Saturday, March 31, 2007

My students review galleries in New Orleans

My students review galleries in New Orleans

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Review of a Bunch of Galleries

There is no point in reading this, so just stop.
No really, stop reading this.
Go read something meaningful.

After a few more sentences, you won’t be able to take it anymore, so just get out while you can.
Trust me.
What you’re about to read is going to piss you off and then it just gets worse.

Why are you reading this anyway?
What do you care what my opinion is of some stuff that really no one wants to see and even fewer people care about?

I’m only writing this because I read Matthew Nash’s review of the book “Critical Mess” in issue 59 of Big Red and Shiny. In it, Nash outlines the various points of view about the crisis in art criticism presented in the book. In the course of presenting his arguments, Nash quotes Raphael Rubinstein as saying, “Part of the problem, surely, is that we have so few consistently tough art critics.” With that I decided to see if I was a tough critic, so I re-read most of the articles I’ve written and all of them were glowing reviews. It seems that I could not get in enough good words in about how excited I was about whatever exhibition I was writing about.

Here is my point and a point completely left out of anyone’s argument in “Critical Mess”. There are not many “tough” articles written about art for one simple reason: How much do you want me to write about something I don’t like and don’t find inspirational? How many words does it take to say that a piece of artwork is not interesting?

By only writing about shows that I think are important, it only gives the appearance that I am afraid to pass a judgment. All along I have thought that choosing to not write about an exhibition counted as a form of passing judgment. If an exhibition goes up and no one in a city of millions chooses to write even one word about the exhibition, isn’t that a condemnation of silence? What’s wrong with uninteresting work passing silently out of culture and history?

Well, apparently the notion of positive criticism is not held in high regard and so we need tougher art critics.
People who are not afraid to pass judgment.
Or really, I have taken this to mean people who are not afraid to pass a vocally negative judgment since apparently a vocally positive judgment does not count as “tough”.

So here it is.
Someone asked for it, so you’re going to get it.
Here is a list of judgments of exhibitions I’ve seen that, normally, I would not have even gone to effort of thinking anything about.

Cynthia Packard @ Chase Gallery
Impressionist painting in 2007. Why would anyone do this? The vocabulary for discussing this type of work is fully developed to the point of not being interesting to discuss.

Joe Ablow and Roz Karol Ablow @ Pucker Gallery
Still life paintings about the color and relationship of objects. Abstract images rendering space with construction and reduction. It’s as if no one has had a new idea about representation since the 1950’s …

Patrick Pietropoli @ Axelle Fine Arts Galerie
Another artist copying great master works with their own “style”. I understand the strategy, now. I’m supposed to see their work and think, “That’s like a Vermeer. I identified the image this artist is copying. That makes me feel smart. I should buy this.” No spin of his own on anything relevant to today.

Out and About: Syracuse University Alumni @ Pepper Gallery
I usually like Pepper Gallery, but why should I care about alumni from Syracuse? None of the pieces are particularly well rendered and don’t seem to go together in any cohesive way. The best piece was a Kahn/Selesnick piece that was in the backroom.

Gregory Gillespie @ Nielsen Gallery
Well rendered representational painting, but what is the point of contemporary representational painting? The work is like Rembrandt in 2000, but if I wanted to see Rembrandt, I would just go see a Rembrandt. What’s the point of trompe-l’oeil painting in a world where other media trick my eye in far more fascinating ways every day? If you want to see something that is a technical masterpiece and tricks you’re eye in a magical way, go see Harriet Casdin-Silver’s holograms @ Gallery Naga.

Hiro Yokose @ Alpha Gallery
Aesthetically very beautiful, but nothing conceptually interesting about the work. Every piece evoked the exact same mood. All of which would look great over my couch.

Chris Armstrong @ Beth Urdang
Big paintings of the ocean. Would look good over my couch.

Stephen Dinsmore @ Arden Gallery
Expressionism. Fauvism. Matisse. Would not look good over my couch.
Would not look good anywhere.

Someone @ Martin Lawrence Gallery
Turns out this gallery is not run by Martin Lawrence the comedian. The receptionist did not get it when I said “Wazzup?!?” and then asked how “Wild Hogs” was doing. I have already forgotten what was being shown ...

I just reviewed nine galleries.
So how do I get paid for writing this criticism?
Usually I write out of love, but for this, I deserve to get paid.
Please “donate” to my “criticism” with this PayPal button:

Anything you can give will help.
God bless.

(I warned you at the beginning not to read any of this.)

BTW, all of this has been ironic.
Some people don’t get irony, so I’ll spell it out:
I don’t believe in anything I have written here because I don’t believe in this style of criticism.
It only appears to pass judgment in a “tough” way, but in the long term it does not express any values that I want to advocate and I do not believe it will lead to a stronger art community or better art.

I’ve written another piece in reaction to SunTek Chung’s opening @ Samson Projects that I really do like.
Read that.
It’s a much better piece and rather than pointing out where artists have failed to live up to the artists that have come before them, it highlights an artist who is showing all of us the way forward into a more interesting future.


Cynthia Packard @ Chase Gallery

Joe Ablow and Roz Karol Ablow @ Pucker Gallery

Patrick Pietropoli @ Axelle Fine Arts Galerie

SunTek Chung @ Samson Projects

So, I’m at SunTek Chung’s opening @ Samson Projects and I meet this guy.

“Where are you from?” I ask him.
“Well, I was born in California, but I don’t remember it. I went to high school in Maine, but I usually say I’m from New Orleans even though I only lived there a year …”
blah, blah, blah.
Midway through not listen to him, realized that I had not asked him a question about a location, I had inadvertently asked him a question about how he defined himself.

Apparently, if you ask someone where they are from, you are really asking them a question about their identity. And realistically, you are asking them to self-stereotype along regional lines.

SunTek Chung’s latest exhibition @ Samson Projects challenges the geography and ownership of culture. In Chung’s piece “The South, The South”, Chung places himself squarely in the zone of cultural ambiguity. Who owns the image of the Confederate Flag? As a Southerner from Richmond, Chung has a claim to it, but not in the way the stereotype of a Southerner mandates. Who owns the South Korean flag? As a Korean-American, Chung also has a claim to the cultural symbols of South Korean identity, but again, the binary hyphen in "Korean-American" means his claim is not the stereotypical claim. The strength of Chung’s work lies in the fact that when confronted with not fitting into one stereotypical binary or another, Chung constructs his own identity. When forced to choose between two flags, Chung makes his own hybrid flag with parts from both flags.

Chung mines the fertile ground of the space in-between two stereotypes in order to create a new visual culture while simultaneously undermining both stereotypes. Homi Bhahba writes in The Location of Culture, "In-between spaces provide the terrain for elaborating strategies of selfhood--singular or communal--that initiate new signs of identity, and innovative sites of collaboration, and contestation, in the act of defining the idea of society." (p. 1-2) It is important to note that while Chung’s work can be interpreted using post-colonial theory, his work is not merely an illustration of theory.

Everyone at Chung’s opening was laughing, but not in the way you laugh at a joke and then forget about it. Everyone was laughing in the way you laugh when something happens that you did not expect and therefore do not know how to react. (Like watching someone trip over nothing on the sidewalk and then pretend to start running.) Chung’s show is filled with laughter that quickly falls to silence and then staring. This effect occurs because everyone looking at Chung’s work sees that it is really a threat to cultural boundaries. Everyone knows that an Asian acting in the role of a stereotypical redneck Southerner is going to piss someone off. “If you are Asian and live in Virginia, then you might be a redneck” is not really a typical Jeff Foxworthy joke. Most “you might be a redneck” jokes are designed to re-claim ownership of a negative stereotype, not question the notion of the stereotype altogether.

People definitely get angry when their investment in a cultural boundary is pushed. In 2004, the Washington Post ran an article on a Lebron James Nike advertisement that was banned by the Chinese government because it was viewed as insulting to “national dignity”. The ad itself depicts Lebron James defeating cartoon characters in traditional Chinese attire in the style of Bruce Lee, but with a basketball. I doubt anyone was actually offended by the specifics of the James ad, but rather I believe it is the use of Chinese cultural symbols by Westerners that is perceived as the real insult to national dignity.

Similarly, undermining the canon of Western art by telling a joke about the Sistine Chapel is not itself challenging (we’ve all seen the “Pull my finger” tee shirts), but an Asian-American culturally claiming and re-processing a traditional icon of Western visual culture is threatening to some. Especially when he re-casts himself as God.

In a rapidly globalizing world, asking people where they are from or attempting to stereotype people based on where they live, will cease to be a useful social exercise. SunTek Chung’s work is smart, timely and fundamentally about a future that can be created when cultural boundaries and stereotypes have been undermined.

YouTube video of Lebron James in banned Nike Ad

"The South, The South"
cibachrome print
34.5 x 50 inches (88 x 127 cm)


"Ich R Us"
40 x 72 inches (102 x 183 cm)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Mount My Peter

Mount My Peter

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

CSI- Atlanta Printmaking

CSI- Atlanta Printmaking

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Lindsay Appel

Lindsay Appel @ Aurora Cafe, 2007

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Grab My Peter by Heidi Aishman

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Matthew Gamber @ Gallery Kayafas

Click for video

Click here for images from the opening

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Horror Vacui #1

cuisine01.jpgClick to View Horror Vacui #1 - Lean Cuisine

Tim Friday @ City of Ink

Tim Friday
Centophobia @ City of Ink