Sunday, January 31, 2016

Landscapes of the Mind

“I am letting the energy control me.
Dale Frank

The Australian Dale Frank is arguably the most literate of his country’s artists whose work’s titles have grown from narrative inspired names for his abstract paintings into short stories in their own right.

Like his 2005 painting (see above) I was sent off to find an 18th century diamond brooch, dressed in a donkey jacket and cement-dusted workman’s boots. He understood the past, whereas today’s brilliant butterflies who dine out talk only about the new and know only about the future of their art portfolio’s pricing structure. Their lead shoes are very much in need in the light gravity-less atmosphere.

It is from a series of experimental works that Frank began in the 1990’s using varnish, pigment and gravity along with additives like lighter fluid and turpentine to create his best known works.
About which the art critic Ashley Crawford has said “Despite the ultra-literal titles, these works were anything but; they were actually a carefully orchestrated maelstrom of colorful, viscous varnish – violent and cathartic, and often very beautiful.”

At the age of 16 Frank was awarded the Red Cross Art Prize and three years later he succumbed to the antipodean cultural cringe and headed off to Europe and the United States to successfully pursue an artistic career. After a decade fliting about overseas Frank developed an aversion to flying and returned to Australia to permanently settle in rural Queensland.

His oeuvre was wide ranging including performance, drawing, painting, photography and interactive installations before settling on his ‘Varnish’ paintings. Paintings that are inspired by the Australian landscape seen through a 21st Century urban filter that turns them into landscapes of the mind.

As he told Melbourne’s Age Newspaper in 2003 "If people broadened their perceptions of what landscape is, and the history of Australian landscape painting, they would be able to embrace what is, on the surface, non-representational art as landscape instantaneously. To the average person, landscape is non-representational, it is an abstract concept… Viewing the landscape from the freeway is a product of the need to get from A to B. The work over the last two years is non-representational, is abstract, is landscape. The titles in this show refer to specific locations, incidences and journeys in the vicinity and environment in which I live… The colors are not the 'wide brown land'. The colors are the extreme desperation and boredom of passing down the Warrego Highway, passing the Red Elephant Fruit Barn, passing Schultz's Highway Meat Tavern, the Plainlands Welcome Hotel - the landscape that Australians are familiar with. Not the suburban or city landscape, and also not the country landscape. It's none of the actual definitions of a genre."

Frank’s current exhibition Sabco Peroxide is on show at Sydney’s Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery until the 13th of February.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Political Pop Prints

I am engaged with my work at all the varied stages of making from the spark of an idea to the opening of the gallery door.
Leslie Friedman

Last year the Philadelphia based artist Leslie Friedman exhibited her work Art Basel Miami for the first time. But it was not at a $50,000 booth in the main hall but at a satellite venue; the soon to be demolished, derelict Ocean Terrace Hotel with the more modest cost to play of $250.

Along with 40 artists and collectives from around the world, Friedman converted one of the rooms into an installation of prints wheat-pasted to the walls which will remain in situ until the wrecking crew moves in.

As she told News Works’ Peter Crimmins "I do a lot of site-specific work, and I hate deinstalling them. The idea I could do something and not have to take it down was just too delicious to ignore… I hear about artist-run spaces, and to actually meet these people and be working together to turn this hotel into something that looks like art, not decay, was really magical."

Away from the mega million-dollar signature world Friedman pursues her pop art aesthetic of bright colors, repetition, text and recognizable images of celebrities to conduct an exploration of print, pattern, and multiples through large scale installations.

As she says in her Artist’s StatementAs a student of both art and political science, I am intrigued by the power of a visual vocabulary to set the stage for political dialogue.  I see my role as a visual director employing both fine art and industrial methods.  Screen-printing offers a seamlessness that allows imagery to be peeled away from its original sources and built into something else altogether.  What is thus constructed is a fantasy world that combines identifiable elements from the everyday with my own over imagination, often resulting in a funny perversion of a “what if” game.”

About which The Talbot Spy’s art critic, Mary McCoy, wrote in 2014 “Friedman is less concerned with the aesthetics of art than with the ways we communicate and build our belief systems. Her in-your-face look at consumer culture’s passion for overstimulation and vacuous pleasure is fairly predictable, but it offers a cursory nod to the fact that in a world of titillating underwear ads, graphic news videos and online pornography, art long ago lost its power to shock.

Friedman’s current exhibition Vivianus is on show at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts until the 26th of June.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Living the Dream

“I do not paint to resolve my feelings, but simply to express them.
Song Yige

Song Yige is a Chinese painter who imposes a nostalgia for childhood upon an eclectic range of subjects drawn from the everyday.

As Song told the art critic and writer Iona WhittakerMy metaphor for the choice of subjects I make is that of a department store. When I choose a subject for my work, it comes from my eyes and instinct. I am simply drawn to certain things, just as you are in a shop. I usually favor architectural environments as settings for my work because it is more suitable to represent a locked-up, closed, lonely feeling. I have painted a few natural scenes, but not many. It is not that appropriate to what I’m trying to show. I often paint old, worn, everyday objects because I feel that these things have a story and a history. I like that; I rarely paint new things.”

And whilst mostly depicting the well-worn a certain childish wonder adds an extra dimension to Song’s works.

About which she says “I like to present my memories from childhood, so some images from that time feature classrooms or the streets I frequented back then. When I was a kid, I thought these places very big, wide and open. But later, I moved out of the city. When I returned I had grown up – I drove my own car. I discovered I could not even drive down those same streets, for everything was too small. I want to represent in my paintings the childhood feeling of things being much bigger and more empty. To some extent, my work is autobiographical.

Becoming an artist is the realization of the reclusive Song’s childhood dream. With her parents often absent Song pursued her interest in drawing with a dogged determination.

As she told Sotheby’s Eye on Asia BlogAll children love sweets, but I’d give up sweets for watercolor brushes and drawing papers.”

After graduating from Shenyang’s Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts the 27-year-old Song moved to Beijing to continue the pursuit of her dream about which she says “Sometimes creating art is a delight, sometimes it’s tough. Being able to successfully manage an artwork to completion is such a joy.”

Now eight years later, on the occasion of her first European exhibition, Song told Luxury London’s Katy Parker “I have worked to develop a style of painting that is distinctly my own with a strong visual identity. I am very interested in classical ideals of representational painting, as well as evoking Western figurative artists – though this influence is subtle.”

Song’s self-titled exhibition is currently on show at London’s Marlborough Fine Art until the 27th of February.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Forming Experiences

"What you see determines how you see it.
Mernet Larsen

For the American painter Mernet Larsen the content of her paintings is paramount in the depictions of the everyday scenes she commits to her canvases. From shopping at the mall to working out at the gym, from attending committee meetings to reading in bed, Larsen’s geometric figures placed within her unique perspectives are origami like analogies of the remembered activity.

 As she told the Huffington Post’s Priscilla Frank “You're always observing things from the outside. And I wanted you to be in a situation, where you were more involved in it. So, what I use are these perspectival ploys -- diverse perspective, parallel perspective… You're always sort of moving around inside the painting; you can never quite figure out where you're standing, so you kind of absorb it.”

Larsen obtained her Bachelor and Masters in Fine Art in the 1960’s when abstraction was the rooster in the art’s barnyard. But she was more interested in expressing her life experiences.

About which she has said "I was kind of discouraged about art because, at that point in time, art was very much abstract expressionism, period. Very academic, very intellectual… "I remembered having the thought that I didn't want to express myself through my art. My life was fairly mundane at that point; I was living at home. So I didn't want to express my life, I wanted to give meaning to my life. It had to be a constructed thing. Also, I wanted to make it from my experiences. I didn't want to do something abstract, and I didn't want to deal with intellectual issues.

And it is these experiences and how they are perceived that inform Larsen’s work.

As she says “The content determines the form. The way I saw cows, for example, was really different from how I saw a sofa in my living room at home. So I started concentrating on one item at a time and thinking -- how will this make me work? I did my sisters jumping in the living room, dancing to the music. I did aquariums, I did the insides of cars. Everything that I did and focused on gave me a different way of working. I had to accommodate my way of working to those things.“

About which she has elaborated, saying “People often look at the works and say, "Oh, these look like computer generated images." But if you look at them, they have no system like that. There's no adherence to anatomy. The structures give you enough clues to think they're conventional figures, but when you look at them, they're not. They're just structures. They're structures that work in an analogous way to people and situations you recognize, but they get at some more essential quality and they also defamiliarize with conventions. You are able to see them in a fresh way, hopefully."

Larsen’s current exhibition Things People Do is on show at New York’s James Cohan Lower East Side gallery until the 21st of February.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Letting the Figurative Out

“For these pictures to look so simple takes a surprisingly long time
Aaron Kasmin

The British artist Aaron Kasmin considers abstract and figurative painting to be intrinsically compatible with each other.

As he told Wall Street International in 2013 “Although my work is known for being abstract I have also made figurative still life drawings, though until now I have kept them private. But really the chasm between abstraction and figuration is not so huge, because one is dealing with the same concepts - composition, scale, size and color. It is just the finished pictures that are radically different."

Kasmin is comfortable with these different appearances because his underlying desire is produce work that provides an aesthetic journey for the viewer.

About which he says in his gallery biography “What I am trying to convey in my work is the pleasure and beauty of looking. I compose small images which play with scale, balance, space, colour and harmony. I enjoy the idiosyncrasies of the freely drawn line. The mood and character of each work is determined by the imperfections of the human eye recreating and interpreting exactly what is in front of it.”

An interpretation that has seen the Chelsea School of Art trained artist, now in his early fifties, allow his still life drawings of everyday day objects out of the closet.

As he told the Elephant Magazine’s Emily Steer “I have had quite a few shows recently of still life drawings. I love working with chalk pencils because you can mix the colors with a high degree of sophistication. The effect of these pencils seems to evoke a beautiful vintage quality.

A quality that Kasmin has enhanced through his choice of subject matter in his latest series of works.

About which he has said “The work I am showing is all inspired by my collection of American feature matchbooks which had their heyday from the 1930s to the 1950s. I have been collecting these matchbooks for a number of years and have managed to integrate them in to my work. The subject matter is incredibly diverse, ranging from advertising laundry services, bakers, kitchen outfitters, paint shops and restaurants to nightclubs… I love the way these small ephemeral objects portray American life and the perceived glamour of its time. Smoking and drinking were represented as cool and sophisticated–these match books remind me of the novels of Raymond Chandler and of films starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. They could easily be found in Some Like It Hot! I just wanted to celebrate these little master works and bring them to a wider, new audience.”

Kasmin’s current exhibition Lucky Strike is on show at London’s Sims Reed Gallery until the 5th of February. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Unable to Ignore the Political

“People call me a Syrian artist, but I prefer to be considered as an artist.
Tammam Azzam

In 2011 the Syrian born mixed media artist Tammam Azzam was forced to abandon his home in Damascus and relocate to Dubai by the civil war that embroiled the country.

As he told Toute La Culture’s Melissa Chemam “After seven months into the Syrian revolution, my wife and I felt it had become impossible to continue living there. Most artists were struggling and I have a young daughter that I could not put to school. The gallery that I work with moved to Dubai and they asked me to come with them. I decided to move, after consulting my wife.”

It was in Dubai that the University of Damascus trained painter embraced digital media as his main form of artistic expression.

About which Azzam says “I [had] become familiar with graphic programming, especially since 2002, but the first time I used it as an art media was in Dubai. I had left my studio behind me and I felt like so much was missing. In another city I had to start another story. At first, there were so many difficulties just to find a home for my family and a school for Selma, my daughter, and I needed to find work. I concerted my work in graphic design and settled a mini studio at home. That’s how I started working with digital media.

Azzam’s 2013 lightbox work Freedom Graffiti (see below) from his Museum Series, works that superimposed European masterpieces on the destroyed streets of Syria, went viral on social media. “The scene comes from a picture of Douma, a small city near Damascus, one of the cities where the revolution started, and which has been destroyed completely since,” he states.

Rejecting the label of political artist, Azzam identifies with the people overwhelmed by events over which they have no control; the frustrations of the “Everyman”.

As he has said “I’m an artist who came out of this political background. I’m not producing posters against a dictator or a regime, but artworks about people, which is the main purpose for me.

Azzam’s current exhibition The Road, which highlights his return to painting, is on show at Ayyam’s Dubai gallery until the 3rd of March.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Ideals of Childhood

“The view of life I communicate in my pictures excludes the sordid and ugly.
I paint life as I would like it to be.”
Norman Rockwell

It is said that there is wisdom in crowds and should this be the case then the artist/illustrator Normal Rockwell who the New York Times’ Deborah Solomon described in her 1999 article In Praise of Bad Art as “Mr. Sentimentality” must be in the pantheon of American greats.

From the 321 covers he painted for The Saturday Evening Post over a 50-year period to his later works for Look Magazine, Rockwell’s name and his art were the hallmark of American illustration. And even today nearly 40 years after his death, Rockwell is honored with a museum dedicated to his art in particular and illustration in general, his original paintings command millions at auction and his exhibitions break attendance records at the museums who show them.

Rockwell was a city kid who loved and idealized country life and small town America whose values infused his work.

As Vanity Fair’s David Kamp relates from Rockwell’s memoire “In the city we kids delighted to go up on the roof of our apartment house and spit down on the passers-by in the street below. But we never did things like that in the country. The clean air, the green fields, the thousand and one things to do … got somehow into us and changed our personalities as much as the sun changed the color of our skins.”

This desire to be a better person, to embrace the myth of American values that underpins the country’s belief today in its exceptionalism, inspired Rockwell’s work.

As he further says in his memoire “Maybe as I grew up and found that the world wasn’t the perfectly pleasant place I had thought it to be I unconsciously decided that, even if it wasn’t an ideal world, it should be and so painted only the ideal aspects of it—pictures in which there were no drunken slatterns or self-centered mothers, in which, on the contrary, there were only Foxy Grandpas who played baseball with the kids and boys [who] fished from logs and got up circuses in the back yard… The summers I spent in the country as a child became part of this idealized view of life. Those summers seemed blissful, sort of a happy dream. But I wasn’t a country boy, I didn’t really live that kind of life. Except later on in my paintings.”

New York’s Hyde Collection is currently showing the exhibition Normal Rockwell in the 1960’s until the 3rd of April.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Painting The Digital

“It took this technology 30 years to develop, and we are still apes.”
Ellen de Meijer

It has taken the 60-year-old Dutch painter Ellen de Meijer as many years if not more than the development of the technology that dominates our lives today to achieve recognition within the art world outside of her home country of Holland. And it was an adjustment of her style that brought it about.

From a classical academic style of oil painting de Meijer adopted a deadpan aesthetic for her portraits that includes a nod towards the popular doe eyed waifs of Margaret Keane about whom Tim Burton made the 2014 bio-pic Big Eyes.

Eschewing the sentimentality inherent in Keane’s work, De Meijer explores the tension between the digital and the human with the devil being in the detail of her emotionless figure studies accessorized with smart phones, googles glasses or MP3 players.

As she explained in the press release for her 2015 New York exhibition “The last 20 years we have experienced an enormous evolution mainly driven by technology and the digital revolution. But our human instincts have not changed, despite that our modern society often expects us to ignore these. It’s this tension that inspires my work.”

De Meijer started her career as a commercial photographer but she wanted more, she yearned to express the seen and the unseen. She tried writing but eventually end up as a 28 year-old studying at the Tilburg Academy of Fine Arts. Upon completion de Meijer opened her own art school offering instruction to people of all ages and team building exercises to the corporate world. All the while producing her own work which culminated in a series of exhibitions during the 1990’s in Holland.
In 2010 de Meijer cut back on her teaching to concentrate more on her own work and in 2015 had her first New York exhibition The Digital Divide at the Unix Gallery.

As de Meijer explained to Blouinartinfo’s Anneliese Cooper “I’m trying to make figures that everybody can identify themselves with, so that nobody can walk away and say, ‘Oh, this is not about me, it’s not about my generation.’ It’s a bit of a war inside my head as well, because on the one hand, it’s universal and timeless, and on the other hand, I want to make it from exactly this period of life, in the digital period of life.”

About which she elaborated saying “I’m trying to paint you a picture of the things you know when you’re undressed in your bathroom or your bedroom, and you step before your mirror, and you say, ‘My God, what am I doing with my life.’ The grief you have, the doubts you have about your loves and your not-loves — that, I call the unseen.”
“Then, we have the seen,” she continues. “We have what we want to show, what we need to show. When you step out of your apartment, you’re all dressed up, not only with your clothes but also with your mind. You’re set on going and doing. I’m trying to let you see both.”

De Meijer’s current exhibition Dissolution is on show at Houston’s Unix Gallery until the 15th of March.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Navigating a Life Through Painting

“Cézanne painted cups and saucers and apples,
and no one assumed he spent a lot of time in the kitchen.”

Elizabeth Murray

The American abstract artist Elizabeth Murray focused many of her colorful paintings on domestic objects, the ordinary objects of life, but with an edgy persona that reflected her struggle in the art world.

As her friend and fellow artist John Close told the New York Times “She has been far more important within the art world than she has been recognized to be in general. Part of that is basic sexism. It was much harder for her to get a certain sort of critical attention, and her work didn't go for as much money as the guys'."

A situation that Murray alluded to in an interview with Bomb Magazine’s Jessica Hagedorn stating “You have to be blind not to see that in the world we live in right now, basically men still run things. I hate to continually dump on the white man, but they’re responsible pretty much for our world view.”

Murray was introduced to color at nursery school. She was enthralled by her teacher covering a sheet of paper with a red crayon whilst being encouraged by her parents to draw.

As she tells to story “I drew when I was little. I loved to draw. Both my parents would say to me, you’re going to be an artist when you grow up… My father was a lawyer and came from a show business family. They were lower-class Irish people who came here as immigrants and pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. But their values were not the traditional ones like you’ve got to get married… So when I got a scholarship to go to art school in Chicago, I went up there and thought I would be a commercial artist, like… like Norman Rockwell. See, I didn’t know about “fine art.” I knew Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, and Picasso, but that felt like a whole other rarefied world. But then, the School at the Art Institute was in a museum. And I saw these paintings in the museum’s galleries and it blew me away. That’s what got me. I love to look at paintings. I would say next to making art, looking at it is the thing that gives me the most pleasure.”

But for Murray the doing is the name of the game.

About which she has said “It’s something about the immediacy of moving your hand with this paintbrush full of a color across this surface and watching what you’re doing change right in front of your eyes. You can see the world changing and you’re in control, or not in control, which is where the frustrating elements come in, especially for an adult. Kids just do it. They make their mark and it’s immediate, they’re not judging themselves constantly… Everything is an exaggeration. Nothing is ordinary. All that cultural stuff that you inherit from your family goes into your work.

And painting became Murray’s way of navigating her life.

As she has said “It’s the way I discovered when I was quite young of trying to find an equilibrium in the world, a place where I could balance out the different parts of myself. I think of art as a tool. It saved my life. It’s a way to escape. For a few minutes each day I can count on it, I can get out of myself and lose myself in my work. Most people can relate to that, when they’re doing something they really enjoy doing. And it helps you puzzle out the world, and all its contradictions, all the painful parts, all the hilarious parts. It’s soothing to me. And it’s the only time I feel I know what I am doing.

An exhibition of Murray’s paintings and drawings, Heart and Mind, is currently on show at the Brooklyn Academy of Music until the 15th of February.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Pushing the Photographic Boundaries

“Although I love and come from photography it is not all that I think about.”
Farrah Karapetian

For the Los Angeles based photographic artist Farrah Karapetian the usual photographic concerns of camera settings are a thing of the past as she grapples with the sculptural arrangements she constructs in her studio. From drum kits to reconstructions of riot police configurations Karapetian’s cameraless photograms explore the relationship between photographic representation and reality.

As she told ArtForum’s Megan Heuer “I admire strong documentary photography, but I also want to critique it: Does it really communicate what it was like to be under fire or in a hurricane? I began to try to re-create these scenarios, but without the conventional attitude towards the photograph’s role in history—that it is documentary, accurate, or evidence-oriented.

It's a journey that began over a decade ago after graduating with a BA from Yale University. The 24 year-old Karapetian visited Kosovo to photograph a story her friend was writing for New York’s Metropolis Magazine. It was whilst printing these photographs Karapetian made her first photogram.

As she explained to Ken Weingart Art & Photography Blog “I made my first photogram by mistake after my one and only editorial assignment: a trip to Kosovo to photograph the politics of architecture. I returned to New York from that trip and, printing the images of burned villages, grew frustrated with the difference between the two sites of exposure and slammed a fan down on the enlarging table, mistakenly tripping the enlarger’s light. When something comes between the photosensitive paper and a light, its silhouette is burned into the paper: this happened, then, by mistake, at that time, and recorded of course my current state of mind as much as it recorded the silhouette of the fan on the paper. I liked that conflation of the time and space of exposure, and decided that that’s how I would work from then on, so I stopped using cameras.”

With works that combine both the abstract and the figurative Karapetian employs sculptural and performative means to achieve imagery that refigures the medium of photography.

About which she says “I’ve long been attracted to the marks people make on architecture to express their concerns, in part because the marks I make through photogramming express mine. I now use sculpturally or digitally constructed elements to achieve pictorial and architectural effects that go beyond what found objects or light alone can do. My photograms are planned and constructed up until the moment of exposure, at which point chance intervenes. The resulting image is more of a provocative metaphor than a sober document.

Karapetian’s current exhibition Relief is on show at Los Angeles Von Lintel Gallery until the 20th of February.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Poetry, Painting & Prints

the air straightened on the wall
up and down
the blue stiffened clouds
pull the wind across
the widows
you make to see

Sarah Plimpton

Today, half way through the second decade of the 21st Century, New York City is considered to be the center of the Art World. But it has not always been so. Prior to the Abstract Expressionists, who some 60 odd years ago claimed that honor for the Big Apple, the French Capital of Paris held the mantle. And even today there are many who find their inspiration there.

One such is the American poet, artist and novelist Sarah Plimpton who for some twenty years luxuriated in older European capital.

As the American author Edmund White recounts in his book Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris Plimpton replied to his expressed intention to spend a year in Paris “I thought the same thing. Just one year. Now it’s nineteen years later. It’s really the land of lotus eaters here.”

It was in the early 1960’s that Plimpton journeyed to the city of lights and it was there that she embarked upon her artistic career.

As she explained to Central Booking, the New York Artist’s Book Gallery “When I was in my 20s I moved to Paris and stayed there for 20 years. Although I majored in Biology and went to Medical School for three years, in Paris I made a 180-degree change and started to paint and to write.”

Now based in New York Plimpton continues to write and publish her poetry, make paintings and prints and publish her artist’s books which often combine both her written and visual works.

In 2013 Hyperallergic’s Mary Ann Caws wrote about Plimpton’s exhibition Doubling Back: Sarah Plimpton on the Page and the WallNothing in the Plimpton vision or rendering is localized, nothing is made too much of nor stressed: These are poems and shapes of and about understatement.

Plimpton’s current exhibition Black Light: New Works is on show at New York’s June Kelly Gallery until the 9th of February.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Thoughts Expressed in Paint

“A painting comes into being when ideas and the act of painting coincide.
Ilse D'Hollander

The Belgian abstract painter, who died by her own hand at the age of 29, Ilse D’Hollander is considered by many to be a painter’s painter. D’Hollander’s sparsely intimate compositions rely on her use of subtle tones that betray a highly developed sense of color to draw the viewer into her works. And whilst abstract in nature her works allude to the mundane, the everyday ideas provoked by her interaction with the Flemish countryside which she felt compelled to share.

As D’Hollander is reported to have written “When referring to ideas, it implies that as a painter, I am not facing my canvas as a neutral being but as an acting being who is investing into the act of painting. My being is present in my action on the canvas.”

The New York gallerist, David Nash, has quoted her as saying in a 2013 introduction “It is painting itself that always remains fundamental; with due regard for the person who is painting. The viewer who turns his gaze on my paintings remains even more fundamental.”

Ironically after her death in 1997 her work was rarely exhibited, held back from the public gaze by the executors of her estate until recently. An act that diminished the painter’s execution of her work.

For as the Faculty of Fine Arts, University College Ghent’s Helena De Preester wrote in her essay Investing in the Act of Painting: Ilse D'Hollander and the Question of Painting “D’Hollander emphasis that she acts and the viewer watches; and that both are equally fundamental, she does so because the viewers act of looking is accomplished in the trace of her movement, and in the way the viewer’s vision resumes and accomplishes her vision.”

An exhibition of over 60 paintings and works on paper by D’Hollander is currently of show at New York’s Sean Kelly Gallery until the 6th of February.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

About Photography & Masculinity

“My work is sort of a soundtrack to my life.
Russell Young

For the British born photographer turned artist who currently resides in the United States, Russell Young’s near death experience with the H1N1 flu virus in2010 saw him complete his break from the photographic medium.

After leaving the Exeter Art College Young became a celebrity photographer in the music industry working with such notables as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, George Michael and David Bowie amongst others. He also directed over a 100 music videos for MTV before moving on to make his own work.

As he explained in and ArtNet video interview “I have been painting my own paintings for maybe 10 or 20 years. Ever since I was a kid I’ve wanted to be an artist. So as the jobs got more corporate and less creative; I think that’s perhaps why I fell out of love with the music industry. There was just no creativity any more. It’s all about just selling one person’s view point of it and it was normally the Marketing Director who normally had everything wrong.”

After a month’s contemplation in Tuscany the 40-year-old Young decided to make his own work. Working within the silk screen process Young used found photographs with a mug shot aesthetic to create his Pig Portrait series; his first critically acclaimed works. This was followed by his Fame + Shame series; a portrait of America as seen through the eyes of a working-class English youth. This was followed by his Dirty Pretty Things series were he added diamond dust to his prints.

After recovering from his near death experience in 2010 Young moved on to using a wide variety of mediums to create works that explore masculinity.

As he says “I’m using linen oil/enamel, I’m using in a sense iron, seawater and rain to create the paintings. It’s all about the process, they’re very big, dark, masculine in the sense from being sick, being so frail. I’ve really embraced the masculinity of painting and being a male painter.”

The current exhibition of his work Forever Young: A Retrospective is on show at Florida’s Polk Museum of Art until the 27th of March.

Monday, January 04, 2016

An Ambiguous Abstraction

“What keeps us going is the questions and not the answers.”
Ulrike Müller 

The Austrian born, New York based contemporary artist Ulrike Müller works across a range of mediums that include performance, video, publishing, textiles and painting that is not limited to brush and canvas in which she adopts an ambiguous stance where her political heart is worn upon her artistic sleeve.

As she said about her 2015 exhibition The old expressions are with us always and there are always others “My paintings are part of the desire to imagine and to practice alternatives to traditional gender roles and lifestyles.”

A point underscored by the exhibition’s curator, Manuela Ammer, who wrote “Müller uses abstraction as an idiom that can be figuratively appropriated, emotionally charged and politically connoted—depending on the context and the viewer.”

A graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York, Müller is currently a professor and Co-Chair of Painting at the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.

In a North Drive Press conversation with K8 Hardy, Müller said “I think I’ll always be an ambiguous person, and I’ll work from that position of ambiguity... it’s all these things that I can’t really understand, and I still have to talk about them. I have to bring them up, but I can’t really resolve them. I’m going to talk about them as long as I can’t resolve them, and I suspect that I’ll never be able to resolve them. At the point that I’m able to resolve them, I’ll shift my practice to something else... One thing that I understood is that to be ambiguous means to be passionate, it means to be torn between two poles… Both of them are exciting and interesting, and you feel an attraction both ways, and that’s a tension. I’m interested in tension.”

A position she reiterated in an editorial for the feminist genderqueer artist collective’s annual independent art journal, LTTR, stating “Now I find myself dragged out on stage. I didn’t even have time to check my reflection in a mirror, and I certainly don’t remember my lines. If I ever had any. I am feeling exposed and too self-conscious to charm or seduce. Can you love me anyway? And if so where can we go? I want to be taken and I want you to take me home, but I doubt there is an easy way out for either of us.”

Müller’s current exhibition The old expressions are with us always and there are always others is on show at Vienna’s mumok Museum moderner Kunst until the 31st of January.