Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Absalon at KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, Germany

KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin is presenting the first comprehensive solo exhibition by the Israeli artist Absalon. Absalon, born in Ashdod (Israel) in 1964, died at the age of 28 in Paris in 1993. In only a few years he created an oeuvre of extraordinary complexity and coherence which – even if forever unfinished – yet never remains fragmentary.

Absalon at Kunst-Werke Berlin, Institute for Contemporary Art. Berlin / Germany, November 27, 2010. Video by Anna Gerasimova.

From the press release:

Absalon engages himself with spaces in systematic and successive ways. By taking questions around essential human activitiesPreview and basic forms such as the rectangular, the square, the triangle and the circle as his starting points, he begins by emptying out the encountered spaces before restructuring and refilling them with the help of simple forms. These test assemblies, further developed later on by means of objects, drawings, photographs and films, come to a full circle in Absalon’s Cellules: individualized, ascetic living units for contemplation based on the measurements of the artist’s own body. Reduced to a vocabulary of strictly geometrical forms these pieces convey a sense of absolute abstraction, yet without alluding to utopian ideas. Instead, they open up heterotopic spaces, which Absalon had planned to publicly position in six large cities in order to confront his physical existence with the corpus of society: “They are not meant to posit any solutions in terms of isolation. They have been made for living the social.” (Absalon)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Matthew Brannon "Wit's End" at David Kordansky Gallery

Los Angeles-based artists Matthew Brannon recently had a solo show at David Kordansky Gallery in Culver City, California. The show is an excellent example of how an artist uses different media to covey certain conceptual strategies that explore notions of artistic practice, painting, commerce, comedy and aesthetics. 

From the press release:

Entitled "Wit's End,"  the exhibition represents a radical complication and amplification of themes present in Brannon's practice to date. These include the subversion of language, notions of fiction and autobiography, and a conceptual re-imagination of artistic practice in the context of visual culture, commerce, and repressed desire.

In Wit's End, Brannon puts the gallery to use as a theatre of aesthetic moves and counter-moves, a cerebral system which is continually ruptured by artworks that pull the signifying rug out from the exhibition as a whole. While the show includes sculpture, unique letterpress prints, and a sound work in the form of a limited edition LP record, perhaps the most intense of these ruptures is the most paradoxically traditional, and least anticipated, of gestures: Brannon has made a body of new, medium- to large-scale oil paintings based on abstract floral forms.

Suddenly, Brannon's longstanding critique of painting as the epitome of 'high' artistic culture becomes representative of an intensely sublimated desire, one that has energized his practice since the beginning of his career. By working against his own and his audience's expectations, the artist transforms himself into a psychological laboratory, testing his ability to make meaningful artworks from approaches that he has, at least in the past, deemed questionable. As such, the paintings demand to be read as props in a hyper-critical (and hypocritical) performance of self-consciousness in which cultural codes relentlessly interfere with one another and the artist's intentions. What on first glance seems like an attempt to loosen up suddenly begins to feel like an act of violent control.

If the wall-based sculptures of acrylic paintings that Brannon has made in recent years––with their clean surfaces, three-dimensional objects, and images of stretcher bars, rulers, and tags––function as abstractions based on the externalphysical and cultural supports for painting, the new oil-based works become abstractions based on the internal motivations that lead to paintings (and by proxy, artworks in general). By pairing examples of both of these aspects of his practice in a single exhibition, Brannon allows for, and even encourages, the possibility that they might contradict each other's basic intentionality.

As a result, Wit's End cannot be simply read as a commentary on painting, or even on painting's place in the culture at large. Rather, painting and its conceptual ramifications become strategies, among many others, aimed at destabilizing the viewer's sense of how images relate to the ever-expanding layers of narratives we tell about them. To this end, the exhibition establishes a tenuous––but rigorously composed––system of objects, texts, prints, and sounds in which the oil paintings might function as "mere" illustrations for the uncomfortable narratives evoked by the other works on view.

These include a bright green railing-like sculpture that literally divides the gallery space, legislating the viewer's physical and visual experience of the exhibition. Several of the unique letterpress prints for which Brannon is well known perform a similar, if less overtly disruptive role, and give off intimations of paranoia that heighten the disturbing beauty of the paintings. Their use of black-humored narrative and familiar graphic symbols points to commercial, psychological, and even political contingencies that threaten, at any moment, to subsume aesthetic concerns. In these works, language––whether as text or as a cohesive vocabulary of images––becomes a last resort, forever a potential source of misunderstanding and inadequacy.

A sense of thwarted expression is highly present in 'Gag', a limited-edition LP record. Its letterpress sleeve includes a quote from Georges Batailles that details the "metamorphosis of the great ape... as an inversion, having as its object not only the direction of the discharges thrust back through the head––transforming the head into something completely different from a mouth, making it a kind of flower blossoming with the most delirious richness of forms..." The recording itself, audible in the space, features the sound of a woman gagging. Her sexualized, quasi-verbal emission can be read as an auditory equivalent to the oil paintings, in which the absence of language only seems to increase the viewer's desire to articulate their significance. Yet in one of the many conceptual paradoxes put into play by these works, the imagery conjured by Bataille threatens to draw a linguistic parallel between the record as gag (or joke), the act of gagging (disgust), and the floral subjects of Brannon's new paintings.

Seen in this light, the title of the exhibition takes on disconcerting importance. Is Brannon at his wit's end? Is the work in the show an illustration of a personality that is on the verge of losing control? Or is this what Brannon imagines artwork to look like when wit––the comedic version of the critical instinct––has run out? As it attempts to answer these questions, Wit's End feasts vampirically on the very discourse it has been designed to generate.

In 2011 Matthew Brannon will be the subject of a one-person exhibition, curated by Daniel Birnbaum, at Portikus in Frankfurt, Germany. Over the past few years he has also been the subject of the solo exhibitions Mouse Trap, Light Switch, Museum M, Leuven, Belgium; Reservations, Ursula Blickle Stiftung, Kraitchal, Germany; Where Were We, Whitney Museum of American Art at Altria, New York; and Try and Be Grateful, Art Gallery of York University, Toronto. His work has been included in many group exhibitions throughout the world, including At Home/Not at Home: Works from the Collection of Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; Cabinet of Curiosities with Pablo Bronstein, Matthew Brannon, Anthea Hamilton, and Wayne Koestenbaum, Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, England; Beg, Borrow, Steal, Rubell Family Collection, Miami; 50 Moons of Saturn, T2 Torino Triennial, Turin, Italy; the 2008 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Multiplex: Directions in Art, 1970 to Now, Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Troika: Falling Light. Interview with Conny Freyer and Sebastien Noel at Design Miami 2010. Miami Beach, November 30, 2010.

Falling Light is an immersive installation by the London art and design studioTroika. It consists of 50 ceiling-mounted illumination devices that immerse the visitor in a virtual shower of light “drops”. This is achieved by projections of light through an optically pure, custom-cut Swarovski crystal lens. VernissageTV’s Sabine Trieloff met with two of the Troika designers, Conny Freyer and Sebastien Noel at their booth at Design Miami. In this interview, the two designers talk about their installation “Falling Light” and their work in general.
Troika are Eva Rucki, Conny Freyer and Sebastien Noel, who met while studying at the Royal College of Art, and subsequently started their London-based studio in 2003. The trio is widely known for its experiential artworks. Troika’s practice is positioned at the junction where art, architecture, and technical inventions intersect.
Falling Light is part of Swarovski’s Crystal Palace series that produced installations by designers such as Greg Lynn’s or Ross Lovegrove.
Troika: Falling Light. Interview with Conny Freyer and Sebastien Noel atDesign Miami 2010. Miami Beach, November 30, 2010. Interview: Sabine Trieloff.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Master Class Neo Rauch at Kunstverein Wilhelmshöhe in Ettlingen, Germany

It’s a tradition at Kunstverein Wilhelmshöhe in Ettlingen, Germany, to present each year a class of a German Fine Art Academy. This year, it’s the Master Class of the renowned German painter and principal artist of the New Leipzig SchoolNeo Rauch. The artists are Stefan Guggisberg, David O’Kane, Sebastian Burger, Carolin Knoth, Robert Seidel, Kristina Schuldt, Mandy Kunze. They all have in common that they work 2-dimensional, in painting and drawing, and in the figurative tradition that made the Leipzig School famous. VernissageTV attended the opening of the exhibition.
Meisterklasse Neo Rauch – Der ehemalige Norden. Master Class Neo Rauch at Kunstverein Wilhelmshöhe Ettlingen / Germany. Opening reception, November 19, 2010.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ciprian Muresan at Mihai Nicodim Gallery October 30- December 4, 2010

Ciprian Muresan
October 30 – December 04, 2010
Mihai Nicodim Gallery is pleased to announce the second solo show in the US of artist Ciprian Muresan. The artist’s practice is not confined to a specific medium. He is commenting on art’s historical values through works in a multitude of media from drawing to photography to video. This exhibition is built around “Auto-da-fe”, the artist’s seminal work first presented in 2008 at Art Basel Statements, Switzerland and at Venice Biennale 2009.

“A few pages from Elias Cannetti’s “Die Blendung / Auto-da-fe” (1932) are graffitoed throughout the cities of Romania. The text acquires a monumental quality, while the processes of subjective dissolution it describes are embedded into the monumental. The resonance of each sentence, it’s persistent attempts to locate and rearrange the flotsam of a disintegrating subjectivity, are set against the immobility of walls and enclosures. The rambling monologue that Cannetti’s protagonist addresses to his library has been interpreted by literary critics as a significant document of the “end of modernism”, shattered utopias and fragmented beliefs.

The artist’s strategy of dispersing the text replicates to an extent the destructive acceleration written by Cannetti into modern urban space. But the painstakingly recomposing the text from its scattered bits, Ciprian Muresan also engages the transition between modernism and its post-modernities as a historical point where the monumental needs to be re-evaluated. Between the detritus of modernism and post-modern equivocation, Muresan’s ambivalent monument to Cannetti, to alienating spaces and to the capacity of speech of defining and holding together a subjectivity, embodies the experience of those evacuated, disposed of their right to the city and pushed to the very margins of social life.”
Mihnea Mircan

The two drawings representing bodies lying on the ground, a recurring theme in Ciprian Muresan’s work, reference Eastern European performance art as well as the reminiscences of the casualties from the 1989 revolution in Romania from the media footage. The sequence created by the two slightly different positions of the still bodies, introduces the viewer to a dynamic tension specific to the state of being in the presence of victims.

Another process used by Muresan is to place the work of famous artists like Vermeer or Martin Kippenberger through a filter created by copying in pencil of some of their catalogues which include reproductions, therefore amplifying the confusion between original and reproduction. Ciprian Muresan has shown extensively throughout US and Europe, at Venice Biennale in 2009, in “The Generational: Younger then Jesus” at the New Museum, NY, 2009, Sydney Biennale 2010, Renaissance Society, Chicago 2010, NBK Berlin, “Promises of the Past” at Centre Pompidou, Paris 2010 and Galeria Plan B, Berlin.

Mihai Nicodim Gallery
3143 S. La Cienega Blvd, Unit B
Los Angeles, CA 90016
Entrance on Blackwelder
T: 310-838-8884
Gallery Hours:
Tuesday – Saturday
11 – 6 pm

Tom Allen "Summerlands" at Richard Telles Fine Art

OCTOBER 30 – NOVEMBER 27, 2010

Tom Allen’s paintings combine a personal response to the legacy of Romanticism with an enduring interest in the occult. In his recent paintings, the artist has turned his attention to the remains of once-living things (trees, an abalone)that have taken on a new life, transformed by processes of excoriation and decay. Anchored by Summerlands, a suite of four identically formatted driftwood "portraits," this exhibition is the artist's most focused to date.

Tom Allen on the Summerlands series:
I think of these paintings almost as images of statues, or ghosts. I was aiming for a kind of sublimated figuration; I wanted them to operate more through suggestion than depiction. The title refers to the American Spiritualist Andrew Jackson Davis. In his writing, he described the ‘Summer Land,’ an ‘inhabited belt of solid spiritualized matter,’ a celestial zone populated by transfigured souls who had passed away on Earth. This seemed appropriate for my portraits of what were once trees, bodies in which insides had become outsides. The Summer Land of Andrew Jackson Davis seemed to me a place that could also correspond to the space of painting itself - a place simultaneously ethereal and material, forever continuous with, and yet somehow also outside of, the present. This is Tom Allen’s fifth solo exhibition with Richard Telles Fine Art. Allen’s previous solo shows also include Galerie Michael Janssen, Berlin in 2005 and 2008. He has also participated in group exhibitions at China Art Objects and Angles Gallery in Los Angeles, Andrea Rosen Gallery and Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York, and at Miliken Gallery, Stockholm, Sweden. Allen received an MFA from Art Center College of Design, Pasadena in 2001. He lives and works in Pasadena.

For more information, please contact 323.965.5578 or
Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 am – 5 pm, and by appointment.
Richard Telles Fine Art
7380 Beverly Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA 90036
T: 323.965.5578
F: 323.965.5579

Friday, November 19, 2010

Design Lounge by Florian Borkenhagen / Cologne Fine Art & Antiques / Interview

With the 2010 edition Cologne Fine Art & Antiques introduced a new sector to the fair: contemporary design. One of the highlights is the Design Lounge that was conceived by the German designer and artist Florian Borkenhagen (represented by Gabrielle Ammann Gallery, Cologne). For the fair, he created some kind of Luna Park centered around a carousel that invites visitors to relax from the excitement of the fair. In this video, Florian Borkenhagen talks about his career, the concept of the Design Lounge, and upcoming projects.

Design Lounge by Florian Borkenhagen / Gabrielle Ammann Gallery, Cologne Fine Art & Antiques / Interview with Florian Borkenhagen, November 16, 2010.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

2010 California Biennial: Interview with Alexandra Grant

Mario Vasquez October 4 at 8:40am
Thanks for doing this interview with me. I want to begin by talking about your beginnings. How did you become an artist?

Alexandra Grant October 11 at 8:48pm
A good question. I don't know if I ever wasn't an artist. My mother recently found a school project of mine from ages 7 or 8. The teacher had assigned us to write a newspaper article. I decided to make an entire newspaper.  I enlisted my best friend as a journalist and she wrote several articles. I came up with the rest, designed the mast-head, and had my mother drive to a photocopy shop in Mexico City that could print the whole thing on newsprint. I'll never forget the teacher's reaction when I handed her the project. My answer, I suppose, is that since I was a child I've  imagined the entire "symphony" first and then the melodies. As an adult, art is the platform, the bigger project, the symphonic or newspaper space that allows me to explore all the ideas -- both literary and plastic -- that I'm interested in.

Mario Vasquez October 12 at 9:08pm
I remember seeing your work for the first time at your solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Your paintings and sculpture was both text and image in a way we see text such as Lawrence Weiner or Jenny Holzer. Can you elaborate on how you approached the language and image in your work?

Alexandra Grant October 16 at 12:43pm
Both Weiner and Holzer are people whose work I looked at (and continue to admire) intensely -- as well as Baldessari, Ruscha, Kruger, Kelley, Bochner. Each of these artists, in their own way, were looking at conceptual linguistic strategies and at the same time the language of advertising in magazines and television. (Think of early Baldessari paintings alongside the VW ads of the same period -- the mid-50's). Some of the questions I seek to address in my own practice, coming after all of those named above, are: what is the role of the hand (and handwriting) in image/text now? How are non-linear or networked systems of language represented/representable? How do the multiple dimensions of the internet impact our imagination of language? What is the role of literary, or poetic, text in a world where the image is frequently privileged over the word? How do we keep words alive and charged with meaning? Can a painter research and represent the work of writers who are working to keep language teeming with pathos, violence and tenderness? So my work is an investigation of the role of literary and networked texts (hypertexts) as source for images that are systems, maps, biological and social models, focusing on both the image of language as well as its specific meaning.

Mario Vasquez October 17 at 10:43am
Would you consider poetry a type of system in your work? There was a poet that was mentioned in the essays that the work at MOCA was based on.

Alexandra Grant October 19 at 8:34pm Report
Poetry, for this reader/painter, is written and read to stay alive. Sometimes poets write the most mediocre poetry in the same way that artists sometimes make the most timid art.  So I look for poetic writing that challenges what I think language is and can do, that rips open a seam and shosw a horizon where there wasn't one. Successful poetic texts are about rhythm, alliteration, repetition, imagery, metaphor... they remind us that language is the link to ideas and other people that keeps us sparking. Poems also lend themselves, because of their structure (and sometimes games), to mapping.

Mario Vasquez October 19 at 8:37pm
Final question. Tell me about your project for the biennial. Does it differ from the work at your recent show at Honor Fraser?

Fourth Portal (taste), 2010

Alexandra Grant October 19 at 10:22pm Report
The work I'm showing at the Biennial is part of my ongoing collaboration with Michael Joyce, a pioneer of hypertext fiction. While I dreamt of doing an original piece for the Biennial, the constraints of the exhibition and my own laborious process lead us to select pieces from a previous body of work, the Six Portals. The Portals are an exploration of six distinct language spaces. Based on texts by Joyce, the Portals investigate the five senses and the mind as image and text. The Body Portal, a reflection on the sense of touch (both the metaphoric and more profane aspects of that sense), lead to my recent work at Honor Fraser (a show called "bodies").

Second Portal (eye), 2010

First Portal (mind), 2010

Frieze Los Angeles 2024 (Review)

Frieze Los Angeles 2024 was held again at Santa Monica Airport from February 29, 2024, to March 3, 2024. This year’s Frieze was remarkedly d...