Art Review

Hard Times

Julian Schnabel: New Plate Paintings
Pace Gallery, NY
Feb 24th - Mar 25th, 2017

I'm not going to write a bad review of Julian Schnabel's show of roses painted on smashed plates up at Pace Gallery. I don't believe it matters what I think of them. The parameters that embraced what was good and rebuffed what was bad are mostly no longer in place. The people who will buy these paintings for $900,000 are as far from me as the people who built the pyramids were from those inside them. Read more »

The Beauty of Portraits

Dong Yeoun Lee: Project Room
Gallery d’Arte, NY
2/28 - 3/14, 2017

Dong Yeoun Lee's series of female portraits features standing and sitting young women in traditional Korean dress who display a range of technological devices. Although the scroll paintings elicit a definite Asian sensibility (oriental coloring on oriental paper), they are reminiscent of the art of Thomas Gainsborough who produced sympathetic portraits of female subjects, which penetrated their social "masks" to reveal the truth of their character. Lee’s works are shorn of site-specific ornamentation; they hone the essence of solitary or dual figures situated on empty formats, which accentuate their faces and poses.

The young women exist in isolation within the confines of the vertical design as they quietly assert their presence. The figure in "Clear Girl" displays a contemplative smile, mysterious and inward, not unlike a "Mona Lisa" smile in its enigmatic purity and elusiveness. The girl in "Redefining Contemporary Beauty 5" (2012) dresses traditionally but her preoccupations appear to be thoroughly modern as she listens, presumably, to music with headsets, wears a digital watch and seems to be using a Bluetooth device with her cell phone. Her Hanbok garment signifies the ability to participate in the customs of historical eras as well as present day trends. The girl's modest reserved demeanor might suggest that she is "old-fashioned" apart from her display and use of contemporary devices. The subjects are out to communicate on whatever level they are functioning on at the present moment.

The communication tools infuse a narrative element into several of the works; the females in "Redefining Contemporary Beauty 1," and "Redefining Contemporary Beauty 5" convey the impression that they experience no strife or conflicts, but accept the intersection of past and present, navigating diverse cultural expectations in a hybrid life. Read more »

In The Moment

Young Gil Kang: Limbo
Terri Cultural Institute, NYC
Thru March 18, 2017

In modern idiom the term "limbo" refers to a condition of uncertainty, an intermediate stage in individuals’ lives and feelings. The word originates in the Christian tradition where the souls of unbaptized babies remain in a state of Limbo, separated through eternity from God due to "original sin." The show’'s name '"Limbo” brings focus to the significance and intentions of this exhibition of immersive large-scale photographic images curated by Thalia Vrachopoulos, Phd. and Suechung Koh. The Korean artist Kang, in collaboration with eminent actress and model Suae, creates photographs that submerge her in an enigmatic watery world where she strikes various poses wearing diverse garments. In some works, the perplexing iconography of tortuous underwater confinement yields inklings of contorted features that subtly suggest the torments of Hell itself. In one view the figure appears to dissolve into a funnel of black smoke as the "spirit" wafts upward, conceivably fated for an arduous end. While the show highlights the intimations of scenes where Suae rests sitting or lying inert in a pool, some of the works on view have political underpinnings as well. Read more »

Free Patternicity

Mark Sheinckman: New Paintings
Lennon Weinberg, NYC
Until March 5th, 2017

Mark Sheinkman sets up his canvas with an oil and alkyd ground and polishes and reprimes it again, until it looks like Carrera marble, so that it can take the thin black oil paint. He wipes off and lays in. Many of the pieces deal with tropes of painting and design. Squiggles and spots, diamonds on what appears to be a spinning disk. Cross-hatching becoming unmoored and floats away, Some are pure muscle memory. Lines just moving and corresponding. Like the way Coltrane drops off the theme and into the solo on "Ascension," responding to a shifting background of changing modality with a thin free line twisting in the void. Read more »

Redrum!

Murder She Said - Curated by Thalia Vrachopoulos and Richard Vine
Anya & Andrew Shiva Gallery at John Jay College of Criminal Justice
November 15, 2016 - January 13, 2017

Am I looking at an image of a dress on the ground covered with leaves? Is it from a lover’s tryst, or is something more sinister going on, and why would I think that?

On the whole, media and society have turned darker and more aggressive as we’ve moved into the 21st century. Being besieged with nominally factual content has constrained us all to a different type of viewing, more of a true-crime voyeurism than ever -- inundated with reality or its simulacrum on television and computer screens on a daily basis, we wonder how we ended up here. When did we start needing to see unedited live-steamed reality of life’s most horrific moments? The true-crime program America’s Most Wanted premiered in 1988. I remember it well because I was studying video and art history for my undergraduate degree at Tufts -- it was hard to ignore the fact that a social boundary had been crossed when watching videos of real criminals being hunted down for horrible crimes, as well as listening to their victims and families reliving events for an audience hungry for only its most salacious details. Read more »

David, Biggie & Me!

David Humphrey: I'm Glad We Had This Conversation
Fredericks & Freiser Gallery, NYC
January 19 through February 25 

I have often wondered if contemporary American artists accept the idea of a "point" in their work as being at all legitimizing. Preferring the physical presence of the work to be its own witness. Perhaps it's the legacy of the "semiotexters" in colleges and art academia. Identifying and discrediting as they go forcing 'fabulists! Like David Humphrey to dance clear of any obvious "read". Read more »

Ashes to Ashes...

Heide Hatry: Icons In Ash
UBU Gallery, NYC
Through March 7th, 2017

Heide Hatry's show at Ubu Gallery is a series of portraits made from cremated ashes based on photographs of the deceased selected by family members or loved ones who have provided her with their ash remains. These are objects made in the spirit of the Consolatio, the ancient tradition of honoring the dead and consoling the mourners. Read more »

A Fine Line

A Fine Line
Art 100 New York                           
December 8 - February 6, 2017

"A Fine Line," the inaugural exhibition for the newly launched Gallery 100 New York, presents an amalgamation of the varied but related works of four international artists, who use straightforward natural materials with telling effect. The show curated by gallery director Michelle Loh, features Wang Huangsheng, Oliver Catté, Mahmoud Hamadani, and Alan Sonfist. An express emphasis on paper unites the installation; there is an aura of purity emanating from the white paper of the drawings on view that permeates the space. Color plays an important tandem role; hues glitter in conjunction with the brown cardboard works, and in the nature-based leaf piece entitled "Leaves Frozen in Time: Spring." The abstract drawings explore the essential delicacy of paper as it comingles with ink flowing irregularly over the surfaces, while the creative potential and durability of cardboard come sharply into focus in cityscapes that radiate urban exuberance. Traditional underpinnings resound through the exhibition; the use of ink, which is made from tree bark, is a medium used for millennia in Asian and Middle Eastern cultures. Read more »

Chewing Tar

In November I was at LICHTUNDFIRE joining in with the many artists and collectors for their first year celebration and it was exactly as I expected an event that showed the unity and support I stick around for in the New York art world. Oh have I surprised you?  Well yes, its hard to see it in the break neck virtual pace of todays self promoting internet everything but at one point there was a great deal of support amongst us all involving hard work with heavy with compassion and a physical presence out there among fellow contemporary dealers and the artists that they represented. This is what makes LICHTUNDFIRE unusual in the sense that it is a computer platform that attracts a community presence. Read more »

Linus Corragio: Motorcyles, Mayhem, and Madness

On occasion Linus Corragio resorts to commercial mores, such as with his motorcycle, "chopper," motif, and with his forgivably money making furniture. But, on the whole, he has an absolutely intuitive natural talent for design and composition as well as an artisan's tactile sense for material applied with abstract expressionist fluidity.  Read more »

Grafting To: Joohyun Kang

Grafting To: Joohyun Kang
Gallery d’Arte, NYC
10/18-22, 2016

Gallery d'Arte presents "Grafting To: Joohyun Kang," an exhibition of wall works, paintings and ink drawings that display natural imagery imbued with mythological motifs, narrating tales which source the genesis of humanity, and our struggle to forge beauty and meaning in life despite inexorable odds. Paradoxically, the works sparkle with sequins and beads, materials that suggest inspiration from the fashion industry. It is as if the insights of fashion and art fuse to express an expanded statement. Although the artist has lived in the US for twenty years and received an MFA from a Korean University as well as from Pratt Institute, the forms in this body of work clearly originate in Korean culture. Kang taps various references including beautifully articulated knobby tree trunks and roots that comingle with domestic pagodas. Dragons, which are a Korean power symbol, chase each other in circular movements in an endless feud to establish dominance. These forms symbolize her experience of establishing herself in a demanding life in a new country. Read more »

Woman: Mother, Daughter, Wife, Friend…

Woman: Mother, Daughter, Wife, Friend…
Curated by Dr. Thalia Vrachopoulos
President's Gallery - 
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
, NYC
September 15 - November 4, 2016

The exhibition "Woman: Mother, Daughter, Wife, Friend," curated by Thalia Vrachopoulos, investigates the diversity and complexity of women’s multiple roles in their private and public lives as they confront societal constraints, requirements and misconceptions with their own strategies. The participating artists, George Pol. Ioannides, Orestes Kourakis, Lena Morfogeni, Dongyeoun Lee, Vangelis Rinas, Frandy Jean, Jason River and Helene Pavlopoulou, respond to the theme with images that resound with deep sincerity, sympathetic rendering, and uncliched, unbiased depictions. The eight international artists, who hail from Greece, Haiti, America and South Korea, bring their individual cultures into focus, bypassing the generic stereotypic impact of "globalization" in art. There is no trace of the usual gratuitous images of sexuality or abuse, ubiquitous when women’s issues arise. There are no nudes on view. Read more »

The Eros & The Fury - Bong Jung Kim

Bong Jung Kim
John Jay President's Gallery, NYC

Bong Jung Kim is a Korean-born artist living in the New York City area. He is a skilled artist who merges discarded high-tech materials with pictures of black, blossom-like shapes that might be flowers, or more erotically, pubic hair or even female genitalia. His series is called “Addiction,” a problem with obsessively observing pornography that he candidly acknowledged in conversation. The electron parts he attaches, usually to the center of the flowers, also indicate addiction -- in this case our helpless dependence on high technology, the cyber world, and the Internet. Interestingly, the honesty with which Kim acknowledges his dependence on sex videos flies in the face of the traditional Korean culture, whose sexual probity is well known. But Kim is living and showing in America, where it is acceptable to express one’s desire openly. His "Addiction" series not only opens up a set of issues that for polite, middle class Korean society is more or less taboo, it also presents the predicament of a man overwhelmed by the open sexualization of culture, in a place where porn has become, more or less, a mainstream part of the American experience. Without judging the desire of the artist, we can contemplate the success of his paintings/assmblages, which are neither explicit nor hidden but take a middle ground, presenting openly the interface between sex and modern culture. Read more »

Currents In Photography

Currents In Photography comprises five adventurous artists in a thematic exhibition that explores the boundaries of photography; what a camera can do, or perhaps what the word photography even means. How far can one step outside of the box and still be in it? I needed to ask if Kaethe Kauffman's work was part of the exhibition, thoroughly confused as to whether it was a photograph at all. The work looks like collaged charcoal drawing on paper. Turns out charcoal drawing is employed along with several other techniques, photographed and reproduced by an inkjet printer, then worked back into again. The resulting mystical images are neither directly figurative nor abstract. Those leaning more towards abstraction still appear to be some thing -- perhaps visions experienced by the meditating figure pictured in the other works. His or her corporeal form is seated Buddha style surrounded by a shattered aura that bursts into monochromatic fragmentation. Paired with Ms. Kauffman in the placement of artworks, Bert G.F. Shankman's close up shots of flowers are plainly photographs, yet they strive toward ethereal, other worldly exotica -- like a shamanistic vision. Can art be both subtle and bold? It seems so. Read more »

Tattooed Tokyo – A Combination of Factors

Tattooed Tokyo – A Combination of Factors
Prince Gallery, Copenhagen

In his Post-Apocalyptic Tattoo (1998-2008) and Graffoo series (2006-2009) -- currently on show at Prince Gallery in Copenhagen -- D. Dominick Lombardi playfully tackles the theme of the human condition. In these series, a distant future is imagined where pollutants, transgenic food and tainted water cause genetic mutations at the reproductive level. Despite the brightly colored, graphic renditions of cartoon-like tumorous mutations often set on candy colored backgrounds (photographs taken on a trip to japan, and reworked in Photoshop), the works tell a much bleaker story of a deeply impacted society seen from the perspective of a future tattoo artist whose final designs record the extreme mutations of the distant future. Read more »

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