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: New York | Tags: Bruce Conner, Nadiah Fellah, Paula Cooper Gallery
On view at Paula Cooper Gallery in New York is a large selection of pen and ink-blot drawings by the artist Bruce Conner (1933-2008). Spanning the period of 1962-2000, the drawings vary from postcard size to medium-scale works, and are all black-and-white. Also on view is a 2008 film by the artist titled EASTER MORNING, done in collaboration with the musician Terry Riley. - Nadiah Fellah, NYC Contributor
Installation view, Paula Cooper Gallery. Image courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery. (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: New York, Review | Tags: Basquiat, Gagosian, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Nadiah Fellah
Basquiat’s career encapsulated the kind of intensity and drama that art legends are made of. Within a period of five years he went from being a high school drop-out living on the streets of New York, to an established painter whose work was in high demand. Shortly thereafter, he died of a drug overdose at the age of twenty-seven, ending his short, but prolific career. - Nadiah Fellah, NYC Contributor
Installation view of Jean-Michel Basquiat at Gagosian Gallery. Photo by Rob McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.
Filed under: New York, Review | Tags: Monya Rowe, Nadiah Fellah, Vera Iliatova
On view though April 13th, at Monya Rowe’s second-floor gallery in Chelsea, are eight exquisite paintings by the Russian-born artist Vera Iliatova (NAP #86). The artist’s paintings are best described as wooded landscapes, but the buildings and bridges of cities can often be seen through tree’s branches, giving the impression that figures have wandered just beyond an urban environment. Introductory text written by the Ohio painter George Rush best captures this notion. He writes: “Strange things start to happen this far out. They are beyond the limits of the city now, the women…Gone are the signifiers of stability.”
The enigmatic quality of the paintings is heightened by Iliatova’s technical mastery of the medium. I recently had the opportunity to ask the artist more about her painting practice, artistic influences, and the sources for her imagery. – Nadiah Fellah, NYC Contributor
Vera Iliatova | Days Of Never, 2013, oil on canvas, 78 by 60 inches, Courtesy of the artist and Monya Rowe Gallery, New York
Filed under: New York, Review | Tags: Dana Miller, Jay DeFeo, Nadiah Fellah, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum
On view at the Whitney Museum in New York are works by the late San Francisco artist Jay DeFeo. The show premiered at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in the fall, but its installation at the Whitney is slightly larger, bringing together over 150 paintings, sculptures, photographs, and drawings by the artist. The sprawling show unites many rarely seen works by DeFeo, who was little-known beyond the Bay Area art scene from the 50s until her death in 1989. However, her lack of a national reputation was not for lack of skill or production, as the retrospective demonstrates. Throughout her life DeFeo worked prolifically in a range of mediums, building a transformative artistic practice that was both visionary and inspiring. - Nadiah Fellah, NYC Contributor
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: Review | Tags: Badlands Unlimited, Nadiah Fellah, NYC, Paul Chan
The idea of destroying books—literally and figuratively—never occurred to artist Paul Chan, until a couple of years ago. His ebook publishing company, Badlands Unlimited, was participating in the New York Art Book Fair, when an argument broke out in front of their booth. Two women were having a heated discussion about whether or not publishers like Chan’s were destroying books. One of the women argued that the shift to electronic books was inevitable, while the other vehemently disagreed, declaring, “They are burning books!” Although not present at the fair himself, when Chan heard this story, he says a light bulb went off. He had never considered that he was destroying books—in fact, he thought he was creating them. But if he were going to be accused of such an atrocity, why not do it right? - Nadiah Fellah, NYC Contributor
Filed under: Review | Tags: Anj Smith, Hauser & Wirth, Nadiah Fellah, NYC
Portraits by the British artist Anj Smith appear at first glance to be those of young women. But careful viewing reveals elements that throw their portrayal of femininity into question—a few strands of facial hair, an Adam’s apple. Smith says the ambiguity is intentional, and that she was inspired to investigate issues of gender in her work by a close friend who recently underwent gender reassignment surgery. Her paintings are at once radical explorations of identity and sexuality, fused with a painting practice that has its roots in a fifteenth-century aesthetic and technique, a striking contrast that invigorates her work.
All of the eleven paintings on view at Hauser & Wirth in New York are small, but painted in intricate detail. At times Smith’s brushstrokes are scarcely detectable as hairline traces across her canvases. In other instances her brushstrokes are not detectable at all, as she has seamlessly created porcelain complexions and diaphanous textiles using an oil technique only achieved by true painting masters. It takes the artist six to nine months to create each painting, but the complexity of each piece succeeds in creating scenes that are surreal and alluring, well worth her time-consuming efforts. - Nadiah Fellah, NYC Contributor