Originally trained as an architect, Roberto Matta settled in France in 1933, where he worked with Le Corbusier. During a visit to Spain in 1934, he befriended the poet Federico Garcia Lorca, who was assassinated two years later by agents of the Fascist leader, Francisco Franco. In a tribute to his friend, Matta composed a screenplay called The Earth Is A Man, and the text’s apocalyptic imagery, rapidly shifting perspectives, and emotional language became the principal source of his artistic work over the next five years.
This large canvas is the culmination of Matta’s project. Exhibited shorty after its completion (in 1942) in New York City, where the artist had immigrated at the onset on World War II, the painting’s abstract and visionary qualities influenced a new generation of artists, who would later become known as the Abstract Expressionists.
After 1952, dripping and pouring paint were no longer the primary means of expression for Jackson Pollack.The totemic forms at the left and right in Easter and The Totem (1953) reflect his renewed interest in using a brush to paint quasi-figurative images. The bright colors and expansive spaces anchored by large swaths of black suggest the influence of Henri Matisse, who was the subject of a large retrospective that Pollack would have seen at MoMA the previous year. The push and pull between abstraction and figuration is a thread that weaves through Pollack’s entire career. As he said in the last year of his life, “I am very representational some of the time and a little al of the time.”
A powerful rendering by the artist in her twenties, this picture was made with a practical purpose; it was painted as a reception piece for admission to the life-drawing course at the National Academy of Design. While Lee Krasner (1908 – 1984) is best known for the personal style that she developed within the movement of Abstract Expressionism in the 19540s, this self portrait (c. 1930) is a rare example of her early work, using the thick brushwork and high color of the Impressionists and Realists of the previous generation. Strikingly, Krasner depicts herself at work in nature. She eyes the viewer, who stands on the spot where, presumably, a mirror hangs on a tree. Her expression and strong handling of light and shade evoke the resolve of a young woman rising to the challenge of her artistic vocation.
Unix Gallery is currently hosting a solo exhibition by Korean artist KwangHo Shin –“제목이 없는 존재” — which literally translates to “There is no Title.” Shin’s latest series of work features new oil paintings that challenge the notion of identity and interactivity between people. Painting in the new environment of New York City, Shin features new tones and color combinations that directly reflect the artist’s experience with his new surroundings. The result of this is a seductive enigma, an amalgamation of specificity and obscurity, anxiety and humor; all with Shin’s expressive strokes that articulate the eponymous notion of “제목이 없는 존재,” the devoid identity, the ‘untitled being.’
Evoking themes of Abstract Expressionism, Shin employs intense and vibrant colors to depict the individualistic expression of emotion and a sense of self. He applies charcoal and oils in thick brushstrokes to distort and exaggerate the subject’s facial features. His technique confronts the viewer with an emotional impact, effecting our understanding of the human form. Channeling a more figurative mode with Untitled 16NY09, the artist melds layers of pinks and purples with white to create an explosion of ephemeral flesh. The use of softer pastels leaves a more gentle effect offset by rich siennas and flesh tones.
Colorful and faceless paintings brilliantly capture the complexity of human emotions. The subjects range from individual models, noted international celebrities, and self-portraits. Untitled 16NY16 expresses Shin’s natural inclination to represent his subjects’ personalities and innate nature; even his own. “I don’t see anything,” the artist ruminates on his source material, “but it is also a self-portrait. When I am painting I don’t exactly plan what colors I will use to paint.” Here, Shin is able to clear his mind and evoke his full creative psyche.
“During the painting process I change my ideas and feelings many times. I just focus on that feeling; that moment…I put the totality of my energy into that feeling so that when a work is complete I feel peaceful.” Whether it is the external pose of the subject or the unique color combinations, abstraction or layered texture, the portraiture of KwangHo Shin is able to document the psychological changes and clashes that arise in us all.
KwangHo Shin’s There is No Title will be on Exhibit Through July 30th, 2016 at Unix Gallery, Located at 532 West 24th Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.
The Thirteen Seasons (Heavy on the Winter) #6: Fall, 1994 By Mike Kelley (All Photos By Gail)
Skarstedt’s Chelsea gallery is currently hosting an exhibition of Mike Kelley’s shaped paintings, never before seen as a group. Dating from the early to mid-1990s, this body of work demonstrates Kelley’s return to the medium following a 15-year span of performance, multimedia and installation art. Deconstructing the canon of modernist color and composition, the paintings manifest Kelley’s psychological road map through images recovered from his memory.
Center and Peripheries #2, 1990
A source of Kelley’s rebellion was his formal art training at the University of Michigan, which emphasized the philosophy of Abstract Expressionism. Reflecting on his time at school, Kelley stated: “My education must have been a form of mental abuse, of brainwashing.” Kelley explored “screen memories” in his shaped paintings, delving deep into his unconscious to recover and identify the repressed memories of his trauma.
For The Thirteen Seasons series, Kelley created an oval-shaped painting on wood for each month of the year. Meant to resemble his student work, the paintings come to terms with influences of his art education, focusing on elements of Hans Hofmann’s “push-pull” theory, in addition to typically expressive techniques, such as finger painting. Childlike illustrations, such jack-o-lanterns and cartoon animals, reveal Kelley’s memories, unrestrained by conventional composition.
The final work of the series, The Thirteen Seasons (Heavy on the Winter) #13: Art represents the month that doesn’t appear on the calendar. Kelley employed a wood grain trompe l’oeil technique to the surface, suggesting that the appearance of wood is effectively permanent through painting. Here, Kelley offers a reminder that art belongs to the thirteenth season, of memory, one that is independent of the calendar’s rhythm and preserves its existence throughout time.
Prenatal Mutual Recognition of Betty and Barney Hill, 1995
Kelley revisits his troubled youth in Prenatal Mutual Recognition of Betty and Barney Hill, which was originally exhibited at Metro Pictures in 1995 as part of the Timeless Paintings series. That exhibition presented paintings along with architectural models of Kelley’s schools, the designated sites of his abuse. Echoing The Thirteen Seasons, portraits of a boy and girl float aimlessly above Hofmann-like geometric forms in the irregularly shaped composition.
Untwisted Cross follows a similar pattern of regression to childhood in its coarse sketch of a skull among blocks of color. As a diverse group, Kelley’s shaped paintings draw focus to his unique approach to painting and critically inform the rest of the artist’s oeuvre.
Mike Kelley’s Shaped Paintings will be on Exhibit Through June 25th, 2016, at Skarstedt Gallery, Located at 550 West 21st Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.
Photo By Gail (Click on Image to Enlarge for Detail)
Canyon is one of Robert Rauschenberg’s Combines (also called Combine Paintings), which were hybrid works incorporating painting, collage, and found objects that he began making in 1954. Rauschenberg often kept an eye out for curious items in the street while walking around downtown New York, later repurposing “whatever the day would lay out” for his artistic ends.
The centerpiece of Canyon is a stuffed bald eagle that was found in a pile of discarded belongings in the hallway of the Carnegie Hall studio building and given to Rauschenberg by fellow artist Sari Dienes. It juts out from a canvas that is covered with pieces of a collared shirt, floral fabric, a photograph of Rauschenberg’s young son, a flattened metal drum, and a wrung–out tube of oil paint, among many other items.
Canyon is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and can be seen in the Painting and Sculpture II, Gallery 18, 4th Floor.
Slow Swirl at the Edge of the Sea pictures two creatures dancing between sea and sky, surrounded by arabesques, spirals, and stripes. The forms “have no direct association with any particular visible experience, but in them one recognizes the principle and passion of organisms,” Rothko said. For him art was “an adventure into an unknown world”; like the Surrealists before him, Rothko looked inward, to his own unconscious mind, for inspiration and material for his work.
Mark Rothko applied the paint in transparent layers — a practice he retained when he abandoned representational images and began to develop his large–scale color field paintings a few years later.
Claes Oldenberg Model for a Mahogany Plug, Scale B. 1969 (All Photos By Gail)
Hauser & Wirth’s cavernous space at 511 West 18th Street is currently hosting a selection of works from the collection of Reinhard Onnasch. A celebration of Onnasch’s longstanding passion for art and collecting, Re-View: Onnasch Collection is curated by Paul Schimmel, celebrated post-war scholar and Partner of Hauser Wirth & Schimmel.
Christo Wrapped Road Sign 1963
The exhibition focuses on the period between 1950 and 1970, decades when New York’s cultural influence was unrivaled and some of the most important artistic movements of the 20th century were born. On view will be iconic examples of Pop Art, Fluxus, Color Field, Assemblage, Minimalism and Abstract Expressionism.
Claes Oldenberg Soft Medicine Cabinet, 1966
The collection will be on exhibit through April 12th, 2014.
Legendary artist Robert Rauschenberg has passed away on May 12th, 2008.This is Sad News, because Robert Rauschenberg was awesome. I took a lot of Modern Art classes in college and his combine paintings definitely opened my eyes to different ways of seeing and thinking. I was actually just at LACMA out in Los Angeles on Friday and saw some of Rauschenberg’s work up close, and it still blows me away. Sad.