Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Gallery Hoppin' 4/28/09

Part of an artist's homework is "Gallery Hopping." Doing your due diligence, research, homework - however you label it, hitting the pavement serves several purposes. Before you submit work to a gallery, you have to make sure your work is right for that space - a gallery showing realistic cityscapes isn' t likely to be interested in your minimalist canvases painted black and covered with beeswax. Gallery Hopping helps in many other ways, but I'll save that for another post, today I wish to write about some recent shows I saw.

First stop was to see the AIKO "Love Monster" show at Joshua Liner Gallery. AIKO, born in Tokyo and now residing in Brooklyn, was part of the group FAILE that did street art, wheatpasting their way through cities around the globe. Her work is obviously pop and influenced by street art, kawaii ("cute" in Japanese) culture, and "globalized depictions of female sexuality" mixing screens, stencils, and blowups of images (many from comic books) repeated throughout the show. There are many artists doing this type of work (Greg Gossel comes to mind) and it's eye candy and draws you in, yet in some ways the artists paint themselves into a corner and the works become a one-trick pony. My impression is that AIKO is aware of this compared to others, so it'll be interesting to watch how, and if, her work evolves.

Tony Shafrazi Gallery had a large show by Theodore Knobloch of Germany, his first solo in the US. Many of the paintings of are of a seaside town - boats, children playing, shacks, all painted realistically but somewhat deconstructed with large areas of color, taped straight edges mixed with loose brushstrokes and cropped composition. The show loses some steam compositionally with several paintings having an image (ladder, pole etc) going straight down the middle - clearly done intentionally, but to the detriment of the overall image.

Mike Cockrill showed his "Sentiment and Seduction" paintings at Kent Gallery ("Hatari" left and "Tag" on the right). First impression was of John Currin and Lisa Yuskavage influences, the slightly off-kilter, sexually-undertoned scenes of daily life. Snapshot like moments (not as photo-realistic as Martin Mull's or Eric Fischl's work) where someone or everyone's guard is down and there's some naughtiness afoot. The statement suggests he is exploring the "rich transition from the world of childhood fantasy to adult awareness in a manner that is both playfully innocent and sexually charged." "Flag Day" shows a girl scout, shirt unbuttoned and becoming aware of her own sexual prowess next to an oblivious boy (you know, girls develop quicker) whose hormones havent kicked in yet.
Cockrill grew up in an area of Virginia where most men worked for the CIA, FBI and State Department and secrets abounded, a state of mind that is present in these pieces. You really sense this in "Hatari" - notice the middle boy staring straight up the woman's dress and ya gotta love the Sinatra album on the floor next to the Hatari soundtrack.
Next: Portraits, Powhida and Pablo

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Thursday, April 2, 2009

MIchael Rakowitz at Lombard-Freid

Happened to catch an interesting show by accident at Lombard-Freid Projects titled "The worst condition is to pass under a sword which is not one's own," an interesting installation by Michael Rakowitz.
You're first greeted by a large replica of Hussein's Victory Arch, made from deconstructed GI Joe figures, papier-mache from Saddam's novels, and toy light sabres.

Seems the premise of the show is Saddam and Usay Hussein's fascination with sci-fi, especially Star Wars. At the base of the faux Victory Arch are helmets cast in resin I believe, with more toy parts mixed in. The odd thing is that these helmets are just like Darth Vader's minus the front face part, which along with ski masks and curved swords were actually the uniform of his paramilitary group. It seems like a parody at first until you realize the eerie reality of it all.

Along the walls are long framed drawings on paper done in pencil and ink. These explore the second aspect of this show, "the intricacies and complexities of how science turns into science fiction and vice-versa, capturing imaginations and becoming militarized." Going from hot air balloons to young Gerald Bull's story to the CIA, Saddam, super-guns, and into the bizarre intertwining of the movie Star Wars and the Husseins' twisted reality. It seems so adolescent and would otherwise be easy to laugh off if the events weren't so close chronologically. "On the eve of the Gulf War, the Star Wars theme music played as Iraqi soldiers marched underneath the monument for Iraqi TV cameras."
This show is up til 4/4/09 at 531 W. 26th St between 10th and 11th Aves in NYC. (Click on any image to view larger)