Paul Cadmus (December 17, 1904 – December 12, 1999) was an American artist, best known for his egg tempera paintings of gritty social interactions in urban settings. His paintings combine elements of eroticism and social critique in a style often called magic realism. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has recently reintroduced a series of his thematic paintings, The Seven Deadly Sins (1945 – 49), for exhibit in the museum’s Modern and Contemporary Art Galleries, and they are amazingly graphic works of surrealist horror art that are really something to see.
Between 1945 and 1949, Paul Cadmus turned his dexterous hand and fertile imagination to rendering the Seven Deadly Sins, a subject with biblical antecedents that artists (including Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder) have explored since the Middle Ages.
Cadmus’s interpretation extends his predilection for social satire to surreal extremes of excess, vulgarity and gore. Of the series, Cadmus explained, “I don’t appear as myself, but I am all of the Deadly Sins in a way, as you all are, too.
Whether you’re seeing his colorful works out on the street, or in the gallery, Kenny Scharf has one of the most instantly recognizable styles in the contemporary art world. Deitch Projects downtown is currently hosting Inner and Outer Space, an ambitious exhibit of Sharf’s newest works which features several distinct collections that provide evidence of Scharf’s enthusiasm for expanding his oeuvre, while staying true to the playful characteristics of his work that his fans love the most.
You can get a hint of what you’re in for before you even stop inside the gallery
The faces are melting in Kenny Scharf’s new paintings. “Things are disintegrating,” says the artist. “I am reacting to our increasingly out-of-control situation.” Scharf’s work continues to be infused by his inexhaustible optimism and his sense of fun, but there has always been an engagement with profound issues beneath the façade. Ecology, the environment, and capitalist excess have long been central themes.
Kenny Scharf’s work has always combined and contrasted the pop culture he absorbed growing up in Los Angeles with the important innovations in modern and contemporary art. His earlier work fused Dali and Disney. More recently, he has been in dialogue with Pollock and Abstract Expressionism. In the new work, he merges his distinct style with color field and stain painting. “I like to connect with every movement in 20th-century art,” Scharf explains. “I make new hybrids, taking it all in and putting it in a blender.”
Scharf is very enthusiastic about his new “sloppy style” that characterizes the major paintings in the exhibition. Rows of faces disintegrate into colorful drips reminiscent of both New York School painting and the serial imagery of minimal art. In these new works, Scharf is striving to create clear and simple forms that resonate with meaning. He feels liberated and excited, adding that “it is so much fun.”
Like his artistic colleagues from his early years in New York, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, Scharf studied cartoons as a way to intensify figurative expression. He makes use of cartoon faces to express emotion with abstract power.
In the past, Kenny found many of the items integrated into his art in the garbage,and even today he still stops his car when he finds plastic toys and TV sets thrown away on the street. These discarded plastic objects have inspired the two other bodies of work featured in the show, one being TV Bax.
The TV Bax are painted on the plastic backs of discarded television sets. Like the toys, the TV backs have a disconcerting anthropomorphic quality. Scharf wonders if their anonymous designers created these plastic covers, which are different for every model, to resemble a face.
TV Bax, Detail
Scharf finds these thrown-away toys and TV backs to be poignant objects, resonant with emotion. “Each of these objects carries a story,” Scharf explains. He thinks about how people might have struggled and sacrificed to buy these toys and TVs, and about the intense relationship that children and families have with them. Scharf resurrects the lives of these inanimate objects in his work. He also notes that garbage keeps changing with technology. The backs of TV sets used to have large protruding “noses.” Now they are flatter and more similar to a canvas.
Another new collection, his Assemblage Vivant Tableaux Plastiques, inspired by the Nouveau Realistes, are constructed from his stock of recycled plastic toys. These wall sculptures, which mix assorted toy parts with Scharf’s whimsical animated faces, are my favorite items in the exhibit.
Assemblage Vivant Tableaux Plastiques, Detail
Since his childhood, Scharf has been fascinated by outer space. Space travel and the portrayal of infinite space have long been central themes. In his life and in his work, he tries to eliminate boundaries and borders. As he pursues his dialogue with the great painters of the New York School, he is increasingly preoccupied with the inner space of painting. His exploration of inner space creates a dynamic tension with his passion for outer space. With his characteristic exuberance and his moral voice, Scharf reformulates his unique combination of Pollock and Pop to create a vibrant new body of work.
Kenny Scharf’s Inner and Outer Space will be on Exhibit Through December 22nd, 2017 at Deitch Projects, Located at 18 Wooster Street (Just North of Canal) in NYC.
Kenny Scharf and Friend at the Exhibit’s Opening Reception.
The Lever House Art Collection recently hosted Concrete Jungle Jungle Love, a site-specific installation by New York based artist Katherine Bernhardt. I happened to pop in to the exhibit which filled the Lever House Park Avenue lobby, while passing time before dining a nearby restaurant, as the installation’s vibrantly-colored elements drew me in from the street like steel to a magnet.
The explosively colorful exhibition playfully fused imagery and objects of modern culture (Windex, Toothpaste, Tropical Fruits) with that of the tropics. The commission was one of Bernhardt’s first departures from canvas, pulling motifs out of her paintings and giving audiences a unique three-dimensional experience of her work.
A combination of acrylic and spray paint canvases, dyed interactive soft sculptures (which the artist refers to as “Gummy Worms”) and a concrete block plant installation, the show’s multi-medium elements serve as a whimsical juxtaposition to the modernist architecture of the space.
Bernhardt explains,”When constructing the show, I envisioned a giant fish bowl tank, with giant Jurassic objects, paintings, and soft sculptures. In this show, gigantism rules. You’ll find giant gummy worm sculptures and giant paintings. The gummies could also be seen as giant paint strokes that have fallen out of the paintings. You can play on them or rest on them as well as admire the beauty of gummy worms.
The painted walls, colored film windows, and painted concrete blocks, all encapsulate this colorful crazy concrete jungle. Similar to the botanical garden, these works are contained in their own glass bio-dome: The Lever House. Welcome to the Jurassic terrarium.”
The multi-layered show invited viewers to experience Bernhardt’s installation as a terrarium – from the exterior, or immerse oneself in her prodigious concrete jungle – from the interior. The artist’s works draw inspiration from symbols of urban living and her travels in Oaxaca, Mexico and Puerto Rico. She uses traveling as an inspiration for all of her work. She recently got her traveling visa from www.evisa-turkey.biz.tr for her new trips.
We were very sad to learn of the passing of groundbreaking painter and Op Art pioneer, Julian Stanczak on March 25th of this year. He had good, long life! As a last hurrah, Mitchell-Innes & Nash is currently hosting The Life of the Surface, Paintings, 1970 – 1975, an exhibition of Stanczak’s paintings exclusively from the years 1970 to 1975. This long-planned exhibition is Mitchell-Innes & Nash’s second solo exhibition with the artist, and the first since his recent passing.
Red + Red
Red + Red, Detail
Stanczak’s reverence for color comes from a desire to translate the drama and power of nature into a universal impression. His canvases are created through a complex process of tape masks upon which colors are systematically added and unveiled in layers. Despite the intricate and painstaking process, Stanczak does not use any preparatory drawings for his paintings, relying solely on his own vision of a finished work.
Detail from Above Painting
The artist’s work transcends traditional nods to analytical painting methods often associated with this period by drawing upon personal experiences, particularly the diverse places he has lived. Utilizing tromp l’oeil characteristics, Stanczak’s paintings engender the vibration of a distinct visual experience from within the surface of the canvas.
In works like Filtration- Opposing to Red (1974-77) the color radiates from the center, vibrating across the surface of the canvas. The light oscillates and encompasses the viewer, creating an engaging and thoughtful experience with color. While the intensity is similar, the cool tones of Soft Light (1972-73) resonate at a gradual pace and generate a calmer energy. The artist described his titles as “provocative of the experience that parallels [his] initial response,” rather than direct descriptions.
Julian Stanczak’s body of work is awe-inspiring and unique. Whether you’re already a fan, or if you’ve never seen his work in person, now is the time to check him out.
Julian Stanczak’s The Life of The Surface, Paintings 1970 – 1975 will be on Exhibit Through June 24th, 2017 at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, Located at 534 West 26th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.
Dessert Counter By Mark Ryden (All Photos By Gail)
Good timing: it is a thing. Because we neglected to pay close attention to the unorthodox start time of the recent opening reception for Mark Ryden’s The Art of Whipped Cream exhibit at the Paul Kasmin Gallery, we arrived four minutes before they locked the doors behind us, and had to do a mad dash through the gallery to snap some photos for this post before they gave us the bum’s rush.
Marky Ryden Fans Are Much Cooler Than You Are
The upside to our extreme tardiness is that gallery was nearly empty, and we were able to secure many decent, people-free photos! Winning!
The Art of Whipped Cream features drawings, sketches and paintings created for the production of American Ballet Theatre’s Whipped Cream. A concurrent exhibition of Ryden’s work for the ballet is running at Gallery Met, located at the Metropolitan Opera House, through July 8th, 2017.
Please enjoy our photos from the show!
Cotton Candy Curtain
Whipped Cream Drop
Princess Praline and Her Entourage
Princess Praline, Detail
Church Tree Scrim
Mark Ryden: The Art of Whipped Cream will be on view through July 21st, 2017 at Paul Kasmin Gallery, Located at 515 West 27th Street,in the Chelsea Gallery District.
American Ballet Theatre’s Whipped Cream will be Performed at the Metropolitan Opera House, NYC, Through July 8th, 2017.
The first time I was exposed to the minutely-detailed and unconventionally psychedelic paintings of Philadelphia-based artist Shawn Thornton, I thought I was looking at paintings of vibrantly colorful circuit boards. It’s an easy misconception to make, I suspect. Thornton’s canvases are dense with the intersecting lines of diagram-like designs and irregular grids, which often contain images of birds, animals, people, or even the artist himself. While he’s shown extensively at the Fleisher/Ollman Gallery and Stephen Romano Gallery here in NYC — and Thornton’s work was also featured in an episode of HBO’sHigh Maintenance (which, as an aside, is a fantastically entertaining show) — but his unique artworks have a chance to gain greater exposure in the solo exhibit, Pareidolia, which includes works produced in a variety of media between 1995 and 2017, up now at Cue Art Foundation.
Since I have previously seen and written about an exhibit by artist Tahiti Pehrson which was also called Pareidolia, I know that the exhibit’s title refers to a psychological phenomenon involving a stimulus (an image or a sound) wherein the mind perceives a familiar pattern where none actually exists. This is a very appropriate title for Thornton’s body of work, and especially this expanded collection, which showcases not only paintings but also includes found-object sculptures and video installations.
There are two large assemblage sculptures in Pareidolia which remind me very much of the work of artist Matthew Dutton, whose art is always so enigmatic and captivating; like something you’d see in a fever dream. I love that Thornton can transform a combination of vintage toys, furniture and ordinary household items, like a carousel clothespin hanger, into a fantasy device that appears to have some kind of practical function or purpose.
Detail from Above Sculpture
This altar-like tableau, starring a whimsical plastic Elephant and Giraffe stuffed with tiny lights, also features antlers, tree branches, bells, padlocks, vinyl LP discs, and tiny living plants.
Serpents Egg in the Seat Of Consciousness
Many of the paintings, such as this one, feature self-portraits of Thornton hidden in the midst of other images. It turns out that Thornton’s own experiences with Pareidolia, which is evident in his hallucinatory artworks, was triggered by an undiagnosed brain tumor in his pineal gland, which he lived with for over a decade.
The above collection of small-scale paintings directly reference the artist’s experience with surgery to remove the tumor.
Green Flame Hypnosis
It is not a coincidence that these paintings resemble maps of Thornton’s psyche.
A Fracture in the Golden Mean
Paintings like these can take Thornton over a year to complete, and there are no accidental brush strokes.
Lobotomy of the Ghost Mechanics – Scarab Timetable
Brahmastra for a New Age (UFO / Time Machine)
Thornton worked on the above canvas from 2010 to 2103.
Take a look at the detail from just a couple of square inches of this painting! Unbelievable!
Come and discover the world of Shawn Thornton now at Cue Art Foundation before the show closes!
Shaun Thornton’s Pareidolia will be on Exhibit Through May 24th, 2017 at Cue Art Foundation, Located at 137 West 25th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues) in NYC.
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.
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?
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.
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 Off Season
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.
Artist Martin Wittfooth Chats with Gallery Owner Jonathan LeVine at the Opening Reception
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.
Corner Pocket By Masakatsu Sashie (All Photos By Gail)
Jonathan LeVine Gallery is currently hosting External Effect, a series of new works by Japanese artist Masakatsu Sashie. This is Sashie’s second solo exhibition at the gallery, and I somehow neglected to write about his first show, so I didn’t want to fail twice at sharing a series of artworks that is really special.
In a body if work that will surely appeal to fans of dystopian sci-fi. Sashie’s hyperreal 0il paintings and sketches depict a post-apocalyptic world, or series of worlds. The bleak visions of a future that is also trapped in the past analyze the influence of technology on the circle of life. The level of detail in these paintings is extraordinary.
Modeled after Kanazawa, the town he was born and continues to reside in, Sashie’s landscapes resemble landfills – capsized by burning vehicles, antiquated technology and an overwhelming amount of man-made debris. Massive orb-shaped amalgams of industrially manufactured products are the focal point of every piece, hovering over desolate cityscapes, drawing attention to the paradox of the vastness of the universe yet the finite amount of space mankind has to exist.
Kanazawa is a small city in Japan that the artist describes as a miniature garden in which the obsolete and contemporary are fused due to its distance from an urban center.
Zero Sum (1 of 2)
Zero Sum (Detail)
Growing up within this isolation nurtured Sashie’s fascination with the notion of “the balanced aquarium,” a concept described by Nobel Prize winner Konrad Lorenz in his book King Solomon’s Ring: New Light on Animal Ways (1949).
Corner Pocket (Detail)
Lorenz describes an aquarium as a self-sustaining environment depending solely on the natural interactions between plants and other living organisms for survival. Once outside involvement occurs, balance is lost and disintegration immediately begins.
The artist considers Lorenz’s biological phenomenon as the epitome of the world we live in; struggling to maintain stability among the complexities and demands of modern living. Revolving around themes of consumerism, globalism and environmentalism, Masakatsu Sashie’s self-contained environments are an archive of the past and a prediction of our future.
Masakatsu Sashie’s External Effect will be on Exhibit Through November 12th, 2016 at Jonathan LeVine Gallery, Located at 529 East 20th Street, 9th Floor, in the Chelsea Gallery District.
Left: Melt Into The Air Cool, Tight: Melt Into The Air Hot
Rock Band Guernica By Ron English (All Photos By Gail)
Allouche Gallery is currently hosting the first major exhibit in their beautiful new home in the Meatpacking District — and what a way kick things off! Guernica features the debut of eighteen new paintings by contemporary Pop and street artist, Ron English.
The series, which took two years to complete, references the artist’s own narrative to Pablo Picasso’s renowned Guernica, painted in 1937. English utilizes the Guernica template to relay powerful messages about the endless cycles of creation and destruction through the use of his globally recognized imagery and iconography.
It is great fun to see how English — who is a genius at manipulating pop culture icons and tropes — fluidly riffs on Guernica to include everything from The Flintstones to Star Wars to Guitar Hero.
Star Wars Guernica
Ron English Talks with Fans at Last Week’s Opening Reception
Ron was present at the opening reception, and he is always very gracious when it comes to signing and taking photos with fans.
Fat Food Guernica
The painting above has the names of popular fast food or fast casual restaurants stenciled just under the images.
Kill All Lies Guernica
Seconds Before Impact Guernica
Guernica By Ron English will be on Exhibit Through October 19th, 2016 at Allouche Gallery, Located at 82 Gansevoort Street (Across from the Whitney Museum) in New York City’s Meatpacking District.
Julian Stanczak, Early Brim, Silkscreen on Plastic, $4675. Harris Stanton Gallery, Cleveland. (All Photos By Gail)
The fall edition of the Affordable Art Fair is going on right now at the Metropolitan Pavilion in the Flatiron District. We made a run through during Wednesday night’s Private View and found these fun Pink Artworks that will give you an idea of what you can find to bring home with you at this vibrant, priced-to-own fair!
Moonlight By Arthit Pansuay, $3300. A Gallery, Hong Kong
Edie Nadelhaft, BLTC: I <3 U, $1400. Art Star Online.
Louise Marler, VokarcamERA – Pink on Aperture (Fuji C-Print Light Box), $1380. Bruce Lurie Gallery, Los Angeles.
Poodle By Ross Bonfanti, $1400. Rebecca Hossack Online.
Damien Hirst, Quisqualic Acid, $4550 (Signed and Numbered By the Artist). Manifold Editions, London, UK.
(Above and Below) Matthew Lapenta, Emoji Series, $7500 each. Axiom Gallery, Santa Monica, CA.
A Glittering Moment By Yu Na Kang, $730. Sia Gallery, NYC.
Melissa Tseng, Blushed (Encaustic on Panel), $760.
Victor Spinelli, Circus Circus $1, $2900. Emmanuel Fremin Gallery, NYC.
Pink Bike By Sergio Garcia. The Lawley Art Group, Dallas, TX.
Andy McKenzie, Candy. Bleach Box Gallery, London, UK.
The Affordable Art Fair Runs Through Sunday, October 2nd at the Metropolitan Pavilion, Located at 125 West 18th Street in Manhattan. More Information, such as Hours and Admission Charges, is available at This Link!