Giardini della Biennale and the Arsenale: Cecilia Alemani curated The Milk of Dreams: The connection Between Bodies and Earth
Sonia Boyce: Drenches viewers in a rhapsodic kaleidoscope of voice, color and geometry.
Francis Alÿs: Gigantic screen projections capture children frolicking in public spaces. Snail races and jump rope games unequivocally switch our minds to a pure state in which laughter and time are without limits.
Uffe Isolotto: A Centaurus near death, an unbearable family story.
Simone Leigh: Leigh allures us to Mother Earth.
Jade Fadojutimi: Harmony and conflict in a fantastical landscape.
Barbara Kruger: Sound and images: A real blaze for human kindness.
Nan Goldin: Goldin composed this film with found scenes of exhilaration, sexuality, bliss and ravishment.
Monira Al Qadiri: Spinning jewel cities in a Persian Gulf-landscape, beaming mythical stories.
Outside the Biennale: Anish Kapoor and Anselm Kiefer
Anish Kapoor: A synergy of science, architecture and humanity.
Anselm Kiefer: Daunting memories, Kiefer in dialogue with master painters.
D. Dominick Lombardi’s exhibition, Cross Contamination with Stickers, at Albright College’s Freedman Gallery brings together recent work that implodes linear expectations in art by attaching a subversive cast of characters and abstract forms on stickers to paintings, drawings and objects grounded in traditional techniques and figuration. The sticker imagery emerges from an automatic drawing process where Lombardi allows his hand and mind to move freely on the page, uninhibited, in the creation of bodies, faces and amorphous forms with anatomical implications. A clue to the origins of his stickers is evident in the drawing, D-6-21, where the subconscious is accessed through a constellation of linear characters and intestinal contours. Embedded in the lines are faces, bodies and colonic forms in dialogue with one another, yet isolated in placement and spacing. The drawings might even be the dissection of a poor soul pinned across the page; each organ animated by its own disposition. While this process has its roots in Surrealism and automatic writing, it also brings to mind the drawings and distracted doodles of teens and the young at heart inspired by underground comics, animation and tattoos. The association of Surrealist history with adolescent attitudes and daydreams is further underscored by Lombardi’s use of satire and dissent in a collision of unruly worlds.
Lombardi’s application of stickers to charcoal drawings, album covers and sculpture brings into sharp contrast the disparate traditions and values embodied by their respective methodologies and subject matter. The figure drawings are repurposed from Lombardi’s demonstrations for students during his twenty-seven years of teaching life drawing. Well executed in composition and representation, they succeed in depicting the likeness and proportions of their subjects. Although, in the context of Lombardi’s work it feels absurd to look at these drawings through a formalist, academic lens. Together the drawings and stickers destabilize the histories and sensibilities behind their realization. Yes, there’s harmony in their composition and hue, but the combined attitudes and methodologies are unsettling. Lombardi negotiates an uncomfortable alliance in his work. While the figure drawings endeavor to attain classical representation, the stickers undermine these traditions with humorous impropriety; an affront to the well-intentioned studies. Both hold their own by asserting divergent values all the more apparent by their proximity.
Analogous to graffiti, Lombardi’s stickers bring to mind the “hello my name is” stickers filled in with the swirling, jagged monikers of their makers that dot New York City’s transit system. A misdemeanor tag rarely worth pursuing by the authorities, the graffiti artists interject themselves into the monotonous, engineered aesthetics of commuting. A declaration of self and markers of time, the subway stickers exist until peeled off or worn away. Lombardi’s stickers, on the other hand, tag an introductory foundations course, life drawing, pitting the traditions of proportion and representation against the raucous attitudes of underground comics.
The painting, CCWS 92, exemplifies this tension between dissimilar practices. The canvas consists of six sketches interspersed with black and white stickers. Two of the six are charcoal drawings repurposed from the figure drawing classes and four are studies in marker reminiscent of early 20th century abstraction. Suspended like stalactites across the top are stickers of gelatinous mechanical forms. Throughout the canvas are Lombardi’s ill-behaved characters. Disembodied heads hover over models while exaggerated figures are in dialogue with each other and the models on fields of pink and yellow. Internal organs seem to have developed outside the bodies of some. The best artists instill their unique perspective and spirit irrespective of the subject matter. Lombardi accomplishes this by disrupting the technical origins of the charcoal drawings with stickers rooted in underground pop influences. Lombardi’s fusion of academic concerns with an alternative mindset questions assumptions around “high and low” art by presenting contradicting motivations side by side with equal authority.
Humor is central to Contamination with Stickers. For instance, Lombardi has placed stickers in conversation with the remains of imagery and text on album covers. The wit in this work not only stems from connecting disparate aesthetics, but also from his seamless over-painting of elements on the albums. The humor is subtle, labor-intensive and easy to miss. There’s no Photoshop to assist Lombardi with the detail and time required to remove by hand all the text on a Barry White album, or text and a section of the dock on a Freddy Heimweh cover. Lombardi’s modifications separate the artists from their personas. Instead, Freddy Heimway is reenvisioned as “Reddy St.” and the faces of both are covered with stickers. Now unrecognizable by most, the album format remains while promotional expectations are subverted with irony and finesse.
The most audacious piece in the show is the freestanding painted assemblage, CCWS 25. Visitors to the exhibition openly laughed when confronted with its punchline, a rare reaction in the polite confines of an art gallery. The armature of the sculpture consists of plastic bottles from various products and discarded wood objects embedded in a biomorphic paper mâché arrangement. Although the bottles are no longer visible, their origins reference ubiquitous plastic waste and determine the shape of the sculpture with implications of mutation and survival. A table leg serves as one of its legs and the rounded end of a wooden spoon is recast as an ear. The proportions of the sculpture are reminiscent of a teddy bear except here the creature is headless with ears protruding from its torso. A green and yellow appendage in the form of a grapefruit is attached to its side. Stickers of abstract designs punctuate the sculpture. CCWS 25 seems to have taken shape from one of the stickers on a nearby painting.
The sculpture greets its guests with a cheerful, positive demeanor. Its pudgy proportions and stickers function as a comedic buildup to the sculpture’s posterior. Moving around CCWS 25 reveals a cherubic figurine with its face buried in the creature’s buttocks. The discovery is jarring and unnerving. Most will respond to this encounter by recoiling, laughing or both. The conditions are difficult to discern and impossible to ignore. This might even be interpreted as an investigation into sensory deprivation and teamwork. The figurine with arms wide open does not appear to be distressed and, perhaps within the conditions proposed by Lombardi’s exhibition, is in an amenable and unremarkable situation. It’s as though the figures in CCWS 25 and throughout the exhibition need each other to navigate the intractable worlds they inhabit.
This is where the collision of ideologies in Contamination with Stickers is most subversive. Assurances found in taking sides are called into question. Lombardi destabilizes bias in the exhibition by composing dissimilar characters, values and forms into harmonious pandemonium. Discomfort with the show most likely arises from the assumptions and predilections projected onto the work, while the work itself remains confident in its lively exchange between high and low aesthetics and ethos. Meanwhile, the characters and figures sourced from personal history and internal realms remain in buoyant conversation – happily indifferent to outside decree and assessment.
D. Dominick Lombardi: Cross Contamination with Stickers runs through December 8th, 2022 at the Freedman Gallery, Albright College, Reading, Pennsylvania.
Saugerties, NY – Debra Priestly’s latest solo exhibition of new paintings, drawings, and sculpture along with an immersive site-specific installation explores the color black in many different ways including as pigment, symbol and potential object. As a pigment, black richly glows as a matte finish on black vessels 1-3. Free standing in the gallery, these urn-shaped sculptures serve as elegiac cenotaphs with small, modeled faces emerging from around the mouthpiece under a matte black shroud. In other works, totem 1-3, and hymn, black is a bold, symbolic object that participates in its own geometry and asserts a solid, non-negotiable presence.
Apart from the metaphysics of the color black, Priestly considers the reductive symbols that are possible in a black and white world. One recurring leit-motif is the humble canning jar. This ubiquitous kitchen container, used to preserve food over winter and thwart decay, the jar resonates with the analogy of the living body containing the soul, or of the mind preserving memory. In mattoon 17.1-17.9, Debra Priestly places black cut paper silhouettes of mundane objects in a square of paper lace meticulously cut with traditional floral patterns and encompassing the form of this canning jar. The black objects set inside the jar can be identified as a vinyl record, a cup, a roll of string, or an egg, but are so redacted that they emerge as the essential symbols of larger meaning. The flat 78 rpm record can represent the geometry of a planet’s circumnavigation; the cup becomes a symbol of offering and the string, the gyration of objects in response to gravity. These mysterious objects placed on an intricate representation of handmade lace references the clarity of overall design carefully balanced on the realities of painstaking execution – and the delicate dance between what is and what is not.
The most open-ended of Priestly’s works are the studies for black totem 1 -3 and her large, site-specific installation, black. The 12” x 9” inch multiple studies for black totem 1-3 are the scaffolding for a proposed group of three 7-foot high free-standing pillars made from ceramic components. Reduced to simple black and gray geometric shapes, this “blueprint” has gaps which invite the viewer to complete with their mind. The depth of the spaces created by the totems oscillates from near to far creating a physical sensation within the viewer as they experience proposed objects of towering height. Standing alone, these inked sheets of paper record the process of symbol to eventual substance.
black is a site-specific installation unique to Jane St. Art Center. This elegant, light-filled performance space has been completely darkened with the smallest illumination perceptible at the farthest end of the stage. The strange smell of tar paper guides the viewer’s bared feet towards a miniature display supporting a circle of tiny sculpture stands, each displaying a miniature form. These minute turntables encircle the smallest one in the center of the diorama and seem to give it their full attention. The drama of the low light and the naturally enveloping black environment make for mysterious interpretations with a simultaneous sense of both utter vastness and particular miniaturization. In this installation, black serves as a comforting presence as an invisible audience is slowly imagined while the tiny theater itself slowly evolves.
Debra Priestly’s artwork is ultimately about dimensional shifts and associative illusions to create the magic of space. What may sum up the entire exhibition is the mixed media on panel, patoka hill 26. The only painting in this exhibition, pakota hill 26 depicts the ancient game of snakes and ladders. The game was originally a game of morality where snakes represent “envy” and “jealousy”, (vices) while ladders represent virtues such as “charity” and “kindness”. In this ubiquitous child’s game, the roll of the dice can send the player up the ladder to win and another roll can just as easily send that player all the way back to the beginning via the snakes – and throughout these ups and downs in Priestly’s painting are the attendant canning jars that simultaneously hold all memory, space and being.
Debra Priestly: black (September 17 – October 23, 2022) at Jane St. Art Center, 11 Jane Street Suite A, Saugerties NY 12477 (845) 217-5715. www.janestreetartcenter.com
Thomas Demand’s practice of building models and photographing them has produced a child in “The Triple Folly,” a baby that has grown into an actual building in Denmark. By the artist’s own admission, it may turn out to be an only child. It’s a genesis story that gave Demand an opportunity to explore a tent-to-pavilion aspect of human habitation through postcards, prints, and publications in the wall vitrine facing “The Triple Folly” model on the second floor at Toronto’s Museum of Modern Art. The model was realized through the London firm, Caruso St John Architects with their client, Danish textile firm Kvadrat, as a “breakout” space from the company’s nearby headquarters, suitable for house meetings, seminars, or even a concert, but light on heavy, practical use – a folly, in other words.
This collaborative interface aspect of Demand’s work is a dominant feature of his “House of Card” exhibition at MOCA, beginning with Rirkrit Tiravanija’s 2013 “Thomas Demand’s Here” on the main floor, a life-size model of the karaoke bar Black Label in Kitakaushi, Japan, the exterior of which Demand repeats on the third floor in flimsier board and digital output in paper. The Black Label homage to the artist arose from Demand’s discovery and rendering of the bar at a 2008 residency at Kitakushu’s Centre for Contemporary Art. Tiravanija’s model imbues “life” to an otherwise empty shell, offering karaoke and social ambiance to participating museum attendees.
The model as a latent force that delineates our lived environment is given expression by Demand’s photographs of model details by architects SANAA (Kasuyo Seijma and Ryue Nishizawa) and John Lautner. In Demand’s photos, the pattern template files of the late fashion designer Assedine Alaïa come across as magnified strands of DNA, worn down by years of use. Alaïa’s runway creations and the flesh and blood mannequins that inhabited them may only be inferred in the photos, as are the string of celebrities that came to champion them. SANAA’s contribution to the architectural skins that clothe the art of significant galleries and museums across the globe typifies this crossing of the aesthetic from one discipline to another. Very likely, the inconspicuous site-specific ceiling installation by Martin Boyce on the second floor plays interference on the acoustics of the exhibition space. Its vane-like shapes in muffling the echoes of MOCA’s concrete architecture are a further interface of disciplines.
Viewers of Demand’s 2021 “Refuge” installation on the third floor at MOCA are afforded a taste of the confinement that NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden is likely to have experienced in his Sheremetyevo hotel room in Russia as an exile from US authorities. The artist, it seems, had obtained detailed, firsthand experience of Snowden’s presumed room in Russia, upon which his paper and card version of it was based. The journalistic narratives constructed around the whistle-blower as either traitor or patriot exemplify just one front in our current war of information. The re-constructed details of Demand’s “Refuge” series provide an eerie simulation of the “cell” of its protagonist as casualty of this conflict, and his five weeks of isolation.
The subject of Demand’s minute-and-a-half 2001 film, “Yard,” is Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević and his arrest on charges of war crimes against humanity. In the video, the staccato click of paparazzi camera shutters illuminate a wall behind a chainlink fence as the prisoner is handed over to authorities at the International Criminal Court at The Hague. Since Milošević isn’t visible in the film, we are left to imagine, not only his presence, but any details of the arrest itself.
In the wall vitrine above his postcard display, Demand hung a print of Rudolph Weigel’s “Judith and Holofernes.” The subject of numerous depictions through art history, Weigel has Judith standing in the doorway of a tent, calmly dropping the head of Holofernes into a sack after her decapitation of the Assyrian general. Implicit in the Biblical story is seduction coupled with its fatal deception. The roof of Demand’s “Triple Folly” model was inspired by a creased legal size paper, a nod to the laws and regulations governing the realization of any actual building. As they say, “All is fair in love and war.” Yet as Demand has demonstrated in numerous past works, “folly” arrives in three dimensions, and who is to account for what happens inside the things we build?
HOUSE OF CARD: Thomas Demand & Martin Boyce, Rirkit Tiravanija, Caruso St John at MOCA, Toronto, Canada September 16, 2022 – January 8, 2023
Ripped, a solo exhibition of the works of Hans Neleman, reaffirms the truth that the destructive-creative process of collage is much like graffiti, in that it gains strength from its boldness to change a preexisting thing, space or expression no matter how powerful or benign. By using the outer edges of 1940’s illustrations of art left as remnants from past works, Neleman reveals the limits of those thoughts and visions, where the conscious and subconscious intertwine, while his process symbolizes spontaneity and an obsession with the tactile. As a result, he creates a place where structures fade, memories leave indelible marks and time begins to become one endless moment. Through his art, Neleman challenges us to experience and rethink the far reaches of what we perceive so we may move past the periphery of our experiences, where the edges that once defined the picture plane become an arresting rhythmic geometric accent.
Neleman wishes us to expand our thoughts as a challenge to our preconceived limitations of fact and expression. He creates compositions where the fringes of the past become the focus of the present, and in so doing, remakes the past as a contemporary expression, making it fresh and new and ready to breathe again. His works feature thoughts and ideas as contrasting visualizations, not just in dark and light, but in the mechanical and the organic. For instance, in Humanity (2022), we first see extreme shifts in dark and light, what Neleman refers to as “how we live together separately in opposing states, always in flux and being ripped apart by politics, war, disease. Only to be “glued” back together by time”. This overall approach to collage in Humanity forms subtle tonal changes, prompting the viewer to look more deeply, possibly seeing fleeting forms that come and go like one might observe in an adjacent apartment or office building. If that experience occurs, one could conclude that the numerous sections seen here represent individual souls, living life largely apart from others who exist just a few feet away, and where Neleman sees an opportunity for those same individuals to find community built upon common ground.
In all of the art of Neleman, we experience a visual effectiveness of each field of assembled paper fragments that are in constant flux, which in a way parodies life itself. His process has a distinctive tempo, a particular pulse to the emerging narratives that encompass many fields he has directly experienced – photography, music video, painting, assemblage – all melding into a universal language that crosses socio-political boundaries, and spans a unique depth and breadth of the human senses. The vibrant, albethey nuanced narratives, convey vague familiarities, creating fleeting references that are buoyed by a network of shapes and forms that imply movement, perspective, change and reasoning. It is as if the second we think we see something it immediately disappears, only to return again in an endless loop of fragmented truths.
As mentioned earlier, the paper Neleman uses to create his mixed media paintings come from old books, which adds a direct correlation to the past, albeit a subtle one, since the paper used to print books several decades ago will darken over time. Since the paper is no longer stark white, it both softens and supports Neleman’s desire to simultaneously embrace and displace time. Also in Instant Poetry II (2022), the artist reconstructs a collective memory; not to simply resurrect the past, but to retrofit the old through a contemporary lens that seeks balance, purity and universality. Overall, the composition of Instant Poetry II creates a very subtle vortex which draws the viewer’s attention toward the center, which appears to be receding. As it happens, that pull creates depth, while a general feeling of another dimension comes to the fore in this and all of Neleman’s works. In the end, we are left with compositions that straddle time, engaging the viewer as we look to the future. when our differences will be embraced and celebrated.
Ripped opens on October 12th and runs through November 15th at the Jean Jacobs Gallery, 84 Main Street, New Canaan, CT. The Opening Reception Saturday October 15, 6.30 – 9.00 pm.