Ian Hetherington, Owen Piper, & Jacob Kerray @ CCA

While Glasgow’s The Modern Institute is still more of a gallery than an institution proper, and though the Glasgow School of Art is key for student life, I found the Center for Contemporary Art at the heart of the city’s support structure for professional artists. With three galleries, studios, a library, performance rooms, and discussion halls, the CCA was a powerful resource for artists in the region, both in terms of education and exhibition.

However, all that hard work and professionalism at the institutional level knocked strongly against the artwork exhibited, especially in the three-man painting show in one of their two ground-floor spaces – the other being a performance-fiber-sculpure-and-video exhibition by the artist Shelly Nadashi, which I will review another day. These three artists, each early career graduates of Glasgow School of Art’s MFA program (Kerry and Piper 2003, Hetherington 2004) and all three primarily painters, displayed work with a distinctly alternative approach to production and even professionalism.

I’ll give some brief introductions.

Jacob Kerray @ CCA, Glasgow

Jacob Kerray @ CCA, Glasgow

Jacob Kerray‘s blend of absurd historical masculinity – plenty of sports, racial sterotypes, and the odd dick joke – looked like, in terms of Chicago’s painters today, the most ultimate unlikely pairing of Kerry James Marshall and Ethan Gill, with a little of Jake Myers‘ performance at the edges.

Iain Hetherington @ CCA, Glasgow

Iain Hetherington @ CCA, Glasgow

Iain Hetherington was Phillip Guston with a lighter touch, where gentle appropriation of cartoon imagery dissolved into fields of abstract action. They were layered, composed paintings, with an effective sketchiness hard to achieve at their scale.

Owen Piper @ CCA, Glasgow

Owen Piper @ CCA, Glasgow

Owen Piper, meanwhile, is a constructed canvas factory: his excessive production churns out dozens or even hundreds of banal formalism, sculptural one-liners, canvas collages; and, though his practice isn’t really “painting” enough to be “shitty painting,” Piper makes plenty of shitty paintings.

Together, the three artists (and, I assume, friends) display a lack of confidence in painting at the level of seriousness. While Hetherington and Kerray lampoon the canonical expectations of painting, replacing their subject matter with absurdity, emptiness, or “exaggerated lameness,” they’re still tied to the medium. They’re still making paintings – large paintings – for exhibition and display, even if there is a healthy doubt that this is Important Cultural Work. Piper, meanwhile, seems to have given up the ghost more directly by allowing that doubt to inform his production. They’re hardly alone: my generation of painters is notorious for making quick work, photographing it for distribution online, and recycling the stretcher bars. It isn’t a failure of spirit, but a response to changing markets. The cultural capital flows more freely in an economy of images online, and without access to a physical economy where big paintings can be brought to market, or even a critical environment where painting has the power to make much meaning, all those canvases – all that work – can seem utterly absurd. No one wants to be the last person caught believing.

CCA, Glasgow

CCA, Glasgow

Which is why it was so striking to see the confidence of the CAA so contrasted with the confidence of the work exhibited within it. This is more than just a Glasgow concern. It is a concern for emerging art today, when artists (and not just painters) learn at many different levels that the structures containing (or producing) art are more important, more meaningful, and more interesting, then the stuff of art that moves through them. I left feeling that the Important Cultural Work was in curation, not creation, which is a sorry attitude for painting as a studio tradition.

Manfred Pernice @ The Modern Institute

The Modern Institute is a must-visit gallery in Glasgow, Scotland. With ties to artists as diverse as Chris Johanson, Urs Fischer, or  Cathy Wilkes, the Institute hosts quarterly exhibitions with enough hands-off curation to allow real focus on a single artist’s crafted imagination. When I visited the city in August, I was able to see Manfred Pernice’s «anexos»LOCAL, a one-room installation of sculptures and collages, each part of a larger interest in containers – shipping containers, design wrappings, commodity packaging, and so on. Pernice’s sculptural inquiry took the form of designs that seemed to peel open to reveal the fuzzy boundry between their insides and outsides, conflating the material qualities of what is contained with those of what contains it. The sculptures were rich with detail, common in material, and with plenty of pre-fab nods: some looked like half-constructed IKEA furniture, others like woefully abstract senior design projects.

Manfred Pernice, «anexos»LOCAL

Manfred Pernice, «anexos»LOCAL

While the eleven wall-mounted collages suggested diagrams, plans, or sketches, the floor works skated narrative as (rather tired by now) relation-of-objects tableaus. In one “cassette” (Pernice’s word for the bisected pallet-like structures evenly placed along Institutes ground-floor gallery), a low step-pyramid of carefully hewn plywood offers up a few bottlecaps, colored blocks, and a dented can on one side; on the other, a stack of boxes half-painted and half-plastered with Spanish news articles, detailing the disposal of trash. Even with the “moment” quality of the work in time – either having been opened, or in the process of some construction – these narrative qualities were too extraneous, and not clear or significant enough to move my attention from the materials or forms. What these objects did do, however, was introduce value: what was so significant about these random objects, and what kind of value did they have to the artist (or the viewers), to require such an elaborate container?

Manfred Pernice, «anexos»LOCAL

Manfred Pernice, «anexos»LOCAL

Manfred Pernice, «anexos»LOCAL

Manfred Pernice, «anexos»LOCAL

As much as I enjoyed this work by Manfred Pernice, I was also impressed by The Modern Institute’s role in the region’s contemporary art economy. While not a large space (though the Institute has a second nearby), it seems to provide the opportunity for well-known artists to experiment with exhibitions, perhaps in a more liberal way than a museum would require, and in a manner unusual for commercial galleries. I can’t quite nail it down, but there was an attitude of consolidation rather than advocacy, letting formerly established artists exhibit not just the work that earned their notoriety, but their ability to invent and create.

Minna H. Lappalainen: Notes on Architecture @ Tegnerborbundet

Who doesn’t love Modernist architecture? Earlier this month I wrote about Cyprien Gaillard’s meditations on this font of  relevancy, looking back on a time when it was believed that, in Dominic A. Pacyga’s words, “good planning, big government,  and modern architecture could solve the problems of [a] city”. Immediately historical, hubristic, and utopian, these structures are a visual shorthand for lessons learned.

Minna H. Lappalainen @ Tegnerborbundet

Minna H. Lappalainen @ Tegnerborbundet

Minna H. Happalainen is a Norwegian artist whose photography-based paintings and drawings took a compositional turn with Notes on Architecture, carving her subjects into what looked like layered five-by-sevens, or abstracting corners or fades in separate works. The graphite drawings had plenty of penciled handworking, with vibrating shadows and sharp contrasts, and were satisfying on the eye. In extraneous but minimal sculptural gestures, three pedestals held up abstract drawings sandwiched between concrete and glass; and, beside a framed drawing, a tiny staircase crawled into a corner.

Lappalainen’s work was a welcome surprise as I crawled through Oslo’s galleries – most of which were closed or ghosts. While conceptually familiar, the interaction between architecture, photography, and drawing brought enough form and craft to keep me impressed.

Minna H. Lappalainen @ Tegnerborbundet

Minna H. Lappalainen @ Tegnerborbundet

Meriç Algün Ringborg @ Nordenhake Gallery

Meriç Algün Ringborg‘s exhibition, A Work of Fiction at Stockholm’s gallery Nordenhake prompted a lot of negative associations, and I found myself in an unfortunately common critical bind: I’m not sure whether to attribute my response to this particular work or work like this. Given the sinking vehemence the exhibition prompted, I’m guessing it’s plenty of both.

Algün Ringborg’s show spread through three rooms: in the first, an overhead projector sent up a list of words on a bare white wall. Behind this wall began was the first of several semi-domestic installations of objects arranged in a state of interruption, as if a person (the artist?) had vanished in the midst of a casual research project. Books, mirrors, TV monitors, vitrines, sculptures, and houseplants filled the spare gallery spaces, along with a meandering spoken text, suggesting – what? I don’t know, something about the ineffability of knowledge, the freedom of a text, the problem of authorship, and the methodology of writing. Y’know, theory. Theory without exception.

I found this work desperately boring and unimaginative, a species of artwork whose address is and will continue to be hashed and re-hashed endlessly across a galaxy of MFA programs, one regurgitated reading list after another; a Documenta-lite tradition of conceptual work too concerned with narrative to really earn its concept, and too self-reflective, too concerned with language to actually be anything. And yes, this isn’t really a fair estimation of this exhibition in particular but then again there really wasn’t much to set it apart.

Meriç Algün Ringborg, A Work of Fiction

Meriç Algün Ringborg, A Work of Fiction

Michael Johansson @ Galleri Andersoon/Sandström

Michael Johansson‘s exhibition at Andersson/Sandström was a memorable part of my Stockholm gallery hop. The gallery, a prominent blue-chip exhibitor of mostly Scandinavian artists, is located in the Normalm district on the city’s northwest side, in a pristine white-cube ground-floor space.

Johansson’s installations are difficult to describe without wearing out vocabulary: they are arrangements of objects fitting together perfectly, creating ostensibly ideal sculptural forms out of disparate found objects, connected by their emergent geometries. A thrift store Jessica Stockholder gone minimalist. Along with several sculptures of life-sized objects in the style of injection molding sprues, Johansson’s work proposed a kit-bash relation to the world of things, sourced for their formal properties, their color and shape and texture, and devoid of meaning, but open to infinite fidelities and creative arrangements.

Michael Johansson

Michael Johansson

Hurvin Anderson @ Thomas Dane Gallery

Hurvin Anderson’s latest exhibition, New Works, opened October 15th, 2013, at Thomas Dane Gallery in London’s West End. As the title would suggest, New Work is a thin exhibition of really nice paintings, if you’re into that kind of thing. Which I am. While Anderson’s conceptual thrust was weak – abstractly painted images of anonymous fern and banana trees, both memories of the artist’s Caribbean heritage and wider hooks into the European and American imagination of exotic and leisure zones –  the work itself takes over from there with optical plenty. The exotic makes for compelling paintings, and Anderson provides a pleasure range of vibrant greens and steely blues. Even the more photographic works, with blocky figures and traced text, are full of color and life.

I liked Hurvin Anderson’s paintings. I thought they were beautiful landscapes that used their paint, took advantage of its painterly possibilities with alternatively wet slashes and hard scrapes, but never strayed far from highly composed photographic imagery. The grid appeared in almost every painting shown in New Works and succeeded both a compositional and conceptual structure beneath the paint, tying the loose strokes to a formalist history of image production rather than overt abstract expression. Don’t worry, it’s okay to like it.

Hurvin Anderson, Last House

Hurvin Anderson, Last House

From Wings to Fins: Morris Louis & Cyprien Gaillard @ Sprüth Magers

Last week I reviewed the latest exhibition at London’s Sprüth Magers gallery, Morris Louis and Cyprien Gaillard‘s From Wings to Fins.

Drawn to modernism’s ideals, contradictions, and historical failures, Gaillard has risen on his ability to seek out and create tensions between stability and precarity, utopia and ruin, beauty and entropy, memory and amnesia. In the past, these tensions were variously converted into spectacles, as when Gaillard constructed a mountain of beer in Berlin or vandalized Robert Smithson’sSpiral Jetty (1970) with a fire extinguisher; intimate objects, such as the series of etchings the artist commissioned picturing dilapidated tower blocks among lush scenery; or meditations, notably in video works like Cities of Gold and Mirrors (2009). At the core is Gaillard’s fascination with the aging and crumbling edifices held up as inevitable sites of utopian failure within landscapes of historical violence.

You can read the whole review at Dailyserving.

Morris Louis and Cyprien Gaillard at Sprüth Magers

Morris Louis and Cyprien Gaillard at Sprüth Magers

Long Ago and Not True Anyway @ Waterside Contemporary

Last week I reviewed Long Ago and Not True Anyway at London’s Waterside Contemporary. The group exhibition featured work from Slavs and Tatars, Meikitar Garabedian, Joana Hadithomas and Khalil Joreige, Rabih Mroué, and Libia Castro and Ólafus Ólafsson.

In Long Ago and Not True Anyway at Waterside Contemporarycurator Pierre d’Alancaisez explores a kind of history that exists beyond the dry material of archives, records, and established national narratives. Instead, in this small London gallery nearly hidden around a corner among Islington’s high-density residential buildings, this exhibition’s artists and artworks blur the borders between uncertain subjective experience and the history it inhabits.

You can read the whole review at Daily Serving.

Long Ago and Not True Anyway @ Waterside Contemporary

Long Ago and Not True Anyway @ Waterside Contemporary

 

Aquatopia @ Nottingham Contemporary

I recently stopped by Nottingham Contemporary to see their new exhibition Aquatopia. I thought it was among the best museum show’s I’ve ever seen, and wished I could have come back for another bite.

It has been a big year for Nottingham Contemporary. After receiving a boost of notoriety by way of Mark Leckey’s The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things, the recently rechristened museum and its director, Alex Farquharson, immediately launched their most ambitious curatorial project to date: a traveling exhibition titled Aquatopia. Organized with partner institution Tate St. Ives, the exhibition comprises more than 150 artworks as well as performances, lectures, and screenings, all organized around the imaginative worlds of the ocean depths.

With artworks cutting across history and displayed in groups of abstract logic, Aquatopia could be described as a conceptual survey; it explores its theme from diverse historical angles and artistic perspectives. Here, the ocean is a filter, a site for interpretation, a toolbox of images and relations, and a stage for the sexual, spiritual, scientific, and narrative imagination. Firmly framed in the fantastic, artworks and objects are relieved of their descriptive duties and instead evidence their author’s fears, dreams, and wonderment. The brilliant antique copper diving helmet, the set of biological scientific etchings, the eighteenth-century map—each inspires new associations beyond their original purpose.

Aquatopia @ Nottingham Contemporary

Aquatopia @ Nottingham Contemporary

You can read the whole review at Daily Serving.

 

Cheryl Pope: Just Yell @ Monique Meloche Gallery

A few days before I took off for the UK, I was able to swing by Monique Meloche Gallery for the opening of Cheryl Pope‘s Just Yell. The exhibition was conflicting – both perfectly topical and, at times, pointless – but touched on plenty of frustrations, civic and aesthetic.

During the first weekend of the season, a performance related to the exhibition took place at the gallery. Outside, DJ Raj Mahal was at a mixing table, bobbing his head over his laptop. Earlier, as a first indication of Pope’s aesthetic blending, students from the Phoenix Military Academy had assembled in Just Yell ’13 T-shirts and performed a brief drill chant, providing the cheerlike “yell” that furnishes the exhibition’s title. “I am ready to be heard,” the assembly of teens had shouted in affirmation, some standing at attention, others reading from scripts. “I will always conduct myself to be the change I want to see.” The drill mixed the institutional dream world of American school spirit with the real world of urban violence and grief.

Farther down, a trio of muscle cars purred, gassing proudly from rumbling carburetors, while a volunteer gathered names and waiver signatures for the exhibition’s most participatory element: a journey through Humboldt Park with a young poet and a game of Two Truths and a Lie. If Pope’s ambitions are to make the city’s violence more human—to take visitors across the chasm from newsprint statistic to blood-stained reality—she delegated the task perfectly. Britteney Black Rose Kapri, the poet who led our ride, was in full confidence and form, countering our playful truths and lies with three options, all somewhere between trauma and tragedy.

You can read the whole review at Daily Serving.

Cheryl Pope, Just Yell @ Monique Meloche Gallery

Cheryl Pope, Just Yell @ Monique Meloche Gallery

Seven Artists of the Week – gently

This week’s picks from me. Click links for artist’s websites.

Robert Rauschenberg, Airport Series: Cat Paws

Robert Rauschenberg, Airport Series: Cat Paws

Victor Vasarely

Victor Vasarely

Helen Frankenthaler, Persian Garden

Helen Frankenthaler, Persian Garden

Theo van Doesburg, Arithmetic Composition

Theo van Doesburg, Arithmetic Composition

Joseph Albers, Homage to a Square Ascending

Joseph Albers, Homage to a Square Ascending

Richard Anuszkiewicz, Squares, Serigraph

Richard Anuszkiewicz, Squares

Roy Lichtenstein, Brushstroke

Roy Lichtenstein, Brushstroke

YO SUMMER

Seven Artists of the Week – color

This week’s picks from me.

Bernard Frize

Bernard Frize

Salvatore Scarpitta

Salvatore Scarpitta

Mark Flood, Aquamarine

Mark Flood, Aquamarine

Noam Rappaport, Soft City II

Noam Rappaport, Soft City II

Melissa Oresky, litter

Melissa Oresky, litter

Monique Van Genderen, Untitled

Monique Van Genderen, Untitled

Lauriston Avery

Lauriston Avery

what flower?

Seven Artists of the Week – summer in pain

This week’s picks from me. Click images for links to more.

Matt Connors

Matt Connors

Pae White

Pae White

Adam Pendleton . untitled (code poem amsterdam)

Adam Pendleton . untitled (code poem amsterdam)

Harrell Fletcher

Harrell Fletcher

Shanique Smith, Favorite of the Gods

Shanique Smith, Favorite of the Gods

Mark Manders, Fox/Mouse/Belt

Mark Manders, Fox/Mouse/Belt

Kota Ezawa

Kota Ezawa

maybe you actually aren’t

Seven Artists of the Week – the importance of being

This week’s picks from me.

Imi Knoebel, Untitled

Imi Knoebel, Untitled

Albert Oehlen

Albert Oehlen

David Reed, Color Study

David Reed, Color Study

Andrew Falkowski, This is What You Get

Andrew Falkowski, This is What You Get

Barnett Newman

Barnett Newman

Robert Motherwell

Robert Motherwell

Richard Diebenkorn

Richard Diebenkorn

at the very deepest level, all our secrets are the same

Seven Artists of the Week – acreage

This week’s picks from me:

Catalina Castro, Untitled 9

Catalina Castro, Untitled 9

Ben Speckman

Ben Speckman

Miranda Maynard, Bananas

Miranda Maynard, Bananas

Olivia Valentine, Pilaster

Olivia Valentine, Pilaster

Chris Duncan, Patterns & Light

Chris Duncan, Patterns & Light

Laura Hart Newlon

Laura Hart Newlon

Amanda Carmer, The Problem With Pictures

Amanda Carmer, The Problem With Pictures

you gotta give me something to dream with

Seven Artists of the Week – don’t take this too

This week’s picks from Ryan Travis Christian:

Jeffry Mitchell

Jeffry Mitchell

Devin Troy Strother, The Coloureds Series Part 3 Gurrrl I'm just talking about that composition, Gurrrrl what'chu know about that post modernism

Devin Troy Strother, The Coloureds Series Part 3 Gurrrl I'm just talking about that composition, Gurrrrl what'chu know about that post modernism

Trudy Benson, Inside Out

Trudy Benson, Inside Out

Lauren Luloff, Flowers and Gold

Lauren Luloff, Flowers and Gold

Mark DeLong, Bagels for Lunch

Mark DeLong, Bagels for Lunch

Ross Moreno

Ross Moreno

Sarah Weber, Game Face

Sarah Weber, Game Face

seriously

Donald Young, of Donald Young Gallery, Dies at 69

Very sad news for Chicago.

Donald Young, a Chicago art dealer who represented many of contemporary art’s premier figures over his decades-long career, has died. He was 69 years old. His death was confirmed by his gallery. No details were available.

In 1983, Young opened the Donald Young Gallery, which was one of the first commercial galleries to successfully market and sell video art. From the earliest years of the gallery, Young represented artists Bruce Nauman, Bill Viola and Jean-Marc Bustamante, among others.

(link)

Seven Artists of the Week – dane dogs go vuf

This weeks picks from artist and truth-bomber Michael Rea. Check out his exhibition with Geoffrey Todd Smith and others, Sharks, Dicks, and Drugs, this Saturday at Gold Star Bar.

Ryan Duggan

Ryan Duggan

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama

Maria Petschnig

Maria Petschnig

Tony Matelli

Tony Matelli

R. B. Kitaj

R. B. Kitaj

Jessica Labatte, Self Portrait With Beach Hair

Jessica Labatte, Self Portrait With Beach Hair

Tom Marioni

Tom Marioni

dane cats go mjouvv

Seven Artists of the Week – magical storytelling

This week’s picks by Ryan Travis Christian. Yo Ryan this is fun, I don’t know why we ever stopped.

Joyce Pensato

Joyce Pensato

Jessica Ciocci

Jessica Ciocci

Ruby Neri, Untitled (Painted Witch)

Ruby Neri, Untitled (Painted Witch)

Larry Bob Phillips, Ferrets

Larry Bob Phillips, Ferrets

Jonas Wood

Jonas Wood

Tom Betthauser, Untitled Land

Tom Betthauser, Untitled Land

Forrest Bess, Here is a sign

Forrest Bess, Here is a sign

the ocean’s mouth opened

Seven Artists of the Week – hot white comeback

This week’s picks from me:

 

Albrecht Dürer, Apokalypse

Albrecht Dürer, Apokalypse

Jean Honore Fragonard, Corsesus Sacrificing Himself to Save Callirhoe

Jean Honore Fragonard, Corsesus Sacrificing Himself to Save Callirhoe

Guillaume Apollinaire, from Calligrammes Poems of Peace and War

Guillaume Apollinaire, from Calligrammes Poems of Peace and War

Mark Rothko, Yellow, Blue, and Orange

Mark Rothko, Yellow, Blue, and Orange

Pablo Picasso, Guernica

Pablo Picasso, Guernica

Ed Ruscha, GIVE UP THE GOLD OR GIVE UP YOUR LIFE

Ed Ruscha, GIVE UP THE GOLD OR GIVE UP YOUR LIFE

Pieter Bruegel, The Flemish Proverbs

Pieter Bruegel, The Flemish Proverbs

we sat around all of us men and women as friends talking freely for the first time in a long time