Tuesday, September 28, 2021

 Past: Kara Walker

"... silhouettes lacking color were assigned it through expectations of their inhabited shape: Colorless and projected with a hue-as-designation through our own cultural assumptions, achromic yet colored, the metaphors manifold and rife. Now Walker paints in the colors like an assignation, assigning of her own hand what had been ours to.  What is noticeable is the umber never touches its outline, it's held within or smeared on top. The pale fleshes melt, meld with their surroundings, perhaps simply because paleness is considered to be standard, the backdrop, blend into it."

Full: Kara Walker at Sikkema JenkinsKara Walker at The Domino Sugar Factory

Donna Huanca Obsidian Mirror Peres Projects


10 years ago we were all in an anxious tizzy about painting - my god the hand wringing. Only to now have all that skepticism dissipate and we believe in its showroom, with spirit, animism, whatever addendum/dance in front of it? What happened? This is steroidal. A possibility that nothing changed. Maybe all we ever wanted, invented, was new excuses for modernism. New excuses for a new old painting. 

Monday, September 27, 2021

Sophie Barber at Alison Jacques


A mutation, demanded by an increasingly virtual world, plants a flag in physicality, inflated and crusty. New harder forms of materiality required as we personally all desensitize to images. Still painting. (Minus the difficult corpulence of Gina Beavers.) An attempt to give warm tatters to cold images - distressing its denim. (So Wolfgang Tillmans makes sense.) A new nostalgia. A new reclaimed wood, new reclamation of images. Plastic technologies for. It's sort of the moral program of painting to do so. 

See too: Wolfgang Tillmans at Galerie BuchholzWolfgang Tillmans, Gina BeaversMaterialphilia

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Yasutaka Kojima at Yuka Tsuruno Gallery


attempt to give these nonspaces some crown of silver attention, preservation. Not the nihilistic irony of Smithson's New Jersey "monuments" nor the dislocation of internet trend's "liminal spaces." The above attempt nobility, resurrection even. The streets are even cleaned, lacking the usual detritus in sleeping corners (a single remaining cigarette butt is in right angle alignment) nary a wet newspaper or tattered bag and wondering if Kojima sweeps before, or if they're photoshop sparkled. The desire is the same. Many artists trying to deal with these spatial leftovers and Kojima seems interested in remembering it fondly. At the other end, in hell, there's the trend for "Modern Gothic" exacerbating the pain. Merely a difference of temperament. The point is there's an anxiety for everyone.

See too: Modern Gothic

Friday, September 24, 2021

Ilê Sartuzi at Auroras


The reduction of a form to its comical base. At the other end, in hell, they're remaking Scenes from of a Marriage, shiny new, actors so gleaming they may as well be chrome. But the form is one we implicitly understand, a high budget is superfluous. Here given exactly what it needs, no Oursler excitement, just plain dressing, banal life. Not even sure it matters that we can't watch it, we might already know what it says. Scenes from a theater, not a whole pornographic thing. 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Ruben Ulises Rodriguez Montoya at Murmurs

Book title; Elongated Necks: Italian Mannerism through Anime Mech: mutant figuration throughout history. There's some type of desire for a new physicality. More potent forms of body. Harder forms of body. Evangelion EVAs, a mech that bleeds. Transformers, no coherence to their machine, only endless CGI particles. Gore is just a body undergoing process based abstraction. Teratomas. The body goes rococo. Your face goes baroque. Not to even mention the cyborg. An unidentified animal washes up on shore, decomposing, mythical. The mutation on the mutation, an ever growing corpus. Necks selected for desire, lengthening. John Currin comedy. H.R. Giger's sudden high art popularity. Akira: Tetsuo's corpus extrapolates itself. Ballard's Crash, surprisingly sensuous. Biological tech atrocity. Calvin Klein models, their own El Grecoing body. Etiolated males. The Thing.  New forms of body always giving torture of yours.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Simon Fujiwara at Fondazione Prada


It is easy to say what's good/affective about these. It is ideology uncanny, the way the arcade is the cultural mythos machine, made topsy turvy. Fujiawara's production of meaning is a big cartoon factory. Artists blow up a mall, rearrange cultural debris. Edutainment gone haywire: Dr. Frankenstein reanimates a trade show. The ideology of display into comedy for it. Etc. Learning, but like, stupidity is the funhouse of meaning. Which the exhibition was always the factory of, and we ostensibly liked this, meaning, and ostensibly this was good meaning, rather than ideology. But this became two meats hard to slice. The ability to construct meaning itself became the ideologic function of the gallery that its look lended. And here it was in a kaleidoscope. 

"This is how my world looks – diverse, confusing, exciting, incomprehensible, fearful – and I can only make work that is close to my experience. ... And then, from that, how we construct meaning for ourselves now, amid those ruins. Throughout everything we haven’t lost a desire for meaning or belonging but maybe in a ‘post-meaning’ world we can still have a meaningful existence. I’m trying to understand if this is possible or if the search for it is meaningless."

There's no truth here, just the carnival of experience, fun house made from the funhouse glass of cultural knowing, the warbled mirror of art's stuttering experience. 

see too: Simon Fujiwara at Dvir(1), Simon Fujiwara at Dvir(2)

Monday, September 20, 2021

Past: Simon Fujiwara

"Fujiwara's accumulations of content are not the endless permutations of cultural arrangements that make culture "speak," ala Danny McDonald et al. Instead they seem a return to narrative invested in its display systems that constructs that cultural story, history, myth, not just our garbage. Whether or not it actually assembles meaning, it at least looks a little more like it, by rebuilding the structures that construct it."
Fujiwara: "I was teaching in Amsterdam and wanted to take the students to see the house as we were discussing monuments and how ideology translates into material language."
"The Anne Frank House [...] is one of the few places where every mundane detail of a home—door handles, wallpaper, floorboards—transcend their material status and become symbols of tragedy and hope."
"Inside the house, I was told by the guide that almost nothing of the original house remains except for the structure. That the house was only purchased after the making of the first Hollywood film about Anne Frank"

Full: Simon Fujiwara at Dvir(1), Simon Fujiwara at Dvir(2)

Martine Syms at Bridget Donahue


Thomas Hirschhorn also started as a graphic designer, also invested in tape construction, but Hirschhorn sold his fandom of philosophy as philosophy (a Gramsci t-shirt in the form of artwork) which was bogus if endearing. Syms' constructions are less the constructions of phallic monument broadcasting the big self than a collecting flotsam of identity, the graphic ring of scum clinging each our cup's rim. The debris of culture, a collective identity. This is our stuf. The undigested matter clogging our pipes and our consciousness. This is afterall the post-Harrison/Genzken aftermath. It's all a bit Unmonumental, which like Maggie Lee, an interest in the becoming stage, self-consciousness and construction. We become the diggers, forced investigators, of our own world. 

See too: Martine Syms at Human ResourcesMaggie Lee, Thomas Hirschhorn 

 Past: Martine Syms 

"Proposals for a radical graphic design often denotes expensive fonts and overlaid text, merely beefing up the intensity of its devices whereas a real radical design would be one which self-exposes the mechanisms of its influence. There is a lot of very unradical graphic design in museum exhibitions whose stark posters and mild conceptual parameters stand in for radicality by being visually and thematically aggressive. This isn't now to put forth Syms as radical graphic design but that a graphic design actually filleting itself probably wouldn't look like graphic design at all and within Syms' claims to be a designer in the visual production of identity is at least closer."

Past: Martine Syms at Human Resources

Sunday, September 19, 2021

 Past: Nina Canell

"not entirely convinced art's absorption of the technologic look isn't simply a means to bring something it doesn't understand into a realm it does in order to feel some small control over it. Let's face it, the world has moved beyond pretty much everyone, we only get our small corner of it, and it would make psychologic sense to develop pathologies in order to feel control of something you have little over."

Full: Nina Canell at Wien Lukatsch

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Stanislava Kovalcikova at 15 Orient


The "creepy changing painting" - behind your back the camera reveals portraits melting to skulls - another horror trope situating art as haunting metaphor. The trope literalizes the living-dead presence of subject, held suspended in oil, an undead thing. Portraits were always slightly creepy, and this was the hamfisted cinematic realization of that. Portraits "go creepy." Painting was always spooky magic. Conjuring souls before mechanical reproduction. And painters at pains to make some sort of twist on the corpse, acknowledge dead things. Richter drained the blood. Tuymans warmed the corpse. Some just blast holes in it. But all portraits acknowledge their corpse maybe, some more so than others. I think there was a Ghostbusters about this.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Megan Plunkett at Emalin


Dear grad students: a history of the concept of "paintings' eyes that follow you" - the "Mona Lisa effect" - literalized in the trope of "portrait painting peephole" - villain's eyes peering out at meddling kids. Essays on Sherrie Levine explain the feeling of being observed. Michael Fried's viewer/actor stage. The anxiety of observing, the anxiety of art, the anxiety of being unable to produce "meaning." Feeling others eyes at "not getting it," a social panopticon appears, "surely this is a joke." The Emperor's new clothes, one feeling exposed. 

Thus the artwork mutates to clue boards, becomes mystery awaiting its detective.

"There is a parallel between conceptual art and murder scenes. ... turning a messy world into object, language, into document. Turn a world's blood and guts into evidence ... Both the detective and the conceptual artist turn the world into a story, relying on aesthetic or truth, it's attempting one that you can get an audience to swallow, convince."

"[Art] is a cultural structure such that [its] prize is "what it is about." ...  there is something to be unlocked, understood. There is something to be won. This is the belief. Even the hardest attempts to slap the viewer with just fucking looking at the thing are always already subverted into questions of what this visceral slap means. Painting begins to be prized not for painting but for this mystery. And a mystery, should it not spoil itself, cannot tell you its answer. A mystery instead must load its objects with intent, clues, an ambrosia of noir, an affect of meaning."

"But you are not a detective, this is not a Clue board."

See too: Michael E. Smith at 500 Capp Street Foundation, “Stories of Almost Everyone” at Hammer Museum,

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Seyoung Yoon at Galerie der Stadt Schwaz


Painting has become a cultural interface anyway, so these make sense, compounding the issue as windows and signs, painting as adverts for painting itself, infographic without info, board without bulletin. But slick affect of tech niceties. What poetry and advert copy have in common, unburdened with having to say anything reputable. "an idea (that sells), that has no corporate use under the corporate surface." Painting after eating one's own tail, disappearing into chimera of surface, the new windows 11 display of painting.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Sean Raspet at Various Small Fires


The cultural image of genetic mutation, a shared fear: three eyed fish, double headed calves, glowing cats, turtle ninjas, C.H.U.D.s. Or its potential, Golden Rice, AquAdvantage® Salmon, a cataclysm resistant earth.  Accurate or not, the point is a shared etherous cultural fear/potential, a readymade collective unconscious understanding, and these are artworks reaching in to press the button on this anxiety. They gesticulate a potential, a possibility that is aestheticized, juiced on techno-minimalism, to create a Rorschach test reflecting all the cultural baggage they can muster. They need not, nor shouldn't, produce any function of their possibility, because in good conceptual art fashion they neuter any aesthetic to be replaced with its potential. They are inkblots.
There are already artworks with GMOs, people paint with proteins modified for fluorescence, but they don't do thing we demand of contemporary art, clip the image and provide a space for projection.  (See too: Trevor Paglen) The potential monster in the closet is scarier than the monster that appears; an unfortunate fact for our cinematic universe is that most IRL apocalypse/advancement turns out looking pretty banal, but the fear/potential is pretty spectacular.

 Past: Sean Raspet

"the latent cultural desire we have for the fantasy of watching the world burn so long as they are sublimated (make us able to believe we would never actually desire to see them enacted) through the filters of acceptable and neutering forms, pop-film or philosophy, and here art."

"Conceptual art’s hinging of itself on the poetics of its functionlessness, even the driest conceptualizations of dead art scrolls were in lineage with a Caspar David Friedrich existentialism ... conceptual art latently filled with men standing before crashing waves of their romantic ideals, positioning art within a cerebral vastness and nothingness. The go-to form of conceptual art now is a mannerist product version of it, sited within minimalist tendencies of theater, ascribing precepts to objects which evoke an endless myriad of poetic feels."

Full: Sean Raspet at SociétéSean Raspet at Jessica SilvermanMarte Eknæs, Sean Raspet at Room East

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Sophie Thun and The Estate of Zenta Dzividzinska at Kim? Contemporary Art Centre


The artist performing the resurrection on the dead artists career. Developing it, an emerging artist from the negative. It becomes a performance. The conjuring itself becomes the promotion, generates visibility, is the career.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Past: Tala Madani

"When Madani's brush smears shit it bears the shiver of actual ... because it feels someone imagine doing it. Reading a story of a murder feels less horrible than finding, even a fictional, a scrawled notebook saying how they would murder. ..."

"The paint - which painting professors will be quick to remind you is just fancy dirt suspended in fats - equates to shit, or cake, or flesh. Light is sprayed like urine. Children bear the face of men, bear the brunt of Madani."

"Conjuring in the virtual theater of imagination's Matrix-like plane ... the drawing of imagination from an abyss, that, like Bacon's claustro-realms, become spaces for enacting and enacted belittlements and torture, and what this means for Madani in psychoanalytic terms is hard to tell ..."

Click here to read full: Tala Madani at secession, Tala Madani at David KordanskyTala Madani at 303 Gallery

Friday, September 3, 2021

Pasiphae at House of Gaga

Pellicer was Metcalf's 4th wife, his third wife was Pellicer's sister (with whom he had children), and this is but one fun fact in lives wildly full of them. Wars, missing fingers, metal smithing communes, Paris, Brando. Surprise no movies have been made. The world is as full of stories as it is of art. This shouldn't feel like competition, but it does. Preserving the art, even good, seems like wrong archaeology. Keeping what we have the showrooms for. 

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Heather Guertin at JDJ


The static noise, floating through low reception airwaves, the bad television of painting history. It arrives jumbled, confused, i.e. the "What we think we see is a creation of our mind’s eye." In other words, an inkblot.

see too: Heather Guertin at Brennan & Griffin 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Past: Jennie Jieun Lee 

"Like an art museum..  a world we see but don't touch. Separated by this glass, both art and porn must find ways to make physical sensation a visual code passable through glass. ...cabinets of curiosities collecting various exotic tokens displayed for enlightened society's pleasure"

Past: Materialphilia 

 Past: David Weiss

"...always tempting fate with their abuse of ideals, their jesting the seriousness life requires, and becoming admittedly bourgeois artists awaiting the comeuppance they teased. ... the eroding flippancy at life, taking it unseriously easy... which through the committee's business-like approach to mass frivolity finally made it the most artless serious business."

Past: David Weiss

Nicole Eisenman at Astrup Fearnley Museet


Recent figuration - or perhaps figuration in the general last-200-years sense - oft used its skeletons as mere armatures hanging style, flesh was merely the tapestry of artistic identity, brand. Aesthetic invention was an artistic rug to throw over scene, this was called painting. The person's face was less representation than stamped by artistic trademark.  Brushwork as logotype. This is so obvious that is becomes part of the myth of art - we identify paintings based on well they showcase the "essence" of the painter. For a minute this is what we all loved Amy Sillman for - the awkward adolescence of artistic development, a becoming before it actually became. 
A difference between cartoons/comics and paintings is that comics ask you to understand them but paintings ask you to identify them. This is all to say that Eisenman seems - even when invested in style - to care about the image more than artistic overlay. This makes them more enjoyable than most, there are "surprises and not strategies." The above painting is basically a medical illustration of such.