Saturday, 28 June 2008

The Last Gallery Tour Of The Season: Part I

I've been very lethargic this week; it's taken me ages to get stuff done. I think I've got used to my temporarily lighter workload and laziness has set in. Either that or the hateful humidity is slowing me down. Thankfully it's a short week due to 4th July weekend, and half my clients are taking advantage of the brevity of the work week to head off on their hols this week so there's very little pressure. Yay!!

My parents are also in town of course. Well, actually they're not, having skidaddled off to Fort Lauderdale for 4 days very very early on Monday morning - I believe it was 3.30am when I was woken by them readying themselves for a trip to the airport - which made my resolution to not argue with them for the duration of their visit that much easier to keep, at least for this week. They're back in town tomorrow morning, so I am racking my brains for things to keep them occupied. You'd think this would be easy, but as this is something like their 10th visit to New York, they've pretty much covered all the standard tourist activities, so if you have any novel ideas they'd be much appreciated.

Nothing much to report anyway. I'm having a lovely time being busy doing nothing, but it makes for very dull blog posts. I did manage to drag myself out of the air conditioned bliss of my apartment on Saturday 28th to join my neighbour, Betsy, for the last Chelsea gallery tour of the season. The majority of galleries in Chelsea close on weekends throughout July and August, so our tour guide, Rafael, is forced to suspend his monthly best exhibits tours for the summer. Last Saturday's tour was the last until September 13th.

I didn't love it to be honest, not as much as tours I've been on in the past at any rate, and I dithered whether to post about it at all, but since art is subjective I decided to let you make up your own mind.

First up was Walton Ford at the Paul Kasmin Gallery whose, admittedly beautiful, watercolours illustrated "the cultural history of our relationship with animals." From what I saw of this exhibit the relationship he tends to depict is a negative one, however I'm generalising about his work after a single viewing, so I could be wrong.

The watercolour below is titled "Loss of the Lisbon Rhinoceros" and references a tale of a Portugese ship which sank off the coast of Italy in 1515 as the crew were attempting to deliver an Indian rhinoceros to Pope Leo X, a gift from the King of Portugal, Manuel I and unfortunately the poor animal perished, along with most of the crew I imagine.

The watercolour above depicts a Hyrcanian tiger. Hyrcania was a region (country?) south of the Caspian sea where tigers were once apparently abundant, but have been extinct in the region since the 1970s.

When I saw the painting above I wondered why the tiger was playing with a glass ball. Apparently this was a tactic used by hunters to distract the tiger - which sees its own reflection in the ball and mistakes it for another tiger encroaching on its territory - so they could get close enough to kill it :-(

I don't know about you, but these images made me feel ashamed at the frivolous and irresponsible attitude man has consistently displayed towards the animal kingdom. Not that we often don't have a frivolous and irresponsible attitude to each other. I despair of the human race sometimes I really do.

Feelings about the exhibit aside should you be after bagging yourself a nice watercolour to hang above the fireplace I'm afraid you are out of luck if Mr Ford's work happens to tickle your fancy, his paintings were all sold, however if you happen to find a spare $450,000-$600,000 down the back of the sofa hold onto it, you might be lucky enough to pick up one of his pieces at a future exhibit.

The second stop on the tour was the Aperture Gallery to see the exhibit, Architecture of Authority, by the photographer Richard Ross. According to the information on the gallery website the photographs were "provoked by the artist’s fury at the state of the post–9/11 world––the abuse of power, erosion of individual liberty, illegitimate authority, and constant surveillance."

I thought his work was very interesting, if not something I'd chose to hang on my wall, and I especially enjoyed the juxtaposition between the spaces photographed.

As the artist points out about the above photographs “Architecture is not necessarily an innocent act of creativity. A confessional in a Catholic church and an interview room at the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters share the same intimate dimensions. They are both uncomfortably tight spaces constructed to force people together, to extract a confession in exchange for some form of redemption.”

Third stop was to see the exhibit Confessional Configuration by Chinese artist Zhao Nengzhi at ChinaSquare gallery. Below is a group of thumbnail images of the exhibit that I pulled from the gallery website!!

Imagine these images displayed a 100 times bigger than the size you see here. Eeek!!! They were quite disturbing to me - I'm a squeamish sort - looking like people who had been tortured, but perhaps that was the artist's intent. They certainly got an emotional reaction out of me. you know, I'm feeling quite tired, which is not surprising since I've been sat outside the White Horse Tavern half the afternoon - we get to finish work at 1pm the day before July 4th - drinking Coronas and gossiping with Debs. My arms feel about as strong as spaghetti. I think I'll stop here and continue the post later.

Happy 4th* if you're celebrating, I hope any sausages you may be grilling turn out perfectly!!

*For those Americans among you that may be, I don't care a jot that the 4th July essentially celebrates the day you kicked us Brits out way back in 17something. I wasn't even born then. I wasn't even close to being born, in fact my ancestors were probably still in Ireland at that point, they weren't even British, however I always manage to attract the one numpty that will seriously ask me if I feel sad that it's July 4th. Are you kidding me...IT'S A DAY OFF WORK!! What's to be sad about? The only depressing thing is that the inquirer has an IQ low enough to even consider asking.


Kitty said...

Lol on the hope for our sausages.

I cannot get started on the fate of man and nature, nature, especially.

I just read an article in the New Yorker about a writer visiting China and there being zero birds around. He was a birder and despaired about how many endangered species are disappearing on that side of the planet, where people are focused on tearing down trees and development.

I feel the same as you, quite lethargic. It's quite funny that we look forward to summer all winter. What are we thinking?

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Kitty,

That's so sad about the birds in China. I appreciate the need for development, but there must be a better way for us to co-exist with nature. We never seem to learn.

Hope you have a happy 4th :-)


Karen ^..^ said...

LOL, The whole mentality about asking if you are sad it's the fourth, goes with the same mentality that black people hate whites, for things they never even did, and for whites wanting to give black people reparation checks.

You are right, I too despair of the human race sometimes.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Karen,

You make a good point. Sometimes we are all guilty of being a bit ignorant :-)

Have a great 4th.


Mike S said...

My ancestors were here to see the Europeans arrive and I still celebrate the 4th.

As for the destructive tendencies of mankind, our people told the newcomers years ago to respect nature or nature would extract its revenge. Nobody ever listens.

Those are rather grotesque works by the Chinese artist. I think nothing in this set of offerings would be likely to find a home with me.

Enjoy being lethargic, just consider it 'retirement training'. I personnally 'trained' for a few decades before becoming comfortable enough to actually retire:)

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Mike, I hated those paintings by the Chinese artist. I couldn't wait for the tour to leave that gallery.

Glad to hear you got in all the necessary practice before retirement :-)


Blur Ting said...

I agree, those pictures by the Chinese artist are disturbing.

I'm glad you're enjoying this lull period. You must cos it is so hard to come by!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Blur Ting, yes I am trying to enjoy it while it lasts. I think this will be my last week of non-mania :-)

Sister Sassy said...

those paintings are super creepy

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Sassy, yeah they are not something I'd chose for hanging over the fireplace :-)

Amel's Realm said...

Glad to hear you've managed to pass through the days with your parents well enough. I assume they're almos gone by now? But then again it's always nice to meet parents once in a while, right? ;-D

Btw, that last artwork really makes me feel nauseous. :-(((((

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Amel, my parents are in town until tomorrow, which is the reason I've been MIA on the blogs recently :-)

I hated those paintings too. Full size in a tiny gallery they were gruesome. I couldn't wait to get out.