Let the avalanche of September 11 exhibitions begin. As the tenth anniversary of the attack approaches, the art world gears up to remember and reflect with some of the bigger (and most intriguing) shows slated to run at blockbuster institutions like the Met, MoMA PS1 and the New Museum, as well as the opening of the Memorial Museum itself at the World Trade Center site on September 12. This Wednesday, I attended a small and intimate show at 7 World Trade Center that was a bit of quiet before the storm
Kim Dorland’s paintings do not shy away from the brutality of love. Seizing on all of love’s untamed wildness, Dorland’s portraits of his wife are destructively passionate. Globs of oil paint are heavily dragged and slashed into works that seem made on pure impulse.
Over the 24 hours of May 1, 2011, artist Julie Torres transformed our Williamsburg office into a project called “Open 24 Hours,” with a plan to paint 100 distinct paintings in that limited period of time. Julie’s first 12 hours was all painting, finishing one 9 by 12 inch work on paper, putting it up on our wall and moving on to the next. The second 12 hours were a gallery show, with friends, writers and fellow painters stopping by to check out Julie’s work. The video above presents a three-minute long time lapse photography document of the full day.
Walking through the Museum of Modern Art’s modern galleries the other day, I happened upon a small painting that’s about as powerful a work as any I’ve ever seen in the museum, and maybe my favorite object in the collection. Surprisingly, this mini work is actually a Picasso, and even at 6 1/4 by 4 3/8 inches is a tour de force of brushstroke, color and composition. Created in 1921 during Picasso’s classical period, this bathing woman is monumental even in the smallest of frames.
Serendipity often plays a role in gallery going. Occasionally you come across two shows at unrelated galleries that suggest a connection that couldn’t possibly have been planned. You could argue such occurences have the makings of a zeitgeist, but sometimes they are simply coincidences that reveal common interests or goals among a few artists who make work in different places. Kristine Moran’s Protean Slip at Nicelle Beauchene Gallery and Gianna Commito’s self-titled show at the Rachel Uffner Gallery were the source of my latest visual connection making, and both painting shows at Orchard Street galleries are some of the best at the moment.
I’m kicking myself for not getting to painter Margrit Lewczuk’s vibrant show in the heart of Williamsburg sooner. I stepped into the fantastic show on its second to last day. Located on a stretch of Metropolitan that is quickly being transformed by new developments, the show is in a low-rise warehouse fitted with fantastic skylights that, on the day I visited, bathes the gallery with an even light.
When Anselm Kiefer took the stage at 92nd Street Y last night, it wasn’t as the artistic-political bad boy the artist became famous as in the 60s and 70s, nor was it the epic mythologist of the 80s and 90s. Now, Kiefer cuts a figure of mischievous respect, a patrician of the contemporary art world whose work, unlike most of his peers, has actually retained its vitality and provocative nature over the years.
Kiefer’s conversation covered everything from the influence of religion on his work to the inspiration of ruins, the artist’s birth in a cave during World War II, and his opinion that all art produced during the Third Reich is “shit.”
Seems like a simple idea, but writer, blogger, academic and artist Sharon Butler has put it into action. She tells us about her latest online project, “Suddenly it struck me: We need a TV channel about painting — so I decided to create one for Two Coats of Paint.” Her painting channel on Vimeo will select and post videos of all sorts related to the world of painting.
Jesse Chapman’s painting of the struggle to stick a contact into an eye, “The Lens” (2009), strikes me as an apt allegory for recent painting. It is one of the gems from Exit Art’s shinning survey of contemporary painting, NEW MIRRORS: Painting in a Transparent World, that is set to close this weekend.
Much like this uncomfortable morning ritual, painting is caught in an awkward moment. Like the nearsighted allegory looking in the mirror, it is keenly self-aware of its need for a new way of seeing and a new lens through which to gaze. With scowling lips, it begrudgingly prepares for the many vain attempts it takes on a rough morning (or try a rough decade) to get that lens in properly.