Monday, August 25, 2014

Sculpting Tires

Chakaia Booker's latest exhibition Eradication: A Form of Obsession at the Newcomb Art Gallery on the Tulane University campus is the occasion to rediscover the artist, famous for her sculptures made with rubber tires. Following my first exposure to her work at the New Orleans Museum of Art, then an encounter at Art Basel Miami Beach and lately a daily walk by FOCI, an outdoor sculpture located on Poydras Street in New Orleans, I assumed that I knew the artist. After all, what else can be said in the monochrome medium? The conceptual artist's practice has been discussed, analyzed, interpreted and the metaphors about her work abound, alluding to forced labor, industrial revolution, racial differences, scarification,  consumerism, global economy, colonization, social disparities... The artist states her goal in the introduction to the exhibition: " broad, complex cultural transformations can continue to be expressed through common material".
At first sight, the visitor is drawn to a relief sculpture Color of Hope, 2010, a haptic landscape, harmonious construction made of rough material overtaken by curly pieces of rubber resulting in an organic composition, vision of generous opulence and growth surrounded by two intimate, smaller sized wall pieces Misleading Circumstances, 2005 and Masked Appeal, 2012.
The show includes also six sculptures in the round, and the visit becomes an aesthetically pleasing experience looking at Conversion, 2006, a strange animal built with pipes on one side and a rubbery, reptile-like material on  the other, Mixed Message, 2005, black ribbons flowing to the ground, like water out of a fountain, Wrench (Wench), 2001, an over-sized industrial tool featuring a boa feather for a handle or The Nest, 2003, evoking sexuality and birth with its feminine shapes. Privilege of Eating, 2012, goes straight to the point with two shovels representing the voracity of an opulent world  in contrast with the crumbled signs "private property", "no trespassing" embedded in the work, pieces of food carts, a broken door lock, symbols of a deprived world and its resulting marginalization.
The New Jersey hills in Booker's neighborhood are not made of white marble but piles of used tires which have become her medium since the 1990's, bringing analogy to speed, machinery and also pollution. Tearing, cutting, shredding, tugging, carving the tires, the artist's violent gesture to "deconstruct" is  followed by the act of conceptualization and creativity, transcending the material to "reconstruct". The sculptures offer a dialogue between feminine and masculine, roughness and smoothness, wealth and poverty... inviting deeper thoughts, addressing diverse issues with one medium she has transformed into a palette of colors and textures.
What makes the visit at the Newcomb gallery so compelling? The show offers a walk through almost two decades of the artist's practice in a space where the sculptures come alive under the soft natural light diffused through the ceiling and allows to discover the tactility and the depth of the work. An enlightening experience.

photographs by the author:

"Misleading Circumstances", 2005
Detail, "Mixed Messages", 2005
"Industrial Perpetousity", 2001

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

South of South America to P.3

Analia Saban

Analia Saban was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.
Following her undergraduate studies at Loyola University in New Orleans, LA, where she obtained a BFA in Visual Arts (2001), she attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where she earned her MFA in New Genres (2005) and was instructed by John Baldessari 
In her early works, Saban reduced the works of Modernists like Wassily Kandinsky, Joan Miró, and Henri Matisse into individual swatches of color, which she then cut out, copied, and rearranged.
Shes describes her own method of working as both artistic and scientific. She questions the tradition mean of painting, what makes a picture a picture and states: "I find pictures are endless at a micro and macro-cosmic level. I am interested in our relationship to technology, to structures and to architecture around us." She uses a spectrum of materials depending on the idea to be conveyed through the conceptual work. Hovering between painting and sculpture, she explores the potential of canvas as textile, stretcher bars as pieces of wood and paint as clay. She is using laser cutters, silicone molds, acrylic and photographic emulsion to apply marks to painted surfaces.
Her work blurs the distinctions between mediums, using elements of painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, and architecture in a way that reinvents the very process of art-making.
Saban has been included in a number of group shows, including at the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Marco Museum in Spain, and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. 

Solo Exhibitions Her first solo exhibition was the same year while her success was solidified by subsequent solo exhibitions at Galerie Sprüth Magers Projekte, Munich (2007); Galerie Praz-Delavallade, Paris (2007, 2009, 2011); Thomas Solomon Gallery, Los Angeles (2009, 2011) and Josh Lilley Gallery, London (2010).
Bathroom Sink, Etc., Spruth Maters Gallery, Berlin, Germany
Datum, Josh Lilley Gallery, London, England
Gag, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York City, NY
Derrames, 11x7 Galeria, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Dig, Gallerie Praz Delavallade, Paris, France
Grayscale, Thomas Solomon Gallery, Los Angeles
Information Leaks, Josh Lilley Gallery, London, United Kingdom
Light Breaks Out of Prism, Thomas Solomon Gallery@Cottage Home, Los Angeles, California
Living Color, Galerie Praz-Delavallade, Paris, France
When Things Collapse, Galerie Praz-Delavallade. Paris, France
Wet Paintings in the Womb, Galerie Spruth Magers, Projekte, Munich, Germany
Bit by Bit, Kim Light Gallery / Lightbox (Inaugural Exhibition), Los Angeles, California

link to Artspace
link to interview, The Huffington Post
link to Artsy

William Cordova
Artist's Statement:
"My work attempts to reconcile ideas of displacement and transition through the use of ephemeral residue and vernacular architecture that continually shifts and shapes what could be described as our contemporary situation."
Through his installations, collages, drawings and sculptures, he combines discarded materials to reconsider cultural, linguistic and economic differences, translating the reality of lived experience. Having lived in different countries like Peru, the United States, Europe, raised in different cultures, Cordova translates disparity and displacement through his work.
“Revealing the intersections between magical realism and social realism, he orchestrates collisions between ancient and recent histories, oral tradition and revolutionary texts to make way for an in-between, transitional, and ultimately transformative space.” (Rashida Bumbray)

Cordova's solo exhibitions include untitled (chicanas)>, LAXART, Los Angeles (2010); Laberintos, Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York (2009); More than Bilingual, Fleming Museum, University of Vermont, Burlington (2009); Moby Dick, Artspace, San Antonio (2008); Pachacuti (stand up next to a mountain), Arndt & Partner, Zürich (2007); P'alante, Arndt & Partner, Berlin (2006); Drylongso (Pichqa Suyo), P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2006); I Wish It Were True, Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, New York (2006); and No More Lonely Nights, Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami (2003).
Group exhibitions include Neo-HooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith, Menil Collection, Houston (2008); Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2008); Prague Triennale, National Gallery (2008); Street Level: Mark Bradford, William Cordova, and Robin Rhode, Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, N.C. (2007); The Beautiful Game: Contemporary Art and Fútbol, BICA and Roebling Hall, New York (2006); Scratch, Studio Museum in Harlem (2005); and Utopia Station, 50th Venice Biennale (2003).

link to ARNDT
link to Artsy
link to Whitney Biennal 2008

David Zink Yi

David Zink Yi, born in Lima, Peru (1973) is a contemporary artist working primarily in video, photography, and sculpture. He obtained a Woodcarving Diploma at the Berufsfachschule in Munich, Germany, 1995-1998 and studied at the Kunst Akademie, Munich, Germany, 1997-1999 followed by the Universität der Künste, Berlin, Germany, 1998-2003
He currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany.

His work often deals with the idea of the body and stems from his Peruvian, Chinese and German cultural heritage. The artist has an interest in the relation between Latin music, the body and performance and has been quoted as saying the "body is the space and the medium in which the process of questioning of identity takes place."
Over the past few years, David Zink has worked within the ceramic tradition to create a series of sculptures modeled on Architeuthis, the deep-sea-dwelling giant squid, prominent creature in myths and legends.

Solo Exhibitions

2014 Johann König Gallery, ‘David Zink Yi’, Berlin, Germany

2013 Hauser & Wirth, ‘‘Why am I here and not somewhere else – Independencia II’, Zurich, Switzerland Kunstverein Braunschweig, ‘Why am I here and not somewhere else – Independencia II’, Braunschweig, Germany Kunstfenster der Deutschen Wirtschaft im BDI, Berlin, Germany

2012 80m2 Livia Benavides Gallery, ‘Angel, is it you?’, Lima, Peru
MALI Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru
Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, ‘David Zink Yi’, Berlin, Germany
2011 Hauser & Wirth, ‘Pneuma’, New York NY
Midway Contemporary Art, ‘HORROR VACUI’, Minneapolis MN

2010 MAK Gallery, ‘Manganese make my colors blue’, Vienna, Austria
Johann Koenig, ‘David Zink Yi’, Berlin, Germany

2009 Kunsthalle St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland

2008 Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, ‘David Zink Yi. Karl Schmidt-Rottluff Stipendium 2008’, Dusseldorf, Germany
Open Space / Art Cologne, ‘Roma 395’, Cologne, Germany

2007 Franco Soffiantino, Turin, Italy

2006 Johann König, ‘Geschlossen Kurve, bei der für jeden Punkt die Summe der Entfernungen konstant ist. Auslassung insbesondere inmitten von etwas’, Berlin, Germany
Museum Ludwig, ‘Independencia I’, Cologne, Germany

2005 Kunstraum Innsbruck, ‘Der soziographische Blick 12. David Zink Yi’, Innsbruck, Austria

2004 Hauser & Wirth Zürich, ’6 x Yta Moreno’, Zurich, Switzerland
Galerie Johann König, Berlin, Germany
Künstlerhaus Bremen, ‘Alrededor del dosel / Umgehen der Baumkronen’, Bremen, Germany

2003 Galerie Johann König, ‘De adentro y afuera’, Berlin, Germany

link to Artsy
link to MORFAE

Friday, August 15, 2014

Back to the Future

The threatened land of South Louisiana is one of the entities where the frailty of our environment can be physically felt and where Dawn Dedeaux found inspiration for her series MotherShip, a reflection on our planet earth and our future.
Following Aboard the MotherShip part 1: Postulations of Myth and Math which took place at the Centre for the Living Arts in Mobile, AL, the latest exhibition at the Acadiana Center for the ArtsMotherShip 2: Dreaming of a Future Past is displayed in a large space, allowing DeDeaux's work to take its full breath. At first sight, the somber colors give a sense of the prevailing bleak mood. The display can be viewed as a whole installation built from stories told in different media, each occupying a dedicated area like Test Tubes, 2010, related to water contamination and its effect on species, Chimes: Burnt Timber, 2005-2013, made with pieces of burned wood from Dedeaux's own studio or Step Home, 2007, a glowing minimalist sculpture symbol of Katrina's aftermath followed by Falling Junk Space with Shoes, 2013 and Back Pack, 2013, relating to recent terrorist activities carried out through everyday objects. If we feel somewhat touched by the allusions to events that concern all of us, our emotions are stirred by Souvenirs of Earth, 2014, a collection of worn out dusty objects which have lost their function but have gained a symbolic value. An old violin case, a broken toy, damaged photographs, the accumulation of  "things" filled with memories evoke abandonment and loss, allowing melancholy to seep in. Should they be left behind? Should they be part of our future? Questions we had to answer too many times following the Katrina disaster.
Hovering above abandoned farm equipment, rings of metal refer to the now defunct airships Zeppelins. In response to the drought and the subsequent food shortage, MotherShips offer an escape to a few so are the fragile ladders made of charred wood or clear glass spread throughout the exhibition. Wall pieces include figurative portraits like Guardian at the Levee Gate or landscapes like Evangeline, dark digital drawings on metal which heighten the eerie atmosphere reinforced by a few splashes of red, color of fire and drama adding to the apocalyptic vision offered by DeDeaux. Comments along the works help the visitor decipher the symbols: rings for the alliance of man and technology, ladders to reach higher consciousness, horse signaling the end of earthly time and triumph over evil... Our gaze is drawn to the centerpiece, a towering life-size sculpture of a horse perched on a high pedestal, vigorous, dynamic and free. A kind of a conclusion to a stirring exhibition which can be seen from a bird view point looking through the glassed mezzanine.
At the present rate of growth the earth will need to sustain nine billion inhabitants in 2045. DeDeaux brings a sense of urgency, an anxiety born from the numbers and the threat of cataclysms looming over our planet. Future Past resounds like a warning, we already have lost control over our future and there is a sense of inevitability in the artist's gloomy premonitions. Confronted to our powerlessness, her answer is a scenario of escape and abandonment.
A century ago, Futurism was a cry for change, action, filled with enthusiasm as opposed to the recent  statement from the philosopher Félix Guattari: "The future has lost its zest and people have lost all trust in it: the future no longer appears as a choice or a collective conscious action, but is a kind of unavoidable catastrophe that we cannot oppose in anyway."
Is there any hope according to DeDeaux? Is the artist describing realities we choose not to see?

photographs by the author:
Views of the exhibition at the ACA

Monday, August 4, 2014

White Linen Night

Saturday, August 2, I was at White Linen Night. It was a success considering the number of attendees. I did not see art, just got a whiff of it making my way through the crowd. For the 20th anniversary, I noticed more colors on Julia. This is not Saint-Patrick's day, a touch of white won't do, white should be worn from head to toes.

For a start, I visited the Ogden Museum of Southern Art which presents Rolland Golden's works in an exhibition aimed at highlighting his style of "Magical Realism" or as he calls it "Borderline-Surrealism". Born in New Orleans, raised in the South from Mississippi to Alabama to Louisiana, taught by the regionalist painter John McCrady and the owner of a studio/gallery in the French Quarter for a decade, Golden possesses all the needed qualifications to be called a Southern artist. Nevertheless, I had difficulty finding the South in his compositions combining realist and surrealist styles. Figurative, bathing in Fauvist colors, usually built with a quiet landscape in the background and the narrative in the foreground, the repetitive technique brings boredom. French countryside, bridge in Paris, church, southern landscapes are all looking soulless and empty, lacking the mystery and the suspense felt in Magritte's paintings, the Surrealist master Golden refers to in one of his works. There are no surprises while going through the seventy oil paintings, watercolors and drawings.

Encased in a dark room, Shawn Hall's Pastoral Universe is an experience for the senses. Immersed in the cosmic composition, the visitor walks around a central island bubbling like magma, spewing oval sparks of light on the floor and the walls. The installation includes "one mirrored terrain, two suspended projectors and one channel video loop with sound" and the well hidden machinery creates a world of reflections on the walls, through mirrors and projection of images. The meditative piece is spoiled by the number of visitors, chattering and taking selfies. This is not the best time to savor the work.
On the top floor, Shawn Hall is also represented by a diptych for Louisiana Contemporary, the annual statewide-juried exhibition assembling Louisiana artists. Two works from Bonnie Maygarden are prominently displayed at the entrance. Desert of the Real and Greyscale both pieces made in 2014 are evidence of her commitment to the world of "virtual reality" or hyperreality. One can also find a piece from Cynthia Scott, Punditry, 2014, a great satire with punchy images. There is art for every taste, figurative, abstract, sculptures and a walk through takes some time to discover all the artists.
Across the street at the Contemporary Arts Center, more female artists from New Orleans are featured for the exhibition Mark of the Feminine. The themes are enduring and treated through different media, like at the entrance, a work from Vanessa Centeno made with canvas, polyfill, glitter, LED lights, a psychedelic rendition with a provocative title Keep It Up which  made me think of a white version from Yayoi Kusama, 1962, Accumulation #1. Farther, Cristina Molina's  Saber, Sabor, Savor, 2011, is a gallant stereoscopic installation in which she relates twenty five sites with a meal, a romantic text with courtship in mind. From video like the untitled piece from Ariya Martin to sculptures like Annoint, 2014, from Kristin Meyers, all media is represented and no subject is taboo.
My wandering along Julia to visit the galleries was cut short when I got bogged down in the crowd...
an evening to enjoy the company, the food and have a drink like everybody else.

photographs by the author:

view of Julia Street
"Startled by Magritte", 1991, Rolland Golden
"Pastoral Universe", Shawn Hall
"Keep It Up", 2014, Vanessa Centeno

Saturday, August 2, 2014

From South Africa, Uganda to Prospect.3

From South Africa to Uganda, two photographers and film makers at Prospect.3.

Pieter Hugo

Born in 1976 in Johannesburg, South Africa, Pieter Hugo is a self-taught photographer based in Cape Town. His interest in photography started at an early age when he received his first camera at 10 years old. He explains why he has chosen portraiture as his main practice:
"I am six foot tall. I have blond hair and blue eyes. I stick out like a sore thumb in the locations I visit. I quickly realized that the traditional photo-journalistic approach of capturing a fleeting moment wasn't going to work for me. Firstly, my reflexes are too slow and secondly I am not a fly on the wall, I have a presence."
 His is considered a leading photographer in Africa, known for his socially and politically charged works which include depictions of Albinism (2003-2006) to documentation of the aftermath of the massacres in Rwanda in 1994 (2004). His most famous series The Hyena and Other Men (2005-2007) is about
a group of itinerant animal handlers, peddlers and performers he followed during a two years period, living with them several weeks at a time to understand their culture and thinking.
Pieter Hugo professes skepticism toward the "power of photography": "I am of a generation that approaches photography with a keen awareness of the problems inherent in pointing a camera at anything."

Major museum solo exhibitions have taken place at The Hague Museum of Photography, Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, Ludwig Museum in Budapest, Fotografiska in Stockholm,  MAXXI in Rome and the Institute of Modern Art Brisbane, among others. Hugo has participated in numerous group exhibitions at institutions including Tate Modern, the Folkwang Museum, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, and the São Paulo Bienal. His work is represented in prominent public and private collections, among them the Museum of Modern Art, V&A Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, J Paul Getty Museum, Walther Collection, Deutsche Börse Group, Folkwang Museum and Huis Marseille. Hugo received the Discovery Award at the Rencontres d’Arles Festival and the KLM Paul Huf Award in 2008, the Seydou Keita Award at the Rencontres de Bamako African Photography Biennial in 2011, and was shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2012.

Zarina Bhimji

Zarina Bhimji was born in Mbarara, Uganda in 1963 to Indian parents and moved to Britain in 1974, two years after the expulsion of Uganda’s Asian community in the Idi Amin era. She is a photographer and film maker working in London and Berlin.
Zarina Bhimji was educated at Leicester Polytechnic (1982 – 1983), Goldsmith's College (1983 – 1986) and  Slade School of Fine Art, University College London (1987 – 1989).  Following a post-graduate program, she became an Artist in Residence at Darwin College in Cambridge.
In her works, she intermingles reflections on colonialism, global migration, diaspora, persecutions through images referring to cultural memory like dilapidated architectures, abandoned interior spaces and personal narrative. India and East Africa are her sources for inspirations and in Out of the Blue commissioned and produced by Documenta 11 in 2002, she returned to Uganda to film the ruins left by Idi Amin's reign of terror. Yellow Patch (2011) was inspired by trade and migration across the Indian Ocean and communicates the same aura of decay and abandonment. She was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2007 and was the subject of a mid-career retrospective tracing 25 years of her work at Whitechapel Gallery in 2012.