Monthly Archives: October, 2017

“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,

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