After much media ado about the birth as performance art by Marni Kotak, you have to wonder if the wild media-saturated waters around Microscope Gallery calmed down. This Bushwick gallery has gotten back into its routine and it seems like the co-owners, Elle Burchill and Andrea Monti, are truly enjoying the change of pace.
After the Monday night screening of a film by Soviet-Armenian filmmaker Sergei Paradjanov, Elle Burchill told me that their Event Series has been doing really well. Being very prolific, Microscope hosts art film screenings and performances almost every Monday night. Monday events usually complement the current exhibition or are related to it in some way. Burchill says that recently they even had to send home some unlucky people when they couldn’t jam in anymore into the 23-f00t-long space for a recent event. There were already 45 people inside. It is notable (and commendable) that Microscope Gallery actually pays the performers and the filmmakers who are often present at the screenings. It is amazing to watch a white box gallery space turn into a black box screening room at night, and, if you’re lucky, you can watch films by artists who exhibit on the walls of the gallery.
This complementary approach that marries drawing and video is very familiar to Chicago-based artist James Fotopoulos, whose drawings are currently being featured at the St. Charles Place gallery. Two hundred of the artist’s drawings cover the walls and they were all created while he was working on two of his recent films, Thick Comb, Chimera and Alice in Wonderland. As part of his process, Fotopoulos sketches every element of his films until he perfects them and they could stand on their own as works of art. They encapsulate his ideas and feel singular yet connected to one another. “ … So if a film collapsed, the concept existed,” Fotopulous explains.
Through his “film drawings,” Fotopoulos explores the tension between process and completion. “Is a sketch more alive as an idea than the completed work?“ he seems to ask.
The color that dominates most of the drawings at Microscope is red, so the works are simply referred to as Reds, while a parallel series, Blues, hangs on an adjacent wall. The artist works mainly in charcoal. His subject matter includes personal objects, parts of the body, personal symbols from his youth, memories and dreams. The drawings feel cinematic, maybe even hypnotic. His reds feel inviting, and despite many drawings being personal, I didn’t feel “excluded” or pushed away as a viewer, to the contrary, I felt very welcomed into his graphic world.
While the drawings of Fotopoulos are warm and welcoming, his films are abstract and non-narrative. On January 23, Microscope will feature a night of the film and video by James Fotopoulos and Laura Parnes Sublimated Violence & Visual Excess, as part of their regular Monday events. It will surely offer another window into the artist’s world alive with color, images and untold stories.
Dreamful Slumbers, Works by James Fotopoulos is on view in Microscope Gallery (4 St. Charles Place, Bushwick, Brooklyn) through February 6.