The city was much busier than I expected, I’d been hoping it would feel a little quieter what with Memorial weekend marking the start of all the summer rentals out in The Hamptons, Fire Island and the Jersey shore and people heading off to the beach, but it felt busier than ever with the exception of the Bar Veloce on Cleveland Place on Saturday night which Debs, Emma and myself had all to ourselves for a good couple of hours.
I spent much of Sunday regretting the amount of wine I drank at Bar Veloce and, feeling a need for some healthy living, I later whipped up a pea and mint soup from my Canyon Ranch Spa cookbook. Delicious, I can highly recommend it. It was also a soup attempt more successful than my last since at least this time I didn't suffer burns due to the misuse of a hand blender, thanks to B’s gift of a smoothie maker to my kitchen arsenal, a thank you present for having him and Miles to stay back in April
Much of Monday was spent at the office trying to finish off a presentation that’s been hanging over my head, followed by drinking too much with a friend who needed the support of friends and sparkling wine after spending the holiday weekend possibly breaking up – it’s all up in the air at the moment - with her boyfriend of 2½ years, a boyfriend she'd moved in with not two months ago. Yikes, emotional trauma, not much fun for a holiday weekend.
According to Rafael, this particular exhibit, Prospero’s Monsters, which includes in the main
space headless mannequins representing key figures from the 18th Century Age of Enlightenment: : Jean le Rond d'Alembert, Gabrielle Emile Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, Immanuel Kant, Antoine Lavoisier and Adam Smith, ‘Enlightenment thinkers who caused civilization to flourish also burdened its members with the desire to conquer.’
The mannequins are dressed in period costume, but the clothing is made from traditional African fabrics instead of….well whatever it is clothing was made out of in the 18th Century. I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark and guess polyester wasn’t big in those days and that maybe wool was more common, but who knows. According to the gallery press release the exhibit ‘revisits the collision between irrational mysticism and logical reason that occurred in society during the eighteenth-century Enlightenment period.”
The figures are apparently headless because the artist doesn’t want to give them an ethnicity that’s obviously either African or European. The skin colour is a blend of the two ethnicities.
To be honest I didn’t know what to make of it, I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it; the only response it generated from me was “hmmm.”
Next up, the Vietnamese born artist, Dinh Q Lê, exhibiting at the PPOW Gallery who created a technique of ‘photo weaving’ two – or maybe more, I’m not sure, but it was two in this exhibit – different photos to create a new piece. I remembered this artist from the very first gallery tour I went on back in 2006 where he had an exhibit called Tapestries, where he sliced and wove different photos of flowers together with striking effect. This particular exhibit, Penal Colony, was of a much more sombre subject matter, weaving archive photographs of prisoners - I believe they were sourced from the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Phen, Cambodia, a former high school which became Security Prison 21 under the Khmer Rouge – with the prison’s current day orange exterior to ‘to create haunting images of Cambodia’s history and the secrets of war’ (Gallery Press Release).
The disturbing thing about these images is that many of the prisoners are clearly children. Rafael mentioned that the prison was one of the most notorious and that of approx. 20,000 people sent there only 12 are known to have survived. Ugh!!! The prints are available for $50,000 each.
Ok, onto much lighter fare, Mutant Mythos, at the Gana Art Gallery a first NYC show for 30year old South Korean artist, Yong Ho Ji who makes sculptures of animals using recycled tires. The artist uses steel, foam or resin as the support and glues the pieces of tire onto the frame. I love the way the thin tire strips give the animals a realistic sinewy look.
Next up was an exhibit by Robert Therrien at the Gagosian; apparently Chelsea’s largest and wealthiest gallery. Apparently Mr Therrien’s oversized sculptures of everyday objects are ‘intended to invoke wonder and anxiety of childhood’.
If you walk around these stacked bowls, which are created out of industrial plastic with a central rod anchoring them together, they appear to move, which is quite disconcerting.
Fifth on the tour was Anish Kapoor at the Barbara Gladstone Gallery. According to Rafael Mr. Kapoor is India's most famous artist outside of India. He’s well known in India too, but apparently there are other more famous artists. He moved to London when he was 19 is known for his large scale abstract sculptures, like the one titled ‘Blood Stick’ below.
Apparently blood stick’s rough exterior is a departure from his usual style of creating pieces with smooth surfaces.
The sixth exhibit was David Altmedj at the Andrea Rosen Gallery, a Canadian born artist who lives and works in New York whose art apparently explores themes of decay and transformation and who “is known for creating works which set up a duality between a geometric architectural space and more figurative material, manifest in his well known platform-like sculptures housing a glittering cabinet of curiosities. In the giants, the figure also becomes the structure, melding the two formal facets ets of hard-edged and amorphic. The body itself is pictured as a contingent form, a psychic container, and a field of unending transformation and renewal governed by social and environmental forces. Like a biological organism, Altmejd's sculptures are always in a state of becoming. Mirrored, spiraling staircases are a visual metaphor of infinity and the seemingly growing clusters of crystals and mirrored cubes, hair, and stalactite epoxy clay all work to picture a sculpture in a constant state of change.” (Gallery press release).
Rafael loved these giant figures, or werewolves as he referred to them, I’m not sure if the artist intended them to be werewolves or whether that’s Rafael’s interpretation, but one of them, which was very hairy, did kind of remind me of Oddbod and his brother from Carry On Screaming.
For a $125,000 you too can have a werewolf in your living room.
Lastly, Blessings by Zhang Huan at the Pace Wildenstein Gallery who creates images using incense ash, some of which is glued, some of which is loose. The ash is loose in this recreation below of a photo from the 1950s depicting Chinese workers building a canal.
Just think; one big sneeze and this piece would all be over the gallery. You have to climb up onto a platform to view it from above and it really is extraordinary taking approx 3weeks to create, working with 2assistants. Once the exhibit is over the gallery will just sweep it away. Photo’s of Blessings courtesy of C-Monster on Flickr.