The art of Howardena Pindell makes for an explorative journey of the difficulties she encountered as an artist of color in the US, yet this is all wonderfully retraced in her current retrospective held at MCA Chicago. Entitled What Remains to Be Seen, the exhibition shows how her artistic experimentation is deeply rooted in the interaction she observes between dots and grids, two elemental forms she has used since the Space Frames she started with as an artist in the late 1960s.
We all recognize the flags, targets, numbers or colors, these motives Jasper Johns has used in his art since the mid 1950s. They are omnipresent signs in our everyday life. We are drawn to them instinctively as they are instantly recognizable and neatly sum up abstract concepts we may find hard to describe with words. We see the signs but are we fully awake to the concepts? Try this with the American flag, for instance. If you think about it long enough, one ideal and many ideas are encapsulated in this flag…
Not only are Mark Bradford’s typical works monumental in vertical and horizontal scale, they are also layered, built-up thick, oozing a palpable density. These layers can be pages from old comic books, newspaper prints, all glued down and up with shellac. Mark Bradford then works on taking his paper strata from collage to decollage.
I have never really been a fan of Damien Hirst. Or rather I have always felt attraction and repulsion in equal part, without understanding what the hype was about. Yet I am one prepared to give the benefit of the doubt, do some research to form an educated opinion. Since I have done it for Jeff Koons here, I went to look at Damien Hirst’s Veil paintings. Oops, he did it again! 24 monumental canvases, visual eye candies for sure and which sold out almost immediately. Easy work, easy sell, what’s not to like, right?? Well, for a start Damien Hirst cites Seurat’s pointillism and Pierre Bonnard’s approach to colors as main inspirations for his Veil Paintings at Gagosian Beverly Hills.
I am thrilled to announce a whole new axis for Reinventingrid: Artist Studio Visits. I hope you will enjoy discovering the visual art of contemporary artists I have had my eyes on for some time. Who knows, you may decide to add their works to your own collection after reading a bit more about their inspiration, style and personality. Starting this new axis for the blog with Monty Montgomery’s striking fractal lines and colorful grids made perfect sense. So let me take you into his world, to see what he sees. Handwritten notes of personal encouragement, a zen quote and Salvador Dalí stuck over past exhibition images of Monty Montgomery works. Washed-out childhood photographs with Mom, Dad and best buddy Jensen at the beach, all neatly pinned next to graduated bright color swatches. It’s all there: the very personal and inspirational nurturing his art. Monty’s studio walls have become a paper tapestry woven straight from the heart. A small shrine filled with mementos echoing back and forth between Monty Montgomery’s native Virginia and his San Diego North Park studio. Miles away from what I expected from looking at Monty’s graphic and hard-edged works of art…
James Turrell’s installations are made of empty, titanium white painted rooms where embedded LED and fiber-optic lights project an array of programmed changing colors on the walls. Photography is never allowed. Others, like the one I am bringing you today called Dividing The Light, are constructions with an opening cut-out in the ceiling (skyspaces). Spectators can view the sky by day and night, observing its variable color as time progresses but also as the colors of the inside walls change. And that’s where you almost cannot believe your eyes : seeing the sky a given shade of mid-blue one moment, how can it suddenly look grey and diaphaneous as the walls turn purplish red? How can it shift to a darker blue when the walls go from white to yellow to brown, turning the sky almost black and opaque in the process ?
Have you ever wondered how art can affect us all so much in spite of the strange paradox that you can’t touch itt? What seems fair enough for paintings and installations sometimes seems questionable for sculpture, especially bronze sculpture. A gentle touch of skin on bronze would do no harm and go a long way in elevating our perception of the sensuality of the body rendered by a Degas, Rodin or Maillol, amongst so many others. For me, the one sculptor where the “Do Not Touch” sign is irrelevant is Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957). Even though I know I can’t touch a Brancusi sculpture, it does the work for me, it touches ME. But why? and how?
When it comes to colorful art, Yayoi Kusama pretty much obliterated 2017. People flocked to her travelling exhibitions, queued hours to spend 30 seconds in her mirrored infinity rooms and used her bright patterned artworks and polka dots to take awesome selfies and be happy. Quite an awesome accomplishment for art that is produced as the only way Kusama found to resist suicide and survive the hallucinations that have plagued her life since being a young girl. “With no distinction between her as an artist and the product of her art, this is the intensity we can’t help but feel striking us all” was how I described it in my blog last year. Another artist who produced what we perceive as colorful art but which is in fact a form of therapy to alleviate darker life events is French-born Niki de Saint Phalle. Her Coming Together sums it up for me.