JOE BRADLEY | PIGPEN | April 26 2012 - May 25 2012
Galerie Eva Presenhuber is pleased to present new works by New York-based artist Joe Bradley under the title «Pigpen».
Bradley works in series, an approach that allows him to pursue ideas in painting and then drop them once they cease to interest him. In this way, the artist creates groups of works that over the years, offers a surprising diversity, but always retaining an unmistakable familiarity.
At the 2008 Whitney Biennial, Bradley received attention for a series of monochrome canvases arranged into figurations. Although primarily minimalist experiments à la Ellsworth Kelly, on closer inspection they resolved into crude figures, as their reduced aesthetic evoke association with computer games and primitive totem sculptures. Thanks to these arrangements, and their subtle, narrative titles, the monochrome surfaces, mostly painted on simple, pre-produced canvases, acquired a meaning of their own, addressing 20th-century developments in art theory and taking a playful look at the many and varied artistic experiments on the cusp of abstraction and figuration.
To anyone expecting an artist’s oeuvre to develop continually and predictably, the series that followed appears as a spectacular break or turning point—in these «Schmagoo Paintings», the colors vanish. They are gigantic pictogram-like scribbles made with grease pencil on white canvas, oscillating between figuration and abstraction in a way reminiscent of, but entirely different to, the «multi-panel paintings». These minimalist works dramatize universal codes and symbols (a mouth, Superman’s S logo, an arrow). Like children’s drawings, their reduced visual idiom follows the modernist impulse towards a «primitive art» but with an ironic nod to cartoons, which play a key role in Bradley’s work. (Cartoonist Chas Addams (1912–1988) has been an important source of inspiration since Bradley’s youth.) The «Schmagoo Paintings» (schmagoo is slang for heroin) are also a humorous search for the archetypal: «The word stuck with me, and I began to think of «Schmagoo» as shorthand for some sort of Cosmic Substance… Primordial Muck. The stuff that gave birth to everything […] I have been thinking of Painting as a metaphor for the original creative act.» (JB, 2008)
In another series begun recently, he makes large screen prints showing silhouettes of people in the poses of Egyptian figures. Another ongoing series featured in the artist’s first solo show at Galerie Eva Presenhuber comprises large-format paintings on unprimed canvases using an artistic vocabulary recalling Guston, Basquiat, and Paleolithic cave paintings. The canvases, mostly painted flat on the floor with a range of instruments, bear the traces of the (performative) processes leading to their creation. The special character of the paintings conserves the physical act of painting, and its style situated somewhere between abstract expressionism and naïve imagery, evokes a broad range of associations.
HENNING BOHL NAMENLOSES GRAUEN EXHIBITION DATES: MARCH 29 – APRIL 28, 2012 OPENING: THURSDAY, MARCH 29, 6:00 – 8:00PM
For the last few months these pictures have been my monsters of the week. They form the consequences of the decisions I have taken and these consequences have an afterlife of consequences, which I have had to face. So, I accepted the fate that these fictions of mine have become truth - and more - actual materializations; that I have, from the depth of my windowless studio, unleashed another artwork upon a world already crowded with others.
These pictures are not about painting. They are also not about being monochrome, despite the fact that some of them are monochrome paintings. The ones that are painted, I painted as my own assistant for economical reasons but also out of interest. You can, if you have the taste for it, look out for an artist “touch” but it was merely a paint job: I p..painted those p..pictures because there was no other way. These pictures are about the reasons why they are what they are. The moment I decided to consider those reasons, they consumed the entire process and formed a net of logical steps and necessities that created a path, which I followed.
And this path has led me here:
If one really has to lay out the reasons in front of the audience, it would usually go like this: to apply certain strategies of conceptualization to your object, enhance the cultural capital of your source, connect it with what you have done and thus create meaning - and value.
For example: I found a box of tape dispensers in the shape of doughnuts over a year ago in Japan and for me they do form a perfectly created mass-produced fiction. It’s obvious that this form is ideal for its function, as it is able to fully encapsulate the roll of tape, and in doing so keep it clean from dust. But to further admit (the people from Scotch Tape Lab admitted…) that the product looks like a doughnut, and to then match the color of the product with the colors of the different flavors you might find in the icings of a real doughnut shop, is what made this surreal fiction become a rare reality for me.
As I have said, reasons come in like doughnuts and they lead the way. Once the doughnuts took place on the pictures, there needed to be a carpet to connect the paintings to a space and this space couldn’t be the gallery as it was. It had to have a layer of “icing” on the floor, just as the canvases had to have a layer of “icing”, which is the paint. The paint references the color scheme of the tape dispensers that surround them, which refers to the color and flavor of the icing on the doughnuts. So the carpet had to have the color of one of the paintings, and there were only so many colors to choose from.
The same is true for the fabric that depicts a model of the universe that is, rightly so, without center. Weirdly enough, it replaces our common understanding of outer space as an endless expansion of different parts with a map of endlessly expanding, repeating numbers of the same limited parts. This draws a parallel to the possibilities and limitations of cultural expression we find these days. This fabric, if divided into square partitions, shows four times the planet Earth. And in focusing on this part by cutting a square around these planets into the square partition of the possibly endless roll of fabric, we get an outtake that organizes its main subjects along diagonal crossing lines towards the outer frame instead of pointing to its center. In following this already given direction, it was only logical to emphasize this movement and add to it by using objects that orbit around that empty center on the outer side of thestretcher - to build a virtual frame around that frame. (In a similar but reversed logic the square monochrome pictures point to an empty center and carry their raison d ́etre towards the outside.)
Today, similar reasons that legitimize art are often to be found, whether it is: the size of a Manet in relation to the size of a monochrome painting, the insight that two complimentary colors on two paintings would mix into the grey tones you usually give to your other pictures (to stay in the discourse of younger monochromatic paintings), or the reasons one might have to reproduce the sandaled foot of the Statue of Liberty, or any of the many other reasons that can always be found to drive a little bit further down the road. Older monochromes, as I maybe tend to misunderstand them, seem to me an attempt to deny all of this. An attempt to deny all of these relational, referential and legitimizing aspects. Or better yet, they build a negative dialectical approach next to it. In my fantasy, they resemble very much the impossible task that a writer of cosmic horror fiction faces - to describe entities that have no structural, organic or functional resemblance to anything from our world yet have to carry out the means of their own intentions (that is to hail and kill). In an attempt to focus exactly on the limitations of the imagination, the best of the writers and painters of these genres create a hill of denial that offers a precise perspective upon the valley of the limitations of human existence, first of all the limitations of gravity.
I love crayon art! Love to watch the colors melt and blend together. So easy and creative.
What you need:
Crayons (old ones will do)
Make sure you have enough colors to fill the top of the canvas. Before glueing the colors to your canvas, arrange them and play with the array of colors until you end up with the right combination of colors.
If you are using old colors, peel the paper a bit (or as much as you like) to expose the crayon (waxy part). Work with one color at a time. Start by placing some hot glue on the back of one crayon and place at one of the top corners. Work all your crayons this way until you fill up the top part of your canvas.
* Optional: If you would like your canvas to have a saying, use removable word stickers to form the words. I used thick masking tape to make out my words. I cut them out with an X-acto knife and glued them on to the canvas.
Next step is to heat the crayons with your blow dryer. Work your dryer gently so you can keep a steady drip going down. You don’t want your colors to all mix up.
Once you achieve the preferred drip, let dry for 5 minutes to make sure your fingertips aren’t part of the artwork. Peel wording stickers off by cautiously peeling them.
1857: 1857 is proud to present a solo show with New York-based, Canadian-born artist Allison Katz?
_ ~ O O Allison Katz: ( ___ U
#: Invited to be forced to interfere with a finished work. To block the view, form a space by threats. Turn phallus into uterus.
A: Yes, I always knew that in person the room at the top of the lighthouse would be smaller than I thought. That is usually the case. I was actually totally unprepared for the grandeur of the concrete room, coming from the small first gallery and the office. That just cannot be captured in a photograph. It’s like going from a small waiting room into a hollowed Egyptian pyramid.
#: The scales are off.
A: Scale is surreal.
#: The Daymark is the identity of a lighthouse in daylight — the unique colour or pattern applied on the architecture — while the lantern is its birthmark in the night. The moving light attracts the attention of the eye. A vase, however highly decorated, would not be orbited by moths
The moving light steals your eye, while the painted surface begs for consciousness.
A: You called it Telephone because of the placement of the senses. To call it Daymark is to shut it up, literally. Turn off the sound. Block out the windows. Be visible only in a certain kind of unhidden light. No more guidance, no direction. A monument to limited visibility. Not a beacon but an after–effect. An anti–lighthouse house, a Daylightmarkhouse.
When the lights go out, the movie begins, but the painting ends. It cannot be seen in the dark.
#: You lift your flaming stake, and drive it into the Cyclops’ eye. All imagery that’s left is internal.
A: To shatter the crystallized form of its functional oneness, with a juice–filled “Where Am I?”
A: But it does not mean that I chose the day over the night. The night is the subject, the day is the light.
#: Day mark. It has to come secondary?
A: The illusion is episodic.
#: There’s no corner on the lighthouse to piss on, so the dog will piss inside?
A: Mythology on the way up; diary on the way down.
Exterior view of Allison Katz, Daymark
#: You know when it’s wintertime here, the cold air gets trapped downtown and it’s warmer in the hills. It’s called an inversion, and it produces intense sunsets, unnatural magentas and greens. It actually bends the light in the same way as the optical illusions in the deserts – the Fata Morgana.
A: I owe a debt to the mirage. I am deliberately taking something transparent and rendering it opaque, a hallucination in a small, enclosed space. The window is a frame, the template of illusion; and whereas Telephone broke it open into a real projection, I am forcing the gaze inside (the structure) and inside (the mind’s eye) (imagine where the horizon leads… back to the flatness of fantasy.)
#: Seeing single, double, quadruple…
#: But you can’t have it all. The light is not on your side. Also literally.
I remember someone once postulating that in the middle of a beautiful, cloudless summer day — if you look at the blue sky, and if you look really hard — you can just barely perceive the black void lurking behind a delicate thin blue skin.
A: Painting exists in the light; front–lit or overhead light. Not the light that comes from behind, not the screen. The window.
#: Yes, and “window” means wind eye. The origin is from Old Norse: vindauga. An eye to the wind. The window is clearly conceived as a protecting device against the storms of the world. It might sound poetic, but at the same time it becomes clear that the spectacle offered to the inhabitant is totally secondary to the windless light it lets into the dwelling.
A: I have…yes, exactly.
#: We went to see the monument with no windows.
A: Oslo’s best kept secret.
#: The paintings (your paintings). They’re bags on a belt, whatever the motifs. Embarrassingly x-rayed in full view at the airport.
A: The performance of the painting will answer all my questions.
Bresson preferred to call his actors “models,” because they were not trained and because they were not acting. They were staging his script. They were reflective of the action, the way light ripples across water.
#: Escaping the obvious, never to return?
A: Like something stubborn but fluid, so it becomes more productive, slows down time and avoids the director’s direct direction.
#: Do we agree that twilight steals every colour away (and reveals the…)?
A: It’s 100% pirated.
# # #
About the artist:
Allison Katz (b. 1980, Montreal) lives and works in New York. Recent solo exhibitions include “The Parts,” Johan Berggren Gallery, Malmö; and the group show “Les Biches,” at Clearing, New York. Upcoming: Family Business, New York; Liste 17, Art Basel; “Steel Life,” Michael Benevento, L.A.; and an edition for Gasconade, Milan.
1857 is an artist-run gallery occupying a former lumberyard in Grønland, downtown Oslo.
Established in 2010 by Steffen Håndlykken and Stian Eide Kluge, 1857 aims to forge connections between the Norwegian art scene and young artists abroad. It is a place to convene and converge, receive, answer and honour contemporary art in Oslo.