Monday, September 8, 2014

A Report from NY (Sept 2014)

Maria Lassnig at P.S. 1

I spent the day in NY yesterday.  It was the perfect, perfect weather for a day of exploring -- the day right between summer and fall, warmth in the sun but wind in the trees.  A great iced cafe con leche and grilled corn at Cafe Habana and a glass of wine at the cozy, classy Freeman's.  (I kept thinking the place was like walking into a nature morte painting)  

Notice I haven't mentioned the art yet?  That's because the large majority was either forgettable or I am hoping to forget it soon.  At one point my aunt made the hashtag for the day, she said, "god, everything is either boners or bad."  Hahah.  So I'll spare you that and touch on the best things.

We went to P.S. 1 MOMA which I had actually never been to before.  What a great space.  

Roof of P.S. 1 where there is a vegetable garden you can take tomatoes and basil from...

We went there because it was the last day to see the Maria Lassnig show but I think my favorite part was walking around the building; the roof had a beautiful view and really great Richard Serra installation room.  And the different stairwells had installations from William Kentridge and other artists that evolved as you went down.  Not to mention the old public school feel with a 'boys' entrance on the exterior and great light fixtures and tiled bathrooms.

 The Lassnig show we had heard a lot about and didn't want to miss.  I felt it was pretty good but not as good as everyone was saying.  The best works were small watercolors on paper and older works from the first 20 years of her career in my opinion.  The work she is most known for felt too constant in its sense of space, composition and mark, there was not enough searching for me.  

This was a nice one that had great color passages

Small watercolors

Loved this dog..

We left there for the LES on a pretty high note.  Spent some time wandering around and this is when the comment of the day, referenced above, was uttered.  Everything was so surface.  And that's not to say the surfaces were nice.  It was all about a superficial theme or aesthetic.  There was no sense of a deep exploration, personal questions or parameters, no nod to form or materiality.  Regardless of my initial impulse against a lot of the work I would go up close and look only to feel assaulted by a disregard for the construction of the thing.  

The exceptions to this were: Jenny Perlin at Simon Preston gallery, Helen O'Leary's two back room works at Lesley Heller Workspace and Stanley Lewis at Betty Cuningham.  These were nice works with individual investigations.  

Made me think about something I notice with students a lot -- a desire to have a 'style' or 'theme'.  This comes organically, by accident, from making work and figuring out what it is that gets under your skin and makes you want to make work forever.  A dialog with yourself in your studio.  It does not come first. That reversed way of thinking is what many of the shows I felt were bad were doing -- trying to arrive at a 'look' without a means of getting there.

Helen O'Leary at Lesley Heller
The best show of the day for me was Leaves at SHFAP.  It was a group show of various processes and content.  There was a lot of work to look at for an extended period of time, asking different questions but as a good show does, also asking questions of other works in the show due to their contrast.

Peter Acheson

Bad photo of a beautiful installation of Sangram Majumdar 

Katherine Bradford


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