Sunday, May 29, 2011

Outdoor Sculpture at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California

Zhang Huan "49 Days" at Blum & Poe

Zhang Huan: 49 Days
May 21 – July 9, 2011
Opening reception: Saturday May 21st, 6 – 8 pm
For nearly two decades, Zhang Huan has established himself as one of the preeminent artists to emerge from China since the early 90s.  Zhang has developed a vast body of work ranging from endurance-based body performance (while living in New York) to large-scale public commissions, painting and sculpting with incense ash and even reinterpreting Handel's classic opera Semele at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Belgium and the Poly Theater, Beijing.

Central to his exhibition at Blum & Poe will be Pagoda, 2009, an imposing brick sculpture originally displayed at the Shanghai Art Museum. The twenty-two foot tall bell shaped pagoda is comprised of salvaged brick collected from demolition sites surrounding Shanghai (centuries old buildings that have been bulldozed in place of modern architectural progress). Near the center of the structure is a carved window from which a taxidermied pig periodically emerges and from where clouds of incense ash are dramatically emitted into the gallery.

Pagoda serves partly as a tribute to Zhu Gangqiang, or the "Cast-Iron Pig", now famous for having survived 49 days in rubble, following China's historic 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Upon hearing its story of survival, Zhang negotiated the pig's purchase and has subsequently adopted him into his studio, employing a full-time caretaker and making his likeness a central part of his artistic practice.  The number "49" (from which the show takes its title) is dually significant, both for its relationship to Zhu Gangqiang's story and for its connection to Buddhist thought, as the Buddhists believe 49 days is the amount of time ones soul remains on earth between death and reincarnation.

In addition to Pagoda, Zhang will present a series of newly constructed brick sculptures taking the form of pigs (often larger than life) and skulls. Relating back to the story of Zhu Gangqiang, and larger notions of mortality, the pigs and skulls compliment Pagoda in their formal construction and emotional tenor. Zhang will present sculptures that function as both freestanding floor pieces and two-dimensional hanging wall pieces, in some cases weighing in excess of 4,000 pounds. The sculptures testify to Zhang Huan's interest in personal, community and artistic survival; topics he has been exploring in depth since his physically intense performance pieces of the early 90s.  The brick may also be viewed metaphorically, as the works are constructed by the hands of Chinese laborers, representing the building blocks of a new world super power and place of constant reinvention that depends on its vast population to ensure progress as a nation.

Zhang Huan was born in An Yang City, China in 1965 and received degrees from He Nan University, Kai Feng and the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing.  He lives and works in Shanghai and has been honored with solo exhibitions at such prestigious public institutions as the Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai; Kunstverein Hamburg, Hamburg; Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei, Asia Society, New York which traveled to the Vancouver Museum of Art and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  His work is the permanent collection of numerous public collections including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Pompidou Center, Paris; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Blum & Poe
2727 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034
Ph: 310-836-2062
Fax: 310-836-2104

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Zsolt Bodoni – “Gods and Mortals” at Mihai Nicodim Gallery, Culver City, California

Zsolt Bodoni
"Gods and Mortals“
May 14 – June 18, 2011

Zsolt Bodoni's new works make no apologies for the reinvestigation of age old subject
matter: most notably the female nude and the equestrian statue. With their roots in
antiquity and re-births throughout art history, it might be imagined that these symbols of
love, beauty and power might have completed their cycles of reincarnation. Not so.
Bodoni turns again to the foundries that have inspired so much of his recent bodies of
work. Venus is reborn again but Mars, so often her companion in Renaissance painting,
is present here too amidst the engines of war: powerful machines, workers and half
finished assemblages. Great, half finished equestrian statues are inspected for approval
and, lest we forget the cost to animals as well as humans in wartime, Bodoni reminds us by
depicting a horse in a gas mask, plodding obediently and precariously along a
makeshift track as a great war ship prepares to embark far below.

Of late, Bodoni has been increasingly interested in the motivations that lead to war.
Casus Belli as the Romans knew it has been prompted by acts of aggression but often
by the destruction, or rumoured destruction of something poignant or symbolic to a
particular people. The bones of saints have been fought and died over. Strange masks
and caskets were created at huge expense to protect and preserve what amounted to
ghastly visions of mummified features yet these were often revered and worshipped, and
in some cases still are, the objects believed to be invested with supernatural powers. In
his recent paintings, Bodoni has also begun to consider the role of signifiers in relation to
human responses. Sometimes it's sufficient for an item of clothing to evoke an emotive
reaction. It might be a pair of boots, or a glove or a uniform; such as the uniform worn by
an infamous general which when discovered by a party of soldiers looking to arrest the
owner, was shot to pieces out of their frustration at his 'getting away'.

Bodoni understands that humans need symbols. He's not judgemental in his depictions,
and he isn't pointing the finger at the modern world as so many are wont to do. The
statuary of the ancient world isn't so very far removed from the mortal gods of today's
celebrity culture. In Bodoni's paintings these heroes and heroines are recycled; caught
either in the moment of rebirth or re-casting. Each time may produce its own icons but,
Bodoni appears to be saying, nothing will last forever. Even as the artist exposes this
cycle of construction and destruction he reminds us that the pursuit of beauty and the act
of investing an object with particular meaning, can result in terrible destruction. Bodoni
doesn't labour the point, he just traces the course. If we make gods out of mortals,
Bodoni seems to be saying: trouble will follow. Lest we need convincing further, a female
nude holds up the grinning skull of a ram. The painting is an allegory of beauty and
death; the one irretrievably linked with the other.

Mihai Nicodim Gallery
3143 South La Cienega Blvd, Unit B,
Los Angeles, CA 90016
T: 310.838.8884

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ai Weiwei: Teahouse (2009) at the Museum of Asian Art, Berlin

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s teahouse (Teehaus, 2009) is currently on show at the Asian Art Museum in Berlin. It consists of 378 cubes and 54 prisms of pressed Pu’er-Tea, surrounded by a field of scattered tea.

Unfortunately it’s not possible to reproduce the scent of this work via video. So if you really want to experience the work, you have to visit the exhibition at the Asian Art Museum. The presentation of the Teehaus was made possible by the permanent loan by Dieter und Si Rosenkranz.

Berlin’s Museum of East Asian Art and the Museum of Indian Art were merged in December 2006 and now operate under a new joint name, the Asian Art Museum. The Collection of South, Southeast and Central Asian Art houses one of the most important collections worldwide of art from the Indo-Asian cultural area, from the 4th millenium BC to the present.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

David Smith "Cubes and Anarchy" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles , California

Resnick Pavilion
April 3, 2011–July 24, 2011

This is the first major thematic exhibition devoted to the work of David Smith (1906-65). Throughout his career, what Smith called "basic geometric form" was a powerful touchstone.Cubes and Anarchy offers a fresh interpretation of Smith, revealing geometric abstraction as a leitmotif deeply connected to the artist's self-definition as a workingman and his need to reconcile that, through his interest in constructivism, with his identity as a modern artist.

Frieze Los Angeles 2024 (Review)

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