Portrait of Silvia Elena
July 24, 2008, 3:01 am
Filed under: Art, Collaborative, Installation, Painting/Drawing

Swoon & Tennessee Jane Watson
May 30th – July 12th, 2008
Honey Space

148 11th Ave, New York, NY

Swoon and Tennesse Jane Watson put this show together to raise awareness for femicide in Juarez, Mexico. Silvia Elena was one the first of hundreds of young, poor women to be sexually assaulted and brutally murdered on their way home from long days working in local factories. The murderers are suspected to be prominent, wealthy men, and the police are suspected of aiding them by being indifferent to the murders or by torturing innocent people until they confess to the crime.

In the main room of the gallery, a shrine was set up on a table, with newspaper clippings and pictures of some of the girls on the wall behind it. To see the main installation, a visitor would have to climb down a ladder through a hole in the floor into a sub-level of the the building. There, among dirt and cinder blocks, one could fine Swoon’s ornately detailed paper cutout portrait of Silvia Elena, lit by candles and adorned with donations. The portrait was accompanied by the voice of her mother, speaking in Spanish, and by the sound of dirt being shoveled off a grave. The sound of the dirt was especially eerie: alone in the sub-level of the building, it sounded like somebody trying to dig their way in or out of the room.

Having to enter the exhibition by climbing into a hole in the ground put the viewer outside of their comfort zone. The sub-level area outlined the isolation of these girl’s deaths, left alone in the desert. Some girls were not found for years; many were never found at all. The mother’s voice conveys the pain that these murders cause not only to the girls, but to their families, who are powerless to seek justice.


Neo Rauch
July 22, 2008, 5:04 am
Filed under: Art, Painting/Drawing

Neo Rauch
May 12th – June 21, 2008
David Zwirner Gallery
525 West 19th Street, New York, NY

“Ambiguous and sometimes menacing, the stories [Rauch’s] paintings tell are retro-futuristic fantasies of a world at once strange and eerily familiar, recognizable not from experience but perhaps from dreams (Carnegie International).”

What I loved about these paintings was the absolute confusion of styles and content. At first glance I thought they were brightly colored realist paintings. Upon further inspection, I noticed that many of the characters looked like they were from the 1950’s, and that many of them were acting out very odd scenes. Slowly I began realizing the extent of the idiosyncrasies in perspective, and almost Dali-like surreal qualities of some of the pieces. I was thoroughly confused as to what was going on, and I loved it. The paintings were realistic, cartoonish, surreal, dark, and comical all at the same time; and they seemed to reference every art movement recorded in history.

According to the press release, Rauch does not rely on existing imagery or preconceived notions for his paintings. The paintings unfold themselves on the canvas, inspired by dreams and experiences, and structured from the artist’s fascination with the figure, work related props, and the properties of paint itself.

July 21, 2008, 12:14 am
Filed under: Art, Sculpture, Video

Jack Strange
June 19th – July 31st, 2008
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
521 West 21st Street, New York, NY

“In his sculptures, drawings, collages and videos, Strange recontextualizes and re-imagines the functions of everyday objects and ideas in a manner that is humorous, clever, surprising and at times revelatory. Creating unexpected relationships between commonplace materials, Strange offers a perspective on their uses that can open up new worlds of meaning. A comparison to Surrealism might be appropriate based on this description, but the unusual juxtapositions in Strange’s work are oddly comfortable, and somehow appropriate. While the viewer acknowledges the silliness of combining a lighting fixture and a coat hanger to make a face, as in ‘Another One Again,’ installed in the side gallery, the materials are easily recognizable in their new incarnation. Sometimes, in Strange’s words, ‘the logic of no logic can be quite logical after all.’ With this sophisticated yet direct approach, Strange makes work that transforms the mundane into the marvelous while both formally and thematically addressing issues of creative identity, repetition, perspective, language, technology, biology and nature (ArtSlant).”

Though every piece was intriguing in its own way, what particularly stuck out for me was ‘For The Greenmen (With The Curst Sons, Alpha, Giovanni Manzini and Mr. Clack).’ Four monitors hung along a wall, displaying a looped clip from Ang Lee’s ‘Hulk” film. Each monitor had a different soundtrack, which he commissioned from musicians, including a 14 year old DJ, a classical pianist, a hillbilly rock group and an electronic noise artist. It was interesting to hear how changing a soundtrack can completely change the mood of a movie, and brought to mind William S. Burrough’s ‘The Invisible Generation,’ which describes in comical detail how what we see can be determined by what we hear.

Vida Apaixonada
July 20, 2008, 4:01 pm
Filed under: Art, Painting/Drawing

Titi Freak
May 16th – Jun 14th, 2008
Jonathan LeVine Gallery
529 West 20th Street, New York, NY

Always a fan of street art, as well as of mixed media, I was very impressed by both style of the work and the presentation of the show. The paintings became part of the wall, seemingly haphazardly placed everywhere, and then integrated through extra scraps of wood and designs painted on the walls. The characters of the portraits stare at the viewer with emotive yet directionless gazes, mostly dressed in street clothes. Hamilton Yokota, the Brazilian artist better known a Titi Freak, incorporates aspects of both his Brazilian and Japanese heritages, creating images inspired by pop culture, street art, and Japanese woodblock prints (Press Release).

July 15, 2008, 3:42 am
Filed under: Art, Photography, Video

Mat Collishaw
June 19th – July 31st
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery (Gallery 1)
521 West 21st St. New York, NY

Mat Collishaw’s exhibition, Deliverance, immerses the viewer into a large dark room, accompanied only by the whir of rotating overhead projectors, delivering frequent lightning like flashes. The flashes create eerie greenish white images on the walls; bright at first, then slowly fading. The images are of people in turmoil; dirty and disheveled, running, holding one another, and crying (Video).

The gallery walls are covered in phosphorescent paint. Where the projectors shine light, the paint glows in the dark, then slowly fades. Collishaw likens this to how the mind perceives images of tragedy in the media; striking one’s perception, then quickly fading from memory (Video).

This clever use of images, space, and materials was very effective. The viewer is consistently bombarded by images. No character can be studied in depth; images of real people in real danger transform into a fantastical dreamscape. As in the media, because of the constant bombardment, and the glamorization of content, what we see does not seem real… even though it is.

Play Offs
July 11, 2008, 11:54 pm
Filed under: Art, Sculpture | Tags:

Dario Escobar
May 22nd – July 3rd, 2008
Josee Bienvenu Gallery
529 West 20th St., New York, NY

“In Play Offs, the artist pursues his ongoing investigation of the semiotics of the object in the arena of sports. Confiscated, manipulated and reconfigured, sport objects stop being part of identifiable structures to become symbols that question the dynamics of power and challenge notions such as competition, success and failure, virility, social status, and national pride.” – Play Offs 2008

In this exhibition, Guatemalan Artist Dario Escobar transforms recreational objects into sculptural forms, in most cases rendering their former functions obsolete. Several crippled skateboards adorn the floor in various contortions, accompanied by tennis balls turned to disks, a flaccid-looking baseball bat, two carved decks of cards, a deformed ping-pong raquet, bike tires clinging to the walls like vines, and pool queues forming a skeletal tepee surrounded by scattered pool balls. Two walls display groupings of baseball bats, individually lacquered with automotive paint, simulating flames commonly painted on cars. On another wall hang framed oil stains collected from leaking cars.

Escobar transforms objects that are revered by society for the excitement and trill of competition, agility, and speed, depriving them of their use and inviting the viewer to look at them objectively.

The Disciples/James and Other Apes
July 9, 2008, 5:43 am
Filed under: Art, Photography

James Mollison
June 12th – August 16th, 2008
Hasted Hunt
529 West 20th St., 3rd Fl. New York, NY

This show was great on several levels; the photography was beautiful, the content of each body of work was interesting, and the juxtaposition of the two series in the same room added a funny twist

The Disciples is a series of photos taken outside of concerts, of fans of various artists. The top image above is of Klaxons fans. The middle image is of Jimmy Buffet fans. Also included were fans of Marilyn Manson, P. Diddy, Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton, and others.

What resulted was a strange classification of radically different types of people, each forming a group identity through clothes and posture. The large size and amazing detail in the images, combined with the subjects’ straight-forward gazes, is confrontational. The frame and the white background distances the subjects from the viewer, making them look a little like specimens in a sterile white room; yet their outlandish attire brings hilarity to the images.

Also being shown was Mollison’s older series, James and Other Apes, which is a series of close-ups of various primates, showing in detail the emotive qualities apparent in their faces. This creates an interesting web of comparison; between the different groups of disciples, between the different apes, and between the disciples and the apes.