December 26, 2013, 10:40am

Falling off the Horizon: Paul Sietsema at the MCA Chicago

How do we prescribe shape to flatness? For the earth, it was a ship. For painting, it was once the illusion of space opening up though the canvas into other worlds, other imaginaries. The preoccupation of rendering the dimensional out of the un-dimensional is one that the conception of pre-modern painting has struggled with from the start. This revolt, against flatness, is more deeply a fascination that centuries of artists and thinkers have since worked to undo. The rejection of depth has historically been the revolutionary voice in overthrowing “truths” in art – the denial of space representing the ultimate mutiny against illusionistic and pictorial ideologies, “changing the system against a utopian promise.” The full potentials of this upheaval are realized in a current exhibition of Paul Sietsema’s work at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

In a stunning survey of paintings, drawings, and films, Sietsema recreates the photographic vernacular in its most spectacular trompe l’oeil representations; never capturing the thing itself, but instead the lens that looks onto the tactile object. Sietsema’s images often reference his own process, imitating the material inherent within the making itself – the folds, wrinkles, and markings of wear on a piece of paper painstakingly rendered on the surface of an ink drawing, the sun stained quality of a Technicolor photograph replicated in washes of de-saturated hues. The stamp of time that occupies Sietsema’s historical, and often archival, encyclopedic subjects is reworked, recontextualized, and eradicated from history – replaced instead by a commonly constructed memory of romantic subjects – sailboats at sea, pages torn out of books, postmarked parcels and traces of transcontinental travel, the paint brush on the canvas itself – a fragile texture that floats on its viewers own image of nostalgia, while opposing any facile or comfortable recognition. Like a film that erases itself as it plays, Sietsema locates a moment between the vanished and the never present – a revolutionary relationship to flatness that can only be imagined as emulating the very first moment the ship fell off the horizon. –Stephanie Cristello, Chicago Contributor

Paul Sietsema | Folded Corner, 2012. © Paul Sietsema. Photo: Ron Amstutz, courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York.

Listed under: Museum Admission, Review

December 24, 2013, 10:01am

Monster Masterpieces: The Art of Antonio Berni

Ranging from the charming to the absurd, the work of Antonio Berni has been ubiquitous in Argentina since the 1930s, when he was a young artist advocating for political change. Little-known in the United States today, his works are a staple in many of Argentina’s major institutions, forming the core of permanent collections like the Latin American Museum of Buenos Aires (MALBA) and the National Museum of Fine Arts. With an oeuvre that spans several decades of the twentieth century (Berni was prolific until his death in 1981), the diversity of his styles is astounding. While visiting Buenos Aires recently, I encountered small Chirico-style surrealist panels, expressive mural-sized scenes similar to those of Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros, and—most curiously—an enormous papier-mâché sculpture of an alligator-monster with a woman’s legs emerging from its mouth.  

Antonio Berni | La pesadilla de Ramona (The nightmare of Ramona), 1964, Mixed media, approx. 3 x 2 x 10 feet, MALBA, Buenos Aires.

Listed under: Review

December 23, 2013, 10:06am

Mutations of Progress: Maria Hansen at Pump Project

The unwavering march of progress, of societal convenience and betterment with a blind eye to consequences — what consequences? Damn the consequences! But there is always a response, a reaction to action, as Maria Hansen depicts in tight grouping of watercolors at Pump Project on Austin's east side. Within her flickering, vignette-like compositions, we find that some of these Mutations of Progress develop into favorable conclusions on their own, when life is left to run wild. — Brian Fee, Austin contributor

Maria Hansen | Pripyat, 2013, ink and watercolor on paper, 29 x 37” framed. Image courtesy the artist and Pump Project, Austin.

Listed under: Review

December 11, 2013, 10:36am

None More Black: Brice Marden at Matthew Marks Gallery

Brice Marden imbues surfaces with a palpable sensuality. Photos only hint at the evidence displayed throughout Graphite Drawings, Marden's latest solo exhibition at Matthew Marks Gallery in New York and the first of its kind devoted solely to his significant early works on paper. — Brian Fee, Austin contributor

Brice Marden | Patent Leather Valentine,1968, Graphite, beeswax, and red pastel crayon on a trimmed sheet of Strathmore natural white paper, 16 1/2 x 14 3/4 inches. © Brice Marden / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery.

Listed under: Review

December 09, 2013, 2:35pm

Figurative Abstraction: Gretchen Batcheller at the Weisman Museum

Co-exhibited with Ty Pownall’s sculptural works in Land/MarkGretchen Batcheller's bold and bright oil paintings are currently on view at the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art in Malibu.  Viewers to the museum are at once confronted with the beige and ivory tones of Pownall's mixed media sculptures offset by Batcheller’s vivid and inviting paintings. – Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor

Gretchen Batcheller | Abstract Generalities, Oil on canvas, 2013. Photograph by Yao Li and Courtesy of The Frederick R. Weisman Museum.

Listed under: Review

December 08, 2013, 10:17am

Taking the Long Way: Miles Cleveland Goodwin’s Paintings of Montebella Road

Miles Cleveland Goodwin paints images of a rustic, evasive place few might guess to be his home. Flocks of crows, a floating black ray, wiry snakeskins, lonely doves and other unsentimental creatures inhabit the dusty roads and muddy skies seen earlier this year in his series A Long Road Home, at Froelick Gallery, in Portland, OR and now continue in Montebella Road, at Greg Kucera Gallery, in Seattle, WA. Eschewing the signs of routine we expect to find in the place someone resides, Goodwin’s desolate scenes, referencing a road that he lives on in Mississippi, have the air of true remoteness—the kind that inspires countless questions among onlookers and outsiders, despite the underlying sense that they never will get any real answers.

Miles Cleveland Goodwin | Trapped, 2012, Oil on canvas, 24 X 36 inches. Image courtesy of Greg Kucera Gallery.

Listed under: Review

December 05, 2013, 12:14pm

Rebecca Ward: Unraveling Tradition

In a delightfully revealing exhibition, shucked & silked at Barbara Davis Gallery, the multifaceted Rebecca Ward presents new work that not only references on her ambitious installation practices with electrical tape, but also indicates interesting new territory her studio practice is headed. Ward’s newest offering highlights her material fluency through her synthesis of painting, installation and sculpture. Claude Smith, Albuquerque/Santa Fe Contributor

Rebecca Ward | Believers and Deceivers, 2013, oil on canvas, 40 x 30 inches; image courtesy of Barbara Davis Gallery

Listed under: Review

November 25, 2013, 8:49pm

Shelley Reed’s In Dubious Battle

Recently on view at Danese Corey Gallery in New York, artist Shelley Reed’s mural-sized paintings evoke the work of realist French or Dutch paintings from a bygone era—although at a slight removal given their monochromatic palettes. Each section foregrounds exotic animals juxtaposed with still life scenes and set against expansive landscapes, which are dotted with Rococo and neoclassical architecture. The indulgent paintings are an amalgamation of art historical tropes, bringing to mind a myriad of references. - Nadiah Fellah, NYC Contributor

Shelley Reed |
Installation, In Dubious Battle. 2013, oil on canvas, 7'x47', Courtesy the artist.

Listed under: Review

November 24, 2013, 10:25am

Pop Up: KAWS at Galerie Perrotin New York and Mary Boone Gallery

Check this cause for excitement across NYC. Despite KAWS' global presence — including regular exhibitions in Tokyo and Hong Kong, plus an iconic float in the 2012 Thanksgiving Day parade and a redesign of the MTV VMA Moonman — the Brooklyn-based artist and designer hasn't had a proper solo exhibition locally in years. He's back in a big-time way, commanding both Mary Boone Gallery's downtown space and Galerie Perrotin's recently opened Manhattan base. — Brian Fee, Austin contributor


ANOTHER GENERATION LOST, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 94 x 144 x 1 3/4”. Photo: Farzad owrang. Courtesy Galerie Perrotin, New York.

Listed under: Review

November 19, 2013, 3:14pm

The Wonderful World of Melissa Manfull

Melissa Manfull’s (NAP #85) solo show Schemata at Taylor De Cordoba is a really great visual embodiment of the artistic process, as it tangibly shows Manfull’s growth and expanding mastery of mediums.  Since her first pieces were shown at Taylor De Cordoba in a group show in 2007, her work has changed in subject and color, though not in the detailed, inquisitive nature of her drawings psychological musings. - Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor

Melissa Manfull | Prisoner's Dilemma, 2013, Acrylic on panel, 60" x 40." Courtesy of Taylor De Cordoba.

Listed under: Review


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