Andrea Rosen gallery
A cacophony of competing elements: large mural size paintings,
an aluminum and stainless sculpture about thirty feet across
suspended from the ceiling, video projections, twenty panels
of light boxes that cover an entire wall; even by Chelsea
expectations this installation overwhelms. The gallery space
is transformed into some sort of futuristic machine. Matthew
Richie presents his celestial view of an unknown and un-tested
Interestingly, somber autumn colors predominate all of this
work. Evanescent figures, recalling Egon Schile’s edgy
drawings, appear in Something Like Day (2004), which is actually
a photographic print on Duratrans, mounted on lenticular acrylic
panels with fluorescent lights. The figures seem to roam aimlessly;
some are floating in the air up side down. Walking past the
work, the objects on the panels seem as if they move and follow
us. The backlighting encourages this illusion; all of these
surreal creatures come alive in the mind’s eye.
Drawing is central to Richie’s work. This is particularly
evident in the plant-like sculpture, The Universal Adversary,
in the main floor; this hanging piece is in fact a three dimensional
version of his other paintings. The heavy mass of the materials
utilized here cannot be seen, rather the swirling and spinning
structures look as if animated by some form of extraterrestrial
life. Somehow, as everything here is based on drawing, there
is a sense of feathery air moving around in the space. The
installation as a whole is restless; the rhythmic lines of
the paintings as well as in the sculpture, the movement of
the video projections and illuminated objects in the light
boxes pulsate. It’s a work in progress, if you will,
not unlike the universe.
9/21 through 10/18.
By Joel Simpson
We seem to be experiencing a wave of foggy trees, abstract
water, and cloud patterns in the big photo galleries lately.
There’s nothing wrong with these subjects, of course,
and some are quite beautiful, but they are nevertheless rather
thin on concept and imagination.
So it was quite refreshing to discover the work of Parisian
photographer Corinne Mercadier. Her large square high-contrast,
low-definition Polaroid enlargements, mostly arranged in triptych,
capture dreamlike scenes that seem to be viewed through a
childhood memory. They are mostly of sunny days with deep
shadows, and things flying through the air. These are the
real subjects of these photographs: ribbons unfurling, hinged
window screens, large elliptical strips with an analemmic
twist, fishnet. These curious objects are sometimes easy to
confuse with their shadows against stone buildings; other
times they cast a spell of frozen anarchy that nearly envelopes
human figures crouched on chairs.
People are indistinct figures in dreams. One photograph shows
what appears to be a party taking place on a beach, late in
the day, near dusk. We see people talking in small groups;
some are in long sleeves. It’s not swimming weather.
The darkness of the sky descends upon their upper bodies,
reinforcing the quality of a remembered dream.
In some of Mercadier’s photographs a person is suspended
in the air: jumping or diving. Several share the same title,
Une fois et pas plus (One time and no more). This title is
actually a quote from Rilke’s Ninth Duino Elegy. The
full quote reads, in Stephen Mitchell’s translation:
But because truly being here is so much; because everything
apparently needs us, this fleeting world, which in some way
keeps calling to us. Us, the most fleeting of all.
Once for each thing. Just once; no more. And we too,
just once. And never again. But to have been
this once, completely, even if only once:
to have been at one with the earth, seems beyond undoing.
Thus Rilke connects the uniqueness of every lived moment
with the overwhelming plenitude and diversity of experience.
This is the point that Mercadier is making with these evocative
and entirely original photographs.
By Ola Manana
Four large black and white photographs hang
from unadorned walls, their subject: fragments of buildings
and sculptures of ancient Greece. They look like stills from
a Fellini film. Stones arranged in an esoteric pattern on
the floor of the gallery cumulate in another pile of stones,
in apparent reference to Athena, the ancient goddess of War
and Wisdom. Ancient Olympia: Peace Now, an exhibition organized
in conjunction with “Peace One Day,” is Lynn Singer's
contribution to the Peace One Day project. This project, inspired
by British filmmaker Jeremy Gilley, is intended to set aside
one day in the year, each year, which would be designated
as a day of global cease-fire and non-violence. Okay; why
not. The idea is to encourage groups and individuals to re-new
their commitment to peace on this day. The UN initiative,
put forth by Britain and Costa Rica, was adopted by all of
the member countries of the UN, designating September 21st
as "Peace Day."
Understandably not content to have peace for
just one day, Singer proclaims Peace Now. Her ironic inclusion
of a detail from an ancient sculpture of Athena invites the
eye to trace the smooth curves, worn to absolute softness
by time. That softness, not an attribute that the Goddess
of War and Wisdom is noted for, suggests the healing quality
of time, how it mutes intentions and otherwise can change
things, in some cases for the better, in some cases not.
Present day Olympia is set aside in these photographs;
Singer’s specific subject matter focuses on pivotal
points on the map of Olympia. The ancient city, which referenced
sacred geometry in its original design, still retains a perfect
sense of balance even after two thousand years. In her photographs,
the dappled sunlight is reflected off of the ancient walls
and infuses these scenes with palpable serenity. Indeed, there
is a hint, in this work, of something irrevocably lost, not
taken away, but washed away slowly in silence.
By Joel Simpson
These photographs, masterfully executed in rich sepia and
gorgeously printed, with borders that have acid burns for
an antiquated touch (suggesting the use of an archaic process
such as collodion or ambrotype) are an unusual find in today’s
increasingly digital art world.
The subject of the work may give viewers pause, however.
Torture, as a kind mutually embraced leisure activity, is
openly celebrated here in a series of foreboding images that
go well beyond the predictable bondage fantasies that have
gained mainstream acceptance in recent years. Santerineross
constructs elaborate sets that show mostly attractive young
women in excruciating scenes of humiliation and physical peril.
The work has a documentary feel, which invariably gives the
false impression that the artist is merely depicting events
as they are rather than directing the shots.
A basic tenet of humanist art since the Renaissance holds
that, where art depicts acute emotion, the apparent feeling
of the subject must be addressed. One could say that ignoring
this is a defining characteristic of "deviant art,"
as this work is described. To be sure, other photographers
have explored dark territory to varying degrees of success.
For example, Barbara Nitke’s 2003 book Kiss of Fire
documents sado-masochistic culture with compassion, even though
her images can be as difficult to look at as those of Santerineross.
It is worth noting, however, the real pain that her subjects
undergo (voluntarily) is a social fact, not a glorified construction.
Even Joel-Peter Within depictions of people missing limbs
or having sustained terrible wounds, in sexually explicit
poses, has a different moral valence. Witkin seems to want
his images to be hard to look at, yet compelling. He does
not avoid the pain of his subjects.
But Santerineross’ approach tends to reduce the impact
of his subject’s pain and suffering (even if only virtual),
since he treats this as a mere component in a larger aesthetic
scheme. This is a problem that we often see in fictionalized
documentary work, where the focus on constructing a believable
scene distorts the essence of the subject at hand. This is
not to say, however, that these photographs are no less disturbing.
Paul Sharpe Contemporary Art
In these highly realized bronze sculptures, Wagman explores
themes of pathos, personal angst and political irony. The
rich, symbolic narrative suggests underpinnings of Expressionism
and Surrealism grafted onto a dream tableaux steeped in figurative
The Mockery Series, comprised of several hybrid sculptures,
satirizes contemporary political icons. Its human-rooster
amalgams depict the strutting hubris that is all too common
in politicians. These surrealistic figures play out a recycled
drama that invariably foretells tragedy, alluding to the many
woes of the world.
In the altered self-portrait heads that comprise Mindset,
he articulates consternation with forms that emanate from
the crown of the head. The pealed skull in Plagued reveals
tiny, tragic-comic masks that suggest unresolved conflict,
while in another piece, Overflow, a configuration of bronze
balls breaks through the cracked head. There is a sense of
impending doom here, yet Wagman’s understated humor
keeps the viewer engaged.
9/5 Through 10/7.
John Hultberg (1922-2005)
University at Buffalo Art Galleries
Is there such a thing as vintage futuristic? If so, such
a term might well apply to John Hultberg’s work. These
paintings are clearly grounded in the legacy of abstract expressionism;
the gestural slashes and central voids (seen in many of these
works) should suggest landscape, not human activity. But the
repeating silhouettes and rectangular forms speak strongly
of mid-twentieth-century technology and industry. Hultberg’s
paintings often suggest a 1950’s teeming city, as faceless
workers march to and fro, cogs in the proverbial wheel.
The artist apparently intends that viewers should write their
own narrative for these highly suggestive, large-scale works.
In Panorama (1957), vague silhouettes within a composition
of rough boxes are laden with significance, but never in too
obvious or heavy-handed a manner. Hultberg’s mastery
of the vocabulary of abstract painting was repeatedly acknowledged
during his lifetime by contemporaries such as Norman Bluhm,
Michel Tapie, Louise Nevelson, and in particular, Martha Jackson,
the legendary New York dealer, who worked with Hultberg starting
in the 1950’s until her death in 1969. Her son, David
Anderson, continues to represent Hultberg — hence this
posthumous show at the gallery that Anderson founded in Buffalo.
Hultberg veered back and forth between pure abstraction and
slightly abstracted figuration throughout his painting career,
as we see in this show, with paintings from the 1950’s
through the 1980’s. Nevertheless, his brushwork is equally
as evocative; it is only when the sci-fi narrative begins
to intrude too literally — as in some of the Demon series
— that these otherwise spectacular large-scale works
begin to falter. At their best, as with Black Interior (1956),
these paintings are magnificent: dark, brooding and expansive.
Often, as in The Dark Room (1957), the compositions are lightened
with an expanse of uncluttered space. The show’s title,
Vanishing Point, is appropriate; nearly every work contains
a section where the viewer is led from topical incident to
a distant point within.
A significant portion of the show is devoted to Hultberg’s
prints, and, in many cases, these are equally as compelling
as the paintings. Monochromatic lithographs like Incredible
Space are imbued with a brisk sense of movement, with dark
forms massing about central voids. These prints illustrate
the best possibilities of printmaking for an abstract artist;
the smaller scale and limited palette allow for stark, unified
During his lifetime, Hultberg was described an Abstract Expressionist,
a Surrealist, and an Expressionist, but none of these labels
ever really stuck. This wide-ranging show offers convincing
evidence that his work deserves to be reconsidered on its
own terms, uninhibited by such preconceptions.
Ed Note: The University at Buffalo Galleries is located at
Martha Jackson Place, Buffalo, New York 14214. Tel: 716.829.3754
LiLLiPuT in me: nano in young
Curated by Ju-Eun Jung, this group show with the odd title,
LiLLiPuT in me, is an example of the quality, non-commercial
shows that are turning up in small "mom & pop"
galleries which have been taking root along the fringe of
Chelsea in recent years.
In the early days of Chelsea’s reincarnation as the
center of the art world, the once foreboding collection of
warehouses and auto repair shops west of Tenth Avenue were
said to be located in "West Chelsea". Today, the
name "East Chelsea" is increasingly tossed out to
describe an area near Fifth Avenue, spanning roughly from
14th to 34th streets. Of course literally speaking this is
not correct, but just as "West Chelsea" morphed
into Chelsea, so too has East joined West, effectively expanding
the Chelsea brand across the center of Manhattan.
The non-profit gallery, Mushroom Arts, is one a several grassroots
arts organizations that have sprung up in this unlikely haven
for emerging artists, where tomorrow’s art stars pay
This show is divided into two parts; there is a glass encased
project room devoted to the idiosyncratic, obsessive doodles
of Hakpage, and then there is the main gallery space for the
group show. In the project room this artist has developed
a short alphabet of doodle symbols (rabbit, chicken, dog,
horse and "funny woman") which fills up a 95-page
hardcover book, 20 blue-inked lines to the page, intercalated
with diagrams and illustrations that are occasionally labeled
in Korean. The diagrams often seem to carry themes of communication,
electricity and mechanics, but also feature flowers, animals
and home scenes, with a number of fold-out pages with larger
drawings and water colors. It is a strangely humbling book
The main space shows the work of seven artists; all are interesting
and two are outstanding. Xoo-Ang Choi creates painted polymer
clay figures, several inches in length, that literally illustrate
metaphorical terms of abuse in Korean. The results are grotesquely
amusing. The Kiss-Entangled Couple depicts two life size heads
with entwined serpentine tongues between them; Supersize Me
shows a naked man on a stool hugging his penis, which extends
over his head. The meticulous, life-like detail of these pieces
lends touch of horror.
Jay-Hong Kwon founded a spoof toy company called the “Mal
functioning [sic] Science Product Factory.” This company
has supposedly produced his series of works, which resemble
model assemblage kits in pressed plastic. The mold used here
frames a number of pieces: painted children with diabolical
grins, a single cyclopean eye, a dog with the head of a Gogol-eyed
man, guns and other weapons. Kwon’s magnum opus, however,
is a large, three dimensional apartment house façade
which suggests a kind of frozen video game. Depicting seven
floors of everyday activity, starting with postage-stamp size
pictures of former dictator Park Chung He, and continuing
with plainclothesmen beating up a (presumed) suspect, and
there are creatures too, a dinosaur body with a human face,
a head sporting an academic mortarboard.
On the top floor of this absurdist microsm of urban dwelling,
are sculptural reliefs of imaginary bookworms fitted with
human heads. Several floors down, a gigantic (actually life
size) penis breaks through the bricks of the apartment building,
flanked by figures in suits with penis-heads (literal "dickheads")
and a woman who stands blindfolded. The references are universal,
poking fun societal norms and the politics of the day. Kwon
turns the video game and the mass-produced toy industry upside
down, turning the tables on their presumed creators.
Popism: The Warhol Sixties
Book - Written by Andy Warhol and Pat Hackett
A Harvest Paperback published by Harcourt
In addition to his prolific visual work, Andy Warhol also
left behind a collection of engaging prose. Written together
with Pat Hackett, Warhol’s Popism: The Warhol Sixties
posits a record of his life in writings. A master of deadpan
understatement, Warhol’s voice is strong and seductive
throughout the book. From the first sentence, the reader is
drawn into the narrative of his life. With a frank tongue-in-cheek
tone, Popism tells of Warhol’s beginnings as an artist,
initially venturing into the fine arts before establishing
himself as a successfully illustrator New York, only to come
full-circle years later when he proves famously that good
commercial art can also be fine art. Painting vivid pictures
of his contemporaries with words, the book describes how his
friend De (Emile de Antonio) got him to think of himself as
a fine artist, and how other visionaries, notably the New
York dealer Ivan Karp, encouraged him along this new path.
The book also describes the legion of naysayers who rejected
Warhol’s work from the outset. This rejection was in
part due to prejudice against his early success as a commercial
illustrator, but also because of a macho male homophobia which
tended to shut out women artists along with the effeminate
Warhol and company. There are anecdotes here about heros of
the Expressionist movement brawling outside The Cedar on University
Place, where Mark Rothko would go up to the hostess of a party
and say rudely, "How could you let them in?" meaning
Warhol and his Pop cohorts.
Popism presents an inside look at a pivotal juncture in art
history, not only from academic standpoint, but the writing
captures a distinct cultural tone, bringing to life the fashion,
music, films, literature, clubs and social upheavals of New
York City in the 1960s. In photographs as well as in words
The Factory is brought to life, in all its stark and wonderful
wackiness. Nico and The Velvet Underground, Leo Castelli,
Edie Sedgwick, Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, drag queen Candy Darling
and Tennessee Williams are just a few of the icons made flesh
and blood in these pages. Then there are the legendary art
dealers, musicians, actors, models, artists and underground
filmmaker that weave in and out of the narrative. From Eleanor
Ward’s Connecticut estate to the Ferus Gallery in Los
Angeles, the reader witnesses, from the inside, Warhol’s
unlikely trajectory to art superstar.