Mark Bradford & Kara Walker
October 28, 2009, 4:53 pm
Filed under: Collaborative, Installation, Painting/Drawing, Sculpture, Video

Sept. 10 – Oct. 17 2009
Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
530 W. 22nd Street New York, NY

I was impressed with these two artists ability to use shape and negative space to create vivid portrayals of misogyny, racism, and violence. Mini-narratives lay everywhere, in text, in image, and sometimes in texture, hidden under a monochrome layer of paint. These paintings and objects were beautifully tied together with videos by Walker using silhouette puppets, paper sculptures, and other media. This exhibit was aesthetically and conceptually intricate and provocative.


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.

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 6, 2008, 1:43 am
Filed under: Art, Collaborative, Painting/Drawing, Video

The Black Estate
February 7th – March 8th, 2008
Clair Oliver Gallery
513 West 26th Street, New York, NY

The Black Estate is an artists’ collaborative comprised of Noah MacDonald and Scott Pagano. I saw this exhibition a few months ago, and I was very impressed by the delicate balance of traditional media and and technology within each piece.

Upon entering the gallery, the veiwer would first encounter Field #2, a HD video loop displayed on a wall mounted flat screen TV. The video consists of a hand drawn ink-wash landscape, delicately animated to portray a gentle swaying of flora, a slow fall of what could be snow (or ash), and a gradually changing perspective. The image is eerily dark, and the borders are feathered to black in a way that distances the piece from its rectangular habitat.

Walking further into the gallery, the viewer would be confronted with Tree, another high definition video; only this time projected onto the far back wall of the gallery. The feathered edges of this piece had an even stronger effect, being that the work was fully incorporated into the gallery space, needing no container whatsoever, transforming the wall into a gateway to the artist’s life-sized, surreal landscape.

Looking to one’s left, one would encounter several wooden video objects with lenses in the top. Through these lenses, several more videos, Float, Bloom, Fall, and Swarm, could be seen. Each of these are also delicately animated, surreal depictions of nature, viewed in a manner that one would view an organism under a microscope.

Along the walls, one could also find a series of pen-and-ink and mixed media abstractions of nature, flora, and fauna.

The Black Estate’s haunting digital depictions of the natural world raise questions of contemporary man’s relationship with his environment. These beautiful, delicate works of art carry a message of the mortality of nature and all of its inhabitants, and a gentle reminder to protect what we have.

In “Stemma,” The Black Estate masterfully combined traditional media with digital technology to create an eerily surreal depiction of the natural world, inviting the viewer both to enter the landscape and to examine it through a lens.