Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Art - Witches and the Bewitched

Happy Halloween!

Hans Baldung Gruen "The Bewitched Groom"

William Blake "Hecate"

Henri Fuseli "The Three Witches from Macbeth"

John William Waterhouse "The Crystal Ball"

Franz von Stuck "Il Peccato"

John William Waterhouse "Circe"

Goya "The Witches Sabbath"

Wilfredo Lam "The Jungle"

Dorothea Tanning "eine kleine nachtmusik"

Douglas Gordon from "Blind Stars"

Dosso Dossi "Circe Enchanting the Crew of Ulysses"

Frida Kahlo "Girl with Death Mask"

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

(Review) Ed Moses "Cross-Section" at the University Art Gallery, University of California, Irvine

Ed Moses is a painter. He is not an Abstract Expressionist or an Abstract painter. He is a painter who paints abstract works. Those are the words that one of the curators and a painter himself, Kevin  Appel, relayed to me when walking through the extensive and comprehensive retrospective of Ed Moses. Ed Moses put Los Angeles abstraction on the art world map. Curated by Kevin Appel, and Juli Carson,"Cross-Section" traces the common thematic thread binding Moses’s prolific and continuous act of exploration. Moses shows his unbinding courage to take chances on visual strategies. A constant experimenter who always tries to redefine the process and visual in contemporary painting. This exhibition demonstrates the constant process of change and the willingness to go beyond the conventions of painting.

Moses' painting emerges from the West Coast Pop Art and Light and Space movements of the 1960s to reinvigorate abstract painting. Beginning with his crisscross paintings of the 1970s, Moses uses color and line to create a an architecture that uses conceptual ideas as a basis thus creating a grid. However, Moses is never content with one particular style. Throughout the decades from the 1980s to present, Moses changes technique and style and never gives the viewer a hint of what is coming next or the direction he's going. Then throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Moses breaks out from the grid and loosens his technique. He frees the use of color, line and composition in later works. The recent works negotiate between those extremes. Never satisfied with just one or the other. Moses is always self conscious of what is happening within the canvas, and what he is ultimately portraying to the viewer. There is never the angst of a Gerhard Richter or the ego of a Willem De Kooning. Moses is the definitive California abstractionist. Moses has experimented with pattern, grids, and even the scrapping of painting on the canvas to create movement of the surface.

If there is a forefather of Los Angeles abstraction, Moses would be the perfect candidate. I look at emerging painters such as Jonathan Apgar, Nano Rubio, Caitlin Lonegan, Chris Trueman, and Josh Dildine, it is obvious that Moses plays an important part in the development of contemporary painting in Los Angeles. The latest show is a retrospective that is well deserving.

Cross-Section
October 11 through December 13, 2014
Opening reception Saturday October 11, 2pm to 5pm
University Gallery
712 Arts Plaza
Irvine, CA 92697-2775




















Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Gerhard Richter at Marian Goodman Gallery London



Marian Goodman inaugurated her London gallery with an exhibition of new and recent works by Gerhard Richter. The show features over 40 works, including new paintings of the series Strip, Flow and Doppelgrau. The exhibition is accompanied by a large glass sculpture – 7 Panes of Glass (House of Cards) – and a selection of earlier pieces. The exhibition will remain on view until 20 December 2014.

Gerhard Richter has recently been the subject of substantial solo exhibitions at the Fondation Beyeler, Basel; The Kunstmuseum Winterthur; and the Staatliche Kunstsammlung, Dresden. The artist’s work was last seen in London in Gerhard Richter: Panorama, a comprehensive retrospective at Tate Modern in 2011, which travelled to the Neue and Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin, and The Centre Pompidou, Paris.

The new Marian Goodman Gallery London is housed in a former Victorian factory warehouse in Lower John Street, measuring 11,000 square feet over two floors, which has been completely renovated with the help of David Adjaye.

Inaugural exhibition at Marian Goodman Gallery London. Private View, October 14, 2014.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Interview with Alice Konitz on the Abandoned Freeway to Beverly Hills

Alice Könitz is a Los Angeles based artist who was in the 2008 Whitney Biennial and in the recent 2014 Made in LA Biennial at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. On Sunday, July 20, 2014 I met Alice at her studio in Highland Park, Los Angeles for an interview and to recreate the visit of the raffle winner from the 2008 Whitney Biennial. Alice was to fly a winner to Los Angeles to view an area of unfinished freeway littered with detritus and construction materials--an unlikely destination that the artist nonetheless considers a source of inspiration. The prize included 3 nights at the Triangle Motel in Los Angeles and roundtrip airfare from NY to LA. We recreated that visit. During the recreation, Alice talks about her work and her current shows at the Hammer Museum and at Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, California.

Mario Vasquez (MV):  We are recreating the raffle winner’s visit from the 2008 Whitney Biennial. Tell me about how the raffle and the winner came about.

Alice Könitz (AK):   I had first noticed this empty concrete surface when I had just moved to Los Angeles and started going to CalArts. I went on many walks around Echo Park, where I lived and I took the new landscape in with the open enthusiasm of someone who experiences a place for the first time. Back then Los Angeles was both exciting and absurd to me. I found abandoned pedestrian tunnels underneath Glendale Blvd, a river flowing in a concrete bed and this enormous concrete surface that is practically invisible when you are driving onto the Glendale Freeway with your attention focused on the road in front of you. Nevertheless I did notice it turning my head to catch a glimpse. Curious to find out what was there I parked my car and climbed up the Freeway embankment. It was fascinating to find this huge empty slab of concrete  and exhilarating to watch the cars driving by at quite a high speed, while being in a spot that was almost invisible and inaccessible to the cars driving by. At the time I was interested in nature expeditions, I read Robert Smithson's writings and I was preparing for a residency with the Center for Land Use Interpretation. This was in 1998. In 2001 I made a small sculpture out of cardboard, bamboo, colored acrylic felt, and rocks  that was a model for an elevator that I had proposed to install in the freeway overpass. I revisited the project in 2008, after I had done a performance/ exhibition project where I had spent 24 hours at a 24 hour donut shop, an event that was related to an exhibition of sculptures at Susanne Vielmetter Gallery in 2006. In 2008 I thought it would be interesting to take visitors to the actual site. I took the opportunity when I was invited to the Whitney Biennial that took place in the same year. I proposed a raffle for an airplane ticket from New York to Los Angels. To set up the raffle in New York, I made three sculptures that were exhibited in the Whitney Museum of American Art. One of them had a fan motor that blew cellophane pieces with ticket-numbers around in a clear acrylic tube. Attached to the tube was a round disk with faux leather upholstery that was supposed to function as an integrated table where you could purchase your ticket and write the number on it before it was dropped into the tube. I have always been fascinated by design that prescribes a whole sequence of actions.  The other two sculptures were displays for a travel magazine and for a ghost that would help you win the raffle. The drawing of the winning ticket happened at the end of the biennial. The winner was a guy from New York named Mark. He postponed his visit for several months Unfortunately I was out of town when he came to Los Angeles and I couldn't meet him. I asked my friend to take him up to the overpass instead. Unfortunately I didn't hear back from him afterwards, but my friend said that he enjoyed the visit.



MV:     So, when the winner arrived he would stay at the Triangle Motel. That was our first stop?

AK:     Yes, that’s correct. Although the winner opted out of staying at the motel because he wanted to stay with his local friends. I chose the Triangle Motel because it was close to the overpass and I liked how the name connects to the piece. I was also intrigued by the literalness of the sign that was just a metal triangle with the word triangle in script lettering on it.

Magazine Table, 2008.
Displayed at the 2008 Whitney Biennial
MV:     So at the time of the 2008 Whitney Biennial what was your approach about your art that you wanted to convey to, not only to the visitor here in LA, the viewer of your work in New York?

AK:     I wanted to connect the biennial to this particular site. I was interested in making a sculpture that would extend over space and time. The piece provides different levels of   experience. The winner got the full experience of the trip. Everybody else got to see the sculptures at the Whitney Museum and the opportunity of becoming an active participant in the piece by buying a $4 raffle-ticket and learning about the empty concrete slab that's 2790 miles away. I was interested in staging a journey to the place that I found 10 years earlier. The sculptures were a means to an end, but the narrative of the journey was also a means to determine the rules for making these particular sculptures. This came out of a decision that I made early on, which was that I wanted to create sculptures that weren't determined by composition, but by parameters that were set by describing a function.

We parked our car and walked up the embankment on the side of the bridge over Glendale Boulevard. We both accidentally woke up a homeless man who was sleeping beside the hill. We ended up walking around the sleeping man. I carried the chairs, and Alice carried a crate that contained hot tea, coffee, croissants, strawberries, and nectarines.  We both then sat down and completed the interview.
  
Interview site from where we parked.
Interview Site on the top of the Glendale Blvd. bridge overpass.
Strawberries, pastries and green tea.

MV:     You are currently participating in the 2014 Made in LA Biennial at the Hammer Museum. However, you are showing as the Los Angeles Museum of Art (LAMOA). Tell me how you came about this project.

AK:    I founded the Los Angeles Museum of Art in 2012. I invited a small number of artists whose work I've been following for a long time to create exhibitions of their works as they make sense in an open structure with removable walls. I was part of a group of artists participating in Made in LA who make their own work, but are also involved in communal, or collaborative projects like Kchung, Public Fiction, and James Kidd Studio. I proposed to make sculptural display systems for individual art works that I had collected and curated. I wanted to establish LAMOA as a collecting institution and at the same time create sculptures that would be formally determined by the objects that are displayed within them. There are two sides to LAMOA, you can see very straightforwardly as a small exhibition space, but it's also an artwork that is not so different from my other work as an artist. A lot of my work combines hypothetical situations with the ones that are already there. I was excited about LAMOA's potential as a functioning institution. Most of my sculptures could be described as contemplative objects, things that reflect on their environment and on themselves, while not necessarily being a functioning part of their environment. This gap or distinction between art and everything that's not art has always been very puzzling and interesting to me. With LAMOA I was interested in creating a sculpture that would be an active part of a community, a structure that could function as a conventional institution; one that could serve as a platform for an exchange within a community of artists. It was fascinating for me to see how well it worked. The title was pure fiction, but it had the power to turn the humble wooden pavilion into a recognized exhibition space. At the same time LAMOA retained the meta narrative of the contemplative object (reflecting on exhibition spaces/museums/sculptures/city structure etc.). 

MV:   Do you see the structure as both a museum and a sculpture?

AK:   Yes. It started out as a sculpture and it was turned and into a new kind of exhibition space with every show.

Los Angeles Museum of Art (LAMOA) with installation by Katie Grinnan

MV:   How do you think that LAMOA reflects the current Los Angeles art scene?

AK:   LAMOA grew out of a lack of art exhibitions that I wanted to see. By now I think that   
there are a lot more diverse art spaces, too many to really follow up on everything that's going on. My focus was on giving artists a small space to work on one project that wouldn't get sidetracked by commercial considerations. The scale of LAMOA would allow for exploratory work, the dialogue and viewing experience was important.

Installation view of LAMOA for the Made in L.A. Biennial at the Hammer Museum
From left to right: Display System#2

From left to right:  Judith Hopf: Smaller Mask, Judith Hopf: untitled,
Matthew Waller: Peel, Katie Grinnan: The Matter and a Story (mostly hidden, additional image coming soon), 
Daniel Mendel-Black: Naked Dark,

MV:   You are also currently showing at the Armory Center for the Arts in the group show “The Fifth Wall” as the LAMOA. In that show, the idea of the Fifth Wall is a notion of alienation. Do you see this view, with cars passing by, palm trees in the distant and the landscape of Los Angeles as a part of that idea of alienation that Bertolt Brecht contemplated?

AK:   Brecht's idea of “a representation that alienates is one which allows us to recognize its subject, but at the same time makes it seem unfamiliar. The classical and medieval theater alienated its characters by making them wear human or animal masks; the Asiatic theater even today uses musical and pantomimic A-effects” (Brecht On Theater 1957) The goal of the epic theater was to make sure that the audience wouldn't be completely consumed by a total immersion in the play that's going on on stage. As a viewer you were asked to keep your emotional distance by being reminded that you're watching a play. You were observing an actor in a constructed situation, you were not meant to identify with the actor. This distance would enable you to take a critical position on what's going on in front of you. It's much easier to step back and keep your critical distance from a sculpture than from a theater play or a movie. I generally assume a critical distance in the viewer when I show my work. Even though my work sometimes offers an immersive participation, visitors of LAMOA will be aware of its difference to other museum institutions, and participants in the 'Glendale Freeway Raffle' might wonder what they're getting themselves into. As Irene Tsatsos describes it in the catalogue, my work and the work of the other artists in the exhibition show “familiar constructs but the viewers perspectives are changed which may cause them to question the authority of their previous interactions with the object or concept.”

View from the Interview site.
Yes, I do see the freeway overpass in itself as an alien place within the city. It doesn't belong to the functioning infrastructure that surrounds it and thus creates an interruption just by being there. If we stretch the term 'alienation effect' in regards to how we normally approach the city as a well organized system that we are immersed in, visiting or seeing this unused piece of Freeway might question  our generally adopted views. I was definitely interested in it as a gap that takes you outside of your everyday experience.

MV:     When you invited artists to display their work at LAMOA, how did the artists react to the space? Did they consider it a challenge? 

AK:     I invited artists whom I expected to be able to take advantage of the space. Everybody made something that considered the conditions of the space directly. People addressed different aspects of the space, the fact that it was a communal space, the natural light conditions, the fact that it's a museum, the idea that it embodies a fictional location, it's self reflexivity, the stage like character etc. It think it challenged worked the work in a positive way.

MV:     Final question, what are your future plans? Do you have anything upcoming?

AK:     Yes, I'm working on two exhibitions. One of them will include a curated show at LAMOA and new works that I'm making. The other one will show a number of small pieces that I'm currently working on.

Postscript: On August 23, 2014, the Mohn Award for artistic excellence went to Alice Konitz, and the Los Angeles Museum of Art 





Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Warsaw Gallery Weekend



On the occasion of the Warsaw Gallery Weekend (WGW) 2014 we have just visited eight and very diverse positions. The main program of the WGW was supported by 21 local galleries and of one guest gallery from Prague. Collateral events were supported by institutions such as Zacheta – National Gallery of Art, Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, National Museum in Warsaw, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Theatre Institute, Adam Mickiewicz Institute or Academy of Fine Arts. This year, the Warsaw Gallery Weekend showed a very precise and accomplished selection of what the reputation of the Polish art scene is based on.

This video provides you with a tour through selected exhibitions that feature works by artists such as Aleksandra Chciuk, Andac Karabeyoğlu, Łukasz Filak, Magdalena Kulak, Kajetan Plis (Leto), Szymon Malecki, Tomek Sacilowski (Piktogram/BLA), Gudrun Kampl (Propaganda), Janek Zamoyski (Czułość), Erwin Kneihsl (SVIT), Aneta Grzeszykowska (Raster), Norman Leto (Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle), Piotr Łakomy (Stereo) and Andrzej Partum, Zbigniew Warpechowski, Roman Dziadkiewicz (Monopol). We also speak with Marta Kołakowska and Jacek Sosnowski, board members of the Warsaw Gallery Weekend.



Warsaw Gallery Weekend (2014); Interview with Marta Kołakowska & Jacek Sosnowski (Board of the Warsaw Gallery Weekend); September 26-28, 2014. Video and interview by Frantisek Zachoval.