Fredericks Freiser Gallery
“Easy access,” I’ve heard art dealers say, is what their clients are looking for in their art excursions these days. Problem is, with the glut of galleries, fairs, and massive “new talent” shows like the Armory Show, Scope, Working in Brooklyn, the Whitney Biennial, and Greater New York, it’s gone beyond “easy access” to something approaching force-feeding. If we were French geese, our aesthetic livers would explode. Fortunately, for those with a more adventurous nature, art observers pursuing the more extreme off-the-tourist-track fair, there are occasional opportunities to catch a glimpse of artwork that doesn’t fit the “taste of the week” club. Recent shows by both Chris Martin uptown at Uta Scharf and Geoff Davis at Andre Zarre in Chelsea demonstrate that sometimes the gatekeepers of good decorum, and the bottom line, are asleep at the switch.
Thomas Trosch is another example of an artist who, though not a household name, is held in high regard by enthusiasts of the marginal, eccentric, and totally personal statement. Trosch is an acquired taste, and though not a taste of the week, he could be of next year. The Very, Very Best of Thomas Trosch is a mini retrospective covering work from about the past fifteen years, and though there are progressions, developments, and changes, the uniqueness of his vision is clear. Trosch, for all his cultivated kinks and excruciating mannerisms, shows he’s in possession of painterly skills that can convincingly combine a variety of techniques, from wispy pencil lines on bare canvas to drippy opaque washes, from peanut-butter-thick knifing to thrown and tube-squeezed paint blobs. This diversity of surface incident recalls the better periods of Cy Twombly, and his scrawling drawings are enhanced with thick clumps of paint.
The feminine focus on ladies who lunch, who visit artists’ studios and vernissages, who sip cocktails and have lovely matching accessories, reduces the males present to mere extras. The extravagant, almost sculptural thickness of the figures, the unapologetic decorativeness, and the exceedingly sweet colors have admittedly linked Trosch’s work to that of Florine Stettheimer, the 57th Street heiress and hostess of one of New York’s grand Jazz Age salons. A more contemporary comparison might be made with the dramatic narrative pieces by Nicolas Africano. “Japanese Lesson #17” (1992) is the earliest and one of the largest pieces in this show. It combines women with large bug eyes and text bubbles filled with conversations from phrase books designed for visiting businessmen. Though both of these devices seem to have disappeared in the more recent pieces, considering the dates, they should be seen as precursors to the anime fad of characters with oversized eyes that has been presented so often recently, as well as the rant-containing bubbles produced by Amy Wilson that when seen in quantity read as left-wing schtick. Trosch seems to revel in the discordant contrasts thrown up by his style of freewheeling paint slinging and his depictions of doll-like society ladies. The artist uses backgrounds of abstract expressionist paintings and biomorphic sculpture as a painterly foil to the elegant women in pastel evening gowns and platinum blonde hairdos strolling among a collection of art objects displayed as prestige commodities. This disturbing discrepancy reads like an image of the 1950s layout wherein “profoundly ugly” Pollocks are props for fashion models, rendered by a painter channeling both Stanley Kowalski and Blanche DuBois.
JAMES KALM has written extensively on the Brooklyn art scene. In 2006 he began posting video reviews of local art exhibitions at his two YouTube channels that have generated over six million views.
73. (Various museums and galleries)By Raphael Rubinstein
OCT 2021 | The Miraculous
A group of artists, gallery owners, and museum employees issue a call for museums and art galleries in New York City to close for one day as an act of protest against a war the U.S. is conducting in a faraway country. The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum and the Jewish Museum, plus many art galleries, comply with this request. Only two major museums decline, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (which does, however, delay the opening of an exhibition for one day) and the Guggenheim Museum, which is then picketed.
Steffani Jemison’s A Rock, A River, A StreetBy Tara Aisha Willis
MARCH 2023 | Art Books
Reading A Rock, A River, A Street is like finding a way through an enigmatic moment of performance: the body is the thing that connects feelings and experiences, moves us through them. It is a train of thought, a largely unvoiced internal monologue to which we are given partial access.
Tom Gormican’s The Unbearable Weight of Massive TalentBy Payton McCarty-Simas
JUNE 2022 | Film
Replete with kidnappings, superfan and superspy antics, and references to Cage’s filmography that only the most dedicated Cage acolyte will be able to catch, the film is designed as a love letter to, as Cage himself describes in the film, the actor’s “contribution to one of the oldest professions: storytelling and mythmaking.”
Walter De Maria: Boxes for Meaningless WorkBy Amanda Gluibizzi
MARCH 2023 | ArtSeen
Just as youre about to step into Walter De Maria: Boxes for Meaningless Work, you might notice a short, high-pitched sound underlying the other noises that occupy museum galleries. Its the chirping of crickets, and because it emanates from a speaker hung near the ceiling, it seems to envelop the vestibule, both placeable and unlocatable.