Filed under: Austin, Review | Tags: Brian Fee, Jason Middlebrook, Lora Reynolds Gallery
Painting on wood panels is old-school, the most popular way of supporting media until canvas took over in the 16th century. Jason Middlebrook isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel by painting directly onto internally cut trunks from the local mill. But in relocating from Williamsburg to Columbia County in upstate New York seven years ago, the artist began infusing his nature-minded oeuvre with the natural landscape. The Line That Divides Us, Middlebrook’s debut solo exhibition at Lora Reynolds Gallery in Austin, is a distillation of his most recent work: subtle compositions on their own sublime hardwood slabs. — Brian Fee, Austin contributor
Jason Middlebrook | Black Betty, 2013, Spray paint on cherry, 105 x 18 x 1 1/4 inches. Courtesy the artist and Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin. (more…)
It seems almost fated that Texas transplants Pat Snow and Matthew John Winters would exhibit together. The mellifluous title to their grayDUCK Gallery duet Wintersnow Snowinters echoes the innate, mantra-like concentration evident in their respective works, combining images and memories to sublime conclusions. — Brian Fee, Austin contributor
Upon meeting Snow at the three-artist exhibition True Story at grayDUCK last year, I was stone-cold smitten with his graphite portrait Record Shop Girl and the liquidic color bouquets blooming across watercolor Sleeping vs Waking. There was something uncanny about these figures — Facebook “selfies” of Snow’s friends — something nostalgic, like girls I’d met in university or at some party in New York. His usage of text (either unsteady print or carefully meandering cursive, culled from snippets of conversation or song lyrics) redoubled this deep familiarity. Like: I know them from somewhere, or, I want to know them. Wintersnow Snowinters signals Snow’s first painting show in some two decades, so several earlier watercolor works (like Sleeping vs Waking) reappear here as fully-formed oil on panel compositions. The 2013 Wake features Snow’s hometown friend Heather (now an Austin-based chef) with clouds of grey across her face, like sleep’s last remnants, instead of the tropical shadows from last year’s watercolor. The same script — “it wasn’t so much the sleeping as much as the waking up” — snakes across her partially concealed arm like a tattoo, but the subdued palette radiates hazy consciousness, flickers of violet in her hair, a single streak of watery red extended beneath her lips.
Filed under: New York, Review | Tags: Ellsworth Kelly, Matthew Marks, Nadiah Fellah
Ellsworth Kelly has recalled of his early development as an artist: “I didn’t want to paint people. I wanted to paint something I had never seen before. I didn’t want to make what I was looking at. I wanted the fragments.” In Ellsworth Kelly at Ninety—a title that refers to the birthday the artist celebrated a few weeks after the show’s opening—fourteen paintings and two sculptures in Kelly’s signature fragmentary style are on view. Impressively, all of the large works were made in the past two years, evidence that the artist’s age has not affected the prolific production of his work. - Nadiah Fellah, NYC Contributor
Filed under: Review | Tags: Alex Chitty, Alice Tippit, Roots & Culture, Stephanie Cristello
At once phonetic and ambiguous, the work in Ella Hatchet reflects the title – a collection of paintings, photographs, and sculptures by Alex Chitty and Alice Tippit that strike a mood, rather than a specific target. In fact, the symbol a target would be the antithesis of what this exhibition, currently on view at Roots & Culture, so beautifully achieves. Embracing the poetic potentials of form, color, and organization of everyday objects, Chitty and Tippit stage an anti-devotional relationship to domestic symbols indicative of art historical tropes, as much as midcentury style and design. Where the embellishment of myth intersects with the cool touch of a textbook, both artists take a critical, yet humorous stance on immediately recognizable symbols and modes of making – silhouette portraiture, the reclining nude, and marble sculpture, to name a few. In Ella Hatchet, a Classical approach to achieving the perfect form is met with the contemporary anxiety of purposeful mistranslation. Taking its cue from the pictorial language of painting and sculpture, as well as its signs/signifiers, this exhibition questions the state of an original object when interpreted into a new context – reveling in all the exciting slippages that occur when traditional systems of representation falter. – Stephanie Cristello, Chicago Contributor
Work by Alex Chitty and Alice Tippit, from left: “Autonaut,” 2011, “Snap,” 2011, “Slow Death of a Namesake (Unit I),” 2013, and “Lake Aspect,” 2012. Courtesy of the artist and Roots & Culture.
Filed under: Los Angeles, Review | Tags: Christine Frerichs, Ellen C. Caldwell, gallery km
The main gallery space is filled with ten large 44 x 34 paintings that are three-dimensional, visually enticing, and inviting. At first glance, they do not appear to have a unified theme, as they vary fairly drastically in color and abstract subject. Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor
Christine Frerichs | The Conversation – installation view. Photo by Lee Thompson, courtesy of gallery km.
Filed under: Chicago, Kansas City, Review | Tags: Anne Lindberg, Carrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago, Kansas City, Kent Michael Smith, New Work from Kansas City, Paul Anthony Smith, Stephanie Cristello
An effort to define “Midwestern Painting” has been a major topic of discussion lately – not a quite debate, but definitely an inquiry. Carrie Secrist’s recent exhibition New Work from Kansas City, featuring work by Anne Lindberg, Kent Michael Smith, and Paul Anthony Smith, foregrounds an emphasis on site and contemporary practice in the Midwest. While the press release pushes against a read of “regionalism”, the exhibition suggests otherwise – though perhaps this ever-present theme of region is symptomatic of a larger condition concerning a rise in questioning Midwestern “standards” for a definition toward “painting,” the term. Strung together by a loose thread of abstraction, the exhibition features the artists’ differences as opposed to their similarities. Far from being a negative thing, New Work from Kansas City highlights some very prevalent issues in what it means to put together exhibitions with a Midwestern slant today in Chicago. – Stephanie Cristello, Chicago Contributor
Anne Lindberg | parallel 39, 2013, graphite and colored pencil on cotton mat board, 58 x 51 inches,Courtesy the artist and Carrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago
Filed under: Los Angeles, Review | Tags: David Rathman, Ellen C. Caldwell, Mark Moore Gallery
David Rathman’s recent watercolor exhibit “Hope I’m Never That Wrong Again” at Mark Moore Gallery featured fading sepia-toned watercolor cowboys gallivanting around a fading wild west like ghosts…It was filled with images reminiscent of Lonesome Dove that would have made Larry McMurtry proud.
David Rathman | There Never Was Any Good Old Days, 2013, Ink and watercolor on paper, 28 x 42 inches. Image courtesy of Mark Moore Gallery.
At times these cowboys appeared to be riding out toward the viewers and at others, they looked to be fading into the background. Regardless, they welcome us into a turbulent past… Yet Rathman’s combination of monotone colors, delicate washes, and humorous titles suggest a rebirth and reimagining of the violent days of yore, in the form of bittersweet and gritty nostalgia. - Ellen Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor (more…)
Filed under: New York, Review | Tags: Julie Mehretu, Marian Goodman Gallery, Nadiah Fellah, NYC, painting
The artist Julie Mehretu has often commented that “trying to figure out who I am and my work is trying to understand systems.” In a new body of work on view at Marian Goodman Gallery in New York, it is equally her desire to understand systems and their disintegration that becomes the subject of her art. Taking her point of departure from the events of the Arab Spring, Mehretu employs her trademark aesthetic of complex, layered imagery to evoke the topics of political and social change, as well as the civic spaces that became the sites of the recent revolutions and occupations. – Nadiah Fellah, NYC Contributor
Filed under: New York, Review | Tags: Gedi Sibony, Greene Naftali, Nadiah Fellah
On view at Greene Naftali are twenty new works by the New York artist Gedi Sibony. The show begins with a small room of found, framed works, each reversed in its frame and hung on the wall, so as to only display its posterior side to viewers. Poetic yet elusive titles like Into a Ring of Doubles and Doric Ions conjure the possible imagery present but now hidden. Instead, viewers are confronted with the aged and discolored backing of each work, irregularly held in place with patches of tape. By purposefully obfuscating from our view the presence of what is now known but implied, Sibony creates a sly commentary on knowledge and assumptions, pointing to a strong conceptual element in his own practice, and priming visitors for works in a similar vein in the gallery’s main space. – Nadiah Fellah, NYC Contributor
Beyond the small room of framed works, the remainder of the gallery is entirely lit by the northeastern facing windows of Greene Naftali’s eighth floor space. This changes and dramatizes the experience of the sculptures depending on the time of day or weather. Indeed, the term ‘dramatize’ is an apt one—many of the free-standing sculptures in the show evoke similarities to stage props or backdrops, their found materials and crude constructions reminding one of alternative or guerrilla theater productions.
Gedi Sibony | Eight More Petals, 2013, Wood, foam core, cardboard, paper, tape, 97 x 44 x 18 inches. Image courtesy Greene Naftali.
Upon entering the main gallery, one encounters by a large, semi-circular structure, placed between two large columns. Titled The Porcelains, the structure appears as a stage might, centrally positioned, and providing a flat plane on which to stand. However, its pristinely white appearance, and title that equally references distance and fragility, betrays its lack of use, causing us to contemplate its latent possibilities.
Gedi Sibony | Ceaseless Episodes of Blossom, 2013, Carpet, primer, 98 x 73 ½ inches. Image courtesy Greene Naftali.
One of the several works that employs the backsides of large rugs—a method that falls in line with Sibony’s reversed prints also on view—is Ceaseless Episodes of Blossom. The large triptych is positioned behind the semi-circular ‘stage,’ as if a backdrop, and features a grid of four reoccurring emblems, each signifying one of the four seasons. The juxtaposition of a rigorous grid format combined with the randomness of the emblems’ repetition aligns the work with those like Alighiero Boetti and the Arte Povera movement in general, a connection that is also referred to in Sibony’s use of raw and found materials.
Another function of the large, obtrusive structure in the center of the gallery is that it forces visitors to move along the periphery of the space, whether or not they are aware of it. Thus it fits with Sibony’s declaration that he likes to “complicate space” with his sculptures, compelling viewers to inadvertently move in patterns or configurations that they might not otherwise within a gallery.
Gedi Sibony | Grants Every Gift, 2013, Carpet, toy Ferris wheel, 90 ¼ x 71 ¾ x 7 inches. Image courtesy Greene Naftali.
Similarly compelling such movement is a large carpet fragment titled Grants Every Gift, hung with its underside exposed, and lying unevenly against the wall. When one instinctively peeks around the side of the work to look for an obstruction, one sees a small toy Ferris wheel wedged between the rug’s surface and the wall, suspended at roughly eye level. This hidden and unexpected object is evidence of the wry humor present in much of the artist’s practice, and slyly gestures at his ability to “toy” with our assumptions and expectations.
Gedi Sibony was born in 1973, and is originally from New York, where he currently lives and works. He holds a BA from Brown and an MFA from Columbia University. Since 2000, his work has been exhibited widely in the US and Europe. His sculptures were included in the 2006 Whitney Biennial, and the 6th Berlin Biennale in 2008.
Gedi Sibony is on view at Greene Naftali Gallery in New York through June 15th.
Nadiah Fellah is a graduate student of Art History at The Graduate Center, CUNY in New York.
Filed under: Chicago, Review | Tags: Courtney Blades, Stephanie Cristello, Zach Meisner
Appearances can be deceiving in Zach Meisner’s work, and what may seem like a potentially recognizable form at first is often an illusion. His recent exhibition, currently on view at Courtney Blades, is no exception. In New Work, a collection of small paintings, symbols stand in for silhouettes of busts; asymmetry masks itself as something more harmonious, and meaningless forms take lovely lapses into the aesthetics of utilitarian design objects. Though made out of low-grade construction materials – Plexiglas, plywood, MDF, and acrylic – Meisner’s paintings are sleek, clean, and crisp. Through combinations of bold geometric elements and slow passages of sensory play, Meisner’s paintings border on the cusp of object and surface. – Stephanie Cristello, Chicago Contributor