Alison Saar’s work combines the raw power of tribal art with the postmodern sophistication of complex cultural subtexts. Her work is made in a near devotional way, which infuses a rare emotional intensity into her new narratives on upturning gender and racial hierarchies. Few artists can use visual materials as skillfully to create such powerful political statements. Fewer still can combine aesthetic technique and conceptual acuity in artwork that is so heartfelt it resonates with the viewer viscerally, a sensation akin to listening to a Nina Simone song. This is a rare feat only an exceptional artist can accomplish, which makes her concurrent exhibitions, Syncopation, at L.A Louver, and Chaos in the Kitchen, at Frieze Los Angeles, stand out even amidst the art fair frenzy. [Read more…]
Archives for February 2020
by C von Hassett & Rachel Reid Wilkie
From Documents of Love, an exhibition of solo and collaborative works by C von Hassett and Rachel Reid Wilkie at Hosfelt Gallery, NYC.
Here, the short film “Documents of Love,” which showed alongside the couple’s languorous wall of poetry, rooms of paintings and their combined photography. The short captures a prodigious and productive moment in the East Village, NYC, bookended by a transformative journey through the Amazon and an eventual migration West: to Los Angeles; the small village of Olancha, California, which sits high in the Northern Mojave, just below the Eastern Sierras; and Rimrock/Pioneertown, the glowing third point in the now Golden Triangle of the Hassett-Wilkie clan.
Born under a bad sign
Been down since I began to crawl
If it wasn’t for bad luck
You know, I wouldn’t have no luck at all
In the magical exhibition, A Conjuring of Conjurors, artist Lezley Saar herself becomes the master shaman as she explores the role of mysticism, spiritualism and religious rituals in the human quest for safety, survival and certainty. Known for her earlier works that examine those who dwell in the interstices of identity, Saar here creates fantastically invented narratives of soothsayers and seers who use amulets, bones and tinctures to fix what is broken, find what is lost, or cure all manner of maladies. [Read more…]
Jaki Liebezeit: The Life, Theory and Practice of a Master Drummer
edited by Jono Podmore
Unbound, 320 pp., $16.94
The drum master Jaki Liebezeit pursued over a decades-long career an enduring fascination with the core truths of time as expressed via rhythm. Not just a musician who wished to perfect a technique or expand his range of drumming styles, Liebezeit took his fascination deeper, to realms in which the very whys and wherefores of rhythm’s true place in any musical mode were of paramount importance – as was by extension its metaphorical relationship to the human being’s role in larger collective society. [Read more…]
Corporate fascism. We know the term. Now we will see the full ugly face of its wrath in the vengeful fury of Trump. Trump, like all opportunistic social phenomena, is an expression of a trending wave of collective sentiment and will. He is neither sole cause (autonomous agent) nor simple effect (isolated outcome) of a deliberate plan of action on his own part. But the specifics of his own psychopathology optimize his virulent capacity for destructive impact. Watching and listening to the monster speak in the state of His Union address would be sufficient, even without other mountains of evidence, to feel the grotesque distortions of the personality in all of its many disorders. Now his rabid vengeance is unleashed and unrestrained. [Read more…]
“…the deepest and earliest secret of all: that just as we watch other life, other life watches us.”
—Toni Morrison, “Memory, Creation, and Fiction”
The superlative Félix Vallotton exhibition recently at the Metropolitan Museum, titled Painter of Disquiet, was an enthralling view of the tension between Vallotton’s early anarchist political engagement and the abiding, rather staid (though always darkling) character of his oeuvre over his 44-year career. [Read more…]
Heartbreak can be a savage thing. It’s a primal ache that creeps up on you in the middle of the night, ferociously roaring and threatening to tear your heart into tiny pieces. This metaphor is made literal in the horror-drama After Midnight, which focuses on a man-versus-monster battle that begins after the dropping of a devastating Dear John letter. [Read more…]
by Fanny Howe
On a cold day near Lake Erie
I was in a double bind.
The snow was like a lamb
Shorn in the upper circle.
Someone pushed me over the ice and stones.
Someone else chattered behind.
A rubber nipple was pressed to my lips.
Gagged and spat until my tears were milk. [Read more…]
In an engrossing book published last spring called Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative, the Australian writer Jane Alison makes a trenchant observation about the “dramatic arc” long considered the foundation for plot. Swelling to a climax and then deflating, it resembles nothing so much as a phallus: “Bit masculo-sexual, no?” Alison’s book offers alternative possibilities for fiction based on patterns found in nature, such as the spirals of fiddlehead ferns, seashells, or whirlpools; the meandering path of a river; the radiating shape of a flower; the self-replication of trees or clouds; or the cells in a honeycomb. These structures aren’t necessarily feminine—as it happens, Alison’s investigation of them is inspired by her reading of W.G. Sebald’s The Emigrants, a work of fiction written by a man with predominantly male characters. But if the dramatic arc has often been associated with the “hero’s journey” model of fiction writing (a lone man goes off on a quest to conquer something), it stands to reason that a novel centered on the stories of women—often communal, connected, operating on many layers—might best be served by a different narrative form. [Read more…]
at LAUNCH LA, Los Angeles (through February 8)
Reviewed by Genie Davis
Shula Singer Arbel, Carla Jay Harris and Christina Ramos each offer gorgeous, personal, figurative work in Contemporary Identities, now at Launch LA. Each artist explores personal and universal identities through contemporary figurative work. [Read more…]
1956 – 2020
by Henry Cherry
When Andy Gill died at 64 on Saturday, the sound of revolution was momentarily stalled. Gill was the co-founder of the UK’s Gang of Four, an avant-funk off shoot of that country’s monumentally impactful punk movement of the late 70s. Across ten albums and a barrage of EPs and singles, Gang of Four is best known for their bouncing ecstatic protestations like “To Hell with Poverty” and “Damaged Goods” and their big break on American radio, “I Love a Man in Uniform.” Gill’s sawing guitar, songwriting and production lay at the heart of the band’s dramatically seductive sound. As such, the power of his death resides in the music Gill is responsible for, and luckily, that music remains. Even as Gill lay in the hospital, suffering from pneumonia, the musician continued to work on new music, editing and annotating mixes for a yet to be released Gang of Four recording. [Read more…]
Cuban-born Zilia Sánchez, 93, has always been ahead of the curve, even if she has remained for the most part unknown outside her adopted country, Puerto Rico. Her elegant, shaped canvases, many of them takeoffs on the female form, hold their own with the best of Minimalism, as does the work of that other long-forgotten and now much-acclaimed Cuban-born artist, Carmen Herrera. But unlike Herrera’s hard-edged geometric Minimalism, Sánchez creates overtly sensual sculptural paintings, with undulating curves and rounded protuberances that resemble breasts and genitalia, while simultaneously evoking spare, pneumatic topographies. [Read more…]