Jinx!

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New York & Boston Fall 2013

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.

SunshineMy 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.

drawing-room 0929F_BALTHUS4_BD_40P the-mediterranean-cat-1949Balthus (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)

DSC_0796-1cardiff6I 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.  IMG_0954 tumblr_msju6sDmfM1s2nkc5o1_1280These 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.

n36holjz5u8b7bfr4ev3One 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.

PB07_813My 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.  Blart-CLICKMy 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.  the-rising-up-624x667 content_Steve-Locke-A-Brief-HistoryLastly 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).

AS-nose-2010 IMG_1736 IMG_1738Damn, that’s a lot of art!

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Venice Biennale 2013

This past weekend I was able to make it to Venice to view the Venice Biennale for two days.  This was the first time I’ve ever gone so it was exciting just to go, but I thought it was also interesting to view art from a more international perspective and not through the filter of living in the states or being surrounded by a particular school of thinking. That said, there were also some pieces that commented on Biennales format as too rigid, where each pavilion/country is separated and doesn’t represent the international/global interactions that are happening within and amongst all countries.  Alfredo Jarr’s piece Vinezia, Venizia flooded a scaled down model of the pavilions as if asking for a rethinking of how the pavilions should be structured in relation to our global society.  The German pavilion also commented on this idea by inviting international artists to show at their pavilion opposed to just choosing German artists.

Being chosen as the one person to represent your country in art seems like it would be totally overwhelming and somewhat ridiculous, but perhaps it’s impossible for us as humans to absorb it all anyway, and even with just one person representing each country the Biennale is a lot to take in.  That seemed like a major theme of the Biennale; with our over abundant access to information how do we organize it in a way that is absorbable on a human level?

To me, in the recent past, it feels that our initial reaction to this bombardment of information and not knowing how to process it was a feeling of being overwhelmed and reacting flippantly through the use of irony, but after seeing the Biennale I get the feeling that this trend seems to be fading, as a lot of the work I saw seemed to be looking towards spirituality, awe and imagination as ways to deal with our existence. Below are a few of the works I found particularly interesting.

Da Vinci by Yuri Ancarani for me was kind of a jaw dropping film.  I might vote it one of the most stand out things at the Biennale. For me it felt like more of an experience than a film with it’s visceral visual and auditory command of scenes from a laparoscopic surgery. I actually feel a little bad showing this bootleg youtube version because it really doesn’t do it justice.

In terms of painting Maria Lassnig was the highlight.

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Unfortunately I’m having trouble finding some of the video’s I’d like to post here.  One was a video by Ed Atkins called the Trick Brain (this is only a link to the script of the film), and the other was an animation by Leon & Cocina called Los Andes.

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Summer Selections at Denise Bibro Gallery

Figure Head 1, 11"x14", oil on panel, 2013

Figure Head 1, 11″x14″, oil on panel, 2013

I’m currently still in Rome, but in the mean time I’m in a group show at Denise Bibro Gallery which opens tonight.  The painting above is one of four paintings that I’ll have in the show.  Unfortunately I won’t be at the reception tonight, but I’m very excited to be in the exhibition, I plan to catch the tail end of the show when I get back to the states before it closes on August 10th.  I hope you get a chance to check it out.

Denise Bibro Gallery is located at 529 West 20th Street, #4W New York, NY 10011.
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11AM to 6PM.
Open by appointment August 13 – September 4, 2013  212-647-7030

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Rome

IMG_1481Yesterday I flew to Rome, Italy – I’ll be spending the next six weeks here TAing in painting for the Rome Art Program.  I’m excited to be here, and already love it.  Recently I’ve been feeling like I don’t feel particularly drawn to any American cities, and don’t know where to live next in my life, but it feels really good to be in this city.  I love how contemporary society exists and integrates itself around such ancient architecture and ruins. Last night I went to a party at the German Academy, tonight I walked to the Pantheon, sat by a fountain, watched the crowd and drew a little.  Tomorrow we’re off to Florence for the day.

I’m expecting the trip to give me many ideas. I left my studio with 36 fresh oil ground panels which I’m looking forward to approaching when I get back.  IMG_1478IMG_1479

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Precious Tamba

I received this beautiful email from Precious Tamba today.

Hello Dear, My name is Precious Tamba, i read through your profile today and i became interested in you,i will also like to know you the more,and i want you to send an e-mail to my e-mail address so i can give you my picture for you to know whom i am and for the both of us to know each other very well and better in life,and we can achieve it in future because ture love and feeling means alot in future.Here is my private e-mail address you can contact me with it.( precioustamba01@gmail.com ) I am waiting for your mail to my e-mail address above and aslo, Remember the distance or colour does not matter but love,feeling,e-motions and sympathetic love matters alot in life. Thanks,and i promise to be honest and to keep a very good relationship with you. Precious.

 

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Collaboration

dan-colab-1I’ve been doing a collaboration with my friend Dan Perkins who just finished up his MFA at American University. We’ve  been mailing a painting back and forth and working on it independently.  I just got it back yesterday and was pleasantly surprised to find this when I opened the package.  I think I might leave it as it is. I’m enjoying the playful, open process that the collaboration seems to allow for, and how we’re mashing our styles together. We’re planning on doing more and hopefully it will culminate in a collection of paintings for a show.

 

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Cloud Drawings II

 

SONY DSCThese are some more mono-print drawings I’ve been working on. They seem to be taking on more sickly shapes…SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

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Cloud Drawings

SONY DSC I’ve been getting in the habit of trying to draw daily, and have been doing these mono-print drawings over the past couple weeks.  It’s an attempt to bring a little more of a playful exploration back into my work.  I was thinking for awhile that there might be things literally hidden within the clouds; that they might be concealing something (like a personal iconography), but looking at them more I’m starting to think they might just be empty.  Their symbolism seems to come out of their emptiness, and that I’m trying to make something out of their nothingness. Below are a few close up shots of some of the ones I’m more drawn to.

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Painter’s Forms

gustonpaintersforms2I was recently confronted by the Philip Guston painting, Painter’s Forms II, 1978.  In re-looking at the piece I started thinking about how Guston, in his later work, develops his own personal iconography; he paints objects that are from, and representative of his life.  I find this interesting for a couple reasons. I always feel like I shy away from painting objects – it’s as if the representation of a physical object feels too solidified, and the symbolism found in objects lock them into a particular way of being read. Guston seems to get around this by keeping his representations of objects subjective and unconcerned with reproducing a likeness- but this seems very hard to do successfully, and something that he developed over his lifetime.

The real question that Guston’s paintings have caused me to ask is, if I had my own personal iconography, and were to paint it, what would it be? It surprises me to think that I don’t have an answer to that question, but I don’t. In reviewing my own paintings I look at the cloud forms and piles that I continue to paint and feel as if they might be concealing something.  That inside the wafting clouds and piles of muck might be a personal iconography to be found.

 

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