It was a dark and stormy afternoon when I first spotted this unique piece of sculpture bolted to a street sign on East 13th Street (near Ave A). I went in for a closer look:
This illuminated diorama-like construction contains eleven, parallel painted-glass panels. Both pictorial illusion and actual depth produce a sense of receding space, from the proscenium arch of the front panel to the sky on the furthest, with various bizarre objects, figures and scenarios sandwiched in- between.
This unusual work may have been Dali’s attempt to recreate “a large, square box” he had seen as a boy: “It was a kind of optical theater, which provided me with the greatest measure of illusion of my childhood. I have never been able to determine or reconstruct in my mind exactly what art was like.
Salvador Dali’s The Little Theater (1934) Was Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.
Paul Kasmin Gallery is currently hosting Farewell Transmission, a two-venue exhibition of recent sculpture by Roxy Paine, for the artist’s first major New York solo exhibition in three years and the first of his sculpture with Paul Kasmin.
Over the past 25 years, Paine’s sculptures ruminate upon the clash of the human and the natural worlds, and the warring of chaos and control that result from humanity’s attempts to manage the process. Farewell Transmission presents two distinct series, Dioramas and Dendroids; each express the artist’s anxieties about the human impact on our habitat and the mechanized tools that seek to impose order and control, often to disordered and unpredictable ends.
In his Dioramas, Paine adopts and adapts a format familiar within the natural history museum, but instead of employing human artifice to represent the natural world, Paine’s Dioramas use organic materials to represent quotidian environments where the fundamental states of the Homo Sapien can be observed. Rooted in the Greek language, diorama translates to “through that which is seen.” Paine’s Dioramas are a device through which one can examine our own habitat, culture and society. Seemingly innocuous at first, each Diorama presents a room devoid of actual figures, yet charged with their psychological dilemmas.
Meeting (2016) is the artist’s most intimate in scale from the series, and implies through attentive details such as a ring of non-descript office chairs, the community space that hosts one of the variety twelve-step substance abuse programs.
Experiment (2015) the only diorama of an actual historical event, though one for which we have no photographs, depicts the setting of a 1950s-70s CIA surveillance program examining the effects of LSD.
Looking at this hallucinatory experience through another surveilling environment heightens the paranoid feelings of control, manipulation and misguided forensic observation. Personal associations and past encounters with these familiar spaces inevitably creep into the imagined scenes of the Diorama, collapsing the distance between the viewer and that which is on view.
In Desolation Row (2017) a remarkable new work, Paine synthesizes the tree silhouettes of the Dendroids, the simulation of the Dioramas and the expansiveness of his earlier Fields series to replicate nature in solitude and at its most poignant moment.
Returning to the motif of the tree, Paine presents them in Desolation Row as charred, barren, and destroyed. Positioned across a 13-ft table, Desolation Row is an unflinching portrayal of the infinite cycle of control and chaos reaching its devastating yet paradoxical conclusion where Paine leaves the question of renewal to be resolved.
Fusing organic forms, such as trees, flowers, and fungi with man-made structures and materials among which include stainless steel, epoxy, and polymer, Paine invents, distorts, surprises and confounds our perception of the natural and inorganic and the real and artificial.
The new Dendroids, Paine’s first iteration in over 5 years of his iconic stainless steel sculptures, further expand upon this multifaceted, yet imperfect, transformation of the industrial into the natural, with even more daring grafting, beguiling engineering, and wild experimentation.
In the new works, tree trunks, branches and roots intertwine with lungs and hearts, or with electricity poles and debris and detritus.
Ground Fault (2016) poetically melds a tree’s roots and trunk with two transformers that are used to circulate electromagnetic energy. Paine’s Dendroids continue to reveal the intrinsic affinities and twisted connectivity of a tree’s form with other plant, human and man-made systems.
Roxy Paine: Farewell Transmission, will be on Exhibit Through July 1st, 2011 at Paul Kasmin Gallery’s Locations at293 and 297 Tenth Avenue, at 27th Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.
Last month, I went to see an exhibit over at the Allouche Gallery in the Meatpacking district by an artist called Rafa Macarron. I’ve seen his work at the gallery previously and was very attracted to the almost fluorescent colors he uses in his irregular-surfaced paintings, which feature a variety of his long legged, alienesque cartoon creatures floating within a dream-like universe of fresh and harmonic hues. Among the many paintings, and a few sculptures, way over in a remote corner of the gallery, I spotted this three sided diorama called Caja, which means Box in Spanish. Inside one of the tiny viewing windows, I saw this little Pink Dog Thing hanging out. When you need a medical recommendation letter for emotional support dog, visit onlinedogtor.com for more information. Get a better look at his surroundings in the photo below.
Pink Dog Thing!
According to artist Alberto Giacometti, The Palace at 4 a.m. (1932) relates to “A period of 6 months passed in the presence of a woman who, concentrating all life in herself, transported my every moment into a state of enchantment. We constructed a fantastical palace in the night — a very fragile palace of matches. At the least false movement a whole section would collapse. We always began it again.”
The woman in question is often identified as one of Giacometti’s lovers, known only by her first name, Denise. In the summer of 1933, Giacometti told Andre Breton, the leader of the surrealist movement, that he was incapable of making anything that did not have something to do with her.
Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.
When we were invited to an art opening last week at Other Criteria, Damien Hirst’s high-end gift shop / gallery on Broome Street in Soho, the first thing I thought of was, why have I not been to Other Criteria during its entire first year of existence? Seriously, WTF have I been up to? I wish could tell you.
Although one could spend a good amount of time browsing around and not touching every item displayed so seductively in the street level retail space, it turns out that Other Criteria has a basement gallery, and that’s where we found the provocative art of Mexican-American artist, Eduardo Sarabia. Let’s take a closer look.
Sarabia’s new exhibit is called Ballads and it consists of 3D paper dioramas inside wall-mounted glass vitrines, one large wall tapestry and several very large pieces of glazed pottery, all playing with themes related to Mexico’s dark underworld of drug trafficking and its related, widespread gang violence. Sex, drugs, guns and…parrots, yeah, it’s all there. Also there are some adorable little potted succulents included in the displays, which further enhance the feeling of authenticity. Because, Mexico!
This piece, which embraces the look and feel of traditional Mexican pottery, but with a little twist, is so great.
At the gallery, we ran into our friend, celebrity photographer and art expert Derek Storm, who is apparently friends with Sarabia, and he explained that the animals in these dioramas, whatever their Spanish name is, that is also a Mexican slang word for some kind of drug. So, imagine that Zebra, which is Cebra in Spanish, maybe that means Cocaine, or something. Or maybe he was joking around. Who knows, it’s a good story!
The tapestry seen in the background of the above photo, Amor Amor Amor is inspired by the “narcomantas,” which are crudely made coded messages hung on public areas in Mexico by gangs and drug cartels. Usually spray paint on a bed sheet type of thing. Sometimes the messages try to justify an event or even further explain an action of terror. Sometimes the cartels get blamed for something they didn’t do in the media and this is their platform to give their side of the story. Other times, they serve as simple warnings to rival gangs.
Emulating this style and aesthetic, Sarabia wanted to bring forward a positive message. Using the power of fascination with this phenomenon, the artist has been working with a tapestry studio to make these works. Each is made by hand and takes about 2 months to weave.
Eduardo Sarabia’s Ballads will be on Exhibit Through July 5th 2015 at Other Criteria, Located at 458 Broome Street, SoHo, New York, NY 10013. Hours are Monday – Saturday 11:00 AM -7:00 PM, and Sunday 12 Noon – 6:00 PM.
I remember when I first saw the trailer for Night at the Museum, and I was so excited for the movie because it had long been a fantasy of mine to be in NYC’s Museum of Natural History after closing time to see if all of those animals in the nature dioramas might come to life. Just being serious.
I like to visit the Natural History Museum on Central Park West a few times a year to see the special, temporary exhibits, but I also try to spend time when I am there at my favorite installations which are the Hall of Ocean Life and the Guggenheim Hall of Gems and Minerals, where I could lose myself for hours.
On a recent trip however, Geoffrey and I decided to spend a couple of hours really exploring the Mammal Halls – including animals from North America, Africa and Asia displayed in painstakingly recreated lifelike dioramas of their natural habitats – which is generally a section of the museum we end up racing through on our way to somewhere else. Although these dioramas undergo regular maintenance and periodic restorations, they are essentially unchanged in 50 years and the stories they tell are eternal.
I really love the mammal halls because they are kept mostly in darkness, where the only lights come from inside the dioramas. This makes them somewhat challenging to photograph but gives the exhibits a timeless sense of romance and adventure.
You can read a bit of the background on how these dioramas were created at This Link. But for now, let’s see more pictures.
The Giraffes and Zebras above are actually two halves of the same large Diorama.
These photos represent just a tiny fraction of the all the animals and exhibits we saw. It was such a fun day! you should go and have your own adventure!
The American Museum of Natural History is located on Central Park West Between 79th and 83rd Streets on NYC’s Upper West Side. Take the C train to the 83rd Street Stop.