Friday, May 30, 2008

Swatches, Fragments, Paint (and a pillow)

This really excellent show closes tomorrow!

"For Partridges and Wine" 2008

It would be a shame to miss it.

"For Partridges and Wine" 2008 - detail

I am running so behind it seems with these posts lately. Manic May, I need a vacation to get some work done.

"When You Were Mine" acrylic, ink, fabric on canvas 2008

The show is "Torch Songs" at Saltworks Gallery. The paintings and installations of Brooklyn based artist Shinique Smith.

"When You Were Mine" detail

Smith treats pieces of fabric the same as the paint she merges with them, each playing off the other in gestural movements of graffiti-like linework (although Smith says the line work derives from eastern ink drawings, not graffiti) and bright colors. In "When You Were Mine" above, the cut denim and pen drawings are taken from a pair of Smith's jeans from high school, tagged by an ex-boyfriend. Smith reduces the old jeans to shapes and color, echoing the lines throughout the rest of the canvas, and yet the denim charges the painting with a deeper meaning, a sense of nostalgia and memory. Artifacts of Smith's history are spun into something larger, an abstracted timeline of Smith's own emotional connections but can just as easily be appreciated for the formal qualities of the abstract expressionism.

"Strong Enough" 2008

"Strong Enough" 2008 - detail

Smith also uses shredded magazine pages collaged into the work, kind of like this guy except completely different.

"Red Fairy" 2008

Things were taken up a notch with the installation "My Heart in my Hand"

A Washington Post article had this great snippet:

"Her art has come to be about how busy we all are with feathering our nests as thickly as we can. "I think a lot about the urban habitat as nature," she says. If her cloth bundles often look like something from a homeless person's perch in a bus shelter, that's not because she has borrowed them direct from there. (That would be "vulgar and disgusting," she says.) It's because we're all hopeless accumulators, and the homeless simply take that instinct to what Smith terms its "Sisyphean" extreme. "
Though the entire article is worth the read (and there's a slide show).

Kermit has a couple of surprise appearances in the show.

Dice. Can't help but be reminded of Michi and the recurring black tar paint like charred waste.

"There Were Sunday Mornings" 2008

Granted I have an attraction to large swaths of fabric, especially plumes of yellow pouring off a canvas, like the shredded and burned remnants of prom night and your mom's old night gown, but I think this piece is excellent.

"There Were Sunday Mornings" 2008 - detail

Go see it, T-minus 24. Saltworks Gallery.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Synchronized Skimming

"Airs Above the Ground" 2007

Video art is very difficult to photograph

especially when six videos are playing at once and one must resist the temptation to run in circles snapping away at all the moving screens.

That would just be pandemonium and it was difficult enough to form any sort of understanding watching each beginning to end.

"Coming Attraction" 2008

The show is "Tracking Up" at Solomon Projects, the recent work of NYC video artist Janet Biggs.

Biggs' work examines gender, documenting different cultural signifiers and splicing them together. Each video, around 3-5 minutes, was done simply, centering on one, or juxtaposing two somewhat obvious symbols of masculinity/femininity.

"Performance of Desire" 2007

i.e. military cadets

and synchronized swimming girls.

"Enemy of the Good" 2007

A man playing the piano for an empty Santiago Calatrava designed auditorium.

Something about this reminded me of Matthew Barney climbing the walls of the Guggenheim.

"Solipsism Syndrom" 2006

Solipsism (Latin: solus, alone + ipse, self) is the philosophical idea that "My mind is the only thing that I know exists

A splicing of a female swimmer and a polar bear.

At first I thought it was a nude hairy male (Biggs purposefully abstracts the bear) which was really interesting, a representation of sexual unrest or the mating dance.

The bear may have something more to do with aging? or the environmental devastation caused by kids in swimming pools? Polar Bears are going extinct you know.

"Fall on Me" 2006

From the press release, Biggs is known for "often using the image of the horse as an emblem of female sexual sublimation and masculine power. More recently, Biggs has focused on themes ranging from the representation of desire and pleasure, to issues of spectatorship and aging."

This had to be my favorite in the show. Instead of comparing/contrasting two signifiers within one video, such as female swimmers and male military cadets, this video focuses only on the horse and its acrobatic male rider. The relationship between the two is chocked full of innuendos but is not contrived by Biggs, only observed, instead of forcing a comparison, it happens naturally and is more interesting for it. This video harkens back to the excellent "Chamblee" video of high school wrestlers shown at Solomon Projects around 2003.

Show up through July 31st 2008. Check it out.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Czech It Easy

Here's a look at Beep Beep's latest show of pen and ink on paper drawings by artists Zarlacc and Harrison Keys.

The artist had also taken to drawing and painting on the gallery walls, which seems to be all the rage these days, but in this show it worked particularly well, unifying the salon style display of drawings in a wide assortment of frames and sizes. The interior of the gallery space was more successfully activated than I have seen in previous shows and worked well with the "doodle-fun" attitude of the exhibition.


The show is in its last days before Beep Beep's next opening Sat May 31st. Check it while you can.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Waters of Lethe

Richard Sudden "Xin's House"

If you've got a free second, pay a visit to "Xin's House."

Sitting in Susan's side yard, twenty feet from Whitespace, it does not get any more tranquil than this.

The Zennest spot in Inman Park. It's a transportable sanctuary for meditation, prayer, incense burning, picture taking.

I missed the opening, but apparently people were spending up to half an hour alone in here. The opening sounded like an incredible experience, candles everywhere, and an installation that elicited strong emotion from the audience, becoming an almost a spiritual experience for some.

"Xin's House" is a side project for Richard Sudden's show "For the Waters of Lethe," an interesting step forward after his last installation "The Wreathmaker" at Whitespace in 2005. "Wreathmaker" was a political statement about the Iraq war, and involved Sudden creating a plaster wreaths inside the gallery as a memorial for each soldier killed. "Lethe" is both a more personal body of work for Sudden, and also more removed in the sense that the artist's process is not on display but instead the finished works are presented in a sombre yet theatrical display that can be disarming in its dark solemnity.

The theme of the show is based off of the mythical River of Lethe and Sudden's struggle to reach an understanding of his mother's battle with Alzheimer's disease. The show poses the question, among many, "what does any of it mean if you cannot remember the ones you love?"

It's a horrific thing to deal with, if you sit in a dark gallery space and allow yourself to imagine life without memory, or losing someone else to this.

The focal point of the show is a film Sudden created, illustrating a fable of a goddess in love with a mortal and the souls that refuse to give up memory and spend eternity walking the banks of the River of Lethe.

The theme of the river continues in the many kayak shaped sculptures which Sudden created for the installation. Each one is an impressive bit of craftsmanship, the result of having brothers and a father who are all "river runners," and experienced in making kayaks and canoes.

One of the original plaster wreaths is included in the show, identifying another connection between Sudden's previous and current installations. In "The Wreathmaker" each wreath represented a remembrance and now Sudden is revisiting the complexity of memory itself, from it's mythological definition to various three dimensional representations of the mind's interwoven thoughts.

"Laws of Nature" Vines and Pendulum

And the wreath shape is echoed again in dried vines surrounding a pendulum.

More video is used concurrently with the kayak sculptures to expand the space, coming across as portals into abstracted thoughts or snippets of memory.

Left to Right, "Concept/Gravity," "Nest," "Body of Light," "Winter Solstace"

Nests, hives, branches, weights,


The work is laden with personal symbolism for Sudden


and left up to the viewer to decipher

"Winter Solstace"

or more likely translate into their own understanding.

The adjoining Whitespec space is displaying a series of encaustic on Braille paper pieces by Sudden that seem to be further meditations on the concepts of the installation.

"Waters of Lethe" Encaustic on Braille paper

"Burned" Encaustic on Braille paper

"Leaving Troy" Encaustic on Braille paper

Show up at Whitespace until June 21st 2008. Pictures do it no justice, go check this show out and let me know if your thoughts - I'm curious to hear other interpretations of the cryptic symbolism.