Tag Archive | Must See Art

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

Advertisements

Must See Art: Al Farrow, Wrath & Reverence at Forum Gallery

Forum Gallery Installation View
All Photos By Gail (Click on Any Image to Enlarge for Detail)

You don’t have to dig very deep to find a well of meaning in the works that make up sculptor Al Farrow’s new exhibit Wrath & Reverence, currently up at Forum Gallery in Midtown. In perhaps the most unique and profoundly thought provoking exhibit we’ve see in recent years, Wrath & Reverence consists of churches, synagogues, mosques, a mausoleum, Jewish ritual objects and Christian ‘casket’ reliquaries, all rendered from munitions. It brings the phrase ‘Holy War’ into an entirely new reality.

Mosque III (After National Mosque of Nigeria)
Mosque III (After National Mosque of Nigeria)

The buildings are highly detailed and faithful to reality in terms of proportion and architectural design.

Bombed Mosque Front
Bombed Mosque (Front)

One monumental sculpture, Bombed Mosque, took the artist a year to create in his California studio, using more than 50,000 disarmed bullets and shell casings. The patterns and decorations formed from patinated and polished bullets adorn the structure in hauntingly accurate turquoise and gold; but one side of the massive dome is blown open, bombed in fact, speaking to the deep chasm between religious sects.

Bombed Mosque Back
Bombed Mosque (Back)

Menorah (Fence II)
Menorah (Fence II)

A Menorah, crafted from barbed wire and machine gun shells, is clearly layered with meaning and reference, but is an object of great reverence as well, attuned to past and present while statuesque and compelling in its presence.

Gun Menorah
Menorah (Guns, Gun Parts, Steel, Bullets)

Trigger Finger of Santo Geurro
Trigger Finger of Santo Geurro (Guns, Bullets, Bullet Shells, Steel, Bone)

Farrow makes art not about a certain religion, but about the repetition of history, the inexorable battle of mankind, and the perversion of organized religion as a whole.

Trigger Finger of Santo Geurro (Detail)
Trigger Finger of Santo Geurro (Detail)

Assorted Reliquaries
Assorted Reliquaries

Sacred and profane, metaphoric and literal, gleaming and shocking, Al Farrow’s Wrath & Reverence is unforgettable and deeply moving.

Sketch Of Trinity Church
Sketch Of Trinity Church

This exhibit marks my first visit to the Forum Gallery, a legendary space that I was turned on to after being highly impressed with their various exhibits at this years Metro Curates Art Fair.

Installation View

The room is gorgeous and the people who work in the gallery are very nice and friendly, which can be a rare thing these days. I will definitely be visiting them again, and covering more shows at Forum in the future. For now, make sure you don’t miss Al Farrow’s Wrath and Reverence, which is just fantastic.
Mausoleum II
Mausoleum II

Wrath and Reverence, the Art of Al Farrow will be on Exhibit Through May 2nd, 2015 at Forum Gallery, Located at 730Fifth Avenue (at 57th Street), NYC.

Vandalized Synagogue Door (I)
Vandalized Synagogue Door (I)

Must See Art: John Waters’ Beverly Hills John at Marianne Boesky Gallery

Fellini's 8/1/2 Ruler
All Photos By Gail (Click on Any Image to Enlarge for Detail)

While I can’t admit to being fan of every single John Waters‘ directed film (and I have seen most of them), I sure do appreciate his artistic aesthetic, and he seems like a cool person from what I hear. So, I was really excited to rush out to the Marianne Boesky Gallery in 15 degree weather to check out Waters‘ latest exhibit (and third at this gallery) which is called Beverly Hills John. This is an ambitious exhibit which showcases the director/artist’s work in a variety of mediums including photography, prints, collage, sculpture and film — all of which I found to be utterly delightful.

In boundary-pushing works that address Waters‘ obsession with Art, Pop Culture, Pulp Fiction Novels, the Film Industry and Gay Culture, his irreverent humor is evident everywhere you look; but he also gives you something to think about.

Thimk, 2014

Or Thimk about.

Congratulations

In Congratulations (above), Waters riffs on the infamous red dot commonly used in galleries to indicate a sale.

Bill's Stroller, 2014

Bill’s Stroller features a studded leather strap for securing baby and the stenciled names of various underground Gay Sex Clubs.

R.I.P. Mike Kelley

R.I.P. Mike Kelley is a tribute to the late artist, who committed suicide in 2012.

Grim Reaper, 2014

In Grim Reaper, Jackie O and JFK are trailed by Death as portrayed by Bengt Ekerot in the Ingmar Bergman film, The Seventh Seal.

Film Festival

Film Festival takes a famous film title and changes one word, making it grammatically incorrect while (in most cases) maintaining roughly the same meaning. Two detail shots are below.

Film Festival Detail

Film Festival Detail

Separate But Equal

Separate But Equal, (2014)

Chicken Pulp Fiction

I have no comment for this one.

Lovesick, 2014

Lovesick, (2014)

Kiddie Flamingos Table Read
Screenshot from Kiddie Flamingos

The absolute highlight of the exhibit (for me) is a new 74-minute video entitled Kiddie Flamingos, which is one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever seen in my life and is brilliant on so many levels. Kiddie Flamingos shows a table read of Waters’ X-rated 1972 cult film Pink Flamingos, rewritten as a children’s movie with an all-kid cast. Bluntly put: this video is mind blowing. Even if you can’t stay for the entire film, make sure you see at least 15 minutes of it, because it is just insane. According to the press release, “Waters hopes that this defanged and desexualized sequel is even more perverse than the original, transferring innocence into a new kind of joyous, G-rated obscenity.” Seriously, don’t miss this exhibit.

John Waters: Beverly Hills John will be on Exhibit Through February 14th, 2015 at Marianne Boesky Gallery, Located at 509 West 24th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.

Beverly Hills John Signage

Must See Art: Julian Stanczak’s From Life at Mitchell-Innes & Nash

Julian Stanczak Four Panels
All Photos By Gail

I don’t think I could count the number of times I overheard someone mention how much the paintings of Julian Stanczak reminded them of Op Art pioneer Bridget Riley while we cruised around the opening reception for From Life, Stanczak’s new exhibit over at Mitchell-Innes & Nash. Trust me: it was a lot – and I was thinking the same thing.

Julian Stanczak Red Bars

But a little research on my part revealed that the term Op Art actually first appeared in print in Time Magazine in October 1964 in response to Stanczak’s Optical Paintings exhibit at the Martha Jackson gallery. Crazy!

Julian Stanczak Orange and Yellow

Now at age 86, Julian Stanczak – a former student of Joseph Albers, whose early life was marked by enormous personal struggle – serves as a true artistic and personal inspiration with his first solo exhibition at M-I & N, which includes a dozen large-scale paintings spanning the artist’s career from the 1960s to the present and includes works not seen publically in decades.

Julian Stanczak Blue and Red Squares

Stanczak’s canvases are created through a complex process of tape masks in which colors are systematically added and unveiled in layers. While incredibly methodical, Stanczak works alone on his canvases without the aid of preliminary sketches, relying solely on his own vision of a finished work.

Julian Stanczak Black Grid

A Detail from the Above Painting is Below.

Julian Stanczak Detail

This is even more impressive when you know that Stanczak lost the complete use his of right arm after confinement in a Siberian hard labor camp during World War II.

Additional 1980
Additional (1980)

Arist in front of Additional
Julian Stanczak, Photographed in front of Additional, at the Show’s Opening Reception on October 30th.

The artist makes the surface plane of the painting vibrate through his use of lines and contrasting colors, but what I want to really emphasize is how these paintings look completely different to the naked eye than they do when seen through the lens of a camera. The observable transformation is really quite remarkable.

Julian Stanczak Black Test Pattern

In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that these paintings are mind-blowing.

Julian Stanczak

Very highly recommended!

Julian Stanczak’s From Life will be on Exhibit Through December 6th, 2014 at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, Located at 534 West 26th Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.

Quatorial 1978
Quatorial 1978

From Life Signage

David LaChapelle’s Land Scape at Paul Kasmin Gallery

David LaChapelle Refinery
Refinery By David LaChapelle (All Event Photos By Gail)

People reading this blog post right now likely fall into one of three categories. The first are folks who are fans of artist/photographer David LaChapelle’s extensive and highly impressive body of work. The second are those who only know his name  because LaChapelle is guilty of having photographed America’s most notoriously repellent “Famous for Being Famous” family, The Kardashians, for their 2013 Christmas Card. And the third group are those who are confusing him with African American comedian Dave Chapelle. Just being serious.

David LaChapelle has taken a break from photographing celebrities for his latest gallery show, Land Scape, for which we attended the opening reception last Friday at Paul Kasmin Gallery. It was quite a scene, absolutely packed wall-to-wall with fans and (not that many) famous people, which presented quite the challenge to get decent photos! Although the only mildly well-known attendees I could identify as I pardoned and excused my way through the throng were (ironically) celebrity photographer Derek Storm and artist Mark Ryden. However, this guy was there:

Viking Hair Guy

I have no idea who he is, but the fact that he sculpted his hair into Viking Helmet Horns made him worthy of being immortalized on digital image, some sources say he used the castor oil for hair growth. Kudos to you, Viking Horn Hair Guy!

But back to the art! Land Scape is made up of two series: Refineries and Gas Stations. The Oil Refineries are constructed as models using ordinary household items and consumer products and then captured in LaChapelle’s highly appealing, hyper-realist style. Photos of the Refineries with accompanying detail shots showing construction materials can be seen below.

Waterfront Refinery

Waterfront Refinery Can Detail
Rockstar Energy Drink Cans, Detail from Above Photo

Refinery with Egg Cartons

Refinery Egg Carton Detail
Egg Cartons and Drink Cups, Detail from Above Photo

Refinery with Measuring Cup

Refinery with Measuring Cup Detail
Measuring Cups and Cell Phones, Detail from Above Photo

That these gorgeous works are meant to encourage conversation about our consumer culture and the loss/ exploitation of our natural resources is, well, quite obvious.

The Gas Station series was shot on location in the Rainforests of Maui, where LaChapelle makes his home.

Shell Station
Shell Station

Chevron Station
Chevron Station

Blue Station
I love the colors on this one.

Each of these massive photos takes up a full wall in one of the gallery’s three rooms, so they really do have to be seen in person to be fully appreciated.

David LaChapelle’s Land Scape will be on Exhibit Through March 1st, 2014 at Paul Kasmin Gallery, Located on the corner of Tenth Avenue and 27th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.

Must See Art: Yayoi Kusama’s I Who Have Arrived In Heaven At David Zwirner

Yayoi Kusama Manhattan Suicide Addict
Yayoi Kusama in a Scene from “Manhattan Suicide Addict” (All Photos By Gail)

According to gallery employees at David Zwirner, last Friday night’s opening of Yayoi Kusama’s I Who Have Arrived in Heaven wasn’t just a Reception: it was an Event, complete with a personal appearance by the 84-year old living legend. And yes, she reportedly wore the bright red wig! We are very sorry to have missed that, but we did make it to the much less crowded Zwirner gallery on Saturday to take in I Who Have Arrived in Heaven‘s sculptures, paintings, video installation and one of two mirrored rooms that made our heads explode. The comprehensive exhibit fills all three of Zwirner’s adjoining spaces on West 19th Street, where a feast for the eyes awaits you in every room. It is high-fives all around for Zwirner on their inaugural Kusama exhibit, and if this marks your first exposure to this artist’s heavily psychedelic creations, you are in for a huge treat.

Yayoi Kusama Pink Dotted Flower Shoes

Kusama’s trademark polka dots are evident on two very fun sculptures of flowers growing out of shoes, which are visible from 19th Street. These pieces reminded me of Minnie Mouse on acid. Each flower has a convex mirror at its center so that, if you can get close enough, you can put your face in the flower and trip out.

Yayoi Kusama Yellow Dotted Flower Shoes

Yayoi Kusama Painting

This exhibition features twenty-seven new large-scale paintings featuring vibrant colors and repetitious patterns. Most are highly detailed and very whimsical in nature.

Yayoi Kusama Painting

Yayoi Kusama Painting Blue and Orange Detail
Detail from Painting Above

Yayoi Kusama 3 Paintings

This shot above will give you an idea of the scale of these canvases. The images and details from this series of paintings reminded me of the artwork from the first Tom Tom Club album (and video for “Genius of Love”) and also from the hyper-violent cartoon series, Super Jail, of which I am a huge fan.

Yayoi Kusama Painting Eyes Detail
Eyes Detail from Painting

Yayoi Kusama Manhattan Suicide Addict

In yet another room, which is book-ended by 12-foot high infinity mirrors, there is a video installation of Yayoi performing her original song, “Manhattan Suicide Addict.” As Yayoi sings the song, which has very beautiful and poetic lyrics, an animated slide show of her selected artworks moves behind her. Geoffrey and I watched it four or five times. It was just insane.

As if all of the sculptures and paintings and videos were not enough to make you squeal, there are also two Infinity-Mirrored Room installations. Yes, I just typed that. Here is what it looks like inside one of them.

Yayoi Kusama Love Is Calling Installation

This installation is entitled Love Is Calling, and it is comprised of a darkened, mirrored room illuminated by inflatable, tentacle-like forms, which are covered in Kusama’s characteristic polka dots, that extend from floor to ceiling, gradually changing color. Very psychedelic! Simply put, I did not want to leave this room. Of course, there was a line to enter (I can’t even imagine what it was like on opening night)  but even though they only let about 6 or 7 people enter at one time, the line moves pretty fast,  and it is so totally worth the wait, so don’t get discouraged!

Yayoi Kusama Love Is Calling Installation

Sadly, a very packed afternoon agenda would not allow us enough wiggle room to wait in the hours-long line to experience the second room, which is the exhibition’s centerpiece,  Mirrored Infinity Room: The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away. This mirrored, cubed-shaped room features a shallow reflecting pool as its floor. Hundreds of multicolored LED lights are suspended at varying heights and they flicker on and off in a strobe-like effect, producing an intense illumination of the space and a repetitive pattern of reflections that suggest endlessness. WOW. I will be making a return trip to experience that head trip, for sure.

Yayoi Kusama’s I Who Have Arrived In Heaven will be on exhibit through December 21, 2013 at David Zwirner Galleries, Located at 519, 525 and 533 West 19th Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District, New York.

Yayoi Kusama Exhibit Signage

Sacred Gallery Presents Re-Thrifted

Rethrifted Elephant Sculpture
All Photos By Gail

The idea of “repurposing” — taking something old and giving it a new life — is an exciting concept that creates a world of possibilities. Sacred Gallery explores those possibilities (with an inclination towards the darker side of imagination and reality) with a highly amusing new group exhibit entitled Re-Thrifted. To create Re-Thrifted more than two dozen artists started with Thrift Store art finds and recreated the original piece as a new work of art. There are both paintings and sculptures in the exhibit and it was so much fun to view the show and compare the new artworks to their more humble beginnings, as many of the pieces are hung alongside tiny prints showing the pieces that inspired their genesis.

Cherubs and Rosie
Three Cherubs Get a Visit from The Jetson’s Rosie the Robot

Virgin Leia
Virgin Leia

An excellent example of this type of work in its simplest form is Virgin Leia, a kitschy painting of the Virgin Mary recreated as a portrait of Princess Leia from Star Wars. Appropriate!

Renaissance Undead

Above, a group of picnicking Renaissance children become flesh-eating members of the Undead.

Parisian Street Scene with Pop Culture Icons

The painting above features a picturesque Parisian Street Cafe that has been infused with images from pop culture, turning it into a surreal nightmare. Check out some of the cool details from this work in the shots below.

Walter White
Walter White from Breaking Bad

Penny Wise The Clown
Pennywise The Clown Peering from the Sewer

Zombies Plus Michael

Note that this Herd of Zombies includes Michael Jackson as he appeared in the Video for “Thriller.” So clever! If this awesome painting wasn’t already sold I would have snapped it up in a heartbeat!

Demon Statue

What was once an angelic choirboy has transformed into a demonic embodiment of the proverbial principle to “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil.”

Drag In Dragon

A menacing, medieval Dragon invades an otherwise idyllic forest scene in this painting by the artist Gothic Hangman.

You can tell that the participating artists were very inspired and that everybody had a blast creating their art for Re-Thrifted. Kudos to Kevin Wilson at Sacred Gallery for hosting yet another very cool show!

The Re-Thrifted Group Exhibit is on Display only Through November 3oth, 2013 at Sacred Gallery, Located at 424 Broadway, 2nd Floor (Between Howard and Canal Streets), so be sure to add it to your list of “Must See Art” while you can!

Re-Thrifted Exhibit Invite