstraction in Cuba, Latin America and, indeed, the world.”

Elemental Abstractions / Hyun Sook Jeong and Gregory Hayes at Blank Space in NYC

Elemental Abstractions / Hyun Sook Jeong and Gregory Hayes at Blank Space in NYC

Elemental Abstractions

Blank Space, NYC

Jul 24th – Sep 15th 2019

This exhibition presents two artists, Hyun Sook Jeong and Gregory Hayes, who create works that investigate the interaction between their chosen materials and the natural and physical world. While both artists have developed distinct and unique visual styles, their processes and subjects demonstrate a desire to play into things about the world which cannot be fully controlled and the beauty of the work stems in part from the medium itself. To do so, both artists refute the brushstrokes of traditional abstract painting and turn instead to carefully orchestrated and detailed processes that harness the capability of the mediums to create and speak for themselves.

Hyun Sook Jeong works with minute pieces of mother of pearl with which she builds intricate webs of iridescent material punctuated by small glimmers of crystal. By using organic materials, Jeong ensures that the work can never be viewed the same way twice as with every slight movement of the viewer the piece captures light in different way and is changed. The result is an incredibly deep and dynamic form of abstract art wherein the viewer is drawn in from a distance by the shimmer of the surface and deeper yet through the complexity and visual effect of the process. In addition to the intense draw of the materials themselves, the webs of mother of pearl undulate in thickness subtly forcing the illusion of three-dimensionality on the canvas. 

Conceptually, Jeong’s work harkens back to traditional Korean form of Najeon-Chilgi lacquerware from the Joseon Era. Through this art historical link, she contemporizes a traditional form thereby creating a meditative space within which to contemplate this human desire to decorate and accessorize the ordinary with brilliant natural materials. For Jeong the human desire to covet reflective and iridescent materials stems from a desire for light as a nurturing and necessary component of human civilization, both in myth and in practice. The re-contextualization of this form, coupled with the stunning visual effect of her work, places the viewer in the position between old and new, Eastern and Western aesthetics, and light and darkness.

Gregory Hayes has created a technique of brushless painting in which he loads a dropper with multiple colors of paint at a time and applies it to a flat canvas. As he does so, the convex drops of paint on the canvas swirl and coalesce creating rich and detailed tapestries of color that are formed by the relative unpredictability of the liquid paint itself. In some of his work, such as the series’ Color Array and Primary Array, Hayes begins the process by carefully constructing a ¼ inch grid across the canvas while, in Amalgamation, shown in Elemental Abstractions, he forgoes the grid and opts for a far more gestural form of painting, approaching the canvas with mainly his intuition to guide him. What results in Amalgamation are complex compositions of densely layered paint that pull the viewer into the work through a dynamic interplay between the chosen colors. 

Through a careful consideration of not only of the layering of paint in the dropper, but also of the drying time of the medium and absorption rate of the canvas, Hayes is able to partially control how the paint is layered and how two drops might interact. However, through this carefully devised method, much of beauty and character of the work is derived from how the paint acts on its own. In the end, it is the activity of each drop (the marbling, swirling, and bleeding of multiple colors) that comes together to form a larger color field over the entire canvas. Even with his more exact grid based works, Hayes says the parts where he sees the paint do something spontaneous and out of his control are where he sees the best results of his technique, “In my work I strive for exactness, but perhaps it is paradoxical that in striving for perfection – and never reaching it – it is there that you actually find it…It is the imperfect that becomes unique, the flaws that become interesting, the randomness that leads to new ideas.” In this sense, the Amalgamation series perfectly showcases two ends of his practice. On the one hand, from a distance, the viewer is confronted with an impressive and impactful color field that is orchestrated by the artist by his individual choices of palette and strokes. While, on the other, the work opens up when approached and viewed closely as it is here where the tactility, depth, and chance of the works shine brightest.

Gregory Hayes works and lives in Brooklyn. He has received his BFA in painting at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design and his MFA at Brooklyn College in 2011. His work has been exhibited in many exhibitions in the United States and art fairs internationally including Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art in Colorado, SCOPE Basel, Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, and was included in both the Millay Colony and Fire Island Pines Arts Project residencies.

Jeong Hyun Sook is well renowned in the Korean art market and is gradually gaining reputable acclaim in the United States art scene. Her works have been exhibited in the Sungkok Art Museum, Lee Gallery, Gallery Sejong, and Insa Art Center, to name a few, and have been featured in various international art fairs in Cologne, Miami, New York, London, Geneva, Beijing and Shanghai. Her paintings are held in major Korean art collections such as the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul Museum of Art, and the Sammlungen Collection.

All images > installation views, courtesy Blank Space NYC and the Artists


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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