Tag Archive | Martin Wittfooth

Jonathan LeVine Gallery Presents Aron Wiesenfeld’s Unwind the Winding Path

Night Grove
Night Grove By Aron Wiesenfeld (All Photos By Gail)

The most rewarding art viewing experiences are those that present a simple visual that provokes so many narrative possibilities that it encourages the breadth of imaginative extrapolation generally considered to be accessible only through the most wildly imaginative novels. That’s the experience  I had while perusing Unwind the Winding Path, a series of new works by California-based artist Aron Wiesenfeld, up now at Jonathan LeVine Gallery.

The River
The River

Looking at this series of seemingly mundane, yet subtly disquieting images — a girl standing on the edge of a forest, two people in a canoe, a picnic — I kept thinking, is it really just about what I’m seeing on the canvas, or is there something just below the surface that I should be paying attention to?

Canoe
Canoe

In this way, the paintings in Unwind the Winding Path (the exhibit’s title comes directly from the poem Byzantium by W.B. Yeats) reminded me of illustrations inspired by a collection of short ghost / horror stories that I read when I was a teenager, called Lonesome Places by August Derleth. Specifically, they gave me an uneasy feeling I associate with one story in particular, The Lonesome Place, which gives the collection its title. That tale is about two little boys who have such vivid imaginations with regard to a desolate area which they consider to be haunted, that they literally conjure a living monster from their fears alone. And when you think about it, isn’t the most visceral horror about what goes on in our minds? Whether or not this is Wiesenfeld’s intention, he is on to something that is both deeply unsettling and attractive simultaneously.

Bunker
Bunker

A painting entitled Bunker appeared to creep out the majority of fans attending the opening reception. In Bunker, we see a young woman or girl, barelegged and wearing a summer dress despite the implied chill of grey skies, laying back stoically in tall grass adjacent to what looks like an overgrown Bunker structure. Is she dead? Has her body been dumped there? Or is she just resting? What exactly is going on in this picture? I like that there is no clear answer.

The Handmaid
The Handmaid

The Off Season
The Off Season

Installation View

Daughter
Daughter

Aron Wiesenfeld was present at the opening, and I made a point to introduce myself and engage him in a conversation about his amazing art and its mysterious allure. I  asked him about the painting above, Daughter, and he said that the woman is “growing out of the forest.” I like it. Aron was super nice and so was his wife. I told him about The Lonesome Place, and I am sure he has forgotten about it, but if he reads this post, maybe he will look it up.

Martin and Jonathan
Artist Martin Wittfooth Chats with Gallery Owner Jonathan LeVine at the Opening Reception

Signage

Aron Wiesenfeld’s Unwind the Winding Path will be on Exhibit Through December 17th, 2016, at Jonathan LeVine Gallery, Located at 529 West 20th Street, 9th Floor, in the Chelsea Gallery District.

Installation View

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Must See Art: Martin Wittfooth, Offering at Jonathan LeVine Gallery

Mother's Milk
Mother’s Milk By Martin Wittfooth (All Photos By Gail)

Putting a surrealist, almost sci-fi spin on the paintings of American ornithologist John Audubon, and recalling his contemporary Josh Keyes‘ “after man” images of animals running amok in a modern society that is strangely absent of all human life, artist Martin Wittfooth delivers Offering, his first solo exhibition at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery. After being fascinated by Martin’s work for years as part of group shows in galleries like Stephen Romano and RH Gallery, as well as many shows at LeVine, it was amazing to see so many of his captivating canvases gathered in one exhibit — at a gallery that definitely knows how to best serve this artist’s work.

Dawn
Dawn

In Dawn, a painting that takes up one entire wall of the main gallery space, a whale glides through an underwater cityscape that, judging from glowing lights visible in distant, scattered windows, likely still has inhabitants of some kind.

Witness
Witness

In Witness, a close examination reveals that the knots on a lone, nearly desiccated tree reveals that the tree actually has eyes. Heavy.

Witness Detail

Martin explains that the works in Offering explore the theme of shamanism and its current revitalization around the world. These paintings delve into the notion that the rediscovery of shamanistic practices, such as reaching an altered state of consciousness, is peeling away our egos and materialistic obsessions and encouraging a connection with nature and to each other.

Gathering
Gathering

“The great challenges of our time primarily stem from the repression, predetermined delineation of consciousness and the myriad of other ways by which our materialistic culture has lost its connection with the natural world,” he continues. “The reemergence of shamanism appears to be having a great impact on consciousness around the globe by severing individuals’ attachments to the ego-driven, ideology-based, monotheistic modality that has shaped so much of the human enterprise over the past millennia.”

Nectar
Nectar

Wittfooth Sketches

Sketch Studies for the all of the paintings in the exhibit are also on display and available to own.

Cycle
Cycle

Bloom
Bloom

Marosa
Marosa

I love this painting of an Elephant/Octopus hybrid. It reminds me of This Painting by Robert Deyber, an artist Martin said he was unfamiliar with. The paintings aren’t that similar, but it was just an observation. Be sure to check out Offering while you can!

Martin Wittfooth’s Offering will be on Exhibit Through November 14th, 2015 at Jonathan LeVine Gallery, Located at 529 West 2oth Street, 9th Floor, in the Chelsea Gallery District.

Rainsong
Rainsong

Martin Wittfooth Signage

El Gato Chimney’s De Rerum Natura at Stephen Romano Gallery

El Gato Chimney Signage
My Black Heart By El Gato Chimney (All Photos By Gail. Click on Any Image to Enlarge for Detail)

El Gato Chimney is a fantastic, Milan-based surrealist whose compelling work I doubt I would have come to know and love so well if it weren’t for the Stephen Romano Gallery, which has lovingly featured El Gato’s work in each of their eclectic group shows.

Lost in Thoughts
Lost in Thoughts

Currently, the Romano Gallery is hosting De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things), a show dedicated entirely to this young artist’s exciting work.

The artwork of De Rerum Natura is accompanied by a high quality catalog, which includes several intriguing and extremely insightful essays, one of which is by fellow surrealist Martin Wittfooth. By way of introduction to El Gato Chimney’s enigmatic images, I offer a brief but richly descriptive passage from Martin’s essay:

El Gato Chimney’s paintings are a kind of visual alchemy: a unique witch’s brew or shaman’s potion of mysticism, therianthropy (the mythological ability of human beings to metamorphose into animals by means of shapeshifting), mythological and religious symbolism, and visionary fractals.

Revelation
Revelation

These works echo the technique and compositions of the naturalist painter John James Audubon, while envisioning a psychedelic menagerie summoned on paper from the often-diabolical nether realms of Hieronymus Bosch. Crowned hydras, chimeras, masked birds and crucified crows inhabit a barren world, wherein sacred hearts, disembodied eyes, mysticist dice, skeleton keys and beehives float above or lie upon the landscape.

El Gato Chimney

El Gato Chimney’s imagination implores us to contemplate our collective symbolical archive, while simultaneously offering alternative allegories and personal readings of these devices.

Here are more pictures from the show!

The Charlatan
The Charlatan

The Right Proportion, Guide Me Home
The Right Proportion (Left), Guide Me Home (Right)

El Gato Chimney

El Gato and Fan Admire The Charlatan
At the Opening Reception: El Gato and Writer/Curator Pam Grossman Admire and Discuss The Charlatan

El Gato Chimney’s De Rerum Natura will be on Exhibit Through April 30th, 2015 at Stephen Romano Gallery, Located at 111 Front Street in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Please note that this will be the final snow at this location before Stephen Romano moves to its new, storefront Gallery space at 145 Plymouth Street in Brooklyn!

Speak the Truth
Show Catalog Featuring Cover Illustration of Speak the Truth

Rebirth
Rebirth

Lost Mitten Society Annual Winter Salon Show at Jonathan LeVine Gallery

P1070404

All mittens were present and accounted for as art fans braved15 degree NYC weather for Jonathan LeVine’s annual Winter group show. It was definitely worth leaving the house for.

Adam Wallacavage Octopus Chandeliers
Octopus Chandeliers by Adam Wallacavage

As the show’s cheeky press release explains, “The Lost Mitten Society presents a visually diverse mix of emerging and established artists, all suffering from the loss of a mitten. Despite their frozen appendages, this group of over twenty artists have created small to medium sized, multi-disciplinary works, including a strong selection of drawing, painting and sculpture. In the name of solidarity, The Lost Mitten Society [is]displayed salon-style in the gallery to showcase the group’s goal of reuniting lost pairs of mittens everywhere.

Here are some of our favorite pieces from the show!

Chicks (Egg Triptych Part III)
Chicks (Egg Triptych Part III) By Amandine Urruty

Chicks (Egg Triptych Part III) By Amandine Urruty
Detail from the Above Work, Featuring Slimer from Ghost Busters and Possibly Cousin It?

Marco Mazzoni
Two Works by Marco Mazzoni

Troy Brooks Hunters and Thieves
Troy Brook’s Hunters and Thieves

Te Escondo a Verdade By FINOK
Te Escondo a Verdade By FINOK

James Marshall (Dalek), Untitled 2
James Marshall (Dalek), Untitled 2

We love the Op Art effect of this one!

Here For the Ride By Taylor McKimens
Here For the Ride By Taylor McKimens

Two Works By Josh Keyes
Two Works By Josh Keyes

Hamelyn By Doubleparlour
Hamelyn By Doubleparlour

This one looks like the personification of an Ice Cream Cone.

The Bug Walker By Doubleparlour
The Bug Walker By Doubleparlour

Top: Kris Lewis Autumn Sky
Top: Kris Lewis, Autumn Sky
Center: John Brophy, Ascension
Lower: Christian Rex Van Minnen, Selfie Protest/Protest Selfie

Martin Wittfooth Shaman II
Martin Wittfooth Shaman II

The Lost Mitten Society Annual Winter Salon Show will be on exhibit through February 7th, 2015, at Jonathan LeVine Gallery, Located at 529 West 20th Street, 9th floor, in the Chelsea Gallery District.

Lost Mitten Society Signage

Adam Wallacavage Green Octopus Chandelier
Adam Wallacavage Green Octopus Chandelier

Last Rites Gallery Celebrates Amazing Interior Renovation with Two New Exhibits!

“If it works, don’t fix it” is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot, and with good reason. It seems like as soon as you get comfortable with something, or figure out how it operates, it changes – and usually not for the better (see: FaceBook). Those who read this blog regularly know that the Last Rites Gallery is my favorite art space in Manhattan. Also home to the tattoo studio of artist Paul Booth, visiting Last Rites has always felt like going to an art Theme Park or the abandoned set of a horror movie. Aside from the cutting-edge artists they represent, the space has such an engaging vibe that you want to just hang out there, enjoy the art and talk to people for hours. I had no idea that Last Rites was undergoing an extensive renovation that is simply breathtaking. A combination of ambitious visual design and expert execution has come together to make an already unique space even more impressive than you could imagine.

Previously, one entered Last Rites through the dungeon-like tattoo parlor before encountering the brightly lit, white walls of the rear gallery space. With the new redesign, a larger, more open gallery space is now upfront, putting the emphasis on the fantastic art featured in this one of a kind gallery. At the rear of the floor you’ll now find tattoo stations set amid a large and comfortable lounge space, which picks up the darker, Gothic theme with its cathedral-like architectural features, marble finishes, candle-it illumination and dark red fabrics. They’ve also added a separate bar area for serving drinks during opening receptions, promoting a nightclub feel which very much reminds me of the late great Limelight, especially during the era when that club featured a collection of Clive Barker-esque horror art. Paul Booth and his renovation crew from a small basement renovations Toronto, ON have done a simply fantastic job transforming Last Rites into an inviting new venue that must surely exceed their expectations, vastly improving on a space that I never even thought needed to change a thing. Great job guys!

Friday July 22nd marked the gallery’s grand reopening, where the scene was lively and welcoming. In the crowd we spotted Martina and Frank Russo from the MF Gallery and Kevin Wilson of Sacred Gallery on lower Broadway, as well as artists Michael Mararian and Jason D’Aquino (both of whom have previously exhibited at Last Rites), hot artist Martin Wittfooth and the wildly talented Eric “Eyeball” Richardson – who assisted with the renovation and told me that they had only just finished painting the walls a couple of hours prior to opening the doors that evening.


“Racecar” By Chet Zar

In what was a fantastic atmosphere to talk with artists whose work I love and to catch up with friends, it seemed like everybody on the Manhattan art scene was there to congratulate Paul and to enjoy two new exhibits: Chet Zar’s Faces of Death and Craig LaRotonda’s Eternal Consequences. Faces of Death fills the front of the gallery with Zar’s collection of gruesome yet compelling portraiture featuring an otherworldly group of subjects – alien to us but somehow not unsympathetic nor entirely unfamiliar to each other. Zar’s paintings are bold and disquieting but, much like Travis Louie’s Curiosities series, they encourage imaginative extrapolation in the viewer as to who these beings are, what kind of world they inhabit and how they came to sit for these portraits.


“Pink Elephant” By Chet Zar

Craig LaRotonda’s Eternal Consequences consists of portraits of anthropomorphized primates painted in a religious or renaissance style; very provocative and quite a departure from the artist’s previous works. With Last Rites extended evening hours, escape the heat and head over to check out the new space before these exhibits end.

Chet Zar’s Faces of Death and Craig LaRotonda’s Eternal Consequences will be on Exhibit through at August 18, 2011 at Last Rites Gallery, Located at 511 W. 33rd Street, 3rd Floor, New York City. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday 2 – 9 PM and Sunday 2 – 6 PM.