Filed under: Dallas, Q&A | Tags: Arthur Pena, Charles Mayton, Dallas, Making [in] Dallas, The Power Station, Two Step
Vol. 2: Charles Mayton, The Power Station and the Long Vision
Before I go any further, here is some official literature about The Power Station:
“The Power Station is a not-for-profit initiative dedicated to providing a platform for ambitious contemporary art projects in Dallas, Texas. Housed in a Power & Light building constructed in 1920, artists are invited to respond to the raw character of the architecture, offering an alternative to the traditional gallery and museum context.
Geared toward an international audience and most immediately, the community of Dallas, the bold programming serves as a catalyst to provocate public discourse around art and culture.
Projects and publications at The Power Station are made possible through funding provided by The Pinnell Foundation.”
Filed under: New York, Q&A, Review | Tags: Bold as Love, James Cohan Gallery, Nadiah Fellah, SHINIQUE SMITH
On display at the James Cohan Gallery in New York are over twenty large-scale paintings and sculptures by Shinique Smith. The show, Bold as Love, combines the artist’s disparate inspirations drawn from calligraphy, literature, music, dance, fashion, and spiritual elements, which are literally and symbolically “tied together” in her sculptural pieces. - Nadiah Fellah, NYC Contributor
Shinique Smith | No Key, No Question, 2013, Ink, acrylic, fabric and collage on canvas over panel, 60 x 60 x 2 inches, Courtesy James Cohan Gallery
Filed under: Interview, Q&A | Tags: Arthur Pena, B. Wurtz, Metro Pictures
An afternoon with B. Wurtz is one filled with ruminations on art and life, the relationships between the everyday and the uneventful and your choice between a cheese or hummus sandwich. Wurtz himself is a welcoming spirit with an ever-present eye for the details that make up the world around us. Looking at his work, Wurtz’s meditative hand and delicate nature are overwhelmingly apparent. I can’t help but believe that only Wurtz could have the diligent restraint to caress plastic bags, tin foil pans and other materials that “service/serve us” into objects that challenge the conventions of art history while acting as mirrors to this space/place that we occupy. Sitting with Wurtz at his home in the lower eastside, surrounded by his work, we had a conversation. – Arthur Peña, Dallas Contributor
B. Wurtz | Untitled, 2009, Plastic bags, acrylic paint, string, canvas, 75 x 90 x 1 ½, inches. Photo courtesy of Metro Pictures.
Filed under: Gallerist at Home, Q&A | Tags: Cole Sternberg, David B. Smith, David B. Smith Gallery, Denver, Ellen C. Caldwell, Gallerist at Home, Hong Seon Jang, Laura Ball
Denver’s burgeoning contemporary art scene is anchored by such galleries as David B. Smith Gallery. Representing artists like Laura Ball (NAP #61, #97), Hong Seon Jang, and Cole Sternberg, the gallery is at once contemporary and relevant—and growing with the times.
David Smith (center, in tie) at opening reception for Hong Seon Jang, Labyrinth, at David B. Smith Gallery, Denver, May 2012. Time-lapse photograph courtesy of Paul Winner.
In his home, as with most other “gallerists at home,” Smith’s passion and enthusiasm for the artists he represents professionally is clear. Pairing paintings with photography and sculpture, he has created a warm and inviting space that reflects his humor and personality as well. - Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor
The limits of the human mind have something to do with really big numbers. There’s no insight into knowing that Earth is one hundred million miles away from the Sun, for example — it’s just real far. Partly, it’s a matter of scale. Cornell mathematician Steve Strogatz tries to rein in this vastness in his description of the Sagan Planet Walk, a scaled replica of the solar system in Ithaca, NY. There, Earth is the size of a pea and just a couple of steps away from the sun, itself the size of a serving plate. Pluto, the farthest planet in the solar system, is scaled to the size of a couscous grain and nearly a mile away, or a twenty minute walk. Needless to say there’s no Sagan Planet Walk that includes the other 100 billion stars in the Milky Way, or the rest of the 100 billion visible galaxies in the universe. — Matthew Smith, Washington, D.C. contributor
Felipe Pereira Goncalves | space…the unfuckable frontier, 2011, acrylic and spray paints,glue, and glitter on canvas, 32″x 50″
Filed under: In the Studio, Interview, Q&A | Tags: James Harris Gallery, Eric Elliott, Amanda Manitach, Pairings
Eric Elliott’s fourth solo exhibit at James Harris Gallery, called Pairings, shows a body of work getting much muckier. And the muck is getting more colorful. Paint, slowly and painstakingly built up in daubs, nearly curls off the canvas like calcified petals, resembling the flora with which he is obsessed. (His botanical illustrations fill notebooks scattered around his studio; dried bouquets languish in vases.) Elliott’s fascination with rendering the representational abstract is consistently apparent in his work: the subject of his paintings is sometimes legible, sometimes it spastically dissolves. Pairings takes this study of abstraction to a dialogic place. As per the title, Pairings displays paintings side-by-side as diptychs and triptychs, situating identical or related subjects next to one another. Yet each is executed with different approaches to material and mark making that evolve as part of the ongoing painting process. - Amanda Manitach, Seattle Contributor
Filed under: Q&A | Tags: #99, Arlington Arts Center, Laura Hudson, Matthew Smith, NAP
Laura Hudson (NAP #99) has been getting out of the studio. The Baltimore-based painter organizes participatory events, documents them on video, then culls her compositions from the nuanced moments hidden in the hours of footage. For her latest project Laura organized a sleepover at the Arlington Arts Center in suburban Washington, DC. The event was meant to be a sentimental throwback to the days of slumber parties — the artist and 15 of her friends ate junk food, chatted, and played cards all night before nodding off into sleeping bags. It’s all part of her painting process now, bringing her together with friends as much as it pushes her into the isolation of the studio.
The resultant series of paintings, On Common Ground, are currently exhibiting in the same gallery space where the sleepover was organized. In this regard they’re meant to function like a site-specific installation, integrating the viewer into the composition and blurring the boundary between the audience and the painting. Another project, Art Opening (pictured below), takes what is perhaps a more direct path at this, as painted subjects and gallery goers comingle in the same functional space.
I recently had the chance to chat with Laura about her work and her process. Our conversation after the jump. – Matthew Smith, Washington, D.C. contributor
Filed under: Los Angeles, Q&A | Tags: Andrewshire Gallery, Ann Bridges, Beer Belly, Ellen C. Caldwell, Gucci has my Blessing, Koreatown, LA, Marion Lane, MR44, Vincent Sabella, Wilshire Center Art & Architecture Walk, Yoshi Takahashi
On October 25th, Koreatown launched a new monthly art walk in the Wilshire Corridor. Self-described, the Wilshire Center Art & Architecture Walk “is a monthly celebration of sustainable urban living showcasing historic architecture, galleries, artists, photography, restaurants, bars, shops, and businesses located in Wilshire Center.”
Laura & Manfred Menz | Gucci has my Blessing, Courtesy of Andrewshire Gallery.
While the inaugural walk did not show signs of large masses walking from place to place, the way one might see at LA’s Downtown Art Walk or Culver City Art Walk, the art at the participating Ann Bridges Art Studio, Andrewshire Gallery, and the popular Beer Belly restaurant was young, fresh, and uniquely LA. - Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor
Practical necessity is Judy Rushin’s (NAP #64, #76, #100) muse. Well, not exactly. Her Modular series of sculptural paintings are made to be disassembled and reconfigured again; site-specific works that can travel well. Individual modules are aggregated into compositions for new exhibition layouts, then stacked and shipped. They’re spatially and geographically untethered — mobile paintings for a mobile economy. Indeed, if practical necessity is the unintended muse of most projects (unless your name is Jeff Koons), Rushin’s Modular paintings offer the idea of practical necessity as an evocative conceptual and material framework. There’s a clear immediacy to them, perhaps because they reflect our own untethered geographies.
Judy was one of the independent artists exhibiting at the (e)merge art fair in D.C. a few weeks ago, and I recently caught up with her to chat about her work and her process. –Matthew Smith, Washington, D.C. contributor (more…)
I recently returned from a trip to Bali, where I had the pleasure of meeting painter Federico Tomasi in his Kuta studio. Colorful and emotionally charged, Tomasi and his paintings are emotive and full of life. His abstracted faces and bodies cover a range of emotions, both in their inspirations and in the reactions they draw out from viewers.
Tomasi has lived all over the world, being born in Sweden, studying in Italy, and then moving to Bali where he now lives and works. While painting there, he was deeply inspired by the island affected by its history in a really unique way. – Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor
Badung Puputan 1906, Dutch government photograph most likely by Dutch war correspondent Jhr. H. M. Van Weede, Wikimedia Commons.
In September of 1906, the Dutch Indies colonizing forces came ashore Bali via Sanur (a beach town nearby Tomasi’s studio). As the soldiers debarked and approached the royal palace, expecting a violent resistance, they were instead met with a horrific scene that ended Balinese independence. A silent procession of people, led by the raja of Badung, partook in what the Balinese call a puputan or mass ritual suicide. Men, women, and even children used long lances or krises to silently and systematically stab one another at the feet of the Dutch soldiers. It is said that while this puputan was occurring, some of the Dutch forces began attacking the Balinese mass, causing some of the women to mockingly throw silver and gold jewelry at the Dutch troops; though other accounts recall that the women were actually paying and rewarding the soldiers for shooting them. Regardless, it is estimated that 1000 Balinese people gave their lives that day, choosing death over subjugation and colonization.
Ellen Caldwell: When I first heard about your paintings from our mutual friend, he described the way in which you made the Balinese puputan against the Dutch the subject of a series of your works. Could you describe what you knew about this mass suicide, what moved you, how it moved you, and how you incorporated it into your drawings or paintings?
Federico Tomasi: Well, it was more of a coincidence, which is something I believe leads my private life as well. I never sit down and think too much about what to do or why to do it before starting a painting—it’s more of an instinct—I get inspired from the process of doing, from my own drawings, from my thoughts and emotions. And then once the work is finished, I normally sit down and contemplate it.
That’s what happened with the puputan story. For three months, I was already painting those subjects on silver and gold paper over and over again until I reached around a 100 and I remember one day hanging them up, one beside another in my studio, and suddenly I felt something spiritual about it, in feeling and in the way that all of the subjects were all looking upwards. I knew something about puputan so I went asking for more information, and when I discovered that the Balinese had thrown jewelry and coins against the Dutch troops, I immediately connected the gold and silver paper in my works to this story and subject.
EC: I find this subject to be highly potent and really moving. I read that you planned to cremate the show after having it – has that gone as planned, and could you describe it a bit?
FT: I also found it very powerful, especially the Balinese strong, proud act of not letting themselves become slaves and their willingness to give up their lives for that… There are actually two reasons why I want to cremate my work during the show: one is because I don’t feel it would be nice to speculate on such an act. The Hindus cremate bodies after death, so everything started to make sense in that way. The second reason is because two years ago during the exhibition I had in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I felt something was wrong: I felt unhappy even if it was a successful show, and I couldn’t understand why and what was wrong with me. I analyzed my feelings to understand better and I came to the conclusion that something ended with that show, as it would with a relationship or with a friendship. As there was no more dialogue, the paintings were done and I could not touch them anymore, so I finally understood that what really counts for me is the moment I paint—not before or after, it’s during the process that I’m in touch with that thin line made of emotions, feelings, and thoughts.
I think once the painting is finished and I put down the brush, everything disappears from me as if something is ending. This does not mean I will burn all my paintings for the rest of my life but it made me think of the essence of why I’m an artist and what really counts for me being an artist. Anyway, the anniversary of this event is September and of course I will do it here in Bali and not overseas. There are two galleries that represent me here in Indonesia so I’m waiting for confirmations since the whole event will be documented and I really need a team to help me.
EC: I love that concept of the “thin line of emotions” that develops while you are painting. It is really great imagery… You are a true international artist in that you were born in Sweden, schooled in Italy, and currently live in Bali…. How have your Balinese viewers reacted to your art?
FT: I think the reactions could be the same as anyone else’s in the world. I don’t think contemporary art has a country or a specific language or style; I think each person has an individual way to see things in general and it is the same when someone is contemplating my art. And I really like that; it’s why I never put titles on my single work because I want people to see what they want according to their lives and experiences. I really believe in individualism, my dream is to see a future society that treats people as individuals because each of us is different….
Regarding the puputan painting series, the gesture of representing and cremating such a huge amount of work could only be appreciated by the Balinese and it’s a kind of tribute and a gesture of love I have towards this island and the people that live here. Of course the painting in itself will not be important anymore but the main importance is the cremation of it, as a sacrifice or honor.
EC: How have your current paintings and themes grown out of these original puputan-inspired works? Where do you transgress and where do you mimic or repeat?
FT: I’ve been painting people for the last fifteen years and it’s still my main subject. As I said before, nothing is or was really planned in relation to the puputan story. I work horizontally, like Pollock did, and that gives me the chance to add big amounts of colors. I have a sort of control until a point but then I like to let it go by itself – adding lots of colors, and then I normally repeat my work, especially in smaller sizes. Because of the fast process with these smaller pieces, I like to squeeze out every angle of my inspiration. I just simply feel compelled to do it and I am kind of afraid to lose that thin feeling in that precise moment, so I repeat something until it does not have any meaning to me anymore…
EC: Your emphasis on repetitions of faces and facial expressions are really enticing. But every so often, they are almost halted with larger paintings of fragmented bodies. Could you discuss this a bit?
FT: More than halted, I believe my paintings are moving constantly because of the technique I use—the body fragments are a vehicle to be able to express more. You can read people’s emotions from so many elements that belong to them—in the infinity of expressions and body language, there is always a sort of tension I look for in what I’m doing.
EC: Your technique of incorporating heavy-handed masses of paint and high gloss is fabulous and really rich in color and dimension. What kind of paints do you use — and do you vary mediums or stick to a tried and true?
FT: In my earlier works, I used to paint with oils but it started to disturb me because of the long process of drying—too slow compared to the speed of my thoughts, so it felt as if I kind of lost the initial reasons why I was there. So I started to use acrylics and enamels because they where drying faster, and also because of the chemical reaction I discovered, which is part of the “non control” I was mentioning before. This does not mean I will stick to that forever and I might go back to oils if I feel like, or I might try something new. Who knows – an artist should never compromise his art to satisfy the audience.
Portrait of artist Federico Tomasi, 2012. Photograph by Giovanni Lovisetto.
Born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1974, Federico Tomasi followed in his father’s footsteps and enrolled in the Institute of Arts in Riccione, Italy. He began showing his work in 1997 after moving to Asia, and has shown internationally in Italy, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the U.S.
For more information on the Balinese puputan, read Dutch war correspondent Jhr. H. M. Van Weede’s account of the event, published in “The Balinese Puputan” in The Indonesia Reader: History, Culture, Politics, edited by Tienke Hellwig and Eric Tagliacozzo, 2009; and The History of Modern Indonesia Since c.1200 by M.C. Ricklefs, 2008.
Ellen C. Caldwell is an LA-based art historian, editor, and writer. She gives her special thanks to Giovanni Lovisetto for both the introduction to Tomasi and the beautiful portraits.