Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Zlatko Kopljar 12 September-10 November 2012 Gallerie Isabella Czarnowska 10969 Berlin. by craniv boyd.

Zlatko Kopljar 12 September-10 November 2012 Gallerie Isabella
Czarnowska 10969 Berlin. by craniv boyd.

A man in a stunning shimmering suit. His glowing evening wear emanates
reflected light and he can be seen walking on a train platform at
Warsaw central train station, or in New York in Times Square or
digging a cube shaped void in the middle of the night in central
europe somewhere. This man this artist is Zlatko Kopljar and he works
and is based in Zagreb, his series of K16, K17 and K15 are witty works
of high definition video art delivered by an artist with a supreme
poker face.

What is this man doing walking alone at night over the BQI bridge, or
standing solitary in Times square. He is making or being a work of
art. What is this Kopljar doing when he lays a wreath at a site of one
of the 20th centuries worst atrocities, in a concentration camp in
Poland together with a retinue of actors who are en rôle as background
crowd making the wreath laying ceremony look official and legitimate?
Kopljar is making art, and this work provokes a powerful question
about the individuals responsibly to think about the Holocaust and its

K16 is by far the most mysterious of the video works because the act
of digging is central to it, and the shape is of a hollow black cube,
pregnant in its numerous associations, for instance for the Islamic
world, but also of course for the sub culture of high culture, modern
art practice being made in the current day. by craniv boyd.

Ai Weiwei in New York Fotografien 1983-1993 Martin Gropius Bau 15.10.2011-18.3.2012. by craniv boyd.

Ai Weiwei in New York Fotografien 1983-1993 Martin Gropius Bau
15.10.2011-18.3.2012. by craniv boyd.

Arguably one of the better exhibitions that has occurred in Berlin for
some time was the exhibition of photographs taken by the Artist Ai
Weiwei during his ten years of study and residence in New York city.

During the years that Ai Weiwei lived in New York, there was much that
was not good, clean and Disneyland. Much of his photography of the
period shows this gritty side of downtrodden or rather subaltern
pending your inclination, along with the community of poets and
intellectuals that Ai Weiwei surrounded himself with in those years of
which notably Allen Ginsberg.

Much of the images are student work, but to write this fact is a
disservice to both Ai Weiwei, and students of art in New York city,
because what is demonstrated by his long standing process of taking
analog pictures is a commitment to art and art forms, living for the
contemplation of art, and contemplation of art as a way of living life
well. Hard things to achieve by taking a few snapshots.

Predominantly; Weiwei sets up many of his prints as pairs couples and
leaves the sprockets of the Eastman Kodak Tri-Ex film stock apparent
in the final print of his images, hence the pairing and from the
artist, imposed binary structure Weiwei develops a signature print,
and a specific look to his art photography. by craniv boyd.

Julian Schnabel Deus ex Machina

Julian Schnabel Deus ex Machina
28.April-28 Juli 2012,
Contemporary Fine arts Am Kupfergraben 10 10117 Berlin,
by craniv boyd.

A powerhouse of an exhibition was to be seen this past summer in
Berlin, Germany.
It was of recent paintings by the renowned artist and film director
Julian Schnabel. All of the paintings adopted an extra large format
and two works in particular took on portent of the myth of the United
States of America and the countries nascence in a funky way that
included: purple stain painting that could look like a haze of purple
gas for some "experienced" folks, a stuffed albino buffalo set against
a kabuki-esque backdrop of great generals wiping away their tears with
the union flag, and of course a toy soldier looking General Washington
whom receives the English with red coats. Of this pair a smaller
canvass of 178 by 195 cm titled "the Sky of Illimitableness" The
larger of the pair retained a panorama wide format, the Albino Buffalo
abound a rock that looked to be spray painted garish colors of mutant
slime green and noxious safety pink, and in the hills of the back
drop, behind the similar tropes of purple stains and United States
Kabuki History a fleeing pair of black people in the woods. The couple
are faceless, nevertheless they are there setting forth to build that
great union, far afield from the great men of history with their candy
colored pageantry.

The exhibition was one fit for a king, not only because of the two
floors in Chipperfield and Associates building on the Coper grave in
center city Berlin a stones throw from the Pergamon alter, but because
what Mr. Schnabel is painting, portrait pictures of a younger
generation of artists over large adverts of women and the clothing
they must wear, is relevant. White lines with swirls of faint tainted
hues over textures big, and wood like speak to both a sensitivity to
materials on the hand of the artist perhaps, and insensitivity and
bombast concerning materialism that advertisement may contain. by
craniv boyd.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Monument de la Renaissance Africaine Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal. by craniv boyd.

Monument de la Renaissance Africaine Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal. by craniv boyd. 

Three colossal figures pose on a windblown cliff facing the Atlantic ocean. They are poised, to quit their rocky knoll. A strong man with a cap, placing hailing baby boy first, himself second and pulling waif after him, with his left arm, over: away from a kraplack arid bluff. Who are these big people? Where are they going from, and eventually to?

For answers, one might ask the Romanian socialist realist artist, who designed this very big sculpture, or the North Korean construction firm who assembled it: the Monument de la Renaissance Africaine, one of the most prominent recent public art works, visible in  Dakar, the capital of Senegal, on  the Cape Vert peninsula where the city is. 

the Monument de la Renaissance Africaine is a museum with pan-African  aspirations. A monument to an African renaissance. It, is a copper statue formed to look like a nuclear African family. A hat wearing man of heroic proportions: ( think of a certain governor of California in his rôle of Terminator). Then a golden baby boy who points with a singular digit, west towards the Americas, seated in the crook of strong arm of the man. Like wise the toddler has similar head wear as the grown man in the family. In the back of the grouping of three, is a woman. From her pose she looks limp. She does not stand on her bare feet. Her head, with braided hair is tilted back and her mode of dress leaves little to the imagination. She is not nude, she has loincloths on but her ample bosom verges to spill out from her dress. Circling around the back end of the monument provides a glance up at her barely existing skirt. 

The statue addresses a formative passage in the history of the modern world, that for many people remains both dark and simple. Perhaps this statue is an attempt to make a representative image for a great deal of African families, and peoples who were forcibly transported oversees; for centuries in the hulls of slaving crafts, and sold as lots in various auctions. A task so herculean no singular colossi could brand, or seer into public memory. 

The Monument itself contains a museum, with on the ground level, an undulating double faced poster. On one face all of the current national flags of African nation states, and under these standards, story book representations of bitter history. on the opposite face of the same waved form, visual representations of pan-Africanists. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, is presented on this poster a black and white photograph, Dr. King in profile right arm raised, set against a backdrop of a protest audience, a  rectangular speech bubble of sorts is on this photograph it reads: "I HAVE A DREAM !" and is placed at a 45° angle from the mouth of Dr. King. 

Along with the representations of black history on the entry level of the museum , are a bevy of flat-screen displays mounted on a mirrored wall. The flat screens show loops of the construction and the assembly of the monument, and what is curious about this slide show is that no clear representations of construction workers, who built the big metal African family are given. What is however, visually emphasized is the monument it self. The undulating poster at the entrance features images of the monument to the African renaissance, so as to demonstrate that the monument is part of pan-Africanism. Low resolution poor quality photographs of the Monument are on the entry ticket, three dimensional rendering printed on canvass and on flat screen displays already mentioned. Inside the museum of the monument de la renaissance Africane, visitors are in a version of African history wont to be told. Then subjected to  idealized pictures of the monument itself.

One can take an elevator to the top level of the monument, and look out from the cap of the African man. There are windows that offer a panoramic view over Dakar, and more over towards the Atlantic ocean. by craniv boyd. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Christian Tudula International exhibition IFAN at Dak'art 10th biennale of contemporary African art. 11 May - 10 June, 2012, Place Soweto, Dakar Senegal. by craniv boyd.

Christian Tudula International exhibition IFAN at  Dak'art 10th biennale of contemporary African art.  11 May - 10 June, 2012, Place Soweto, Dakar Senegal.  by craniv boyd.

Enter a dimly lit room, with red carpeting, walls painted white and a corner of that room has two flat screen video displays, one per each wall, and a between them, placed blatantly he media console that houses and plays back the digital media for both screens, and the audio tracks for both displays. Studio quality Head sets rest  casually on the floor beneath, their lines leading back up to each of the video displays. The content on the screens is moving images, it is footage filmed from two stationary angles. Each screen presents footage from one angle only, the camera is positioned from out side a grey wall with a distressed surface, both the concrete walls, have rectangular openings, that offer an interior view that is cloying because of the indeterminate character of it. There is no furniture so the settings do not have the appearance of domestic environs. The size of the structure and the opening of the wall seem to small to be heavy industry, light industry perhaps.  The wall opening establishes the space of where in the image plane to look. Young women, dressed in the latest current urban fashions amble into the room and gyrate and dance to ever-present music that is the audio track for these two videos. They enter an leave the room, without any explanation dancing only, and their movements could be seen as explanation enough. 


Christian Tundula, an artist from the Democratic Republic of Congo, is the author of a celebratory series of photographs and videos entitled "Kin Kiese" or (Happiness Kinshasa).  Christian Tundula, selected Ngwaka, a part of Kinshasa, personally dear to him, to film in, to photograph in. Part of his series "Kin Kiese", was presented at the international exhibition of the 10th edition of the Dak'art Biennial, in Dakar, Senegal. It was to be seen there as, diptych of high resolution videos. Which displayed footage recorded during the preparations and the rehearsals of young women from Ngwaka,  who are accompany musicians and recording artists in Kinshasa. These women are referred to as Fioti Fioti or Kadogo. This series, or rather the two video instances of it which I saw, was an odd blend of components. The static distressed urban environment of Kinshasa, framing women on the move, dancing young women who are hopeful in their early career choice to accompany musicians of Kinshasa. The immobility of the camera, and the acute selectness's of where and who to film, contrasted with the loop of the videos themselves which seemed to be minimally edited, and as a result had the appearance of being free flowing, or non-selective.  This art work offers a view of some people in Ngwaka, Kinshasa from an artist who knows Ngwaka, Kinshasa. by craniv boyd. 

Serge Alain Nitegeka, 11 May- 30 June Galerie Le Manège Rue Parchappe Dakar, Sénégal. by craniv boyd

Serge Alain Nitegeka, 11 May- 30 June Galerie Le Manège Rue Parchappe Dakar, Sénégal. by craniv boyd

There is an art installation on view in the plateaux district of Dakar, Senegal, on the occasion of the, Off programming of the 10th edition of the Dak'art Biennial. The installation is located at the Galerie Le Manège, of the Institute francaise in Dakar, in participation with Stevenson Gallery of Cape Town, South Africa. This is a review of an impressive lone person exhibition, of a work titled Structural Response 1, of an Burundian Artist participating in that exhibition. Serge Alain Nitegeka.

Imagine, just for yourself, if there were a shoe-box, with popsicle sticks, painted black thrown in it haphazardly, with the top ends of the sticks resting on the open edges of the box, and the bottom ends of the sticks resting in the middle, then you would have a crude provisional example, a rough scale model of what this installation might have looked like, albeit overly simplified. However seeing that the rectangle in question was roughly 50 meters by 30 meters by 5 meters, and all of the sticks in this instance were impressive and cumbersome laths, this installation by Serge Alain Nitegeka, was no small feat, and all of the beams were set at great care. 

Personally I found this work of art to be most striking because it featured black wood, in black africa. The installation was difficult to enter and many of the long black boards wooden boards obstructed entry and passage into the installation. Once inside the work, viewers of this part of the exhibition could move about in a restricted hemmed in way, that was proscribed by Serge Alain Nitegeka. The art installation was a enter at your own risk scenario, and the large five meters high gallery space was filled with these black wooden planks set at various angles. 

Structural Response 1, was not figurative in the least. It had clear formalist concerns in its placement of many units of same black wooden beam all over the space. Hence, Structural Response 1, functioned as a barricade for contemplation. Inside it viewers could observe other viewers moving within and observing the same artwork. The artwork called for some minor athleticism in order to move about it freely, because there were few paths, mostly in the centre of the work, where the planks were not. It was in some ways trap like, and Serge Alain Nitegeka ensnared viewers for some moments in his stark treatment of the volume inside Galerie Le Manège, of Institute francaise.  by craniv boyd.

Katrine Helmerson, Jardin Musée Thédore Monod, 11 May- 17 May Place Soweto, Dakar, Senegal. by craniv boyd

Katrine Helmerson, Jardin Musée Thédore Monod,  11 May- 17 May Place Soweto, Dakar, Senegal. by craniv boyd 

Tucked, in a corner behind the university museum for African Art, facing the museums garden, on the Plateaux district in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, for the occasion of the 10th edition of the Dak'art Biennial for Contemporary African Art; and hanging from black woven cords, at regular intervals, pleated round black paper circles, that were the components of an installation by Stockholm based Swedish artist Katherine Helmerson. Her artwork, Sombres Courants; was located close to the In programming of the Dak'art Biennial, it was across from the 1920s era museum building in impeccable condition, in an indeterminate space, a room with high ceilings that could have been undergoing renovation, or simply slow tropical deterioration.   

The dangling forms of round hand made black paper made in Nepal, shaped gently, and  the rope, of the same color that supported each unit of round paper were trussed up to crossbeams of the ceiling. inside the room, there was a field of hanging black paper circles, none of the supportive lines touched the ground and the hanging works were able to sway in which ever wind or breeze that might set them in motion. The black paper was of a deep, rich pigment, it was very dark and the fibers and texture of the paper was burly. The stocky paper had a matt sheen to it, absorbing light, retaining warmth, preserving heat. The paper bodies, were unique, each on the rope was differently pleated, in a similar fashion, the appearance of uniformity, or monotony was given. This sameness of unique paper figures, beaded, threaded on woven black bun-gees, provides friction, between individual paper units; and collective beaded units; and total additive members of: cords plus discreet folded black paper discs, with solitary chains bearing several of such paper discs together with the room that housed the hanging artwork, and in turn provided a framing for the work. This tension rests throughout the completed art installation, back down to the strings loaded with many units, which can be partitioned into the singular paper items and the cords. A serial artwork made with light materials. by craniv boyd.  

Zero at Reinja Beatrix International Airport. Oranjestaad Aruba. by craniv boyd.

Zero at Reinja Beatrix International Airport. Oranjestaad Aruba. by craniv boyd.

Inside a posh tropical international airport, on the Island of Aruba on the lesser Antilles are small interventions, that contribute to the experience of the Airport by artists from Aruba. Besides purchasing an I <3 Aruba, shirt or some of the worlds finest Aloe before your direct flight to Houston, Caracas or Amsterdam, you might consider, as I did for some moments, just what is it about the design of the airport, that makes Rejna Beatrix international, so smooth. 

One thing:  the light fixtures. 


These are sculpted by, Zero, an Aruban artist and the ensconcements are evocative of the natural forms, and the beauty which makes Aruba, dushi terra (Papiamento for sweet earth.) These light fixtures are symmetrical bronze forms, with flat teardrop shaped joints,(narrow end pointing down). The joints are units of the larger limbs that bow out and up wards. The digits and the teardrop like joints are set irregularly thus having the outward initial appearance of being grown, rather than made by an artist.  These forms that house lights, are set on many, of the columns of the shopping and dining concourse, at the terminal. In passing what seems simplistic is very complex, provoking academic questions of are the sculptures that Zero has made for the airport culled form cactus or coral? One could turn to the context of previous and larger works by the same artist, Zero. He is   represented by a larger artwork, in brushed aluminum, in another prominent public-space in the Marriott  near  Eagle Beach. It also ha the form evocative of coral, it gives primacy to the local ecology, and is a delineated homage to such fragile tropical aquatic life. 

Beyond that there is presence and repetition, of the metallic forms, Aruba specific, locally made, yet what cumulative, additive ambient affect do these understated light forms have on the passengers in transit? A good one I would hope, for the inclusion of art works in public spaces in civil societies is seldom a bad thing, even if the art may be hideous, or precipitate public outcry. In the prominent public space of the airport, art before air time is fun, and in the case of Zero, it is a graceful addendum to the airport. by craniv boyd.

Elviz López at Ateliers '89 Dominicanessen Straat 34, Oranjestaad Aruba. a review by craniv boyd.

Elviz López at Ateliers '89 Dominicanessen Straat 34, Oranjestaad Aruba. a review by craniv boyd.

Brown and grey lizards scuttle to and fro, over white coral sand, and red tiles, crossing between overgrown wild grass. Hundred year old Mangroves and divi divi trees, shelter nesting tropical birds, are toilets for stray hounds and cover what few places of shade to be found on a desert cactus strewn island.  

This above may sound like settings for tales from the bush; but rather is a humble listing of some of the prominent things to be found other than North and South American tourists, in  Oranjestaad, the capital of Aruba, a tropical island, on the lesser Antilles. Orajestaad  is home to, Ateliers '89 a centre for contemporary art, founded by, Elvis López, a contemporary Aruba Artist who is based in Aruba. Locations for a multi use, Artist in residence / art education center / exhibition hall, could not be more ideal for Ateliers '89 is centrally located, in a former school complex build originally in the 1920s, 15 minutes from an international airport, on  a desert island, with long barrier reefs, with year round sunshine, out side of the hurricane belt. That Ateliers '89 is a remarkable grassroots community institution which is committed to supporting, both the making of current art by international young artists, and the development and education of people living in Aruba.  Ateliers '89  encourages an exchange via workshops, between respective young artists and designers who conduct the workshops, and the Arubans who register, out of interest for  the workshops, and a proven success rate, and excellent publicity for the courses.  Workshops held recently included the disciplines of  fashion design workshop, along with ceramics, performance, Video-photography and painting. In general the workshops, culminate with an exhibition of the work that was fabricated during the lessons. 

Ateliers '89 the brainchild and initiative of Elvis López, an Aruban artist, a participant in the Sao Paulo Biennial, who studied, and then taught at the acclaimed Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Elvis López is an accomplished artist from the Caribbean, who's far reaching artwork inclusive of installations, drawings, videos, as such needs to be studied. Two art installations by Elvis López which I saw and found to be of exceptional interest were;


A blue painted field a surface of ultramarine, green and yellow hues and longhand letter-forms above, written up side down from left to right. on the surface of the blue field, two protrusions, bandaged in white gauze, evocative of mummies or lepers, the dead or the infirm. Underneath the white bandages like fibers, is the color yellow, porous, sponge like and plush. These forms look anthropomorphic and in their soft edges,lumpy and globular are strange. One wants to reconcile and locate, is it human, beast or mineral that is wrapped up and affixed to the blue wall, but to no avail. Looking for the meaning behind the lower case letters, if one takes the time to read them up side down -e-nó-ta-di -a-ta-a offers little in the way of aid, or relief. What could this be? two, shrouded forms soft, emerging or would it be receding in a field of moody blue, words in roman script, flipped in a way to hamper but not completely impinge on their legibility, words that in their separation at and with each syllable seem to short to be words indeed. It is an artwork with the title of E no ta di e ta a. Like much of the high quality art of Elvis López , E no ta di e ta a, both reveals and veils an iconography of specific to the lesser Antilles. It could be seen as part of a system of image making that is materials intensive.  E no ta di e ta a  is an artwork authored by a visual intelligence which is well versed in both symbols of current art and image making practice in the broadest sense. Moreover it remains a large format artwork created by an artists hand, one with technical finesse and true mastery of sculptural form.       


A upturned rectangular table, covered in white lace, with a large elliptical sterling platter collides with the surface of the upturned table. The table is resting on its narrow end. A silver platter, that collides with the surface of the table at an 30° incline, is engraved with words: Ami ta wordo carga de teblachi plata. These words are etched, and trace the basin of the oval platter, the ridge of the platter is ribboned.  These are elements of an installation constructed with a proverb in Papiamento, one of the official languages of Aruba. The installation features the saying engraved in Papiamento, on a fine piece of silver ware, and the title of the artwork is  Ami ta wordo carga de teblachi plata, (as the comers to the family are always at first Carried in a silver tray until....) The table itself is covered with fine white belgian lace table cloths that were, the epitome of good taste for entertaining in Aruba. The saying along with the visual components encode, a possible proverbial story specific to Aruba and the Caribbean, a proverb concerning frustrated expectations; of a family laying out their finest and best silver, in an effort to impress the beaux of their daughter, thinking him to be well heeled. When realizing that their daughters choice is not what they had in mind, the silver starts to fly. this instillation is on instance and there are many engraved plates with proverbs in Papiamento which Elvis López has created. Modes of narration are sealed in the artwork of Elvis López , many levels to his stacked installations. the Local cultural specific, the current installation art methods, the visual associations that people from the Caribbean and foreigners might have, when looking at Belgian lace and silver serving platters are definitively charged.  by caniv boyd.


Monday, April 2, 2012

deKooning: a Retrospective September 18, 2011- 9 January, 2012, Museum of Modern Art New York 11 west 53rd St 10019; by craniv boyd.

deKooning: a Retrospective, September 18,2011-9 January, 2012, Museum of Modern Art New York 11 west 53rd St 10019; by craniv boyd. 

The sixth floor galleries of   the in recent years, renovated Museum of Modern Art in New York City, have a mammoth Retrospective of a titan of Modern Painting. The subject of this posthumous honor is,  the Rotterdam, the Netherlands born, yet for much of his life,  New York City based and East Hampton, Long Island based, Wilhelm deKooning. The Museum of Modern art, which normally has a standard deKooning, Woman One of 1951 1952, on continues display within the painting galleries on a lower floor, now does an immense service to the understanding of the larger ambit of deKooning's art, by mounting a stellar retrospective, long overdue.  

The exhibition gathers together many drawings, prints, and paintings from private collections, hence unavailable for public contemplation, along with Paintings and works form public institutions, for a exposition of a protean artist. Rare still life drawings in charcoal, dating from 1917, drawn when deKooning still lived in Holland, are placed along early figurative paintings and drawings soon after the artist emigrated to the New World, Newark, New Jersey. A self portrait with an imaginary brother, also occupies this room, both are masterful artworks of a deft draughtsman. Furthermore, both are sound proof for any-persons who would dispute the claim that later and expressionistic deKooning, possesses no artistic merit. The schism from realism, or naturalism, into an abstract expressionism, was made by an artist who could work within academic artistic conventions, was unsatisfied by those established rules and means, and in seeking "freedom" reinvented his method of painting time and time again.  

Key artworks from each of the periods of Wilhem deKooning's oeuvre are presented in distinct voluminous rooms,  chronologically arraigned. Woman One of 1951 occupies a larger wall together with other like paintings in the same woman as totem or taboo period. Excavation, a painting normally in Chicago  has its own wall, and ancillary or lesser known or smaller black and white paintings that predate Excavation surround it.  The development and changes of interest  that deKooning had are legible, when ordered thus. Apparently deKooning was a slow working artist, taking years to complete singular paintings, working, and reworking canvasses in a constant excruciating process. 

Buxom clam diggers, and naked grinning women on bicycles, wet paint lathered on other wet paints thickly, rooms of bronze hand-formed sculptures vaguely humanoid, much exuberance and joy of life is apparent in these art works. For plastic arts of painting, deKooning has art-objects that look strangely fleeting. His so-called "glimpse" of a smile or passing woman, a short-lived gaze, is ever-present in his figurative, as well as landscape, and abstract paintings. He, has some of a Dutch artists sensitivity for the volatile weather of coastal areas or the sea. The sea side paintings of the onset of a squall, by fellow countryman Jacob Van RuiysdaledeKooning  lends attention to moments of brief duration, committing those instances to canvas clay or newsprint paper. 

The gift zone near the elevator banks at MoMA capitalizes, coyly on one of the maxims of deKooning in regards to his artistic modus operandi. His quotes of "you have to change to stay the same." are glazed on a hot beverage mug. Placed for those fans that cannot cash-and-carry an original deKooning home. by craniv boyd.  


The Value of Water: September 22, 2011-March 25, 2012 The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, New York. by craniv boyd.

The Value of Water: September 22, 2011-March 25, 2012 The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, New York. by craniv boyd. 

The Value of Water: Featured Artists: Alan Michelson, Mandy Greer, Trenton Doyle Hancok, Don Eddy, Dian Burko, Winn Rea, Kadie Saifi, Norman Lundin, Chrysanne Stachecos, Gregory Amenoff, Dixie Peaslee, Ray Charles White,  Robert Berlind, Janet Nolan, Gulsen Calik, April Gomik, Victoria Vesna, Gregg Schlanger, Mark Rothko, Terisita Fernadez, Kiki Smith, Nobuho Nagasawa, WIlliam Kentredge, Fredricka Foster, April Gormik, Dulce Gomez, Alice Dalton Brown, Samantha Scherer, Bill Viola, Mac McGill, Leigh Behnke, Florence Neal, Pat Steir, Michelle Loughlin, Rosarie Appel, Terry Tempest WIlliams, Ben Roth, Felicia Resor,  Winn Rea, Sonam Dolma Brauen, Jose "Tony" Cruz, Robert Longo, Laura McCallum ,Jenny Holzer Water&Light Project, Daniel& Jonathan. September 22, 2011-March 25, 2012 The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, New York. 

The Cathedral church, on Amsterdam Avenue, was the recent home of an exhibition titled the Value of Water. A thematic exhibition where the central protagonist is non other than water. The exhibition was curated by one of the participating artists, Fredricka Foster, who selected a wide array of artists who respond to the subject matter of water. A deep sense of urgency concerning the worlds waters, and their pollution, is conveyed in the brochure that accompanied this bloated exhibition. Bloated in the aspect that almost any artist, whom the curated knew to deal with water, was included. The exhibition could be understood as a petition arguing for the preservation of the environment, made by artists. As in mass protests, concerns are more of a quantitative than qualitative nature. An impression gathered, is that there is the affect of strength in the numbers of the participating artists in, The Value of Water,  and that individual artworks, and installations, suffer as a result, because they are subsumed in the larger opine of , Please Care More about Water and the Environment. The organizer of the exhibition, Fredricka Foster has more in common of the activity of obtaining signatures for a referendum, rather than an active selection process of art works that drive at the crux of the worth of H2O. 

In many of the chapels and niches in the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world, the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, there were art works placed in unexpected places and heights, hidden as it were in plain sight. The plan of the exhibition, provided visitors with the names of the forty six participating artists, and the locals of where their art was hung. Great numbers of the smaller scaled  artworks, were visually lost in the cavernous building, and the map, in its aid as Goose-chase or Treasure-Hunt solutions-service-provider, was invaluable, in the identification of which objects to be in awe and admire. 

A convincing selection in the exhibition was the non figurative painting of Pat Steir. A moody large format painting, with many white drips on a black ground, easily permits the association of waterfall or falling water, the title Waterfall of the Fundaments, obviates what viewers are supposed to make of the abstracted painting. The presentation of a series of animated video artworks the South African artist WIlliam Kentredge, was well displayed. An enclave with a free standing screen, speakers  and an aluminum girder housed the well tempered lighting arrangement, in service of the projected videos.  However, the overriding concerns of Kentredge's oeuvre extend well beyond, water alone. 

Poorly served by the installation in a chapel were oddly enough, smaller works on paper by the late Mark Rothko. Quite easily the most valuable art works in the exhibition, for their sale price. As appearance would have it, that these works were selected simply because they were the color blue.  The work Three Women, 2008, by the artist Bill Viola was another instance where the theme of water was pushed well beyond acceptable limits. Three women that walk away from a High definition video camera, slowly. The flat-screen panel that showed this movement of the ladies, was vertically displayed. The women perhaps an allusion to the three graces, walk in a shallow pool of water, in a motion of elegant triple rejection. 

The drollest art work, was that of Fountain Bottles 2004-2008, by the artist Janet Nolan, who collected fountain water from well known public fountains. All of the claimed water was bottled, in clear bottles labeled with a line drawing of their fountain of origin, and words in blue, naming where the water was bottled. A wry play on bottled drinking water and the market fetish manna surrounding spring waters. 

The innovative approach, showing  art  made in today's era, by living artists, in a building of worship, is commendable. The contemplation, that is offered in a house of worship is decidedly other than the climate of contemplation provided by many art dealerships, or museums. That the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, would commit to art projects and thematic exhibitions by living artists, is an affirmation a positive impact art has on the here and now. by craniv boyd. 

Nicolas Lobo: Gum, Dropped Marlborough Chelsea December 15, 2011-January 14, 2012, New York: by craniv boyd.

Nicolas Lobo: Gum, Dropped Marlborough Chelsea December 15, 2011-January 14, 2012, New York: by craniv boyd. 

A one person presentation of an artist based in Miami, in New york city. Nicolas Lobo, at Marlborough Chelsea, was a show case that tendered divergent means of art making. a singular video work, in a darkened gallery room, and compact disks, micro-waved adjusted with the hand of the artist, and displayed at average adult eye level, wall mounted. 

The compact disks had been baked and painted. The artwork is an urbane angle on the mundane life of suburbia. The brilliant colors of the spectrum, on a piece of technology, intentionally destroyed, has juvenile over tones. Teenagers seem like unreasonable people that would fry a music collection in a microwave oven. Nicolas Lobo adds artist to the list of a contrary personality that would bake your tunes. With the aid of another domestic technology Lobo makes inappropriate usage of an appropriate verb applicable to compact discs: to burn, i.e. to record or author a data disc on a computer. The series of Microwaved CD Pen Tests, 2011, are all in fact burned compact discs of an artists work, but the literal burning via oven, renders the discs objects for retinal contemplation only, unreadable by any laser scanner device that could decode whatever data they held. 

In concert with these tastefully obdurate anti technological creations, hung on pristine white walls, are fragments of stone tablets leaned against the gallery walls. This leaning of marble or granite fragments, stones which appear ready for insertion as a table top or kitchen counter top, are art. This art is blithe, therefore has the hallmarks of youth. These processed stones, which are more time honored artistic materials, have a more off-hand treatment than, the compact discs that shared the same room. Making one thing clear: as an artist Mr. Lobo, is more familiar with what, and how, to treat a current art material like plastic, rather than a more classical one of stone. 

The video art piece, is a work with a recording from a fixed camera angle, of a room with a mysterious appearance. There is little in the way of clues to tell viewers what the function of this space is, save for a rickety table with assorted containers with varied colors. A figure in a white coverall plastic suit, enters frame, bearing what has all appearances of a fire extinguisher. Pensive, tentative, predatory movements: as the figure ambles towards the wall. When suddenly, grey purple paint issues forth, from the canister, the figure holds. The suspense is allayed when the cathartic moment of a large stream of paint hits the wall. That uninterrupted paint stream, crossing horizontal lines, back and forth, back and forth. Exit person in white protective clothing. What is left to see is the paint, dripping down, and with time, drying. This is an art work that shows much of what the endeavors of a young artist can entail. Isolation, an abrupt idea, creative detonation, then waiting for paint to dry, or dust to clear the air, and an end product that looks derivative, hence undesirable. However the freshness and ease of this video work, overshadows the inhibited bijou of singed plastic and relaxing marble in the other rooms. by craniv boyd.  

Matta: a Centennial Celebration November 7, 2011 through January 28 2012, the Pace Gallery, 534 West 25th Street, New York 10011 by craniv boyd.

 Matta: a Centennial Celebration November 7, 2011 through January 28 2012, the Pace Gallery, 534 West 25th Street, New York 10011 by craniv boyd. 

A phenomenal exhibition of enormous paintings, in strange glorious colors was on view at the Pace Gallery. Roberto Sebastián Antonio Matta Echaurren "Matta" (1911 -2002 )an artist born in Santiago, Chile, was a painter who had a large gallery exhibition that it rivals some small scale museums in the same city of New York. At the time of the exhibition, many of the extra large paintings had not been viewed outside of Europe, and the largest of which measured 13 x 27 feet or approximately 3,4 x 9 meters.

The paintings are non representational, yet some how they do bear resemblance to microscopic bodies. Think of computer medical imaging, given the task of representing the interior architecture of an amoeba. The structures in Matta's paintings can be said to look like events  happening on a cellular, microscopic level, however as they are vast canvass, one sees the intrigue of a Petri dish, given epic, colossal proportions. Was Matta, with his later paintings, saying that life's drama can occur within even the smallest of organisms? 

Cosmos Mental, a painting  from the year 1991, alludes, in it's title, to a possible stage where Matta's  painted imagery might be said to transpire. That of the mind. In the canvass, of which the dominate color range is of a mauve red purple tirade, there are projected rectangular forms in harsh black, and more fluid white lines which are arc like, and inscribe no closed form. At times, the white lines are set in the painting at diagonals. These white lines evoke alacrity, when contrasted with the buoyant closed forms of the empty cubes. These oppositional types of bodies populate the picture plane, a field of mottled color, a space that looks like vapor. The title calls attention to both the universe  with the Greek word for order, and with the adjective mental, cognition is where this order is pro-ported to be. The mind, it would appear for the artist Matta, is where the contemplation of big space can occur. Cosmos Mental looks like an mural of what thoughts look like, as a mind thinks them. Due to the fact that the painting is mega-sized, a viewer of this painting is left with the impression that small thoughts have big potential. 

 A first generation surrealist painter who made paintings that touch upon space form, and philosophical modernist concerns. It is striking to see such substantial modernist art that is consistently reflective of Matta's celebrated paintings from the 1940's, painted at a time when a fickle art markets had seen, and sold generations of Pop ism, Minimal ism, Neo Expression ism, Neo Geometric ism, Happenings, Performance etc. That is not to say that Matta's artwork from the 1990's is in some way static, a shipwreck in tidal waves of artistic progress, or more of the same hermetic creations from the nineteen fifties. No, Matta: A centennial Celebration, is moreover a testament to a profound artistic vision, that was sensitive, delicate, refined, masterful, and oblivious to trend based posturing. by craniv boyd. 

Luminous Modernism Scandinavian Art Comes to America, 1912, Including: Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Prins Eugens, Carl Larsson, Eugène Jansson, Vilhelm Hammershøi, Ásgrímur Jónsson, Edvard Munch, Harlad Sohlberg and Anders Zorn. October 25, 2011- February

Luminous Modernism Scandinavian Art Comes to America, 1912, Including: Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Prins Eugens, Carl Larsson, Eugène Jansson, Vilhelm Hammershøi, Ásgrímur Jónsson, Edvard Munch, Harlad Sohlberg and Anders Zorn. October 25, 2011- February 11, 2012, Scandinavia House, New York. by craniv boyd.

To recreate an art exhibition, one hundred years after it has transpired, could be boredom, or fear inducing. no so for the centennial celebration, of Luminous Modernism, which celebrated one hundred years of the introduction of modern painting from Nordic countries to the United States. The exhibition took place in the the intimate third floor galleries of the Scandinavia House on Park Avenue.  The paintings were exemplars of an alternate modernism, that all-though influential, in Continental Europe and North America, has perhaps been overlooked in recent years.   

The most popularly known of the artists included in this exhibition is of course, the angst ridden Norwegian, Edvard Munch. Well known for his painting the scream, of a screaming wraith on a expressionist bridge. In the exhibition he was represented by more stayed paintings, of the quotidian life of a monied class in Cristinanborg, now Oslo. A painting of a youth bathing on a beach, holds what could be interpreted as a silent scream, the darker side of a so called bourgeois Paradise. Somehow view of the artist, Munch, imbues trepidation on the face of a boy who should be having a good time on a seaside family outing. There is a profound, conflicting set of moods which are expressed on the painting. Horror in the sea, boredom with the family, cold on a bright summer day, isolation from the clothed women, in straw bonnets off to the side.  

The Icelandic painter Ásgrímur Jónsson, is represented by landscape paintings set in the countryside of Iceland. Seeing as this landscape painting of rural and natural phenominæ, was created,  at the start of the 20th century a time when Iceland was under the Danish crown, Ásgrímur Jónsson might have had an awareness raising aim with his paintings of the land. Landscape painting as nationalist task, to portray the land of Iceland as beautiful with the hopes towards an independence, perhaps. 

Vigorous oil colors are what  the Swedish painter Anders Zorn provides, specific times of day in the landscape, are limits that determine some of his paintings. This village at dusk, or these woods early in the morning, the paintings have characteristica of sunlight seen from the far north.What is striking is that some of the paintings of Stockholm from a hundred years ago but for a few details in the dress of people, diverge from a current picture of the capital of Scandinavia. The view of a desolated winter snow filled street in Gammle Stan could in all likely hood be found today, but a stones throw from the Seven Eleven of course.

To re examine art works by Nordic artists that were presented to an New York Public one hundred years ago is diverting. That these paintings still have a legitimate communicative power, regardless if you have seen a Danish sand dune with your own eyes or not, is impressive.by craniv boyd. 

"Looking Back"-The 6th White Columns Annual Selected by Ken Okiishi and Nick Mauss December 10th 2011-February 18, 2012 at white columns, New York:by craniv boyd.

"Looking Back"-The 6th White Columns Annual Selected by Ken Okiishi and Nick Mauss December 10th 2011-February 18, 2012 at white columns, New York:by craniv boyd. 

Participating artists: Miwako Arakawa, Fia Backström, Alvin Baltrop, Sid Branch, Mary Cassat, Antoine Catala, Donna Collins, Jossie Collin, Chloe Dzubilo, Thomas Eggerer, Michaela Eichwald, Loretta Fahenholz, T de Long, Jean Genet, Grand Openings, Pierre Guyotat (Live), E'wao Kagoshima, Alex Kwartler, Maria Lassnig, Lousie Lawler, Margaret Lee with Michele Abeles, Alisa Baremboym, Antoine Catala, Gregory Edwards, Debo Eilers, Josh Kline, Andrei Koschmieder, Ajay Kurian, Amy Lien, Siobhan Meow, Joan Mitchell, Adrian Piper, Carissa Rodriguez, Emily Sundblad, Nicola Tyson, Cosima von Bonin, Amy Yao, Michele Abeles, David Benjamin Sherry, Carissa Rodriguez, Lisa Jo, Anicka Yi.

Two artists were invited to select, at the end of 2011, artists for an exhibition, based on no other rubric than, their personal experience of looking at art in New York the preceding year.  This is the sixth time that artists or curators were given that task, at New York non for profit, gallery White Columns. The pluralistic, inclusive, non hierarchical, exhibition, which resulted from a medley by artists Ken Okiishi and Nick Mauss, is at best, selections from conceptual art seminary. As such with its inclusion of droves of, anti art, artless art pursued with great zeal, by many adherents, "looking back" was arid. That the art was selected from, predominantly gallery expositions, could be taken as an indicator that there was a great deal of boring art, to be seen in New York, during the year 2011. 

Much of the arts, were artworks on paper. A select few were videos, still others were collage, and painting. Installation was a rare bird. 

Of the most striking, due to its color alone, within a sallow group showcase , was the work of Cosima von Bonin. in  work titled The Bonin/Oswald Empires Nothing #4, a human scaled stuffed animal lies prostrate on a strange piece of furniture. The work was shown at the artist New York dealer ship, Gallery Friedrich Petzel, in an exhibition titled the Juxtaposition of nothings. Weird that this grouping of objects titled, nothing, is a substantial something, when contrasted with the innocuous documentation of an event, Titled Grand Openings Return of the Blogs, planned by the chief: Sabine Breitwieser and assistant: Jenny Schlenzka curators of the department of Media  and Performance art, Museum of Modern art. A exhausted in appearance blue woolen stuffed animal with ambient electronica music, was more visually appealing and therefor memorable, than a video depicting attendees to some overcrowded cocktail event at MoMA

One video installation that looked good was that by Antoine Catala, in his work titled HDDH, 2011. In it two high definition televisions hung at identical heights on facing parallel walls, were conjoined by a mirrored cylinder, set center screen. Satellite television with the news from Network television is in that installation device, rendered ludicrous. You simply can not watch television news in a meaningful way in that manner. The wrongness of this art work rests in: the action of installing, two identical components of the latest , high quality home entertainment systems, objects known and desired by most consumers, aggressively. the doubling of the flat-screen, and the reflective bar that melds the images of both, in addition to the reflection of people who view HDDH, is a trap. The reflection of viewers is caught between the reflection of two opposing identical moving images. One is both between and in the skewed rotund reflection of U.S. network news. The reflection of the immediate spacial reality of the room in White columns is ensnared in a purposefully distorted reality of a twin television image. 

Another video art work which looked bad was that of Loretta Fahrenholz and Emily Sundblad. A work titled ¡Qué Bárbara! featuring hipsters shopping in claustrophobic New York bodegas. An anarchic design element was a semi randomly placed, intentionally awkward video picture frame within the larger HD picture format. This video art work contained the entertainments of a burgeoning creative artistic cast. Peoples who between band practice and art collaborating, in the quickly gentrifying slums of New York, hastily record for a group show, some of their sauntering, claiming that is their non hierarchical art collaboration practice. Basically, ¡Qué Bárbara! might hold a modicum of interest for the friends, acquaintances, professional associates who are affiliated with the two women artist who authored it. It is ungenerous to anyone else. 


It is perhaps a sad endeavor to beg of an artist to make an exhibition, based on the artworks that they saw within a year in the epicenter of the ART-WORLD. A daunting chore that could pose a large dilemma. To assist ones friends and acquaintances, by inclusion in the exposition, in the hopes of professional advancement? Or to select a good exhibition with fewer art works that is more intelligible in visual form, but inclusive of artists one does not know, or hope to one day know. Many artists under 40 years of age living, working in the big apple, are by nature enthusiastic, and supportive of their fellow artist peers, I presume Ken Okiishi and Nick Mauss are of this sort. The amiable approach to their selection, however, I find did more to mar the net significance of their edition of "Looking Back". by craniv boyd. 

Klara Kristalova Sounds of Dogs and Youth 27 October- 28 January 2012 Lehmann Maupin. New York, by craniv boyd.

Klara Kristalova Sounds of Dogs and Youth 27 October- 28 January  2012 Lehmann Maupin. New York, by craniv boyd. 

If you like, cute contemporary art with sinister overtones like the  Marcel Damza, a Canadian draftsman whose creations are most of the time, sane, watered down apparitions of the outsider art of Henry Darger, then the glazed porcelain works of Czechoslovakia born  Klara Kristalova will appeal to your senses. Her New York  debut exposition consists of skillful clay pieces that when fired are static tokens of unprepossessing characters who might be at home in the videos of Swedish artist, Natalie Djurberg. That Klara Kristalova, has her training and much of her artistic vitæ, in Sverige, begs the question of if there is a larger cannon of adorable art with a dark twist up north. 

That ceramic arts, so often dismissed, from a so-called pluralistic avant gaurdistic Contemporary, into a  hand crafts ghetto, would now be presented in an art dealership, Lehmann Maupin, that displays the works of ultra hip Young British Alumnus, Tracy Emin is quizzical. Is there new tolerance for hand crafted art objects? The dream like story book art works look like illustrations for a children's book. Now I have nothing against Momin Trolls, or Björk Guðmúnsdóttir making a sound track to a film about these magical creatures, but to claim that the kitschy decorative objects authored by Klara Kristalova  are on par with surrealism, because they are surreal,(in the words of the press release,) is far fetched. 

Kristalova's  work is far to deliberate, and it's orientation towards the art market, precludes it as surrealist. Proof of this, her artwork poses fewer display, and conservation issues, than the biennial artist  Natalie Djurberg, does.  For collectors who  love  ungainly clay formed protagonists, that Mrs. Djuberg makes yet  do not want to bother about whether or not their video art purchase will work with audio visual display technology fifty or seventy years later; than the akin, yet conservative materials of Klara Kristalova are a clear choice for acquisition. The juxtaposition of raven-haired awkward girls with, Crows, standard urban dwellers in Northern European Cities,  with tangled tree branches and ghost like specters, is a friendly, soft edged clay artifact. Northern exoticæ for a pan Scandinavian experience, that in their vagueness allude to half forgotten Nordic fables. by craniv boyd.

Jim Hodges Gladstone Gallery November 5 thru December 23rd 2011, New York by craniv boyd.

Jim Hodges Gladstone Gallery November 5 thru December 23rd 2011, New York by craniv boyd.

In a gallery space near the west side highway in Manhattan, there took place a one person exhibition of Jim Hodges an artist. In it were three works, in which, notions of:  time motion, reflection, and color were addressed. as is the case with most art exhibitions, open to a general public in New York city that contain a hole in the ground or an open flame, or any some such miniscule liability or hazard, clear sign-age and gallery employees mentioned, to mind the cavity.  

Irony or a humorous disposition are what could be gained from this recent showcase of Hodges work. An otherwise pristine polished concrete floor, had a roughly hewn orifice filled with mirror black liquid. Above the puddle of unknown depth, a mirrored globus with a motor, spun, as in a Disco, bright spotlight placed high in the corners illuminated the kinetic orb, and a veritable copious group of reflected points of light graced the surface of the gallery floors and walls. All thanks to the disco ball overhead and the harsh lighting.  This must be the art work that deals with reflection. 

A narrow passageway abutted a large cubed figure in an other room. After transversing that passage, the nature of what that cubed figure was, became known. A box with light,  lit with cold florescent industrial lighting. Inside this white cube, within an other so-called white cube, layers of thick bright paint adorned the floor. How did these colors get there? Resting in front of the work, on the provided benches for a moment, provided an answer. The colors fell from above. Several holes in a regular grid were on the ceiling of the box, from which big drops of paint were excreted occasionally. An art work, that you can watch, as it shits a color field painting.

This instance of  artwork by Jim Hodges looked like a parody of minimalism, a vapid lark. Yes, the basic-ness of his work, permits multiple interpretations, so there could, of course be a sense of loss stated by a hole in the gallery floor or paint dropping from a man made structure, but these reserved means of his sculpture, are at best equivocal. Sadly the author was unable to attend the many performances and readings that accompanied this gallery project, claiming this, makes known why a lack of fuller understanding for the art of Jim Hodges. by craniv boyd. 

James Rosenquist with David Dalton; Painting Below Zero: Notes on a Life in Art. ISBN: 978-0-307-26342-1. by craniv boyd.

James Rosenquist with David Dalton; Painting Below Zero: Notes on a Life in Art. ISBN: 978-0-307-26342-1. by craniv boyd. 

Painting Below Zero is  a fresh autobiography, of James Rosenquist, a significant pop artist who, in his recounting of his life in art and of his life in America, provides insight into the 20th century as it occurred in that nation. Rosenquist is a Scandinavian American, who grew up in a closely knit farming community in the mid western  United States. He was born in the midst of the great depression, and the the changing quality of, life in America, before during and after after the second world war, is expressed in his account, of a nomadic youth spent in North Dakota,  Minnesota and Ohio. The procedure of becoming an artist, and hard decisions made in cash poor and difficult times are facets in early adulthood for  Rosenquist.

Employed as a billboard, sign painter, and responsible for the faithful copying of the smiles of children drinking coca-cola at nine feet or three meters in width, James Rosenquist, collected early on the job experience that was to influence both his art ideas and his ability to work on extra large format paintings. That a prominent pop artist has his roots and the proverbial "first-job" in the advertising sector, is telling. The large chasm that once existed between fine arts and high culture  and the low art of propaganda was transgressed by Rosenquist and other pop protagonists.  In this book he offers refreshing insights into the ideas behind his consumer culture saturated paintings, and the changing cultural climate of North America bracketed from the nineteen thirties until the present.  

The structure of the book is a standard chronology,the stations of the artists life, are those punctuated by major works and series he authored. The chapters corresponding paintings also address  the successes and failings of said works in the public realm, and how the artist dealt with the external response to his work. The New York city of Leo Castelli, Jasper Johns, and Robert Rauschenberg, is recounted from a narrator that was a friend, a colleague to those artists and art dealer. Personal tragedies, are not spared in this account, and the life of the artist is included, with a great deal of frankness. 

The overriding tone of the book is jocular, one feels as if, laughter may arise when looking at  Rosenquist's paintings after reading his life account in his own words. Due to the lighthearted and easygoing approach to his own painting ideas. The voice of the author is one that is warm, friendly  and generous. As a result one feels like a chum of the artist, rather than in awe of the accomplishments of a diva painter with a Guggenheim retrospective under his-belt. The biography features several photographs of  the artist at work, from billboards in North Dakota, to a cold water flat in Little Italy of Manhattan, to an island in the Florida Keys. The photographs of Rosenquist's  nomadic work spaces, are accompanied by quality color reproductions of all of the Paintings that Rosenquist, mentions over the course of his account. A luxurious two-page, full-color, fold-out  reproduction of an epic painting of pop art F-111, from the year 1964, insures that this auto-biography is alert to his artistic accomplishments in their own right. by craniv boyd.

Heroic Africans: Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures, September 20th, 2011-January 29, 2012 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. by craniv boyd

Heroic Africans: Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures, September 20th, 2011-January 29, 2012 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. by craniv boyd

During the fall and winter season of the Metropolitan museum of art on Fifth avenue, a significant exhibition of modest gallery space, took place, on the ground floor of the museum. Heroic Africans: Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures, brought together, artworks from sub-Saharan Africa, art collected in major European institutions. The artistic production of eight groupings of peoples, kingdoms and civilizations who lived where present day nations of Angola, Nigeria, Congo, Cameroon, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, are currently. The arts of: Akan of Ghana, Ife and Kingdom of Benin in Nigeria, Bangwa and Kom of Cameroon, Chokwe of Angola and Zambia, Luluwa, Hemba and Kuba of the Democratic Republic of Congo, were presented in galleries with subdued lighting, in glass cases, housed in rooms with walls painted deep earth tones. 

The Metropolitan Museum, had this exhibition, and extensive coinciding event programming, to foster understating for these artworks and the stories of said artworks. Many statues were on view in New York, by way of loan agreement from private collections, or from prominent museums in Belgium, Portugal,Germany, and the United Kingdom. The gathering of all of these artworks dating from, approximately the 17th to the 19th century, in a few rooms, was powerful. In that several, excellent wooden carvings of chiefs of the Chokwe peoples, in varying dimensions, could be seen at once, all artworks were presented with an impeccable dignity. The exhibition attempted with close analysis of art works, to tell the stories and histories of the leaders which the art works represent. 

An carved  ivory mask,  of the Queen Mother of the Kingdom of Benin, present day Nigeria  shared a room with a terra-cotta Head of the civilization of Ife in Nigeria. The wall text in this entrée saal, was respite with photo reproductions of Greco-Roman funerary, commemorative statuary. This was an effort, doubtlessly, to make an analogy, that has been made before, between, the arts of Benin and Ife, with classical antiquity. A parity, made due to common faithfulness to naturalistic portrayals of the human face, which all of the afore mentioned arts possess, despite vast measures of time when all arts were made and gross distances between geographic localities where each of the arts and cultures were. This may seem as a provocative gesture to some.  A way to hitch up artworks from sub-Saharan Africa, to the par of that lofty white marble ensconced pantheon of Attic Greece, perhaps? Somehow, this motion with the photographs rang false, why not place the real objects, next to the Benin Ivory Mask, or the Ife terra-cotta bust, considering that the Metropolitan Museum has such significant holdings in classical art? 

On the whole, one  should be happy that the artworks presented in the exhibition Heroic Africans, are in a museum for Art, and not one for ethnography, simply because as art, in my humble opinion, their rightful place is in a museum of art. It is commendable that the Metropolitan Museum of art, places the arts of Africa within walking distance of arts from other world cultures. One hopes for more, bigger exhibitions in the same institution that highlight more arts from sub-Saharan Africa. by craniv boyd.

Immendorf: die Biographie. H P Riegel. ISBN: 978-3-351-02723-0. by craniv boyd

Immendorf: die Biographie. H P Riegel. ISBN: 978-3-351-02723-0. by craniv boyd

Jörg Immendorf, (1945-2007), a German painter, and art professor is the subject of H P Riegel's biography. H P Riegel's is the first biography written on the artist, and seeing as the author knew the late painter on personal and professional terms, it is written a confidential way. in all cases it is informative both to the turbulent, hard working and hard partying life that Immendorf led. Yet as it is an account of an artist, those rare figures in society who see their calling to seek means to reflect upon a community that may, or may not celebrate them- the biography of Immendorf addresses issues of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) in the post war era. Most of the events in Immendorf's life occurred prior to Germany's reunification.

His birth is described as a "war birth" Kriegsgeburt seeing as his cavalry officer father, Armin Deitrich Immendorf, was on leave from the eastern front, when he begat Jörg Immendorf with Jörg's mother Irene. The opening chapter, describes what must have been horrifying circumstances to bring a child into the world, conditions that are nevertheless romanticized a tad. In that, the author holds,  Jörg Immendorf's birth at the end of the second World War, and the fact that he was sired while the war still raged, would have a later portent for the chaotic and shattered nature of some of his canvasses, is a bit far fetched. 

The seminal years, Immendorf spent in the Düsseldorf fine Arts Academy, during the tenure of the influential shamanistic artist Joseph Beuys, are recounted in a balanced way. Surprisingly the author address some of the gender inequalities that occurred with the select women art students, and the predominant boys club milieu that was found there. Part of the reason for this, is that at the time Immendorf attended the art academy he was wed to, Chris Reinecke, a fellow art student at the same fine art academy. Some of the hazing that she experienced was included in the recounting of Immendorf's time at the art academy. H P Riegel, characterizes their union as a partnership, and careful attention is given to the performance art collaborations that Chris Reinecke&Jörg Immendorf co-authored. 

Most of the remaining chapters of the book take their names from series of Immendorf's oeuvre, or singular works from it. The known Cafe Deutschland series and the multiform, re-workings of the same theme, are all written about. Despite the relative commercial success of Immendorf had within his life, as evinced by gallery sales, and gallery exhibitions in the nineteen eighties in New York with Illena Sonabend Gallery, and later Mary Boone Gallery, too much was apparently, not enough. Attention abroad, took quite some time to translate into museum exhibitions in Immendorf's home county, Germany.   

The tragic figure that Immendorf cuts, his dogged work ethic in the face of a diagnose of Lou Gehrigs disease, are how the final years of his life are told. Relentless work, as art professor and artist, in the advanced stages of this terminal neurological ailment, over shadow,  the years of cocaine and substance abuse that color Jörg Immendorf's earlier life. One would hope of an artists biography for more quality illustrations of the artists work, than are currently provided in Immendorf: die Biographie. Simply because an artist's creations were one of the things that an artist held dear in their life. H P Riegel's biography leaves moreover the impression of being a biography of a public personality, rather  an artist biography. by craniv boyd. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Claire Fontaine "working Together" November 3 - December 10, 2011 Metro Pictures 519 west 24th Street New York 10011, by craniv boyd.

Claire Fontaine "working Together" November 3 - December 10, 2011 Metro Pictures 519 west 24th Street New York 10011, by craniv boyd.

Difficult art work that looks as if it is protest of being art objects. A recent exhibition by the Paris based, artist collective called, Claire Fontaine, after a brand of stationary, was that in fact, difficult. One of the most memorable moments of the exhibition were the semi transparent plastic bags hanging from the ceiling with the content of, empty beer and soda cans. The refuse as component, of an installation lending an insider feel to a hermetic exhibition that had the appearance of a private joke, or a party, held on an industrial urban rooftop that one has missed.

in the front room of the Gallery Metro Pictures, was a silk screen painting that, bared the appearance of a 60-s vintage Warhol painting,  think of Nose Job from the year 1963 in the collection of Metropolitan Museum of Art. On this diptych was a line drawing of a wolf, growling on one panel cowering on the other, the poles of aggression and obedience both images. The heading in french codified the images as that of having an appropriated provenance, most likely from a textbook in french, about the socio-biology or behavior of wolves.

Past this room with the wolf paintings, was a iron scaffold, and numerous paintings of written words from snatches of conversation, between, Jay -Z, an American multi millionaire entertainer, and more recently art collector, and Richard Prince, an American artist, born in the Panama Zone, who has had the distinction of a retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. These paintings are jokes, and blatantly refer to the joke Paintings series by Richard Prince. Familiarity with the names of Jay-Z and Richard Prince precludes understanding of the super-flat art work, in short this room of Claire Fontaine's "working Together" is art work about dry tastes in the art world, that strange global village of  Art Basel, Art Basel Miami, New York City, London. The scaffolding makes the weak paintings with horrible content, part of an ironic installation, the apathetic placement of the trash, and aluminum cans, only helps to fuel an expression of intellectual despair, dismay perhaps at the acceptance of terrible Joke paintings by a celebrated artist like Richard Prince, or a more general seance of existential discomfort with the role of being a Paris based art collective, and performing a gallery show, in New York. 

In another room was a self-defense instructional video, of impeccable quality, superior lamp projection, appropriate sound befitting the gallery space. Claire Fontaine may be truly, careless in their "paintings" however, their video art was nearly faultless in its presentation. Viewers were left with the concerns of: what does this instructional video of clothed middle aged men on a gymnastic mat, mock fighting, have to do with the conceptual concerns of the other art objects, in the other rooms of Metro Pictures. By-in-large "working together" had the appearance of a collective artistic effort of conceptualized confusion, where the one thing that was spot on, was the installation of the video work. by craniv boyd. 

Maurizio Cattelan: All. November 4th, 2011, January 22, 2012, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, New York, by craniv boyd.

Maurizio Cattelan: All. November 4th, 2011, January 22, 2012,  Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, New York, by craniv boyd

You are an artist, half a century old, and a prestigious, branded museum in New York City, with a gaping wide atrium asks you for a retrospective of your art. If you are the Italian Born Maurizio Cattelan, your answer is to match the nearly impossible exhibition environs of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, on Fifth Avenue, with an equally improbable hanging solution, dangle all your  artistic out put from 1989 onwards, from the central void in Frank Lloyd Wright's iconic Museum building. The retrospective, All , may well have been a riggers nightmare, yet it was dazzling to see, so many art works, that have graced the covers of contemporary art magazines, in the real, precariously hanging, and out of reach in spectacular fashion. 

Early work of artist, Maurizio Cattelan, born in Padua, 1960, gained fast recognition, in the late 1990's, for his cynical approach. Articles in the French press, branded him thus, when they wrote about his debut exhibition, for his Paris Gallery, Emmanuel Perotin, where Cattelan fabricated life-scaled mannequins of vagrant people, setting them out side, on the streets of Paris where they could be mistaken for actual people with out homes. This series, of fake indigent poor of Paris, along with, a wax figure of the Late Pope John Paul II,  being struck by a meteor, are stations of the oeuvre of Cattelan that are hung from a rotund aluminum lattice, rigged to the central  occulus of the Guggenheim museum.

The oeuvre is presented, seemingly random, chandelier style, there is no immediately apparent linear chronological pattern in terms of series that Cattelan, has made. Interspersed in jumble of 130 art works, are scale wax figures of children with rope nooses around their necks, There are also smaller scaled self portraits in a similar vein, the artist himself, child sized, hanging by the neck if he were in the gallows.

 Him (2001) is an art work, consisting of a mini scaled Adolph Hitler, with a large bobble head, on his knees in a votive gesture.  Clearly, Maurizio Cattelan is an artist that is attempting to shock people with difficult and controversial figurative imagery. An nonthreatening diminutive Hitler in a pose, where the notorious Reichskanzeler is seeking forgiveness, children that look as if they have been lynched, and the Pope struck down by a loony-toons boulder, three dimensional images that look tremendously wrong. in some ways, Maurizio Cattelan: All is a unsettling Disneyland of the mind, wax figures of known people, and unknown people presented in a way to start a conversation, and or provoke controversy.

It would be hard for me to imagine a, New York Police Officer, seeing a hyper realistic portrayal of, uniformed Police men from the same department, hanging upside down,( trussed up by the feet in a posture unbecoming, of the authority they represent) and not being provoked. Like wise a practicing catholic or good christian might have some issues enjoying an art work, with a taxidermied horse lying prone on it's side with a wooden steak driven through it with a painted sign on it, INRI

Maurizio Cattelan's work can be said to vacillate between, the out rightly controversial, and the mildly amusing adaptation of something, someone, or some story well-known . Take for instance, a local fable of the town musicians of Bremen, a German city state where Maurizio Cattelan,  had an exhibition some years ago. According to the folk tale, a Donkey, a hound, a cat and a Hen, sang in unison, standing from biggest to smallest on the backs of one another. In Cattelan's interpretation of this tale, the town musicians of Bremen are skeletons, this fable, after Maurizio Cattelan got to it, is either dead, perverted or both. Other works where animals, are shown to feel angst, is the model of a squirrel in a pristine suburban kitchen, the moment after he has committed suicide with the aid of a revolver. The work titled Bidibidibidiboo(1996), shows squirrel blood on the linoleum suburban kitchen floor, the absurd firearm, rodent scaled, accompanies a suicide note.

An unorthodox presentation of the life's art works, so far, of a living artist, desperately working to be unorthodox. Maurizio Cattelan: All was spectacular, and the thousands of photographs taken by the spectators who visited the Guggenheim shall attest to this. The decidedly cavalier approach of letting it all hang loose from the ceiling, was counter balanced by the austerity of the rotunda it's self, no art was hung on the walls of the ramped spiral walkway, thereby accomplishing a fun house style reversal, of the visitors expectations, of where to see the art in a museum for Modern Art. The tabloid and radical sensationalist overtones that underpin much of Maurizio Cattelan's art, appeared to be one large deliberate sensationalistic morass, when strung up from a girder at the ceiling. The dizzying chaotic presentation underscored that there was one, artistic sensibility that authored these scandalous art objects. by craniv boyd.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Carsten Höller: Experience New Museum 235 Bowery 10002 New York. by craniv boyd.

Carsten Höller: Experience New Museum 235 Bowery 10002 New York. by craniv boyd.

When a Scientist becomes an artist, working today, making current art (S)he is more likely to make a big installation that numerous people can: feel, forget, then dismantle, rather than a tiny crayon drawing on acid free paper of an impossible flying machine like the renaissance polymath Leonardo da Vinci would do. Case and point with the disappointing viewing experience of Carsten Höller's one person spectacle, titled Experience, at the New Museum on the Bowery. 

The New Museum has, fashioned itself as an urbane, Disney World, for like the amusement park in Orlando, Florida, it has droves of children and parents alike lining up to take a ride on a carousel, a journey through a slide, or a dip in a pool. Granted there are no Pirates of the Caribbean, the ride, nor a life scaled plastic figure of Johnny Depp nor Penelope Cruz, partly because the fun house art, is geared at brainy people. The flavor of science hall participatory experiment appeals to the intellect in a way that is not without a sense of humor. 

After queuing up for, what was, on a rainy evening, close to closing time, one hour. The public can, slide down three levels of the New Museum, through, a room for one only, metal and plastic glass tube. This person scaled artery for a building deposits the member of the public on to a soft black cushion on the floor. Facing the black landing cushion two of the museum walls, are holding florescent lights á la Dan Flavin, blinking on and off at a seizure inflicting rate. Once the public finds their legs again after the adrenaline kick of Carsten Höller's, slide, they can contemplate life sized animals with glass eyes made of solid cast dyed silicone. The artificial animaliæ look sympathetic, each has a docile expression that could look, be interpreted as a weak smile. This is especially true for the blue ape, on his or her side that faces away from what I call the seizure lights. 

Further on the same level is a fish tank, which permits viewers to lay back and literally sleep with the fishes if they so choose. There are three cut arches built into the tank, accommodating room for an adults head plus a clear air filled pillow, so visitors can look up at fish swimming above eye level. 

The street level of the museum is where the public must furnish New Museum staff with their individual, John Hancock's, on legal waivers, giving their consent that they are participating in Experience at their own risk. In ascent of this, the museum spectator gets a colored wrist band, proof for the museum workers on the upper floors that they have singed the contract for the exhibition, that they are aware of the rules of it. Past the glass wall in the lobby cafe, is the most visually striking instance within, an art exhibition that is difficult to photograph. There are, replicas of mushrooms, scaled larger than a human being. Some of these fungi are edible, furthers are poisonous, whilst others contraband. The mushrooms models are in quarter and half pieces that are re-assembled so that walking around viewers can see, three to four different types of mushroom fused in one.   

The atmosphere at New Museum, during Carsten Höller's Experience, was convivial, almost too much so when contrasted with the somber, contemplative white cubes, where current art is usually presented. by craniv boyd.