Delhy Tejero: Mysterious Geometry

by D. Dominck Lombardi

When first entering the exhibition Delhy Tejero: Mysterious Geometry, one observation you will most likely make is the diversity of styles the artist engaged in. From folkish traditional, illustrative and playful to Modernist, non–representational and fantastical, she endeavored them all. Never a forerunner in any particular movement, Tejero clearly contributed to many of the popular movements of her day and in her own distinct way, often combining disparate approaches such as abstraction and surrealism. This was her way of visually responding to the art world, putting her own spin on things as if to say “I am here too.”

There is also a great sense of pride in the works of Tejero, a sureness that can be seen in lively to illusive colors and a passion that comes through in the believability of her subjects. This is the eclectic energy one experiences when walking through this delightful and comprehensive exhibition in one of the more elegant and impressive settings in the whole of Valladolid, Museo Herreriano Patio.

Delhy Tejero, Self Portrait (1950), oil on canvas, 29 x 23 ½ inches
Delhy Tejero, Self Portrait (1950), oil on canvas, 29 x 23 ½ inches

The one common thread that runs through all of Tejero’s art is a wonderful, and at times rather unpredictable sense of color combined with a striking command of media. Take for instance Self Portrait (1950), where we see the artist in repose seated at a table. The soft lighting and compelling color theory, the consistent and seamless handling of paint, the geometry of the interlocking – yin yang-like ‘L’ sections of the background and how that is mimicked in the gesture of the right hand tells us much of the artist’s thoughts and tendencies at the time. This preference for inter-responsive forms is further investigated in an abstract way in The Music (1952-53) where highly stylized figures twist and intertwine presumably inspired by spirited music. Working again with a somewhat limited palette, Tajero composes with strong diagonals in streaks of light and dark, a dynamic space that highlights the larger figures on the left, resulting in their elevation of importance. Perhaps these two are seasoned performers, possibly Flamenco dancers turning the three or four forms to the right into admiring onlookers.

Delhy Tejero, The Music (1952-53), oil on panel, 43 x 43 inches
Delhy Tejero, The Music (1952-53), oil on panel, 43 x 43 inches

Then there are the paintings that have that soft, Beat generation style with overtones of a cool 1950’s Madison Avenue aesthetic that I love seeing, which probably has a lot to do with my being born in the same decade. Mussia (1954) is right in the wheelhouse of that genre, and it speaks very specifically about the artist’s public persona that was poised and progressive. More importantly, this painting shows a willingness to reflect what interests the artist with regard to the contemporary art scene. I say this because the faux painted vertical cuts in the canvas are a direct reference to Lucio Fontana, who would have been very well known by the mid 1950’s. Then there are the shadows or ghost features that surround the main subject that suggest movement, impatience or even changes made to the pose that are monochromatically painted in and emphasized. Being a painter myself, sometimes it is easier to multiply gestures than trying to restore a background that consists of a thinly applied wash, which can take several attempts and likely ruin the surface of a painting.

Delhy Tejero, Mussia (María Dolores) (1954), oil on linen, 73 ¼ x 35 ½ inches
Delhy Tejero, Mussia (María Dolores) (1954), oil on linen, 73 ¼ x 35 ½ inches

In a surprisingly different direction are Rabina, Taruja and Pitocha (1929-32), handmade dolls referring to three of the six ‘witches’ that Tejero sees as her little helpers during the creative process. There are a number of drawings and gouache paintings here as well, that show how engaged the artist was with these six distinctive, elf-like characters, revealing a very personal and playful side of Tejero, who was most often thought of as being rather exotic and mysterious in her self designed attire that enhanced her uncommon manners. Seeing these designs, which are far more cartoon-like than realistic, I wonder if Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) may have stumbled upon one or two of these characters. If this is so, I can clearly see how they may have inspired his famous children’s books, especially the stories with the now famous, or infamous Grinch.

Delhy Tejero, Rabina, Taruja and Pitocha (1929-32), fabric, chrome metal, felt, paint, stitching, 11 x 1 ¾ x 2, 12 x 7 x 2, 10 ½, 2 ¾, 2 inches
Delhy Tejero, Rabina, Taruja and Pitocha (1929-32), fabric, chrome metal, felt, paint, stitching, 11 x 1 ¾ x 2, 12 x 7 x 2, 10 ½, 2 ¾, 2 inches

Delhy Tejero: Mysterious Geometry, Museo Herreriano Patio, Spanish Contemporary Art Museum, Valladolid, Spain

In Conversation With Herb Tookey

by Roy Bernardi and Jennifer Leskiw

When you enter the home of art collector Herb Tookey, you are overwhelmed and dazzled by what you see. From floor to ceiling in almost every room of this charming abode is a collection of art works, sculpture and textiles, currently some 200 pieces. Herb, with the help of his wife Paula, meticulously curated the placement of each piece. You see and feel the relationship of one work to another and can only admire the energetic vision of this collector. 

Herb Tookey is an entrepreneur and obviously, a passionate lover of art.  He was once a former partner of the Cameron House, an establishment in downtown Toronto known for being an intimate, bohemian bar with ceiling murals and nightly performances. This funky place is where many creative minds and personalities hang out. Artists, writers, performers and musicians all sharing creative thoughts and ideas.

Herb’s first recollection of acquiring an art piece was a portrait of himself painted by his godmother and given to him when has was quite young. He feels that gift led him to a lifelong journey of collecting with a curiosity and interest that has grown and intensified over the years. Collecting has been in his blood since birth.

Herb Tookey in front of a large scale "Bunny-Man" by John Scott, above a small flower painting by Lorne Wagman and a print by indigenous artist Carl Ray.
Herb Tookey in front of a large scale “Bunny-Man” by John Scott, above a small flower painting by Lorne Wagman and a print by indigenous artist Carl Ray.
Entrance hallway into the home of Herb Tookey (left) featuring several artworks meticulously curated and placed. The kitchen (right) with several works surrounding a larger centrepiece painting by Rae Johnson titled “Mud on the Kitchen Table."
Entrance hallway into the home of Herb Tookey (left) featuring several artworks meticulously curated and placed. The kitchen (right) with several works surrounding a larger centrepiece painting by Rae Johnson titled “Mud on the Kitchen Table.”

What is your favourite art work in your collection? 
My collection is like a large family. It’s like being asked which one of my children I like the best. I can’t say as I love them all. I’ve a relationship with all of my art. In that vein of thought, I’ve created a relationship with many of the artists in my collection. I find art interesting and powerful. For instance, I’m so connected with the paintings by Rae Johnson that I can feel Rae in every one of the paintings I own by her. I think I connected with Rae the most. I do have connections with other artists in that most of my collection has been acquired directly from my interactions with the artists I have met over my lifetime. Art pleasure is an interaction with the art work.

Herb in his library living room in front of one of his master works, by Rae Johnson an untitled painting of the interior of the apartment that Rae and her husband Clarke Rogers lived in on Queen Street West before moving to Flesherton, Ontario.
Herb in his library living room in front of one of his master works, by Rae Johnson an untitled painting of the interior of the apartment that Rae and her husband Clarke Rogers lived in on Queen Street West before moving to Flesherton, Ontario.

What is the highlight for you when collecting?  Is it the search or the acquisition? 
Neither as it’s the experience of living with the art works. Collecting is extremely personal.  It’s educational because it’s an ongoing learning process with fascinating stories and anecdotes.  It’s not only the creative element in each piece but of life itself.  We human critters are hunters and gatherers looking for attention in craftsmanship and attention to meaning.

Herb has never collected art as an investment in money. It’s not the search or acquisition. For him, collecting art is a profound pleasure in the interaction with the work itself.  He feels privileged to be able to surround himself with his collection and enjoy living with it.

If you had unlimited funds which artist or artists would you like to own? 
That’s the easiest question of the lot. There were several paintings that made me weak in the knees when I first saw them at a museum exhibition years ago. The McMichael Gallery had a David Milne retrospective where there was a room of “en plein air” works that Milne painted in 1936 at Six Mile Lake near Georgian Bay, Ontario. When I looked at those paintings I felt that Milne had painted the face of God. Those paintings were of sheer air and glorious light. Another artist that touched me is Tom Thomson’s flower paintings from 1916-1917. And lastly, American artist Ralf Albert Blakelock who’s intimate romanticist landscape paintings related to the atonalism movement which he developed into an idiosyncratic somber melancholic mood. Blakelock who was institutionalized in his later life was able to capture and create paintings of true personal intimacy. 

Herb sitting in front of an emotional work by Rae Johnson, a painting titled “Madonna at the Moment of Immaculate Conception” with paintings by Derek Caines (lower left) and J. Mac Reynolds (upper left).
Herb sitting in front of an emotional work by Rae Johnson, a painting titled “Madonna at the Moment of Immaculate Conception” with paintings by Derek Caines (lower left) and J. Mac Reynolds (upper left).

The Tookey Collection features art works by Rae Johnson, Lorne Wagman, Andy Fabo, John Scott, Robert Markle, Shary Boyle, Sybil Goldstein, David Buchan, Randy Trudeau, Fiona Smyth, Tom Hodgson, Brian Burnett and Carl Ray, to name a few. 

Top 10 Frieze New York, 2024

by Graciela Cassel

Behold the stunning Tower, with flowing cobalt and indigo tones. It evokes the process of coding and decoding in advanced critical thinking.
Behold the stunning Tower, with flowing cobalt and indigo tones. It evokes the process of coding and decoding in advanced critical thinking.

Luke Murphy, Rising Glitch, 2024 Canada Gallery, NY

On the canvas, vibrant radial colors swirl like a spinning merry-go-round, with energetic and playful movements. It impresses the actions of throwing, catching, and laying down. This lively portrayal creates the impression of a joyous and carefree day.
On the canvas, vibrant radial colors swirl like a spinning merry-go-round, with energetic and playful movements. It impresses the actions of throwing, catching, and laying down. This lively portrayal creates the impression of a joyous and carefree day.

Sue Williams, Sample 2024 303 Gallery, NY

In reverence and in battle, love exerts its full strength. Love unites opposites, seemingly similar yet fundamentally different, drawing them together with a powerful and hopeful force.
In reverence and in battle, love exerts its full strength. Love unites opposites, seemingly similar yet fundamentally different, drawing them together with a powerful and hopeful force.

Florian Krewer, Stronger Love, 2024 KRE 270

Surging from deep grounds. The works of West and Lowman create a garden where flowers grow and open, filling the air with the joy of spring. Emerging from the depths of the earth, Franz West's sculptures express the concept of nature in a colorful and sensual way.
Surging from deep grounds. The works of West and Lowman create a garden where flowers grow and open, filling the air with the joy of spring. Emerging from the depths of the earth, Franz West’s sculptures express the concept of nature in a colorful and sensual way.

Paintings by Nate Lowman, Sculptures and furniture by Franz West David Zwirner

Jacquerie of texture lines, dots, and colors. Amaral creates an intricate texture as if he was drawing and painting a forest. We can see the depth of the night and the stars in the sky. Though heavily worked, it has a lightness and life.
Jacquerie of texture lines, dots, and colors. Amaral creates an intricate texture as if he was drawing and painting a forest. We can see the depth of the night and the stars in the sky. Though heavily worked, it has a lightness and life.

Laís Amaral, Untitled II, 2024 Mendez Wood DM

Resilient drops, like kaleidoscopic reflections, reveal the wonder of different worlds, inviting us to discover the many details and possibilities from various perspectives. These glowing glass spheres transform their surroundings, revealing extreme details and surprising us with the many possibilities of a single situation.
Resilient drops, like kaleidoscopic reflections, reveal the wonder of different worlds, inviting us to discover the many details and possibilities from various perspectives. These glowing glass spheres transform their surroundings, revealing extreme details and surprising us with the many possibilities of a single situation.

Olafur Eliasson, The Dewdrop Agora, 2024 Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

Soaring into the night and then emerging under the sun, picture a canvas divided into four sections. It's interesting to imagine rotating it as if it were a wheel and encountering a different part of the day, like the stunning dawn with its yellows, oranges, and whites following the beautiful purple night.
Soaring into the night and then emerging under the sun, picture a canvas divided into four sections. It’s interesting to imagine rotating it as if it were a wheel and encountering a different part of the day, like the stunning dawn with its yellows, oranges, and whites following the beautiful purple night.

Rachel Eulena Williams, Hourglass Blac, 2023 The Modern Institute, Toby Webster Ltd

Ephifhany of colors drifting into the wood.
A subtle combination of colors and materials creates a space of powerful presence. It combines the strength of wood, the gravity of the earth, and the lightness of colors in the sky.
Ephifhany of colors drifting into the wood. A subtle combination of colors and materials creates a space of powerful presence. It combines the strength of wood, the gravity of the earth, and the lightness of colors in the sky.

Arlene Shechet’s sculptures and Robert Mangold’s paintings Pace Gallery

Upsweep sounds in red.
A roar, a scream, a call, a murmur to the earth—Katz indicates the intensity of danger in the vibrant presence of a forest.
Upsweep sounds in red. A roar, a scream, a call, a murmur to the earth—Katz indicates the intensity of danger in the vibrant presence of a forest.

Alex Katz, After Image, 2024 Gladstone

Tumbling Around
Hendry’s works display immense happiness as the elements intertwine with each other, rolling, sweeping, and curving to form new shapes, pleating, emerging, and plunging. Each work embodies a new dynamic.
Tumbling Around. Hendry’s works display immense happiness as the elements intertwine with each other, rolling, sweeping, and curving to form new shapes, pleating, emerging, and plunging. Each work embodies a new dynamic.

Holly Hendry, Stephen Friedman Gallery

Rodney Dickson: Paintings

by D. Dominick Lombardi

Born in Northern Ireland in 1956, the young Rodney Dickson would one day learn first hand about violence, destruction and sacrifice. “The Troubles” (1968-98) was a very dangerous time in Northern Ireland, an indelible experience for Dickson that will often tinge his art in some palpable way. Over the past several years I have come to know him as a passionate and caring individual who is always digging deeper to find meaning through his art, often expressing those findings as acute emotion through color, or the capturing of individual souls through his stirring approaches to portraiture.

Rodney Dickson, 17 (2023) (foreground), oil on board, 96 x 60 inches, all images courtesy of Martin Seck
Rodney Dickson, 17 (2023) (foreground), oil on board, 96 x 60 inches, all images courtesy of Martin Seck

His current exhibition Rodney Dickson: Paintings at Nunu Fine Art, features those two distinctly different series. On the main, street level of the gallery are thickly painted, abstract works that attempt to defy gravity with their massive amounts of paint, as opposed to the lower level space that features numerous, overlapping, life-sized portraits of individuals that he has come to know during his times mostly in Asia, Great Britain and his home since 1997, Brooklyn, NY.

Upon first entering the gallery I was struck by the frenzy of paint applications in 17 (2023), an eight foot tall painting filled with a patchwork of colors and textures that are suggestive of rivers, rivulets, mountains and no-man’s land. Like an earth mover, Dickson pushes, scrapes, applies and piles up paint in obsessive and reactive ways churning up medium in such a frenzy that the paintings become energized and somehow personified. With this powerful physical presence and something of an implied nervous system, the residual energy in the paint twitches, ripples, and coagulates in voluminous swathes and layers that conspire for our attention. This raucousness of color and texture is balanced by the absolute boldness of technique, while the great variance in the thickness of the paint reminds us of the dynamism and focus of the artist.

Rodney Dickson, 17 (2020), oil on board, 24 x 24 inches
Rodney Dickson, 17 (2020), oil on board, 24 x 24 inches

Down a hallway toward the back of the gallery hang smaller, more intimate, but no less tactile paintings that present a chorus of challenging visual crescendos. If there is one common thread throughout these smaller works, it is their general tendency of vertical movement, while some have much more disrupted, scraped areas that wrangle the downward action. In one, 17 (2020), the entire surface of heavily applied oil paint has been disturbed, giving it a more dystopian, scorched earth effect. Perhaps this in one dark memory of the aftermath of an IRA bombing close to home.

Rodney Dickson, 8 (2020), oil on board, 48 x 60 inches
Rodney Dickson, 8 (2020), oil on board, 48 x 60 inches

Considering all the above, I do not mean to imply there is no hope here. There is, and it is clear in some of the larger works in the big room in the rear of the gallery, where the paintings tend to give the impression of something akin to weightlessness despite the thickness of the paint. In 8 (2020), the predominantly yellow composition set horizontally suggests a landscape, a combination that may remind some of Van Gogh’s Wheat Field with Crows (1890) sans the foreboding flying silhouettes. With Dickson’s 8, it’s more about flow and how we perceive wind, how we receive visual cues and information both directly and indirectly that are right in front of us, without the addition of the minutiae that seeps in from the periphery. Dickson appears to be saying here; find a focal point depending on your immediate needs, take in the extremes and avoid the in-betweens, go back to your easels, your blank pages, your instruments or your computers and filter the flow down to something malleable and promising.

Rodney Dickson, 18 (2022), 96 x 60 inches
Rodney Dickson, 18 (2022), 96 x 60 inches

We see this awareness again in 18 (2022) where Dickson primarily pairs the color opposites of red and green, which are largely moderated by black, white and yellow, as they float atop a white ground. Some may also note here that the artist sometimes cleans his paint scraping tool on the edges of the panels, which in turn subtly defines the borders while unconsciously redirecting our attention back into the center of action. In addition to the two main combating colors, Dickson adds small dollops of white and yellow right from the business end of the paint tubes, carefully punching up certain points in the composition that tacitly draw our eye to certain points of color confrontation.

Rodney Dickson, Lower Level Installation View (detail)
Rodney Dickson, Lower Level Installation View (detail)

Moving down a flight of stairs to the lower level, there hangs countless mystifying representations of individuals Dickson has come to know over the years, each staring right back at us with their soulful eyes. Some portraits are buried almost entirely beneath other paintings, while a few can be seen in full view, all painted on the sheerest of fabrics. The delicacy of the material, the watered down paint, the representational subjects and the way they are installed could not be more different from the paintings on wood panel upstairs. Yet there is that same depth of meaning, the same unique sort of passion that Dickson’s work always emanates. It is a truth, an unrelenting drive to project the intensity, the fleetness and the frailty of living everyday in a world that is so rapidly changing and all too often disappointing. But the artist must find their own sort of understanding, of finding and releasing the thoughts that are the hardest to keep unspoken. This is when the magic happens and Dickson attracts and amazes us with tantalizing directness.

Rodney Dickson at his exhibition, Nunu Fine Art, 2024
Rodney Dickson at his exhibition, Nunu Fine Art, 2024

Rodney Dickson: Paintings. March 23 – June 1, 2024 at Nunu Fine Art, 381 Broome St, New York, NY 10013

BoKyung Woo’s Embodiment of Korean Painting

by Thalia Vrachopoulos Ph.d

This month’s exhibition at Paris Koh Fine Arts gallery in Fort Lee, N.J., entitled Reminiscence features the traditional or Minhwa paintings of Bokyung Woo. The artist who earned both her BFA and MS from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, expertly continues the Korean tradition of Minhwa painting demonstrating that the Daoist principles of respecting the way of nature is still relevant.

Installation view of Minhwa paintings
Installation view of Minhwa paintings

The Minhwa (Korean Folk Painting) category includes bird and flower painting, associated with the literati class of scholars, who began working in this style during the Tang and proliferated during the Sung period in China. The style was subsequently adopted by Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) painters in Korea who first used it on decorative screens painted in meticulous detail. Minhwa themes range from so-called flower and bird painting, organic or marine life and up to everyday scenes of that era executed in a colorful, decorative manner usually on handmade or Hanji paper. Minhwa paintings can also have apotropaic value because they are believed to have protective powers and usually depict mythic symbols, or legends with symbolic meaning. So that, when viewing the tondos forming a fantastic installation across three gallery walls from top to bottom, one is astounded by the richness and variety of their content. The powerful curatorial voice of Suechung Koh is felt when facing these three walls of tondo within square Korean traditional paintings. In these installation works Woo uses the full panoply of Korean symbolism and pattern to convey her birth country’s traditions but also the qualities alluding to its roots; nobility, modesty, integrity.

Longevity: BOK Series, 2021-2024, 10x10” Asian Watercolor, mixed media on coffee filter, on Hanji covered wood pane
Longevity: BOK Series, 2021-2024, Asian Watercolor, mixed media on coffee filter, on Hanji covered wood pane, 10″ x 10”

Woo’s Bok, 2021-2024 (10×10” Asian Watercolor and mixed media on coffee filter, on Hanji covered wood panel) incorporates hidden lettering for the word Bok that means “good luck.” The artist uses the blue-green technique that also appears in the historic 19th Century decorative screen from the Joseon Dynasty entitled The Sun, Moon and Five Peaks. In China where it originated, this method is called Shan shui, and was developed and formulated by the Chinese artist Li Sixun in the Tang Dynasty and used later in Korea. It involves the use of brightly colored mineral pigments sometimes incorporating gold outline, associated with alchemical processes as an elixir of immortality. Woo’s Bok Series depicts 3 deer in a paradisical setting standing next to a pristine reflective pool of water, against a backdrop of waterfalls. Woo may have associated the alchemical properties of the blue-green method with the loss of her son who was killed in an auto accident a few years before. This is borne out by the fact that the deer reflections do not coincide with their presence in the real world but that, the watery surface represents the spiritual dimension or immortality.

Birds and Plum tree, 2020, Asian watercolors, coffee stain on Hanji, 23.5 x 17.5 in. w/frame
Birds and Plum tree, 2020, Asian watercolors, coffee stain on Hanji, 23.5 x 17.5 in. w/frame

Through the various types of Korean folk painting styles Woo demonstrates not only the tradition’s continuity, but also the enlivening and renewal of several historic idioms. Woo’s large multi-panel installation stands as only one example of this enrichment. Woo infuses natural symbols with new life and shows respect for their original meaning while transforming them into abstractions of contemporary value. Woo’s tendency to add calligraphic letters while also seen in traditional Korean painting, because of their surface orientation, affords her paintings an abstract appearance.