Christy Rupp was presented at VOLTA NY’ 14by Frederieke Taylor Gallery. The artist who is known for her 1980s public art projects, was at the art fair with her new work that raises questions about environmental threats and issues around wild animals and nature. One part of her presentation was a series of sculptures around microfauna from the Gulf of Mexico; artworks are made from welded steel and encaustic wax. In another series of sculptures (images above), Rupp explored the relationship between ivory and energy. These were made in response to threats coming from drilling, addressing also accurate issues around poaching. The artist has made sculptures called ‘The Fake Ivory Series‘ (welded steel and encaustic wax) pointing that wild animal spices are threatened to extinction as they are poached for their tusks. The art stands for trophies as desired objects that include animal parts such as ivory. Scrimshaw or tattoo-like scribbles on them make comments on the value placed on energy over life. The sculpture ‘Walrus‘, 2014, a mixed media work with credit card solicitations, concretely points to currency over humanistic ideals that protect our environment.
Rupp, Walrus Tusks with Greenhouse Gases, 2012. Courtesy of Frederieke Taylor Gallery, NYC
The artist’s past includes diverse projects that are politically, socially and environmentally engaging. Rupp participated in the legendary “The Times Square Show” and “The Real Estate Show” of 1979-80, and she is affiliated with Colab and Group Material. To address artist’s past and her works in context, the gallery also showed video and documentation of her art projects from the early 80’s period.
Christy Rupp’s recent notable shows include:
“Dead or Alive” at the Museum of Arts and Design, NY 2010, “Dear Mother Nature” at the Dorsky Museum of Art, SUNY New Paltz, NY 2012, “This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980’s”, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL 2012, “American Dreamers” Pallazzo Strozzi, Florence, Italy w/ Hudson River Museum, and “XFR STN” Transfer Station at the New Museum, NY 2013, among numerous others.
Jennifer Wynne Reeves creates collages on boards that some include wire, some hair or feathers, and some thick applications of paint. This approach could by no means represent flat wall art. The dimensionality makes the art continue in space. Objects and paint are not decorative art either, but there is something folk-art in them; or retrospectively ”American” influences. These works suggest, as one work is titled, voluptuous meanings that are material, sensuous and touchable. Reeves writes as part of her artistic practice. Writing collide with personal meanings, and is symbolic in nature.
Her statements, or poems end up being part of the artwork itself. The artist was presented at the VOLTA by New York City gallery BranvinLee programs. The art presented at the art fair spoke about her illness, which is also reflected in her writing:
I think I might not be alive to go to my opening next September. I think I should rush to finish things. I wonder why my body is doing this or that. I think Christmas will be long. I think I won’t be able to save enough money for old age with all these bills, and that an imminent death would be preferable. I wouldn’t have to look for even more powerful galleries. -Jennifer Wynne Reeves 2013, Callicoon, NY
VOLTA art fair offers a chance to get in touch with art that promotes freshness and openness of ideas. The fair is relatively easy to access. It should be, that art fairs can be walked-in-to, so the art can be discussed and shared. VOLTA is like one big gallery space, where multiple stops lead to curiosities, comprehension, and even comparisons. Perhaps art displayed with this many references has a better chance for new perspectives.This year, the amount of techniques was compelling. Among the artisans of art was definitely a Japanese woodcut artist Katsutoshi Yuasa. For him, woodcut is a new way of seeing images and photography. The long process gives refinement of light, and adds the personality. Yuasa works on the printing process and reliefs based on his own digital photography. He uses traditional Japanese printmaking technique, which takes time. Carving and printing are all made by hand. For Yuasa, printmaking out of a photograph has a deeper meaning that what could be expressed in photographs. He thinks that photographs are more like a fictional two-dimensional surface. He says, that carving on the plywood, and the printing on paper, will add another dimension. The result is an abstract reality, which implies both subjective and objective perceptions. Yuasa also worked in Finland in an artist residence. The work ”Ilmatar” is based on his photograph of Finnish forest. He was presented at VOLTA by YUKI-SIS gallery from Tokyo.
Pius Fox is a young Berlin-based German artist, whose works are influenced by modernistic means. Not only the color-scheme, but the meticulous, minimal and graphic output is reminiscent of styles before his own era. His works move between painting and drawing, figurative and abstract, lingering between form(alism) and context. Multiple layers of paint create an idea of space. Fox makes small works that together are like an installation. One can only think how many different ways to place them on the walls. Small works communicate with each other. When separately, the scale still holds a lot of energy and tension. His color schemes represent past times, giving nostalgic vibrations. As if an old gramophone was playing tunes, light curtain had moved to let air inside the room. Colors are contrastive, some of them pale and pastels, some dark and more graphic. Indeed, Fox uses interiors of his own work studio for inspiration, including windows, doors, curtains and so on, to introspect atmosphere. Yet the works have an appeal of formality and outwardness. He was presented by Patrick Heide Contemporary Art from London.
Pius Fox, Installation Shot, Volta Art Fair, Patrick Heide Contemporary Art, London
Pius Fox, Untitled, Oil on Linen, 30 x 22 cm, 2014, The Volta Art Fair.
Stills from Mohau Modisakeng, ”Inzilo” single-channel digital video, 2013 (4:57min)
South African Mohau Modisakeng’s beautiful video Inzilo was an eye-catchers at VOLTA NY 2014. The slow-motion video opens up a theme of mourning from a personal point of view. Inzilo is a word that ”refers to a practice in some South African traditions around the loss of a loved one characterized by a period of mourning.” Dressed only in a piece of black garment and a hat, Mohau, as a solo performer goes through a process where he transits from one stage to the next. Sitting on a chair motionless, he first looks ethereal both arms stretched on his side, as the camera rotates slightly around the white room. Then he starts scattering, picking pieces of the burnt fabric (in this case wax) and ash from his hands. Gradually, it appears that as layers of burnt go, a new skin is revealed. The camera shows close-ups of his hands and feet covered with debris. Eventually, head bent down, he decides to get up, shakes and throws the remained pieces with a dust cloud in the air. His performance represents a rite of passage, a transition from mourning to normal.
Performing rituals is one powerful way to convey African indigenous, diasporic and post-apartheid messages via contemporary art. We have seen this happen in the dance works of South African choreographerVincent Mantsoe, based in France. This similar kind of purity of emotions and thought comes across from Mohau Modisakeng’s video, which is a dialogue between a performance and the visual.
Mohau Modisakeng was represented at VOLTA NY 2014 by BRUNDYN + gallery from CAPE TOWN. The artist was born in Soweto. He lives and works between Johannesburg and Cape Town. He completed his undergraduate degree at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town in 2009 and worked towards his Masters degree at the same institution. He was awarded the SASOL New Signatures Award for 2011. The artist was presented at VOLTA NY also in 2013.
Pakistani-born, Dallas-based artistSimeen Farhat has taken a classic novel ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ as a starting point for her new installation for VOLTA NY 2014 edition, which ran from March 6-9 in Soho. VOLTAis called as ‘invitational solo project fair for contemporary art’, so Farhat’s solo exhibition was equally presented by a gallery who is already endorsed multiple times by the fair. Her exhibition, curated by Christine Pfister of Pentimenti Gallery from Philadelphia, emphasizes a materiality of the language puzzles. The artist is known for creating poetic works with dimensionality and message, that come with the use of different languages and ways of communicating in our cultural encounters. This time, her colorful and even candy-colored sculptures and installation speak about the problematic nature of cross-cultural communication, showing the emotions and frustrations that are attached to the rules of using our languages. Farhat’s previous works have drawn from such languages as Farsi (RUMI poetry) and Urdu. Text used around the ”Alice” installation is English.
The immediate surface of the words come across as part of the form, and the text intermingles with the sculptural transparency. This already creates puzzles as we see only fragments of language, which, when viewed from a distance, create aesthetical form. When we step closer to the sculptures, the objects invite us to perceive them from different angles. Pink and black cast resin wall sculpture “She Looses her Temper”, is an example of Farhat’s sculptures that emphasizes the multiplicity of the form when viewed from various positions. As it comes to the emotional statements of texts, the ”pointiness” of words structure dynamic messages.
Philosophy is important element in Farhat’s artist statement:
“Words – written or spoken, understood or misunderstood, poetic or prosaic, curvilinear or rectilinear, are what motivate me to create my visual narrative. I am fascinated by how, through language, we understand a great deal about ourselves and surroundings, and how ideas: simple, complex and abstract, are conveyed and understood using symbols.” (Simeen Farhat)
”Alice’s tears” create undoubtely the center of Simeen Farhat’s VOLTA installation. The blue teardrops in various sizes seem to flow effortlessly from the ceiling, pouring down from Alice’s eyes when she has grown tall. The viewer can imagine Alice, by experiencing the shades of blue in the sculptures, some of them so light-colored that they are almost invisible towards the white backdrop, some darker. The shapes also vary from softer and rounder to sharper ones, and they accumulate and reshape closer to the ground. The tears are seen differently depending on the lighting conditions; the shadows are creating part of the narrative too. Farhat has sometimes included textiles into her previous installations to reference the (female) ‘body’. For Alice, the handcrafted cast resin has worked miracles. Different blue shapes and sizes embody the space leaving room for imagination and story.
Simeen Farhat has exhibited in the United States and internationally, including Pakistan, London, the UAE, India, Finland and Germany. Her collaboration with Pentimenti Gallery will continue through 2014, and her solo exhibition will open in Philadelphia later this year.
Heino Schmid is an artist living and working in Nassau, Bahamas. He completed his MA in Fine Arts at the Utrecht School of the Arts in The Netherlands, and got his BFA degree in Photography at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia, US. Heino Schmid participated at the VOLTA NY Show with Nassau-based Popopstudios International Center for the Visual Arts in March 2013.
Firstindigo&Lifestyle: You were born in Bahamas, how did that build your artist identity?
HS: My father is German and my mother is Bahamian but I was born and raised in the Bahamas where I’ve lived my whole life outside of my education. I did my undergraduate studies in the US and my graduate studies in The Netherlands. My artistic identity is very much rooted in my experiences here and I find a great deal of fodder and inspiration in my immediate environment.As a country The Bahamas really lends itself to a lot of material investigation and I’ve really enjoyed having my studio and my creative practice based here. It’s close enough to the US where I am still able to see significant exhibitions but it’s private enough for me to develop a body of work on my own terms.
Firstindigo&Lifestyle: What does globalization mean to you?
HS: Globalization, in terms of the creative process, means communication. Through social media it’s never been easier to have constructive conversations with your peers and that is really exciting. The Internet also levels the playing field in terms of information. It’s a wonderful time to be a creative thinker because there’s so much information available, which I can filter at my own pace and discretion to construct a viable practice.
Firstindigo&Lifestyle: How did you experience VOLTA, what did it offer you personally?
HS: The VOLTA NY experience was extremely constructive to me. I believe that as an artist you initially control the medium of the work, the content, the presentation and the context of the work, but the context is the most fluid and gives your work life. It was hugely exciting for me to take my work out of the context in which it was made and place it in an environment where the dialogue would be completely different. The conversations that I had at VOLTA NY were constructive, positive and completely impossible to have, I think, in The Bahamas given the change of context.
Firstindigo&Lifestyle: Where is your focus as an artist, the media and the location?
HS: As an artist I try to really approach art in itself as a visual dialogue so the media and the location hold equal sway in the production of my projects. The balance between media and location is always an interesting problem to solve. On the one hand you want to stay open to your environment you’re in no matter where you are to produce work, and on the other hand you want to make the work that’s relevant to your own practice in a sustainable way. When considered responsibly I think the tension between the two is always an exciting and productive challenge to embrace.
Italian artist Paolo Cavinato was presented at VOLTA NY 2013by Milanese Massimo Carasi Gallery. Cavinato is an artist using diverse techniques that enhance spaces from multi-sensorial perspective. Cavinato’s training as set-designer and interior designer, perhaps creates the point of view that makes the reality, or the space we usually inhabit a suspension. He does fascinating interior research works with wood, iron, nylon and acrylic. Yet, these works represent schemes for something bigger and more in meta-scale. As, on the other hand, his many TEATRINO-projects display the depth of a meta-structure. They are intriguing indeed, and can be viewed at his webpage. Art and design, language, conception, architecture, interiors, houses, are all mixed as a form of existentialism of being.
Artist Derrick Velasquez was presented at VOLTA by Philadelphia-based pentimenti Gallery. His marine vinyl and plywood wall pieces are sculptures, if you like, and at the same time they possess some qualities that are decorative, or design. Yet, this is not entirely summing up what he is doing with the ingredients. The art made by Derrick Velasquez is very physical. The layers of meaning, which come to your mind begins with words, like arts and crafts, ancient, poetics, mechanics, physics, installation, historical play with objects, and the body-art. He says in VOLTA NY 2013 introduction to his work, that his attempt is to ‘construct a language of structure that questions our physical and psychological interactions with industrially manufactured materials that exits in the spaces we inhabit’. Velasquez works with plywood to investigate the gravity or tension on the wood together with the materials of marine vinyl, acrylic and hardwoods. He adds into these the human body dimension. When the body is part of the picture; questions, how the wood can be stretched to measure our physicality, and what is a relationship between the space, the materials used and the body, are relevant. All these questions are also important in design. While his art looks very organic and natural, it also comprises qualities of forced, structured and compressed; so the tension is created.
The Untitled (draped body) wall pieces series has come out from a meditation process, in which Velasquez discovered his direct connection and interaction with the large sheets of vinyl. In order to cut the sheets of material, he carried the textile material over his own body that became a table and cutting surface for the work. He tried to think and imagine the visuality of the vinyl draping over his body, when he could not see what it would actually look like from the outside. Overall, his intention has been to take away the ‘consumer use’ of the materials, and let his body create the form for the objects. So this way, the image and spatialization of the form is a continuation of his body, it is an embodiment of the craft, and the weight of his own body, which has shaped and layered the form.
For his series Untitled, which was on display at VOLTA, Delasquez did meticulous hand cutting of individual strips of marine vinyl placing and accumulating them onto precut wooden forms.
As a bookbinder the vinyl is a material I used as covers for hand bound soft cover journals. The form and process of the formalized wall pieces came from an every day practice of precutting enclosure straps for the journals and placing them on a screw on the wall. As these began to accumulate, I realized I was denying the intended surface of the vinyl and exposing the innards of the synthetic fabric. This creates a new flat surface that lacks the continuity of a sheet of fabric and becomes a construction of sophisticated and subtle color harmonies by way of hundreds of hand cut and layered strips. As number of the vinyl strips grows, the relationship of the visual structure slowly shifts – the vinyl no longer conforms to the shape of the wood form, but instead rounds out to a gentle curve.
Untitled (draped structure 2) is a piece inspired by images I’ve taken while driving over bridges. By taking the language of structure that exists within a bridge, I’m referencing the mechanical aspects engineering and physics of a form that has a different set of parameters than the human body. By draping the vinyl over this invented structure, I aim for an indirect narrative and association between edifice and drapery. Ideas of gravity, force, tension and repose come to mind as one might observe and think about the relationship between buildings or bridges and the colors placed on them. (Derrick Velasquez, 2013)
(See also his installation art (Knitting movie) on his website here. Derrick Velasquez was born in Lodi, California, He currently lives in Denver, Colorado. He received his MA of Fine Arts from The Ohio State University in 2008, and his BA of Studio Arts and Art History degrees from University of California, Santa Barbara in 2004.)
VOLTA NY’s 13 art fair is running for the sixth year in a row. The art fair celebrates a brand new location in SoHo’s vibrant 82 Mercer Street. I visited VOLTA during its opening day on Thursday March 7th (until March 10th). Spending time next to the colorful, innovative, thoughtful, provocative, and utterly timely international platform of contemporary art was worth every minute. The two floors packed with art, which were made with diverse techniques and means, and meeting people from around the world, who were enthusiastic about it, did not even feel a bit too much. Also, it was refreshing to stop for a moment, to look out from the large windows and enjoy the street scene, whilst being inside experiencing art. After looking out, I could again discover something new.
My first story from the show is about Lynn Aldrich. Los-Angeles based artist Lynn Aldrich‘s exhibit at VOLTA takes place at the same time as her solo show is at the JENKINS JOHNSON GALLERYin New York. This show called Free Refill: Old & New Works opened on February 7th and is now on display through March 30, 2013. Lynn Aldrich’s creativity is truly on display of her sculptures and installations that show huge potential to the acute topic of environmental change with social relevance. Aldrich’s aesthetic, carefully made almost minimalist works state a question about our excessive consumption and our man-made impact/problem on the environment. Lynn Aldrich uses materials that are part of our everyday collectables from the Home Depot store, for example. Her sculptures and installations contain parts, which, if gathered excessively, lead to problems with waste and garbage. The plastic accumulating in the ocean is one such problem. Her use of bold or natural pastel-like colors melt in with vivid and organic forms, which together create ideas of technological interplays between humans, their sciences and innovations, and the natural environment. What I especially like is that the sculptures evoke clear sensorial responses. The Sky Light (Noon) sculpture, (no. 1 here), radiates turquoise light and invites to be in-contact-with itself. The sculptures also showcase authoritative presence. A work on the wall, Out of Ink in the Dark, 2012, (no. 2 here), possesses loudness and command reminiscing of the devices that have taken so much space in our everyday communication. Plastic Pacific, 2010, (no.3 here) articulates with its title about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and echoes about the human imprint on the natural ecosystem. The plastic tubes with oil glaze represent clearly the unnecessary amount of things that we have gotten used to, and have access to. By using everyday objects from Home Depot world, such as hoses, pipes and sponges, Aldrich states their physical functions. Alternatively, she references with the objects, that they represent the water flow of the ocean or the cleaning of the ocean. The works are asking us to pay attention to and listen to its fragile system, and asking us to do something about it. The Desert Springs, 2005-2009, (no. 4 here), with downspouts and gutter extensions, is an installation in which the organic nature-like looking particles are like the Coral in the ocean.