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Paul Kasmin Gallery is currently hosting Deborah Kass: No Kidding, an exhibition of new mixed media paintings. Mounted on fields of primarily black and blue, Kass incorporates neon lights in her paintings for the first time, limiting her signature palette, to spell out puns and phrases bearing pop cultural references that provide a somber meditation on the troubling present, and uncertain future.
No Kidding represents the artist’s fourth body of work that deals at the intersection of popular culture, contemporary art, art history, and politics. Like all of Kass’s most important series of the past 25 years, these works might be said to deploy what has been recently labeled citational modernism. But in stark contrast to its current practitioners, her work has consistently and articulately deconstructed the unspoken politics of modernism and reinvented it with urgent and contemporary political meaning. An extension of her feel good paintings for feel bad times, Kass’ most recent body of work sets a darker, tougher tone as she reflects on contemporary issues such as global warming, institutional racism, police brutality, gun violence, and attacks on women’s health, through the lens of minimalism and grief.
Kass’ paintings often borrow their titles and puns from songs, such as, Just A Shot Away, 2014, which takes its name from the Rolling Stones’ 1969 song “Gimme Shelter,” that was written in response to the violence of that time. Consistently laden with ambiguity, this work, along with others in the series, references a range of current social, political, and environmental tipping points.
Happy Days, 2014, a multi panel, black-colored painting, references the campaign song for Franklin D. Roosevelt’s successful 1932 Presidential campaign. The song was re-recorded thirty years later by Barbra Streisand – historically one of Kass’ muses– giving it a new context for a different generation. Kass provides yet another reading, commenting on the fate of the New Deal and America’s relationship to happiness and hope. As the viewer sees their reflection in the mirror-like surface, they are reminded of their responsibility for the present state of affairs.
In a separate room, Kass’ paintings The Band Played On and Prepare for Saints provide the coda for the show. In the spirit of Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, they are made with non-traditional materials, and collectively with all the paintings in the exhibit, look at the present and the future with striking ambivalence.
No Kidding By Deborah Kass will be on Exhibit Through January 23rd, 2016 at Paul Kasmin Gallery, Located at 515 West 27th Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.
West German artist Natascha Sadr Haghighian (b. 1968) investigates modes of perception and the politics of representation in an expansive conceptual practice that includes performance, writing, video, installation and online projects. She is particularly interested in the consumption of visual art – a field the artist identifies as a reflection of its wider socioeconomic context. I can’t work like this (2007) was conceived in response to a gallery’s invitation to feature her work as the sole exhibition in a commercial art fair booth; the piece was intended to mount a tacit assault on a strolling audience of potential buyers.
The work withdraws the traditional art object, at least metaphorically, and leaves only the most ubiquitous tools for art installation, including discarded hammers, a common symbol for labor. The effect is one of a casual abandonment, as though the artist simply walked away, though whether in defeat or triumph is open to interpretation. A sharp one-liner, I can’t work like this functions as an expression of the artist’s frustration at the pressures and parameters of her creative output.
Photographed at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City as part of the Storylines Exhibit in 2015.
Northern Manhattan’s Washington Heights at 207th Street/ Inwood: Here, the A Train begins its 31 mile journey from NYC through Brooklyn to either Lefferts Boulevard or Far Rockaway in Queens. This is where we spotted this distinctive artwork, specifically designed for the station. On the opposite side of this corridor you’ll find a complimentary message, “At the Start…” Both murals’ mirror mosaic text were created from silk screened silver tiles in 1999 by artist Sheila Levrant de Bretteville. Beautiful.
I think I can safely say that every single time I’ve stumbled across a cool exhibit at Elizabeth Dee Gallery, located just off 11th Avenue on 20th Street, it’s not only because I’m on my way to a gallery located a bit further east, but because I recognize a piece of art in the window as one I’ve seen at Frieze Art Fair. This indicates that the artists they represent are truly memorable, because Frieze is massive. My point being, I stopped in to Elizabeth Dee on Saturday because I recognized the artwork of John Giorno, who creates text-based paintings of bold, thought provoking slogans originally sourced from poetry that the artist has written, or lines that never made it into a final poem. It’s amazing to see that, at age 79, John Giorno continues to create works that speak so poignantly to a contemporary audience.
In this series, entitled Space Forgets You, Giorno presents his paintings in three different styles: in vibrant, rainbow-hued paints, as pastel water colors, and earth-toned graphite drawings. Although many of the sayings are repeated over the various groups, the method by which each was created definitely affects ones perception of the message.
One gallery room is dedicated to the water colors.
Another displays all of the smaller, graphite drawings.
My favorites in this series are the rainbow colored paintings. This one I’ve seen at Frieze, but done with black paint on a white canvas.
It always gives me great satisfaction to use this phrase, for some reason.
This one is great. It should be on a T-Shirt.
John Giorno’s Space Forgets You will be on Exhibit Through May 9th, 2015, at Elizabeth Dee Gallery, Located at 545 West 20th Street at Eleventh Avenue (West Side Highway), in the Chelsea Gallery District.
The Palace of Curtains, III (1928) is one in a series of paintings by René Magritte that explores the resonances between words and images. Two polygons with nearly identical profiles lean against a wood-paneled wall. Each shape frames a depiction of sky, one with a painted representation, the other with language (the French word ciel, meaning sky).
Magritte was fond of unexpected pairings between interior and exterior scenes, as with the patch of blue sky against the finite backdrop of the wall. Placing words in absurd or unexpected contexts, Magritte challenged the conventional use of language. Though the use of text in his word-picture pairings may seem incongruous, the artist viewed all language as arbitrary: “An image is not so wedded to its name,” he said , “that one cannot find another which suits it better.”
Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.