DAVID ZWIRNER: Adel Abdessemed .. and Doug Wheeler.

Before I get into my like love gotta have it commentary on Adel Abdessemed, I want to first address the results on my patient planning regarding Doug Wheeler. As previously mentioned, my first experience was one of being told the wait was going to be over an hour, so of course I immediately left, and decided to return on a morning. So, I arrived at Zwirner's about 15 minutes prior to their opening with tea and pastry in hand to occupy my wait, only to discover that about two dozen people already had the same idea, and had arrived before me. Zwirner: 2. Natalie: 0. So not to be discouraged I planned for a third and final time to make it out to the gallery to "experience" the highly praised work of Mr.Wheeler.  It was 11:45 am, and I waited in line for approximately 1.5 hours, outside before realizing that the 4 hour time slot I had given myself to view this "work" was not going to be enough. I had moved up about 6 people, I was 10 more away from just getting in the gallery, and the wait was an hour from the entrance.  As far as I am concerned, Wheeler's piece succeeded in doing one thing - teaching the art of waiting in line. One word for how I feel about this entire situation: FAIL. Talk about the culmination of the inaccessibility of art, I mean, was this a joke...?

OKAY. Now that that's out of my system let's talk about...

There seems to be a fable theme in the art world these days.  I have to say it, I love that Zwirner allows photography, I mean, Google image search is great, but first hand experience... much better.
Okay, I admit it. I've definitely had a crush on the work Adel makes for a while now. His consideration of scale and it's relationship to the space as well as the viewer has always been incredibly on point. Generally I'm pretty skeptical of obvious iconography such of Jesus Christ, but while I'm not necessarily compelled to enjoy these relic like sculptures, I can appreciate them for their materiality and craftsmanship. The glass microphones were precarious and tall.
Walking into a room with so many quick drawings everywhere really activated the walls. It turned the room into a sort of studio and it became a nice contrast to the stoic feeling of the rest of the gallery. When you take a boat out of its context and place it into a gallery you notice things like, size, color, texture, there are things to be looked at.
This last piece was my favorite, a wall of dead animals. I think about calling it a painting and it makes me squirm with excitement. Are those animals real or not?  I sort of like not knowing, it allows me to toy with the idea that they could be real, which then, makes me sad.  It was disgusting in the best way.



UM, It's live & HUGE thank you to Fisk for all of his hard work! What a happy Thursday!



Fisk and I enjoyed our stay at The Tolland Inn and if I blogged about amazing Bed & Breakfasts, you'd be reading about how great this place was for a while. You should go here.

Anyway, so Connecticut was.. an experience. I'll let these two masterpieces sum it up.

I'll give you one guess as to how I feel about these works. I think my favorite part is the floating plate with a chicken (or something??) on it in the top left corner of the first painting. Creepy. Also, a David Zwirner post coming soon! COMING SOON.



It’s Saturday. As we speak Fisk and I are on a bus on our way to Connecticut to visit a very dear friend of mine. I’ll be keeping my eye out for those special outsider suburban art gems.  Today is the first day in a surprise 4 day weekend, so to celebrate I’ll share with you my experience at MIXED GREENS.

 This exhibition and space seemed like fun so I was happy to check it out. Here are some works that I enjoyed/found compelling and/or interesting for various explained reasons. Someone once told me that group shows were opportunities to be the best artist among peers, I don’t like to think of it that way because you know, apples and oranges my friends. Not that some works don’t shine a little brighter than others...


 These photos by Dana Sherwood sat well with me. I think I just have a love for monochrome that’s done well. I also think green was a perfect color for this type of swampy environment. It’s an especially affective color because so many things we eat are green, yet there is also this bacterial association we have with green that makes the food desirable yet gross. 

 At first I wasn’t struck by Seth Scantlen’s painting below, but then I noticed these special details that made it unique. So well hidden, and subtlety crafted into perfect abstract corners of this piece, which made the work compelling. I also think this artist is onto to something bigger, the organic colors and textures are quite opposite to the bold graphics that are being hidden into the work, I think if both ends of this spectrum are enhanced interesting relationships could develop, this painting felt a little crowded though. 

  There was also this great sculpture by Bonnie Collura. Many varieties of textures and shapes, all of different scales. 

 The last thing that interested me about this show was collage. There was, to no surprise really, the ever popular photoshop collage (Hilary Pecis). The one that at least one person in each graduating BFA class dedicates their time and effort to making. Not that there isn’t skill in it - there is, but what was especially fun about this particular collage was that it was in the same show as another collage (Brian A. Kavanaugh) - albeit tangible, made out of paper, paper!? Crazy town.  I’ll let you compare detail with detail. This is fun. 

One of the first noticeable differences is color. The tangible collage is one that falls into the color palette of mainstream magazine production.  In the photoshopped one, color is well calculated manipulated and executed. The tangible collage is limited to the scale of found subject matter, the photoshopped unlimited, can I scale cute white cat to the size of an elephant? Done.  I guess the question isn’t about the differences really, so much as it’s about how these collages are communicating, I mean, what are they trying to say, and why is their respective choice of collage more/less important to their subject matter? I’m asking the same question of both, it doesn’t seem to be clear. As for now it’s a matter of preference really. I make collages out of paper - so I prefer the one made out of paper - it’s as simple and complicated as that.



Around 4 pm last Friday I made my way over to David Zwirner and stood in a line outside for approximately 5 minutes before a woman from the gallery came out declaring there was an additional  line on the inside that extended the wait time by another hour, and that she could not guarantee that everyone would be able to see the show. Of course I immediately left and made my plan to return - tomorrow morning. For what reason? Oh, to see the work of Doug Wheeler, he's constructed a piece out of light - much paralleling James Turrell- and it's been so vastly reviewed that I must share in the experience. Emphasis on that note - experience, and you know, relational aesthetics, and participating in art pieces by famous artists because I can. This all brings us to an essay that is a staple in understanding the fundamentals of relational aesthetics:

Roland Barthes
The Death of the Author//1968

This essay was written a while back yes, and when Barthes was writing it he was mostly talking about literature, but in more ways than not, his examples can and do parallel fine art in so many ways.  Again- the editor gives us more context to understand the theory and why we're reading it, 
"Barthes was concerned primarily with literature but his insights are analogous to much contemporary art of the period, particularly work that emphasize the viewer's role in their completion."
Great, so I'll take you through this short essay and highlight some key points.  One of the first points that Barthes makes is that we are limited in understanding a work when we know the author. He explains that we are limited because we want an explanation of the work, 
"The explanation of the work is always sought in the man or woman who produced it, as if it were always in the end, through the more or less transparent allegory of the fiction, the voice of a single person, the author 'confiding' in us." 
Barthes states that we want that explanation from the artist, that a work is an allegory of the artist sharing something personal with the viewer. This limits us because we can only see that work in relation to the artist. He goes on to make the point that literature exists without the author, and without knowing the author, there are an infinite many more associations that can be made.
"...it is language that speaks, not the author; to write is, through prerequisite impersonality(not at all to be confused with the castrating objectivity of the realist novelist), to reach that point where only language acts, 'performs', and not 'me'." 
Excellent, and if you relay this exactly to a work of art, and imagine for a moment that a work of art 'speaks' in relation to other works art and 'performs' on it's own, you can begin to understand why maybe the identity of the artist could hinder ones imagination.  Barthes continues on with this notion,
 "The removal of the Author (one could talk here with Brecht of a veritable 'distancing', the Author diminishing  like a figurine at the far end of the literary stage) is not merely an historical fact or an act of writing; it utterly transforms the modern text (or- which is the same thing-the text is henceforth made and read in such a way that at all its levels the author is absent)."
To take the author, or artist, away from a work Barthes makes the point that the origin is taken away from the work, and you are left with just language, or in our case, just art.  Because human beings try to identify their surroundings, to make meaning, if you erase the origin, it calls into question all origins - which becomes a much larger frame of reference than we'd like to admit. Barthes is saying that the work can move into a multi-dimensional space where a variety of works blend and clash, and it becomes almost futile to try and originate it. Essentially, what his final point becomes is that the creator/artist/author must be absent for the viewer to have and experience with the work, and that experience is more valuable than the limited meaning that would have been otherwise created by your knowing the origin of the work.  I am a fan of this idea, to take the author/artist out of the work, and make it universally referential, there is much more to be learned in this scenario.

Fantastic - but the problem is, that now I know that I should not know the artist in order to really experience the piece that I will (hopefully) experience tomorrow morning. No use pretending that I didn't see what I saw, or that I didn't read what I read, might as well enjoy some photos of previous works by David Wheeler, and get amped to experience the, "wondrous blankness—the purest form of minimalism you'll likely ever encounter..." As Robert Shuster from the Village Voice states. Looking. Forward. To. It. 



JASON FOX: Eating Symbols

Happy Sunday! Wouldn't a nice way to celebrate the day be to take a look at some GOOD painting? Oh, wait.. I found some, just for you.  I found this show on artcards.cc and made my way over to check out the symbology.  I was lucky enough to be welcomed by a variety of vivid and well executed paintings. These paintings killed it.

Let's talk about why I think these paintings are great. The short answer, is because there is a lot going on.  This show was big and it was curated well. There were four separate rooms, the first on the right was filled with works on paper, the second filled with paintings, the third space in the back filled with what I like to call the "headlining" paintings, and a side room with more smaller works on paper and a tree. The paintings mostly grew larger as you walked deeper into the show, but the progression also translated to the work. 

In the first room you had a lot of works on paper that really felt like studies for the paintings, in the second room, that's where Fox's techniques made themselves clear.

There were paintings that were mostly geometric, with oils that floated across the surface of his canvas like watercolor. The colors were gorgeous and triangles did what they do, being referential to so many things, while keeping things simple.

Then you had paintings like these, full body color, great gestural mark making, and believe it or not, tin foil. That's right, that tin foil looks fantastic. A bearded man who reminds you of many bearded men: Lennon, Jesus, or your token hipster.  ( Yes I did just think of John Lennon before I thought of Jesus, maybe this is an indication of my priorities...? )  Then there is this wonderful wobbly peace symbol which befits perfectly notions of bearded men.

More paintings that were painted like this. OKAY, now this ladies and gentlemen is what  GESTURE looks like. Alright, so I know like 2 people who will understand that reference, oh well!  This is a dog, a red gestural, messy, rapidly painted dog. Also note, that white area, it's not white paint, hello primed canvas! Nice to see you.

In that third room things got serious. He mixed all three techniques, solid washes of color, recognizable figures and foil, and fantastic brushwork. This last painting was fantastic, the yellow in the top left corner was so delicate, the red so hot, and overall these works felt brave.  I mean, maybe I took a picture of nearly every painting, but it's great, I know this painter is one to remember. 

Oh! But there was that side room. Here are some photos of that. I'm not sure how I felt about that tree, it felt symbolic, so it felt like it fit within the themes of the show. Perhaps I would have liked it better if each room had some subtle sculpture. Having just one of anything makes me nervous. Here is a great painting show, and then here is one tree. Just one, with plastic flags on it. I MEAN, I did like the tree, more tree, that's all I'm saying. Also - the works on paper in this room did not feel like studies, in fact, they felt like they were done after all the large paintings in the show.

What a Foxy group of... wait, okay/// I won't torture with such a cheesy line, but you know cheese and rice, these paintings really impressed me!! 

OH! The internship is going well, to say I would be learning a lot would be the understatement of a life time. I've always been a proponent of learning by doing, and there is a lot of doing doing doing.


PARTICIPATION: Félix Guattari / Björk / Matthew Barney

"The poetics of the 'open' work tends to encourage 'acts of freedom' on the part of the performer and place him at the focal point of a network of limitless interrelations"
-Henry Pousseur

Reading theory can be like walking through snow, you're definitely not sprinting through it, but(!), I am almost and so very close to being finished with this weighty first section. Because I'm not arrogant enough to believe I can pair down the theory behind most of these essays into a few sentences,  I'm going to save and dissect the golden nuggets for you. Today's golden nuggets brought to you by:

Félix Guattari
Choasmosis: An Ethico-Aesthetic Paradigm//1992

As I mentioned in the last post about PARTICIPATION, this editor gives us a little set up to better understand the context of each essay. Awesome. Let's look at that first. 
"Chaosmosis: An Ethico-Aesthetic Paradigm (1992) is the last book written by French psychoanalyst and philosopher Félix Guattari.  In it he turns to aesthetics as the model for a new and ethical behaviour opposed to capitalist rationality.  For Guattari, art is a process of 'becoming': a fluid and partially autonomous zone of activity that works against disciplinary boundaries, yet which is inseperable from its integration in the social field."
 Guattari begins this quote by stating that aesthetics is a model for new and ethical behavior that opposes capitalist rationality. This is a great sentence because aesthetics is a single term with a very broad meaning, in it's most simplified sense, it's a branch of philosophy that critically reflects on art, culture and nature. There are many different kinds of aesthetics that serve a variety of purposes, for  Guattari to give all of aesthetics the purpose of opposing capitalist rationality is a bold statement-one that gives great power to that which we understand and perceive as art. We're off to a great start.  This excerpt begins with Guattari stating that cartographies are vital to collective subjectivity and that art is self sustaining. Guattari speaks about the relationship between artist, work of art, and consumer of art, 
"In short, it is a matter of rarefying an enunciation which has too great a tendency to become entangled in an identificatory seriality which infantilizes and annihilates it.  The work of art, for those who use it, is an activity of unframing, of rupturing sense, of baroque proliferation or extreme impoverishment, which leads to a recreation and a reinvention of the subject itself." 
What Guattari is stating first, is that a work of art should have a rare and clear voice. It is without this that works become prone to fall into categories which are easily identifiable and are one of multiple works in the same category.  It this identificatory seriality that belittles and destroys a work of art. Because a work of art is an act of unframing and rupturing your senses, it will propel you into proliferation or impoverishment, and ends up recreating and reinventing art itself. If art is continually made, then it will continually be reinvented.  He goes on to say that the growth in artistic consumption in recent years should be placed in relation to the increasing uniformity of the life of individuals in an urban context. Saying this, he acknowledges a need for works of art that negate this uniformity. He speaks of the dilemma every artist must confront, 
" 'to go with the flow', as advocated, for example, by the Transavantgarde and the apostles of postmodernism, or to work for the renewal  of aesthetic practices relayed by other innovative segments of the Socius, at the risk of encountering incomprehension and of being isolated by the majority of people." 
Guattari speaks about the daily and continual struggle that the artist must go through. To continue as expected by the rules of the current and accepted notions of art, or work towards recreating art alongside others with the same goal, but at the terrifying risk of not only being misunderstood but being isolated by the majority of people. Guattari continues on, saying that products of science, technology, and social relations will drift towards aesthetic paradigms. I've heard this idea a lot lately, that it's not necessarily artists that we need more of, so much as we need to bring aesthetics/art/creativity to other fields. To emphasize his point, he states, "How do you make a class a work of art?" It's an interesting idea to consider. He continues on discussing systematic rejections of subjectivity and the future of contemporary subjectivity... of which I will save for you later. 

Okay, but let's bring this small discussed portion back to earth. Which artists without a doubt would fall into this category of reinventing art? I suppose that depends on who you're asking and what they're understanding of art is,,  I'll pick a couple, of course from my perspective. BESIDES,, I have yet to talk about this power couple:  

Björk & Matthew Barney! (Applause)

I watched this great clip last night,, one that I think really captures Björk's persona, as well as her desire to create music that people can have a real and tangible connection with. I suppose I attribute reinvention of art with your ability to take risks, and she has. 

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And Matthew, it's sort of a joke how unique his work is. I'll let you watch this trailer for his Cremaster Cycle series and decide for yourself. 

I mean,, I'm not really showing you something you haven't already seen, but when enjoying art, sometimes you like revisiting, and for this post they seemed perfect. Like you. You're perfect too. :)




Gagosian has this rule where you can't take pictures of the artwork unless you are in the picture, so here I am! This enormous space on 10th ave and 24th st in Chelsea had two large rooms and one enormous room filled with spot paintings. The only thing more dizzying than the paintings were how well they were branded, spot painting store in all. I spot DH. I guess. 

I enjoyed the spectacle, the paintings were well made, but, I think I enjoyed this video better:

There are tons of reviews, where all the same arguments about Damien Hirst get discussed all over again. I'm a little apathetic to it all really, Damien is fine, the paintings were fine, I'm not altogether that excited, I mean those were some really BIG spots.. 

TONIGHT Fisk and I are going to see Linotype: The Film. Should be good!!