This carving of the face of Jesus was created using Baltic Amber, which is petrified tree sap that hardens over centuries and becomes a coveted gem stone. I saw a ton of amber artworks when I was on a European tour of the Baltic capitals last summer, which is trip I would recommend to anyone with enough to cash to throw down.
Photographed in The Cloisters Museum in Upper Manhattan
Some art is just better in the dark. I discovered the completely enchanting artworks of Sam Tufnell this year at the Context Art Fair and was instantly delighted by his vibrantly-colored, translucent sculptures of pop culture subjects that sit on illuminated pedestals. Fantastic.
When I heard about Inappropriation, Tufnell’s current exhibit over at Castle Fitzjohn Gallery, I knew I had to bring you some serious photos and news of this cool happening. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I am a little bit late to the game at this point, and now we are in the final week of the exhibit, so there is no time to waste! Get thee to Castle Fitzjohns, post haste!
Sam Tufnell is a graduate of the SVA, who exploded on to the art scene a few years ago with his unique style of visually appealing, yet intrinsically satirical, illuminated sculpture. After selling out consistently at major art fairs, his first Museum show last year (where a piece was stolen!), a collaboration with the New Museum, numerous public installations, such as Gnome Mountain (which I have also seen referred to as “Gnomes on the Mountain”) not to mention — but you can see I am about to — his works becoming a hot item with major collectors, Castle Fitzjohns decided it was time for a full on solo show, and Inappropration was born.
Tufnell has created a totally immersive illuminated environment that encompasses the full gallery space. Viewing the work in this unlit setting, it becomes an almost HD experience from a visual perspective. The subject matter of these works encompass a mini-retrospective of the different series that have been been a hit for the artist over his career, as well as new works created just for the show.
Tufnell’s cast resin works are almost otherworldly to see scattered across a full, darkened gallery setting. The translucent plastic, gathered in assemblages of the strange objects that our culture creates and leaves behind — crumpled cans, Darth Vader heads, Batman figurines, booze bottles, coffee cups, toys and small scale busts of Marilyn Monroe, Jesus and Benjamin Franklin — create a remarkable beauty with their tones of dayglo pink and yellow, blue and green, like a random commentary on the modern world crafted in Jello. It reminded me of Mike Kelley’s expansive Superman Origin Story that was up at Hauser & Wirth a couple of years ago. If you saw that exhibit, you will understand the comparison.
Sam Tufnell’s Inappropriation Will Be On View Through June 30th, 2017 at Castle Fitzjohns Gallery, Located at 98 Orchard Street, Just South of Delancey, in NYC.
Vladimir Lenin, Mickey Mouse and Jesus Walk Hand-in-Hand in this Sculpture from Recycling Religion (All Photos By Gail)
Popular artists like Banksy, Ron English and Damien Hirst have all blended Religious iconography with commercial images in the creation of artworks that take the piss out of Things That People Worship, but that’s not to say they’ve made the definitive statements when it come to mockery of organized religion and scathing criticism of “The Church” in general. Because that domain is pretty much open to everyone with a thought and a way to express it.
Curated by Marat Guelman and Juan Puntes, Recycling Religion is a group show at WhiteBox which examines the role of religion in Russia and Eastern Europe since the collapse of the Soviet empire.
Kinetic Sculpture with Detail, Below.
A statement from the exhibit;s Press Release explains, “In the modern age, the once repressed and dormant Orthodox Church has evolved in the past quarter century to become an intrinsic and powerful extension of the State, commanding broad influence over life beyond its purely spiritual role. From art and entertainment to dress code, and numerous other aspects of personal behavior, this essentially anachronistic religion insinuates its moralizing, oppressive influence and rancid style into life at large.
“In the case of art, the Church goes to extreme lengths to impose and control popular taste, to the inevitable disgust of a new generation of artists — a stellar and representative group of which is represented in this exhibition — who dare to employ Orthodox imagery and symbolism to undermine the established religious canon and the dystopia it fosters in harness with state power. To such artists, the Church is but a hollow vessel that sustains itself only with elaborate stage sets and costumes, outdated ritual, and severe moralizing. However, it is their contention that while the regurgitated apparatus of the official Church represents a moribund ideology, it serves also as a foil by which art can transcend tradition and discover the new-within-the-old.
“This subterfuge is depicted vividly, and in fact compassionately, in this exhibition, in which, through installation, performance, video, and graphic art, the conservative and radical poles of post-Soviet society are shown to in fact interact. As one allegedly spiritual force engages in tearing the world apart while pretending to mend it, another, more pragmatic, biological force appeals to the need to rebuild society out of the ruins of Orthodoxy, thus recycling religion, rather than eradicating it entirely.
Artists participating in the Recycling Religion exhibit include Pussy Riot, Oleg Kulik, Dmitri Gutov, Iija Soskic, Jelena Tomasevic, Recycle Group, Alexander Kosolapov, Duke Riley + Mac Premo, Federico Solmi, Robert Priseman, ANVIL Collective, Electroboutique,Vladimir Kozin, Pavel Brat, Arsen Savadov.
The exhibit includes two walls covered with a grid of deified, iconic dead celebrities/public figures, whose demise often occurred by their own hand or as a result of misadventure. You will have some fun spotting your favorites; some instantly recognizable and others much less so.
Wendy O. Williams
These two are pretty fantastic, in both their concept and execution.
In the video above, you’ll see another kinetic piece, where the Pope’s head is depicted as a chattering, mechanized parade float.
I Love Paine
Contemporary Homage to Thomas Paine, English-American political activist, philosopher, political theorist and revolutionary.
A HUGE pet peeve of mine is when galleries do not post the names of the artworks/artists on the walls adjacent to each piece, so that you have no idea who did what; because most people do not read minds but wish to know this information. Such was the case with Recycling Religion, as none of the displays offered the desired identification. and the website is similarly lacking. How lazy. At any rate, I really enjoyed the work of whichever artist created the above altar as part of a series of sculptures/installations involving wooden skulls. Here are a few more of his/her pieces.
And here’s a study sketch for several pieces.
Recycling Religion will be on Exhibit through January 17th, 2016 at WhiteBox, Located at 329 Broome Street, NYC 10002.