How do we become who we are? What experiences mold our character and how do those experiences alter the way we interact with artwork? For me the experiences that have been the most transformative happened suddenly: one I saw coming for nine months, the other I didnt see coming at all.
After returning from London where he opened his first solo show, Everything Leads to Another, at Hauser and Wirth (May 20 July 30), Matthew Day Jackson came by the Rails headquarters to talk about his work, creative process, and drag racing plans with Artseen contributor Charles Schultz.
On the occasion of his second solo exhibition at David Zwirner Gallery, Black Paintings (May 4 June 23, 2012), Yan Pei-Ming sat down with Charles Schultz to discuss his recent paintings, his preference for visual rather than verbal communication, and the difference between the deaths of Bin Laden, Gaddafi, and Mao.
Alec Soth is an American photographer whose first major body of work, Sleeping by the Mississippi (2004), established his reputation as a deeply feeling documentarian. Soth has just completed Songbook, a project three years in the making for which he and his collaborator, Brad Zellar, traveled around America as a journalistic team producing content for their self-published newspaper, the LBM Dispatch.
John Houck lives in Los Angeles and works out of a studio that previously housed a sizeable weed growing operation. Recently, five of Houcks photographs were featured in the New Photography exhibition at MoMA; in April he is showing a new body of work at On Stellar Rays. Prior to the exhibitions opening, Houck visited the Brooklyn Rails HQ to talk with Charlie Schultz about psychoanalysis, the relationship between drawing and photography, play, and the history of the constructed image.
John Houck lives in Los Angeles and works out of a studio that previously housed a sizeable weed growing operation. Last Winter, five of Houck’s photographs were featured in the New Photography exhibition at MoMA, and in April he is showing a new body of work at On Stellar Rays.
With the Puerto Rican debt crisis as well as the controversy over legendary political activist Oscar López Rivera’s participation in the Puerto Rican parade as backdrop, we took the opportunity to discuss Luciano’s long engagement with Puerto Rican politics and history, his love of creatively refurbished bicycles, and how the two intersect in Ride or Die, Luciano’s solo exhibition of commissioned work, which was on view at Brooklyn’s BRIC gallery this past spring.
James English Leary was part of the gang of artists who brought Bruce High Quality into the world, and then took Bruce out of it.
During the run of A Haunted Capital at the Brooklyn Museum (March 22 August 11, 2013) and while preparing for Witness at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (June 22 October 13, 2013), the artist discussed photography, activism, and the importance of portraiture.
Leonardo Drew (b. 1961) considers himself an elder statesman of the art world.
Song Tao and Ji Weiyu go by the moniker Birdhead. Known widely in China and Europe, Birdheads first major exposure in the United States came this fall when they were included in MoMAs annual New Photography exhibition (October 3, 2012 February 4, 2013).
On the top floor of Hauser & Wirths Chelsea building Takesada Matsutani and his friend Olivier Renaud-Clément stand beside a massive paper scroll, thirteen meters long, that extends from the ceiling to their feet. It is from the early nineties and is covered in graphite that softly reflects the light coming in the gallery windows.
Lisa Oppenheim’s first one-person exhibition in an American museum took place this year at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland, Ohio. Her second one-person exhibition at the Tanya Bonakdar gallery, A Durable Web, is on view through October 21, 2017.
Raha Raissnia’s first solo exhibition in a museum, Alluvius, opened in early December at the Drawing Center. Organized by the museum’s Assistant Curator, Amber Harper, the exhibition highlights Raissnia’s mixed media work on paper as a central element of her multivalent practice, which encompasses film, photography, and performance.
There are those who believe a work of art doesnt exist until it is discussed. As a young artist in Chicago, one of Dread Scotts first audiences was the Supreme Court of the United States from whom a discussion on the merits of a work of art can stimulate a populace. The particular aspect of Scotts work that disturbed them: standing on the American flag. The sitting President made a statement; the conversations led to change. Dread Scott (b.1965) was just getting started. Since then his performance work has inspired and provoked a generation of artists for whom political and historical reckoning are central to their practice. On its most fundamental level much of Scotts work comes down to how a person engages an environment: What they do, or dont do.
Zhang Huan's solo exhibition at Pace Gallery, Let There Be Light (through December 5), includes the largest ash painting Zhang’s made to date as well as a new series of ash paintings that use the language of Braille to transcribe western texts including the Bible and the Star Spangled Banner.
Cao Fei is a Chinese artist from Guangzhou currently residing in Beijing. She is a multimedia artist whose work has been critically acclaimed and globally showcased since her nascent efforts as an art student in the late 90s.
Its not for nothing that psychologists refer to the first four or five years of childhood as the formative years. In tandem with the development of motor skills and the ability to use language, a child cultivates a sense of selfthe nascent stage of forming a personal identity. The same might be said for an art gallery.
Déjà vu is a French expression that literally means already seen. It describes such a universal phenomenonthe experience of feeling inexplicable familiaritythat the phrase was long ago adapted into English vernacular.
If artwork has the capacity to communicate, does it follow that art might also be capable of conversation? There is certainly plenty of evidence for works of art engaging in various types of dialogue when placed in proximity, but of course this isnt a matter of verbal exchange. Rather, its a question of affectation and perception. How does seeing one painting influence the way another is seen?
Both Ann Pibal and Siah Armajani are well-established artists with track records of producing structurally rigorous and conceptually astute works. They also share the Midwestspecifically Minnesotaas part of their cultural heritage.
There was a work permit by the entrance. Industrial light fixtures, bent and angled, shared wall space with boxy structures made out of the same blue-painted plywood that fences construction sites in New York City.
Rico Gatsons retrospective at Exit Art, Three Trips Around the Block, ran the gamut of artistic expression. A survey spanning the last 15 years of the artists career (hes 45), the work in the exhibition was by turns viscerally provocative and conceptually detached; it was unsettling at times, contemplative at others, alternately coded in contemporary iconography and resolutely abstract.
I visited your exhibition at Bureau Gallery a few weeks ago knowing very little about you or your work. I feel like I know you much better now, which is perhaps unsurprising given the autobiographical character of your sculpture.
In Shapes of Shade, Tony Coxs debut solo exhibition with Marlborough Gallery, the New York artist has both expanded upon and refined an aesthetic hes been nurturing for years: the embroidered canvas.
Keith Sonniers sculptures infuse the élan and machined elegance of high minimalism with a subtle sensuality. For all their rigiditythe pieces are comprised mainly of large glass or acrylic panels linked with aluminum struts and lit with neonthey emanate a kind of softness. They are also playful and even a bit erotic, adding a significant dose of warmth and humanity to a visual language known for its detached tone and conceptual slant.
There was no way to tell Mary Ellen Mark only had four weeks left to live when she embarked on her last assignment, photographing the recovery efforts in New Orleans for the tenth anniversary of Katrina. It was spring and she’d been sent by CNN, who assigned a videography team to work behind her.
Brown spots spread across the blue veins and red knuckles of the artists hands, telling their own story of age and effort. These hands are the hands of a creator; these hands have made artworks that have affected the lives of people the artist loves and the lives of people he will never know.
Daina Higgins paints in a photo-realist style that is approaching virtuosic. New Paintings, her fourth solo show at Elizabeth Harris Gallery, includes nine new works in a variety of modest sizes, the oddest being as long and skinny as a plank.
Josef Albers in America, yes, but also America in Josef Albers. Work the ratio: how much America was in the German when he arrived here in 1933?
What is to be done when one generations entertainment becomes the next generations disparagement? Does one laugh, cringe, or contemplate?
Torbjørn Rødlands exhibition, Corpus Dubium, is a warmly felt look at body-oriented insecurity. It is a modest show, including only ten color photographs, but the impact of each image is undeniably potent, perhaps because Rødlands subject is such a universal aspect of the human condition.
James Hoff makes paintings with a printer. He does not engage in a tug-of-war with the machine, like Wade Guyton, whose means of creating paintings centers on forcing a canvas past ink jets.
Immanuel Kant was no daredevil, yet he knew, long before Evel Knievel rode his first bike, exactly why the madcap stuntman would be such an attraction. Knievel created an experience of the sublime.
Art galleries in the summer tend to have the same breezy feel as high schools during the last week or two of classes. Its still technically time for business, but not exactly as usual. Everything is more casual; curators are invited to be bold; partnerships are forged.
The kingdom of animals has disappeared in Ulrich Geberts photographs, and those that handled them now look to be engaged with ghosts. Many scenes are just ridiculous; a well-dressed gentleman in a field tossing sticks to a dog looks preposterous if the dog is absent.
The evening of September 11th I sat on the smooth concrete floor of James Cohans new gallery in Tribeca to take in a performance by Hamid Al-Saadi and Amir ElSaffar.
There is a standard hierarchy in a deck of cards. The king is always more powerful than the jack or the queen; the nine is always higher than the five. The only card with the capacity to swing is the ace, and it swings in the extreme, alternately ranking as the highest or the lowest card in the deck.
Why is it easy to conceptualize a physical sensation but incredibly challenging to feel a concept? As an example consider movement, or more specifically, moving along in a vehicle, a car lets say.
Chris Martin has shown with Anton Kern enough times to know how to manipulate the unique characteristics of the place. Because of its essentially linear structure, the exhibition space sets up a loose expectation for some form of narrative.
Imagine youre riding the subway while reading this. Do you know where the subway car you are riding may eventually end up? On the bottom of the Atlantic. Over the last nine years the N.Y.C. Transit Authority has worked with the national artificial reef building program to sink around 1,800 subway cars.
Speaking of People is a powerful group exhibition that focuses on the many ways contemporary artists have taken inspiration from the pages of Ebony and Jet magazines.
The timelines of art history are marked by eruptions that reorient artistic practices and philosophies, bursting through the prevailing mentalities and cratering the landscape of cultural production. In 1968, three landmark productionsan exhibition, a publication, and a magazine projectset off a decade’s worth of radical action in Japanese contemporary art and photography.
The idea of an origin is problematic for a number of reasons, one being that it would seem to suggest a starting point without precedent and, of course, thats impossible.
There is much to read at Natalie Czechs solo New York debut, and most of it is American poetry; there is also plenty of opportunity to gaze, since Czechs choice medium is photography. One will quickly find its a struggle, however, to perform these two activities in tandem.
You either start in darkness, or you start in the light. One is not better than the other, but the choice is the first one that affects your experience of the Whitney Biennial. The show spreads out across multiple floors, but it mainly takes place on two: one is designed like a labyrinth, the other as an open field. Its a dramatic shift. In the labyrinth your eyes cant travel far; in the open field there is almost nothing to stop them.
Five Works from the Collection of Albert Murray only leaves one wishing that a larger exhibition of Murrays collection be mounted.
Ethan Pettit isnt trying to do anything too complex. The debut exhibition at his quaint suite in the Brooklyn Fire Proof building, Inaugural Show, is simply conceived as an introduction.
The funny thing about mobile homes is that you see them parked more often than you see them on the move, which perversely makes it seem peculiar when you do see a mobile home being hauled along a highway. In New York, these trailers frequently serve as headquarters on construction sites, but rarely much else.
THE RONALD S. LAUDER COLLECTION: Selections from the 3rd Century BC to the 20th Century / Germany, Austria, and FranceBy Charles Schultz
Masterpieces make for good celebrations, or so it would seem from The Ronald S. Lauder Collection: Selections from the 3rd Century BC to the 20th Century / Germany, Austria, and France, which honors the 10th anniversary of the Neue Galeries founding.
The heart of Rene Ricard’s second posthumous exhibition at Half Gallery is a pair of old tabletops resting on the mantel of a fireplace. The untitled diptych is dated to 1995 but looks much older; its rubber upholstery is yellowing like badly jaundiced skin. Ricard’s cursive handwriting spreads across their surfaces, posing a question that has shifted from hypothetical to literal: “Nan Goldin and David Armstrong, so which photo will they remember? The glamorus one on the bed or the crack face that looked too far?” These two photographs hang on either side of the fireplace: a sexy young poet (à la Armstrong in 1979) and an aging back alley scoundrel (Goldin, shot in 1995). Since Ricard has passed, this question has become even more relevant.
John O’Connor’s recent drawings are packed with processed data. His sources range from military history to literature to news stories to measurements of his bodily functions.
Liu Xia (b. 1959) may be the most under-recognized Chinese artist alive. Since she was 30, her paintings, photographs, and poetry have been banned in China. When her husband, Liu Xiaobo, was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 2010 the situation grew worse; she was placed under strict house arrest and deprived of all means of contact.
Intrepid gallerists often forge unexpected partnerships, and Gallery Brooklyn is a case in point. On a quiet street in Red Hook, this new space opened in a realty office, and its inaugurating exhibition, Lightness, Being,pays homage to this quirky union in subtle ways.
Francesca Capones recent solo exhibition, Oblique Archive, is a meditation on the nature of language as it is increasingly unmoored from the physical realm of paper and set adrift in our digital landscape.
Morgan Packards participation-based art project, Dihedral Product, came close to taking a stance against creativity. In brief, he tasked participants with work so mindless and autonomous that it could have been done equally well by an idiot or a scholar. So in a way it was an ideal community activity, art as total democracy.
The show includes seven artists and draws a tight focus on a particular line of painting from the ’80s that can be characterized by the artists use of geometric forms to generate or suggest narrative.
Michael Rado wants you to know how the fabulous works on the walls of his exhibition at Art Cake were made. He wants you to know so that you can trace the progress and appreciate the choices that organize multiple fields of information into singular compositions.
By Charles Schultz
The Good Ship Jesus vs. The Black Star Line Hitching a Ride with Die Alibama
The title of Tracey Rose’s performance sets these two ships against one another, as if one might expect a boxing match, which would not be out of character for an artist who has used boxing as a structural form in earlier performances.
David Foster Wallace considered tennis chess on the run because, like chess, there are an infinite number of possible plays that can be made once the ball is set in motion. Infinite variability comes out of an adherence to formal constraints: sets of boundaries and standardized rules.
A deadly paradox of photography is that the more an image proliferates the weaker its impact becomes, until a terminal point is reached and the image is rendered powerless. Over-saturation leads to desensitization; its simple and its dangerous.
Samaras’s “photo-transformations” are the result of chemical manipulations the artist made to Polaroid images as they were developing.
The surfaces of Pessolis paintings teem with a diversity of mark making, which is part of what gives them their sketchbook quality. He uses pencils and stencils, oil sticks and spray paint, pastels and oil paint; all of them come together in an elegant play of texture which is especially charged when the viewer moves around the wooden panels and the gallery light rakes across the matte and reflective zones.
Rockburne has created a chapel of her own in a townhouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan that draws from her experience in Padua. To sit in her dark blue chamber and gaze upon the artists dramatically lit paper collages is to take part in a reenactment of a certain kind, a doubling of experience, where the audience has an opportunity to be in two places simultaneously.
A Joe Bradley painting is many things, but it is not for the dainty of heart. When you walk amongst his canvases you walk through a kind of dream jungle where the meaty atmosphere is mottled and streaked with sinuous filaments that may or may not cohere into something you think you recognize.
I want to tell you what criticism is to me, and why I write it. But first I want you to know how I got involved with art criticism. It was not by design; it was a development that grew out of a basic gut level adoration of art.
An Irish painter and an American art critic form a bond that generates more than 10 years of engagement, culminating in a handsome book of tightly edited conversation. The book moves in places you expect it to, but there are narrative surprises and plays of cleverness built into the design that keep your attention. There is also great humor and the witty intelligence of two canny observers.
Dave Hickey recently published Pirates and Farmers: Essays on the Frontiers of Art (Ridinghouse, 2013), a collection of essays on taste and 20th-century art. The book is threaded with personal tales of insouciance and the opinions of a man who has decided hes through with the art world, but will never be done with art.