Reality, augmented or otherwise, is delightfully stranger than fiction at 01: Never Mind the Bullocks, curated by LatchKey Gallery‘s Founders, Natalie Kates and Amanda Uribe, at Chashama’s One Brooklyn Bridge location. On view through Oct 21st, the exhibit features four contemporary artists working on the boundaries of modern perspectives. Darryl Westly,Inna Babaeva, Steven Fragale and Toby Barnes all create works for the exhibition that obscure and/or redefine reality. From examining absence in figuration to producing new dimensions of representation, the artists on view take expectation and turn it squarely on its head. At first glimpse the four artists seem decidedly divorced from one another’s practice, until further examination reveals that each artist re-examines objects and scenes that the viewer takes for granted, re-contextualizing the known and burying it deep into the crevices of the unknown until it springs anew, a hybrid and resplendent thing.
Darry Westly, born in Chicago and currently based in New York City, is a renowned international painter who creates illusions of flattened planes in otherwise realistic scenes. Frequently alluding to classical art history references, Westly’s unique blend of Pop Art and figuration herald a new manner of representing in the post-photo manipulation era. Soft pastel hues cradle the outlines of missing figures, collapsed planes of a hybrid reality. Westly’s masterful brushstrokes press against the glass of reality, turning perception around on an unsuspecting viewer. His work disorients as it transcends.
Steven Fragale‘s interactive paintings delight and confound, taking the viewer off the canvas and literally into thin air. Fragale, who lives and works in (and is originally from) New York, takes his work out to the viewer in a custom-built app that accompanies each of his paintings. Extending the composition out into new dimensions using augmented reality, Fragale leaves no stone unturned: examining our reliance on the digital and its intrusion into everyday lived experience.
Toby Barnes is an interdisciplinary artist whose installation and mixed media work collapses what Hito Stereyl aptly termed the “poor” image makes a frequent appearance in the patterns of Barnes’ works, writhing these mobile phone images into dizzying, hypnotic compositions. Born in Miami, and living and working in Amherst, Mass, Barnes has exhibited in an exciting array of venues including PS1, Queens Museum, and NADA among others. Barnes creates symmetric compositions, delineating the lines and populating each section with glimpses of skin, abstracted figure. Abstract and figurative meld into one another, proving impossibly inextricable in the final image. Barnes’ installations and two-dimensional, mixed media works combine the immediacy of Pop with a considered, measured investigation into a thoroughly contemporary view of the image as raw material.
Perhaps most surprising is the inventive work of artist Inna Babaeva, a Ukrainian-American artist based in Long Island City, Queens. Reformatting everyday objects into magnificently mischievous items. Bulbous forms formed in glass break the lines of rows of October magazines and perch saucily on wheels close to the ground. They lie luxuriantly on stacks of paper, sneaking glimpses at passersby from corners of the exhibit. Never has glass possessed such a gestural, anthropomorphic quality. Babaeva’s works re-animate post-industrial materials into new figments of the visitor’s imagination.
01: Never Mind the Bullocks is a fearless investigation into what contemporary art can evolve into, and how it can grow into new forms of inquisition and self-reflexivity. The exhibit is on view at One Brooklyn Bridge (360 Furman Street, Brooklyn) through October 21st, curated by LatchKey Gallery & location courtesy Chashama.
Artist Peter Gynd takes a subtle approach to the nuance of geography and communication.
Framing his explorations of identity through the lens of textile and pattern, Gynd’s paintings at Ground Floor Gallery, on view mid-May through June 3rd, offer the viewer a literally veiled approach to investigating meaning. Cloaked figures navigate nuanced blends of imagery, with minimal color but an intricately balanced sense of line. Figures in his paintings and photography are precariously balanced, hovering delicately between agency and ambivalence.
Taking cues world textiles and the ambiguity of identity, Gynd’s figures stand solitary yet defiant. Features hidden, their postures indicate hesitancy or a search for a deeper meaning. Figure and ground emerge as partners in a compositional dance: the form emerging from aspects of an uncertain environment, solid yet unclear. Landscape itself exists yet recedes, playing a role as ambiguous as the movements of the figure it foregrounds. Color and line often share a role across figure and landscape, intertwining the two in a holistic narrative.
Trained meticulously as an oil painter, a fifth generation artist in his family, Gynd holds a BFA in Glass from Alberta College of Art+Design and works as an artist and curator. He was selected as prestigious artist participant in Ground Floor Gallery’s 5th anniversary project “…in 5 Acts.” Gynd’s exhibit, “Blanketed: Textiles, Culture and the Landscape,” is on view through June 3rd at Ground Floor Gallery, 343 5th Street, Brooklyn. Gallery hours are 3-8 pm and the gallery will have a closing event on Sunday, June 3rd.
“If you deny people their own voice, you’ll have no idea who they were.” Alice Walker
“invisible fruit: stories of camouflage from the periphery”, Shoshanna Weinberger’s solo exhibition at Project for Empty Space in Newark, NJ, employs repetition to dizzying effect. Perhaps not dizzying: mesmerizing.
Women’s bodies are both seen and unseen, presented and contorted into unidentifiable abstractions. Feminine visages, their outlines incorporating distinctly African and Afro-Carribbean hairstyles, are obscured by abstracted nothingness: their identities crushed beneath the weight of visual white noise. Similar to the background choir figures throughout Childish Gambino’s visceral and poignant music video for “This is America”, the multi-dimensional figures presented throughout Weinberger’s exhibition literally outline the trenchant visual narrative of hiding in plain sight. Even in the era of the #metoo movement, women are often excluded: their voices negated in everything from polite conversation to exorbitant wait times for major retrospectives. However, women of color fight an uphill battle not only against patriarchal discrimination but sometimes, even, from their own female allies. Weinberger’s presentations of the female body, ethnic even in their abstracted and distilled outline, elevates the Afro-Carribbean experience even while commenting on the objectification keenly experienced by women of color, in the arts as well as in everyday life.
Weinberger’s installation “A Grove of Invisible Fruit”, situated at the front of the gallery space, provides a hyper-dimensional yet fragmented entry point firmly rooting the artist’s overall exhibition. The “grove” can be viewed as a reflective and dizzying moment of pause – a blinding distraction, yet an inviting and meditative moment of respite anchoring the multiple viewpoints orienting visitors throughout the exhibition. The figures interspersed through “A Grove of Invisible Fruit” are hybrid beings: neither distinctly human nor wholly “other”, creole-ized and hypersexualized figures in high heels supporting a mirrored superstructure. The dual presence and absence of these figures, the lack of distinctive identity, could conceivably be contrasted with the experiences of women migrating to America. How dizzying is the burden of bearing others’ prejudice and preconceived notions? Much like the entrenched stereotypes hearkening back to the age of Chiquita Banana, these conceptions have neither disappeared nor evaded us as we continue to evolve as a society. Weinberger adoitly places these figures within a networked construct: joined together yet alienated, the figures reflect back only what we cast at them. They present to us Plato’s shadows on the walls of the cave.
“The colonized is elevated above his jungle status in proportion to [his] adoption of the adoption of the mother country’s cultural standards.” Frantz Fanon’s words in Black Skin, White Masks permeate the pores, the very follicles present in Weinberger’s works. In the artist’s series, “Invisible Invisibility”, she presents monochrome women who are identified by their cosmetics or sexualized poses, often obscured by the backgrounds which seem to “fill” them. Weinberger is presenting women difficult to categorize by societal “norms”: their very outlines prevent them ascending to the reified realm of acceptable “cultural standards.”
Fanon’s words echo throughout the exhibit, where literal “masks” create an entry point for viewers to both engage with these portraits and be denied access to the personal qualities typically found in portraiture. Voices are silenced and features hidden, marking both the uniformity of lived experiences of women of color and a refusal to be sequestered into stereotyped ethnic categories. The artist, herself American, Jewish and Jamaican by heritage, has both denied and overcome identity from “the other” in her figurative works. The portraits themselves seem to emerge from an obfuscation they willingly present to the viewer: by placing a barrier between themselves and the casual observer Weinberger’s creations upend expectations and deny the ubiquitous male gaze.
Weinberger’s exhibition as a whole mines the loaded metrics of repetition and representation. Presenting different variations on repeated themes allows the viewer multiple angles of entry into the series of artworks on view. The series of images in grids, according to Weinberger, represents yearbook photos – indicating variations on the artist’s own American, Jewish and Jamaican identity. The artist is presenting these autobiographical two-dimensional works on paper, presented alongside more sculptural works, literally examine themes present in the artist’s work from multiple angles. The visceral yet limited color scheme creates heightened awareness of the forms in the artist’s compositions. The artworks are tightly framed, implicating the viewer in almost claustrophobic nearness to the figures in the works they encounter. This irony of silenced narratives is reinforced by the presence of one single feature on the faces of the women in the artist’s portrait series: their mouths. Eyes, ears, and noses are left absent: women are expected to observe in real life; here, they are liberated and confined. They can only speak. Evoking the powerful moment of applying lipstick, a visible acceptance of womanhood, these lips are not only ready and able to speak but they are empowered to do so with grace and beauty.
Weinberger tumbles and leaps through a perceptive circus ring of contradictions in “invisible fruit: stories of camouflage from the periphery”. She produces one of the best nuanced exhibitions of Pop-infused, graphic style imagery in recent memory. While Pop art can be inherently subversive, Weinberger has managed to tease out intricacies of race, ethnicity and identity that are so often overlooked in contemporary art. Her dedicated exploration of individuality and marginalization has shown its splendor in this solo show at Project for Empty Space.
In a space in the rear of the gallery, the artist points to a sculpture bust, indicating that it is a self-portrait created through the process of 3-D printing. Curled tendrils of hair hug the figures’s face, a cluster of evocative lips the only evident feature. The porcelain-colored whiteness of the bust shimmered in the direct light, giving the visage a sensual luster. Weinberger deftly re-imagines her identity as a literal fabrication, not just of social norms, but of the replicating process inherent to 3-D printing. Her vision of the portrait serves not as an admission, but instead can be perceived as a denial. This playful figuration is a credit to her finely tuned artistic sensibility and a deeper revelation of the ever-evolving social constructs of gender and ethnic identity.
“invisible fruit: stories of camouflage from the periphery” is currently on view at Project for Empty Space, 2 Gateway Center in Newark, NJ, through May 18th. Shoshanna Weinbergeris a currently resident at Project for Empty Space.
The shadow of technology’s pervasive presence stretches across the walls of Bleeding Edge, Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art (HVCCA)’s new media exhibit on view now through May 15 in Peekskill, NY. Echoing the promised utopia and oft-dismal reality of advanced technological networks and intimating at the vague disillusion of late-stage capitalism, Bleeding Edge features site-specific installations and new media works by artists Anthony Antonellis, Kelsey Brod, Izabela Gola, Faith Holland, Eleanor King, Amanda Turner Pohan, Livia Ungar and Sherng-Lee Huang. From digital recreations of physical phenomena to the fragmented elements found in our tech interfaces, this exhibit is a striking investigation of technology’s impact from multiple viewpoints. It’s a tour de force investigation into technology’s impact on our everyday experience. The exhibition, curated by HVCCA’s own Michael Barraco, makes a reference to the term “bleeding edge”, alluding to technology so innovative that it engenders incredible risk in its application. The institution itself takes risks with the cutting edge survey of works on view in this exhibit: a risk that ultimately pays off for visitors to the show.
“Pang”, a video and sound installation by artist Eleanor King, visits a mountainous landscape seemingly generated by computer graphics. It is, in fact, a low-resolution image from a survey of the landscape in Nunavit, Canada – a remote province where the artist lived. Nunavit is a remote northern area and serves as home to a large indigenous population. The persistent soundscape visitors experience while observing the video moves between naturally observed phenomena, such as ice melting, and sparse musical compositions. The video introduces new perspectives in examining our relationship with the natural world across great distances and the ambiguous “success” that programs such as Google Earth have in bringing us to remote places across the planet. In addition, it questions how we privilege certain spaces over others when it comes to new technology, and how certain populations can be excluded as a result.
Encountering “How to Facial Mocap Drag” (2018) by Kelsey Brod, the viewer is immediately implicated in the how-to video seemingly led by an Ivanka Trump look-alike. The video purports to teach viewers to utilize software, playing with this entrenched tutorial format by subverting the educational aspect of the video with suggestive political language. Brod navigates direct political accusations, instead inviting viewers to question their choices and actions to see how these align with their personal philosophy. Similarly, Faith Holland’s “Queer Connections”(2017) makes manifest the gendering of inanimate objects by pointing to “male” and “female” electronic components connecting seemingly “incorrectly”. Guiding the eye to these hyper-sexualized connections, curator Barraco notes that when the connection is enlarged it becomes more evident that these combinations that didn’t fit have “found new means of connecting.”
Anthony Antonellis’ witty and clever videos take a playful look at technological flaws that arise with innovative leaps forward. His works “Fidget”(2017) and “Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Fireplace”(2017) re-imagine objects within new contexts as a result of unintended consequences that each product experienced post-launch. Fidget spinners change out in a dizzying array of styles, subverting the original purpose of the spinners. Instead of allowing the viewer increased focus and concentration, the video functions by creating a sense of nausea at the constant cycling of different spinners in and out of the video. Samsung Galaxy Note 7’s penchant for combustibility forms the basis of Antonellis’ fireplace video: visitors approaching the video from far-off can be forgiven for thinking it’s a common home fireplace video before coming closer and noticing the Samsung devices. These works play on the failures commonplace in technological innovation and social disruption.
Amanda Turner Pohan’s “Swipe”(2018) and Izabela Gola’s “New Blue Horizon Harbinger”(2017) approach a remix of old and new media from a unique perspective: horizontally. Barraco notes this format recalls “older forms of technology, sequential like strips of film.” The resurgence of natural materials in these artworks speaks to their pervasive presence in new forms in everyday technological objects: silicon, aluminum, copper. The porcelain in Gola’s objects, backlit and hinting at the presence of a figure emerging in her film “The Blue Kid”(2015), also speaks to the absence in new media of handicraft present in former iterations of human-created “technologies” from past generations. Gola also points to the ingrained relationship between the film and this installation. “The abstracted blue glaze horizon on the porcelain is an visceral emotional rendering of the horizon demarcated in the video, including the one painted on the ceramic props’ decorative motives and the urn vignette.” The blue glaze in her porcelain installation and the pixellated blue background from The Blue Kid share an undefined, amorphous sensibility: permeating the space without articulating a firm definition of its shape or presence.
Gola’s film “The Blue Kid”(2015) appropriates cinematic tropes from classic movies such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and The Maltese Falcon. The artist points to the reiteration of these tropes over time as the inspiration for the menacing, ever-present blue background migrating across the screen during the video. Gola points to the intrusion of this blue mass into all aspects of the film. “With this exaggerated slowed down pixelation I point to a decomposed lossy index image (a.k.a. its lost aura) which becomes a signifier of the exhausted, washed-out cinematic tropes and modalities used in Film Noir and Westerns.” The horizontal orientation of her installation on the exhibition’s front wall also hearkens back to the film tropes. “There is a relationship between different mediations of a horizon delineating a landscape through the different genres in the installation,” Gola notes. “[This serves as] a classic idea in visual representation- [the idea of] a figure relating to landscape— figure as an entrepreneur, or a protagonist directing its gaze at the horizon.” Perhaps, like the trope of a cowboy riding off into the sunset, Bleeding Edge is the distant landscape emerging into view as the credits roll, marking a whole new framework of examining the brave new world of technological progress.
Forever Young: Selections from the Joe Baio Collection of Photography steals the show at the 2018 iteration of the AIPAD photography show, the renowned annual photography event in New York City housed at Pier 94 in Manhattan and on view April 5-8. Photographic objects from the collection are suspended, salon-style, with a specific view toward the poignant moments of adolescence and childhood memories.
Among these works, on view from the collection for the first time ever, an artwork by artist Arlene Rush emerges from the cusp of the center and left-facing walls, shimmering as visitors approach. This effect, caused by shattered tempered glass carefully arranged over the surface of the photograph, beckons guests closer to examine a seemingly straightforward portrait of two young women holding hands. These teenage girls, blond and smiling, seem charming yet unsettling… until the viewer realizes they are, in fact, identical twins. Rush was born as a twin to her brother, whose bar mitzvah photo this image was derived from. The two figures stand intrinsically linked in this work, Twins: Just a Memory: the scattered glass creating a mirage of imagined histories. This piece is the first from an identically titled series of work the artist produced reflecting on adolescence and sexual identity.
Rush’s Twins: Just a Memory series revisits childhood moments in which the artist mines her personal history and growth as a woman and artist to comment on gender roles and societal norms. The artist has taken the image of her and her brother at his bar mitzvah, re-imagining instead what it would be like for her to experience adulthood from the viewpoint of both male and female. She reflects on the use of the family portrait as entry point into this conceptual rigor. “Kitschy and poignant, [the work] speaks about gender equality and expectations [which] religions and society [place] on us growing up.” These expectations find space to dissolve in these atmospheric works, in which identity is present upon close encounter yet obscured from far away. Rush finds solace in examining the elements of surprise and nuance offered by the veil of shattered glass applied atop the portrait. The forms are identifiable, the dress code clear, yet the results manage to be both surprising and surreal.
Questioning the relevance of coded gender norms today versus the artist’s experience growing up in New York City, Rush has worked as a conceptual artist questioning identity in multiple disciplines. The artist has worked across photography, installation work and sculpture, including welding with steel – a discipline prominently anchored by male artists in the 1970s and 80s when the artist was beginning to work. Starting to blossom in her practice in an era not far removed from the echoes of the male artist-dominated Cedar Tavern, perhaps the artist’s poignant re-examinations of gender expectations – both in her own life and in society as a whole – stand as a testament to the hopes we hold for women to assume prominent positions both in the arts and in the brave new world ahead.
AIPAD is on view from April 5-8 in midtown west, Manhattan, at Pier 94. More information on admission can be found on the show’s website.
The Neo-Victorians, on view now at the Hudson River Museum, presents a multi-faceted array of contemporary artists engaging with a Victorian-era aesthetic. The exhibition presents artists by arranging them in themes, such as the artist as “…naturalist, the artist as purveyor of the fantastical, and the artist as explorer of domesticity.” The exhibition, curated by Lehman College Galleries Executive Director Bartholomew F. Bland, is a whimsical and rewarding journey into the past that firmly communicates a contemporary viewpoint. Firmly enmeshed in this contemporary re-visioning of the period lies the works of artist Camille Eskell.
Identifying as Iraqi-Jewish-American and with family roots in India, Eskell’s work is in dialogue with a multi-cultural aesthetic, carefully balancing the conceptual weight of identity. The artist describes in her own words her impulse to “explore the psychological legacy that shaped [her] perceptions, identity, and motivations.” Expanding her own sense of self-awareness extends to various aptitudes of form, allowing a range of materials and imagery to shape-shift. Eskell summons her compositions together from disparate parts. The artist works across multiple mediums by incorporating sculpture, fabric and found objects together into her mixed-media creations.
Eskell incorporates rich visual legacies into her work, at times literally weaving together her family’s history with her own lived experience. The tactile qualities of her objects juxtapose firm with soft, malleable with brittle. Resin and colored pencil blend with unexpected objects, such as dentures. This wide array of materials indicates an intimacy firmly grounding the artist’s approach. In Tattooed Lady: Comin’ up Roses, Eskell creates a fictional female torso beautifully adorned in flowers, yet torn asunder: ripped open to reveal the cavernous hollow beneath the skin’s surface. The artist recalls the role that women in her family assumed, maintaining the household, remaining auxiliary to the men in the family. Teeth embedded in the woman’s flesh seem to reveal the metaphorical state of being eaten alive: of being digested by that which is also holding one’s body together.
The artist’s work interestingly incorporates actual images and portraits of her own family members, commenting on a shared experience through a direct, personal lens. The melange of iconography relates to her family’s livelihood and international influences. Embroidery and traditional craft complement the images of family members, as always highlighting the male lineage. As a female artist working within these confines, Eskell rebelliously asserts herself in spite of these hierarchical expectations. Through representing the continuum of conservative culture in her constructions, yet layering it within her own artistic insights, the artist deftly subjects this consideration of traditional gender roles to her exacting gaze. Fluid yet firm, Eskell questions the place of women, and female bodies, within the cultural norms she was raised to ascribe to.
Eskell has shown at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, ODETTA, David&Schweitzer, and the Chrysler Museum, among other venues. She was recently recognized as a recipient of the prestigious Artist Fellowship Excellence Award from the Connecticut state office of the Arts in 2018. Eskell’s work has been exhibited internationally throughout Mexico, South America and Wales. Eskell holds an MFA in Fine Arts from Queens College, and lives and works in Connecticut.