The enormous sandwich and pack of cigarettes in Still Life Number 36 (1964) reflect Tom Wesselmann’s nonhierarchical approach to subject matter and technique. He believed that anything could be art, including the ordinary consumer items that fill our pockets and kitchen cabinets. In 1962, Wesselmann began a series of large-scale still lifes that incorporated fragments of discarded commercial billboards, which he initially scavenged from trash cans but later procured in new, pristine condition directly from advertising agencies. The larger-than-life proportions of the objects in Still Life Number 36 at first seem to celebrate the surfeit of commercial goods in America’s postwar consumer culture. Yet the layers of collage and painted areas bring together incongruent depictions of reality, creating tensions in the composition that Wesselmann described as “reverberation.
If you’ve ever spent any time in LA or the surrounding area, few experiences that you can have here in NYC will imbue you with a sense of sweet nostalgia for the Southland quite like viewing this series of new paintings and photographs by artist Glen Rubsamen, which he calls Polygala.
In his second solo exhibition at Robert Miller, Rubsamen presents a series of paintings based on a project he began in 2012 to photograph juxtaposed billboards, palm trees and cell phone masts. As he explains, “it became quickly apparent that it was almost impossible to photograph a billboard in Los Angeles without a palm tree or cell phone tower, or both, sneaking into the picture frame.” Rubsamen describes the work’s static construction as an ‘accidental ensemble,’ an exercise in chance, and humorous negation of the classical principles of perspective, sequence and scale.
I loved this painting, seen above, so much that I didn’t even want to wait for these two guys to move to photograph it, because obviously they are digging it as well, so why not just bring them into the experience?
I think part of the reason I was so quickly enamored of this exhibit is the color palette he uses – gradations of purples, blues and mint greens – all set against black shadows, which definitely set a mood of either dusk or dawn, while extracting endless memories of time I spent growing up in Southern California. In other words, these paintings really spoke to me, as they did to the friend I attended the exhibit with who is also from that area. I don’t think there is any greater compliment I could offer than that. I would love to own any of these pieces.
I think these are some of the most beautiful paintings I’ve seen in a recent exhibit. I highly recommend you check out this show while it is still up, because they are even more impactful in person.
Glen Rubsamen’s Polygala will be on Exhibit Through December 21st, 2013 at Robert Miller Gallery, Located at 524 West 26th Street, In the Chelsea Gallery District. Hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10 AM to 6 PM.
To be honest, if a work of art also ‘lights up,’ I’m in. So it’s a bit appropriate that I was attracted into the C24 Gallery on a recent Saturday by the light emitting from London-based artist Robert Montgomery’s poetic, text-based installation works as seen from the sidewalk through gallery windows. Random!
The work of Robert Montgomery follows a tradition of conceptual text art that includes artists like Jenny Holzer (love her) and Lawrence Weiner. Montgomery’s work stands out by drawing from examples of public interventionist strategies and brings a poetic voice to the discourse of text art.
The show’s Press Release continues that, “Essential to Montgomery’s work is the tradition of Modernist Concrete poetry, where the visual elements of words are as important in conveying the intended effect as the conventional elements of the poem, such as the meaning of words, rhythm, rhyme, etc.”
For Montgomery’s first exhibit in New York, C24 Gallery is exhibiting texts from billboards that appeared on the streets of Berlin, London and Paris, along with major new light works. There is also one piece featuring a large scale billboard poem that was previously set on fire, and a film of the burning message is on view in the gallery, creating an engaging, yet passive performance piece. Very Fun!
Robert Montgomery will be exhibiting until October 26th, 2013 at C24 Gallery, Located at 514 West 24th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.