Posted inArt

What Comes After “Paintant?”

In the 1990s, Fabian Marcaccio coined the word “paintant” by fusing “painting” and “mutant.” In his “paintants,” he would sometimes carve and expose the stretcher bars. He worked on burlap and fabric. He used photographic images and applied various mediums to digitally printed surfaces. His materials included oil paint, silicone, acrylics and sand. He made relief-like brushstrokes out of silicon and attached them to the surface of his work. Sometimes they extended out onto the wall, like an extra limb. They were neither natural nor artificial, but a hybrid combination.

Posted inBooks

Torn Curtain: Gombrowicz and the Europe That Used To Be

When I read Witold Gombrowicz’s Ferdydurke in the late 1980s the Soviet empire was beginning to totter and crack. An English version of the book, published in 1961 in the UK, had been re-issued in 1986 as part of Penguin’s Writers from the Other Europe series, edited by Philip Roth. The project aimed to disseminate Eastern European writers in the Anglophone world: a worthy endeavor, though judging from the cobbled-together edition of Ferdydurke — an offset duplication of the 1961 text, with a Czeslaw Milosz essay from another occasion tacked on as an introduction — one with a limited budget.

Posted inArt

Paint It Black, Blacker and Blackest

Joyce Pensato draws in charcoal and paints in enamel — dense, clinging soot and viscous liquid. For years her palette has been black, white and silver, though color is beginning to make an appearance in her recent paintings, mostly as splatters and drips. The drawing process is one of making marks, rubbing them out and making more marks, with line being the essential form. In the paintings, the line is made of enamel that initially appears to have been applied quickly, though its varying densities and its field of drips and splatters makes it clear that it wasn’t done in a single shot. In both drawing and painting Pensato is committed to finding the linear form that captures her subject matter, be it Homer Simpson, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Batman, Groucho Marx, Felix the Cat, toy clowns, or not-so-cuddly monkeys.

Posted inArt

Stealing the Triennial and Other Neat Tricks

As good as the last Triennial was — and, all qualms, quibbles and philosophical differences aside, it was a pretty good survey of emergent art — what it didn’t have was a monster.

Adrián Villar Rojas’ “A person loved me” (2012) has already achieved show-stealer status at The Ungovernables, the second installment of the New Museum’s Triennial, snagging a feature by Randy Kennedy in The New York Times with the sweeping headline, “A Colossus in Clay Speaks a Generation’s Message.”

Posted inArt

Home Remedies

The large paintings in Glenn Goldberg’s recent exhibition are part of a series collectively titled Elixir. They are half as tall as they are wide. “Eighth Elixir” (2011) is less than four feet tall and over seven feet wide, but most are slightly less than three feet high and five feet wide. Done in acrylic and ink on pale gray, gessoed grounds, the paintings have an undulating visual hum to them — think Philip Glass and Terry Riley —which is both soothing and disconcerting. This is because Goldberg effectively meshes two palettes on a gray ground — one is black and white, while the other consists of muted, often transparent colors ranging from near primaries to turquoise and violet.

Posted inOpinion

Required Reading

This week, VIP art fair, Gugg Berlin closing, Lucian Freud and Yayoi Kusama in London, ideology and housing projects, biodegradable Legos, elderly hipsters (circa 2062) talk about social media and Murakami in Qatar.

Posted inBooks

Bern Porter’s Found Poems

Nightboat Books is, according to its website, “a nonprofit publishing company dedicated to printing original books of poetry and prose, and bringing out-of-print treasures back to life.” Bern Porter’s Found Poems, a collection previously published in 1972 by Dick Higgins’ Something Else Press, is surely one of those treasures, and we are fortunate now to have easy access to such a singular text.

Posted inArt

Under the Sign of the Gnome

The central thing that distinguishes Chris Martin from his forebears (Forrest Bess, Alfred Jensen, and Simon Gouveneur) is his meshing of visionary symbols and images derived from mass culture, particularly from the world of popular music. He has paid homage to James Brown, “the hardest working man in show business,” in a number of collages and paintings, including, in this exhibition, “Reverend Al in Mourning” (1989 – 2011), which is a large painting made of industrial aluminum foil, which includes a photocopy of a tiny, grainy newspaper photograph of Al Sharpton mourning the legendary singer. The other distinguishing feature is his slyly anarchic humor. (It’s hard to imagine Forrest Bess telling a joke).

Posted inBooks

Flying Forward into the Zone

Varamo is only the sixth novel by the Argentinian writer César Aira to be made available in English, but the premise already sounds like an Aira-parody: one night in Panama in 1923, a government employee without a literary bone in his body composes a future masterpiece of Central American poetry and, as often happens, never writes another word again.