I first came to know Kook Projects from curator Soojung Hyun, who asked me to participate in their inaugural show Kooky Cutters: Redefined Realities. What I find particularly intriguing about this gallery space, besides being new and not in your typical art district, is its discreetness. Founded and directed by Kate Kook and co-founded by its curator, WooJae Chung, Kook Projects stands as one of the more unorthodox spaces in New York City, as it has no street visibility. For their openings, this nicely converted ground floor apartment directs its visitors to enter through an iron-gated service entrance, down a set of stairs, and past the building’s recycling area to an alleyway that leads to a fenced-in courtyard and interior spaces.
In the early months of 1945, Matisse wrote to his daughter that he had gone as far as he could with painting in oil, intending instead to focus his efforts on a large-scale decorative project using the cut-out paper technique he had employed to make sketches and maquettes for his mural and theater projects in the early Thirties ("Red Dancer" [1937-38], and "Two Dancers" [1937–38] for Diaghilev's Rouge et Noir). "Painting seems to be finished for me for now… I'm for decoration -- there I give myself everything I can. I put into it all the efforts of my life." Although he had already been employing this technique for years as an adjunct to his paintings, it was not until the mid-Forties that he turned almost exclusively to cut paper as his primary medium, introducing a radically new operation that came to be called a cut-out. The Museum of Modern Art has devoted an entire exhibition, a mini-retrospective of sorts, to this final chapter in Matisse's work.
Bong Jung Kim has a very deliberate and consistent way of working. His intention, which is navigated through bold combinations and contentious juxtapositions of symbols, mixes metaphors as he vies for a deeper cord in our psyches. He is primal with respect to color and technique, yet he tells his tale with references to the darker side of the collective contemporary social condition and our quick to throw away and ever-upgrading technology.
Iranian-born Siah Armajani, inarguably one of the finest sculptors in America to have emerged out of minimal and conceptual art, the main aesthetic strategies of the late 1960s, creates deeply affective rigorous and ruminative work. It appears to be at once elementarily simple and tautly complex.
Margaret Roleke's life has been spent in New York or the surrounding tri-state area except for three years living in London and two studying in Ohio. Her many trips to Europe, Asia, Central America, and South America have informed her practice. Roleke's art has been exhibited widely in the tri-state area, and also in several international shows. In the last year her work was seen at Scope Miami, Cutlog in New York, Fountain Art Fair in New York, and in several group exhibits in Connecticut, Harlem, and Brooklyn.
Gina Magid is a Brooklyn-based painter who creates psychologically and visually layered imagery in paint, charcoal, satin, and other materials. She was the recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 2003 and a McDowell Colony Fellowship in 2004. Magid has had solo exhibitions at Feature Inc., New York; Acuna-Hansen Gallery, Los Angeles; and Artists Space, New York. Her work has been included in group shows at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Saratoga Springs, New York; DiverseWorks, Houston, Texas; The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut; Exit Art, New York; and Greater New York 2005 at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York. Her work is currently at Ana Cristea Gallery, 521 West 26th Street, New York.
Millree Hughes, born in North Wales in 1960, has been making art on the computer since 1998. In the 2000s, he showed with Michael Steinberg Fine Arts. Hughes is currently working with Museum Editions (www.museum-editions.com) in New York City and Polyglot Gallery in Dallas, Texas.
Elizabeth: Trawling around today's Chelsea galleries recently made David and me mindful of the days when we would wander the streets of SOHO looking at art in some pretty great galleries. After the sun set, there were no Comme des Garçons or Cookshop to light the way home, but thin bedraggled men filling dumpsters with compacted shredded rags from the remaining sweatshops that dotted the area south of Houston Street. Frankly most of what was below Houston in the late 1970s and 80s was pretty creepy, outside of a few old standbys. Still, if you were there for the art, music or dancing, its edginess was exciting and romantic. It was also affordable to take a cab out of there -- if you could find one.
Liz Markus was born in Buffalo, New York, and currently lives and works in Brooklyn. She has previously exhibited her work at Gavlak Gallery in Palm Beach, Loyal Gallery in Stockholm, and ZieherSmith in New York. Her work is in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as numerous private collections. Her current solo show, Town & Country, runs through July 3rd at Nathalie Karg Gallery, 41 Great Jones Street in New York City. (Image above, Babe Paley 1.)
While touring the galleries in Hudson, NY, I happened upon the serigraphic prints of David Roth at Hallam Bruner gallery. Roth’s works, which has roots in Bauhaus, fall somewhere between Conceptual Art and what was once called Neo Geo. All this aside, it was the uncanny similarity to the newly made LED art I saw just the evening before in New York City that had me thinking about collective consciousness.