Sunday, 28 November 2010

Chelsea Gallery Tour - December 2010

It's been a while since I've done a gallery tour and even longer since I've been inspired to post about one. I was going so regularly I was getting a little bored of them to be honest. I felt like I was just repeating the same things over and over again, but I also felt like getting out and about yesterday, so I left my apartment at 11.30am and walked across the park and down 9th avenue to join Rafael Risemberg at the meeting point on west 26th street for his 1pm Chelsea gallery tour.

First on the tour was an exhibit by the artist Peter Campus at the Cristin Tierney gallery on west 29th street. I'll fess up, I'd never heard of Mr. Campus before, but apparently he is an artist of considerable renown, a video art pioneer.

Peter Campus' current exhibit 'Calling For Shantih' consists of seven video installations of his local Hampton Bay landscapes and he has apparently patented the technique used for these pieces which are difficult to convey in a photo, especially as the gallery lighting made it impossible to get a decent photo on my tiny point and shoot which didn't have some sort of reflection marring it, however the gallery website has this infinitely better photo of one of the pieces.

Image courtesy of Cristin Tierney

Mr Campus begins by recording a landscape with a camcorder for about 6-9mins each, choosing a windy day to get some movement, and then manipulates the video to create the 'painting' above. Speakers are positioned on the floor beneath each piece playing the sound of the wind.

You can't tell from a still photo, but the pixels flutter giving the impression of movement. The pieces are apparently inspired by the work of post-impressionist painter Paul Cezanne and sell for $30,000 each which Rafael thought was a relative bargain given the renown of the artist. He indicated that the fact that the gallery is selling 6 of each piece may be the reason for the 'low price'*. The exhibit closes on the 18th December 2010.

At the James Cohan Gallery is Distillation, the most recent work by 44year old American artist, Roxy Paine, whose career is apparently 'skyrocketing'. Last year his piece, Maelstrom, was the rooftop installation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The video below shows Mr Paine and friends installing Maelstrom on the roof of The Met. The artist is the cute one with the humungous lambchops.

Distillation continues the artist's Dendroid series, which also includes Maelstrom, and is a single piece which begins at the front of the gallery and snakes back into the offices.

Like Maelstrom, Distillation is tree like, but also includes parts reminiscent of the human body - blood vessels, organs and the like. The gallery press release states...
"Paine's extensive body of work explores collisions between the natural world and the industrial. Distillation is an amalgam of structures that refer to vascular, neural, taxonomic, arboreal, mycological and industrial systems. The sculpture includes elements such as valves and flanges from petro chemical plants, tanks used for food processing, and glass vessels from the pharmaceutical industry. These seemingly standardized elements coexist with constructed parts such as blood vessels, neurons, hallucinogenic fungus, mycelium, bacterial formations, tree branches, a pair of kidneys, and a black box—all of these elements have varying levels of finish, from polished to raw steel to the introduction of paint."
The kidneys!! Ta-dah!!

The installation was built in Mr Paine's barn at his home in the catskills with 6 assistants. The gallery refused to divulge the price, except to say that it's well over $1million, so if you have a bit of loose pocket change and a few acres of space in need of decor then hot foot it over to the James Cohan gallery and it can be yours. The shape of the installation will conform to the space it eventually calls home.

The gallery also had a couple of other works by Mr Paine, like this piece made from plaster and resin. Realistic isn't it?

Even close up it's hard to tell it's not real.

And these poisonous fungi made of steel - yup, steel - from the artist's Replicant series. The exhibit closes on December 11th.

Lori Nix's The City is currently showing at ClampArt on W 25th St.

Lori Nix is a New York based photographer who makes these beautifully intricate table top sized models and then photographs the results. According to this 2007 interview with the artist the models take anywhere from 3-months to 2-years to complete and apparently once she is done with a model she destroys it. Eeek!! That seems like such a shame, but it is NYC after all and space is at a premium.

The City depicts a city - duh, you don't say - following a cataclysmic event when human life no longer remains - dead or fled I'm not sure. I like the slightly sinister tone of her work which reminds me a little bit of the snow globes created and photographed by the artists Paloma Munoz & Walter Martin.

The models must be unbelievable. It would be great if they had at least one in the gallery alongside the resulting photo. Apparently Lori and her girlfriend work on the models when they get home from work in the evenings and on weekends. Rafael estimated that about two thirds of the artists showing in Chelsea also have day jobs, and there I was thinking artists had made it and were working at their craft full time if they were showing in Chelsea.

One artist that most certainly doesn't have a day job is Anselm Keifer whose most recent work is showing at the Gagosian Gallery on West 24th St.

Anselm Keifer is a German artist born in the last year of World War 2 to a father who was a Nazi soldier. His work calls attention to Germany's past and doesn't shy away from depicting controversial historical events, especially the human cost of World War 2.

The focal point of the Gagosian exhibit, titled Next Year In Jerusalem and the artist's first in New York since 2002, is a large steel container inside which hang 76 large scale photos of the artist as an art student in 1969 in which he makes a Nazi salute in front of European sites of historical significance while wearing his father's old uniform. The container doors are open both sides - which some visitors mistakenly took as an invitation to walk through the container, although they were quickly stopped by the numerous security guards - to show the hanging photos.

Surrounding the steel container are a number glass and steel vitrines inside which are what appear to be various items dating back to WWII, although they're not, they're just made to look that way.

My favourite piece - if favourite is the right word for an exhibit like this - is the white plaster wedding dress punctured by shards of glass topped with numbered glass disks to represent Kabbala markers of spiritual presence.

And this piece representing Jacob's Ladder to heaven.

You can find the NY Times review of the exhibit here. As sombre as it is I highly recommend seeing it. The work is very powerful when you see all the pieces together, however they will be sold as separate pieces so chances are this is the only opportunity to see them as a single collection. The exhibit closes December 18th.

Phew. By contrast the next exhibit at the Yancey Richardson Gallery, Lost In My Life by Rachel Perry Welty, was entirely more playful, although still with a serious message concerning consumerism. The artist photographs herself camouflaged among leftover consumer materials: fruit stickers, bread tags, twist ties, price stickers, cereal boxes, foil and egg cartons

This is the artist camouflaged by twist ties.

By fruit stickers...

A close up of the fruit stickers...

And by pricing stickers...

The photographs are $7,000 each and with over half of them sold already you had better get a wriggle on if you are looking for that perfect gift for the art appreciator in your life.

Next up was Brice Marden's Letters which is exhibited at the Matthew Marks Gallery. Brice Marsden is apparently one of the world's most famous living abstract painters - psst, I've never heard of him - who was the subject of a MoMA retrospective in 2006.

Rafael prefaced this exhibit by saying that Mr Marden's work is 'an acquired taste'. I can see what he means. They are very nice, but I can see how people might take one look and think "they're just squiggles, my 5 year old could do that."

Apparently understanding of his paintings are greatly aided by first seeing the drawings. In this case the paintings are abstracted versions of Chinese letters per the drawing below. It is not about the words, but the visual aspect of

Now if you were gagging to snap up a little something from Mr Marsden's latest collection for a high 6-figure sum well I'm afraid you've missed the boat since all the pieces sold as he was creating them - sight unseen.

Did you know that the galleries - as agents of their artists - get 50% of any sale? I didn't realise it was that high. I'd assumed the 15% per Hollywood Agents, but apparently not. The high percentage is due to the high overheads that galleries have to account for such as the space and the staff.

Last on our tour was Nigerian artist Odili Donald Odita whose exhibit, Body & Space, was showing at the Jack Shainman Gallery.

In the words of the artist...
The ideas behind Body & Space came to me in 1999 in the middle of my own aesthetic investigation on the term, ‘Black.’ Since that time, I have wanted to move beyond what I found to be the abstract nature of black, and find a space that could be more real, and more specific in the many implications and directions created through this term. I eventually found my way through Color. For myself, color is the way to become specific about black, i.e., black as skin, as a social construct, and as real experience.

Each piece is priced in the range of $26,000 to $35,000.

All the above exhibits are open until at least December 18th, with the exception of Roxy Paine at James Cohan which closes December 11th, so if you are looking to avoid the consumer throngs doing their holiday shopping you could do worse than head over to Chelsea.

*Bargain, I'll take 3!!


Kitty said...

Wow, what an assortment!

I think the simulacra pieces are something else. You really have to have knowledge of what the things are made of for their significance. Is the art really then 'artistry', the skill of the artist? It's not enough to enjoy a photo of a laundromat.

I really like the image made from the pricing stickers (as an image, not just for the skill of the artist).

I haven't been out to the galleries in ages. So sad. They used to be a fun opportunity on summer nights for some free wine! ;-)

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Kitty,

Yes it was an assortment, but a good assortment and the experience went some way to restoring some of the old 'tingle' I used to feel for New York, so I shall definitely be stopping by the galleries more often, although maybe not so frequently that familiarity breeds contempt.

Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving.