I went to New York last week and have come back to Vermont feeling refreshed, quickly re-immersing myself in the studio. Before I left, my productivity in the studio was dwindling, my time in Rome this summer was becoming more distant and I wasn’t able to draw as much inspiration from the time I’d spent there. When I returned from New York I started to think that visiting places to refresh my studio practice should just be a consistent part of my process. Now I’m thinking that it’s time for me to move back to New York, but imagine living there might require that I retreat to Vermont now and again to refresh myself.
My friend Giordanne Salley put me up during my stay. We were talking while I was looking at this painting in her living room. I chuckled to myself when I realized that the bird in the paintings was looking back at me through the mirror in it’s cage.
I saw a bunch of museum shows. The Balthus exhibition at the MET and the Janet Cardiff piece at the Cloisters really stood out. I also saw the Magritte show at MoMA, he’s never been one of my favorite painters, but there were still some things I found interesting.
Balthus (above) has always been a painter more in my periphery, I’ve never paid too much attention to him, but I like how he builds a painting, there seems to be a tension contained in the specificity of how he pieces shapes together. Everything is very carefully considered.
Katherine Bradford is another painter who uses shapes in a particular way that creates a certain tension. She was our last visiting painter at the Vermont Studio Center, so I had just met her before I left for New York and was able to catch her current show, Small Ships, at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, which was really great. (see below)
I highly recommend seeing Janet Cardiff’s Forty Part Motet now in the cloisters, this image doesn’t really explain the experience. Each speaker is an individual recording of a member of a choral group, the sound is very layered and you can experience the piece many different ways. I listened to it all the way through multiple times and found that if I closed my eyes it was almost as if I was absolutely alone in a void and the only piece of earth left were the spots on the floor where my feet touched the ground, at other moments I would open my eyes and find myself feeling shocked by the hard reality of the room. These two Magritte pieces above I found particularly interesting, maybe because they’re playing with some ideas that have been coming up in my own work recently.
One of the main reasons I visited New York was to support Dusty Boynton at her opening at Denise Bibro Fine Art. I’ve been assisting Dusty for the past year in her studio, and in that time we’ve become friends. She has a kind of energy and outlook on life that I really aspire to. I like how the piece above finds a full kind of mass through gesture, and how the figures hauntingly stare back at you.
My friend Patrick Berran has a solo show at Southfirst Gallery in Williamsburgh. It’s been interesting to see his paintings evolve over the two years that I’ve known him. When I first met him the seductive color fields he was painting dominated the foreground, but now it’s like he’s flipped the images so we see the under side – maybe some kind of decayed structure that the color fields hang on.
After New York I took a quick jaunt over to Boston to visit the ICA. I saw a piece by Alex Hubbard who I fist discovered at the 2009 Whitney Biennial. His “moving paintings” really fascinate me. I love how his work can take the world we know and turn it back into abstraction, a chain saw or a pile of bones can be pulled out of it’s own context and just become a mark. Below is a still image of the video piece, this is another instance where you have to view the work in person to really experience it. My main reason for visiting Boston was because my friend Steve Locke is having his first museum exhibition at the ICA which I was very glad to catch. He does these grotesque portraits of floating heads with their tongues sticking out that challenge certain traditions (see below). The way he hung the show also seemed to be questioning traditions of painting and got me reflecting back on the importance of curation. Lastly I was really excited to find out that Amy Sillman’s retrospective was also up at the ICA, she’s a killer painter, and it was really interesting to see the evolution of her work over the past ten years or so. I was really drawn to the later work (see below).