Tag Archives: sculpture

Charles Harlan, Sculpture

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Charles Harlan, Stack, 2015, Roll Gates, 2012 and Counter, 2013

Drawing inspiration from Land Art of the 1970s, Harlan avails himself of the most common materials at hand – including such hardware store staples as ladders, shipping palettes, and one-ton metal pipe – in his large industrial works. Huge in scale, Minimalist in form, and shown both indoors and out, Harlan’s art has often been referred to as Duchampian in its reliance upon readymade components, its deceptive simplicity, and it spatial humor. His stacking and layering of recognizable, utilitarian materials renders surprisingly potent forms that invite unexpected associations.

Charles Harlan sculpture and work invites contemplation of the ways in which we adapt to and absorb the toughness of the urban landscape. Pristine, immutable walls are made from the same sheet metal fencing that encloses myriad outdoor parking lots and construction sites, and hosts graffiti and flurries of advertisements throughout the cityscape. But whereas the world around us is wild and feral, Harlan’s work is carefully ordered, throwing into higher contrast the realms of tumult inside.

Harlan was raised in Smyrna, Georgia, and his work exhibits a vernacular, domestic flair, as if the suburban housing tracts featured in Dan Graham’s Homes for America (1966) were taken apart and repurposed as elegant, redneck Minimalism. With Shingles (2011), for example, Carl Andre’s floor-based metal works meet their working-class counterpart, as copper plates are exchanged for patterns of overlapping asphalt roofing tiles; Siding (2011), meanwhile, replaces Donald Judd’s shiny metal cubes with the work’s namesake – and very plebeian – exterior vinyl wallcovering found on many a tract house; and by simply lifting a marble countertop off the bathroom sink and onto the wall, Counter (2012) proves that even the slightest of gestures, such as a change of orientation and context, can render foreign something familiar – the everyday as convincing art object. Similarly, with Pipe, it’s as if one of Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels (1976) was transported from the desert to this small, white cube gallery on the Lower East Side.

Equally industrial as Holt’s work, though perhaps more refined-looking with its clean metal surface and, when struck, resonant timbre, Harlan’s invasive culvert more closely pressures the thin distinction between rote object and institutionally legitimated artwork. Even if they’re in the middle of nowhere, Holt’s tunnels are art because the artist presents them as such; Pipe is equally authored and institutionalised. That it’s a pipe is precisely the point. While it’s a beautiful object, it illustrates how arbitrary ‘art’ really is. The term may designate anything, from a painting to a pickle in a jar. The latter, displayed in the gallery’s back office, is sold by Harlan’s mother in her hardware store; it could be an artwork too, if he willed it.

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Artist: Isabelle Cornaro, Art Historian Specialised

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Isabelle Cornaro, Paysage avec poussin et témoins oculaires (version II), 2009 and The Whole World is Watching, 2012

The work of Isabelle Cornaro evinces an interest in the way our perspectives are historically and culturally determined. Due to her training as an art historian specialised in 16th- and 17th-century Western art, her visual language is strongly associated with the forms and compositions of the past, ranging from Baroque and Classicism to Modernist abstraction. In her installations, casts and films, Cornaro plays with the possible meanings of everyday implements and artistic objects by placing them in a new context. Oriental rugs, Chinese porcelain, inherited jewellery; miniature landscapes, tautological objects and 16mm film.

Every now and then a single art work becomes associated with an artist in one’s mind and sticks there, obstinately refusing to cede its advantage no matter how sincerely one appreciates that artist’s entire output. Until recently, this has been the case, for me, with Isabelle Cornaro’s installation Paysage avec Poussin et témoins oculaires (version 1) (Landscape with Poussin and Eyewitnesses [version 1], 2008–9), which I first discovered in her 2008 exhibition at La Ferme du Buisson art centre in the Paris suburbs. Loosely based on a painting by Nicolas Poussin, this ‘landscape’ comprises a set of plywood pedestals of varying dimensions and tightly rolled, hung and unfurled oriental carpets, arranged according to rules of perspective and favouring a single point of view. Wandering into the three-dimensional interpretation of its two-dimensional art-historical ancestor, I discovered that the pedestals are topped with large cloisonné-patterned urns, smaller decorative items Cornaro calls ‘tautological objects’ because their forms mimic their functions (such as a duck egg-cup in the shape of a duck), as well as devices for measuring space and for aiding vision. In keeping with the perspectival organization, the size of these objects diminishes depending on their placement in the foreground, middle-distance or background. Cornaro’s accumulation of junk into the language of decoration, in a material that renders it sumptuous, suggests her faith in the innate, extraordinary power of things to endure and withstand the vagaries of how we look and see.

Cornaro uses scanning, photography and plaster casting as her methods of production. Through meticulous arrangements, she investigates the properties of objects and the historicity they can point to or steer away from. Homonyms (II) (2012), for example, are coloured plaster casts taken from soft materials such as laces, quilts and carpets. The misplaced use of colour and materiality of their new form alters their original identity and disrupts how these transformed objects are perceived. In the film, Money filmed from the side and a three-quarter view (2010), Cornraro portrays actual coins and Euro notes being transformed into abstract forms through the cinematic use of light and colour. The preoccupation with spatiality and light in the film brings currency’s aesthetic into the composition, stripping the importance of its monetary value. Cornaro creates differing landscapes in her work, welcoming new reflections on the ideology of object and space.

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Erika Vogt, Slug, Simone Subal

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Erika Vogt, Stranger Debris Roll Roll Roll, 2013 and installation view of Slug, 2015

Erika Vogt might alternately be described as a sculptor, printmaker or video artist, but, like so many of her peers, these labels merely point at the edges of something deeper. Born out of the tradition of experimental film, Erika brings to bear many of the techniques from that practice to her sculptures and installations – collaging, layering and cutting up different material.

Erika Vogt, born 1973, is a Los Angeles based artist represented by Overduin & Co. in Los Angeles and Simone Subal Gallery in New York City. She received an MFA from California Institute of the Arts and a BFA from New York University.

Vogt uses a range of media and techniques in order to explore the mutability of images and objects. Within her installations, she fuses elements of sculpture, drawing, video, and photography to produce multilayered image spaces. She challenges prescribed art-making systems, conflating and confusing their logic, as sculptures take on the properties of drawing and photographs take on the nature of film. Building on her background in experimental filmmaking, Vogt’s visually dense videos combine both still and moving images, digital and analog technologies, and playfully incorporate drawings and objects from her previous projects. In her recent work, exemplified by installations such as Notes on Currency (2012), The Engraved Plane (2012), and Grounds and Airs (2012), Vogt took as her subject the ritual use and exchange of objects, such as currency, and investigated the empathetic relationship between objects and people.

To read Slug through this gift of words (albeit someone else’s) as “an extension of the interior life of the giver, both in space and time, into the interior life of the receiver” allows us to perceive the slug in its dialectical sense: as a $50 gold coin, for sure, but also its opposite, a counterfeit, a token used to subvert a slot machine’s understanding of exchange value. We experience Slug as the implicit trace of productive activity, but it also transforms us (the viewer) into the slug, the interval between things, the breath or gap. “But blank lines do not say nothing,” as Carson writes.

Through her work, Vogt attempts to gesture towards community. Not in the educational sense or what we conflate with “social practice” as an institutional turn, but in the old way, the way it used to mean friendship, comradeship, living and working together. The sculptures shade, point, protect and interact with each other, creating new perspectives on and for one another. Bringing to mind Shelly Silver’s Things I forgot to tell myself, in which the filmmaker’s scrunched up hand forms an aperture through which we see the city, we should read Slug together. It is through their implied social relation that these objects reveal sincerity. Vogt refuses to take the stance of either cynical embrace or pseudo-rebellious anti-art, meaning there is instead an untypical openness to the work. It yearns to protect, to support.

Source: Art News, September, 2015.

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Artist: Oliver Laric

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Oliver Laric, Touch My Body, Green Screen Version, 2008 and The Marble Player, From the series Lincoln 3D Scans, 2013

Oliver Laric uses memes, movable type, copies and collective agency to make art that is only partly ‘his.’ Oliver Laric once showed a 16th-century print by Flemish court artist Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder. The etching depicts a scene of iconoclasm, or Beeldenstorm, during the Reformation, when churches and public spaces in northern Europe were systematically purged of religious imagery, often by mobs. Hallucinatory in its detail, the print shows a swarm of figures on a mount pillaging icons, breaking statues, tossing altarpieces into a fire. Birds in the air shit on monks beside bare trees that crown a bald outcropping; broken relics and shattered crucifixes jut out like gravestones from a pit.

Gheeraerts’s work isn’t simply a depiction of image breaking. When viewed from afar, the mass of active figures in the print forms a new, anamorphic image: a grotesque, composite illusion of a monk’s rotting head. An assembly of small bodies forms a sagging mouth (full of drunken townsfolk), and a group of monks ploughs a field that’s also the head’s wrinkled brow; a monkey stands inside an ear, and the figure’s nose is formed by a crucifix about to be toppled between two hollowed-out eye sockets.

I don’t think Laric had ever seen the real Allegory of Iconoclasm (c. 1560–70) – which exists only as a smallish, unique print in the British Museum – when he introduced me to Gheeraerts’s work during a conversation about his own video Versions (2012), the third in his series of that name, in which the monk’s head appears briefly. I write ‘real’, although Laric’s information-driven videos and sculptures confound distinctions between real and fake, even making that effacement their subject. I write ‘own work’, despite Laric’s ongoing concern with the mutability of authorship and ownership. An author is fungible, particularly as enabled by recent forms of collective and participatory labour. Internet memes, popular and children’s films, super-cut YouTube videos, medieval sculptures, outsourced remakes and the ‘participatory’ labour practices of North Korean monuments are all found, re-remixed and translated in Laric’s works. And although I write ‘conversation’, that word only partially accounts for the hopscotching, hyper-medial surge of links, flickering images and n+7 web results that the artist retrieves, combs through and reassembles to display and comment on his own material, as well as that of others. ‘I sometimes Google terms that seem to have nothing to do with each other,’ Laric says. ‘“Mikhail Bakhtin and prosumer” or “Samuel Beckett and Teletubbies”. Usually, there’s an unexpected link.’ In the latter case, it might be Beckett’s Quad (1981), whose four actors could be proto-Teletubbies; in the former, it’s Bakhtin’s dialogic understanding of how production oscillates between collectives and individuals – a dialectical motor Laric puts to work in his collectively-based pieces.

There is no distinction between the material Laric finds and that which he presents as his own. Laric’s exhibition ‘Kopienkritik’ (Copy Critique) at the Skulpturhalle in Basel in 2011 took its cue from the 19th-century methodological approach to philology and ancient sculpture, which viewed (inferior) Roman ‘copies’ in terms of (superior) Greek ‘originals’, reconstructing those lost originals via the bulk typologizing of inferior later copies. Laric cast and grouped that museum’s collection of Greek and Roman plaster casts into typologies, alongside video monitors and heads cast by the artist. ‘Copyright did not exist in ancient times, when authors frequently copied other authors at length in works of nonfiction.’ This declaration does not come from a history of literary influence, but from the GNU Manifesto, written by MIT’s Richard Stallman in 1985 to announce an influential, free software, mass collaboration coding project (and the theoretical backbone to much open-source digital content today). ‘Be promiscuous,’ reads an Open Source Initiative manifesto encouraging coders to distribute their works free of charge. Laric draws on this ethos of collective reworking.

Although you can find it on YouTube, Laric’s Touch My Body: Green Screen Version (2008) is not really a video but rather a participatory game, or dare, that Laric intended to be appropriated and modified. For Touch My Body…, Laric stripped Mariah Carey’s music video for her 2008 song of the same name of all but Carey herself, and replaced it with a green screen, against which any background could be inserted. When Laric posted the piece to YouTube that year, users took the cue and began uploading amateurish, witty remixes using Laric’s template. (Including one with a background of zombie gore taken from Sean of the Dead, 2004). Today, the first result when searching for Laric’s piece on YouTube is not his original video, but an amateur mash-up, of which there are many.

Memes – like fame, lies and capital – accrue value and cachet as they circulate. But they also date and flatten, and while Touch My Body … lacks the complexity of Laric’s later pieces, it demonstrates the atmosphere in which his work arose: the newly ‘social’ internet; the advent of the ‘prosumer’ (‘producer-consumer’ or ‘professional-consumer’) technology that enabled easy editing by 15 year olds; online video-sharing platforms; freely accessible, though commercial, image repositories such as Getty Images and Flickr. On a larger scale, the points of departure for Laric’s works have been incipient shifts in group structures and collective agency (shifts not limited to the internet), the global political atmospheres of what in the mid-2000s began to be called ‘truthiness’: a simultaneous reliance on, and distrust of, circulated images and narratives.

The striking succession of historical images that opens the first of Laric’s essayistic video series ‘Versions’ (2009–12) is as much a comment on political shilly-shallying as an assertion of the masses’ new claim on image production and circulation. The video, which is a trove of examples of the fraught status of reproductions and copies from recent and contemporary material culture, begins with an image (released by Iran’s state media to Agence France-Presse in 2008) of four missiles, which was used to illustrate Iran’s missile tests when it appeared on the pages of the Los Angeles Times and the Financial Times, among many others; following this, Laric inserts a graphic that indicates how that image was clearly manipulated, if not fabricated, using Photoshop (the multiple missiles are effectively copy-and-pasted from within the image). And finally, a series of user-generated spin-offs of the Photoshopped image showing dozens of missiles, their streams in comic curlicues. I can’t think of any better way of exemplifying Jean Baudrillard’s ideas about simulacra and hyperreality in our age of truthiness than this simple slideshow compiled by Laric.

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Art: Arnar Asgeirsson

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Arnar Asgeirsson, Intersection #2, and Intersection, digital print, 50 x 65 cm, 2014

Arnar Ásgeirsson practice involves video works, animations, drawings, installations and sculptures with performative aspects deal with the queston of creative ownership, originality, the relation between high- and low art, reproduction and the differences between creating and copying.

Inserting objects as characters into new scenarios, creating the possibility of narratives to emerge. Believing that appropriated objects and re-produced items become works of art and shed light on their own history and their prior, current and future surroundings.

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Artist: Pennacchio Argentato

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Pennacchio Argentato, Survival Upgrade, 2013 and Dude where is my career?,  2009

In May 2013, footage emerged in the media of a man waving a bloodied meat cleaver in the air whilst reciting the mantra to the camera: ‘You [people] will never be safe’. The phrase formed part of a political message delivered in the style of a home video to the British public by the man who, along with one other, had hacked a British soldier to death on the streets of Woolwich just moments before. The footage was threatening, macabre and darkly arresting; its rapid dissemination on the Internet pointed to a grim, voyeuristic fascination with the brutal crime and its motivations.

It is this interaction of human events with the complex machinations of technology that appears to fascinate collaborators Pasquale Pennacchio and Marisa Argentato. The two artists wrenched the phrase ‘you will never be safe’ from this context as part of their exhibition ‘Survival Upgrade’ and hung it in the centre of Van Horbourg, a non-profit curator’s collective operating within a temporary art space in Zurich run by founders and co-directors Sandra Oehy and Roger Meier. Far from the original setting of the crime, the sinister words were objectified by the artists, who frequently use the technologies of fabrication and projection to attempt to engage with the hypnotic and transformative powers of technology.

Pennacchio Argentato cut the words out of Perspex with a light-transmitting film on one face. Behind this, a projector was set up at a distance to transmit swirling fractal images through the Perspex and onto the front surface of the text. The overall effect was that of gaudy kitsch, visually arresting when you first enter the space and face the text, but less convincing as you move around and to the rear of it. This was largely due to the material itself, which is flat and flimsy, slightly undermining its own apparent status as the centrepiece of the exhibition. The flatness of the material did however have one curiously confounding effect, which was to negate the very depth of the images projected onto it. By turning the freestanding words into a screen upon which the abstract receding fractals were projected, the artists managed to debunk any conventional optical illusion of depth commonly associated with filmic projection, or indeed with any projection onto the solid wall of a gallery, because in this case the audience could walk behind the ‘screen’. The projection, in other words, was revealed for the ruse it really is, while at the same time the words lost their meaning in deference to the hypnotic optical effects they have become a latent surface for.

In past exhibitions, notably ‘Five o’clock shadows’ at T293 Gallery, Rome in 2010 and the group show ‘Where Language Stops’ at Wilkinson Gallery in London in 2011, Pennacchio Argentato have exhibited immense planar forms cast from concrete, wood and fibreglass that slide, fold, slither or droop lazily across the floors and walls of galleries. But in the second part of ‘Survival Upgrade’, the artists’ almost comically anthropomorphic sculptures were reinterpreted as prosthetic human limbs cast out of Carbon-Kevlar, a material favoured by the US army for the manufacture of soldiers’ combat helmets and other protective gear. This is a new material for the artists, who have previously worked with cast concrete and Perspex, yet the experiment seems successful. The Carbon-Kevlar appears both sleekly organic and awkwardly mechanistic, able to mould itself symbiotically with the human body whilst retaining the appearance of a hard, shiny shell, cast off like the plasticized robotic detritus of some future world in which the technological extension of the body has already outlived its usefulness. These apparatuses occupied the periphery of the space in which the text formed the centrepiece, yet they were by no means secondary to it. Flung to the edges of the white room by some centrifugal force, either adhering to the walls or scattered about the floor for the viewer to pick his or her path between, the prosthetic limbs were rendered as junk, as the bodies they were made for have evolved – or mutated.

http://www.frieze.com/shows/review/pennacchio-argentato/

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Artist: Ida Ekblad

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Ida Ekblad, Untitled 2012,  Untitled, 2011 and Installation View, Untitled, 2011

Norwegian artist Ida Ekblad just finished her solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Oslo this week. In the official press release her work  is referred to as being “frequently process oriented and her artistic practice is often described as spontaneous and chance-based.  Items seemingly discarded on scrapheaps as worthless are given new meaning through recycling in a work of art with other qualities and connotations. Her works oscillate between an unrestrained imagination and her familiarity with, and allusions to, an art-historical tradition.”

For this exhibition, Ekblad used the museum as her studio, producing more than 30 works in situ. These new works improvise a performative architecture out of industrial debris, found objects and shopping carts. Reference to John Chamberlain and Anthony Caro can be noted as Ida Ekblad present her version of scrap-hunting sculpture. As the shopping charts where rolled onto canvas and paint, each shopping chart has  its own specific painting which is displayed later as a series of large scale paintings along the walls.

Also exhibited was Ekblad’s paintings of the past five years, in particular, are courageous demonstrations of the relevance and feasibility of an expressive artistic gesture. She works in a variety of media. Painting, sculpture, installation, performance, and poetry, simultaneously and without hierarchical distinction.

Ekblad works in a process-oriented manner, and her approach is often described as spontaneous and fearless. She creates installations, sculptures and collage- and assemblage-like pieces from fragments and objects that she finds along the roadside and at construction sites nearby the places she is working. Things that have apparently lost their value and been thrown away often acquire a new meaning by being re-used in a work of art imbued with other qualities and connotations.

Ida Ekblad (b. Oslo, 1980; lives and works in Oslo) is educated at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts, 2007, and at the Mountain School of Arts, Los Angeles, USA, 2008. Still an emerging artist, Ekblad has already received international recognition participating in museum exhibitions around the world.

The exhibition is a collaboration between the National Museum in Oslo, Kunstmuseum Luzern and De Vleeshal, Middelburg. It is accompanied by a 160-page catalogue published by Distanz Verlag, Berlin, with poems by Ida Ekblad and contributions by Fanni Fetzer, Andrea Kroksnes, Quinn Latimer, and Barry Schwabsky.

Nasjonalmuseet presents Ida Ekblad’s first extensive museum exhibition. The exhibition continues the museum’s series showcasing younger Norwegian contemporary artists.

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Lynda Benglis

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Lydia Benglis, Merak, Sinc and Copper, 1990 and Ghost Dance, Bronze and gold leaf, 1992

Lynda Benglis (born October 25, 1941) is an American sculptor known for her wax paintings and poured latex sculptures. After earning a BFA from Newcomb College in 1964, Benglis moved to New York, where she lives and works today. Benglis’ work is noted for an unusual blend of organic imagery and confrontation with newer media incorporating influences such as Barnett Newman and Andy Warhol. Her early work used materials such as beeswax before moving on to large polyurethane pieces in the 1970s and later to gold-leaf, zinc, and aluminum. The validity of much of her work was questioned until the 1980s due to its use of sensuality and physicality.

Like other artists such as Yves Klein, Benglis’ mimicked Jackson Pollock’s flinging and dripping methods of painting. Works such as Fallen Painting (1968) inform the approach with a feminist perspective. For this work, Benglis smeared Day-Glo paint across the gallery floor invoking “the depravity of the ‘fallen’ woman” or, from a feminist perspective, a “prone victim of phallic male desire”. These brightly colored organic floor pieces were intended to disrupt the male-dominated minimalism movement with their suggestiveness and openness. In 1971, Benglis began to collaborate with Robert Morris, creating Benglis’ video Mumble (1972) and Morris’ Exchange (1973). Benglis produced several videos during the 1970s in which she explored themes of self-representation and female identity.

Like other female artists, she was attracted by the newness of a medium that was uncorrupted by male artists. The structure of the new medium itself played an important role in addressing questions about female identity in relation to art, pop culture, and dominant feminism movements at the time. Benglis produced several videos during the 1970s in which she explored themes of self-representation and female identity.

Benglis felt underrepresented in the male-run artistic community and so confronted the “male ethos” in a series of magazine advertisements satirizing pin-up girls and Hollywood actresses. Benglis chose the medium of magazine advertisements as it allowed her complete control of an image rather than allowing it to be run through critical commentary. This series culminated with a particularly controversial one in the November 1974 issue of Artforum featuring Benglis aggressively posed with a large latex dildo and wearing only a pair ofsunglasses promoting an upcoming exhibition of hers at the Paula Cooper Gallery. One of her original ideas for the advertisement had been for her and collaborative partner Robert Morris to work together as a double pin-up, but eventually found that using a double dildo was sufficient as she found it to be “both male and female.”

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Exhibition: John McCracken, Works from 1963-2011, David Zwirner, New York

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John McCraCken, Untited Sculptures, Installation Views

John McCraCken, Works from 1963–2011, 10 September – 19 October, 2013
David Zwirner, 537 West 20th Street, New York

McCracken occupies a singular position within the recent history of American art, as his work melds the restrained formal qualities of Minimalist sculpture with a distinctly West Coast sensibility expressed through color, form, and finish. He developed his early sculptural work while studying painting at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland in the late 1950s and early 1960s. While experimenting with increasingly three-dimensional canvases, the artist began to produce objects made with industrial materials, including plywood, sprayed lacquer, and pigmented resin, creating the highly reflective, smooth surfaces that he was to become known for.

Drawn primarily from public and private collections, the approximately fifty works in this exhibition chart the evolution of McCracken’s diverse but considered oeuvre. Encompassing both well-known and lesser-seen examples of the artist’s production from the early 1960s up through his death in 2011.

Highlights from the exhibition include a room-size installation of six monumentally scaled black columns, a layout introduced by the artist in his sketchbook in the early 1970s, but first produced and shown at David Zwirner in 2006; as well as an adjacent room containing stainless steel sculptures from 2011, which are polished to produce such a high degree of reflectivity that they seem translucent and camouflaged, bordering on invisibility as they reflect their surroundings.

A number of works from the 1960s, when McCracken first emerged onto the Los Angeles art scene, are included in the exhibition, such as Untitled (1964), a cross-shaped hybrid form that vacillates between painting and sculpture; three multi-colored rectangular “slot” works, a form that McCracken first exhibited in his seminal 1965 solo show at Nicholas Wilder Gallery in Los Angeles; as well as several of the artist’s earliest “planks,” his signature sculptural form that he first generated in 1966 and continued to make throughout his career. These narrow monochromatic, rectangular board-shaped sculptures lean against the wall while simultaneously entering into the three-dimensional realm of the viewer. Also on view is Untitled (2011), the last plank that McCracken made in his lifetime, which is fabricated in stainless steel.

In 2015, the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach, California will host a retrospective of McCracken’s work.

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Nina Beier “HEAVY HAND” 2013

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Real Estate, view setup , 2013, Loulou , 2013 and Smokes , 2013

“Growing up in Los Angeles, I have spent a majority of my life in traffic, looking out the window watching disgruntled individuals make their way from point A to point B, then C, into eternity.  You find yourself staring at your reflection in the waxed surfaces of the cars next to you looking for some sense of purpose in the homogenized population of vehicles of the freeways (and in many ways not so free at all). As you continue your journey moving forward, you lean back, and rest your head.”  Statement written for “Heavy Hand” and exhibition by Nina Beier at Standard, in Oslo, Norway.

Of any artist working today, 35-year-old hyper-mixed-media artist Nina Beier is creating some of the boldest examples of the contemporary artwork in crisis mode. This has a lot to do with the unstable, in flux, usually-referencing-something-absent, often-crushed-or-pieced-together, and likely-to-change nature of her sculptural explorations.

The Danish-born Beier gets much of her creative impulses from philosophy and literature (Heidegger and Lewis Carroll are recent touchstones). But for all of the theoretical uplift, the end result is provocatively tactile. Her most recent productions include dipping photographic stock images in glue and hanging them to dry on mass-produced household items, thus using an image to utterly envelop an actual thing. Another series involves found secondhand fabrics stuffed together inside a frame to create an almost Arte Povera-esque surface on the verge of busting open.

Beier has been living in Berlin for the past three years after starting her career in London. “I moved mainly because I was attracted to the qualities of an underpopulated city,” she says. “I guess the pace of the city is a little slower than other cities I have lived in, but I find the contrary to be true when it comes to the productivity of artists who live here.”

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Ken Price Sculpture: A Retrospective, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

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Installation view: Ken Price Sculpture: A Retrospective, geometrics, 2013

Ken Price Sculpture: A Retrospective, June 18 – September 22, 2013
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The first major museum exhibition of Ken Price’s work in New York, will trace the development of his ceramic sculptures with approximately sixty-five examples from 1959 to 2012. The selection range from the luminously glazed ovoid forms of Price’s early work to the suggestive, molten-like slumps he has made since the 1990s. In addition to the sculpture, the exhibition will feature eleven late works on paper by the artist. Price’s close friend, the architect Frank O. Gehry, designed the exhibition.

Price was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Price’s earliest aspirations were to be an artist, “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be an artist. Even when I was a kid I would make drawings and little books, and cartoons..,” he states. Price enrolled in his first art ceramics course at Santa Monica City College in 1954, where he quickly embraced a formal craft tradition as espoused by Marguerite Wildenhain. He subsequently studied at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, before receiving his BFA degree from the University of Southern California in 1956.

In the 1950s Price lived along the Pacific coastline, where his interest in surfing and Mexican pottery developed. During surfing trips in Southern California, Price and his friends, “always made a point of hitting the curio stores in [Tijuana], because they had great pottery. …just looking was a great education in earthenware pottery.” Price’s ceramic work at USC could be characterized as functional vessels derived from a folk pottery tradition.

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Art: Chadwick Rantanen, Telescopic Poles

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Chadwick Rantanen, Telescopic Poles, 2012

Gestures related to the body and the exhibition space feature prominently in the work of Los Angeles-based artist Chadwick Rantanen who creates among others anodized telescopic sculptures with tennis balls affixed to the bottom which are held up by their own internal pressure.

Disseminated throughout a gallery space, and stretched from the floor to the ceiling, these frail sculptures with a combination of patterns and colors incise the white cube without clearly occupying it. By expanding or retracting them depending on the height of the space, the character of any particular installation is relative to its site, its proportions and form.

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Iman Issa

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Iman Issa, Material for a sculpture representing a monument erected in the spirit of defiance of a larger power, 2010 and Making Places (c-print), Series of ten c-prints, 2007

Iman Issa, born 1979, Cairo, is an artist based in Cairo and New York.

The cryptic work of Iman Issa rarely denotes its subject matter nor reveals the artist’s creative process. In many of her recent projects, there is a tacit insistence that Issa’s materials – which include sculptural objects, photographs and video – speak of far more than their content suggests.
This is also true of Issa’s work in that most content-laden of media: fiction. Her book of one-page stories, Thirty-Three Stories about Reasonable Characters in Familiar Places (2011), which she considers both a work of literature and of art, almost completely omits names, places or adjectives. The sto­ries are more like fragments in which the reader must locate a narrative arc from a brief spark of disappointment, a passing thought or a disagreement between a handy­man and his client. Issa’s writing suggests that what ultimately characterizes a situation, event or concept may not lie in its own self-evident, specifically described form or content. Rather, it might extend itself from an association, a memory or an otherwise insignificant detail.

In making a work, Issa often proceeds as though she has a hypothetical relationship to the medium or subject matter, then alters her position during the development of the piece as a tactical measure. For example, in her series ‘Triptychs’ (2009), Issa created the three elements in each work by assuming a different artistic subjectivity in relation to a source. In Triptych #1, for instance, she began with a snapshot she had taken of a bland communal waterfront space. Treating the photograph as though she had never seen it before, Issa then developed a second piece in response. The third work in the triptych was likewise created as though she were unaware of the first two, and had simply imagined the connections between them. Whilst this may seem a curious process to adopt in order to communicate a personal memory or sensation – involving as it does more alienation than proximity – the elements of the triptychs nonetheless resonate with one another.

Her group and solo exhibitions include Trapped in Amber: Angst for a Reenacted Decade, UKS, Oslo, 2009, 7th Gwangju Biennale, 2008, Cairoscape, Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien, Berlin, 2008 , Making Places, Townhouse Gallery, Cairo, 2008, Look Around, Arte Ricambi, Verona, 2008, Memorial to the Iraq War,ICA, London, 2007. Her video work has been screened at several venues including Tate Modern, London, Spacex, Exeter, Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, and Bidoun Artists Cinema.

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Saâdane Afif

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Saâdane Afif, Blue Time vs. Suspense, 2007

Saâdane Afif plays with notions of displacement, collusion and contrast. He uses objects, scale models and installations, sounds and writing to mirror in the work of art itself the dialogue arising between the artist and the viewer. This dialogue makes allusions to psychological, historical, social and cultural elements.

Thanks to this extended formal vocabulary, borrowed as easily from the history of art as from the world of the media and music, Afif creates installations made up of unexpected encounters between objects and disciplines. Power Chords, produced for the Lyon Biennial in 2004, and for which he won the International Prize for Contemporary Art from the Fondation Prince Pierre in Monaco, is a sound installation for eleven electric guitars controlled by informatics. Each guitar emits its own note at random, in order to compose “key” harmonies from Rock history that are the musical transcription of mathematical harmonies played by artist André Cadéré with the drumsticks.

Blue Time vs. Suspense is especially produced for the Xavier Hufkens Gallery. It makes a synthesis between two older projects: Blue Time and Suspense. Blue Time vs. Suspense comprises three guitars/black clocks hung like suspension points, attached to three amplifiers via audio cables. The sound produced is similar to that of three out-of-tempo metronomes.

“To produce a musical instrument related to time, is to recall that the mastering of the latter lies at the heart of an artist’s preoccupations”.

The lyrics of the two songs about the older pieces, from which this new work originates, are stuck on the walls in adhesive letters. They accompany a text created for the occasion referring to the new work. Playing alone, the musician Vale Poher performs these texts, accompanying the songs on electric guitar. This is broadcast via headphones placed on a stand upon which the visitor can sit.
The style of music and the instrument perfectly match the project.

A screen-printed poster features the titles of the album and by extension, the titles of the works. It is a kind of exhibition ‘credits’.

A CD, also produced for the occasion, is a recording of the exhibition in words and music.

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