Review

July 29, 2014, 9:07am

Norman Zammitt at Andrew Rafacz

Originally published on THE SEEN

Norman Zammitt’s acrylic paintings of gradated color, currently on display at Andrew Rafacz, were produced in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, around the same time that home computers began gaining popularity. The works, much smaller in scale but similar in style to Zammitt’s Mural paintings, are composed of narrow bands of precisely calculated solid color on canvas board mounted to float about an inch away from the wall. A range of palettes, perfectly applied to smooth surfaces – Yellow Violet 43Red to Green I – often evoke scenes in nature, such as sandstorms and sunrises, and create glowing window-like spaces in the gallery. Existing as objects of obsession, the paintings reveal Zammitt’s desire for transcendence through labor and technical precision, during a period of a monumental technological shift.


Norman Zammitt | Diagonal I, 1979. acrylic on canvas board. 9 x 12 inches. Diagonal I, 1979. acrylic on canvas board. 9 × 12 inches. Carter and Citizen.

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July 29, 2014, 9:22am

Mel Bochner: Strong Language at the Jewish Museum

Mel Bochner has always been a Conceptual artist. Today his focus is on paintings but his ideas and subject matter remains the same: the use and limits of language. Over the many years of his career Bochner has used language on paper, on the wall, on the floor wherever you could go with a pencil a piece of chalk or a pen. Words for Bochner have the same weight, texture, power as color or form. Actions, feelings and thoughts are transcribed to the viewer in terms of words. - Michael Klein, Contributor


Mel Bochner | Blah, Blah, Blah, 2014, oil on velvet. Courtesy Peter Freeman, Inc. Artwork © Mel Bochner.
  Photo: Bradford Robotham

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July 28, 2014, 11:37am

Frank Stella at Leslie Feely Gallery

I stumbled into this beautiful exhibition at Leslie Feely Gallery almost by accident. A mini survey of works by Frank Stella was on view in two elegant rooms. The works were made between 1971 and 1987. Historic yes, distinguished yes and a visual delight to encounter.

To begin we find on entrance wall this Malevich quote: “….only he is alive who rejects his convictions of yesterday.” Later I found the same quote printed in a 1978 Stella catalogue from the Fort Worth Art Museum. This statement is a guide to what Stella has been about since the beginning of his long and extremely productive career. - Michael Klein, Contributor


Frank Stella | Bogoria I, 1971 ( left ), Mixed Media Relief, 90 x 100 inches. Courtesy Leslie Feely Gallery

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July 21, 2014, 9:29am

Painting the Uncontainable: Introductions at G. Gibson Gallery

“Central Washington Fire Not Contained,” reads the headline of the Associated Press’s silent footage showing the plumes of gray and black that presided over entire mountains full of charred treetops in Washington State over the last week. Somewhere between the brush fires that maintain a forest’s health and the catastrophic fields of flames that consume the homes and the national parks of the western United States every summer resides the invisible line that separates controlled chaos from the uncontainable. Standing among the natural phenomena dominating the paintings of Introductions at Seattle’s G. Gibson Gallery while the fires burn across other pockets of the state, the related tensions investigated by these artists take on a new level of relevancy. — Erin Langner, Seattle contributor


Susanna Bluhm | Yosemite Rock (Pretend Feathers & Corduroy Patch), 2013, oil
and acrylic on canvas, 40 x 40 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and G. Gibson Gallery.

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July 15, 2014, 9:25am

Seeing Things Invisible: Forrest Bess at the Berkeley Art Museum

Forrest Bess never made a living as an artist. He spent  most of his working life as a bait fisherman off the Texas coast making meager wages and living in ramshackle conditions. Yet he navigated the New York art world with relative ease. He exhibited his work at Betty Parsons Gallery along other artists like Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Barnett Newman. He held a lifelong correspondence with notable art historian and critic Meyer Shapiro. And his work was purchased by distinguished art collectors like John de Menil. All the while Bess felt marginalized, perceiving that the artists of his generation thought of him as nothing more than a hick.


Forrest Bess | Before Man, 1952–53; oil on canvas; 8-3/4 x 22-3/4 in.; Collection Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College State University of New York, Gift of Roy R. Neuberger. Photo: Jim Frank.

Bess, then, was a man of dualisms, at once a rugged roughneck in the oil fields of Texas and a deep thinker who corresponded with Carl Jung. He was both a supremely accomplished painter and an isolated fisherman who struggled with alcohol and mental illness. Forrest Bess: Seeing Things Invisible, on view at the Berkeley Art Museum through September 14, presents Bess’ paintings alongside an archive of historical material that shed light on the artist’s life. -- Matt Smith Chavez, San Francisco Contributor

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July 14, 2014, 9:05am

A Quiet, Creeping Reality: Buddy Bunting’s Valley Fever at Prole Drift

A tortoise, a gas station, a sleeping dog, a shadowy tree and a juvenile detention facility: these are the subjects of Buddy Bunting’s five new paintings. At first sight, the mystery of their connection hangs in the air with a sense of heavy deliberation; these unlike things are somehow meant to be together, but it is hard to see how. Then, slowly, as you linger inside Seattle’s Prole Drift gallery, that sensation of heavy air becomes more pronounced and persistent across the scenes—the stillness of the dog, the haze surrounding the tree, the immobility of the tortoise. The title that gathers them together—Valley Fever—evokes the slowed pace that feverish heat commands, and this proves to be the best approach to journeying through Bunting’s thick environs. — Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor


Buddy Bunting | Antelope Valley Juvenile Detention Center, Lancaster, California, oil on linen, 2014. Image courtesy of Prole Drift

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July 08, 2014, 9:49am

Signs of the Times: John Mills

In Michaels Fried’s review of Michel Seuphor’s now criminally out of print 1963 book Abstract Painting: 50 Years of Accomplishment From Kandinsky to Jackson Pollock, Fried all but dismisses the very need for such a book, saying, "Whatever controversy it may once have provoked, abstraction per se is by now no longer a live issue.” An understandable stance, perhaps in 1963, near the beginning of one of the more recent bona fide canonical shifts in the history of art. Art is not fashion — but there has always been a fashionability to what kind of art is discussed as part of the current dialog. Human beings have always, and will always, seek to arrange, produce, and think with the more formalized 2D visual concepts; the relatively modern format and practice of painting has, for the last hundred years, been one of the primary sites of that inquiry. - Jason Ramos, Los Angeles Contributor

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June 30, 2014, 9:18am

Outside/Inside: Alicia Mccarthy and Jenny Sharaf at Johansson Projects

The current show at Johansson Projects, Alicia Mccarthy + Jenny Sharaf, is a bit of a study in contrasts. For one, the artists find themselves at different points along their respective career paths. Alicia Mccarthy is a mainstay in the San Francisco Bay Area and part of the so-called Mission School, a group of artists that came to prominence in the city during the early 2000s. Jenny Sharaf is a recent MFA from Mills College in Oakland and a young emerging artist who has exhibited in LA and San Francisco. Their two person show at Johansson Projects seems to point to interesting contrasts in compositional approaches, one that responds to the world outside of the gallery, the other to the thingness of paint. – Matt Smith Chavez, San Francisco Contributor


Alicia McCarthy | Untitled (5), 2014. Crayon, spray paint and latex paint on found wood. 4' x 4'
. Image courtesy of Johansson Projects and the artist

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June 06, 2014, 8:30am

Prefab Paintings: William Powhida’s Unretrospective

“ANYTHING can be ’editioned.’ Repetition is your friend.” This is one of the rules in William Powhida’s The Rules, which itself an edition of sorts. Referred to by the artist as a “republication,” The Rules is an oil painting that was made by an employee of painting village in Shenzhen, China, based on a JPEG image depicting the Brooklyn artist’s text-based drawing of the same title. This republication is available in three sizes and can be purchased through the artist’s website, for the duration of his show at Platform Gallery, Unretrospective, along with any JPEG that can be found on the site.  In effect, Powhida has created a space where anything really can be editioned, and repetition is your—or at least your wallet’s—friend.— Erin Langner, Seattle contributor


William Powhida | WHAT CAN THE Art World TEACH YOU?, 2014 (republication)
oil on canvas. Image courtesy of Platform Gallery.

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June 02, 2014, 10:46pm

Heartache, Turmoil and Hope Abound: Raul Gonzalez III & Elaine Bay

The turmoil of existence is a central theme to Raul Gonzalez III’s work as demonstrated in this exhibition through portrayals of displacement, disillusionment and hope in the American dream. In this collaboration, Elaine Bay’s make-shift rafts add weight to Gonzalez’s scenes of characters sailing away from their homelands, starting our journey and transforming the space at Villa Victoria in Boston’s South End into a moving storybook. Guided by the heavy use of art historical symbols of country and hardship, the handmade rafts and painted sails signify the wayward traveler. These small scale installations bring Gonzalez’s work into the viewer’s space, forcing us to walk around and internalize these feelings of leaving and loss. – Anna Schindelar, Boston Contributor


Raul Gonzalez III & Elaine Bay

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