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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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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Art in Bloom: Top 5 Art Picks this Spring

Carol Jackson at the Whitney Biennial

Carol Jackson at the Whitney Biennial

See this in Metro New York published March 14, 2014

Springtime in the art world means Blockbuster Group shows surveying artists from WWII to our present political era strife with international military conflicts. Group shows are an engaging way to experience history as multiple artistic minds coalesce to survey a wide spectrum of ideas during a distinct moment in time. Adding an informative layer to an aesthetic object transforms art into an archival marker that is both thought-provoking and exciting for the eye.

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Finding Form in Function: Ryan Blackwell “Deviant Consumerism”

Ryan Blackwell, “Table Top & Composite Shims in Two Thin Sections,” 2013, modified hollow core furniture, composite shim, me ding plates, graphite, hardware, 47.25 x 8 x 1.5 inches, “Twelve Table Legs (Black and White),” 2013, modified hollow core furniture, mending plates, graphite, hardware, 48 x 8 x 2 inches, All Photos by Bart Kosc

Ryan Blackwell, “Table Top & Composite Shims in Two Thin Sections,” 2013, modified hollow core furniture, composite shim, me ding plates, graphite, hardware, 47.25 x 8 x 1.5 inches, “Twelve Table Legs (Black and White),” 2013, modified hollow core furniture, mending plates, graphite, hardware, 48 x 8 x 2 inches, All Photos by Bart Kosc

Pop Art-Star Andy Warhol rejoiced the aesthetic value of commodities—no manipulation, merely proclaiming its uselessness transformed brillo boxes into Brillo Boxes (1964). Fast-track to today, looking good is just as important for products as it is for mingling Bushwick socialites. The plethora of products, the multiplicity of commodities, wages a war in the name of quality despite quantity. A fine line divides beautiful design and beauty for its own right. In the name of art, the diverging point is its purpose for the people—its useful, or useless-ness.

For contemporary artist Ryan Blackwell, making useful products useless does not denounce their existence, but uplifts their function to the realm of the aesthetic. Blackwell transposes the ubiquitous into the extraordinary in his solo exhibition Deviant Consumerism at Bushwick Coopertive. “Meaning in art is through the material,” Blackwell explained, and through minimal manipulation he is able to uncover the artfulness of commodities.

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Process and Play with Artist Polly Apfelbaum


Art today is so much about the process over the product. Walking into a gallery becomes a guessing game of how this textile installation or artist-book documentation was created in the first place. On the other hand, studio visits can solve these puzzles, opening doors on the mysterious ways of multifaceted contemporary art production.

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Art as Experience trends Bushwick Gallery Scene

bushick gif 3

Art is not polite. Its expanding metamorphosis in painting, sculpture, sound, video, and installation no longer gives distance for quiet contemplation and instead demands justification on its own terms. Trending this January in the Bushwick scene is art in action—the objects’ volatile departure from the wall and pedestal to reclaim the gallery space for a participatory experience.

The BogArt is a staple for art scenesters to visually indulge in contemporary art while kicking back PBR and red wine. Through weaving halls of adjacent first floor galleries during openings on Friday nights young crowds of art lovers flock into the barcodes of this refurbished warehouse to experience the edge that gives this trendy neighborhood its escalating fine art cred.

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Painting’s eloquent eulogy in Christopher Wool retrospect at the Guggenheim

Christopher Wool Trouble, 1989 Enamel and acrylic on aluminum, 182.9 x 121.9 cm © Christopher Wool

Christopher Wool
Trouble, 1989
Enamel and acrylic on aluminum, 182.9 x 121.9 cm
© Christopher Wool

See my Christopher Wool review in Metro New York published Friday, December 20, 2013.

See my Christopher Wool review on Metro.us published Wednesday, December 24, 2013

Christopher Wool brings Painting to its extinction in his largest exhibition to-date.

The Christopher Wool retrospective on view at the Guggenheim unfolds dramatically up the museum’s rotunda, where the artist’s dominantly black-and-white paintings, photographs, and works on paper perfectly contrast with the museum’s low-lit corridors.

Wool rose as a Neo-Expressionist painter in the ‘80s and later developed into an artist critical of painting itself. Over 90 works are on view showcasing his many styles including appropriated pattern and text works, photojournalist-style photography, and his most recent abstract pieces involving collage, erasure, silk-screening, and double manipulation.

Wool’s oeuvre reaches across processes, annihilating the boundaries of painting to reexamine conventional modes of creation. His artwork is a testament to seeing, and illusive techniques force one to continually question a piece’s medium. His black-and-white “paintings,” for instance, are not quite painted, but rather a synthesis of forms: painting, drawing, digital media, graphic design, and graffiti.

This ambiguity of genre — his works’ unwillingness to be categorized — adds power to otherwise simple creations such as his chameleon trompe l’oeil works, where what appears painted is actually a silkscreen, and vice versa.

In “Trouble” (1989), large bold enamel and acrylic letters “T-R-B-L” scroll across an aluminum base, utilizing Gestalt psychology to create a total idea from simplified parts. His “Minor Mishap” (2001) is a deceptive trick; its orange abstract expressionist brushstrokes are not painted but is silkscreen ink on linen, the exact technique made famous by Andy Warhol. In “Untitled” (2000), expressive letters declare “THE-HARDER-YOU-LOOK-THE-HARDER-YOU-LOOK.” This tautology may be a statement about his witty artistic ethos; his artwork deceives, but does not betray, and remains a delight to experience.

Unfortunately, not on display is Wool’s “Apocalypse Now” (1988), an emulsion painting created with alkyd resin and flashe on aluminum and steel that announces in bold letters “SELL THE HOUSE-SELL THE CAR-SELL THE KIDS,” a line from Francis Ford Coppola’s movie of the same name. It recently sold at Christie’s on Nov. 13 for $26,485,000, a record for the artist to date and the sixth-most-valuable work ever sold at public auction.

After seeing this retrospect you will realize why Wool is ranked as one of the top ten most-valuable living artists today.

Christopher Wool "Untitled" 2000

Christopher Wool
“Untitled” 2000

If you go:

“Christopher Wool” through Jan. 22, 2014

Fridays – Wednesdays, 10 a.m. – 5:45 p.m.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum,

1071 5th Avenue

General admission



Mike Kelley phantasmagoria at MoMA PS1

Mike Kelley. Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites. 1991/1999. Plush toys sewn over wood and wire frames with styrofoam packing material, nylon rope, pulleys, steel hardware and hanging plates, fiberglass, car paint, and disinfectant.

Mike Kelley. Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites. 1991/1999. Plush toys sewn over wood and wire frames with styrofoam packing material, nylon rope, pulleys, steel hardware and hanging plates, fiberglass, car paint, and disinfectant.

See this review on Metro.us published November 27, 2013

Mike Kelley puts the extraordinary into the ordinary at MoMA PS 1

MoMA PS1’s “Mike Kelley retrospective — the largest-ever exhibition of the eclectic and influential artist’s work — is like plunging down the rabbit hole to an uncanny world. It occupies the entire museum and brings together more than 200 works representing Kelley’s entire career from the 1970s through 2012, the year of his untimely death.

At once familiar and strange, Kelley pushes conventions to their breaking points. His dark humor speaks for the underbelly of society, exploring themes of class, pop culture, childhood, repressed memories and contradictions within power structures. 

The art on view is expansive, including drawing, printmaking, painting, assemblage, sculpture, photography, film, sound and performance. Kelley’s expertise comes when he combines multiple media into installations that immerse viewers into phantasmagoric worlds.

Visiting “Mike Kelley” is an immersive experience. At times humorous, perverse and bizarre —yet ultimately relatable — Kelley’s sardonically critical art always keeps you guessing. Here’s a guide to the exhibition’s highlights:

· “Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites” (1991/1999) is a must-see installation of plush toys sewn into motley, kaleidoscopic cloud formations descending from the museum’s ceiling.

· “Wayne, MI (US), 1954 – South Pasadena, CA (US), 2012 Switching Marys” (2004–2005) is the exhibit’s most immersive installation. Inspired by the New Age faith in repressed memory of traumatic abuse, Kelley filmed creepy, not-quite-right re-creations of dated high-school yearbook photos, which are projected amid sculptures assembled from props used in the videos and simulacrum photographs of the actors alongside the yearbook originals.

· “Kandor Project” (1999-2011) is a series of sculptures, illustrations and projections named for the fictional birthplace of Superman — which, in comic-book lore, was shrunken and preserved under glass. The pseudoscientific “Kandor” installation weaves together Kelley’s glowing sculptures — cast in colored resin and encased in containers or set on faux-rock pedestals —with oversized video projections of Kandors-in-action, in which encased minerals whirl about their glass vitrines like so many dreamlike snow globes.

This immense retrospective affirms Kelley’s status as an artist with a passionate project of social critique and self-criticism.

If you go:

“Mike Kelley”

Through Feb. 2, 2014

Thursdays–Mondays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.


22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City

General admission $10,


Mike Kelley Gif

Insta-Art: @PublicArtFund Prosperous #Art and Instagram Marriage

Insta-Art: The Symbiotic Relationship between Art and Instagram

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Olaf Breuning, The Humans, 2007

Instagram and Art is a public relations niche; it is mutually beneficial to both art institutions and visitors. 

Instagram is craze that continues to grow. This photography app is why #selfies and #saturdaybrunch posts are now overflowing your Facebook Newsfeed. Instagram is more than just cute pictures of your #cats or #cookies however. Its accessibility is a beneficial promotion of Public Art in New York City. I look to the Public Art Fund and their recent exhibition “Lightness of Being” as a model example for utilizing the social media venue Instagram as a way to spread awareness about current public art projects. In turn, this social sharing project creates a participatory environment for viewers to experience exhibitions on a grander scale by allowing them to tag and share their Instagram photos to the Public Art Fund’s social media websites.

For most millennials, taking photos of activities and posting them to Instagram or other social media outlets like Facebook is a quick venue for instant gratification, where your cyber social circle can “like” your exciting, intellectual and always fun whereabouts. Plus, Instagram makes it near impossible to take an unlikable photo; with the quick touch of a finger, my “Lightness of Being” (#paflob) photos became dramatic, film noir-esque stills by using photo filters. I tagged the photo @publicartfund, and upon perusing my Facebook Newsfeed a few days later, to my utter excitement I saw my photo was shared by the Public Art Fund. I became Insta-Famous, just like that.

This is a symbiotic quid pro quo relationship and is mutually beneficial for the Public Art Fund as well as viewers. For the Public Art Fund, by promoting tagging and sharing of Instagram photos, the exhibition receives free publicity and expands their target audience to not only people that follow or appreciate Public Art, but to those who are cyper friends of art enthusiasts. For those art lovers out there, not only are they experiencing the exhibition in the flesh, but they are becoming part of the experience through direct participation by taking Instagram photos and tagging them accordingly. The end result is a swirling niche and an engaging intersection between art and technology.

“Lightness of Being” is at City Hall Park, 250 Broadway, NYC, and is on view through December 13, 2013. I highly recommend seeing this show, and if you’re down there already, you might as well take some photos. Make sure to tag them #PAFlob so Public Art Fund can share them. You’ll be social media famous in no time.

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Alicja Kwade, Journey without arrival (Raleigh), 2012/2013

#PAFlob #Selfie, I'm all about Social Media

#PAFlob #Selfie, I’m all about Social Media

My MoMA Mania: A Museum Pilgrimage from Manhattan to Queens.

A Claes Oldenburg & Le Corbusier takeover on MoMA’s Sixth Floor… and don’t forget Olafur Eliason, James Turrell and the Expo 1 Action at PS1

New York City, July, 2013. It’s hot, it’s sunny, and it’s for the most part unbearable. What better time then to plan a magnificent Museum escapade than a hot, sweaty, scorching, beaming with blazing sun and overbearing subway tunnels sort of day.

I began at MoMA Proper, and went strait to the Special Exhibitions Halls on the Sixth Floor where Claes Oldenburg and Le Corbusier are having separate retrospectives. I’ll begin with Claes Oldenburg, a fun-filled, fantastical, very 1960s sculptor of plushy “commodities”. From vitrines filled with delectable treats, to over sized suit jackets and store-window displays, he uses commercial materials ranging from organic, loopy paper construction to solid yet bulbous painted plaster and metal creations to exaggerate the everyday into a realm of absurdity. As if one was walking into an Antonin Artaud DIY theatrical production, MoMA’s presentation of Oldernburg’s “Store” along with other sculptures of this time very much uphold the ulterior mode of the 1960-70s Zeitgeist: not all art was so overtly militant, propagandist and critical of the volatile decade, but instead, Oldenburg’s plushy commodities more interestingly beat down the evil of Capitalism and its subsequent power structure through appropriation, beating the evil superstructure at its own game by transforming mass production, the golden child of modern economics, into absurd parodies consumed by individualism, autonomy and a Walter Benjamin-esque aura.

From Oldenburg’s Phantasmagoria, one then enters the barracks of Le Corbusier’s attempted Total World Domination, a plethora or drafts, models, writings, paintings, drawings, sketches, etc. that spanned the architect/painter/innovator ‘s lifetime. Exhilarating? Of course. Overwhelming? Yes. We are bombarded with a world of a prolific artist par excellence, a man consumed by a dualism between spiritualism and innovation: an Enlightenment ethos of Technological progress paired with a moral concern for nature. But at the same, and a seemingly contradictory pairing at that, he fought for a progress that upheld nature, and even ameliorated the sublime’s lost frontier that fell victim to the modern industrial city. To be one and the same, a Modern Industrialist and an Ecologist of sorts, to preserve and build highly complex buildings to emphasize and enhance the natural topography of its context, Le Corbusier stands as a great visualization of Theodore Adorno‘s conception of Negative Dialectics; what is progress without regression towards its origins? Le Corbusier annihilates the opposition between Nature and City in order to make a third term apparent, i.e., his style, a kind of spiritual architecture that worked to build space from and within the spaces of nature. For nature isn’t to be used or forgotten, but rather to be borrowed and transformed, a sort of Utopian contemporary niche between the city and the world surrounding it.

And now, just three quick stops off the E train (I know, so close), and I arrive in Long Island City, Queens, a remarkable vast difference from the hustle, bustle and anxiety of the Times Square arena MoMA resides. PS1 is a wonderful journey in itself, where viewers navigate beige hallways with wood floors ala studio buildings one finds in the vast warehouses of Bushwick. It’s quiet here, calming, and us New Yorkers should travel in droves to this oasis.

Now, technically, Eliason and Turrell are not participants of the Expo 1: New York exhibition, but, they do very much integrate into the shows ecological concerns in response to the industrial demands of the 21st century. What better way to find sanctuary from 90 degree heat, honestly, than to dip into Olafur Eliason’s “Your Waste of Time“, a great contemporary reflection on entropy and the laws of thermodynamics very attune to the scientific ethos of Robert Smithson. If you have read Smithson’s writings, you know what I’m talking about, an obsession of entropy, a way of interpreting the world as an Adorno constellation rather than one network of two-way tunnels. Crash course: entropy is the law to which even systems of disorder evolve to thermodynamic equilibrium, which is what we see in Eliason’s site-specific room. The icebergs are kept in tact by cooling the gallery space below freezing. The power to freeze the icebergs is generated by the sun through solar panels installed on the museum’s roof. Here’s the entropy: the Sun’s rays and global warming is the actual cause of icebergs melting around the world; however, in this installation, the Sun is actually the means for the perpetual existence of the icebergs. The same exact cause of one’s death is actually the means of existence for another’s life. Through technological innovation, equilibrium is possible.

Olafur Eliason @ MoMA PS1. Now this is a way to beat the heat!

Olafur Eliason @ MoMA PS1. Now this is a way to beat the heat!

Amidst the hustle and bustle of activist art protesting our debased ecological frontier post Late Capitalist economic expansion, one reaches an apex of sublime solidarity: James Turell’s “Meeting”, a site-specific permanent installation that captures the aesthetic beauty of the sky. Acting as a voyeur, lounging on reclining benches in a pyramid-temple shaped room, one stares idyllically into a square oculus towards the sky. I went on a particularly scenic day, where fluffy cumulus clouds slowly drifted through the cyan blue sky. It was calming, stoic even, to stare at something so obvious to our everyday lives, yet rarely contemplated. With Turrell’s installation, his objectification of “sky” reifies its existence into a fetished object of aesthetic beauty, something similar to a painting of clouds yet not as surreal. It is uncanny, we are subsumed by a feeling we have seen this image before, yet in front of our eyes now framed into a majestic square with each point facing a cardinal direction, we do not recognize it as that ominous, overly familiar presence in our lives, but as something autonomous and enchanting because it is disconnected from its context as “atmosphere” and through its disjointed perspective, is instead transformed into a piece of art.

Honestly, who does not love James Turrell?

Honestly, who does not love James Turrell?

Featured in Expo 1 is a piece by Mark Dion: a haunting bricolage of death featuring taxedermied animals bathed in tar, hanging from a tree limb planted inside a bucket. This resonates with the ecological ethos of Expo 1 by presenting not just rodents, the detritus of city life, but also household animals including a dog and cat, all suspended from ropes like martyrs, as if they sacrificed their lives for the sins of humanity.

Nothing beats the mixture of taxidermy and tar in Mark Dion's work.

Nothing beats the mixture of taxidermy and tar in Mark Dion’s work.

What was my ultimate understanding of MoMA’s immense survey of art? From the 1960s to the present day, from the rise of Industrialism and economic expansion to the global domination of Capitalism and its subsequent disavowal of nature, Art is and should always be concerned with its present context. How it should present itself, how it should objectify itself through contextual concerns, is a different story, as one will see when experiencing the diversity of artworks throughout MoMA’s halls.