BAS Artist Talk: Trudy Benson

Brooklyn Art Space had an artist talk featuring Trudy Benson.  Having seen Benson's work before, I was looking forward to listening to Benson speak.  She began by talking a little bit about works of art that had interested her, planets that had interested her, and how those influences visually related to paintings she had made. 

The picture above is an image from an installation. Now that I think of it, I forgot to ask her how she felt her usage of tape enhanced the content of her paintings. Oh well.

Of content, there were two primary aspects of the work that asserted their authority. One being the obvious devotion to formalism and the second strength is how the paint visually mimics technological affects normally found in photoshop and other paint programs. Both of these are strong assets that create a wide range of vivid and engaging subject matter. 

There is a strong presence of graffiti and 80's culture - perhaps just a subconscious reference to her mentors, Benson admitted that she enjoys many artists of the 80's - which adds another element of color and frame of reference for your eyes to enjoy. 

Benson's talk was informative and I enjoyed the time she took to explain a bit about her process. I would have liked to talk to her more at length about how the work she makes relates to her personally, there seems to be a connection - through physical layers of masking and revealing in the work.  


Art 101: Elizabeth Riggle

Fisk did some new design work for Painted Lady: American Fair, a food vendor working out of Artists and Fleas in Williamsburg. On our way over to try some of their food (they have amazing grilled cheese sandwiches, homemade pickles, and I even got to try my first fluffer-nutter. So delicious.),  we decided to peek into Art 101 to see what was going on. Lucky for us there were some pretty great paintings by Elizabeth Riggle. The work reflects her beginnings to a larger body of work. Below are some of the works we enjoyed. 

I love square paintings. These I enjoyed because of how the compositions carefully fit within each frame. The brushwork implies a lot of movement, which is nice to see when studying such solid vertebrae.  The work is drawing a parallel between the anatomy within the body and the anatomy of an Opera.  This feels like an apt connection so far, the artist happened to be in the gallery, and made it clear to us that this theme was at its beginning. We'll keep and eye for the bulk and body of this work in the coming months. 



A bit of good news this afternoon: I've been selected to participate in Brooklyn Art Space's Winter Member Salon.  Having met a lot of the members the art and opening should be great. Here are the details for the show:

168 7th St. 3rd Floor
Brooklyn NY 11215

Opening Reception February 1st, 7-9 pm
On view 02/1/2013 through 02/12/2013
Gallery Hours Monday - Friday 11-6, Saturday by appointment 

Would be grand to see your face. Come out if you've got a moment for some art and wine.


The Story of Art: Greek/Middle Ages/Renaissance

There are a lot of really fascinating things about how art changed from the time of the Roman Empire into the Middle Ages and finally into the Renaissance.  The Roman Empire became this part of art history where, while imitating the Greeks, Romans made these vivid and beautifully rendered classical sculptures and works of art.  These works marked a period of idolatry of gods that, once the Roman Empire collapsed, really completely ceased to be relevant to the early Christian era.  What this means for the art is, unfortunately, destruction. Many works of art from the Roman Empire were completely destroyed and forgotten.  "We call these ages dark, partly to convey that the people who lived during these centuries of migrations, wars and upheavals, were themselves plunged in darkness and had little knowledge to guide them, but also to imply that we ourselves know rather little about these confused and confusing centuries which followed upon the decline of the ancient world and preceded the emergence of the European countries in shape, roughly, in which we know them."  Gombrich further describes how much change was really happening within art during this mysterious time.  It's especially fascinating because you have these incredible works of art, like the Venus de Milo, and then it seems, over some arbitrary amount of time, that kind of refined work of art is so lost to many civilizations during Medieval times.  This means strange art.  Gombrich pulls us through time, and through varying and growing knowledge of perspective, or lack thereof.  

It's time to go to the MET.  Fisk was doing some research for a project, and I was in this dark age in the Story of Art, so we somehow needed to be in this certain part of the museum, where, baby Jesus has a face like a man, and there are other strange things happening in various works of art from this period before the Renaissance... 

It's especially strange, because it's not like there is some conceptual foundation for this digression of aesthetics and composition, it just happened.  Don't let me lead you to believe that I appreciate this work any less.  I think there is something very special about the strangeness that comes out of this period.  In this last sculpture you can see the reference to Greek sculpture, you can really feel the artist grasping for some history of what was before.  "Painting was indeed on the way to becoming a form of writing in pictures; but this return to more simplified methods of representation gave the artist of the Middle Ages a new freedom to experiment with more complex forms of composition (com-position=putting together). Without these methods the teachings of the Church could never have been translated into visible shapes." Gombrich. 

Then really great painters showed up to scene like Giotto, who pretty much blew everyone's mind because he was so darn good at painting things like nature. Then, oh my god, Jan Van Eyck showed up and pretty much Medieval art was over. Everyone began to look backwards into time, and suddenly realized the Greeks made stunning work, so they became obsessed with making things look like reality. 

"The artists, however, wanted to go one better.  They were no longer content with the newly acquired mastery of painting such details as flowers or animals from nature; they wanted to explore the laws of vision, and to acquire sufficient knowledge of the human body to build it up in their statues and pictures as the Greeks had done." Gombrich

I'm sure at this point, you might be thinking, this is all well and good, but all this imagery is kind of boring.  We really have no way of knowing how the artist felt about it either, they might have even agreed. Believe it not, the notion of an artist making something simply because they themselves had wanted to, was an idea that did not exist before the Renaissance.  Paintings were simply not made for fickle reasons like, I want to paint this tree, so here I go. Paintings were commissioned, and you learned from a master, and you were the apprentice for many years.  So I wouldn't go around feeling guilty that you're not in love with a period of time where all artwork had nothing to say beyond it's religious implications, because, for the most part, it didn't. 

Can you imagine though for a moment that all this art was lacking in the expression of self? A cliche sort of notion that is married to the idea of being an artist today? It's kind of nuts, but also really cool to think about the progression of ideas, and what the meaning of art is or was. 



Today has been an odd but great day. I wouldn't change a thing, and I haven't been able to get the following artists out of my head recently. I saw work from each of them at MoMA as a part of the TOKYO exhibit they have on level 6. Next to the Inventing Abstraction show, which is fantastic but they're pretty much just bragging about all the amazing art they have... which,  you know, is what any major art institution should do if they have amazing work, show people! OK. Back to Tokyo, here are a few of many artists who made my eyes happy. 

Shiraga Kazuo

Shiraga Kazuo is most well known for being a part of the Gutai Group. The Group, which began in 1956, influenced the Fluxus movement and had a dramatic impact on how we conceptualize art. His powerful works are incredibly valuable to the history Japanese avant-garde. 

Nobuo Sekine

Nobuo Sekine had some excellent works that were similar to what is shown above, upon further investigation I discovered that the artist is also responsible for the wonderful sculptures below.  He is well known for participating in the Mono-Ha movement which is closely related to Land Art, Fluxus, and the Conceptual Art movement. 

Kiyoshi Awazu

Do I even have to say anything? Kiyoshi Awazu was an incredible graphic artist. These designs are bright and vivid, strange and weird, and pretty perfect.  Look at this poster for The Crying Whales. I don't even know what it's about, but I love it. Largely influenced by pop culture and urban design, Awazu made an astounding name for himself. This is great graphic designer.


The Brothers Quay at MoMA

Two days ago Fisk realized it was the last week the see the Brothers Quay exhibit at MoMa. So we and some friends headed over and pleased our eyes with the many works of Brothers Quay. 

The exhibition had many rooms for watching the excellently constructed stop animations, prints and drawings by both brothers, physical sets where the scenes were shot, many dolls, book covers and posters that were designed, and one of the most interesting - a video of various TV commercials the brothers had made.

Special moments were: a drawing of acrobats with limbs being torn off, a print of a man pooping in some grotesque scene, and a drawing of Christ on the crucifix with only the body around his famous wounds present and tacked down. Definitely good fodder for creepy and morbid aesthetics. 

The amount of detail in their sets and puppets were endlessly fascinating.  Most of us agreed on the way out of the exhibition that we could have spent a lot more time watching all of the films. Fisk was kind enough to remind us that he owns most of the films presented in the exhibition - another compliment to Fisk's amazing movie collection.

In the basement portion of the exhibition, many sets were present inside black boxes that could be peered into through a magnifying glass. This created a interesting depth to the works and gave you a real sense of looking into the world of another's mind. 

I'm very glad we were able to see the show before it closed! It's rare that such a large exhibition of works from two stop animators would be so generously displayed. I'm certain there will be a Brothers Quay movie night in our future. What would be the perfect dinner for such a creepy night? Black spiced Chicken? Who knows, but the food and films will both be delicious. 


Gombrich Lately

Birds in a bush. (Detail)

Pg. 39
"What mattered most was not prettiness but completeness.  It was the artists' task to preserve everything as clearly and permanently as possible.  So they did not set out to sketch nature as it appeared to them from any fortuitous angle.  They drew from memory, according to strict rules which ensured that everything that had to go into the picture would stand out in perfect clarity." Gombrich's succinct and accurate description of the aesthetic of Egyptian art. In the detail above you can see the many patterns that Egyptian artists captured in their observation of various birds. " The inscription says : 'Canoeing in the papyrus beds, the pools of wild-fowl, the marshes and the stream, spearing with the two-pronged spear, he transfixes thirty fish; how delightful is the day of hunting the hippopotamus.' "

Winged Lion, on the road to the tomb of Prince Hsiao Hsiu, 
near Nanking, made shortly after A.D. 500

"At that time, much of what we call typically Chinese in art had already developed.  The artists were less fond of rigid angular forms than the Egyptians had been, and preferred swerving curves.  When a Chinese artist had to represent a prancing horse, he seemed to fit it together out of a number of rounded shapes." The same can be said of Chinese sculpture, Gombrich continues, which always seems to twist and turn without losing solidity or firmness. 

It should be noted that at one point while writing this entry I typed "Gombitch" instead of the correct "Gombrich". Then I laughed for 5 minutes. 


2012 is Dead to Me.

 Went to Connecticut and stayed at a perfect B&B.

Saw so much art with wonderful people.

My beautiful mom and aunt came to visit me.

We played skeeball and made a great air band.

We went on a Space Cruise.

I got belayed and went rock climbing.

I went to PARIS!!

I had my first show in Chelsea!

I won all the tickets at Coney Island.

I went to California.

We went to Salem.

Survived a hurricane. 

Obama won!

I had another show in Chelsea.

...finished up the year something nice.
I also read a ton of books and saw so many great works of art, both invaluable experiences. 


I just brought the best of my art supplies to Brooklyn Art Space to start my 6 month residency. Tomorrow morning I'll wake up early to start making my plans for how I'm going to use my time here. I can't say I'd want to start my year off anywhere else.