Contemporaneous Extension


Richard Phillips has a lot going on

I am out of the fog of wedding season for now, and had an interview published recently on Whitehot Magazine. Check it out here!

A small outtake from the conversation can be found below.

Muir Beach Acid Test

Muir Beach Acid Test, 2014. Oil on canvas, 244 x 180 cm. Image courtesy of Max Hetzler Galerie and the artist.

 



Weekend Book Review

A little reminder that Whitehot Magazine published a review of mine on Charles Traub’s most recent book of photographs. Dolce Via: Italy in the 1980s was a pleasure to ingest, and made me wish I had some nostalgia to attach to the images myself. Below is a little excerpt, with the full review here.

 

“The balance between sensuality and eroticism is a visual theme that heavily populates this series. Photographs that harp upon the stereotyped affections of Italians are more bologna than prosciutto in the first half of the publication. Couples kissing in parks or on benches are anti-climactic, giving an insight into the natives’ caves of coitus that doesn’t translate well. His recurring depiction of bums and backs, however, contradict the seamless perfection of the marble magnates and Madonnas.

Charles Traub, Ostia, 1982. From Dolce Via: Italy in the 1980s by Charles Traub. Image courtesy of Charles Traub/Damiani.

Charles Traub, Ostia, 1982. From Dolce Via: Italy in the 1980s by Charles Traub. Image courtesy of Charles Traub/Damiani.

They are total spank-bank material. His subjects’ bodies are clumsy, human. A sprawled nude female on the beach in Ostia looks like she could have been dropped from a UFO, undiscovered by passersby as Traub patiently awaits her mythical revival. He mocks Italy’s sculptures and facades with his own definitions of perfection, of desire and strength. His color-coordination is a sneer in the face of the monochrome tradition in the plastic arts.

Often preconceived as lazy and uninspiring, Traub uses this Minimalist ploy and reinvigorates it with motion and action. From a quick flip through this publication, one may infer that Italians dressed exclusively in primary colors. A bevy of young boys who grip the side of a dingy in Naples are literally swimming in blue. Beautiful ladies in yellow dresses abound, and entire red ensembles can be found outside bars and beside water banks. This serves predominantly as slapstick comedy, confirming that Europeans adore dressing in head-to-toe color, rather than a serendipitous indication that everyone is on the same page.”

Charles Traub, Florence, 1981. From Dolce Via: Italy in the 1980s by Charles Traub. Image courtesy of Charles Traub/Damiani.

Charles Traub, Florence, 1981. From Dolce Via: Italy in the 1980s by Charles Traub. Image courtesy of Charles Traub/Damiani.



“Displacement of Subjectivity”

Last month I spoke with Richard Phillips for a forthcoming issue of CLEAR magazine (print relaunch coming soon!!) and ended up having a conversation I couldn’t stand to keep all to myself. Another excerpt will appear in Whitehot Magazine in the near future. Phillips currently has a blockbuster solo exhibition at Dallas Contemporary up through August 10th, and a solo show of his newest works up at Galerie Max Hetzler in Berlin (closing June 7).

LM: In terms of muse, and having muses in artistic practice and art history, is there anyone you’d ideally like to paint for aesthetic or conceptual reasons?

RP: In the past I’ve talked about this idea of a muse and it is a sexist term, because it is something where it’s someone who’s subordinate to musings of a male or dominant figure who somehow has the creative magic to take the energy of the possessed and somehow display it. It’s kind of a way for those who don’t have the ability to have muses hanging around. That’s where it kind of becomes a porn kinda thing. I never really think of the people that I’ve collaborated with as muses because, in fact, it’s them that would agree to work with me— to project their own image, to go through the process, to have that become part of my working process. So they really were collaborations, to the degree that they’ve collaborated with anyone else.

I do understand the conventional notion of the strength of the muse, but I’ve never thought of any of the people I’ve collaborated with as a muse of any sort. I don’t fetishize their involvement, I don’t sexualize it. It’s more about the projection of a certain group of ideas that might include an unstable understanding of sexuality, or an unstable understanding of media in relationship to that. So when it comes to who would I collaborate with in the future, I don’t know. What I really like about the work for Berlin is it does look like that even more because there’s a lack of sensational fame. Even though Catrinel is a well known model inside a segment of the fashion world, and also an actor within a certain segment of entertainment, it’s not like the incredible level of some people that I’ve worked with in the past. It’s like a deal being made in front of your eyes. Is the art more famous than the person? And then what do these values mean?

LM: Do you think this series makes clear why you’ve used females more than males?

RP: Go to a men’s line fashion show and there’s just no comparison in currency. Calvin Klein really was able to turn that on its head by employing Bruce Weber to create these incredible images that live through time. By and large, at least with this body of work, it’s obviously 100% weighted on female sexuality because it’s more heavily consumed. It’s presenting an ideal that is kind of a false ideal.

LM: Temporary, too.

RP: Time goes on—did you live up to that ideal in the moment, in your moment? In the moment, I don’t know. If you live up to the ideal of the painting, can you afford it? Can you go see it? Are you at the right party? Are you able to be at that house? What’s your access? Do you have a code? It becomes this thing, like the reading of art when you turn over the capacity to understand to a mediator. Or if it doesn’t follow a chain of understanding and if you go around that and end up at that point anyway, there is a ton of potential.

LM: There are conflicting levels of importance that rely on the viewer’s assignment. It does, however, undeniably elevate the endowment of contemporary art and it’s ability to make things “important.”

RP: This gets back to art viewership, which is really the subject of that body of work. It’s about parsing value systems and what gets value—art objects or the projection, or people and their role of projecting unreachable ideals? You have a multitude of unreachable ideals: one is the masterwork, and the value that is accrued and on display, and then you have fleeting moments of beauty and sexuality that are entirely unreachable. Catrinel is unreachable to 99.9999 percent of the population and yet there she is with the art that’s supposed to be for all in a public sense but is purely in private hands. It’s about exclusivity and rejection and about not being able to participate at all. There’s an enticement and a distortion of those looks—by the perversion of the art and the perversion of the person. The actuality of it is actually a much tougher look, but the toughness is undone by the raw fact of how they’re made. When you pit these understandings against technical realization there’s an unanticipated tension that exists. It’s no longer an homage anymore. Lichtenstein applying the Lichtenstein language to a Matisse was like, on one hand, a backhanded homage because he’s saying, ‘my technique can run over everything. It doesn’t matter if it’s Miro, my thing is gonna happen.’ But at the same time, it’s kind of like saying, ‘Matisse is great, Miro is great, we’re all great.’ What I’m saying is that we’re not all great. This stuff is out of reach, this stuff is perverted, it’s hoarded. The girls and the beauty and the sex, all these things are built into it. It’s a different type of reality.

Richard Phillips, No Fear, 2014. Oil on linen, 102 x 72.9 inches. Photo courtesy of Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin.

Richard Phillips, No Fear, 2014. Oil on linen, 102 x 72.9 inches. Photo courtesy of Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin.



Cinematic Photography or Photographic Film?

Despite being somewhat stagnant on the freelance writing front for the last month (I blame moving out of my Brooklyn apartment, a lack of inspiration, and a general desire to be anywhere but New York in the dog-days), I have a recent piece that went up on Whitehot Magazine that I am incredibly proud of. I was introduced to Vanessa Albury, a daring new media artist working in the mediums of 16/35mm film and photography of all breeds, at Peter Clough’s One and Three Quarters of an Inch show at St. Cecilia’s last year (it was brilliant!). Her piece was an exotic thrill, an incredibly overwhelming display of tropical foliage that wrapped up the central, spiral staircase in the convent. Poignant scents ascended the stairwell and several lights illuminated the lush vegetation for dramatic emphasis. The piece was inspired by her grandfather’s Miami greenhouse and maintains Albury’s emphasis on triggering collective and public memory, milking and challenging time, and astutely hypnotizing the viewer. The profile recently published analyzes her oeuvre of photographic and cinematic work spanning approximately ten years and links it to new, even unfinished, works.

Below is a small passage, but check out the full review here.

Photography has been regarded as an indicator of passing time and death since the turn of the 20th century. Theoretically, the snapshot was an inexplicable moment: impossible to recreate and a betrayal to the truth of the moment in its lack of breath, of movement. ‘Funeral (Projection)’ (2005-08) cleverly mocks photography’s mythological magnitude. The piece was realized at Albury’s grandmother’s funeral in 2004. The wide-angle, 35mm shot of a cleared out funeral hall situates the deceased, resting in her coffin, at the center of the image. A chandelier and several table lamps within the frame beam triumphantly, almost on the verge of bursting from augmented amplification at the time of death. A subterranean perspective bellies vulnerability. The photograph is presented as an installation: it occupies an entire wall as the hum of a projector contributes a drone to the collective viewing experience. The viewer slips into reverie amid the murmur of machinery and the weight of the relentless moment. Albury asserts this photograph as an uninterrupted, persistent memorial. It is an emotional scene identifiable to the subconscious of the viewer. Albury provides ‘Funeral (Memory)’ (2005-08) as a keepsake reflecting upon the installation. The highly pixelated Xerox copy of the projection challenges the subject’s timelessness in memory. The Xerox is a synopsis, degrading the poignant image into a muddled scene of black and white diamonds. Photography parallels memory in this case, reflecting the instability of emotional documentation and the nuances of time. Repetition, as was the case in learning cursive or multiplication tables, can solidify memory while numbing one to the particulars of the present. “

Vanessa Albury, 'Funeral (Memory),' 2005-08, Xerox copy

Vanessa Albury, 'Funeral (Memory),' 2005-08, Xerox copy

Vanessa Albury, 'Funeral (Projection),' 2005-2008, 35mm projection

Vanessa Albury, 'Funeral (Projection),' 2005-2008, 35mm projection



The Fence between Language and Meaning…is Neon?

After taking a month off from Whitehot I’m coming back with a review of Joseph Kosuth’s show at Sean Kelly Gallery that closed at the end of April. The show was deliciously cerebral. I found myself revisiting each of the three pieces several times, squandering between the seemingly meaningless strings of text. I almost fell into Kosuth’s literary trap and gave up, foraging through the intellectual allusions I couldn’t place. This is exactly his point, however. Words and even images assume a certain degree of responsibility to their message, but what if we could extract something entirely new yet significant and relatable in itself? So it goes, the ceaseless battle between word and meaning. Here’s a small excerpt from the review:

“Kosuth calls upon the words of Samuel Beckett in the exhibition’s title work, Texts (Waiting for –) for Nothing (2011). Kosuth identifies with Becket’s incessant, Kafkaesque search for meaning. Waiting for Godot and the lesser known Texts for Nothing meld in a continuous stream of white light along the upper echelon of an ebony room. Kosuth exposes the waiting game of Vladamir and Estragon in Godot and their inability to break from the suspense. Uniformity, specifically the grey skies and “dim omnipresent light” in the text, summons a fear of plateauing and its subsequent mediocrity. Kosuth battles this paranoia aesthetically by denying the ability to see all the words in the installation simultaneously. He enforces an interaction with the room rather than a stationary viewing experience. The obligatory stroll also surrenders the body to Kosuth’s singular search for meaning. The audience looks up as if in praise or veneration to ennui. The concentric saunter attaches the viewer to the space. Repetitive reads allow memory to inject meaning into the words and inform the work through individual experience.”

FULL REVIEW HERE.

Joseph Kosuth, 'Ulysses, 18 Titles and Hours', 1998. neon, transformers

Joseph Kosuth, 'Ulysses, 18 Titles and Hours', 1998. neon, transformers

Joseph Kosuth, ''Texts (Waiting for-) for Nothing', Samuel Beckett, in play,' 2011. neon, transformers

Joseph Kosuth, ''Texts (Waiting for-) for Nothing', Samuel Beckett, in play,' 2011. neon, transformers

Joseph Kosuth, 'Titled (Art as Idea as Idea)', 1968. 10 mounted photographs each: 48 x 48 inches (121.9 x 121.9 cm)

Joseph Kosuth, 'Titled (Art as Idea as Idea)', 1968. 10 mounted photographs each: 48 x 48 inches (121.9 x 121.9 cm)



Fortress of Solitude

After the madness of the Armory Week, I almost forgot my most recent Whitehot Magazine article is hot off the..interweb?

It took me a while to get this one together due to the unexpected challenge of looking into Hopper’s oeuvre. I was interested in his reflection of life at the point, media-wise, when newspapers were really flying off the stands and truly incorporating both illustration and photography. The intersection of documentation in his work has been a point of fascination for journalists I know, seeing as he managed to combine the taut emotions of the urban environment with its constantly accelerating pace. I have a newfound respect for his work. Here’s a small excerpt:

“New York’s economic growth and architectural exuberance in the 1920’s allowed for an expanded palate of extracurricular social opportunities. Hopper was unenthusiastic about the modular evolution of the Machine Age but acknowledged the flurry of activity. Untitled (Two Trawlers) (1923-24) depicts a pair of industrial fishing boats, slightly zoomed to fill the canvas. Hopper’s subject matter and his animated line hint at the sparks of industry and commerce. He implies movement, allowing the viewer to engage with the vessel’s construction and flow. The boats obstruct the landscape and emphasize Hopper’s distrust of industrial evolution. In conjunction with reflections upon industry, Hopper’s neutral investigation of architecture differs from his contemporaries, the Precisionists. The Precisionists embraced blossoming razor silhouettes through compositional order and  flattened color. Charles Demuth and Louis Lozowick suspend diagonals amid their cityscapes in praise of New York, the burgeoning land of lines. Pristine color and clean compositions reflect skyscraper grids, roads, subways, and progress. Despite his discontent with the tidal wave of modernity, Hopper’s observations distance the viewer from sprouting urban scenery. He pulls himself out of the blizzard, allowing an observation of the fervor. Anticipation of the future had chained the individual to capitalist gains, accelerating past the point of Hopper’s ideally tranquil livelihood. “

Check out the FULL ARTICLE.

Edward Hopper, 'New York Interior,' ca. 1921. Oil on canvas, Overall: 24 1/4 × 29 1/4in.

Edward Hopper, 'New York Interior,' ca. 1921. Oil on canvas, Overall: 24 1/4 × 29 1/4in.

Edward Hopper, 'The Barber Shop,' 1931, oil on canvas

Edward Hopper, 'The Barber Shop,' 1931, oil on canvas



Belated
December 29, 2010, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

In the sprightly holiday season i nearly forgot to put up my most recent article on Whitehot about GutBox, a 9-person collective based in New York but scouting/accepting contributors from around the world. They had a brief 2-week show at YGALLERY in the beginning of December. I continue to be infatuated with their work, never ceasing to find new passages of interest or sheer energy in their collaborations.  Kudos, GutBox!!

 

GutBox, 'Red Window Hyacinth,' 2010, mixed media

GutBox, 'Red Window Hyacinth,' 2010, mixed media, 12" x 12"

GutBox, 'Scramble,' 2010, mixed media, 12" x 12"

GutBox, 'Scramble,' 2010, mixed media, 12" x 12"

GutBox, 'Holiday in a Japanese Prison,' 2010, mixed media, 12" x 12"

GutBox, 'Holiday in a Japanese Prison,' 2010, mixed media, 12" x 12"




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