when i was in SF i had the opportunity to spend some time with artist windy chien. windy creates knot macrame work and has been doing "a new knot a day" project (she has declared 2016 a year of knots) in which she challenges herself to learn a new technique each day. windy says it's a lot like learning an entirely new language and the project has helped her improve and grow more confident in her work everyday. the medium allows her to modernize a traditional craft in a minimal, clean and new way. windy has had a unique journey -- she once owned a popular record shop and then worked for apple in the itunes department. eventually she decided to quit after wanting to get offline and create with her hands more. yet she didn't know what exactly she wanted to create, so she took a ton of classes in anything that interested her and ultimately found her chosen medium. today you can really see the bridge between technology, music and handicraft in her work, especially her pieces aptly titled "circuit boards." windy spoke a lot about the concept of giving oneself permission to leave identities behind and use past learnings to push forward and create a new "you." this concept really resonated with me. in the next few years, she plans to think bigger and create larger scale work. see more of her work here and follow her on instagram here.
a few weeks back, i saw artist nic rad's latest exhibit, perennial millennial at victori + mo gallery in bushwick, brooklyn. victori + mo is quickly becoming one of my favorite galleries. every exhibit i've seen there has wowed me and i continue to love the work they show. what i liked most about nic rad's show was his clever approach to assemblage, paintings and pop-culture centric text-based artwork.
the gallery's space isn't very big and yet its gallerists, celine + ed, always make great use of it -- this time that meant showing the work in a salon style and coloring the walls with blue and yellow paint. did i mention there was even a large smiling emoji hanging from the ceiling? moreover, nic hosted a beer pong competition in the space, which i unfortunately couldn't make but it sounded quite literally rad. images and more info from the exhibit below:
perennial millennial is a a group of gestural assemblages incorporating pop culture and textual tropes rooting this series in the language and preoccupations of social media and internet culture, a through line to the unique state of the so-called millennial generation—sometimes derisively so—who occupy a dichotomous space of anxiety and full-throated confidence.
as seen by the invented millennial “jackson johns,” the theoretical progeny of robert rauschenberg and jasper johns within the alternative reality where such a thing might be possible, the works constitute an imaginative revival of dada image making.
as rad says, “this kind of lightlyworn hat of a persona seems very natural for anyone who had 10 screen names growing up.” expanding on rad’s fluid exploration of the rifts and frissons between the physical, textual, and digital worlds, perennial millennial conjures an expressive lexicon layered with references to corporate information design, emoji, social media, and other modern detritus from a constantly evolving and imploding contemporary visual vocabulary. shifts in scale, brusquely applied strokes and varying degrees of layering and impasto lend an immediate physicality to the works. as a dialectic about who paintings are for, and the real and invented narratives generated therein, a second, self reflexive commentary emerges, one which engages generational attitudes toward painting as a medium, and the self assurance/self doubt feedback loop that seems to characterize contemporary art. as a deconstruction of the built associations of recognizable imagery, they distill the aggressive momentum and anxiety of the information age.
* see more of nic's work here *
to my delight, my delicatessen collaborator, sarah osborne, was also showing work in another exhibit during our pop-up/my montreal stay called tangerine dream collective. it took place at montreal's galerie pangée and featured work by sarah plus two of her friends, joani tremblay and elise windsor. the exhibit was playful, colorful, bright and fun. although the three girls have diverse styles, their artworks complemented each other well and i most definitely wanted to buy all of it. see pictures and more info below:
the tangerine dream collective is composed of artists sarah osborne, joani tremblay and elise windsor. with a young and contemporary vision, the collective plays with simple and bold forms as well as large-scale installations composed of several works on paper seen and presented as objects. what influences this collective the most are flora, architecture and the world of art, as well as their status as women. for the occasion of this exhibit, the gallery was transformed into a living sculpture in the form of an installation using pop colors and mixing paintings, drawings, photographs, objects, plants, shelves and other sculptural devices. works on paper became objects displayed as in a showcase window such as to question the relationship between staging and curation.
more images of the work can be found on artsy here.
one of my latest, favorite exhibits just closed: women words, phrases and stories: 1,000 paintings by betty tompkins at the flag foundation. there the walls were full of various sized paintings covered in words that describe women. i felt a lot of synergy with the artist and her process as she is at heart a collaborator. i even had the chance to attend a special event in the exhibition space, where betty allowed women from all backgrounds to get up in front of the group and read out the words on the walls. it was empowering and magical.
more about this exhibit below (from the flag website):
in 2002 and 2013, tompkins circulated the following email: “i am considering doing another series of pieces using images of women comprised of words. i would appreciate your help in developing the vocabulary. please send me a list of words that describe women. they can be affectionate (honey), pejorative (bitch), slang, descriptive, etc. the words don’t have to be in english but i need as accurate a translation as possible. many, many thanks, betty tompkins.” the response was overwhelming, with over 3,500 words and phrases in seven languages submitted, equally split between men and women. in 2012, tompkins was invited to create a performance in vienna where 500 of the words and phrases were read aloud. inspired by that performance, the artist then set out to create 1,000 individual word paintings, intending the series to be presented en masse once complete. on january 1, 2013, tompkins created the first painting slut (#1).
throughout women words, tompkins layers stenciled, freehand drawn, and pressed-on text over imagery, which includes lace overlays, gauzy close-ups of the female body, and a sampling of styles from what the artist refers to as the “old-boy painting” network – de kooning, fontana, guston, morris louis, newman, pollock, and richter. derogatory, reductive, and dismissive language such as venus, piece of ass, and the only thing that would make her more beautiful is my dick in her mouth, seem to reveal that women are often still viewed through the lens of desire or reproach. is such language the result of love, fear, control, or anger? tompkins does not offer answers, presenting women words in the same straightforward and non-judgmental approach as her renowned fuck paintings.
tompkins’s oeuvre has never demurred from provocative subject matter; the artist’s ongoing fuck paintings (1969-1974; reprised in 2003) center on tightly cropped photorealistic images of sexual intercourse. according to the artist, “my first husband had this great collection of porn and i was looking at it one day and thought: if you take out the heads and legs—all this boring stuff—and get down to the money shot, this is beautiful…really formally beautiful.” highly sexualized imagery and language have since become ubiquitous in mainstream culture and have shifted the context and reaction surrounding the fuck paintings, once dismissed as too explicit and because of tompkins’s position as a female artist with a sex-positive attitude. it wasn’t until the paintings’ presentation at the lyon biennale in 2003, that the work received an extraordinary reception and established tompkins at the forefront of first generation feminist art.
* photos are by genevieve hanson, nyc -- all images are copyrighted by betty tompkins
a few weeks ago i saw the below image of a palm tree painted on a ceramic spoon on instagram and freaked out (i'm obsessed with all things tropical and palm tree related, go figure cultureisland). the piece is by heather garland and her exhibit love is like a butterfly is currently showing at honey ramka gallery in bushwick, brooklyn until april 3rd. heather reinterprets found objects that are typically banal, adding paint, fringe, pearls, lace and fabric to make them new. she collects plates from the street, junk store, and from friends and takes them back to the studio. heather says, "sometimes i know exactly what will happen when i am in the shop; i know what intervention will happen when i start to paint. other times the plates sit around for years, waiting." this idea resonated me, since i'm an inspiration hoarder myself. i collect pages from magazines, art cards, images on tumblr/instagram plus words and phrases i see everywhere. i am constantly trying to figure out how i can use these hoardings in my work or save the ideas for later. about her plates, heather explains, "i am interested in things sounding or looking so sweet it almost hurts. i am interested in different conceptions of love and domesticity. in the sweetness of domestic life there can also be darkness and mystery." indeed, heather's plates are so sweet it hurts, plus i love the clever names of her pieces.
my friend giulia first found me on instagram. she reached out over email and we became instant friends, irl. giulia lives in milan but spent time in new york this past summer. i introduced her to some of my friends and showed her aspects of my life in new york. then last fall, i had the incredible opportunity of visiting giulia in italy. i spent time with her family and friends and she showed me aspects of her life in milan. giulia is now one of my e-galpals. we keep in touch through the interwebs and share aspects of our lives from afar.
giulia is a trend researcher and a collage maker too, so we have a lot of shared interests and passions. she also does social media for nou magazine. here, she shares about her recent collages, which you can also find here.
giulia bernardi: i like spontaneous art. i'm fascinated by images of daily life. it’s at the heart of everything i do. it's my main inspiration. i like to observe what happens around me. i like to see and watch people as way to find new ideas to understand what's going on around me. my favorite spot to do research is at the bar or coffee shop. drink a coffee and watch what happens around me.
i see my collage work as an act of research. i put all the images together and change their meaning and context. i like to tell stories with my collages. they are realistic. i don't like surrealism. life is true. my work is me, 100%. it's the only place where i'm honest and have full self-confidence. i use collage as a way to calm myself down, to help me realize what's going on in my life and to talk about my current or latest obsessions. i use collage to heal from what has hurt me. making a collage helps me fully realize and work through periods of my life.
i like images of daily life. i like to mix fashion photos with documentary photos and snapshots. i really like documentary photos. i like blurred and faded photos. i like photos taken with old cameras. i want to learn how to make good photos so i can use them in my collages but i don't have that skill right now. instead, i would like to think of myself as a collector of images. when you don't know how to make something, you have to work with what you got. i’m good at collecting images and researching things. collage allows me to use those skills and make something with it.
some of these collages are inspired by a guy i fell in love with, but he's not into to me anymore. it sounds cheesy, i know. but after a lot of tears, i was able to turn my pain into something positive. sometimes i feel like i wasted a lot of time on him, so some of the collages are inspired by that feeling. others are inspired by my experience and love for travel. ulysses and penelope are my favorites characters from when i was a child. i created scrapbook for nou magazine inspired by them, seeing penelope as a woman who doesn't wait around for ulysses at home, instead she is a woman who is out and about, experiencing the world while also trying to find herself. but, you know, more discover new things and more you don't want to bring you back your past! in some of my other collages, there isn't really a specific idea behind them. instead they are simply striking images with words that i heard in a song or read somewhere. words are really important to my collage making process. other collages are pages from scrapbooks i made during school when i was studying fashion design, showing the creative process of making a fashion collection.
i look for images on the internet and don't stop searching until i find what i want. then i print the images or scan images from magazines or books. i hate to ruin and cut images from magazines or books, even if it's the crap/worst magazine in the world. for me, printed periodicals are sacred! also i use found images and scraps collected from my travels, or from my daily life. i like objects that represent a sort of memory. i love old memories. also i used some digital elements thanks to photoshop or illustrator or indesign...it depends!
my friend/amazing artist anthony hawley has been making some awesome daily drawings inspired by drake's recent hotline bling video.
anthony on this inspiration: "it’s a really catchy song; like i’ve listened to it dozens of times, but it’s such a weird and bizarre music video. think about what the video would look like without the turrell-inspired spaces. it would essentially consist of a good-looking drake sitting on steps, posing, and dancing around by himself; good-looking women posing on stairs and moving in slow motion; then drake and one of his female dancers joining forces to do some synchronized moves together. the turrell-inspired spaces are beautiful, a little ufo-like and provide an amazing glow of color, but at the same time there’s really no reason whatsoever that the turrell spaces are there. half the video looks like an itunes add circa 2004 and half of it creates this sense of space that’s reminiscent of the original tron or star wars. i keep thinking that those slow motion pan-outs by the camera are going to expose drake as a tiny player in a giant video game or that the millennium falcon is going to appear, caught in the death star’s tractor beam, and plow down drake. by far, the most interesting parts are drake’s hand motions and movements. they’re glorious! in all my drawings drake has six fingers on each hand.
i liked the idea of doing a series of small drawings where drake and turrell kind of haunt each other and meld. the drawings use an existing set of imagery from other small drawings of mine and expand on it. the little ghostesses seemed to fit the zeitgeist of the music video. i mean why wouldn’t you make drawings of drake and turrell turning into ghosts?
i’ve always been a bit obsessive with my listening. like i just get obsessed with a sound, a mood, or a theme in a certain song or album and i can’t stop listening to whatever it is. and there’s not really a logic—it ranges from oneohitrix point never to mozart string quintets to demi lovato. i don’t necessarily love demi lovato or anything about her, but last friday i think i listened to “cool for the summer” all day non-stop without any breaks or anything in-between. i think that i’ve been like this since i started listening to pop music when i was six or seven, sitting by the stereo recording different top 20 hits with cassettes at the end of each year. sometimes it’s not even an artist i love; it’s just a sound, a synthesizer, or an explosive moment, you know? then this all feeds into my daily practice and art.
there’s a link between the obsessive listening and the daily practice that i’m just now becoming aware of—the doing something over and over to get to a feeling or idea without thinking too hard about it."
check out his drawings and purchase them here on his site!
i was very excited to see a few of irving penn's photographs from his flower series, circa the 1960s, at the gucci museum in florence a few weeks ago. i love how their stark contrast highlights each flower's more unusual beauty; penn injected some deep emotion into these blossoms, showing their darker side. i'm really into older studio shots lately. i also bought a few vintage books in italy i will share here very soon.
saw this work last friday at the what nerve! alternative figures in american art, 1960 to the present exhibit at matthew marks gallery in chelsea. i love how rocca took a handbag and made it an art piece. the work was created during a period of rocca's life in which she took a break from art-making; instead the piece was part of what she considered her autobiography. i previously interned in handbag design at coach and it's interesting to consider this artful handbag and those that coach made around this time. then, bonnie cashin was the creative director; she was known for creating some of the first colored leather bags as well as the use of industrial hardware in accessories.
last night at the spring masters new york art fair, i saw these awesome sand chairs by kueng caputo from salon 94. i love how the artists have taken a common object, a stool, and transformed it into an abstracted and colorful work of art.
more about the work: "the sand chair series by young swiss-born design collaborative kueng caputo are scupltural, colorful furniture. the works are made from cut blocks of styrofoam cast with a mixture of sand, mortar and colored pigments. the unique all-purpose pieces are functional stools or side tables that can be used indoors or outdoors.
sara kueng and lovis caputo have worked together since they were both students of design at the hgkz zurich from 2004 to 2008. their design practice emphasizes color and the handmade, understatement and improvisation."