Sunday, 6 April 2008

They’re cotton spools people, cotton spools!!!

I’m going to try and be quick with this post as I’m quite tired this evening, the week is probably catching up with me after a couple of late nights this week what with Wednesday’s date and then drinks with the Wino Wimmins Group at Lea Lounge on Thursday. Sometimes I have weeks where I seem to do all my socialising after work, so that by the time the weekend comes around all I am fit to do on Saturday night is drop onto my bed for a nice long snooze. This is one such weekend, however on the Saturdays I’m feeling somewhat antisocial I tend to make plans to see friends and so it was today that I met my friend Illana for a tour of the Chelsea galleries.

First stop was the
Lelong Gallery to see an exhibit called ‘Betrayed Witches” by a New York based Italian artist, Angelo Filomeno. Now although this is not work I could hang on my wall – I think it could give me quite a fright on a middle of the night trip to the bathroom – there was something very beautiful about the embroidered ‘paintings’ – made from black silk, sewn with silver thread and embellished with crystals - which made up the exhibit. Apparently Filomeno’s work often deals with themes of life and death and I think Rafael mentioned he’d lost both his parents at a young age. Apparently he’s been sewing since the age of seven and used to be an apprentice to a local tailor in his native Italy.

Unfortunately I could only find one image from the current exhibit and I don’t think it captures his work as well as it could, it looks grey and the silk is black with silver thread, so I’ve also included an image from a previous exhibit that I found on Flickr, posted by PapaPaolo!! Thank you PapaPaolo.

Next up was the Japanese artist, Tabaimo, at James Cohan gallery. This was a 6minute animation which the artist put together by computer after hand drawing over 700 scenes. The animation is set in a Ladies public bathroom in Japan and is apparently meant as an analogy to our relationship with the internet in that public restrooms are places where we take care of private matters in public – so to speak – and on the internet people are increasingly putting their public lives online. Ahem, whatever could she mean ;-)

Unfortunately you have to see the animation to fully appreciate it, but here’s a still from the gallery website which gives you a feel of her artwork. The animation is seamless, requiring 5 projectors, two for each side and one in the centre. If you buy this piece you receive a CD of the animation, you have to buy your own projectors :-)

Next up was a retrospective of the sculptor George Rickey (1907 to 2002) at the Marlborough Gallery. George Rickey, an artist who originally trained as an engineer. I was ignorant of Mr Rickey before today, but he made very serene – and often very large - kinetic sculptures which move slightly in response to air currents. I liked this exhibit lot. As a mathematician by training I find people often make sweeping generalisations that we more scientific types possess not an ounce of artistic ability. I love that Mr Rickey proves them all wrong. Unfortunately it’s work that doesn’t translate well into a photo, but below the photo taken in the gallery – courtesy of Hraqvartanian on Flickr – is a photo of a piece in situ at The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu.

The next exhibit was fun; it was by the Korean artist Hyungkoo Lee whose work is exhibited at the Arario Gallery. The artist creates skeletal forms based on well known cartoon characters. Below is a piece based on….can you guess….it’s a large animal form chasing a much much smaller animal form??? Yup, it’s Tom & Jerry!! Below the main photo is a close up of Tom...or is that Jerry, I forget, which one is the mouse??? Photos courtesy of Dalbera and AndyToad @ Flickr.

I like the way these pieces are lit so you see their shadows reflected on the platform below. Other cartoon inspiration in the exhibit included Wylie Coyote chasing Roadrunner and Bugs Bunny. The skeletons are made from resin, not actual bones, in case you were wondering.

Rafael prefaced our walk over to the fifth stop by telling the paintings on display were probably not things we would want to hang on our wall. I was slightly worried about what to expect – I’ve seen some, shall we say, interesting paintings on Rafael’s tours before, such as this piece by Carroll Dunham. Hhmmm, however the work by Alexander Ross at the Marianne Boesky Gallery was pretty tame by comparison, if a little green.

Sixth stop on the tour was to see the work of Ai Weiwei, a Beijing based artist showing at the Mary Boone Gallery. These pieces were very interesting. You walked into the gallery, turned a corner and whoa….a great big bloody chandelier. It was pretty cool.

The piece is called Descending Light and is made of glass crystals, stainless steel and electric lights and measures 156" by 180" by 268". It’s a whopper. It was made by the artist in China and transported to New York. Apparently it was a real pain to install in the gallery. Unfortunately I couldn’t find anything online about how long it took to make, but I’m sure it was a while. The website had this to say about it.

“An adaptation of his iconic chandelier form that here appears to have buckled by the violent impact of its fall. Lying askew on the ground, the fixture’s colossal structural rings remain festooned with strands of red crystals illuminated from within. With its brilliant red, emblematic of China, the work at once conveys the toppling of established order and the burning promise of the future.”

Filling almost the entire smaller back room was another piece, Traveling Light. Personally I preferred this piece to Descending Light, as, even though it's less dramatic, the colour and the use of wood made it feel much warmer. Plus it reminded me of a lamp I have at home from Pottery Barn ;-) Illana said it was the only piece she saw on the gallery tour that she had to resist touching.

Next up was Mirror Universe by Devorah Sperber, showing at the Caren Golden Gallery. Not being much of a Trekkie I couldn’t fully appreciate the subject matter used for these pieces, but I was amazed at the ingenuity of the materials used…

…such as these beaded curtains depicting the crew of the Starship Enterprise as they are transporting/beaming up/whatever it is they do.

...spools of thread arranged in, what seems to be a meaningless pattern when you see them up close, but which make perfect sense when the image is viewed either at a distance of through a convex mirror, such as this one of 9600 spools of cotton which make up an image of those whooshy doors on the Starship Enterprise, or the one below showing Spock.

…and lastly chenille stems, which are used to create this image of….well, I’m sure you all know what it is :-)

Apparently the artist had a previous exhibit where she recreated the works of old masters using cotton bobbins. I do like this photo from the Brooklyn Museum Photos on Flickr showing the artist putting together a cotton spool piece depicting DaVinci’s Last Supper.

Last but by no means least was an installation piece, Galaxies Forming Along Filaments, by the Argentinean artist Tomas Saraceno exhibited at the
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery.

According to the gallery press release “Saraceno takes the spider’s web as a starting point. Investigating how the gossamer thin filaments of these intricate webs are able to suspend life by way of intricate geometry, Saraceno suggests at a conceptual architectural proposal that relies on this most delicate and prehistoric system of life to take us into our future. Of particular interest is the application of this phenomenon throughout the history of time. A keystone to Saraceno’s fascination with these web constructions was the recent discovery that suggests the early universe was a sponge-like form, with galaxies forming along filaments, like droplets on a spider's web.”

So there you go. Have a lovely Sunday; I’m off to hit the hay now.


Kitty said...

how cool? This gallery go seems chock full of interesting stuff. Seems like there's a skeleton theme, with the fish and the cartoon characters.

I've seen the skeleton idea in 2-dimensions, too. Michael Paulus does beautiful drawings of the 'skeletons' of cartoon characters. You can see them here. (I had to Google that)

It's cool to see such new things. I love how the galleries are located near each other too. Convenient!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Kitty, thanks for the Michael Paulus link, those drawings are great.

There was definitely a skeletal theme to this months tour. I don't think it was intentional though, Rafael always says he just picks the exhibits that resonate most for him emotionally. I think he does a great job.

Spandrel Studios said...

Those pieces made of spools of thread are incredible! It reminds me of how Chuck Close paints in those little fragments that add up to an immense, detailed face when viewed from far away... different style, but I love how the works are created from unexpected components.

What a wealth of art at your disposal in the city! You're so lucky to live so close to all of it!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Spandrel, you are right there is a similarity to Chuck Close's work, or even George Seurat - I think that's the one - who used dots of paint to compose a larger image.

I do love all the art we have in New York. Can you believe there are over 600 contemporary art galleries in the city - 300 of them within a 10block stretch of Chelsea. It's a nice way to spend a Saturday :-)

The_Mrs said...

I love these posts you make! I love the pictures and the different artistic subjects... so cool. Very limited here at my location what we're exposed to.. so I appreciate you posting these for us! :)

Blur Ting said...

Wow, thanks for the pictures. You bring the gallery to our homes! I love the big skeleton chasing the small one. so cute:-)

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Mrs, thanks so much I am glad you enjoyed the post :-)

Hi Blur Ting, yes the skeletons were very cool close up. Glad you enjoyed the post :-)