Sweat the Technique: Art Battles at (Le) Poisson Rouge


See this article published on Flavorpill

Art hung inside the white walls of a gallery is enjoyed in its finished state—the artist is only known through the indexical signs left behind that originally inspired the form and content of the work. Seeing the artist in action is quite a different experience than viewing the finished object inside of a cultural institution, however. Watching the process unfold transforms a static piece into a visceral experience that gives an inanimate object life and sheds light into the many cryptic strategies of creating contemporary art. ArtBattles is one event that allows viewers to glimpse behind closed doors into the artist’s individual methods that define artistic creation. What makes this event even more exhilarating is the underlying competition as viewers are invited to witness a battle of creative hubris on stage.

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Richard Prince: Old selfies are “New Paintings” at Gagosian Gallery

One of my favorite selfies I took at the Jeff Koons show at the Whitney

One of my favorite selfies I took at the Jeff Koons show at the Whitney

Read this review on Metro New York

Download the PDF of this Metro review here

Appropriation artist Richard Prince is back at his controversial antics again with a series of “New Paintings.” Well, they’re “paintings” in that they’re ink-jet prints, and they’re “new” in that these are Instagram photos taken by other people. If the sheer absurdity of seeing the best selfies of everyone’s favorite social-media app in an art gallery is not enough, here are three other reason you cannot miss “New Paintings.”

For the rousing debate of Contemporary Art

These paintings are not strictly a product of Prince’s artistic genius. The “New Paintings” are not even painted by the artist himself, but are inkjet prints created from Instagram screenshots. Is this art or is this copyright infringement? Prince is not new to legal controversy — he was sued in 2013 by photographer Patrick Cariou, who claimed Prince unrightfully appropriated his art. Prince came out of court victorious, which only added to his work’s caustic mystique.

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Ron Throop’s Wonderworlds

Ron Throop, "I Love You More Than Madness More Than Dreams Upon the Sea," 2013, Acrylic on Panelboard, 64 X 48"

Ron Throop, “I Love You More Than Madness More Than Dreams Upon the Sea,” 2013, Acrylic on Panelboard, 64 X 48″

Abstract wonder worlds, billowing anthropomorphic forms of saturated hues, staccato brushstrokes and sweeping strides build topographic layers that undulate with the passing time. Entrancing by its vast expansiveness, its a conundrum how such disparate parts of line, color and form coalesce into a meditative atmosphere. The moment of solidarity between body and soul comes suddenly—upon examining Ron Throop’s cacophonous canvases, poetic moments of clarity emerge from the vortex of paint. “I love you more than dreams upon the sea.” Words become thoughts, ideas unroll poetry as Throop’s mind takes center stage in a world all his own. Throop’s world is one that masters our attention through the flick of his wrist and the slip of his tongue. His paintings speak.

With a bold imagination and a wonderful way with words, a few questions came to mind to ask this writer-painting. Read this exclusive interview with Ron Throop:

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New York City Fall Lineup: My top #art and #film exhibits of the season

Myself rocking out at a summer opening at Eyebeam, whose "PRISM Break Up" series makes my must see list.

Myself rocking out at a summer opening at Eyebeam, whose “PRISM Break Up” series makes my must see list.

“Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938” @ Museum of Modern Art

I remember when this retrospective was announced, Hyperallergic magazine dubbed Rene Magritte the “Artist Who Embodies Teenage Intellectual Angst”. This show will be a blockbuster, and will always be bursting at the seems with New Yorkers and tourists alike. But Alas! These trompe l’oeil paintings will not be missed!

September 28, 2013–January 12, 2014

Cost: Free Fridays 4:00 – 8:00 PM

“Robert Indiana: Beyond Love” @ the Whitney

An artist of the late 20th century, Indiana’s artwork addresses fundamental post-war issues through a Pop-inspired ironic lense. His use of typography, primary matte colors, and inspiration from information graphic design including highway and road signs transfigures everyday iconography into critical artworks.

September 26 – January 5, 2013

Mike Kelley @ MoMA PS1

I am not familiar with Mike Kelley, but I like what I see.

From MoMA PS1.com:

“Regarded as one of the most influential artists of our time, Mike Kelley (1954–2012) produced a body of deeply innovative work mining American popular culture and both modernist and alternative traditions—which he set in relation to relentless self- and social examinations, both dark and delirious.”

I love PS1, and any excuse to visit this serene museum is a trip in itself. Plus great art by a world-renowned artist? No more excuses.

October 13, 2013 – February 2, 2014

“PRISM Break Up” @ Eyebeam

The politics of Surveillance is a hot topic of our contemporary culture and has been for some time. Think of Michel Foucault’s philosophy on the Panopticon in “Discipline and Punish”, or George Orwell’s futuristic novel “1984”. Whomever we target as our “Big Brother” during this age of globalization through technology, bodies of authority grow with our cyberworld and continue to innovate new modes of surveillance. Eyebeam in Chelsea will host “PRISM Break Up”, a series of art and technology events dedicated to discussing Surveillance politics.

October 4 – October 6, 2013

Cost:  Free

The 51st New York Film Festival

 Contemporary films for contemporary minds.

My picks:

“At Berkley” : Director Frederick Wiseman looks at the University of California, Berkeley, from multiple angles in order to arrive at a rich portrait of a world renowned Institution of higher learning.

“Her” : Director Spike Jonze and stars Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson examine relationships in the 21st century. This sci-fi-esque love story between a man and his state of the art Operating System begs to question the politics of love during the internet age. As love continues to redefine itself through technology, will we exchange direct human contact for our instantly-fulfilling interactions with our hand held gadgets?

September 27 – October 13, 2013

Sergei Eisenstein @ Anthology Film Archives

I love going to Anthology. I love its location in the East Village. Its lack of concessions stand allows all focus to fall onto the films they show. For their “Essential Cinema” program Anthology will be showing a few Eisenstein classics, including “Battleship Potemkin”, “Strike”, “October”, “Old and New”, and “Ivan the Terrible: Parts 1 & 2”. I suggest his flagship “Battleship Potemkin” if you are not familiar with this early 20th Century Soviet Russian Direct. Be prepared for groundbreaking cinematography and propagandist themes in thrilling black and white 35 mm.

Mike Kelley @ MoMA PS1

Mike Kelley @ MoMA PS1

Philadelphia, without the perks.

How I missed my trip to Philadelphia, but was still able to appreciate the Art this city has to offer.

dany anc cy

I had made plans for a quick weekend trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes Foundation a couple weeks ago. The night I was supposed to leave, my body gave in on me and I sprained my ankle just walking, outside of a bar no less but really just trying to exit the bar in a reasonable manor at a decent hour of the night.

Instead of lamenting my missed plans, my mind instead decided to remember and relive my past vacations to this city. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is a total museum with an expansive collection. My favorite parts of its collection is their extensive collections of Marcel Duchamp, and wonderful annex filled to the brim with Cy Twombly. Pictures dish millions of words:

Marcel Duchamp "The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass)" (1915-23)

Marcel Duchamp “The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass)” (1915-23)

The Large Glass is remarkable, and any lover of art let along Marcel Duchamp will find its presentation fascinating and intriguing. You can sit on a bench and behold its presence as light shines through a nearby window, illuminating the intricate characters and designs to come to life.

Cy Twombly "The Fire that Consumes All Before It", part of "Fifty Days at Iliam" (1977)

Cy Twombly “The Fire that Consumes All Before It”, part of “Fifty Days at Iliam” (1977)

Cy Twombly "Shades of Eternal Night" part of "Fifty Days at Iliam" (1977)

Cy Twombly “Shades of Eternal Night” part of “Fifty Days at Iliam” (1977)

Cy Twombly "Shades of Achilles, Patroclus, and Hector", part of "Fifty Days at Iliam" (1977)

Cy Twombly “Shades of Achilles, Patroclus, and Hector”, part of “Fifty Days at Iliam” (1977)

Cy Twombly has a permanent exhibition of his gigantic 10 part series title “Fifty Days at Illiam” through which he spent two years reinterpreting in his fantastical style Homer’s epic poem the “Illiad”. So many crayons were used in the production of these canvases. His use of negative space remarkably illuminates bulbous and billowing forms that seemingly float for viewers entertainment. Its a spectacle in itself, and a fanciful interpretation of an age-old text.

Some Bruce Nauman for FUN

Some Bruce Nauman for FUN

And let us not forget Philadelphia’s fulfilling history:

lisa liberty bell

THE Liberty Bell

My trip may have been a mental trip, but it only sparked my interest to get back to Philadelphia and see some of the art it has to offer.

History, transfigured: Adrian Ghenie “New Paintings” at PACE Gallery

Adrian Ghenie: New Paintings

Adrian Ghenie, "The Death of Charles Darwin" (2013); 111 x 103"

Adrian Ghenie, “The Death of Charles Darwin” (2013); 111 x 103″

Violence, ambiguity, and the grotesque transcend from Ghenie’s monumental oil on canvas series on view at Pace Gallery in Chelsea. The Romanian artist combinatory style, coexisting abstraction with imagery, portraiture with disfiguration, reveals his critical re-telling of History, exposing the underside of formal Historical Fact as a story of Victors and narratives told by those in power. In a response to embedded power structures that hold captive the rights to writing our Story, Ghenie’s New Paintings retell the past through the multiple social, political and technological means of achieving a recent narrative, combining historical books, film stills and archives with his own imagination to eschew fact into a spectral fusion of personal and collective past-time memories.

Adrian Ghenie, "Pie Fight Interior 8" (2012); 119" x 110"

Adrian Ghenie, “Pie Fight Interior 8″ (2012); 119″ x 110”

His technique is art historically reminiscent of Francis Bacon’s screaming faces and Gerhard Richter’s textured canvases. His violent execution is mirrored in his violent imagery. Solitary, defaced figures stand amidst decomposing settings, with lost souls screaming in response to becoming captive to these collapsing environments. Ghenie’s subjects include ambiguous renderings of Charles Darwin and Adolph Hitler, equivocal but recognizable through titles or symbolic references (i.e., Hitler’s iconic mustache). In his “Pie Fight” series, Ghenie combines episodes of Nazi history with the vaudeville trope of pie fighting; muddling faces to oblivion, Ghenie reinterprets violent events of history into grotesque pastiche scenarios that turns History into its own parodied simulacrum. With Charles Darwin dyeing underneath a Roman Aqueduct, and Hitler bursting out into uncontrollable laughter confined within an aristocratic interior, Ghenie’s imagined history connects the father of evolution with the villainous dictator. One man accrediting ecological survival of the fittest, another man acting as the sole arbiter of natural selection, Ghenie’s history connects all Victors as people using their power for revolutionary change, whether for good or for evil.

Adrian Ghenie, "Persian Miniature" (2013); 119" x 115"

Adrian Ghenie, “Persian Miniature” (2013); 119″ x 115″

Life is not always Black and White: “Picasso Black and White” at the Guggenheim

Picasso: Black and White

Opening of Picasso Black and White. The Romance of the Guggenheim at its finest.

Opening of Picasso Black and White. The Romance of the Guggenheim at its finest.

When viewing Pablo Picasso’s exhibition Picasso Black and White at the Guggenheim, a few thoughts streamed through my head: the black and white color scheme and its connotations to contemporary visual culture, and his dominate subject matter of the solitary person. First, I will address our age-old love affair with black and white. What do these contrasting colors mean to our visual generation, a world of Photoshop saturation and instant Instagram color manipulation through advanced digital technology? Black and white still reigns supreme at times for aesthetic purposes in mechanical arts (photography, television and cinema) and arise specific feelings when viewed because it defines a direct, deeper connection and a hyper-emotionalism in congruence with the surrounding world the Internet Generation does not understand (because of constant mediation through technological outlets like computers and cell phones). When viewing a black and white movie or photograph, it’s romantic and nostalgic, even somber, moody, instigating melancholy in the viewers mind. We think of our pastimes, our parent’s generation, watching family videos on film reels rather than IPhones. In movies and photography grisaille is deep, emotional and unobtrusive, allowing one to really listen to the subtextual dialogue rather than get distracted by the flamboyancy of hyper coloration. In high fashion, it’s chic and timeless. In visual culture, black and white at times can not fail to instigate romance because our generation is so built on a deep-rooted nostalgia for our recent pastime and the love of heartfelt, compassionate communication and interaction with loved ones now lost to our now cyber-overwhelmed world. For the 21st century, black and white is who we once were, and who we really want to be: emotionally involved, romantically inclined, and deeply connected to the world around us.

Picasso in front of "The Kitchen" (Nov. 9, 1949).

Picasso in front of “The Kitchen” (Nov. 9, 1949). Memento Mori to Gustave Apollinaire.

Visual culture and media outlets were once, and still are at times, black and white. Film, television, photography and printing only achieved technological advances during the 20th century to allow color output. People before our time only got their pop culture in doses of grey scale, reading the newspaper, fanning through fashion magazines and watching love stories like Casablanca in monochrome tone. However muted visual culture was during the era of Picasso (he had a long career spanning from the 1890s to the 1960s), painting grey scale would be more than anachronistic, even unheard of. His Avante-Garde contemporary’s pre-WWI, Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc in Der Blau Reiter, Henri Matisse and the Fauves, and Futurists like Filippo Marinetti and Umberto Boccioni lived through over-exaggerated colors, with their large canvases overwhelmed with sweeping color fields. But Picasso was always a monochrome kind of guy, working through his Rose and Blue periods during the end of the 19th century, into his muted Analytic and Synthetic Cubist periods into the first decades of our Modern era. By WWI, Picasso moved past these earlier periods to his mature work, dominated by abstract portraits of solitary woman in grey scale.

Picasso "Swimming Woman" (1930). Model: Marie-Therese Walter, his lover at the time.

Picasso “Swimming Woman” (1934). Model: Marie-Thérèse Walter, his lover at the time.

Now onto the subject matter. Much is left unsaid (or unpainted) in his grisaille oeuvre on view, and even though the solitary figure dominates his canvases, it is not difficult to read between the lines (or the wall labels at the Guggenheim) and realize his solitary portraits are much inspired by his close relations (his lovers, his circle of friends) and his love for social interaction. His Surrealist tendencies really shine as one slowly wavers up the slight incline of the Guggenheim interior; swooping Miro-esque lines burgeon long, sweeping bodies piecemealed with fantastic characterization including oversized Egyptian style profiles and swooping grotesque limbs too exaggerated for the body on view. Within the museums’ soft interior Picasso’s oversized grey portraits exude a sense of delicate melancholy that seems so fitting for his subject matter.

Picasso "The Kitchen" (November 9, 1949): Memento Mori to friend Gustave Apollinaire.

Picasso “The Kitchen” (November 9, 1949): Memento Mori to friend Gustave Apollinaire.

The human body is constant, always, throughout his career (even if it’s not visually present), and in its confinement, it is paradoxical to think that so much attention to social interaction is involved in each portrait. Picasso embeds his love of communication, communion (painting musical instruments, wine, pipes etc.) and social interaction into his stark portraits, and by seeing through the loneliness involved in solitary confinement, and the melancholy of “black and white,” what is subtextual and visually absent in his portraits are the many human interactions involved with Picasso and his loved ones behind the scenes of each canvas. His models were not just figures to paint, but were his romantic lovers; behind each portrait of muses including Olga Khokhlova, Marie-Thérèse Walter and Dora Maar is a visually absent, but very much alive moment in Picasso’s life filled with romantic and social human communication. Memento Mori’s spring up, including ode’s to lost friends (“The Kitchen” (November 9, 1949, dedicated to Gustave Apollinaire), and more famously, reflections on the causalities of war (“Guernica” (1937), “The Charnal House” (1944-45) to name a few pieces on a universal loss of human interaction). Melancholy? Sure. Suffering and despair? Yes. The inundating pain of losing loved ones? All of the above are felt from Picasso’s black and white canvases because they stimulate within viewers a nostalgic connection to people we sometimes lose through technology. Such intense emotions do not have to be depressing, but they do stimulate feeling, an important human characteristic sometimes forgotten. Plus, Picasso is a key player in our love affair with black and white, and the romanticism and emotionalism that follows suit can only inspire one to feel the love resplendent in unmediated communication.