EXHIBITIONIST: Earthly Delights at House of X Titillates Guests

(Lead image credit: Brendan Burke)

Intriguing installations featured throughout EXHIBITIONIST: Earthly Delights, previously on view in March 2022 at the newly christened cultural and performative venue, House of X, in the PUBLIC hotel in lower Manhattan. This inaugural show was helmed by curator and exhibiting artist Kat Ryals who assembled innovative and cutting edge artists into this exhibition with the venue: an exciting show that revealed more secrets at every turn. Artists featured throughout the space include Ryals, Anna Cone, Anthony Padilla, Olivia Taylor, Rob Ebeltoft and Tom Prinsell.

Info to follow these artists as below:

Kat Ryals @kitsch_witch www.katryals.com (I have 2 rugs on display so you can add my name to artist list)

Anna Cone: http://www.Annalouisecone.com

Anthony Padilla: https://www.instagram.com/anthonyzpadilla/

Olivia Taylor: https://www.instagram.com/lemon.bitch

Rob Ebeltoft: https://rebeltoft.com

Tom Prinsell: http://www.tomprinsell.com

In situ installation artwork near spiral staircase, featuring work by Olivia Taylor and Kat Ryals
(image credit: Brendan Burke)

Visitors encountered artwork from the very entrance into House of X, where they were treated to a sense of fantasy and spectacle from the very first step inside the venue. Guests were greeted by Anna Cone’s luscious installations – vignettes borrowing from Baroque imagery, presenting decadent, detailed images of allegorical beauty and chaos. Cone’s 3-dimensional works infused a precious quality to contemporary image-making: an approach that informs the artist’s work in addition to her background in fashion photography. The artist subverted expectations, rebelling against art historical norms – and traditional expectations around female beauty. Cone’s stunning tableaux tend to embrace sexuality, power dynamics and overindulgence to emphasize how contemporary culture’s beauty standards shift constantly and elusively.

FTTIN, Anna Cone, on view in EXHIBITIONIST: Earthly Delights

Venturing further into the space, elaborate textures and representational imagery pervaded the venue. The interior serves as a kind of art palace, with works spanning the walls across downstairs seating booths, a transitional space along the corner where the spiral staircase reaches to the upstairs level, elongated vitrines and an intimate lounge area. Art seemingly sprouts out of every corner and crevice for the ongoing EXHIBITIONIST series of art exhibits. In this exhibit, one particularly meaningful experience occurred when encountering Olivia Taylor and Kat Ryals’ provocative and tactile installations created from combinations of sensual, sensational imagery and materials (see top image, image credit: Brendan Burke.) Faces and hands protude outward from a caged corner in this permanent installation, approximating a cabinet of wonders, with precise attention paid to figuration and materiality. Upstairs, an art installation revealing body parts and saccharine sweets combined in a vitrine of assorted sculptures presenting sensual imagery with the texture of ready-to-eat cakes and treats, referencing the range of pleasures present in the sumptuous surroundings.

Artist Rob Ebeltoft’s compelling installation work remains permanently at the venue, presenting the installation ”Cherry Babe” as a sumptuous vision of a Disco forward, futuristic nightlife. Ebeltoft’s work provides a portal for the curious onlooker to experience an alternative vision of club culture.

‘EXHIBITIONIST: Earthly Delights’ installation view of lounge with works by Anthony Padilla

As guests began to navigate through the inner realms of the House of X upstairs lounge, they encountered paintings by Anthony Padilla and Tom Prinsell. Padilla’s representational works presented introspective, nocturnal imagery approximating the otherworldly and the exotic. Moonlit jungles undulated in organic curves, with plant life seemingly bursting forth from the compositions. Sensual gradients charted the trajectory of light across flower petals, accentuating the curvature present in bodies both floral and fauna in nature. Tom Prinsell’s compositions presented fantastical imagery of natural bodies and the built environment. Prinsell’s paintings subverted expectations, elevating the ordinary into the surreal and almost supernatural. These works created mood and atmosphere with effective use of color and line, confronting the viewer and allowing the eye to roam across scenes both vaguely familiar yet unfathomable. The emphasis on surreality and subverting expectations united the range of mediums and materials present across the group exhibition.

‘EXHIBITIONIST: Earthly Delights’ installation view of lounge with works by Tom Prinsell

EXHIBITIONIST: Earthly Delights enticed viewers who visited over the course of its duration. For the curious, the new iteration of EXHIBITIONIST: Esoterica – features art by Saki Sato, Rachel Stern, and Hannah Antalek. The show remains up over the month of May and the opening reception event for this show will occur tonight, Tuesday May 17th, 7-11pm. RSVP for tonight: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/exhibitionist-art-show-tickets-311891344407

Info to follow artists in the current EXHIBITIONIST: Esoterica exhibition as below:

Kat Ryals @kitsch_witch www.katryals.com (I have 2 rugs on display so you can add my name to artist list)

Saki Sato @villa_straylight https://www.sakisato.com

Rachel Stern @rachelstern https://www.msrachelstern.com

Hannah Antalek @hannah_antalek www.hannahantalek.com

House of X is open Thurs-Sat, 10 PM – 4 AM at PUBLIC hotel, 215 Chrystie Street in Lower Manhattan. For further details, message Kat Ryals – kat@houseofx.nyc .

Rachael Wren Gives Form to the Formless in Still It Grows at Rick Wester Fine Art

By Jeanne Brasile

At the onset of the pandemic, artist Rachael Wren spent more time than usual in nature looking at trees – noticing the subtleties of space and her relationship to it.  The constants of the square canvas and gridded plane provide a stable ground for experimentation with other variables such as mark-making, color, line and shape. While ostensibly about trees, these eleven new paintings -completed in the past two years – depict various arrangements of vertical trunks cropped at the top and stripped of branches and leaves.  Yet, the underlying gridlines, left visible amid the overlying composition, hint at something more complex.  Wren’s use of the tree and the grid provide the scaffolding around which she constructs her richly nuanced conversations about atmosphere as subject.  Wren’s paintings convey a sense of proprioception, or kinaesthesia, in wooded spaces she shares with viewers.  This is brought to bear in the gallery, along with the visitor’s relationships to the space and paintings within.  These connections are heightened by Rick Wester’s sensitive installation.    

installation view of Still it Grows at Rick Wester Fine Art

Anchoring the exhibit from opposing ends of the gallery are two 72″ square canvases, “Already There” and “Thicket.”  The large format is a breakthrough for Wren who generally paints in a 48” or 36” square.  Moving up in size enhances the experience of physically entering the fictive space of the painting while concomitantly establishing a relationship to the architecture of the gallery and the other paintings.  “Thicket” with its greenish-gray palette draws us into the receding space of a dense composition filled with hazy, foggy light from a source on the left.  The trees recede into a darker space on the right, giving viewers an opening to enter the wooded scene.  “Already There” is more open spatially with an energetic orange palette that shifts in a gradient to blue-gray moving to the top of the painting.  The brushstrokes are loose, barely held together by the freely rendered verticals of the trees. The tension is palpable, as if the trees are on the verge of dissolution, merging into the space around them. 

“Encounter” Rachael Wren, oil on linen 36″ x 36″ (2021)

Highlights of the show include “Encounter” which seems to glow from within.  The large, cantilevered brushstrokes sit atop one another like haphazardly stacked children’s blocks about to topple.  This work functions like a visual retort to “Already There”  with its loose verticals.  “Spring Rain” shows Wren’s penchant for dispersing space as well as her newly  expanded  visual vocabulary.  Introducing new shapes such as quasi-quatrefoils, overlapping horizontals and verticals, and amorphous ‘blotches,’ the composition becomes more abstract than the others.  Wren deftly uses a softly contrasting palette of green, gray and lavender to moor the looseness of her gestures and unify the work.           

The visual proximity of Wren’s paintings enables one to see the incredible array of atmospheric conditions observed and Wren’s rich lexicon that masterfully depicts the void as subject.  As one moves through Still It Grows,  fleeting moments in nature are captured for quiet contemplation; dappled sunlight through spring leaves, the enveloping mist of a humid morning, fog rolling through the forest or the dawn’s gentle side light cutting through a copse.  Wren is a master of giving form to the formless in these mindfully conceived and unhurriedly executed paintings that must be experienced in person to fully appreciate their complexity and eloquent impressions of atmospheric conditions.     

A Meditation on Vastness: “The sky is higher here” at Transmitter Gallery

by Adam Timur Aslan

“Why is it that all that blue refuses to be contained?”, asks the press release of the group exhibition, The sky is higher here. The show is curated by Leila Seyedzadeh and on display at Transmitter Gallery until March 27th. It features work by Hedwig Brouckaert, Simone Couto, Edi Dai, Saba Farhoudnia, Victoria Martinez, and Ingrid Tremblay.

installation view, The sky is higher here (L–R works by Hedwig Brouckaert “Flesh of Light (I)” (2017) Ingrid Tremblay “Looking further” (2016) and Saba Farhoudnia “Between the two sighs” (2019)

A focal point thematically of the show is the limitless depth of a sky that is too complex for full human understanding. The sky is a source of heat and light, but also darkness. It has scientific qualities that are mysterious. It is a ceiling of blue during the day and an infinite expanse of black at night. It gives allusions to heaven during the day, and the potential for granted wishes via falling stars at night. A focus on the sky is a decision to allow for vastness. To make art about the sky is to consider all these things and decide upon a subject matters that is composed of both the sublime and chaotic. 

“One of the first things that got my attention from day one was that the sky is higher here than what I felt back in Tehran. I still don’t know if there is a scientific reason behind it, or just me seeing the sky this way in North America. Later on, I visited Mexico City and Toronto, and I noticed the sky was high and vast. And when I traveled back to Tehran, I looked carefully and saw the sky was not the same, and I tried to understand why it was lower there,” details Seyedzadeh.

Seyedzadeh brings together artists at Transmitter Gallery that utilize a wide range of materials. Though the curatorial theme can be seen in all the works, the expression of that theme is wildly divergent. “Being in New York among a diverse group of artists from all around the world inspired me to listen to stories that speak about the same content, but which come from such different places – from Iran, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, and the USA. These artists share their ideas through painting, photography, textile, mixed media, and more,” reflects Seyedzadeh.

“A page from my dream book” Victoria Martinez (2022) Cotton, silk, yarn and hibiscus dye, 20 x 18″

The exhibit includes a range of topics that intersect with the theme of the vast blue sky. “Despite the insurmountable distance between the Earth and the sky and its defiance to be understood, these artists search to make it accessible and deeply familiar,” Seyedzadeh explains. “We know that only something as magnificent, shapeless, and borderless as the sky can hold the sum of all our heart’s grief and hopes without ever pouring over.”

The interweaving of seemingly opposing visual objects to create a peaceful setting is observed in the work of Ingrid Tremblay.  The fragility of the immigrant experience and “the infinite blue above our existences” is shown through the work of Simone Couto. The peace and survival bound in the blues of water and sky are explored by in the painted “Between Two Sighs” by Saba Farhoudnia, which was made shortly after losing her father. Hedwig Brouckaert’s mixed media work “Flesh of Light (I)” evokes the liminality of the sky’s dissolving horizontal borders.

While the strength of concept behind the works shine, the range of materials and quality of completed work using this material is equally compelling. Particularly noteworthy is the “A page from my dream book” (2022) (above) by Victoria Martinez which presents a variety of material, color, and shape that the work employs to create a piece that is in dialogue with natural rhythms: a woman’s body, the moon, and other natural shifts in state. Edi Dai’s sumptuous and subtle study of color in staggered layers of natural cotton in “Thoroughfare Vessel” (2022) (below) also commands the viewer’s contemplation.

“Thoroughfare Vessel” Edi Dai (2022) Handwoven canvas made of various undyed colored cotton, 14 x 12″

The sky is higher here is up until March 27th.Transmitter gallery is located at 1329 Willoughby Avenue, 2A, Brooklyn, NY 11237, with gallery hours 1-6 pm on weekends and by appointment.

Monumental: Queen Andrea in “Letters Forever” & Cern and Nola Romano’s “Urban Encounters” at AHA Fine Art

Two separate exhibitions hold court at AHA Fine Art with both Queen Andrea in Letters Forever and Cern and Nola Romano in Urban Encounters through March 13, 2022. AHA Fine Art (56 Bogart Street in Brooklyn) hosts these exhibitions, both of which span the range of physical space in a scale reminiscent of urban art found across the streets of New York City.

Install views of Letters Forever and Urban Encounters

Queen Andrea is a prolific artist whose installations feature prominently throughout the five boroughs. Queen Andrea (aka Andrea von Bujdross) was drawn to the growing field of street art in 1990s New York City in her early teens. She cut her teeth with some of the most daring street artists working in the urban area. Her intuitive grasp of a color theory, stenciling and a strongly cultivated personal aesthetic leave a strong impression on visitors to Letters Forever. A prolific fine artist, muralist and designer, visitors have plenty to digest — from her masterful use of organic line, circular and curved elements and carefully applied gradient.

Artwork, ”Flourish” by Queen Andrea on view in Letters Forever at AHA Fine Art

Works such as “Believe” (2022) and “Flourish” (2022) (above) offer positive messages that are presented in bright neon colors across sweeping backdrops. “Flourish” offers a scale in dialogue with her public murals, with cotton-candy tones spanning the canvas in gradients spanning from navy to cornflower blue to burnt sienna. The artist presents powerful meditations on transformation in these recent paintings, harnessing inspiration across multiple formats, including jewelry, sculpture and painting.

Cern, “Ocean of Devotion” oil on panel, 30 x 20” from the exhibit, Urban Encounters
Install view of works by Nola Romano, Urban Encounters
Install views of Letters Forever and Urban Encounters

Meanwhile, the opposing gallery walls feature a double exhibition of works by Cern and Nola Romano. Entitled Urban Encounters, the show presents figurative works presented in bright colors, with distinctive styles presented that are unique to each artist. As per gallerist Francesca Arcilesi, “Cern is the type of artist whose life and craft are intensely intertwined. The wall, panel or canvas act as an expression of a much deeper, layered mantra and perspective on how to go through life. His art consists of abstract, smooth, blended lines with elements of clearly defined edges and imagery.” This tension between Impressionism and Street art remains present throughout Cern’s artworks on view, creating a harmonious effect that invites the visitor to linger, discovering beautiful, illusory details in these poignant compositions.

Nola Romano’s works balance the personal and the universal, the delicate and the resilient. Her works, primarily acrylic on wood panel, present the complexity of the world: both the idealism of the world to be and the persistent reality of longing, fear and dread. Her portraits of young girls and figures with fantastical attributes create a sense a magical realism, heightened by the visual texture she creates in this painterly vignettes. These paintings communicate transience and endurance in equal measure, presenting the beauty in the world around us through the lens of fantasy.

Make sure not to miss Letters Forever and Urban Encounters in its final weekend on view at AHA Fine Art, 56 Bogart St, from 1-6 pm through March 13.