Linda Cunningham’s Whose Land? Whose God?

Linda Cunningham’s sculptural installations speak many languages. Much of her recent work has been tapping into environmental specificity relating to the South Bronx waterfront. The artist has explored a topic of climate change in urban environments. Through July-August, Cunningham has her solo exhibition up in Brooklyn at the celebrated ODETTA. The current show features a large installation of her sculptural pieces well put together with drywall photo collages, both mediums that Cunningham frequently works with. This time Cunningham’s exhibition features textual patterns as mixed media works. The images display historic texts, which carry references to three monotheist World religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) in earlier times when the cultures co-existed peacefully, a scenario impossible to imagine now. Many of the texts seem to be fragments that have been saved, depicting religious writings in Coptic, Hebrew and Arabic. The title of her exhibition: Whose Land? Whose God?, also includes remnants, which the artist acquired from the Berlin Wall in 1989. As the artist herself is well-traveled, behind the exhibition story is an expedition.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: Let’s talk a bit about the bronze as a material in the exhibition. As I understood, you were running your own bronze workshop in Pennsylvania? 

LC: As a young professor at Franklin & Marshall College, I was challenged to create a bronze casting facility to make use of a very old oil burning furnace that a former professor had acquired for the sculpture facility. Enthusiastic art students and guest professors helped me build the facility and develop the expertise to do traditional bronze casting which I later taught in Advanced Sculpture classes. I eventually ran some women’s bronze casting weekend workshops which was wonderfully empowering for the participants who never had had such an opportunity.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: About the process of pouring the metal, how do you create the movement so evident in your sculptures. What is the methodology behind the pouring, and using sand in the process?

LC: I eventually became interested in much more experimental casting methods that sculptors like Isaac Witkin were using, pouring bronze in single sided shallow molds filled with foundry sand. I developed the technique of pouring long thin forms that record the flow of the hot melted bronze. The bronze freezes the flow patterns and splatters creating the highly textured surface as it solidifies in seconds. Early on I found a way to acquire scrap military bronze and was using these lacy bronze forms to create 11 ft high shells of figures I called “War Memorial.” I thought of them of as vulnerable survivors. Five of those bronze images framed the entrance to the City University Graduate Center when it still stood for many years on 42nd St across from Bryant Park. They are now owned by Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey.

detail_panel_wire_nails.jpg
Linda Cunningham’s innovative bronze becomes part of a drywall sculpture.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: Your exhibition Whose Land? Whose God? is inspired by an exhibition that you saw in Germany, when and where did this exhibition take place?

LC: The text Images were taken from the catalog of an exhibition I saw and was deeply impressed by in Berlin, 2015 titled: ‘One God: Abraham’s descendants on the Nile. Jews, Christians and Muslims in Egypt from late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages’ at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, known as the Bode Museum on the Museum island in Berlin.

 

 

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: How many texts, including a variety of liturgical, bible & prayer books, are there included in your exhibition? 

LC: I used 16 different examples. Many more were included in the exhibit in Berlin.

Detail of Coptic and Hebrew.
Linda Cunningham, installation detail at ODETTA. Textual imagery is relevant to early history of three monotheist World religions. Often saved as fragments like this.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: How about the pieces in the exhibition that you acquired from the Berlin Wall, what is the story behind them?

LC: I was invited to create a sizable installation in an alternative arts factory building in Kassel as an alternative documenta exhibit in 1992 about 2 1/2 years after the wall had opened up. A man who worked in the factory that was sponsoring the project took me to the town where he lived that was just over the former border where mountains of posts, fence, electrical cable and barbed wire were assembled as they dismantled the border that reach across the entire country. They were happy to have me take what I could fit in his van and charged me 50 Deutschmarks. The elements fit perfectly into the theme of the installation I was working on at that time.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: How did the transportation of the wall pieces take place, literally from Germany to the US?

LC: When the exhibition came to an end after 90 days, I couldn’t bear to throw them out and storing was also prohibitive. My German friends helped me to get crates built and one friend drove the crates to Hamburg to get them loaded on a freighter. I picked them up with a van at a New Jersey port outside Newark. I always intended to exhibit them again and they have been schlepped from one studio to the next ever since.

Linda Cunningham's installation view at Odetta Gallery.
Installation view to Linda Cunningham’s exhibition at ODETTA. Remnants of the Berlin Wall are on the right.

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More exhibition info: 

Linda Cunningham Whose Land? Whose God? 

July 7 – August 20, 2017

ODETTA | 229 Cook Street, Brooklyn, NY 11206

Artists Talk: Sunday, August 6, 3 pm

Odetta Gallery: http://www.odettagallery.com/

Artist website: http://www.lindalcunningham.com/

Read about the visit to Linda Cunningham’s studio as featured in Firstindigo&Lifestyle.

 

Teresa Dunn: Motherload

Teresa Dunn, Motherload -exhibition

Painter Teresa Dunn has her new exhibition Motherload on view until June 18 at the First Street Gallery in New York. Her current show depicts recent oil paintings and mixed media works on paper and canvas. For this exhibition, the artist who masters the Renaissance school of nature and human portraiture to the fullest forms has adopted new richness of palette. Her repertoire has gotten fuller, perhaps partially due to the size of the panels, paper and the use of triptychs, which allow larger developments and almost surgical dimensionality. Now the center is the body as tissues and palpable beats. In these new works, the body is joined with the amounts of vegetation, which makes the skin appear as fruitful foliage. Painter Teresa Dunn is making serious rising; she is represented by the Hooks-Epstein Galleries in Houston, Texas, and by Galerie l’Échaudé in Paris in France.

In an action packed painting there was a pause, when Teresa Dunn imagined communities within narrative landscapes full of thick Renaissance color and light. The water rose through the images, leaving behind people on their isolated islands, together, alone, breathing air, figuring the scenes of us existing on the planet. The scenes were almost apocalyptic, borrowing from Biblical and mythological imageries of human drama and emotion. And it all made sense, as her paintings were influenced by the Venetian school, especially by the works of its great master Titian. Drama and poesia in the same theme, when color and light create unparalleled resonance.

Now, the next pause was different. Teresa became a mother. From artistic point of view, the dreaming in her works became increasingly about the simultaneously occurring events. These happenings were seemingly not relating, but arbitrarily meeting in the same future. This time the fragments of narration made sense as islands of vegetation. The theme of water from previous paintings had changed into the vegetation. Or the water had become an overflow, which got mixed into and within the vegetation becoming moisture, as palpable like a touch of mist on the skin. An underpinning, a reflection on canvas. Like her inspiration of the magical realism, Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez imagined fog. Can you see distances through the fog. Or how a distant place somewhere far resonates here in this place. How everything connects and makes a reason, but not as univocality. The story is about bringing together universal fragility of existence and our mortality.

In the new works, the colors have become evidentially subtler with more visible brushstrokes, with circular patterns of movement. The palette is lighter, and the narration seems to be settled in the background in the midst of a natural flow and overgrow of things; more than objects. The natural life and still life has found a lingering attachment inside the palette, showing that humans as actors play no longer the central role. In a triptych ‘Interlaced’ (2015), a loose tire rolls through the canvas, as if being a sign of an uncontrolled human motion. In another triptych, ‘Slippage’ (2015), a woman is growing out of a bush representing the nature herself and our origin. In this triptych, the panels together seem to be cumulating as a force, which becomes a wave. A water splash is running from one panel to the other in ‘Slippage’. Teresa Dunn’s triptych form borrows from the Renaissance art. In her paintings, the occurring shapes are creating new terms to reinvent the classic.

Artist website: http://www.teresa-dunn.com

FIRST STREET GALLERY: http://www.firststreetgallery.org/

526 West 26th Street, Suite 209, New York
Gallery hours: 11 am – 6 pm, Tuesday through Saturday

Discover Teresita Fernández

Teresita Fernández’s current solo exhibition is on view until December 31 at Lehmann Maupin’s 536 West 22nd Street location. Her seventh solo exhibit with the gallery coincide with her sculptural installation Fata Morgana, which is on view in Madison Square Park in New York. The gallery shows her latest body of work, including sculptures that are composed of intimate interior landscapes in concrete, cast bronze, and glazed ceramic. Recalling the artist’s earlier Rorschach pieces (2014) – a sculpture made of gold chroming, fused nylon, and aluminum – the new multidimensional works play with the idea of landscape and terrain. The theme of landscape in these Viñales pieces convey three-dimensional forms. The sculptures are detailed yet rough as they are somewhat fragmented, echoing of darkness and distortion, interior and exterior.

Best known for her unique works and public projects, Fernández explores the natural world, as well as the scale, being sensitive to the act of looking, perhaps finding out about the human versus the landscape. Her conceptually-based art making includes research, and communicates with an entire world of references coming from different sources. In the exhibition, Fernández has created a series of darkened and intimately sized ink and graphite drawings, which are mounted on small-size wooden panels.

TERESITA FERNÁNDEZ Viñales (8 Nights), 2015 mixed media on wood panel
TERESITA FERNÁNDEZ Viñales (8 Nights), 2015, detail. mixed media on wood panel.

These small pieces in sequences show her innate interest in scale. The dynamics between the immense and the intimate; the vast and the miniature; the macro and the micro are definitely part of the exploration. As the natural world as a reference is often large, the human viewpoint brings it closer; in other words we can grasp what we may or could see, if we had time and body to get to these places. Nature’s body is too vast to be created as miniatures, but this is what Fernández actually does. She has looked closely into the malachite mineral rocks and at their interiors comparing their material formula into full-sized landscape of the Viñales Valley, an iconic landscape in rural Cuba. She took up the saturated rich greens and turquoise colors from the malachite, being inspired by their clustered formations. These reminded of the aerial views of the green and lustrous landscapes of the rainforests.

Fernández draws huge parallels between the malachite rocks and her own experience of the caves in Viñales. The whole project is tricky and fascinating. She reflects the idea of the landscapes both visually and physically, taking in both extremities of light and darkness, inside and outside, containment and amplification. In the exhibition, the Viñales landscape merges with the malachite rocks, which come from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and with the sculptural materials that of concrete, bronze, and ceramic. Fernández fuses with these materials and plays with the scale creating metaphorical “stacked landscapes”, which narrate several layers of references to a place.

The exhibition includes three large-scale works made as glazed ceramic panels. The panels shine as saturated greens forming abstracted images. Their inspiration is the actual landscape of the Viñales Valley with its otherworldly mogotes (rare, limestone tower formations), cave interiors, and the exposed surfaces of minerals. Again, the artist is using clay, which is earthbound material. Yet the result is as if the accumulation of this material creates completely imaginary sense of the landscape itself. This is maybe the way art meets a complex surface of the natural world.

TERESITA FERNÁNDEZ Viñales (Reclining Nude), 2015
TERESITA FERNÁNDEZ Viñales (Reclining Nude), 2015
TERESITA FERNÁNDEZ Viñales (Reclining Nude), 2015
TERESITA FERNÁNDEZ Viñales (Reclining Nude), 2015

The central sculpture in the exhibition, Viñales (Reclining Nude), is a horizontal configuration of trapezoidal cast concrete structures of various sizes and heights with descending malachite and bronze forms that evoke the sprawling, verdant landscape from distant to close-up perspectives. As viewers engage with the full-round sculpture, the suggested landscape expands and contracts, prompting viewers to visually construct the image and become the size of what they are looking at.

 

Teresita Fernández have a deep rooted association for the cultural and aesthetic language of nature, as she has explored the surfaces of the landscape. She has visited the place, grasping intuitively about something unique of it. Thus the language of the place pours in richly textured forms, being poetic and narrative, echoing about rootedness, history, and different contextual phases. The forms shine through layers, ceramic bits, detailed and yet rough edges of pieces, depicting large and small fragmented knitbits of information. The old, or ancient speaks with the natural, as they have become entangled to stand for their environmental presence. Fernández uses devices like proportion and unconventional materials to draw the viewer into her works. She stands for individualized experiences that ask questions of place and us as humans. Ultimately, the essence reflected in each work could be described as tactile.

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Teresita Fernández at Lehmann Maupin
November 6-December 31, 2015
536 West 22nd Street, New York

more information: http://www.lehmannmaupin.com

Happening in Tokyo / Re: A universe of artists to Re:discover

The group show will display pieces from these young artists that the Tokyo art gallery, namely Gallery of Art Composition, has worked with, and it will feature some works that have been represented overseas but not in Japan before. Takaya Nakamura’s planets were shown at the New City Art Fair in Chelsea, New York City in March of 2014. The painter has graduated with two respective degrees in Japanese painting form Kyoto, and has worked three years in New York assisting Hiroshi Senju. His planets were effective in New York art fair next to Haruna Sato’s detailed paintings that show human babies with delicacy. Sato’s works were captivating and sending a powerful message when joined together with Nakamura’s universum. As if asking, where the future of our humanity will be?

Takaya Nakamura, Gallery of Art Composition, Tokyo. Takaya Nakamura @New City Art Fair in New York, March 2014.
Ayako Fujimoto, courtesy of Gallery Art Composition.
Ayako Fujimoto, courtesy of Gallery Art Composition.

The round shape of the universe also comes forth with Ayako Fujimoto’s colorful globe. The surface displays energy and contrast. The artist tells how the shape takes form with emotion:

I feel in myself swirling a clash of passion and impulses. At the time the work is sublimed by this embodiment, I feel an ephemeral catharsis…At the starting point of the creative process, the work of art is just canvas and oil paints. The Art comes later, thanks to a physical action combined with an inner approach to get to the root of what I want to express -Ayako Fujimoto.

Kuroudy Tsuji’s animal sculptures stand out from the group show with their prehistoric utopia. The concept behind the works relate to the creation of animals that are made of recycled iron, representing “Life”. The idea behind the sculptures is that everything is alive. Questions, such as what is the living, and what does it means to be alive, is materialized in the sculptures that are not pure objects but a living entity.

It is because they see the life in it, that they can have such a consideration. It is the reason why the posture of the animals I make are not exaggerated. I want it to be natural. For me, all animals are “Drinking, Sleeping” creatures. As a main material, I have chosen old pieces of machinery. Because this material reminds me of two things: “A system that creates the movement” and “Pieces of machinery that are not used anymore (that has died)”. -Kuroudy Tsuji.

Kuroudy Tsuji, Save Animals, Gallery Art Composition, Tokyo.
Kuroudy Tsuji, Save Animals, Gallery Art Composition, Tokyo.

Kazuyuki Takishita‘s art has been on view in New York a few times, including the Asian Art Fair in 2007, and a show at Dillon Gallery in 2008. His divine characters deploy colorful canvas appearing as timeless, and bringing nostalgic past to present day imagery. Another take from history are Mitsuya Watanabe’s visual references that play with the symbolic. In the works the drawings and texts both add to each others meaning.

I would like the viewers to experience a rite of passage through my creation. It is a place of initiation where the destination looks similar to the beginning. It is the labyrinth where you cannot flee from the fact that you are a sign. I would like my creations to be the space for solemnities where signs can evolve to be a little different from before. – Mitsuya Watanabe.

gallery website: http://www.galleryartcomposition.com/en/

The Art of SUHAIR SIBAI

Artist Suhair Sibai was born in Syria in 1956. She was educated as an artist in Los Angeles, California. Her work explores identity and the self through beautiful and colorful female portraits. Suhair Sibai is based in Los Angeles, where she exhibits her art and works as an artist. Her work has also received international acclaim in Europe and the Middle East.

View more her art on Saatchi online

Chantal Joffe’s women visit Helsinki

Chantal Joffe’s oil paintings raise questions about women as subjects of art. What is feminist art, and what makes women portraitures as subjects of feminist art? What makes Joffe’s paintings so appealing in the world of portraits is their movement and their character; whether it is the angles, features, colors and their environment. The domesticity or the everyday versus iconographic femininity is so intriguing. The art historical note would be multiple references. One thing that comes to mind in relation to Joffe is her psychological approach. Her portraits create emotional landscapes of the person they portray. Chantal Joffe’s art will come to Helsinki in August 2013. Gallerie Forsblom will feature the artist together with two other artists. According to the gallery this is the first time her art will be shown in the Nordic Countries. It is about time, as she is an international celebrity.

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Between August 30 and September 22 Joffe’s art will be seen, together with Adel Abidin and Nelli Palomäki, at the Gallerie Forsblom.

Gallerie Forsblom: http://www.galerieforsblom.com/artists/chantal_joffe/representative_works/

More information about Chantal Joffe: http://www.victoria-miro.com/artists/_19/

VOLTA edition #2 Derrick Velasquez

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.

Derrick Velasquez, Untitled 63, 36 x 24 x 1.5 inches, Marine vinyl, oak, 2013. Courtesy of Pentimenti Gallery, Philadelphia, PA.

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-13 edition #1 LYNN ALDRICH

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.

 

lynn-aldrich-out-of-the-ink-in-the-dark-2012
Lynn Aldrich, Out of Ink in the Dark, 2012, ink, ink pads, cartridges, blotting paper, carbon paper, 27 x 20 x 4 in

 

My first story from the show is about Lynn Aldrich. Los-Angeles based artist Lynn Aldrichs exhibit at VOLTA takes place at the same time as her solo show is at the JENKINS JOHNSON GALLERY in 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.


Lynn Aldrich, Plastic Pacific, 2010, garden hoses, plastic tubes with oil glaze, brass ends on wood panel, 26 x 32 x 3 in
Lynn Aldrich, Desert Springs, 2005-2009, downspouts, gutter extensions, gutter corners, enamel, dimensions variable ~ 59 x 70 x 62 in