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art review&curating fine and contemporary art frieze art fair

Frieze NY2014: reading sculpturally sensuous terms

Philosopher Gilles Deleuze has suggested that among the arts, sculpture presents perhaps best those qualities that are materially sensational. The sensation of stone, metal and marble vibrate according to strong or weak beats. Then, there are protuberances and cavities in the material that resonate with each other. The set-up of the sculpture with large empty space between the groups, or within a single group, makes it that one no longer knows whether it is the light or air that sculpts or is sculpted (Deleuze: What is Philosophy).

 

Maria Nepomuceno’s installation. courtesy: @A Gentil Carioca

Sensations attached to the materiality in sculptures relate to ideas of tactility (perceptible to the touch; tangible). Our experiences of materiality has shifted, as 21-century cultural landscapes keep molding our tactility through complex body-digital technology relationships, changing our imagination of the virtual spaces. Contemporary sculpture is reflecting some of these shifts, showing powerfully the time beyond the current, the moment at hand. Among some of the interventions, Frieze 2014 in New York City paraded a loss of the technological overrule. The disengagement from materiality at large, was shown in some works. There were works that were pointing to our roots of craftsmanship, bringing back materiality of different scales, and putting out the new spatial engagements. Noteworthy is that large scale is not necessarily the most powerful signifier, but some minimal portions or material may also integrate ideas. An example of this kind was installation with smaller details and nuances by artist Maria Nepomuceno. The artist was presented at Frieze NYC by A Gentil Cariocas Gallery from Rio de Janeiro.

Nepomuceno draws on Brazilian craft traditions using weaving and braiding techniques, as well as her own designs to build biomorphic sculptural forms. The sculpted appears as seductive when the colors and patterns nourish imagination. The lingering movement and rhythm comes from the way of installing sculptures in the space, some scattered forming a logic. The artist allows sculptures to spread across space like vegetation. Rope and necklaces are used as raw material in the works, and the materials take a natural spiral form. The artists has been using body and nature as inspiration, creating infinity, and shaping of living organisms. The ancient traditions and techniques are a source for her art,  as she gives materials a new form and content.

Another woman artist in Frieze show was talented Jumana Manna, presented by New York’s CRG Gallery. The artist recently exhibited her works at Sculpture Center in Long Island City titled Menace of Origins. Manna’s piece at the art fair was titled Crowd connecting closely to her recent show, and echoing of same elements and materiality.  The artist has explored a notion of relics in her works. Using archaeology as a device, she has explored ruins and architectural forms that reminiscence human presence. The works that build ideas and are structurally challenging explore the construction of power, nationalism, gender, and history through material relationships. Manna works mainly with sculpture and video, often pairing them together to create surprising events.

Jumana Manna, Crowd, 2013. Plaster, Plastic Net, Egg Cartons. courtesy: @CRG gallery.

Respectively,  Liz Larner’s sculpture spoke from the Frieze exhibition of Los Angeles based gallery Regen Projects. Her bold sculpture was physically large and airy at the same time. A free-standing metal sculpture displays a cold aesthetic. Her sculpture “V (planchette)” (2014) has a smooth aluminum surface, which is painted a chalky black. It is curvy suggesting motion, giving feelings according to the angle it is viewed from. It is wider at its base, leaner in the middle, large and flowing at the top. The statuesque nature promises balance, but gives a hint of character that might be leading to odd and ambiguous places.

Liz Larner, V (porchette), 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Regen Projects.

Rémy Markowitsch’s five-part group of wooden sculptures took the stage curated by Berlin-based Galerie EIGEN + ART.  His installation FALL uses two different historical events as material, namely four of the sculptures mimic the painting Absturtz (the Fall) by Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler, depicting Alpine climbers that were created for the 1894 World’s Fair in Antwerp. The fifth figure comes from a different source, representing a German mountaineer Toni Kurz, who died when attempting to climb the north face of the Eiger in 1936. Sculptures are nude, so they come across as timeless, without specific location.  His installation is accompanied by his other work showing mountains, which give out a feel of nostalgia to the romantic past times when climbing at the world’s highest mountains produced heroes, while there were sacrifices, and danger involved.

Remy Markowitsch, FALL, 2013. 5 wooden figures, rope, carabineer, dimensions variable. courtesy: @Galerie EIGEN+ART

Lehman Maupin (New York/Hong Kong) brought in a large sculpture installation called Library II-II by artist Liu Wei. This sculpture is made from thousands of books and it weights nearly a ton. The gallery told that they had to reinforce the floor underneath the sculpture so its weight was supported.  Liu Wei’s sculpture will be part of an exhibition Bringing the World into the World at the Queens Museum (opens on June 15). Around the sculpture, space is altered and tilted. The work notes literariness of our civilizations. The inventions of paper; dimensionality that comes with the written cultures and around ancient canopies of words. Lingua and library, freedom of press, freedom of writing, utterances. But more than any literal connotations of the material itself, the sculptural challenges beyond the apparent, parafrazing, the architectural of the cities and urban life cycles, as our connection to global spaces, and disconnectedness from the traditions.

Frieze 2014, Liu Wei, Library II-II, 2013. courtesy: @Lehmann Maupin

Galeria Fortes Vilaça from São Paulo presented Erica Verzutti’s concrete sculptures that were academic and playful at the same time. The gallery commented that Verzutti’s works gained a lot of attention at the Frieze art fair, due to their brilliant interactive quality, and sense of humor. The sculptures are semantically pointing to archeological pasts, many of them depicting minerals and natural stones that appear as traces of nature. Playfulness comes from the interactive quality of her sculptures, some parts are loose (like egg-shape stones) and can be organized differently. Double Sunset is a bit different from her other works, some of them on stands. The work on the wall showcases two basketballs as a colorful urban signifier of play and sports, when they are installed in the concrete. But ultimately the viewer has a chance for interpretation. A woman’s bust, femininity paraded?

Erica Verzutti, Double Sunset, 2014. Concrete and basketballs. Courtesy: @Galeria Fortes Vilaça.

One show-stopper at Frieze was a pale installation composed of a single cage, which was hanging from the ceiling with nothing around it but the white walls. Wilfredo Prieto was the artist curated by Nogueras Blanchard gallery from Barcelona. It evidantly showed how to be captured, a sentiment so fearful, yet potentially something that makes art appealing to its viewers. The possibilities are endless to imagine how to relate to the cage as an object, to think what are the experiences and feelings attached to its awful shape. It represents zoo-like ready-made feelings, and it reminds of a consumer-object relationship without pointing to a specific direct target, except the art fair itself? Who would need a shark-cage? Who needs this kind of art? A question, what are the sensations attached to our art-viewing, comes to mind. Is art made for humans as animals? Weird crescendo of concepts makes it art?

Wilfredo Prieto, Shark Cage, 2012. courtesy: @Nogueras Blanchard.

Shark cage illustrates a perfect example of the first position. The piece does not allow for the poetic metaphor and is in itself a clear statement, provocative and critical of its environment, in this case an art fair. The presentation of this work becomes a pitched battle between the object, the context and the interpretation of the viewer. The artist participates only as a facilitator of such a meeting. A strict representation of the cage, without any further intervention, is what turns us all into potential sharks. (Alex Nogueras&Rebeca Blanchard)

 

Tobias Putrih, Macula, 2014. courtesy: @Galerie Greta Meert.

One of the favorite was Tobias Putrih who is internationally acclaimed artist working with such modest materials as cardboard and plywood. Those are exactly the materials that are hard to work with, as there is the air element that challenges them. Putrih’s two sculptures were presented by Galerie Greta Meert from Brussels. The cardboard was transparent enough to create a surface, which circulates light. His sculptural objects are attractive and sensual enough, as much as they project intellectual and architectural propositions, definitely aiming to shape our viewing experience. Touchable, palpable, airy, anything between transparent and materialwise poetic.

Last, but not least, Paul McCarthy’s large blue head sculpture belonged to New York gallery Hauser Wirth’s exhibition titled On the Fabric of the Human Body. His large heads are like prop-objects, and comment a tradition of beheaded figures in art history. Together with works from Rita Ackerman, Louise Bourgeois, Isa Genzken; McCarthy’s sculpture worked as expressive part of the art fair, expressing body that reinvents and transgresses.

Paul McCarthy, White Snow Head, 2012-2013, Silicone, fiberglass, steel.
Paul McCarthy, White Snow Head, 2012-2013. Silicone, fiberglass, steel. courtesy: @HAUSER&WIRTH

As a summary, what comes to mind is the movement of the virtual; our contemporary lifestyles embedded with mediascapes (term coined by Arjun Appadurai in 1990). The global cultural flow affects both the artists and the viewers, who are participants of the art world. The historical referencing opens to ideas of homogenization of the arts. Repetitive use of similar motives over and over again would easily define the art, and block any motion. Such would be the case if the consumer culture says that art should be purely digitalized! As we want to consume while we eat, rest, and start again with the same. Contrastively, art should provoke us, make us move from our comfort zones, let us move in between the sculptural, sense the provocative. It can touch our sensibilities. It should stop us from numbness.

images: Firstindigo&Lifestyle

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art review&curating fine and contemporary art women in art

Bortolami gallery’s exhibit shows 3 x minimalist encounters

Bortolami Gallery is one of the most innovative galleries in Chelsea’s vibrant art district. Currently it is hosting an exhibit for three artists who share an approach of minimalism. An exhibition is curated by Christine Messineo, and is titled in a punctuating manner: ”ANN VERONICA JANSSENS, KITTY KRAUS DANIEL STEEGMANN MANGRANÉ First lines, like first dates, or the first bite of dessert, can be deceptive.” Even if the works would not seduce you at the first glance, spending some time with the installation and connecting pieces, might make you fall in love. Stepping into the space, which itself is a constellation of whiteness, concrete floors and strong ceiling lights, puts you into a certain mood. The space tunes to receive the immaterial lightness of some works. On the other hand, some pieces makes you investigate your own perception.

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The exhibition title is taken from a text by Ann Beattie. She handles a theme of difficult of beginnings, asking where to start. If the beginnings can remain elliptical, the encounters may be unstable. A curatorial choice thereof has been to follow this principle, and create the exhibition around three artists with above question in mind. Ann Veronica Janssens, Kitty Kraus and Daniel Steegmann Mangrané present works all share experience which do not reveal, as ”First looks cannot be relied upon.

Ann Veronica Janssen’s career has been full of experiments with form and perception, testing our reflections into familiar forms and to spatiality. Also in this exhibition her pieces invite to reflect. Magic Mirror Pink holds a possibility for a mirror-effect. Disque Vert holds magical presence being placed on the back wall, immediately popping out from the white walls. It reminds of a musical instrument, but instead of making sound it whispers with deeper than surface reflection. All the miracle that Janssen’s three works play within the exhibition tell about ”scientific phenomenon or physical property of light—its ability to bend, to refract, to remain encased within a prism-like volume.” The artist’s sculpture IPE 130 is the center piece of the large installation room. This sculpture is a steel I-beam lying on the ground of the gallery. The top of the sculpture has been polished so it reflects your image, or the objects in the room that touch upon the surface. The purpose is to communicate with the architecture, as all Janssen’s works ultimately do.

The exhibit starts right when entering the gallery. First room with windows to the street is a small one. One immediately encounters Steegmann Mangrané’s sound installation. He has worked with sound that comes from seven speakers that are placed throughout the gallery; taking two rooms. The sound is composed as prolonged note played on the flute. ”The duration of each note corresponds to the lung capacity and stamina of the flautist, Joana Saraiva. As one note comes to its end, another note begins to play from different speaker in the gallery.” In this area, there is a need to find the source of the sound, which does not resonate clearly from the speakers. The art objects in the exhibition carry so much, so perhaps sound gets confused or finds ways to attach to different bodies. Mangrané has worked with notion of immateriality. The lightness of breath which is present in the musical notes creates meaning in conjunction to his sculptural works as well.  He has created several metal chains that hang from the ceiling that reach the floor intending to alter the viewer’s ability to negotiate the space. Additionally, a group of small cardboard sculptures appear as the most ethereal part of the show – which overall seems slightly prismic, metallic, or technologically referential. These are like masks made of sycamore tree bark. Their curved altered face-like shapes absorb the light creating shadows on the wall, ”seemingly lending mass to the immaterial.”

Kitty Kraus’s piece Untitled (Light Box) which, although it is situated in the small room in the back, has especially strong presence. ”Taking the form of a large pedestal, the sculpture casts a strong light from only a thin horizontal aperture that runs around the middle of the dark, rectangular volume.” As you go around the sculpture you can see it upon yourself thus becoming part of its field. The sculpture leaves out an emitted light line that draws the perimeter of the room. When people enter the room the light from outside communicates with the darkness of the sculpture and its surrounding space. White lines of the exterior space meet with the dark hollowing entity of the box, creating magical installation that eats up the space, almost disturbing the perception, and pointing to the trivial?

The exhibition will run until April 26, 2014

www.bortolamigallery.com

 

 

 

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art review&curating volta art fair women in art

Christy Rupp’s animalistic art

Christy Rupp was presented at VOLTA NY’ 14 by 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.

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.

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art review&curating asian art fine and contemporary art volta art fair women in art

VOLTA NY 14: Simeen Farhat’s ‘Alice’ and the language puzzles

simeen farhat she looses her temper
Simeen Farhat, “She Looses her Temper”, 14 x 16 x 5 inches. Cast and pigmented resin & acrylic rods, 2014.

Pakistani-born, Dallas-based artist Simeen 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. VOLTA is 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)

simeen farhat_image2
Simeen Farhat, “She Looses her Temper”, 2014
simeen farhat _image7
Simeen Farhat puzzles with languages, Pentimenti Gallery, VOLTA NY2014.

”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.

for more information visit: www.pentimenti.com

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fine and contemporary art interviews volta art fair

Artist Interview: Heino Schmid

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.

HEINO SCHMID, Mixed media on paper with painted coconuts, 45 x 45 in, 2003/2013.

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.

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design volta art fair

Paolo Cavinato at VOLTA

Paolo Cavinato, RILIEVO #2 CUCINA CON PRESENZA
Paolo Cavinato, LIBERATION #2
Italian artist Paolo Cavinato was presented at VOLTA NY 2013 by 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.
Paul Cavinato, TEATRINO
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art review&curating fine and contemporary art volta art fair

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.)

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art review&curating fine and contemporary art sustainability volta art fair women in art

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
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design interviews performance&dance sustainability

Robin Rapoport: From Alexander technique to design sensing

How to describe living the artistic life? How to live a life surrounded by one’s own art? Making art is so intimately linked into one’s sensing of the world that there isn’t simple answers. In the current research of art, we try to map different kinds of knowledge embedded in the artistic processes. ‘Living’ with the arts is like ‘dwelling’, which in fact implies an old meaning for a house. The doors in the house keep opening and closing as a trespass to new fragments of interiors. The repetitious movement of stepping in and out of the interiors gives even the doorhandles almost allegorical significance.

Robin Rapoport’s designs at her Conneticut home and studio.

Robin Rapoport is a sculptor and designer who has been choreographing for her dance company Headless Horse. As a dancer in Robin’s company, the creative process made me reconsider dancing together with the sculptural.  Robin has been looking for a living and forming entity in the sculpture, which could be realized through the dancer’s body and her movements. Another layer came from the Alexander technique, which would bring those two materials even closer together. I asked Robin about this entire connection, wanting to know how the Alexander technique has changed her.


RR: So funny you should ask that. The other day I was speaking with a magazine publisher of home design who wanted her editor to meet me and I said I have a class for Alexander Technique, but will skip it in order to meet her. I reflected that most people do one thing like designing, and here I spend so much time on another activity perhaps losing accounts because I’m not as available. But if you understand Mr. Alexander’s work it is crucial to one’s sense of clarity. The more I go, the more I discover holding in my body that I need to release, and as an artist I am curious where this will all lead. I know I’m changing so much already. The way I stand, my breathing, and so I am not so hyper. I can make better decisions with a calmer mind. We are for the most part so disconnected from ourselves and from the proper use of the self, which enters into all arenas of movement. I am very concerned with health and maintaining it. I do not want to stiffen up but remain easy and fluid. And I think to be an artist is to think outside of the box, to think ahead, to be perhaps more aware of the dangers our planet presents to us on a daily basis. This Alexander Technique is what I do to combat that.

ORGANIC FORMS

Robin Rapoport’s sculptures and sculptural furniture display an array of different approaches to organic forms, which could be labeled, as somewhere between Scandinavian and African, they are modern, natural and primitive at the same time.The sculpture and furniture feels animated and living. In some cases it is almost talking to you, and these pieces are shaping the space. The design presence is not too loud, but the pieces make statements and offer alternative points of view to look at the space. A piece of furniture is standing on its own legs, when it is a floor lamp, for instance. And if it is a bookshelf it can even include eyeballs. You might as well know what I mean: When you talk to plants, you talk to trees. And this design is so ’whimsy’ that you might as well talk to it.

When Robin takes on the art of creating a house with her interior design, she likes to enhance the warmth of the interior walls. The walls already have imaginative touch in them. Cardboard covered walls with a touch of asymmetrical designs gives them a hint of geometry, and overall, they have ethereal lightness in them. This meditative approach, which she also calls as an art of ‘dwelling’ continues in the wooden sculptures. The sculptures both gather and form the space around them, and they have their own individualistic character. Robin’s interest to form is fluid. Materials appear with fluidity; they are towards rough or process-like, rather, than simply solid or static structures.

Robin Rapoport, eyeball shelves

THE HUMAN BODY

The Dance Company is close to being like a living sculpture, where human body is constantly taking new shapes and testing the space where it moves. The dancing bodies with sculptural elements on stage together with them, is another Rapoport’s take on the theme. Along with the abstract, animated and organic forms are these narratives, which have several underlying layers. These stories unfold themselves in a course of a fairytale, or as a series of otherwise magical happenings.

Dance, short film, sculpture, and light design evolve from the same source creating narratives without suffocating punctuality. Robin’s events evolve around the form and texture. Sometimes a piece of plexiglass gives an idea to a story that becomes a gesture in the dance performance, or it is part of the furniture created, and the objects found, all made for the home. Home is an evolving space, which is the dwelling. And living one’s home is part of the artistic process. Basically home is living together with art, and art keeps changing, as the interiors get different stories and layers.

Robin has created her home in the woods of Greenwich, CT, together with her husband Edward L. Milstein, who himself is a painter of geometric color. Both share a passion for the arts, design and architecture. These three-colliding elements are coexisting in their home, where exterior is also mixing with the interior. A visitor who comes to their spatial industrial loft-like house and art gallery encounters the presence of the woodland nature. The house is evidently coexisting with its environment, as the landscape is not too worked, but remains the same type of organic fluidity with the rest of the things around. They collaborated with the Robert Young architects to create their ’Art Barn’. In the summer the house has a wire screen wrapped around it which is covered with wisteria, and so becomes a green jewel box in the woods emerging from a winter cinder block form of grey. It is amazing how a ’green screen’ that is like a living skin over most of the surface make the concrete-block look different. The greenery also adds thermal insulation.

LIGHT DESIGNS

As of today, Robin has developed Light Designs. She is creating fixtures that come from the sculptural roots of using wood, copper and paper. Interesting ceiling lamps are the ones like an octopus or simply ‘branchy’ wired designs, which are light weighted structures for the ceiling. Ceiling lamp can contain one long rectangular design that has two branchy-designs attached to it, or it can be a smaller sculptural design having one wire inside them.

{photos:courtesy of robinrapoporthome.com}

I asked Robin few more questions. I wanted to know how living in the woods inspires her. I also asked, where will her designs be in the future, and where will her passion be.

RR: I think there is nothing more beautiful and magical and instructive as Nature and so I stay here, somewhat hidden and enclosed and perhaps somewhat lonely at times as well but this is where my work unfolds. When I travel to New York it is to study the Alexander Technique but then I come home to walk the property where I have lived for 24 years. Every year I add or shift plants and every following year I can take pleasure in watching them bloom. Outside and inside are distinct yet connected, as are we with both an exterior and interior persona? With so much suffering and tragedy in the world I feel blessed to have this place as a personal sanctuary and which makes me acknowledge every day a higher being which I can attribute the beauty all around me to.

I hope my Light Fixtures can add beauty to a room. They are crafted by hand so each is unique. I am happy to personalize them for customers meaning that I could change the paper color and or wood color. How fascinating is it in Nature that a plant on the outside can be a dull grey with spikes and when it blooms the most delicate of leaves and colors emerge. And this color is for our eyes to appreciate like cinema except you can touch it.

My next passion is to have a home furnishing boutique where I would sell my designs for tablecloths and ceramics, as well as have my design services. I love to set the table, and I find very little of interest in the tabletop design right now. So much of what is out there is about simplicity and “whiteness”, but perhaps just too much simplicity. We have lost great craftsmen (women). With the current economy people are afraid to stock inventory that is not trendy. But I am uninspired by what is now trendy. I just find it bland and so will make my own.

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{ROBIN RAPOPORT’S WEBSITES: Robin Rapoport Home and Robin Rapoport:Dance, Sculpture, Film}

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Robin Rapoport established Headless Horse in 2002 in New York City. The dance company has performed in live show, in festivals and in her short dance films. Her ‘Thief’ appeared in Palm Springs International Film Festival, and in the Jumping Frames Film Festival in Hong Kong.

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{/More pictures for the Greenwich, CT house are seen at http://ryarch.com/art-barn}