“As Fires Burn in Northern California, Arts Institutions Close Doors,” By Robin Scher


“As Fires Burn in Northern California, Arts Institutions Close Doors

As fires rage throughout parts of northern California, Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency, describing the situation as one of the worst firestorms in the state’s history. At present at least 11 people have died, with over 100,000 acres of land scorched by the fires. Evacuations began Sunday night and continued through Monday. Meanwhile, some institutions housing prominent art collections have closed their doors for safety reasons.

The Hess Collection, housed in the Napa Valley, announced on its website that it has closed to the public for safety reasons. The museum houses Donald Hess’s private collection, which includes pieces by Francis Bacon, Gerhard Richter, Anselm Kiefer, and Robert Motherwell.

Napa’s di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art, which has three galleries containing prominent Bay Area artists such as Bruce Conner, Lynn Hershman Leeson, David Ireland, and Richard Shaw, said on its Twitter account on Tuesday, “Fire fighters are on site & galleries are ok.”

Update, Wednesday, October 11, 11 a.m.: A spokesperson for di Rosa told ARTnews that the center is is “currently without power, including access to phones and email, and thus is closed until further notice. At this time, staff access to the site has been minimal due to road closures and the hazardous conditions in the area. We know that the fire touched the north end of the property, but did not reach the main campus, including all galleries and offices.”

As of Tuesday, another Napa landmark, Stonescape, Norman and Norah Stone’s art-filled property, has so far been unaffected by the disaster, according to a representative for the collection, which contains work by Martin Kippenberger, Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Joseph Beuys, and a site-specific James Turrell. Due to it being a private space, it has not had to contend with public closures.

In nearby Sonoma, an official with Oliver Ranch confirmed over the phone that its collection remains safe at present.

By Robin Scher, Reprint from ARTnews magazine / ARTnews, 10 October 2017, © 2017, Art Media ARTNEWS, llc.

” ‘Every Painting Is Abstract’: Adrian Ghenie on His Recent Work and Evolving Sense of Self,” By Andy Batagglia

Adrian Ghenie, Rest During the Flight Into Egypt, 2016, oil on canvas. ©ADRIAN GHENIE/COURTESY PACE GALLERY

” ‘Every Painting Is Abstract’:
Adrian Ghenie on His Recent Work and Evolving Sense of Self”

The large and small works in Adrian Ghenie’s “Recent Paintings” show at Pace Gallery in New York—comprising recent paintings, as might be surmised, but also preparatory collages—range from figurative to abstract and back again. The finer points of such distinctions, however, are beside the greater overall point for an artist who retains a lot of faith in painting as an enterprise.

“Every painting is abstract,” Ghenie said in the midst of an exhibition that counts as his first in New York in nearly four years. “I don’t believe in figurative. As soon as it starts to imitate, to depict something, then a painting is dead. This is the moment when you kill painting.”

Compositions can be figurative, he said, but the power of painting—when it has any power at all—is less in the cause than in the effect. And that effect is abstract regardless of the elements that went into creating a picture or considering it after the fact. “People imagine that abstraction is some kind of gesture,” Ghenie said of those who approach abstraction as a rhetorical stance. “But when you try to paint a tree, you realize, ‘I cannot paint all the leaves, I cannot paint all the textures.’ So you have to invent a movement of the brush that would suggest, in your mind, a tree. That is, essentially, abstract.”

Subject matter, though, can be as concrete as could be imaginable. To the points of reference he has privileged as personal touchstones throughout his career thus far—Tintoretto and the Venetian school, the early Flemish Renaissance, Vincent van Gogh—the 39-year-old artist has added more recent allusions. Rest During the Flight into Egypt (2016), full of slashing, sloshing colors (magentas, blues, and reds) and drama that is inescapable at a scale of nearly 10 by 8 feet, draws on the recent refugee crisis roiling Europe. So does Crossing the Sea of Reeds (2016), the same size but darker and more ominous, with gulls and fish spying a water-borne figure bobbing in a lifejacket.

“Painting has always reacted to big, epic stories, whether battles or biblical stories,” Ghenie said. “Art history is already full of this kind of depiction”—of struggle, toil, persecuted people moving en masse. “Everything you see on TV, if you remove the clothes, it’s the same as a Renaissance scene—a man followed by his wife holding a child with a landscape in the background. The only thing that’s missing is a donkey.”

The refugee crisis has struck close to home for the artist, who has lived for years in Berlin after having grown up in Romania. But it is another abstraction of a kind for a painter who remains—in Ghenie’s mind, at least—fated to abstraction no matter the subject at hand. “The subject of migration was used by artists in the Renaissance and the Baroque era as an excuse to paint landscapes,” he said. “The church would never pay for just a landscape, so the landscape had to be a background for a biblical scene in front. Artists were not going to fight with the church, so they found this perfect subject. They shot two rabbits with the same bullet.” (This last point, he averred, is a Romanian way of otherwise talking about birds and stones.)

Adrian Ghenie, Crossing the Sea of Reeds, 2016, oil on canvas.

The present sense of upheaval in the world, however, is more than just mere aesthetic pretense for an artist whose roots grow back to Romania. “I’m not trying to make my biography like I grew up in a communist dictatorship—I was just a kid, I didn’t have any trauma,” he said. “But what happened in Romania after ’89”—the fall of the Berlin Wall—“was very interesting. When you realize a whole country can be manipulated and made to believe one thing about itself, and then the regime falls and you find out that no, it was the other way around . . . I saw how it is possible to manipulate a whole country. What is the truth? What is trauma? Do we just think we’re humiliated, or are we really humiliated? In the end, wars and tragedies are all the same.”

His art is not political in a direct sense, he said—at least no more or less political than any other artist’s. “Can you be apolitical today? Could you be apolitical after the French Revolution? Was Rothko apolitical and Rauschenberg political? Was Goya a political painter? This is a fake concept.”

Another subject surrounding Ghenie right now is the ascendance of his work on the market, with paintings of his commanding prices that not all agree are rational—including the artist himself. Nickelodeon, a work from 2008, fetched £7.1 million ($9 million) at auction at Christie’s in London last October, and Flight into Egypt(2008) went for $3.9 million in November in New York.

“You can’t ignore it—how can you ignore that?” he said. “Asking an artist, ‘How does the market’s hysterical behavior affect you?’ is like asking a crazy person, ‘How crazy do you think you are?’ Maybe it has affected me, but I would say, to the mirror in the morning, it hasn’t.”

Adrian Ghenie, Self-Portrait, 2016, oil on canvas.

He continued, “In the beginning it was flattering, but then it got to be a bit weird. It’s like if somebody tells you there is a porn movie about you on the internet and you cannot do anything about it. How would you react? They say, ‘Oh, no, you look good in it—you’re hot.’ But it’s still a porn movie, and you realize, Okay, I have to live with that. My friends and everybody can see it, but it’s not bad. It’s not embarrassing. It’s something vulgar, but it’s not in my control.”

Living in Berlin provides a buffer, he said. “One of the things I love about Berlin is it’s not a city that is obsessed with celebrity. Because there is no money there really, it’s a city that has accepted anonymity. We don’t have a social pyramid like London or New York. In Berlin, I don’t think anything of it.”

Nonetheless, it is a matter that is inescapable. “One thing I can say for sure is that the media and the market created a second persona, a person created and fed by the media and the market,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s me, but this person exists.”

Questioning of that sort would seem to pertain to a series of self-portraits in the Pace Gallery show (on view through February 18), which features smaller frontal headshot paintings that present the artist in what appear to be varying stages of evocation and erasure. “I want a deconstruction of the portrait,” Ghenie said. “In the 20th century, the people who did it really radically were Picasso and Bacon. They took elements of the face and rearranged it. There is no nose, there is no mouth, there is no eye—no sense of anatomy.”

“The portrait,” he continued, “was a landscape, basically.”

Adrian Ghenie.

By Andy Battaglia, Reprint from ARTnews magazine / ARTnews, 17 February 2017, © 2017, Art Media ARTNEWS, llc.

“Review: Your invitation to dreamland awaits at Ad Minoliti’s exhibition at Cherry and Martin gallery,” By David Pagel

“G.S.F.C. #4,” an acrylic on printed canvas, is among Ad Minoliti’s artwork at Cherry and Martin gallery. Ad Minoliti and Cherry and Martin

“Review: Your invitation to dreamland awaits at Ad Minoliti’s exhibition at Cherry and Martin gallery”

By David Pagel

Step into Ad Minoliti’s exhibition at the gallery Cherry and Martin in Culver City, and you feel like you’re drifting through a stranger’s daydream — something better than getting lost in your own reveries. The Buenos Aires-based artist’s whip-smart installation plays host so graciously that its whimsies seem to be yours, but not yours alone.

Everything that unfolds in “Geometrical Sci-Fi Cyborg 2.0” (also called “G.S.F.C. 2.0”) results from discrete elements intermingling.

Ad Minoliti’s installation, Geometrical Sci-Fi Cyborg 2.0, includes this acrylic on printed canvas, “G.S.F.C. #3.” (Ad Minoliti and Cherry and Martin)

The fun starts with the paintings. Minoliti uses stencils to spray-paint canvases. She then photographs her airy compositions, digitally prints the images on other canvases, stretches those canvases and applies more paint. If Wassily Kandinsky came back to life as a middle-school girl wickedly skilled at designing wallpaper, the compositions, palette and touch would resemble Minoliti’s.

The mischievousness continues in the photographs, each of which transforms a Julius Shulman picture of a classic Midcentury house into a jocular collage that pays homage to its source by reanimating its original insouciance.

Ad Minoliti’s works are hung alongside cartoons painted on the walls, including disembodied legs and wandering eyeballs. Ad Minoliti and Cherry and Martin

A realistic chicken perches atop a cartoon ball with an animal-like face in Ad Minoliti’s installation. Ad Minoliti and Cherry and Martin

The mix-it-up promiscuity hits a high note with the goofy cartoon murals Minoliti has painted on the gallery walls. Their stark shapes, depicting disembodied legs, wandering eyeballs, a hungry triangle and a happy circle, keep seriousness at arm’s length — without diminishing Minoliti’s ambitions, which are big.

A realistic chicken, perched on an oversized egg (a la Dr. Seuss) is the cherry on top of Minoliti’s playful romp through styles and scales, painting and printing, abstraction and architecture, analog and digital.

And that’s not all. The consummate host, Minoliti has made room in her exhibition for a monitor that plays “Mood Rings, Crystals and Opal Colored Stones,” a lyrical video by Zadie Xa, as well as a pair of gorgeous silk cushions — and matching feather-stuffed bolsters — by Yaoska Davila. On each comfy seat reclines a small painting by Minoliti, its abstract eye seemingly riveted to Xa’s dreamy video.

Minoliti riffs off artists she admires and invites others into the party.

Cherry and Martin, 2712 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A. Through Nov. 4; closed Sundays and Mondays. (310) 559-0100, www.cherryandmartin.com

Ad Minoliti has painted goofy cartoon murals on the gallery walls. Ad Minoliti and Cherry and Martin

“Ad Minolta: G.S.F.C. 2.0 (Geometrical Sci-Fi Cyborg)”
Through November 4, 2017
Cherry and Martin, 2712 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles

By David Pagel, Reprint from the Los Angeles Times, 30 September 2017, © 2017 Los Angeles Times

“New Gallery to Emphasize Female Artists and Collections,” By Hilarie M. Sheets

Sara Kay said she aims to create “conversation among artworks from different genres” in her new gallery on East 2nd Street. Succession H. Matisse/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Tommy Agriodimas/Ungano + Agriodimas

“New Gallery to Emphasize Female Artists and Collections”

By Hilarie M. Sheets

As a slew of smaller galleries have struggled and closed recently in a highly competitive art market, new ventures are cropping up, too. Joining the mix of edgier spaces on New York’s Lower East Side is the Sara Kay Gallery, opening Sept. 28 in an 1890 townhouse at 4 East 2nd Street — the former home of the Rivington Arms gallery.

Ms. Kay founded the nonprofit Professional Organization for Women in the Arts in 2008, to support women working in the visual arts business, and plans to emphasize the work of female artists in her new gallery. They will include Natalie Frank, known for her feminist take on Grimm fairy tales.

Ms. Kay is retaining the exposed brick and wide plank floors of the 1,000-square-foot, sky-lit gallery. Pulling together threads of her 20-year career working with old master drawings at Christie’s, the Marina Picasso estate at the Jan Krugier Gallery and as a director of the contemporary art gallery White Cube in London, she aims to create “conversation among artworks from different genres,” she said.

The inaugural exhibition, “A Limitless Vision: The Collection of Audrey B. Heckler,” will show pieces from Ms. Heckler’s exceptional trove of works by self-taught artists such as Martín Ramírez, Aloïse Corbaz, Madge Gill, Adolf Wölfli and James Castle. Ms. Kay will also display hand-painted ceramics by Picasso and a cast by Dubuffet — artists who found inspiration in outsider art. “Dubuffet had an enormous collection of Art Brut,” or raw art, said Ms. Kay, “and was really a champion of this genre.”

Inaugural Exhibition:
“A Limitless Vision: The Collection of Audrey B. Heckler”
Opening September 28, 2017
Sara Kay Gallery, 4 East 2nd Street, New York

By Hilarie M. Sheets, Reprint from The New York Times, ART & DESIGN, 18 September 2017, © 2017 The New York Times Company

“Folkestone triennial review – beached bungalows and giant jelly mould pavilions,” By Skye Sherwin

Richard Woods’ Holiday Home … inspired by a leaflet inviting Folkestone locals to sell up and make way for the wealthy. Photograph: Thierry Bal

“Folkestone triennial review – beached bungalows and giant jelly mould pavilions”

                 ‘Antony Gormley sculptures lurk under the promenade, Richard Woods invades town with huts for second-homers, while Bob and Roberta Smith treats local kids to art lessons. An eye-catching battle is raging at the Kent seaside between rich and poor, social decay and civic pride’

By Skye Sherwin

There’s an intruder among the varnished crustaceans and cat-themed tea-towels in The Shell Shop on Folkestone’s seafront. Admittedly it’s hard to spot, a small sculpture crafted from shiny shells, their smooth ovals suggesting the work of that great seaside modernist Barbara Hepworth. It’s one of a series by the artist Amalia Pica that have been secreted about the coastal town – in businesses and homes, above archways and beneath telegraph wires – offering visitors to its fourth art triennial a kind of late-summer Easter egg hunt.

It is exactly the sort of thing I’ve come to expect from the Folkestone triennial: an artwork that sees this faded bucket-and-spade resort of shingle sweeps and crumbling cliff-top hotels with fresh eyes, chewing over its present-day economic status and the role of cutting-edge culture within all that. Pica delicately plays on issues around public sculpture and urban redevelopment: the kitsch seaside souvenir joints that are part of the Kentish coast’s lure for the “down from London” crowd, as well as art’s role in its (spotty and not unproblematic) gentrification.

This is the awkward, interesting position the triennial readily locates itself in. The funder is local Saga ex-boss Roger De Haan, whose vision for restoring Folkestone includes culture, upmarket eateries and architect-designed beachfront property. While De Haan has drawn criticism for a harbour development whose target market clearly isn’t those living next door in the town’s deprived East End, the triennial is there to make everyone feel positive.

Loitering … Antony Gormley, Another Time XXI 2013 (Loading Bay). Photograph: Thierry Bal

This year, for instance, the town gets three of Anthony Gormley’s iron men, which have cropped up in odd places the world over. They loiter in the mossed concrete catacombs beneath the town’s promenades, which fill with seawater at high tide. Gormley is one of Britain’s best known living artists thanks to his Angel of the North, and his work has become an easy lightning rod for civic pride.

That seems a necessary, laudable impulse in a town where unemployment, empty shops, Ukip and the social tensions of the migrant crisis have taken their toll. At the same time, with Folkestone emerging as a petri dish of Split Britain’s problems, there’s a lot more to talk about.

Richard Woods’ wacky bungalows, perched in peculiar plots from a cliff edge to a traffic island, strike squarely at the area’s contradictions. Inspired by a leaflet inviting locals to sell up and make way for the holiday-home market, these loud, bright interlopers are deliberately out of place and suggest, in their own, cartoonish way, not just wealthy second homers but wider anxieties about newcomers. Calais’s refugee camp, after all, was straight across the Channel.

Appropriately for a town caught between rich and poor, on the edge of Britain and Europe, curator Lewis Biggs’s 2017 edition of the triennial, entitled Double Edge, claims to tackle “liminal spaces”. Yet often the show itself seems to hover uneasily in an in-between zone.

Liminal space … one of Bob and Roberta Smith’s signs on the harbour wall. Photograph: Thierry Bal

There are lots of sunny, graphic murals slapped across buildings that aim to lift spirits: a Michael Craig-Martin energy-saving bulb in his signature flat, bold colours; Gary Woodley’s sharp monochrome tetrahedra beneath the Coronation Parade; Sinta Tantra’s striped coat of paint for the adult education centre, inspired by a 1947 Folkestone holiday poster, and Sonia Delaunay’s abstract fashion designs. Looking at these works, though, it’s hard not to think of the kind of quirky building wraps encasing new property developments. Cheery and head-turning, yes, but when art is reduced to seaside eye candy it demands little more than a surface glance.

At the other end of the scale are social projects bent on tackling local issues first hand. “Folkestone Is an Art School,” declare a series of banners all across town in Bob and Roberta Smith’s trademark wonky, end-of-pier lettering. A man of his word, he has organised classes for young people taught by the town’s resident artists. Folkestone, Smith implies, already has the creative riches it needs. Meanwhile, in the harbour railway – a dramatic ruin when the first triennialopened, now the site of busy redevelopment – Diane Dever has turned the old customs’ house into an urban studies library and venue for talks about Folkestone’s future. It’s what you wish local councils had the resources and inclination for, and while the intentions are impossible to knock, these schemes rarely have the strangeness or risk-taking that makes art tingle.

Bittersweet … Jelly Mould Pavilion by Lubaina Himid. Photograph: Thierry Bal

Folkestone’s dramatic landscape and mottled past make it a one-off, and the triennial will always be hardwired to its setting. Yet it’s difficult not to yearn for the odd moment when the show might go off-message with work that puts art before local context, confident that the audience will be game enough to follow.

That’s not to say this year doesn’t have its share of unexpected delights, such as in the 18th-century Baptist graveyard where composer Emily Peasgood’s song recordings commemorate its dead. Or Turner prize nominee Lubaina Himid’s pavilion on the shingle in the shape of a vintage jelly mould. With its milkshake pink and white diamond decor a lightly worn reference to sugar and the slave trade, its pleasures are bittersweet.

By Sky Sherwin, Reprint from The Guardian, 1 September 2017, © 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.