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April 20 2009 2 20 /04 /April /2009 14:50

One of the best artists to render through sculpture the exploration of human and animal fusions is the American sculptor Rona Pondick; “The metamorphosis of an Object” is an original proposition of the Worcester Art Museum which offered the artist to select sculptures from the museum’s collection and confront them to her work.

Her selection goes to three different aspects of sculpture : The communicative capacity of gesture and posture, the treatment of hairs, and the effect of repetition. But before going further in the exhibition, we must explain her own process of creation, which gives birth to hybrid representations, mixing plants with human, or human with animals: She makes a mould of some part of her own body, she modifies it with high three dimensions technologies on her computer, and then molds it in bronze, stainless steel or silicone. Thus, it is  her own body that she transforms and mixes with other biological forms.

The creatures she makes have a double effect: first when we face her sculptures, an ambiguous otherness, both beautiful and repelling, calls our whole sensitivity. The fineness of the replicated skin mixed with other forms is difficult to interprete : we could advance this idea of uncanny , the expression of the familiar with something repulsive. Indeed there is one part that we know very well, like the duplicate of a hand or a face, but it is mixed with something unknown, and this transformation is frightening.  Secondly, they recall us the actual uneasiness of the scientific researches and our own fear about this close future:  the cloning, the genetically modified organisms etc… Nowadays, scientists are going so far in human and animal manipulations that bio-ethics conferences are settled in the whole world. Thus, going back to the ancient representations of human metamorphis is an intelligent way to confront the fear of the past with our own.

Besides, this echo of creations makes us pervade the boundaries of the body's universe through generations of artists, and gives us a fresh new look to old master pieces. The artist says : “I want to look at how sculpture is physical and how the physical makes psychological impact. Viewers have conscious and unconscious visceral responses to objects that they feel in their own bodies and that make psychological meaning. I am interested in looking at the way the psychological has been manifested in sculptures from all periods. When these different historic sculptures and mine are installed next to one another, there is a visual communication spoken in "body language" that needs little explanation. The sculptures start losing their historical place and take on more physical, emotional, and visceral relations with the viewer. Gestures and postures don't translate solely into symbolic interpretations particular to a culture or time period. Otherwise, why would people look at historic work?”

Parallels with ancient works is indeed very helpful to understand better both contemporary problems and art; and it seems that more and more museums use this subject to valorize their own collection, like the Bass Museum of Art with “Endless Renaissance”, and it actually brings new people to museums that are not always turned to contemporary art.
So if you want to dive into the Ovid's Metamophoses of Rona Pondick, don't hesitate, the experience is mezmerizing.

Rona Pondick was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1952. After studying at Queens College, she received her Masters of Fine Arts at Yale University School of Art in 1977. Pondick gained public recognition in the mid-1980s, and since that time her sculpture and site-specific installations have been shown in important individual and group exhibitions throughout the world. Her work is included in major museum and private collections internationally. Pondick is represented by Sonnabend Gallery, New York and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris/Salzburg and exhibits regularly at Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston.


[Visuals: Above : Rona Pondick, "FOX", 1998-1999, stainless steel, 37 x 9 x 14", ed.5 of 6 courtesy Howard Yezerski Gallery]


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April 20 2009 2 20 /04 /April /2009 10:50

Today, 20 of the most recent crop of Mini Seedcamp finalists are present in London. They will be strutting their stuff to an esteemed group of mentors on 20th April 2009 at NESTA.

The final 20 are teams (from France, Ireland, Lithuania, Denmark, Romania and Estonia) are :
Art and YouBoxed Ice, Brainient, BraveNewTalent.com, CityOdds Ltd, Comufy.com (Chootta Ltd), CovertCandy, GymFu, Imagga Bulgaria Ltd., iPlatform, jobwhizz.com, LazyFinance, Lila.io, Lovestruck, Patients Know Best, Plink, Sentry Wireless, sfeed, Timetric (Inkling Software), and VouChaCha.

The teams will have a chance to show off their talent and engage with distinguished mentors along and learn from over 70 top European industry movers and shakers including VC’s, Investors and product specialists in HR, PR, Product and Marketing.


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April 19 2009 1 19 /04 /April /2009 16:26

The David Zwirner Gallery offers until May 9 to the artist Adel Abdessemed his three spaces to display his last works from the past two years under the name of RIO (in English, ‘River’) : Massive sculptures, videos, photographs, drawings and other original and engaged propositions lead us to a subjective encounter with the artist.

Because this exhibition is located in three different places, (519 W 19th st., 525 W 19th st., 533 W 19th st.), the viewer will travel freely through a maze like environment and meet the pieces following his own choice of direction. For once, an artist gives the spectator some confidence. The number of works with different topics is quite high, but we really feel an aim to render intimate convictions. We will here evoke some works that blew us away by the accuracy of the purpose and ingenuity of the medium used.




The first work we discovered is a face to face to “Telle mère, tel Fils” (‘like mother like son’) sixty five feet long braid of three airplanes, made of their original cockpits and tailfins, while the fuselages are reconstructed in soft felt filled with air. Beside the strong evocation of terrorism, through the vision of distorted airplanes; the title, which recalls the adage “like father, like son” but breaks the genders frontiers by linking the mother with the son, would symbolize the interweaving of the generations, whether it would be male or female. Adel Abdessemed is born in Algeria; there, the separation between genders is strict and firm, thus he affirms a strong emancipation from this tradition. Also,  the artist gives here a tender sign to his mother.

Childhood is also expressed with the "Music Boxe" (2009), a sculpture made of recycled material such as a bicycle and a steel oil barrel, which looks like a barrel organ, and displays the music of the Wagner, the Valkyrie. The contrast is total: the barrel organ evokes the sweet oldies music of our childhood we were listening to with our parents, a candy in hand; but the music of the Valkyrie, which embodies so clearly the expression of war and anger, activates then a link between childhood and War.

An other expression of anger is a black terra cotta sculpture featuring a life size burned car , lying on its side, in a sort of precarious balance. “The car had been burned, that is to say physically, stained by gas. I find fascinating the alchemy that takes place between metal, plastic, petroleum, and gasoline, all these materials that come from the earth, of which the piece is the crystallization in clay.” Said the artist in 2008.  The title, “Practice Zero Tolerance (retournée)”, refers to the new politic lead by the actual president of France who claimed no Tolerance to any act that would violate the law. One of the consequences of the politic was the riots in October 2005, where many cars where burned: a strong rebellion from a forgotten part of the society, the new generation of French issued from the immigration that were aimed at by this new politic. This black car, like it was burned one day ago and close to fall on the ground, reminds us that those people are still here, suffering from racism and discrimination, still angry…


As the artist occupies three spaces in the gallery, a lot of high quality and profound works are showcased expressing in genuine and ingenious ways many ideas such as the intimacy of an immigrant, the violent nature of both men and life…we were amazed by this strong political idea of asking to three prostitute to handwrite pages of the Bible, the Torah and the Koran. We stayed mesmerized by the film “Usine”, in which we see fight predatory surviving or destroying their close environment (three others videos are displayed, Enter the circle and Les ailes de Dieu (the wings of God).  In brief, we could only recommend to discover this fresh new New-Yorker (he moved in 2008) artist, for the first time presented in America.


Born in 1971 in Constantine, Algeria, Adel Abdessemed attended the École des Beaux-Arts d’Alger and the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Lyon. He currently lives and works in New York. In 2008, MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts hosted a solo exhibition of his work, organized by Jane Farver and accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue with essays by Farver, Tom McDonough, and Pier Luigi Tazzi, and an interview with Noam Chomsky. Abdessemed recently has been the focus of solo exhibitions at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin, Italy (2009), Le Magasin - Centre National d’Art Contemporain, Grenoble, France (2008), and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2007). He recently was included in the 7th Gwangju Biennial, Gwangju, Korea (2008) and the 52nd Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2007). His work is in the collections of Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Fondation François Pinault, Venice, Italy; Fonds régional d’art contemporain Champagne-Ardenne, Reims, France; Fonds régional d’art contemporain des Pays de la Loire, Carquefou, France; Fundación Montenmedio Arte Contemporáneo, Vejer de la Frontera, Spain; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel; Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Geneva, Switzerland; Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France.


[Visual: above : Adel Abdessemed, Telle mère tel fils, 2008, Airplanes, felt, aluminum, metal ,Image Size: 27 x 4 x 5 meters / 88.6 x 13.12 x 16.4 feet. Courtesy David Zwirner Gallery. Below, Adel Abdessemed, Prostitute, 2008, two manuscripts of the Koran, three manuscripts of the Bible, three manuscripts of the Torah 3 plexiglass boxes inside paper shopping bags Image Size: Manuscripts are 11.81 x 8.46 inches Paper bags: One is 12 2/4 x 1 x 6 inches. Two are 13 3/8 x 16 3/8 x 6 inches each.Courtesy David Zwirner Gallery]

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April 17 2009 6 17 /04 /April /2009 11:46


Hirst in Ukraine? The one who made a scandal in the art world by selling by himself, for a $100 millions dollars, a skull made of over 8000 diamonds ; is offering to the Ukrainians more than a large retrospective, an exclusive new series of skull paintings at the PinchukArtCentre of Kyiv : "Requiem".

The title fits perfectly to the main interests of Damien Hirst : Death and religion. As the new series continue to explore the intimate relation of men with death, Requiem, a Mass celebrated for the dead, gives a panel of pieces where the viewer confronts himself with what he tries to forget, or what he is fighting against but that will always win.
The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991), a work which made him famous, is a real shark whose corpse is conserved in formalin, and shows the decomposition's process of the body: it is a direct demonstration of the reality of death and its terrible truth. The new works that will be exhibited, The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth, Men shall Know Nothing or Floating Skull turn toward the painting's medium, still relying on the main topic of the hidden places in the heart of human and nature.  We appreciate the intelligence of the titles, that always help us to go deeper  in our thoughts facing his pieces : they always imply philosophical questions, with no direct answers, so that those titles stay in our mind, accompagnied by the plastic answer of the artist.

Born in 65 in Bristol, part of the generation of the Young British artists of the 90’s, Hirst likes scandals, and completely understood the Art Market and its new tendencies. That might be why he is now exhibiting in Ukraine, at the private Art museum of Mr. Pinchuk, one of the most significant collectors of the former USSR. We shall indeed remember the number of potential collectors there is in this region, who might not be totally crushed by the crisis - like in Britain or in the U.S - and therefore might be quite interested by this new exhibition...

As Victor Pinchuk says, Hirst and him have come common interests: “This exhibition is of great significance but what is most important for me is that the opportunity to see Hirst’s new body of work occurs first in Kyiv. Damien’s exhibition in Kyiv symbolises the reciprocal and mutually beneficial relationship between contemporary Ukrainian culture and that of the rest of the world. They share a common ground.”

The Pinchuk foundation is one of the largest centers for contemporary art in Eastern Europe; its first aim is to promote the international development of Ukrainian artists. Moreover, Victor Pinchuk, his founder, created through this foundation other structures which give a significant help to modernize the country, such as an healthcare program focusing on neonatal centers, educational initiatives, a school of economics,




Eckhard Schneider, General Manager of the PinchukArtCentre: “With this fundamental retrospective including a cycle of new paintings the PinchukArtCentre gives an important international contribution to the debate surrounding one of the leading artists of our time.” Indeed, over a hundred works are here presented until September 20th, so if you plan to got in Eastern Europe anytime soon, don’t miss the occasion to see one of the most controversial artists of our time.


[Visuals : Above : Damien Hirst, For the Love of God, 2007, courtesy of the artist. Below : Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991, courtesy of the artist.]


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April 16 2009 5 16 /04 /April /2009 15:00


The Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago presents, until June 21, “Starting with the Universe”, the first major exhibition of one of the greatest American thinkers and visionary of the 20th century, Richard Buckminster Fuller.

Born in 1895 in Milton, Massachusetts, this philosopher, inventor, teacher, architect and mathematician, decided in 1927 to always and only work for all humanity, in the global problematic of poverty, disease, and homelessness. In 1947, he started teaching at Black mountain College in North Carolyn and exposed his major invention, the principle of the geodesic dome: “the only kind of building that can be set on the ground as a complete structure--and with no limiting dimension. The strength of the frame actually increases in ratio to its size, enclosing the largest volume of space with the least area of surface.” This structure is based on the study of nature, precisely on plancton's organism, using their simple form as the tetrahedron, octahedron, and the closest packing of spheres, making them lightweight and stable. The patent for geodesic domes was awarded in 1954. Today, we own him over 500 000 geodesic domes.
Then he became acknowledged by the American society: in 1959, an exhibition at the MOMA of New York consecrated him. In 1967, he was chosen to be the curator for the United States Pavilion at the Universal Exhibition in Montreal.

The visionary idea he had was to create and use deep technologies in order to save humanity and nature. He already had, in the late 20’s this awareness of the waste of nature's resources we were using, and was already thinking ecologically. His adage was: “More for less” : More technologies for the fewest resources. The goal was to explore at the maximum the capacities of human technologies in order to save the society from their own waste.
As part of the New England Transcendantalist, he adhered to "an idealistic system of thought based on the essential unity of the natural world and the use of experiment and intuition as a means of understanding it", in fact, he considered necessary to place faith in the integrity of a regenerative universe.

Housing, transportation, communication, cartography, he explored many different ways, inspiring himself from organic structures. They are all presented in this exhibition through a combination of models, sketches, photographs, and scale models.




When I think about a problem, I never think about beauty, only how to resolve it. But when I finished, if the solution isn’t beautiful, I know it is not good
 

This exhibition is organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, in association with the Department of Special Collections of the Stanford University Libraries


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April 15 2009 4 15 /04 /April /2009 12:46

“The Endless Renaissance” is an original proposition of the Bass Museum of Art in which the curator Steven Holmes offers us, from April 17 to August 16, a fresh new look on its collections with the help of well-known contemporary artists.


 


Indeed, some Delacroix, Rubens, Goya, Rigaud and Hoppner, are shown juxtaposed with pioneering artists of our day such as Joseph Beuys, Charles Ledray, Byron Kim, Jonathan Monk and Eve Sussman. The purpose of the curator is double : first to show the deep link between contemporary art and art from 17th , 18th  and 19th centuries, how an artist is constantly looking back to its masters when he creates. And secondly in which manner, when an artist quotes an other one, or when an art critic gives a point of view on an artist, our look changes almost irreversibly on this latter.

In fact, quoting an artist has always been in the creation’s process of artists, but we can notice an increase in the interpretation of the master in actual art. Apart from the famous example of Duchamp, when he drew a moustache and goatee on a cheap postcard of the Mona Lisa, and titled it L.H.O.O.Q, we can remember the historical portraits series of Cindy Sherman, when she retakes famous portraits such as the Self-portrait in Bacchus by Caravaggio, or the Virgin and the Child by Sandro Botticelli. Besides, one of the biggest exhibitions of this year was in Paris at le Grand Palais with  “Picasso and the Masters”, an explanation of the inspiration’s sources of Picasso, and how he confronted himself to painters such as Delacroix, Velasquez, Manet, or Raphaël.

To do pastiches can bring new ideas either on the subject represented or on the artist itself.  For instance, when Yinka Shonibare, actually exhibiting at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, refers to the painting The raft of the Medusa  by Théodore Géricault, it is to give a new point of view on the historical matter of the tragedy of the raft of the Medusa. And it is true that after, when we see again at this masterpiece, our look has changed: we now think about the Africans who suffered the colonialism of the British and the French.

It is the same matter with art critic; the texts actually have an influence on our interpretation of works of art. Thus, our aesthetical experience, sensitive, gets modified following the moment we look at it : this is what Steven Holmes wants to show us : how instable and unpredictable is our experience of art.

Among the artists presented you will find  Joseph Beuys, Joe Coleman, Gregory Crewdson, Eugène Delacroix, Thierry Delva, Wim Delvoye, Nicole Eisenman, Peter Friedl, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, John Hoppner, Pieter Hugo, Byron Kim. Charles LeDray, Sol LeWitt, Kelly Mark, Jonathan Monk, Martin Puryear, Sharron Quasius, Hyacinthe Rigaud, Bert Rodriguez, Peter Paul Reubens, Chemi Rosado Seijo ,Thomas Struth, Huang Yongping.

The Bass Museum of Art is generously funded by the City of Miami Beach, Cultural Affairs Program, Cultural Arts Council; with additional support provided by Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade Mayor and the Board of County Commissioners; State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts; and Friends of the Bass Museum, Inc.


[Visuals above : Left : Pieter Hugo (South African, b. 1976), Abdullahi Mohammed with Mainasara, Ogere-Remo, Nigeria, 2007, From the series The Hyena and Other Men, Digital C-Print , © Pieter Hugo, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York and Michael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, Courtesy The Margulies Collection at the WAREhOUSE, Miami. Right: Hyacinthe Rigaud (French, 1649-1743), Hans William Bentinck, Earl of Portland, K.G., 1698-1699, Oil on canvas, 53 x 42” Collection Bass Museum of Art]
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April 14 2009 3 14 /04 /April /2009 16:41

Genesis P-Orridge, lead singer of the Throbbing Gristle, seems to escape from a photograph by David Lachapelle. He is extravagantly bizarre and wears on his face traces of his artistic dimension. He reminds us Amanda Lepore, American photographer’s “muse”. Transatlantic, transgender, transsexual. The shadow behind the color. 

The venerable Hotel de la Monnaie, Paris, devotes a particularly interesting retrospective to David Lachapelle, the enfant terrible of the international photography, to May 31, 2009. Surprisingly, the exhibition begins backwards, starting with the latest works and going back to his brilliant beginning, coming back to original icons. We can quickly cut his work on 3 periods, a kind of evil trilogy, corresponding precisely to 3 different periods of Genesis P-Orridge’s carrier. Let’s take backwards from the rear and go back to genesis, without nostalgia. David Lachapelle, like Genesis P-Orridge, from the very beginning, understood everything. The first one on fashion, the other one on rock music. Both incarnate, on their respective domain, the application of an implacable intelligence. David Lachapelle made portraits of famous or anonymous people (Angelina Jolie in Poppy Field, Milk Maid) with an innovative and like anything grace. A style immediately recognizable, an inimitable technique, a running revolution and the brilliant application that you implement an aesthetical concept by giving to see. It’s exactly the same thing with the Throbbing Gristle: they understood that the revolution was the most astonishing on the limited framework of rock music, as a continued and contained implosion, the English band led a frightening holy war. To modify game rules, to be free under laws (well, special laws), it’s like striking down the dragon.

Sailing up the Styx, you arrive to Revelation, the mystical exploration: "the Heaven to Hell" or "Deluge" series by Lachapelle. This religious possession is equivalent to Psychic TV, Genesis P-Orridge band. He attempts the more or less spontaneous conversion of industrial adepts, implementing a quasi-ecumenical dimension of nebulous grouping around the TOPY (Temple Ov Psychick Youth). It’s time for preaching and transcendental questioning. Both wish to find themselves on a deviate and deviant faith, forswearing their sins on an artistic blasphemy. They try to show us the way, to lead us to their own after-life, to make us penetrate the vision, to open our third eye. They mostly open the sea of rupture.

Third and last movement of the evolution, the format exit. David Lachapelle explores the 3rd dimension with cardboard installations issued from his photographs and Genesis P-Orridge exhorts, exults, exists through Thee Majesty, expressing Lady Jaye’s soul. The puffy impressions of Lachapelle (Holy War) are only interesting by the poor material (cardboard) perfectly combining with his exploration of futility and fragileness. The rest, the themes (Holy War, worsened consumerism fight, redemption on lust), the terribly didactic aspect, the overrated compositions, transform Lachapelle’s latest works into monsters of inutility. Like the frog wishing to be as big as the ox, wanting to change his status, his dimension, from photographer to artist, he changes from artist to photographer. By keeping on wanting to say too much, badly, you end by spoiling the message and sinking into a devastating anything. Thee Majesty is on the same display. By keeping on wanting to say too much, badly, you end up by spoiling the message. The anything is less devastating because it stays on a musical field, even if it wants to pride itself, to ennoble itself under the metallic gildings of the Pompidou Center or comes closer to Orlanesc reasoning. Why looking after the sun when you shine so much on the shadow? They both totally mastered their art. They left us the choice, the right to reinterpret, to understand, or not, an innovative and solitarian reasoning. They walk now among others, in the middle of a crowd of famous anonymous. 

What’s salvation now? It is still fascinating to analyze the evolution of an artist on the long range, refusing hasty judgments, looking after perpetual struggle on long periods. A new phony war somewhere. Do not forget that they are still able to surprise us with real Grace moments. Talent, it’s like riding a bicycle, you never forget: the "Awakened" and "Recollections in America" series (Lachapelle becomes artist), the Part two. Endless Not and PTV3 (Genesis reminding himself he’s still able to invent the future). Maybe they can try, now, a naturally unnatural alliance. Will they dare to court disaster and create Lachapelle Ov Psychick Youth? Everything is possible with these two revered f(r)iends…


[Visuels : above, David Lachapelle, Awakened: Jesse, 2007. Photographie. Courtesy : David Lachapelle & Hotel de la Monnaie, Paris. Below: David Lachapelle, When the World is Trough, 2005. Photographie. Courtesy : David Lachapelle & Hotel de la Monnaie, Paris]


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April 13 2009 2 13 /04 /April /2009 14:33


Zeng Fanzhi has largely been awaited in United States, for a prestigious Gallery such as the Acquavella welcomes him for his first solo exhibition in the United States. Indeed, since a painting from the Mask series has been sold in Christie’s Hong Kong for $ 9,7 million, the auction record for a Chinese artist, he is considered as one the greatest figure of the contemporary art.

This exhibition, largely broadcasted by the media. is an event in the art world of New-York. William Acquavella, President of Acquavella Galleries, said : "Since the early 1990s, he has been shown in major museums and sold by major galleries and is now the most admired figurative artist of his generation in Asia. His powerfully distinctive paintings explore personal identity and social convention."  Twenty paintings, portraits and landscapes which he started in 1999, will be showcased.

Those two series of paintings mark a important turn in his creation. We shall explain briefly his path in order to capture the background of this exhibition. It is with the Mask Series (1994-2000), that the public noticed the artist. Representations of people from the Chinese society, alone or in groups, always with masks that feature a smiling yet frozen expression. These paintings highlight a certain fragility, and human loneliness among this society. The background is usually plain, with vivids colors, and the characters have typical clothes evoking communism, such as the red tie.

Zeng Fanzhi is considered as a Chinese artists who succeeded to render emotions, ideas from China and shared it with an occidental public, yet with an authentic Chinese expression. But when we look close to his work, it is hard to say where the innovation and the Chinese breathe remain... Could we guess at first sight that the works are non-occidental paintings? It might be because it is so occidental and conventional that the Art Market welcomes him so warmly. For instance, the series of portraits displayed in the Acquavella Gallery seems to have a too strong touch of Francis Bacon, that was already here in the mask series : Not only in the wipeout of the brushstroke, escaping toward the top of the canvas, giving this impression that the characters’ minds are fading away, but their strong look, the plain background, are all characteristics of Bacon’s work.

Yet, the technique is perfect, and the Landscape Series, with his rhizomatic lines invading the canvas, saturating the space, reaches us with a strong feeling of constriction. In this series we can really see the personality of the artist growing, expressing and actually really reaching us. This dark atmosphere, blue and purple, those characters prisonners of this chaos of lines :  it could symbolize this same chaos of desire and restriction we have inside ourselves, which blocks us in our path and ideas.

Did Zeng Fanzhi understand better than the other Chinese artists how to capture the art market ? By retaking some patterns of one of the best contemporary (also with Lucien Freud, Bacon is today the most expansive work) and mixing it with the cliché of the communism in China ? Did he just entered the system in acting as an occidental would expect him to act as a Chinese ? The best is to leave those questions open, and, in order to make your own opinion about Zeng Fanzhi, take advantage of this exhibition, and confront yourselves directly with his work.


Zeng Fanzhi was born in 1964 in Wuhan province and studied oil painting at the Wuhan Art Academy. Today he lives and works in Beijing. Zeng Fanzhi has exhibited widely at acclaimed institutions such as the Shanghai Art Museum, National Art Museum (Beijing), Kunst Museum Bonn, Kunstmuseum Bern, Santa Monica Art Centre, (Barcelona), and Art Centre (Hong Kong).



[Visual : Zeng Fanzhi, portait 08-4-1, 2008, oil on canvas, courtesy Acquavellas galleries]


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April 12 2009 1 12 /04 /April /2009 14:00


At the Robert Mann Gallery, from April 2 until May 23, you will have the chance to explore new possibilities of living turned against consumerism and pollution , through this rare, beautiful, and pure work of Mary Mattingly : "Nomadographies".

As the title says, this show talks about a graphic expression of nomadism, and makes us understand this ideal of living in deep relation with nature.
Mary Mattingly travels a lot: she draws upon them her inspiration, and brings us a sort of travelogue, between the documentary and the dream, where she succeeds to embody the idea of biosphere.

Landscape photographs of the far north with half submerged boats, portraits of people in a complete osmosis with a magnificent landscape. A recurrent object is this tall pile of cardboards attached by a cord, traveling sometime on the shoulder of a man in the desert, or on a boat on a lake, and contrasting with the landscape... a metaphor of the travel. With pure and vivid colors, characters featuring people who look like there are coming from another dimension, it is a kind a fresh air that we breathe in. A true peace is emanating from this series of images.

Apart from the photographs, we discover one installation “Everything you own including the shirt off my back” which retakes this same pattern, the pile of cardboard boxes bound with bungee cord, but this time attached to a man bicycling, with only one wheel on the ground. The balance is incredible, it really feels like he is landing from… but from where? a world imagined by Marry Mattingly, a world of recycled objects,  of non consumerism, wild globalization. where the simple is synonymous of grace.

An other fundamental piece is the waterpod model, an object resembling to a sphere, which is linked to a very important project. The Waterpod™ Project is a floating eco-habitat which is a sustainable navigable space, conceptualized and designed by the artist as a model for new form of living and DIY technologies. In May, the boat will start his course among the waters of New York Harbor. The project can be tracked on the website. A real and deep reflexion about our society is here proposed, and we can only admire her courage and determination to find other solution of living while the world's balance is collapsing.

“The Threaty of Nomadolgy”, written by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, explained how nomadism was linked to a war-machine. The work of Mary Mattingly could also be seen as her own war-machine, and this project would  thus embody her own vanishing point from this society of consumerism, designed with grace and cleverness.




Nomadographies  is  Mattingly's  second solo exhibition at the gallery. Most recently she  was shortlisted for the  inaugural   Prix Pictet  and  had  a  two-person exhibition with  Mle  Kjaergaard at  Standpoint  in  London.  Mattingly  is   also  included in the forthcoming  exhibition  "Trouble in  Paradise" :  Examining  Discord  Between  Nature  and  Society at the Tucson Museum of Art. In 2008 she was included in group exhibitions at the Palais de Tolkyo, the Neuberger Museum, and the Tessaloniki Museum of Photography.


[Visuals: Above : Mary Mattingly, In the Navel of the Moon, 2008, 30 x 30 inches, edition of 5, chromogenic, dye-coupler print mounted to dibond. , Courtesy Robert Mann Gallery.. Below : Mary Mattingly, Everything you own including the shirt off my back, 2009, dimensions variable, mixed media installation  Courtesy Robert Mann Gallery]


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April 10 2009 6 10 /04 /April /2009 11:38

From April 10 to June 14, the REDCAT in Los Angeles exhibits a project by the Lebanese artist Walid Raad (b.1967). This exhibition is the first presentation of a research on the development of cultural infrastructures in the Arab world. Consequently, it also studies the impact of the war and other conflicts on the cultural background and tradition of those countries. Mixed media such as photography, texts, sculptures and installations are gathered to give us an idea upon the link between war and tradition, and how the look on our own countries modifies following its political evolution.




This project is in fact an extension of a first one, established in 1999 through The Atlas Group. The aim was to collect information about the contemporary history of Lebanon, with a special focus on the Lebanese war, between 1975 and 1991. The Atlas Group Archives gathered a lot of information, and quite deranging by its strong preciseness. Photographic archives, testimonies, documents, the whole classified and indexed, with for instance, this note: 3641 cars, 4386 dead. We could interpret this strange quantification and recollection of documents as a Walid Raad’s personnal way of dealing with past horrors. We should not be mistaken about those number, they are not the expression of a distant objectivity, it is on the contrary a dive into his intimacy.

In 2007, the artist extends his interest in exploring, this time in the whole Arab world he consequences, material and immaterial, of the wars in the culture and the tradition. He founds his researches on a concept elaborated by Jalal Toufic, a Lebanese writer and filmmaker : "the withdrawal of tradition past a surpassing disaster".
Toufic explains: "the surpassing disaster leads to the withdrawal not of everything, but of tradition, and touches not everyone, but a community, with the caveat that this community is reciprocally defined by it as the community of those affected by it, and this tradition is defined by it as that which withdraws as a result of the surpassing disaster…and it is thinkers, writers, artists, filmmakers, musicians, and dancers who can 'take care,' by resurrecting it, of what has withdrawn as a result of the surpassing disaster."
So, “Scratching on Things I Could Disavow: A History of Art in the Arab World /Part 1_Volume 1_Chapter 1 (Beirut: 1992-2005)”, is an example of how Raad highlights through art the way some violent events provokes in a society a withdrawal of its identity: Indeed, culture and tradition are a fundamental part of the definition of a country, and if they decrease, it would simply cause a process of disappearance.

This exhibition calls our mind and emotions to a hidden face of the war with innovation and accuracy. It touches our sensitivity differently than a normal report of the chain of damages of violent events, and it could be because this time, it deals with the disapearance of ideals, ways of expression, creativity... immaterials things which brings us, in a our everyday life, an escape from a sometimes too strong reality.

Walid Raad is also  an associate Professor of Art in the Cooper Union of New York, and a member of the Arab Image Foundotion. His  works have been shown at Documenta 11 (Kassel), the 50th Venice Biennale (Venice), The Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin), The Museum of Modern Art (New York), Homeworks (Beirut) and numerous other museums and venues throughout Europe, the Middle East, and North America. Raad is also the recipient of the Alpert Award in Visual Arts (2007), the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize (2007), and the Camera Austria Award (2005).


[Visual :Walid Raad, Part I_Chapter 1_Section 79: On Walid Sadek's Love Is Blind (Modern Art Oxford, UK, 2006), (detail), 2009, dimensions variable, mixed media. Courtesy the artist. © Walid Raad.]


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