The chances of seeing a storefront in midtown Manhattan converted into a blank canvas for an artist to create an automatic, abstract work of art is pretty slim, given the real estate values in the city these days. But the Lab Gallery has been doing such outside-the-box thinking for some time. I had the good fortune of being associated with this progressive approach as a curatorial advisor through January of this year, so I like swinging by now and again to see what is going on at the Lab.
Amidst the cacophony of fast and loose summer group shows offered in Chelsea this year stands, literally and figuratively, one unforgettable exhibition. The art of Dustin Yellin is a cross between painting and sculpture, science and science fiction. His magical objects, some taller than the viewer, are comprised of dozens of layers of resin that are meticulously painted with acrylic and inks - layer atop layer - until a sinuous "life form" appears that looks like it would be at home in sea, sand, or air.
Each object is a comment on nature, genetic experimentation, color and form, culminating, in this reviewer's mind, in some of the freshest and most distinct art being made today.
Automatic Update, MoMA, NYC
"The art of our era is not art, but technology. Today Rembrandt is painting automobiles; Shakespeare is writing research reports; Michelangelo is designing more efficient bank lobbies," notes oft-quoted Howard Sparks.
Well, the sensible Barbara London, Associate Curator, Department of Media, The Museum of Art (MOMA), might just have forced Mr. Sparks to augment his theory an iota. With her entertaining new exhibit, Automatic Update, which runs until September 10th, London clearly showcases the reverse process, with five contemporary artists extracting art from technology.
Contemporary art from Asia seems to be increasingly abundant everywhere you look, from our leading museums to our most progressive galleries. So it is no wonder that more and more curators are scrambling to shed light on the differences and the distinctions from country to country. And it is hard to say where influences originate, and it is even harder to say what came first. But I do see an intriguing amount of crossover from American artists to Asian concepts and esthetics, and vice versa in Incarnation, a stellar show curated by Inhee Iris Moon.
And from what I understand from Ms. Moon, this is just a piece of a pie that is far more diverse and complicated. With all that said, I am thoroughly impressed by all the work in the exhibition, especially with respect to the curator's emphasis on art that reveals great clarity of vision, an emphasis on craft, and the indication of the larger, more wholly spiritual picture.
Shinduk Kangâ€™s art is a breath of fresh air. The colors, materials, and techniques she employs are clean, ageless, and fine. There is a festiveness, and a reverence too, for the things she makes, while her focus is keen and sharp, making her art bold in a very easily absorbed way.
The main gallery at Tenri is lined, floor to 14-foot-high ceiling, with a patchwork of silky, translucent fabric that is generally used in making the inner slip of traditional clothing (Han Bok). The use, or reuse of these lightweight and durable fabrics also refers to another tradition in Korea, of using off cuts of fabrics as gift wrapping (POJaGI).
I never have enough time to get around to see everything I want to see. So if you are too busy too, maybe a quick pass through these few shows will give you enough of an art fix to last you till the next time that window opens a crack.
2X13 Gallery, located on the fourth floor at 531 West 26th Street, offers two one-person shows. The one I thought to be more than worth anyoneâ€™s time was Bing Leeâ€™s two rooms of art. The main room is a wall painting titled â€œNacho American Cheeseâ€ (left), a curious work that balances quirky and oddly repetitive black forms against a traffic sign yellow ground. Using just a few stencils and somewhat narrative free-formed shapes that all fit together, Lee manages a mix of organic fluidity and mechanical control.
In his gallery in Beacon, NY, Carl Van Brunt has managed to hold his audience through sheer honesty--grooming a stable of mid-career, young, and emerging artists, some self-taught--and his approach keeps you coming back for more. As you entered the space in April, you were surrounded by Stanford Kay's paintings (left). Kay seems to have shifted to a more lyrical, painterly approach with a subject he has been "in series" with for some time: books. It is not hard to reference Rauschenberg's quarter-mile installation with his hand-selected history and book stacks.
Bodo Korsigâ€™s work is both funny and serious. He plays with the subconscious, the familiar, the mundane, and the miniscule. He gets you though, hitting you head on with the periphery, turning things around, stretching, reorienting.
His art can be painting, print, or sculpture. Everything is hung on the walls, some coming out a bit from the wall, such as his painted aluminum works. Even the paintings, despite their diminutive sizes, are made on very thick stretchers so they jut out into the space.
The title of this exhibition, In the Age of the Innocents, brings to mind The Age of Innocence, an Edith Wharton novel about society, class, and culture. However, I suspect sculptor Tony Moore is not making a reference, with his spelling of the word innocents, to the rules of the society. Moore, instead, is addressing the state of the world today, and how so many moral codes are being broken while so many innocents are dying. You only need look at a television news broadcast for a moment, skim a newspaper, or tune into a talk radio station to be reminded how many victims of unnecessary violence there are.