Ellannah “Ella” Sadkin is a London-based artist who works primarily with acrylic and graffiti pens to produce colorful and abstract works. With its hard black lines, bright flat color and organic and geometric shapes, her style is often described as surrealist cartooning.
Sadkin was a child of the nineties and a huge cartoon fan, and cites early drawing of The Simpson’s characters as her first foray into cartooning.
Ariel (Little Mermaid)
As an adolescent growing up in New York, Sadkin was heavily influenced by the vibrant street graffiti scene. This later inspired her approach to composition, with large canvas pieces resembling graffiti murals in their layer-upon-layer approach.
Sadkin is a self-taught artist and lists Kaws as a primary influence. Her appropriation of cartoon aesthetics has been described as Ren and Stimpy on acid meets Takashi Murakami. Nice!
Photographed at The Pivot Gallery in Chelsea, NYC.
Dream Furor Colligendi, 2014, By Keiicha Tanaami (All Photos By Gail)
You never know what you will discover on a Saturday afternoon art crawl in the Chelsea Gallery District. What happens more than you can imagine is that Geoffrey I fall in love with the work of an artist who is new to us, despite them having a career that spans decades. Sometimes, that artist has already passed, and we have occasion to mourn a great loss at the same time that we are welcoming a lifetime of beautiful art into our own lives. Because when it comes to art, it is just impossible to know everything.
Detail from Dream Furor Colligendi
In this case, we stopped in to the Sikkema Jenkins & Co Gallery and were blown away by Visible Darkness / Invisible Darkness; a wonderful collection of large scale, fantasy paintings by Japanese pop artist, Keiichi Tanaami, who is still creating new work at 80 years old. Wow!
Detail from The Last Supper
To me, his work reminds me of a mash up of Takashi Murakami and the surreal, adult animated series Superjail. If you know what that means, great. If you don’t, it doesn’t matter.
Two in the Cloudy Sky, 2014
You could stand in front of one of Tanaami’s canvases and talk about what you see until you run out of words.
Pleasure of the Mimicry, 2015
With work this beautiful and thought provoking, I was not surprised to learn that he is one of the leading pop artists of postwar Japan, and has been active as multi-genre artist since the 1960s as a graphic designer, illustrator, video artist and fine artist. He was also the first art director of the Japanese edition of Playboy magazine!
The Last Supper, 2015
There was also a video monitor (seen above) showing animated works, with one image morphing into the next — very cool!
Sadly, this exhibit, Visible Darkness / Invisible Darkness, ended on the day of our visit, but you can learn more about the life and career of Keiicha Tanaami by visiting his Wikipedia page at This Link and see more images like these at Right Here!
When I was in California at Christmastime, a little bit of advanced planning allowed me to enjoy a visit to the new Broad Museum of contemporary art, located in beautiful downtown Los Angeles. Featuring 2,000 works of art from the private collection of philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad (pronounced like “Bro-d”), admission is free of charge, but because the museum just opened on September 20th, 2015, the demand for tickets is so high that they must be reserved online in advance.
By December, the list was already booked up through February 2016! It is times like these that writing an awesome blog like The Worley Gig comes in handy. With a couple of exchanged emails, the Broad’s press office was kind enough to extend VIP-treatment to myself and two guests, which included front-of-the-line cutting privileges that saved us about two hours of waiting in a queue that already wrapped around two sides of the building by the time the museum opened at 11 AM. It is good to be the King, or Queen, whatever.
Remember The Good Things By Seonna Hong (All Photos By Gail)
If you stop by Jonathan LeVine Gallery to see the latest Martin Wittfooth exhibit, be sure to also see If You Lived Here I’d Be Home By Now, a series of new works by Los Angeles-based artist Seonna Hong, her debut solo exhibition, which is running concurrently in the rear gallery. After completing a series of self-reflective work throughout her career, Hong has discovered a way to look forward, with this collection of paintings that signify her return to the New York art world after eight years. Of course, I had an immediate attraction to all of the paintings in this exhibit, because there is so much pink in them!
Hong is a multi-disciplinary talent with international recognition as a painter, illustrator and animation production artist. Notable accolades include an Emmy Award for Individual Achievement in Production Design for her work on the animated series My Life as a Teenage Robot. She is also the author of Animus, a critically acclaimed moving picture book. And it is worth mentioning that, in 2008, she was chosen by Takashi Murakami as the first American to have a solo exhibition at the world renowned KaiKai Kiki Gallery in Japan.
Where Hong’s previous works focused on reckoning, forgiveness and ‘wishing I said all the things I didn’t say,’ If You Lived Here I’d Be Home by Now explores the possibilities of what’s to come. In the artist’s words, “My once melancholic and somber pieces have given way to a new kind of hopefulness.”
The Magic Number
Continuing to move away from compositions of fully formed ideas, Hong’s process is spontaneous yet deliberate. Using paint swirls and scrapes to define space and texture, her signature characterization of girls and animals remains, but they exist less as protagonists and more as a lens to view the expressionistic landscapes that they occupy.
One in the Morning
In If You Lived Here, I’d Be Home by Now the artist works with a visual and literal vocabulary that takes cues from her personal life. By incorporating text and using books as her canvas for a selection of works, Hong examines the universal themes of exploration and reconnecting with our sense of childlike wonder.
L: Deciding How It Should Go. R: Diamond of the Truest Kind
Seonna Hong’s If You Lived Here I’d Be Home By Now will be on Exhibit through November 14th, 2015 at Jonathan LeVine Gallery, Located at 529 West 20th Street, 9th Floor, in the Chelsea Gallery District.
Tan Tan Bo – In Communication, 2014 (All Photos By Gail)
As much as everyone is already whining about the impending hellish winter that we are surely in for again this year, all you have to do is walk into the cavernous Gagosian Gallery space on West 24th Street and get an eyeful of the 18 foot high sculptures reaching towards the celing and 30 foot long murals unfurling across the walls in Takashi Murakami’s In The Land of The Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow to realize that — Polar Vortex be damned — New York City is the Center of The Universe, and that is where you want to be.
I’m not going to go into detail here about who Takashi Murakami is and why his art is important. You either already love his work, or will be compelled to find out based on the photos in this blog post. Or you don’t give a shit, who cares? Use The Google to your advantage, is all I’m saying.
The art exhibited in Murakami’s In The Land of The Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow is about the artist telling his personal story in response to historic natural disasters; specifically the Great Tōhoku Earthquake of 2011. Since that devastating event, Murakami has explored other Japanese art produced in response to historic natural disasters.
Gallery View with Sanmon (Sacred Gate)
At Gagosian, Murakami has created an immersive installation, entered through a 56-ton replica of a Sanmon (Sacred Gate), which also includes paintings of eclectic Arhats (Perfected Persons); dissolving clones of his popular creation Mr. Dob; and Karajishi, the mythic lions that guard Japanese Buddhist temples.
Sacred Gate Detail
Here is a contemporary belief system, constructed in the wake of disaster, that merges earlier faiths, myths, and images into an amalgamated spirituality of the artist’s imagination. In totemic sculptures representing demons, religious sites, and self-portraits; and paintings that conflate classical Japanese techniques with Abstract Expressionist tropes, science-fiction, manga, and Buddhist and Shinto imagery, Murakami investigates the role of faith amid the inexorable transience and trauma of existence.
That’s right: it’s heavy.
Gold Leaf Mural with Karajishi (Detail)
Also, there are lots of skulls.
Not long after we entered the gallery, an elderly gentleman approached me and asked what I thought of the art. When I told him I thought it was just fantastic, he went off on an elaborate rant about how he didn’t like it at all because Murakami puts too much stuff on the canvas. Then he went on about that for a while, citing artists like M. C. Escher, who expressed sophisticated visual concepts without putting “too much stuff” on the canvas, whatever.
Platinum Leaf Mural with Karajishi
When he finally came up for air, I offered my opinion that perhaps Murakami’s fans appreciate the high level of detail in the paintings. That couldn’t be possible, he insisted, because there was just too much stuff going on, “too many ideas.” I’m certainly all about having a lively conversation with someone over differing opinions concerning contemporary art, but if you start telling me that what I think is wrong, well, that’s where I am going to shut you down.
This is the painting I stared at for fifteen minutes while Mr. Too Much Stuff on the Canvas chewed my ear off.
Eventually, Geoffrey appeared and, after I caught his eye and mouthed the words “help me” in his general direction, I was rescued. At that moment, I admit I was thinking about that episode of Seinfeld, where Elaine and Jerry, upon arriving at a party, agree on a hand gesture that they will use to signal each other from across the room if they are being monopolized in conversation by someone who’s driving them insane. Because life imitates art.
Too much stuff on the canvas. What a bunch of bullshit. If he didn’t like the art, why was he there? I got yer Too Much Stuff on the Canvas right here.
Mr. Dob with a bunch of stuff!
See how Murakami puts himself in the art. So cute.
And also, this little guy.
Of course, Murakami was in the house, because he is awesome like that. Here he is standing in front of a mural depicting those Arhats I mentioned earlier. He took the time to pose for photos with everyone, what a guy!
He is always smiling and has the best hats!
Here’s some more stuff we liked!
Here you see Murakami do something a bit different with his signature smiling face flowers. The black and platinum fields on each canvas are embossed with the imprint of hundreds of skulls.
Invoking the Vitality of a Universe Beyond Imagination (Statue of the Artist), 2014
Must See Art: Go Now!
In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow by Takashi Murakami will be on Exhibit Through January 17th, 2015 at Gagosian Gallery, Located at 555 West 24th Street, In the Chelsea Gallery District.
Fans of Japanese Anime, Manga and the Superflat school of Pop Art founded by Takashi Murakami won’t want to miss Jessica Lichtenstein’s latest collection, Afterglow, on exhibit now at Gallery nine5 in Soho. Afterglow is the third solo exhibit by the artist at the gallery.
It’s worth noting that when I first saw photos of Jessica’s work, I assumed I was looking at Asian Landscapes depicting flowering trees. But it only took a cursory look once we were in the gallery to notice that the abundant “blossoms” clustered around the tree branches are actually tiny naked ladies!
Detail from Spring
Known for her large acrylic word sculptures that serve as a playground for frolicking female figures, Lichtenstein juxtaposes these works with new sculptures that present a contemplative environment for her signature, lascivious heroines. While still examining facets of femininity and fetishism, Afterglow offers an emotional lens through which to examine relationships. According to the show’s press release, the current exhibit at nine5, “manifests sexuality in a delicate and sensitive way and thus invites the viewer to bask in the ‘afterglow’ of desire.” I would agree with that sentiment, as the show seems more sensual than sexual, and it is also full of humor and playfulness.
Afterglow features four circular sculptures of the Seasons series that are inspired by nature as a metaphor for the cycle of relationships – pink blossoms bursting from the trees in Spring, or the iced over world of Winter (both pictured above). These works also highlight the tension between the individual vs. the collective. Each girl is poised in a different position and is reacting to the environment, however together the figures unite in a singular image of a tree and its leaves, thus describing the collective strength of women regardless of differences in emotions and reactions.
Alongside the Seasons are Lichtenstein’s word sculptures, which, again in text taken from the Press Release, “toy with the pornographic world of Japanese-inspired comic books. Creating her own imagined fantastical landscapes infused with a highly sexualized environment, Lichtenstein places appropriated heroines in scenes that are reminiscent of Renoir’s, Cezanne’s or Picasso’s “nude bathers”; scenes that harken back to a time of “female as muse.” The works, layered behind a thick buffer of acrylic, take a critical distance from their own content and in fact, beg the viewer to do the same.
Through this intermediary, the viewer is asked to engage with and question whether Lichtenstein’s characters are depicted solely to satisfy an insatiable male-dominated gaze, or if such a theory is too narrow, neglecting to address the complex nature of women and their agency in terms of sexuality and desirability. To me, it seems much less complicated. I just think her artwork is lovely and fun.
Detail from Wet. Yes, I See Boobs.
Ultimately, you can interpret Jessica Lichtenstein’s works as having a deep socio-sexual resonance, or you can appreciate them as gorgeous, lighthearted and colorful works of Contemporary / Pop Art that also challenge you to think while you look at them.
Afterglow by Jessica Lichtenstein will be on Exhibit through December 15, 2013 at Gallery nine5, Located at 24 Spring Street, New York, NY 10012.
If you enjoy the TV show Hoarders and the works of pop artist Takashi Murakami, then the current exhibit by Japanese artist Mr. at Lehmann Maupin Gallery is your wet dream. Metamorphosis: Give Me Your Wings fills Lehman Maupin’s cavernous space on West 26th Street with stacks and piles and mountains of personal objects of every imaginable description: from clothing to magazines to computer monitors, all active with videos of the artist.
Also included in the exhibit are large-scale Manga paintings, which fit into the school of the Superflat, a movement/philosophy coined by Murakami to identify “various flattened forms in Japanese graphic art, animation, pop culture and fine arts, as well as the shallow emptiness of Japanese consumer culture.”
Walking through the gallery, Geoffrey and I were reminded very much of Chinese artist Song Dong’sWaste Not installation that we saw at the Museum of Modern Art a couple of years ago. It goes without saying, of course, that Mr.’s current work is also a reaction/response to what has been going on in Japan since the devastating natural disasters of 2011. I recommend this exhibit for all audiences.
Photo of The Artist
Metamorphosis: Give Me Your Wings by Mr. will be on Exhibit Through October 20th, 2012 at Lehmann Maupin Gallery, Located at 540 West 26th Street, Street Level, New York City. Gallery Hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, and Mondays by appointment.
Art Fans Enjoy Mr.’s Metamorphosis at Lehman Maupin Gallery