Alois Riegl (1858-1905) the Austrian art historian, once summed up the three main purposes of art:
G.F.W. Hegel, the early 19th century German philosopher noted that, “Where painting thinks experience, sculpture thinks identity”.
Rachel Ritchford’s paintings breathe the young human experience, vanishing fast from our present. We lean back and swing freely between the grounds of the painting. The collective memories of cloud formations as a child are in a endless game of tag with structure.
We begin to understand that though nature begins with geometry it ends with the spirit. Colour and surface are etched deep inside our eyelids just as we are struck from a stray ball on the playground.
Laying in peat moss from the blackout, slowly regaining consciousness - the mind begins to rationalize what can be taken away in a split second. The whistle blows, recess is over- but we want to play pretend longer naming each cloud as it passes us by.
Hello everyone! First of all, happy Friday (TGIF - am I right?) Secondly, stop by to say Hi and see the last day of the show MOMENTO MORI. Lastly, don’t forget to check out the online exhibition HERE.
Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to see the show, to Deborah Brown and to the artists!
Here is the press release from the show and a little about Deborah Brown:
Throughout human history, cultures and peoples have made monuments to celebrate, commemorate, memorialize, remember and insure the survival of their values as a civilization. The artists in Memento Mori (from the Latin, “remember that you will die”) examine the iconography of the monument from a contemporary vantage point. The work takes many forms: heraldic crests (Brian Guidry), totems (Wade Schaming), mapping and marking (Jean Paul Gomez), text-as-structure (Alex O’Neal), funeral mounds (Heidi Lau), hieroglyphic collage (M.A. Papanek-Miller), photo-documentation-hagiography (Julie Ann Nagle), distilled and repurposed remnants (Laura Judkis), surreal architecture-in-landscape renderings (Colleen Cunningham) and retro sci-fi structures (Ben Pranger). These ten artists employ form and craft in the service of a spooky narrative, at times archeological, psychological or metaphysical. Mixing references to art history and popular culture, the works present a fresh take on familiar forms. Together they form a kind of “momento mori,” an elegy to something past or lost to which the artist and the artwork pays tribute.
The curator wishes to thank Field Projects for the opportunity to curate a show in their well-regarded program. Sincere thanks as well to all the artists who submitted work for consideration. The level was extremely high and many different shows could have been assembled from the submissions. After reviewing nearly 3500 images, I have chosen work by artists completely unknown to me. The theme was suggested by the work submitted, around which I thought an interesting show might be assembled. The show has surprised me, and I hope it will introduce fresh voices to the scene.
Deborah Brown is an artist, gallerist and Bushwick gadfly. She is a board member of NURTUREart, BRIC Artist Advisory Council and Community Board #4 in Bushwick where she serves as chair of the Arts and Culture Committee. Her work is represented by Lesley Heller Workspace. In addition to her art practice, she owns and directs the gallery Storefront Ten Eyck to show the work of emerging Bushwick artists and to revisit the work of established artists.
****P.S. The gallery will be close all of August. So keep a look out come September for a wonderful Fall kick off to the art season!
The mind goes through a series of algorithms when confronted with abstraction. We begin with what we know, or at least, what we think we know. Quickly we grapple with things like, memory, color, relationships between lines and objects, materials and our emotions among other rationalities. Critiquing quietly in our minds we begin to form a relationship with what we are experiencing. Beginning to decide if we want to create a special file to reference later, perhaps as we are drifting off to sleep into a slumber of sweet dreams.
Brian Willmont’s Paper Airplanes series of ink on folded paper emphasizes the entanglement of the mind with the world and the phenomena surrounding it. The hybridization of this work makes you want to grab it impulsivity, to line up the folds, can and will this piece of paper fly? Encountering this work with extreme impulse control the mind and body begin to rest and to see and remember the truths. This work is colored ink on paper folded or not folded into the recording of a paper airplane, then folded flat again to dry.
“Dancing on the edge of gaudy decoration, vividly patterned compositions are designed to entrance the viewer (like a siren), disguising and distorting violence. Working in volume like series, repeating symbols and imagery in painting, sculpture, video to create a multi leveled reality from the dialog between works which create further complexities and narratives when exhibited creating installations that bring the energy of the work into the atmosphere and allow endless interpretations of the work. While colorful and energetic, the works are full of quiet unrest - expectant and somber as history repeats its self.”
Just as the Rorschach inkblot tests challenge our perceptions using psychological interpretation, these works question our visual thinking process and challenge our impulses.
Mandala (In Progress)
"The driving force behind my work is to create an alternate world that comprises excerpted and fragmented narratives from personal and cultural memories, fables and natural history. Through creating ceramic artifacts that take the form of various objects of remembrance out of clay –funeral monuments, fossilized creatures and religious objects, I strive to suggest the existence of a mythical world in a non-linear manner."
Exceprt from Heidi Lau’s artist statement.
To check out more of Heidi’s work go to her website:
Art historian and Art critic, James Elkins once broke it down that most of the visual arts basically negotiate the relationship between water and stone. Sand, as a material couldn’t be more poetic to this notion. We commonly recognize it as the loose granular substance placed between our toes where water and land meet. This natural erosion is a space between movement and stillness.
Lisha Bai’s sand rotation work pushes and pulls, the sand floats and dissolves into a tracing of abstraction. The end piece is the result of Bai’s physical action stopped in time. We understand how fragile the work began, only to fully feel its impact layer by layer kept safe behind plexiglas.
Lisha Bai states:
Drawing from everyday encounters with paper towels, checkered vinyl floors and screen savers, my work transforms quotidian visual happenings into experiential objects that explore the sensory and temporal aspects of architectural and abstract space.
We turn to Lisha Bai’s sand rotations to gain a sense of meditative tranquility from our over-stimulated lives. The work reminds us to unplug and breathe deeply.
Ben Pranger’s piece Thing of Holes looks like a monument to retro science fiction. An apocalyptic land where man is set against nature. This piece sets pixelated order versus the chaos of destruction. Though, I think this sculpture is in dialogue with more than the visual tropes of sci-fi. In the context of this show, this piece becomes a monument to the failure of what ‘monument’ means. It points out the irony in the act of erecting a permanent structure on the inherently transient earth (which also falsely implies the permanence of human life). Thus, this piece bolsters the sentiment, “memento mori,” for which this show was named for.
Check out more of Ben Pranger’s work at:
maybe an homage to artist Robert Gober?
Colleen Cunningham’s piece The Sixth Dimension is a part of a series of paper collages that focuses on the relationship between the different representations of landscapes and space. Colleen, as stated in her artist statement, “uses collage to juxtapose ‘manmade’ landscapes and figures (usually from classical American and British paintings), with ‘natural’ landscapes, as well as constructed objects and spaces.”
Cunningham is interested in how one, “can reconcile these locations and spaces in our minds as a part of a larger representation of the vast landscape of our conscious experience.” And therefore she strives for her pieces to be a, “subtle nod to the many ways in which we orient ourselves in the universe and how those perspectives coexist.” I think this sentiment not only resonates in her work, but also is a unifying thread to the theme of this group show. I think monuments have often been used as a way to make a lasting mark, an index of ourselves. In other words, monuments are a way to externally orient ourselves as both separate and a part of the rest of the universe.
Check out more of Colleen Cunningham’s work at:
Dear Goldsmiths Art Students,
I attended your MFA show two nights ago. I apologise to an extent: with so many artworks on display it was difficult to digest any of them. That situation was exacerbated by the fact that so few of the works seemed to have it in them to behave destructively…