Saturday, February 26, 2005

Back From The USSA

Ok...Back in Montreal, just in time to
reach Nuit Blanche (White Night), an overnight of activities including a fair share of an art related programmation.




I saw between 60 and 70 shows in the last week, which is slightly less than usual
(I usually cross the boundary of 80), which is partly due because of many hours spent walking around the Christo work (I returned 3 times: normal day, wet day, snow day), and also that I lost a couple hours waiting to enter the Dali show in Philadelphia.



I will comment on some shows later on, but here is a rapid selection
(No, I'm not listing them all) that I'm slating under categories of
personal gradings (and a small comment).



The Bad shows (Category of D):


Laylah Ali (Gallery 303): I think she's quitting the political works and aims to move towards the fantasy world of a Murakami, but she's really not quite there yet with these half-assed kid portraits.

Anthony Caro (Mitchell-Innes & Nash): Colored Indus. metal sculpture never looked so dated, like pop songs from the 80's that are trying hard to beat your cool again, but failing. (added this part a week later: I'm especially critical here of the fact that the new works look not much evolved from the older work)

Jack Pierson (Danziger project): Is he really a New York talk-of-the-town? That show bored me, like attempting to make art out of fashion paper works, but coming out in style with a collage outlook that seems to be "designed" to end as subway ramp posters. Cute, granted, but not moving anywhere across surface.

Aleksandra Mir (Roth Gallery): Good intentions from an artist I usually appreciate, but this time these posters and small objects dedicated to the issues of abortion laws didn't look like they are going to reach their goal. A proof that art can be irrelevant.

Richard Wright (Gagosian): I'm sure it took him hours to draw those op-art meets minimalism frescoes for gagosian, but when I'm entering a gallery I need beef,
not the aperitif for a meal that I'm never going to get. These sparsed works seem to
claim a dialogue with Sol Lewitt, but we are in 2005, not 1975. Bring Ackerman instead.

Jason Fox + Richard Rezac (Feature Inc): 80's neo-figurative gone caricatural. Trendy punk painting that is really not my bag of tea. Rezac is a bit more intriguing with his exploration of sculptural motifs borrowed from the decorative world, but it's not going far with works that are so little as being..well, decorative.





The OK shows (Category of C):


Stephen Vitiello (The Project): Whirling slow-paced sounds of birds, pictures of shooted speakers reminiscent of De Saint-Phalle... Really not his best work, but ok for a 5 minutes rest on some shrink's couch.

Monika Bravo (Bruce Wolkowitz): So sentimental and fluffy, I think her statement outdoes her work. She should just write: "my work are moody and etherial video canvases, take it or leave it".

Isa Genzken (David Zwirner): How did the World Trace Center really affect artists?
Sometimes by influencing them doing lazy works like the new Genzken corpus, which looks exactly how I will describe it: Throwing and glueing a bunch of toys and party accessories on a few columns, splashing paint above it, and sticking a few carboards. If you're into bricolage... The architectural towers at the front space are much more interesting.

Steve McQueen (Marian Goodman): Ho stop the fuss will you? Just a bunch of vignettes with an overtly ambitious (read, pretentious) aim at re-telling the story of the world. Come again? I was wrong, these are appropriated photographs from a NASA experiment at launching images of earth life in space during the 70's. But the pace is slow and you just can't expect your audience to sit for 70 minutes on wood blocks. At any rates, still a couple works (or images) worth a curiosity glance (the red film where he's sculpting his skin), if you got at least one full hour of free time.

Barry Le Va (Ica Of Philadelphia): Ohhh that one is not going to be popular. Hermetic mathematical works on paper, with a few examples of his large sculptural sets, that looks like maquettes of micro-minimalist cities. Read a book
about him and see if you care, before attending.

Paul Rubens (Metropolitan): Is this kitsch or what's wrong with me? If you're into preparatory drawings... I think the Daniel lions are the best, this and the last drawings room, including overtly eery scenes of a marriage.

View Eight (Mary Boone): art that is design that is art that is confusing. Why is it always Jorge Pardo who brings the best work in these sorts of contexts? The Bontecou piece seems really out of place. Ambitious statement, but I think the curator should plunge and organize a museum show with major works.

Thrish Morissey (Yossi Milo): Well I couldn't think of a more "ok" show that this one, which prove its point (punning at conventional family photographs), but is not anymore intriguing than what it is: expectable art, "ok" photographic work, worth a few minutes of your glance.



The Really Good shows (Category of B):


Petah Coyne (both at Sculptural Centre and Lelong Gallery): My idea of a "goth" art.
Sculptures that seem to have been made through some sort of heavy ritualization process you're not certain you want to know about. Both dark, tragic, and beautiful. "A new form of beauty", once said the irish performance band Virgin Prunes, and this shows of waxed natural objects if sort of moving into that direction.

Marc Quinn: Oh well, what an easy pun at classical. But yet it functions. Cast of animal carcasses, if that is going to be one end that Quinn will finally reach through his art. For the moment it still looks fresh.

Log Cabin (Artists Space): One trend of the 80's that is often missed is one good queer related art shows, and this young curator is fulfilling our hunger adequately.
A few very fun works (including a perky comparison of tv biographies between Doris Day and Rock Hudson), and the intrigue of adding that majestuous "Empire" long-run video by Paul Pfeiffer.

Cy Twombly: I have a HARD time with this work. Yet I understand this guy's drama: being at the conjecture of loving abstract yet being confronted by its enemies the minimalists. This show is an intertesting theoretical experience, but at this point you will feel like making your own work at home. Let say someone HAD to do this work and CLAIM these statements, and so Twombly did it, and that was it. The late abstract flowers charm a lot of people in the ar crowds.

Fillipo Lippi To Piero Della Francesca (Metropolitan): About 50 works spanning the Florence and D'Urbino art flourishment in the years surrounding 1450. Quite a short trip but really worth it, especially for the demonstration of early treatments of architecture and background details. The work is mostly religious but average technical skill is fabulous and you will be astonished how the colors and textures of the paint seem so fresh after so many years. Go, really.

T.J. Wilcox (Metro Pictures): You saw the major portion of these at the last Whitney Biennial, but here slated each one with their own projectors, the works are much better served. They are loops ("garlands") of short silent films covering similar topics from one project to the other, poetic documentaries and micro-manifestos. Using both found footage and personal shots of objects or animals, these films present short and seemingly banal fables that flirts with philosophical or political essay. Charming.

Surrealists USA (National Academy School): Just a survey, presenting mostly paintings, and covering the influence of the surrealist movement unto american art,
specifically past the great world wars. Sort of a you-name-it collection, with all the big names present, including some of the originals that moved to USA (Dali, Breton, etc..), and that at the least provide with great education if you get tired of watching all these pictures of dreams gone wrong.

Felix Gonzales-Torres + Joseph Kosuth (Andrea Rosen): Actually, the square floor of liquorice candies from Gonzales-Torres was really lazy for a continuation on his past work, but Kosuth saved the show by his comparative study of literature quotes, journal news articles, and comic strips. A great experience with synthesis.

Wolfgang Volz (Chelsea Museum): don't miss this opportunity to see some other Christo projects magnificently photographed by their personal assistant. The extra landscape works are sometimes lavish, especially the nice shots of russian country.

Logical Conclusion (Pace Wildenstein): 40 Years Of Rule Based Art: a museum worth trip around minimalism and conceptual art, both presenting art from the roots of these movements, and art that was influenced by them. Quite a varied show, presenting mostly works from the usual gallery roaster. They built a few extra walls so expect a packed show, featuring works from Judd, Lewitt, Nauman, Darboven, Holzer, Koons, up to odd additions like Andrea Zittel or.



The Excellent/Fantastic shows (Category of A):

Dali (Museum Of Philadelphia): believe it or not, I underestimated the influence of this artist. I didn't know that pop art and even minimalists are probably coming directly from the guy. Here is a true master, and a must-see show on your year-list, even if you think like me that it is going to be so predictable and annoying that his name gets on everyone's lips again for a while.

Cory Arcangel (Deitch): The new art is punning at the core of digital. This is your top cool-du-moment show, and it will entirely rock your fun. Why this obsession with Mario, specifically? The show doesn't make much more sense than a moustache, but who needs a moustache to make sense anyway, when it's already so entertaining.

Elena Dorfman (Edwynn Houk): Quite emotionally strange photograhs of people living with plastic dolls. Don't expect to simply laugh, it goes much psychologically deeper than that. An artist I'm discovering, but this project is really fascinating and I can't wait to buy the accompanying (french) book, coming out shortly.

Tim Hawkinson (Whitney): One of the top best show in New York presently, featurings many corky, geeky, obsessive artworks, including sculptures made of toenails or hair, or involving insane mechanisms replicating the artist's signature or creating a beatbox out of water drips falling on buckets. I have not even mentioned all the personal body topographics yet, but I'm sure you're already running to see this as I speak.

Norma Jeane (Swiss Institute): You can't be indifferent to a motorcycle rumming at you as closer you approach it, or to a sofa that emanates sexual pheromones. A quick but perfect little (but noisy) show in Soho, entirely worth the detour.

Kim Keever (Feigen Contemporary): the lost romantic lanscapes are re-found at the bottom of dirty old aquariums. Simply amazing.

Christo (Central Park): You've heard enough, right? Yes it's this breezy crazy thing in Central Park that formulates an orange corridor under great winds. If there was ever a work that communicated an impression of abundance, when most art concentrates specifically on the rare and unique, that was it.

Sarah Lucas (Barbara Gladstone): So disappointingly simple, but an impressive re-take on the premiss of arte Povera to reflect on issues of gender tensions, more specifically on the woman body and its constant objectification. Is this feminist art? I don't know. I think of it as sort of a pornography of the banal.

Eugene Meatyard (International Centre Of Photography): Weird photos made in the attic with your kids never looked so artistic. A fine retrospective of his "constructed" world (specifically, his "romance" serie), but a couple other ackward shows as a bonus (the collection of prostitutes photos from a certain Mr. Bellocq, and a quasi embarassing show about racism featuring mostly white artists).

Rudolf Stingel (Paula Cooper): A show more important than being discussed, and that will pass unspoken for. The artist transformed the gallery into a supreme white cube, adding a gigantic painting of the gallerist (replicated from a Robert Mapplethorpe photograph). The gallery gets dirtier as visitors pass by. I think you should go and decide for yourself what statement or issue you think the work is pinpointing.

Sarah Anne Johnson (Julie Saul): a wall patch of photographs depicting canadian forest campers and workers, intermixed with images of the same subjects made with wood dolls, in pittoresque micro-sceneries. Quite an interesting approach to sculpture. Or photography. A great discovery.

Jun Nguyen Hatsushiba (Lehmann-Maupin): Performance art made under the sea and presented on videos in a clubby danceable format. One of these piece featured some sort of common respiratory geometric structure that some kids were holding. I thought that was neat.



Ok...that will be enough for today.

The show I missed the most was a Leigh Bowery survey, but I had to cancel
a few video shows (Bowery included a few films), because after the Steve McQueen experience at Marian Goodman, I realized they take a long time to visit and are not necessarely the best art.



Cheers,


Cedric Caspesyan
centiment@hotmail.com

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

sooo provincial and boring your new york experience, that is....

March 17, 2005 at 7:00 PM  
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