Showing posts with label culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label culture. Show all posts

March 4, 2015

unique truths

How does one tell a "unique truth" 
as Richard Foreman talks about in his book Unbalancing Acts?
As he puts it, "we feel our lives as a series of multidirectional impulses and collisions."
"It is the impulse that is your deep truth, not the object that seems to call it forth. The impulse is the vibrating, lively thing that you really are."

Art is able to do this, to get to the core of what is really real and who we really are. It not only is able to relay an artist's own mind and spirit but it allows the audience the freedom to experience their own impulses simultaneously. In this way not only is the artist telling their unique truth but the audience as well is experiencing their own unique truth through it.

I think we recognize these truths when we realize that no other artist can give us this particular experience, and once we recognize it we could never mistake that work as belonging to anyone else.

My ultimate criterion for all great visual works of art includes such unique truths,
as well as a term I jotted down from I don't remember where and is now hanging on my studio wall, "extraordinary visual encounters".

As I'm writing this I'm trying to think of examples that apply: A work of art that could never have been done by anyone else; a unique truth and vision that is so powerful it becomes embedded in our subconscious and enlightens our perception of our selves and our world.

I would include the following:

Picasso's Guernica.

Guernica by Pablo Picasso

I think Monet's Waterlilies.

Monet's Waterlilies at the Musee de l'Orangerie in Paris

Monet's Waterlilies at the Musee de l'Orangerie in Paris

I want to say Rothko's Chapel but I'm not sure if it is more of an extraordinary spiritual encounter than visual, and if that originates with the artwork or the context thereof.

the Rothko Chapel

the Rothko Chapel

Francis Bacon.

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon


April 24, 2014

whitney biennial

After reading countless reviews,
and now that all the hoopla is over with, 
I finally made it to see the Whitney Biennial in person. 
(I know I'm a little late on the bandwagon...)

This year each floor of the museum was curated by a different curator, so I have to say it was a little tough going in with unbiased eyes. I've been a big fan of Michelle Grabner, the curator of the fourth floor, for a while now, taking some cues from her inspiring life of teaching, exhibiting, curating, raising kids, etc. Her Suburban was a huge influence when I opened my own suburban art gallery a few years ago. 

For what it's worth, I tried my best to be as impartial as I could.

view of fourth floor

I'm not usually much of an optimist so I started at the bottom floor with the idea of saving the best till last. Although I kinda liked Charlemagne Palestine's sound installation in the stairway,

I could've easily saved my tired feet, went straight up to the fourth floor and called it a day. 

It's taken a second look back at some of the work on the lower levels to keep myself from getting too repugnant, but if you haven't seen the show yet, to quote Jillian Steinhauer from Hyperallergic, "you won't be too put out, turned off, or riled up."

There were a lot of forgettable pieces in this show, mainly the entire second floor.

Charline Von Heyl
Charline Von Heyl, who I am a fan of, had some nice yet underwhelming black and white collages, and I struggled to stay focused on Rebecca Morris' paintings.

view of Rebecca Morris' paintings

Floor three was a little more lively. I didn't completely mind Ken Okiishi's painted video screens, however there were some major problems. 

view of Ken Okiishi's work

Bjarne Melgaard's multi-media room filled with mannequins and videos fell very flat especially after reading the sign on the doorway warning of explicit sexual and violent content. There seemed nothing sexy or violent about it and it came off rather staged and artificial, although maybe that was the point.

If the Biennial is meant to represent the most relevant artwork of our time, than perhaps in this case our time was well documented. I'm just not happy being overloaded with a lot of noise and media and absolutely no substance. Rather than regurgitate the noise back to us why not make some art out of it?

At some point I just wanted to yell at the artists, "give me more than just your obsessive compulsions!"

"Talk to me in a language that merits a deeper investigation, that warrants being put under the glass and scrutinized."

By the time I got back around to the elevators I found myself looking everywhere for something I could sink my teeth into. I was feeling overwhelmed with lackluster confusion.

As a whole the third floor felt rather disjointed, and it bothered me that the curator's statement made it seem like this was his intention. You can't posture a whole show with mish mash just because you claim that mish mashing everything together is your intention. It doesn't make it work any better.

In contrast, and I just can't help it, I thought the fourth floor had a better flow and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Although there were rooms that were jam packed, there were also some quieter rooms with plenty of space. When it all works together, that's called dynamics and I thought this show had it.

Sheila Hicks

I had a slew of favorites: ceramics by Sterling Ruby, Ricky Swallow's sculptures, video by Jennifer Bornstein, Jacqueline Humphries, Sheila Hicks, Zoe Leonard's room size camera obscura- all good stuff, and there are a lot that I'm missing.

Sterling Ruby

Jacqueline Humphries

All in all, you just can't go without witnessing the biennial in all of its long winded surprises, sensations, blunders, and achievements.. I guess I'm glad I didn't totally skip the work I didn't like, but at the same time somebody please give someone like Ms. Grabner a chance to curate the whole damn thing next time. It shouldn't matter whether it's a museum or a gallery, commercial or non profit. Exhibitors of art and culture have a responsibility to do whatever it takes to truly represent the artists of our time without constantly watching their backs, their reputations and their pocket books....

Now I'm being an optimist!

detail of Joel Otterson's beaded curtain

April 18, 2014

the word CULTURE

Lately the word culture has been coming up a lot. 

As an artist I am wholly concerned with perception, that very subjective notion of any given thing. It's my job as a painter to sway the viewer's perception one way or another. To bring my personal viewpoint to their world. Painting after all is an illusion, and even if the painting is more about the object itself than the illusion, you still must address the viewer's awareness of these things.

I'm finding out that perception is what makes the world go round, and is the answer to most of my questions.

So here is the word culture, that has a myriad of subjective meanings. 

I've been using the word culture in my life in pretty much one specific way; as a broad term for anything art related such as the opera, the ballet, art institutions like galleries and museums, live music, the theater. When I talk about living in an area with nothing cultural going on those are the types of things I'm referring to. My thesaurus complies by telling me that culture suggests a certain education and sophistication and cites words like erudition and gentility.

Recently, however, it's occurred to me that my awareness and use of this term culture has been quite limited. It came about while I was watching a documentary where the person being interviewed was describing her childhood as culturally Jewish even though she did not believe or practice Judaism in any way.

I thought how stupid of me that I'd never used the word culture in that sense, although I'm sure I've described it that way without realizing it. 

This could be a duh moment for some of you reading this, but bear with me...

In a way you could use the word to describe almost anything, like the culture of urban or suburban life, the culture of soccer moms and restless dads, the culture of any race or religion, the culture of any neighborhood, Brooklyn culture, uptown culture, downtown culture, jazz culture, theater culture. In Long Beach Island it'd be the surf culture. There is the art world culture. Miami has a culture, New York City has a culture. I just filled out a personal profile for some web site that asked where I lived, but also added that it could include my philosophy, state of mind or where I'm from, which could've also just said your culture. So I put NYC.

map of New York City

Please feel free to chime in at any time as I'm sure you all have had your own experiences with the word CULTURE-

The revelation to me is that I've been complaining about a lack of culture in my life without recognizing that it's this true multilayered meaning of the word that I'm really protesting. The culture I seek is less about the institutions it inhabits and more about an entire community lifestyle, traditions, habits and ways of living, ways of thinking, dressing, and talking. It can now be the simple answer to everyone's question of why are you moving

Barbara Kruger, Culture
Barbara Kruger

My husband and I have always created our own culture, or to put it another way, have taken our culture with us wherever we went. We've initiated art galleries and music festivals, happenings and events in every town we've lived in. We've formed alliances with every cultured group we could find or invent, yet we still haven't found what we're looking for. (thanks Bono for getting that song stuck in my head) Now that we're moving, it's nerve wracking to expect so much from one little unknown dot on a map. It's hard to know what we'll find, but it makes me feel better that at least we know what we're looking for. When people ask why we're moving now I can simply say... CULTURE