He said his name was Columbus
an’ I just said good luck
-Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream
The title of Canyon Castator’s show, ‘No Politics at the Dinner Table’ makes me think of the meta, fourth wall-breaking scene in Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles when an entire western town’s worth of brawling cowboys spill over into another set shooting what looks like a Fred Astaire genre movie and continue their rumble, this time with dancers in top hats and tails. While it’s a gag and a novel narrative set-up for the time, the implication is that the cowboys are too dumb to know they are acting and just keep beating up whoever they see, on Brooks’ behalf.
In Canyon’s version, an American family is sitting down to a long-awaited meal (God knows we like to eat!) and as a discussion begins to brew about (insert any aspect of American life, it all appears politicized at this point) an elder at the table orders: ‘No politics at the Dinner table!’ and silence ensues. As the camera pans out, the characters from Canyon’s newest suite of five paintings break through the wall-papered wall, knocking over the sideboard and engulfing the room and family in their unfettered, brawling presence. The verbal warning stands as an ineffective stopper, a band-aid and a truly un-self-aware objection, as the culture is too far gone, a reality TV show carnival barker at its head, for the protestation to make any sense at this late hour.
The mood in America right now is of feeling at least disconnected from and at most in total opposition to, the Government. And yet Americans historically haven’t had a popular culture of social political argument. I once sat in a cafe in Paris until the wee hours of the morning arguing with Parisians and Belgians about politics. But Americans have tended to not care as much, or to care in pockets. Is it the size of our country? The fact that we have less representation per capita than other Democracies? We’re litigious and rely on the courts not the Government to settle our scores? I think it’s at least partly that intellectualism is seen as rudeness in the US, it’s not polite to know more than other people.
I was lucky to get the opportunity to draw next to Canyon this summer, in a free-form Draw Jam in a beautiful Southern Italian garden, with a dozen other Artists. Canyon is a natural, intuitive, inspired drawer who invents entire characters from a suggested line, truly intimidating and awe-inspiring to be looking over his shoulder as you try to make something look like anything! It took me back to an earlier visit I had with Canyon at my studio in Brooklyn. We had shared our processes and he described his as starting with formal elements, in the case of a painting, color, and creating figures and loaded objects on the spot, based in the associations of a particular green or brown or yellow occurring to him in the moment. In this way, these paintings that might appear specific and planned, turn out to be expressionistic and reactive, all-over compositions, what a de Kooning or Pollock might have made if they lived in the era of the 24hr news cycle or Twitter.
The forms are painted in a range from cartoon to realistic, usually residing in an uncanny middle ground, reminiscent of 3D animation but most properly described as Pop Surrealism. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? turns out to be an influence for Canyon and you can see it in his novel renderings of figures and objects, combining the real and unreal. The narrative influence of the movie is there too in his affection for creating a range of highly expressive characters.
Canyon texted me that much of his process is also influenced by the rollicking, surreal song, ‘Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream.’ A Dylan fan myself, I looked it up excitedly, thinking I might use a line or two to title this piece. It begins with the narrator reaching land in America with Ahab, the famous whaler from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick at his side and then follows him through various locations in what appears to be 60’s New York City: Bowery slums, a bank, a restaurant, a cab. In every place he finds himself, he has an interaction with someone in which the singer is either not understood or rejected and then unfailingly, a cop shows up. It ends with him deciding to head back to sea and seeing Columbus on the way in. Is the implication a metaphor for Dylan getting somewhere first, artistically? Or is the character so frustrated with the failures and contradictions of ‘the more perfect union’ that he’s giving it up in disgust?
The song unspools the way a dream would, with nonsensical interactions and random characters appearing and reappearing. Canyon’s paintings follow a similar beat. Dylan’s cops appear throughout and for Canyon too, there is at least one in every painting, trying to quell the mostly desperate characters acting out, and reacting as usual, with excessive force. Uncle Sam appears, Jesus appears twice, there are skateboarders, George Washington, along with weapons, fire and explosive devices, and is that Ahab (?) red-faced and Napoleonic, in his red long underwear.
It turned out it was much more difficult than I originally thought, to isolate a few lines of Dylan’s song, to serve as a heading for this essay. The song functions as such a complete whole with various elements supporting or referring to themes that came before or after. In the same way, you couldn’t extract a figure or two from Canyon’s paintings without taking out a huge section of the painting, they are symbiotically and narratively entwined with each other. If you tried to remove one or contemplate it on its own, the meaning would be lost. Canyon’s characters go about their grim tasks alone and yet fully dependent on each other.
There is an interesting orientation to Canyon’s figures, most seem to be facing East, intriguing because Canyon makes them on the West Coast, in Los Angeles and because in the piece ‘Moving Right’ (Oil and spray paint on canvas, 2018) Uncle Sam holds a ‘Manifest!’ (Destiny) flag (I at first mis-read the command as manfest.) The common personification of the U.S. Government leads the charge to the right, but also…Eastward, as though undoing or reversing the Westward expansion of the original ‘Manifest Destiny’ aspiration. If the original settlers were trying to create a ‘kind of heaven,’ by expanding West across the United States, it’s clear that Canyon’s advancing characters are moving backwards, through a kind of hell of their own making.
-Gina Beavers, East Village, NYC, September 2018
 Dylan, Bob (1965). Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream on Bringing it All Back Home (Album). New York, NY: Columbia Records
 Blazing Saddles. Dir. Mel Brooks. Perf. Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Slim Pickens, David Huddleston, and Claude Ennis Starrett, Jr. Warner Brothers, 1974.
Amblin Entertainment ; Silver Screen Partners ; Touchstone Pictures ; producers, Frank Marshall, Robert Watts ; writers, Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman ; director, Robert Zemeckis. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? [United States]: [Burbank, CA :] :Touchstone Pictures ; [Distributed by Buena Vista Home Entertainment]
Austin Lee’s latest solo exhibition, Constant Joy, revolves around a focused visual language, using the ‘flower’ as a continuous unit. Austin’s flowers are symbols for beauty, growth and kindness. They greet us like a generous flower shower, channelling the sense of joy Austin derives from his practice. On another layer, these flowers are representational reflections of the essence inherent within each of us. Their simplified uniformity emphasizes universal bonds and common experiences. As though lit from within, these works radiate an interior liveliness. For Austin, this exhibition’s resonance is expressed through the words of Japanese poet Matsuo Basho: “There is nothing that you can see that is not a flower; there is nothing you can think that is not the moon”.
According to the teachings of introspective spiritual practices across different cultures (such as Zen and Sufism), the ‘state of joy’ comes from experiencing wholeness: a state created by feeling connected to a source, from which all beings and experiences derive. However, this state of joy is not exclusive to any specific belief or practice. Creative pursuits with introspective nature and continuity are one of the many gateways through which people nourish that state. In Constant Joy I observe a similar exploration of unity, with an extra pinch of yearning for harmony. Through playful repetition, re-arrangement and re-interpretation, the exhibition embodies both an inquisitive and a declarative nature; building multiple expressions of a harmonious whole. This pursuit is reflected both in the compositional structure of the individual works, and in the fluidity with which Austin incorporates different modes of expression such as painting, music, digital animation and sculpture.
Some flowers come together as if to form a structured sentence or a march voiced in unison by a persistent crowd. Other flowers hover towards our environment like notes vibrating at different frequencies. From still paintings that evoke sound and motion, to a song Austin has recorded on his piano, Constant Joy is a celebration of creativity as a continuous renewal strategy in the midst of decay and destruction.
“The draw jam at Torre Coccaro was 15-30 international artists drawing in a gorgeous garden among massive olive trees at Masseria Torre Coccaro. The staff would bring us drinks and amazing meals and we would hang out all day and draw. Lazlo, Julia and George Kostyal (5, 6 and 5 at the time) joined us and kept us focused on maintaining our purest drawing instincts. We had every drawing material at our disposal and endless stacks of the hotel’s stationary to work on. Some of us had just met so we spent the day talking over our drawings. Canyon Castator spun out amazing webs of characters, Timur Si Quin made tree rubbings, Jon Rafman drew wildly expressive figures, Constance Tenvik poured out colorful writhing surrealisms, Peter Shuyff worked on delicate abstractions, everywhere you looked someone was doing something cool. A group of us decided to do exquisite corpses as a way to have fun and kind of loosen up. It’s a really non-precious, non-competitive way to work and lead to many laughs and bonding. We included the kids in these and made some amazing things. And then, our drawing hands exhausted, we jumped in the pool! “
Gina Beavers, July 2018
Carl Kostyál Gallery donated all proceeds to AmoPuglia,
a local charity which provides free home care to oncological patients
The Matera Artist Residency is a collaboration between Masseria Fontana di Vite and the gallerist Carl Kostyál.
The residency was founded to provide a space and home for visual artists from around the world to create art while experiencing Italian life. The residency offers these artists the time and place to retreat from the routines and pressures of everyday life within a unique geographical and cultural context with the added flair of the southern Italian hospitality.
Masseria Fontana di Vite is a boutique hotel located on a country estate close to the ancient city of Matera in the Basilicata region of southern Italy. The original Masseria structure, which is a fortified farmhouse typical of the area, dates back to the 18 th century. An expansion in 1816 by its original owners, the aristocratic Gattini family, saw the construction of a noble house residency, a warehouse with barrel vaults used to store wheat, and several rooms around the courtyard used as wine cellars as well as small storage depots. More buildings were added under the subsequent ownership of Giovanni Lorusso including a chapel, an outdoor oven, two large warehouses to store tobacco leaves, and “Lamielle”, which is a farmhouse characterized by small barrel vaults.
The artist’s studio is a spacious warehouse originally used to dry tobacco and stands as a truly incredible building. The many historic structures on the estate serve as an inspiration for the artists. In fact, the chapel was used by the first artist-in-residence Austin Lee in July 2018 for a ceiling fresco titled “I fiori del cielo”.
This contemporary site-specific work is a tribute to the spiritual architecture of the church and stunning nature surrounding the Masseria.
The artist residency aims to create a sculpture park surrounding the property and to become a destination site for the international art world in the hidden gem of Matera, the third most ancient city in the world, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site as well as the European Capital of Culture in 2019.
In 2018, the summer residency hosted Austin Lee and Gina Beavers during the month of July, while the autumn residency hosted Violet Dennison in September. The 2019 program will host two month-long sessions, one in spring and the other one in summer, with each hosting two artists per session.
Summer Session 2018: Gina Beavers and Austin Lee
Autumn Session 2018: Violet Dennison
GINA BEAVERS’ TESTIMONY
I found the residency in Matera at the Masseria Fontana de Vite truly life-changing! The first couple weeks were a non-stop party, a bunch of artists came out for the draw jam and we went to Puglia to hang out and draw with them. It was incredibly fun, swimming, hanging out at the beach and drawing in the garden during the day.
It sort of hit me about halfway through my time in Matera, after the Draw Jam, that I really only had two weeks to make my own work, but I was able to work about 5 hrs a day at that point, a couple hrs betweenbreakfast and lunch and a couple when everyone was siesta-ing in the late afternoon. Dinner was usually not until 10, so the days felt amazingly long.
The studio was maybe not the most optimal, in terms of light and facilities like tables etc, and Austin and I kind of had to scrounge around for furniture in the barn to get set-up. And if you have definite materials you will need I would definitely work that out ahead of time, they do get Amazon deliveries there. Also, they are talking about renovating the studios, so maybe it will be a little more finished by next year. Having said that of course, the building we worked in, a giant old warehouse for drying tobacco, was a really incredible, gorgeous building in an of itself, so it was pretty magical to get to work in it, in any case!
The best part for me was getting to know Italy and oh my God, the cheese !! No but really, Fausta and her brother are really cool and beyond generous. She’s 33, he’s 30 and they are well-travelled, and cosmopolitan, so there’s a very new world/old world vibe happening there. She runs the hotel side, he runs the farm…
The area and the Masseria itself are beautiful. I was kind of curious driving in from the airport because this region is dotted with old factories and appears kind of run down and economically abandoned at first glance. But then Fausta would take us to the nearby towns and you realize Southern Italy has all of these ‘jewels’ in the form of beautiful, historic towns. Matera, Altamura, Taranto are so amazing and special ! Taranto has a really insane Archeological museum (MarTA) with TONS of amazing things, the town used to be part of Greece so there’s a lot of interesting overlapping history and fascinating objects there.
Also the beaches! We went to several beautiful ones on the Adriatic and the Ionian side!!! And the food and the coffee!! We had these long lunches and late dinners of the most amazing food !!! Most of all the people, they were so generous and adventurous and relaxed, really wonderful !
I think you would find a ton there to inspire you! And if not the pool is really lovely 🙂 I swam everyday! It was a really special time, I feel incredibly centered and peaceful after it, and I was already thinking how jealous I am going to be looking at other resident’s photos in the future !
VIOLET DENNISON’S TESTIMONY
In many ways the residency is more about learning a way of life than relocating one’s art practice. It is truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Time slowed down for me. I was mesmerized by the strange landscape where snails grew on tall grass, the soil seemed volcanic, and ancient history embedded itself in the rock. Fausta, her family and friends were so incredibly open and generous. I loved getting to know all of them. I toured many different farms and nearby towns. I learned how to weave bamboo from a local man when I stopped by his home one day. The things I experienced and learned in Italy have influenced my work greatly. I will remember that time very fondly and of course the food is incredible.
“Journal Entry #3: Italian Disco”
Excerpt of Journal Entry constructed of pvc coated brass woven into knotted binary code translated from English and Lounge Chair. I have been working on developing a series of work which translates my memoir into a binary knot code. One of the initial inspirations of this is ancient knot systems, like the Inca Quipu. Some scholars believe that Quipu was one of the first forms of binary code, which is a two symbol system used by most computers. Others have described it as one of the first versions of artificial memory. While those types of knot systems create a language to be shared, in this work the information is structural and inaccessible. The weaving here was developed and influenced by Inca, Mexican, and then Italian weaving which I learned in a nearby town during my stay.
This particular sculpture is a translation of a journal entry I wrote at the Masseria and the lounge chair is also an ode to the location. It was woven together with Italian clothing lines.
In Henry Gunderson’s pictures, there are subjects that deviate, clash and contradict, yet co-exist with one another. A slithering snail takes on the form of a framing device overlooking an expressway. A checkerboard platform shoe covered in chess pieces morphs together with a dragster to create a hybrid consumer object with the buttons of a video game controller embedded into it. A reptilian sunglass model gazes ominously in our direction. A school of camcorders are entangled in plastic six-pack rings. Various colored lamps light up a rave. The inner workings of a computer system reveal a cybernetic union of mushrooms, wires, and ants complete with hippie photo memorabilia. Gunderson’s subjects are deliberately dissonant and anti-formulaic. The image of a knotted bolt on the cover of a diagnostic statistical manual of mental disorders that is covered in oil fingerprints and titled ‘The Mechanic’ sets a tone. Does this image depict a literal entanglement of the mental process suggesting that disorder needs to be straightened out? Or, does Gunderson counteract this thought and instead ask does the ideal mind exist? Does our obsession with order and normalcy prevent us from effectively navigating the rich chaos of our experience?
The eight pictures operate idiosyncratically within their own rules and regulations, each playing its own distinct role in an arena of absurdity. Together they create a volatile dynamic like that of a dysfunctional family at a dinner table. Each one expressing distinct themes such as, time, speed, technology, excess, surveillance, psychology, branding, and conspiracy, in a democratic fashion. All these individual disparate, but coherent viewpoints have a validity and a poetry of their own. An evolutionary process fluctuating in a 24-hour cycle of progression and regression is pictured on a business card composition, ‘Same Time Tomorrow’. From ape to man and back to ape again, Gunderson provides us with no answers, only presents us with a survey of questions needed in order to analyze the chaos and absurdity of the world around us.
Did you think you could program the flowers to serve you? ▢Yes ▢No
Did you think you were large in relation to the ant? ▢Yes ▢No
Did you think that having a pet ride in the passenger seat would grant you access to the carpool lane? ▢Yes ▢No
Did you think your joyride on the expressway to oblivion would be a pleasurable experience? ▢Yes ▢No
Did you think the laws of aerodynamics did not apply to you? ▢Yes ▢No
Did you think that those shoes would be appropriate attire for the funeral? ▢Yes ▢No
Did you think that by inhabiting a body you were making some kind of a fashion statement? ▢Yes ▢No
Did you think that I would stoop so low as to be fashionable? ▢Yes ▢No
Did you think the planet you’ve been standing on was the earth? ▢Yes ▢No
Did you think you could hack into the mainframe and go undetected? ▢Yes ▢No
Did you think the current operating system was obsolete? ▢Yes ▢No
Did you think you could stare directly into the sun for guidance? ▢Yes ▢No
Did you think you could carry a rhythm with your retina? ▢Yes ▢No
Did you think new lenses would correct the damage done? ▢Yes ▢No
Did you think this was a race that could be won or lost? ▢Yes ▢No
Text by Water McBeer & Niru Ratman
MK: Your work is not narrative. Does that mean that it is basically abstract?
PS: No, not really. A woman telephoned me and asked me, “What are your paintings about?” And I said,
“Don’t worry about that now. Just be thankful they are there.” I thought about that afterwards, and that really describes to me how my paintings are about nothing. How they deal with the problem of nothing.
– Interview with Peter Schuyff by Michael Kohn from Flash Art International no. 123, 1985
‘Some of my best abstract painting were reduced to a clearly simple set of rules which I simply had to follow till the end. I have to pay a lot of attention while taking little or no responsibility.’
– Peter Schuyff in conversation with Julia Crottet, 23 March 2017
‘Other animals do not need a purpose in life. A contradiction to itself, the human animal cannot do without one. Can we not think of the aim of life as being simply to see?’
– Straw Dogs, John Gray
Carl Kostyal is proud to present the first solo show in the UK by Peter Schuyff.
Schuyff came to prominence in 1980’s New York, alongside the likes of Philip Taaffe, Peter Halley and Ashley Bickerton, part of the loosely defined ‘Neo Geo’ movement.
His signature (though not exclusive) style is a kind of proto-digital, geometric abstraction.
Three small, exquisite, watercolours (all 1986) display a quiet, crazy, monastic intensity in the precision of their invested labour – each of them a fine grid filled by incremental movements through chromatic shades and gradients of luminosity.
The same intensity and tension between the fallible human hand and the idea of mathematical perfection animates the three large, bright, beautiful oil paintings of undulating linear and square patterns (all 2017).
Undulations, carved into hefty tree trunks, ripple also, apparently effortlessly, through Schuyff’s three wooden sculptures (all 2016).
Elsewhere an extraordinary, insoluble tangle of infinite spaghetti floats expansively upon the surface of Big Gold (2011).
United by a stoner Zen aesthetic each of these works claims nothing more or less than being the thing in itself.
The pictorial alphabet of James English Leary is comprised of recurring forms enacted as monochromes of various sizes and colors. Constructed as shaped canvases, the works loosely trace the outlines of truncated four-fingered hands, which in their profusion constitute a vocabulary of gestures giving each work (along with the color) its title: Red Middle Finger, Grey Sign of the Horns, Green Pointer, Lemon Yellow Double Middle Finger, etc.
The pieces are often placed on the floor leaning against the wall and are sometimes installed upside-down or at 45 degrees as if they were turning in on themselves. The arrangement of these works does not have a predefined meaning; rather they play off of themselves, pointing and gesturing to rearrange the spaces they inhabit. Similarly, various canvases are stacked by size forming random compositions of color. These configurations are not fixed and can be changed depending on the circumstances.
It is an open language, akin to a game of signs offering a multitude of possibilities without true restrictions. Their soft appearance (there are no hard-right angles) invites an experience of semi- figuration which depending on their orientation and relations can invoke a torso, a face, breasts, or a penis and balls. Occasionally other body parts are added to the hand: a pair of lips or a nose that seem to want to escape the frame.
The palette used by Leary begins with the primary – red, yellow, blue – which, once mixed, produce ranges of violet, green and orange. The juxtaposition of colored masses and the volume of painted objects that vibrate and burst are not unrelated to the Pop Art of the design firm MEMPHIS. Leary’s forms seem equally indebted to American comic artists, like Robert Crumb, as to 3D forms conceived in a craftsman style. But it is undoubtedly in Philip Guston that we find the strongest influence. The diptych Totalitarian Bebop (2015), which depicts five hands with smoking cigarettes, is a direct reference to the master’s themes. Further influence can be seen in the use of red and pink found in Cameo (2014) and in the few works of unambiguous figuration Emo Figure (Orange and Brown heads) (2017), Emo Figure (Love Streams) (2017), and Emo Figure w/Groove (2017). The painting Emo Figure (Orange and Brown Heads), which is missing a corner and a part of the head, is not a portrait of a particular person, but a mood piece which thwarts the plan of the rest of the paintings. This figure both observes the rest of the exhibition and is woven into it.
In this puzzle of abstract figures, there is a semantic where the signified – the hand – points to what the artist creates but also to what he wishes to express beyond form:
The hand is an instrument of invention, self-expression, agency and destructive will. The hands point, signal, gesture, reach out. There are little stories you can start to project onto them (especially when they are in groups with each other) – affection, submission, protection, communication, protest. And I like that when they are piled up they become a ‘crowd’ all clamoring for attention.
One can therefore understand the title of the exhibition, Barn Burner, which refers to a radical political group of the 19th century New York Democratic Party.
Text by Nicolas Trembley
For The Third Mind artists, David Ostrowski and Jean-Marie Appriou present abstract paintings and figurative sculptures together with music by DJ and producer Anthony Linell / Abdulla Rashim at Carl Kostyál gallery in Stockholm. The 3-hour-long event marks the inauguration of the gallery’s new space located in Nacka Strand.
The project constitutes a further iteration in an ongoing series of events in which Ostrowski, electronic musicians and other visual artists participate in ambiguous formats that are neither exhibitions nor easily catagorised as collaborative performances. These events have taken place in a multitude of forms and settings ranging from an evening-long DJ set at his own studio in Cologne to a sound intervention in a two-person exhibition held at the Leopold Hoesch Museum in Düren. Most recently a two-night long music festival took place below his hovering paintings at a defunct factory building in Leipzig.
What all these different occasions have in common is that DJs and musicians perform in close spatial proximity to Ostrowski’s paintings, which in turn become vulnerable to a crowd that, fuelled by the music, might leave gallery etiquette behind. Hung above the floor (a recurring motif in the artist’s display strategies), the artworks are confronted by the profane technical infrastructure of electronic sound transmission: cables, speakers, and mixers. This decision, at first appearing to be born from technical necessity, amplifies the way these projects try to abolish a hierarchy between visual artists and musicians, which further becomes apparent in the way both are equally mentioned in the description of the event.
Artworks are usually not specifically made for the event; neither are the musicians presenting a soundscape that was directly developed in dialogue with the artist or necessarily reacts to the works on view. Instead, collaborators are given a maximum degree of autonomy, possibly leading to coincidences and misunderstandings that add to the difficulty in predicting in advance the way the event is received by the audience.
Collaborations between art and experimental and electronic music are nothing new. Since the 1960s, music has started entering the exhibition space to such a degree, its institutionalization has been paralleled by museums developing sophisticated infrastructures and techniques to accommodate the medium. Driven by an awareness of this history, in recent projects Ostrowski has reversed this by placing artworks in situations and locations which become subject to the systematic spatial organization of a club: all eyes towards the DJ booth. This leaves the visitor uncertain as to whether they attending a real club night, or bearing witness to a strategic staging of its allegedly emotional authenticity in an art context. At other times, events are set up to intentionally create an atmosphere that moves between a usual art opening accompanied by music, the respectful silence of a sound performance, or the ecstasy of a dance party.
It is through their uncertainty and openness that these projects ask about the ways in which the space shapes the experience of music, how music shapes the perception of the art, and how it has come to be immersed in the content of contemporary art.
How It’s Made brings together twenty-three artists in the inaugural exhibition at the new Carl Kostyál gallery premises in Nacka Strand, Stockholm. It takes its title from the ongoing documentary television programme, How It’s Made, which is broadcast on Discovery Channel, revealing various industrial manufacturing process of everyday consumer items.
The exhibition presents a range of artworks in a variety of mediums that reflect upon numerous art movements and current trends in artistic practice to collectively demonstrate the performative potential of materials to actively disrupt and transform fixed cultural perceptions. Exploring artistic attitudes, methods and motivations towards formal, cultural, socio-political and technological approaches within contemporary art production.
It includes Ed Atkins 19hr durational video work How It’s Made (2016), which also takes its name from the TV programme and consists solely of appropriated footage. However, unlike the original, the outcome or the visibility of the end product is consistently withheld by Atkins, intentionally denying the viewer established or prescribed procedures of reception and consumption.
Interspersed throughout the gallery are a series of geometric sculptural interventions by Nina Canell; meticulously cast from gum, the works gradually collapse from their original embodiment and are reshaped by the architecture of the building. Fluidity and the shifting context of objects is further explored by Violet Dennison, whose contribution consists of a reconfigured industrial water cooler wall mounted onto silver plated copper foil. Once ubiquitous within U.S institutions, it’s protective surface is removed to reveal a complex, fragile and arguably obsolete set of working components that are contemplative of its economy at the time of manufacture.
This formally connects to artworks by Jonathan Binet, Ayan Farah and Sergej Jensen, whom consciously reveal the economy of their making by adding and subtracting existing materials, employing a reduced aesthetic language that traces the manipulation of their respective surfaces and original material purpose. It is also evidenced in Matias Faldbakken’s assisted readymade artwork of a crudely tiled car dashboard. A fundamental component found within all vehicles that have evolved from being a protective barrier for horse-drawn carriages to become a sophisticated modem for communication, now purposely undermined and rendered impotent by his application of a ceramic skin. Other featured readymade artworks are less conspicuously altered, such as Yngve Holen’s industrially produced CT Scanner casing that intrinsically links technology with the human desire for well-being. An earlier artwork that engages with questions about the influence of consumer culture and technology upon the individual is Lynn Hershman Leeson’s pioneering video work Lynn Turning into Roberta (1978), which documents her invention and subsequent fabrication of her fictional alter-ego Roberta Breitmore. The exhibition is composed from a range of materials that manifest as painting, sculpture and video, which are connected by the shared interests of artists working today.
The exhibition preview will be preceded on the 2 December 2017 by a new site specific performance entitled The Third Mind. It will feature an installation of artworks by David Ostrowski and Jean-Marie Appriou within an electronic music soundscape by Anthony Linell aka Abdulla Rashim.
Text by Matt Williams
My Instagram feed is full of paintings. In recent weeks, they have been paintings from the Frieze Art Fair or from FIAC, or from gallery shows taking place in London or Paris at the same time as those art fairs. The images of these paintings appear on my phone at all the same size, determined by the Instagram app on my phone. They are usually taken from a respectful distance by the people who post them and the alignment is usually as horizontal as possible. The images are mostly of a whole painting rather than a detail.
My Instagram feed tells me nothing about how the paintings that appear on it have affected the viewer who makes the post. I have little idea what they felt or what happened in that moment of encounter with that painting. Instead these images tell me about the art-travels of those who have posted, or tells me which exhibitions the instagrammer has visited. The images signal to me that the instagrammers are people who diligently seek out interesting exhibitions, look at works and have the ability to discern between bad works, which don’t get posted and good works that deserve a post of their own.
There are a number of paradoxes at work on these images of paintings on my Instagram feed. Over a hundred years ago, painting started to become more difficult to look at and describe. This was when modern art turned away from the attempt to represent the world the artist could see in what was thought to be a realistic way. Paintings that were deemed most worthy of critical attention turned towards abstraction or avant-garde strategies that moved them away from being mere representations of the world in front of the painter. Shepherds and hillsides and portraits of aristocrats no longer held critical interest. Sophisticated viewers of art did not look at paintings for their representation content – they did not look at Picasso’s Les Demoiselles D’Avignon to get an accurate representation of what French prostitutes looked like in the early decades of the twentieth century, or if they did, they were making a mistake in doing so.
Yet, bizarrely, representation has returned to contemporary painting although not as the triumphant return of representational painting, but instead in the way the encounter with paintings is rendered in a straightforwardly representational way – in the way that this moment is presented on Instagram. The painting on the walls of my instagrammers posts might or might not be representational themselves, but the representation of them is flattened out, reduced to the same size, presented in the same dreary narrative of uniformity. All those avant-gardes, all those manifestos, all those statements about the triviality of representation carelessly blown apart by an app. Swipe down for the end of the modernist painting.
Gina Beavers’ paintings resist this careless, conservative dismantling of modernist, avant-garde and later strategies in painting through a very simple strategy – they depict something that is flat, that is Instagram posts, in a way that is insistently not flat. The paintings are three dimensional reliefs, with contours, edges and bits which stick out from the canvas. Her works insist on physicality, on the actual encounter between a viewer and an object on a wall, not the representation of that encounter. Her subject matter tends to be drawn from popular genres of Instagram – ‘food porn’ for example. Yet she renders these generic Instagram images, sometimes with their generic layouts from popular Instagram-related apps, in a way that works against their previous status as generic Instagram images because their three-dimensionality means something very simple: they are almost impossible to conventionally Instagram in an accurate way.
At the heart of modernist painting was resistance. This sometimes took the form of a resistance to a literal reading of the painting, or a resistance in terms of an avoidance or negation of subject matter. There was a resistance to straightforward consumption. The high moment of abstraction, Malevich’s black square, does not look like a perfect black square. It looks like a cracked, painted black square. These are works that insist on their status as paintings first and foremost and this entails the act of looking, of standing in front of these objects in order to see what affect they have on you. There is resistance when there is nothing easy to hang onto, or to interpret, noting that is a straightforward representation. But now that unthinking representation has emerged again in the screens of our devices, how then to resist? Instagram this, Beavers’ paintings seem to say, and after all, why wouldn’t you? These are the very images that have been popular with Instagrammers – food porn, make-up tips, body art. But there’s a twist. With their insistence on their three-dimensionality and their insistence on the moment of encounter, the paintings are saying something slightly different: Instagram this, and fail.
My Instagram feed is full of paintings, and each of those images fails those paintings. For Beavers, this is a starting point.
Text by Niru Ratnam
An early title for this show was going to be 1-888-NYC-Well, that’s the number for the depression hotline in New York where I live, making these works was like dialing that number and feeling better every time.
When I first saw the Carl Kostyál space, I thought immediately of Sherlock Holmes’s library but the green floor in that wood paneled room also reminded me of images I had seen of the first tennis courts, paneled rooms that eventually gave way to grass green surfaces.
I went to buy birthday balloons and in the midst of all the pink, purple and brightly colored festive Mylar, helium balloons, there was one clearly designated for boys, with soccer balls, basketballs and baseballs on it, on a blue and white background.
I scrawled ‘tennis ball yellow’ as an instruction on a photo/sketch for my assistant Rachel, and she showed me how she mixes it, with light cadmium yellow and a touch of viridian green. This was a revelation to me, I would have tried yellow with little black, which would have been too muddy and dark, her combo makes a very accurate, vibrant hue.
I learned from an article in the Sun* that tennis balls used to be white, the contrast of the white ball against the dark grass worked well on black and white TV, but with the advent of color television, viewers found the white balls hard to make out. Different hues of bright, neon balls were tested and a greenish yellow ball was settled on in 1972. Side note, the All England club adopted this version of the ball in 1986.
I used to have a mean backhand, although I couldn’t make the tennis team in high school. I would be winning a match and then choke. It’s really true when people say tennis is a mental game.
-Gina Beavers, Brooklyn, NY 2017
*Newton, J. (2017, July 6). NEW BALLS PLEASE This is surprising reason why Wimbledon tennis balls are yellow…and how they were very nearly neon pink. The Sun. Retrieved from https://www.thesun.co.uk
Gina Beavers lives and works in New York City. She holds a BA in Studio Art and Anthropology from the University of Virginia (1996), an MFA in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2000) and an MS in Education from Brooklyn College (2005).
She creates paintings and installations from photos culled from the Internet and social media and rendered in high acrylic relief. Series include paintings based on the creative realms of body painting, social media user’s photos of their meals, make-up tutorials, memes, and body builder selfies.
Gina has exhibited solo projects at GNYP (Berlin), Frieze (New York 2016), Michael Benevento (Los Angeles), Clifton Benevento (New York), Retrospective (Hudson, NY), Fourteen30 (Portland, Or), James Fuentes (New York), Nudashank (Baltimore, MD), and Material Art Fair (Mexico City). She has participated in numerous group shows, among them, MoMA PS1 (Long Island City, NY), Lumber Room (Portland, Or), Kentucky Museum of Contemporary Art (Louisville, KY), Nassau County Museum of Art (Long Island, NY), Flag Art Foundation (New York), William Benton Museum of Art (Storrs, Ct), Abrons Art Center (New York), Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York), Cheim and Read (New York), JTT (New York), Canada Gallery (New York), Valentin (Paris), Galerie Opdahl (Norway), and Night Gallery (Los Angeles). Her work has been reviewed in the New York Times, Artforum, Frieze, the New Yorker and Modern Painters, among others.
This Frieze luxury book publisher Assouline will collaborate with art-world power couple, Simon & Michaela de Pury and Carl Kostyál to present a curated show of never before seen works by Austin Lee. The exhibition, launching on 2nd October and running until 14th October, will be hosted at Maison Assouline.
Maison Assouline is a one-of-a-kind ‘culture concept’ store, located in the heart of Piccadilly, and has firmly established itself within the London scene. It has become a sanctuary of culture and style for Londoners, making it the perfect place to host this year’s most exciting Frieze London show. The store will host a curated selection of art installations, sculptures and paintings chosen by the de Purys and Carl Kostyál which will be displayed throughout the Grade II listed building by Edwin Lutyens.
Simon de Pury comments, “We are thrilled to be exhibiting new work by Austin Lee. He is an exciting young artist whose work is already being collected by some major collectors around the world. We are very happy to collaborate on this with our friend Carl Kostyál and are most grateful to Prosper Assouline for lending us his spectacular building on Piccadilly. It is one of my favourite houses built by the great architect Edwin Lutyens.”
The exhibition ‘Alight’ will showcase a new sculpture and paintings by American contemporary artist Austin Lee. Lee is an internationally recognised artist based in New York and is famed for his playful, airbrushed acrylics that illustrate the experience of living life through screens in the traditional medium of painting. Lee creates drafts of his idiosyncratic pictures on an iPad, transferring them to paintings and drawings using airbrush and conventional painting techniques.
Together with the exhibition Lee will also launch the second edition of his book, “SPHERES” and a corresponding App. Readers can discover Austin Lee’s work and process with the app using augmented reality. The publication Spheres is the creative documentation of a close collaboration between Austin Lee and the editor, graphic designer Philippe Karrer.
Prosper Assouline comments, “We are delighted to be partnering with de Pury de Pury and Carl Kostyál to bring Maison Assouline, our culture concept store, alive for Frieze London this year”
The exhibition will be open 7 days a week, 10am to 8pm with free entry from 2-14 October at Maison Assouline, 196A Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1J 9EY.
She used to be great. She’s still very beautiful. I moved on her, actually. Sheesh, your girl’s hot as shit. In the purple. No that’s her, in the gold.
– Donald Trump and Billy Bush
The word Red means something known to everyone, and in addition for each person it means something known only to (her).
I wanted to make pictures of my friend Tracy. I’ve known and photographed her for 10 years. There are ways that women are tied together.
Tracy’s image is combined with other things –perfume bottles, pantyhose, colour grids. There is a lot that you already know about these pictures. Objects are familiar – the name of a brand, the particular tones of makeup, the look of a historical photograph. I started with things that belong to many people. This is, in part, about things as they’ve been standardized; how someone else decides what you get. What will the shape of a perfume bottle be? What red will film reproduce? Who is present on screens and in texts? Nothing is an accident. Some parts are more mysterious – images of women doing everyday tasks, a stranger blowing bubbles in three different photographs, some unnamed wrestlers wearing bikinis in a set of snapshots. Real life has a way of refusing standards.
Sometimes it feels like everyone owns a woman’s face. “Smile, girl” and such. I have watched this woman navigate her beauty since we were young. A woman’s body is often defined by her face, and the image of the woman’s face is everywhere, as a portrait or a cover girl. The image becomes a possession; it belongs to everybody else.[i]
You said colour is feminine, connected to the body, to the sentimental.[ii] Colour can turn the mind from its course.[iii] The colour is here right in front of me, but can I convey it to you? Dutchess Tan. Morocco Gold. Snowcrest Green. Tangerine. Certain colours evoke certain times. Women’s work and women’s things. Who is at the center of vision here? For whom does the world simply open up? A new thing must eclipse each old one, as long as everything is going well:[iv] a moment of ambivalent girliness[v], a mouth that makes you think more about your own, pink noise, pink collar ghetto, spectacle of the blonde. The elegant woman, pink comb: I accept everything. I face the universe of objects. The future, design, credit. Most likely there will be normal wear and tear. Every possession is an extension of the self.[vi] Who owns the way you look?
She poses with such irony. It’s like she has internalised 29 years of her own representation and tosses it back at the viewer. You learn to rearrange your face.
I was thinking too of getting tricked by something or seduced by something, of giving in. As if it was bad. Isn’t it nice to be seduced?
This show is about Tracy. I wanted her to cut across the frame the same way in every picture. She wears her own clothes – a sort of ambiguously dated high fashion office wear. The last time we made pictures she chose 80’s pastel makeup for our shoot. In some of the photos she poses on the color grids found in darkroom manuals, used as studio backdrops. A woman floating on a grid. Where is she exactly?
It’ s rare to find a true muse, and, if we’re talking about who owns what, this is hers as well, not just mine.
– Sara Cwynar, 2017
[i] Stewart, Susan. On Longing. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1993. Print.
[ii] Blanc, Charles. The Grammar of Painting and Engraving. New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1874. Print.
[iv] Groys, Boris. On the New. New York and London: Verso, 2014. Print.
[vi] Baudrillard, Jean. The System of Objects. Verso, 1996. Print.
A split-level thickness graft involves the removal of the top two layers of the skin, the epidermis and the dermis. These layers are taken from the donor site where the healthy skin is located.
Figured Grounds: Meshworks is a continuation of a practice engaged in systems that interrogate the part-to-whole relation, specifically in relation to the breakdown of socio-political, economic and semiotic orders. Using latex, painting, collage and drawing as formal material devices to understand the conditions of growth, decay and emergence. Treating semiotic content as mutable material respectively. Emergence is a phenomenon that occurs when a larger whole comes into being through simple local interactions between smaller parts that do not exhibit the same properties. Via repetitive simple forms such as a hand painted grid, rectangular moulds or other repeating formats something other occurs that is not consciously intended or anticipated. Spatial contexts too affect the outcome of how these emergent properties manifest and act as parameters for a potentially ever expanding spread.
Using the found fragment as the genesis or kernel of growth, this fragment is that which disturbs the figure/ground relation, being that which is neither; a third element – both expelled and integral to the formation of a field/system.
Concepts of figure, ground, surface, and depth switch between and layer abstract schemas onto the literal field of the body, that which stands for the societal field, the Real, affects, the outside of measure, the Other. The violence of this superimposition of measure or abstraction onto this once ambiguous body to control the social field via exclusion and limit its potential for the emergence of new forms.
Meshworks, connective tissues, extra cellular matrices become a bodily metaphor to envision a social fabric that does not limit itself to dichotomies.
A means to re-insert, re-assert the excluded body, bodies without representation, states, existing on the border of signification and affect where generative capacities lie.
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
No season is more ridden with clichés than summer, and summer shows are rarely an exception, with their curious mix of pretty landscapes, still-life flower arrangements and portraits of famous people, elected by a jury of academy members (or famous people). Even for nineteenth century painter John Constable, known for his Romantic renderings of English country life, the Royal Academy’s annual exhibition represented
“the time of year when the devil comes and spews art over London.”
Subverting a traditional summer show, this exhibition brings together 40 artists whose work turns conventional aesthetics on its head, and locates a new kind of convulsive, rebellious beauty. It is a beauty that dares to reveal the grotesquery of fine art, makes no rigid distinctions between the digital and the “real”, and uncovers the dormant beauty of the vulgar and the popular. Here the normal rules of society are suspended,
so that other systems of meaning can emerge.
It is in such spirits that Carl Kostyál, Stockholm, has the pleasure of welcoming you to our most sinister summer show yet.
With light, I can come round the object in front of me, but its dimensions, revealing themselves through movement, are transitional, continuous and intangible. With the help of light projection, I can record these transitional dimensions, I can project them onto each other and I can connect these light profiles or shadow profiles with seemingly no image with my imagination. The mystical and often incomprehensible light section of the object originates from the object and the lighting device, which refers, in this form, to a sort of situation constructed in advance. The plastic reality, the light-shadow reality of the projection on the transparent discs fostered the observation and the description of the endless line of unknown visual effects and opened up the endless possibility of shaping/framing before me.
Ferenc Ficzek, 1978
It was in hundreds of photographs blown up on Dokubrom paper that Ferenc Ficzek recorded these visual effects, eventually casting them back on the projection screen and re-recording the multi-layered image obtained through this process of transposing space, planes and time on each other.
Ferenc Ficzek’s life was short but prolific. Over a decade of his artistic production Ficzek was associated with the Pécs Workshop, developing in the 1969-1980 period in the eponymous southern Hungarian city known as the cradle of the Bauhaus movement, and hometown of Marcel Breuer, Andor Weininger, Farkas Molnár and Victor Vasarely. The group, composed of Ferenc Ficzek (1947-1987), Károly Halász (1946-2016), Károly Kismányoky (b. 1943), Sándor Pinczehelyi (b. 1946) and Kálmán Szíjártó (b. 1946), crystallized around the figure of Ferenc Lantos (1929-2014). As an artist and professor he shaped their vision and sowed and nurtured classical geometry in their plastic thinking. Under his direction and instructions, the young artists first stuck to classical media such as painting and graphic works. Lantos’s visual and media influence is evident in Ficzek’s early graphic pieces created in 1968-1969, in which he primarily studied the means of representation and spatial construction. Placing neon grids, geometric elements, perforated sheets as well as metalworking items on cardboard, he would spray them repeatedly with printing ink, while rearranging them on the board during the process. The resulting montage-like graphic works obtained by overlapping layers of negative prints attest to the strong influence of László Moholy-Nagy’s Light Space Modulator (1922-1930) in terms of construction, composition, light, shadow, and use of colours. Ficzek’s works announced a constructivist geometrical period that was to materialize in his later enamel pieces. They also marked the beginning of a career-long effort to explore the relation between the object/subject of representation and its image. Under the influence of the work and thought of Hungarian artist, writer and poet Lajos Kassák, Ficzek explored representation of space as connected to the realm of reality.
The focal point of Ferenc Ficzek’s practice was the duality of light and shadow. Often working with projections and sprayed paintings, Ficzek studied the changing plastic quality of geometric and organic shapes and varying light conditions in his compositions. Turning to animation in the 1980’s, he then created lyrical, expressive montages and monochrome reliefs at the end of his career.
One day, long ago, I was with a scarab. Whilst looking at the shades of a tree, I became a burning cigarette, while a speeding car wheel on the road turned into a mooncake dangling in the night sky.
Another day on earth, elsewhere, a whole city is made from glass.
We heard a story from someone, and told it to another person, the story becomes another story.
- Walking along the river bank, there must be some yellow blossoms growing somewhere.
- The world has always been a new-born. We live on the tip of the stems of a tree that has been growing for centuries.
- A face overlaps with another face, until we can’t remember what it looks like.
- Standing on the corner of a street, listening to the city broadcast looping Op.48 from dusk to late night, everyday.
- Three men got lost and met a wild boar.
- The concept of communication isn’t better than the concept of information.
- We touch the sunset with a glass in between, the equator sets us apart.
- Don’t look for the ends, keep walking along the highway, there’s torrential rain at the end of every month.
- Extinct volcanoes are affecting the emotions of a girl, winding roads drape down like a hanging belt.
- The highway became congested, then it became clear again, moving in relentless cycles.
- Bees and orchids wander through the alphabet, swirls in the river swept away the information, and then they turned into a pink nose.
- Only in a foreign land can one remember himself. It’s another long story.
One day, long ago, I was with a chameleon. Whilst looking at the shades of a tree, I became a lake, and the speeding car wheel on the road turned into a leopard.
Another day on earth, elsewhere, a whole city is made from glass.
There’s a giant radio in the city looping Op.48 from dusk to late night, everyday.
Everyone speaks Thai.
Butter, asphalt, a solidifying agent.
I stand on the tip of the road, people pass by me, with pairs of red, black, glass and iron eyes.
In the dusk, they reflect vibrant rays of dark grey, which is so extraordinarily beautiful. This beauty delights me.
Happiness turns the city into an eyeball. It follows people’s movements, it never stops for a second.
Sometimes, an eye starts to cry, so the sky begins to rain. The rain churns in other eyes, then it falls into the converging rivers, and finally blends with the teardrop of a crocodile.
Other times, another eye starts to cry, and the sky begins to rain. The rain patters upon the firmament, people then become the screws living in a snare drum, floating; trembling.
There are always times when our eyelids set the city apart, and we’re no longer sure which is on the inside and which is on the outside. Rain continues to fall, but it doesn’t fall onto the ground. Raindrops are suspended in the air, gleaming, and so the stars turn transparent.
Everything is quiet in the rain. Passion runs out. We become the coordinates of this city, the parameters of surrounding things, as if we were in some kind of game, and every step that we take would change its order.
The city after the rain smells of elephants. Silvery roofs and heights of the railings are arrayed into tight circles, leaping from one to another. An upset, faceless sandstorm that comes from the centre turns into a sketch.
“The jungle I see it full of obscenity; the nature here is vile… I see nothing erotic here, I would see fornication and asphyxiation and choking and fighting for survival.”
Werner Herzog, My Best Fiend, 1982
Henry Hudson’s new body of work Sun City Tanning is set in what looks initially like a tropical paradise featuring plants of vivid colours overlaying each other. On closer inspection, however, these are landscapes of almost suffocating density. They are scenes of over-abundance, where the hallucinogenic qualities of many of plants depicted seem to have been already imbibed by the viewer. Paradise, it seems, is not quite all that it might appear at first sight. Here, Hudson takes on the awe-inspiring subject of botany, observing the constant struggle for survival in the life of plants as well as hinting at shamanic rituals of spiritual healing. These nature paintings, while figurative, offer an abstract investigation into the artist’s philosophy of transgression and transcendence.
From his studio in East London, Hudson assembled large imagined tropical environments drawn from a wide range of sources, including photographs taken during visits to Kew Gardens, internet images and historical books of botanical illustration. By having never set foot in the jungle, Hudson draws similarities to the practice of French Post-Impressionist Henri Rousseau. The heaviness of the imagery is underscored by a different, physical heaviness. Hudson has become known for his use of the children’s play material, plasticine, melting layers and placing them on top of each other to create works. He builds the layers of plasticine up to the point that the wall-based works hover somewhere between paintings and sculpture. These are works that insist on their object-hood. They have a distinct aroma that signals that they are clearly not paintings in a conventional sense. Yet equally as with Hudson’s previous ‘paintings’ the layers of plasticine are constructed in a way to give the convincing appearance of the heavy impasto of expressionist painting. There is a tension here that relates to the founding myth of expressionism – that with free strokes of a brush, the artist could convey inner-truths. Hudson’s works gesture to that idealised freedom whilst being painstakingly constructed.
With this body of work, Hudson continues to make playful use of storytelling maintained within his practice, using the jungle as an allegory of the human condition. It is worth noting that Hudson’s method of making the works differs from what is stated on his own Wikipedia page. Willingly blurring the boundaries between reality and fiction, the artist negotiates topics of anxiety, trauma and repair by approaching them from the point of view of social scientist, exorcist and healer, inviting comparisons to Joseph Beuys who, likewise, turned injury into fable and used a variety of mediums to propose magical strategies of healing.
There is a positive, almost cheery engagement with the history of modern art that suggests Hudson wants to productively deal with the misrecognitions and self- fashioning that underpin that history but in a way that accepts assumptions and little deceptions. Hudson’s work demonstrates that in the end, the legacy of modernism will take the most unexpected and unusual forms.
Shown alongside the paintings will be a collection of hand coiled ceramic pots, made in collaboration with the artist’s brother Richard WM Hudson. These tricolour, painted vessels, organ-like in appearance, will be comparable to carnivorous plants. The vessels also refer to sacred cups employed in shamanism, ayahuasca ritual and ceremony.
Henry Hudson’s playful narratives, imagined or otherwise, will reveal a true exploration into the artist’s medium and his craft. For the first time Hudson will experiment with mixing his own colour pigments. With nature as his subject, he will traverse techniques hitherto unexplored in his practice.
This series acts to transport the viewer into other realms. While offering a humorous metaphysical enquiry into human behaviour and endeavour, expanding upon themes of human enquiry and transgression, the common thread running through the oeuvre of this exciting artist.
Henry Hudson (b.1982, UK) lives and works in London. He has had solo exhibitions at galleries that include Sotheby’s S2 Gallery (New York), Sotheby’s S2 Gallery (London), Sir John Soane’s Museum (London), Carl Kostyál Gallery (London), 20 Hoxton Square Projects (London). His work has been written about in publications that include The New York Times, The Telegraphy Magazine and The Wall Street Journal.
Richard WM Hudson (b.1980, UK) lives and works between London and The Yorkshire Dales National Park. Hudson’s contemporary ceramics are included in the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. His work has been exhibited throughout Europe, most recently in a solo exhibition at The Hartnoll and Daughter Gallery in Mayfair, London. His work has been reviewed by art world figures including Greville Worthington and Patrick Dingwall.
A catalogue published by Kaleidoscope will accompany the exhibition, containing essays by Niru Ratnam, David Risley and Austin Lee.
Abstractions that conceal motifs
Imre Bak was born in 1939 in Budapest, Hungary. It is that date, and that place and the history of art in eastern Europe and its relationship to the wider politics of Hungary, its geographic region and its conversations with the west, that provides a method of examining a body of work and activities that span nearly fifty years. But no art is just an illustration of a time, a place and a political situation, well, no art of interest. That is the job of news footage and history classes. Art, and in this case painting, does something else.
Imre Bak’s painting though does have a history. The structure, hard lines and shadowless colours come from travels and conversations, movements and dialogues and the simple acts of seeing art outside of his own country in the Soviet era, in particular after the increase of restrictions following the uprising against the Russian invasion of Budapest in October and November of 1956, where 2,500 Hungarian citizens died and many eventually fled the country.
The movement that took Bak from a local conversation to a more universal one, from dark abstraction to a rigorous conceptual language, as in Portrait, 1972, where four squares appear, each containing a word: ear, eye, mouth, nose, or Sky, Field, River, 1973, where three bars form a landscape, and on to the hard-edged bands of unbroken colour. These are shifts where politics do play a part, as once the commercial gallery system is removed, and state doesn’t support the exhibition of works, the pace changes, concentration changes and audiences of peers and the curious develop in different ways. Imre Bak was part of the Iparterv group after the war, with other Hungarian artists including Ilona Keserü, László Lakner, Sándor Molnár and István Nádler. In the late sixties they showed in the Iparterv State Architectural Office in Budapest which was open to public viewing and discussion.
Carl Kostyál is presenting the first solo show of Imre Bak in the UK. The artist is showing eight paintings made between 1968 and 2005. At first glance, they recall the work of the New York-based artist Peter Halley (b. 1953), with whom Bak has exhibited and conversed: squares of block colour, a possible relation to a diagrammatic or scientific illustration of something in the real world or an explanation of a theory. But to view Baks work on the purely pictorial level is limiting, like looking at two paintings of clouds and discussing relative levels of moisture and air temperature. Imre Bak’s practice has a strict set of rules, like a written language of grammar and spelling, but within these rules he has a limitless set of possibilities.
Imre Bak has exhibited widely, in Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary and the USA since 1966, and his works are in many public collections, including Tate Modern, London, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, MUMOK, Vienna, Musée d’Art Contemporain, Lyon, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest.
Text by Darren Flook
In a superficial world, a person who combined hardcore punk and academic seminars, Hölderlin and house music, skateboarding and contemporary art would probably be characterized as ”full of contradictions”. In a more serious world, where music, thinking and art are more than cultural signposts and where the term ”interests” is too tame and weak, all these things are naturally connected. This was the world of Peter Amdam, the very mode of existence of a dear friend and colleague who passed away early this summer and whose memory we celebrate with this exhibition.
Peter Amdam was a musician, DJ, art critic, editor, curator and literary scholar with a particular love of philosophy, aesthetics and the history of ideas. He was an international figurehead in the so-called straight-edge genre, as the driving force of the bands Onward, Sportswear and For Pete’s Sake. He was an editor at Natt og Dag, a regular contributor to Kunstkritikk.no and a host of other publications and – during the past five years – also increasingly engaged in organizing exhibition projects, often in collaboration with Carl Kostyál gallery.
The immediate framework of Peter’s curatorial projects was often a philosophical concept of the kind that might do the dirty work of clearing away the received ideas that typically surround artistic practices, so as to open up for more open-ended modes of reception. Thus, the 2011 exhibition project named A Science of Friendship explicitly distanced itself from the notion that artistic collaboration is all about shared ideas or affinities – a way of thinking that too easily reduces collective work to a concept of identity and identification, agreement on some theme or concept. In contrast, the suggestion that there might be such a thing as a ”science” of friendship placed emphasis what is necessarily unthought and unknown in any collaborative undertaking. Whatever took place in the artistic exchanges between Matias Faldbakken, Gardar Eide Einarsson and Sebastian Helling would have to be discovered and described post-factum. The curator himself was certainly not going to provide any explanations, beyond outlining a certain logic of search and discovery.
A similar ethos informed projects like Awaiting Immanence (2013) and The Medium of Intensity (2013/14); the latter focused on distinctly non-emotional forms of painting whose impact derived from accessing organizational resources beyond that of human subjectivity. By evoking the pressing reality of today’s ubiquitous digital networks, Peter tried to draw attention to the way in which artistic activity would necessarily have to be thought of in terms of the new modes of sensing, produced in a realm where technical speeds far outpace the capacities of human perception, as well as the various diffuse vitalities that run through it. In Peter’s vision, the abstract nature of the work of artists like Alfred Boman, Jana Euler, John Henderson, David Ostrowski and Lucie Stahl, Fredrik Værslev, Klara Lidén, Adam McEwen and Hanna Lidén was above all an effect of close associations with a new range of non-human operators rather than with a rejection of visual representation. The topic was pursued in Life Within Such Limits (2015), where works by Yngve Holen, Katja Novitskova, Pamela Rosenkranz and Timur Si-Qin were aligned with the strange new conceptions of life that arise in a networked world where matter can no longer be seen as inert and passive.
But beyond these intellectual ground operations, Peter’s curatorial work was above all driven by a curious and impatient spirit, a mind and eye automatically drawn to difficulty and difference, the romantic beauty of all sorts of eloquent refusals and arrested significations. In many ways, and as unfashionable as that may sound, he was the ultimate aesthete – at least if by that word we do not mean the cultivation of certain cultural givens but by an endless, clued-in sensation-seeking, whether visual, musical, or literary. If he had little patience with the pedagogical atmosphere that often accompanies institution-critical art practices, he was actively attuned to the politics of sensation and the various cultural movements it brought about. No one seriously schooled in punk, house and techno could ever see the forces of sensation as something merely abstract, and in many ways one could say that Peter translated his longstanding experience with the mobilizing power of noises, beats and rhythmic patterns to the field of art. He knew fully well that aesthetic escape plans are always specific and located, always grounded in some existing scenario. He might have been a romantic, but certainly not of the naïve kind.
At once a homage and a farewell party, For Pete’s Sake brings together a number of the artists Peter admired and collaborated with.
Written by Ina Blom
Charles Harlan is a New York based sculptor, born in 1984 in Georgia, USA and this will be his first solo show in the UK where he will be taking over the two main spaces of Carl Kostyál’s London gallery. Harlan uses found or industrial materials such as stones, bricks, wire fencing or, in the case of this show, old iron baths. He has had solo shows in New York (including JTT, Karma and Venus Over Manhattan) and Belgium (Rodolphe Janssen) and has been in too many group shows to list here, but they include locations such as David Zwirner, NY, Atlanta Contemporary Art Centre, Martos Gallery (curated by Bob Nickas), Socrates Sculpture Park (curated by Hans Ulich Obrist) and Maccarone, NY.
There is a word that comes up in a conversation between Charles Harlan and Carol Bove (published in Flash Art, Jan 2016) that I had to look up, the word was koan.
noun…a paradoxical anecdote or riddle without a solution, used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and provoke enlightenment.
My favorite koans are the ones that end with some poor monk getting slapped. Because so much of Zen relies on negating learned understanding, we have to ask the master what is left after everything has been negated. The master replies with a slap, which is neither affirmation or negation, but pure experience and pure understanding. The slap is a way to break through mediated experience into enlightenment, which seems like a good aspiration for art making.
There are two ways I think of looking at the work of Charles Harlan, one is as a sculptor from a certain lineage, the works are often large, heavy, simple and at times brutal; four closed garage doors forming a monochromatic cube in field. A wire fence that has had a tree grow through it over years, literally cut from where it grew and placed in a gallery. A huge metal tube, and nothing else, filling an entire gallery space on the Lower East Side. The work looks beautiful, thoughtful, physical and, in a way timeless.
Harlan also has another, side, one that the viewer can either engage with or not, the stories, ideas, connections and journeys that form the DNA of the finished works.
The current show for example grows from an interest in the obelisk-dome duality found in architecture, think of towers and church domes in the same city square, found in every city from Rome to London to Washington DC.
As Harlan says:
The obelisk, with its obviously phallic form, is associated with ancient Egypt, while the womblike dome is from ancient Rome.
Essentially, in some of the most important places all over the world, from the Vatican to D.C. is an architectural innuendo that suggests [sex]… the deeper meaning, beyond the crass juxtaposition of the two forms, is the alchemical idea of transmutation. The idea is that these monuments create a sort of divine hermaphrodite vibe on a mass scale, reconciling polarities.
Which brings me back to the slap in the koan I guess.
Text by Darren Flook
‘I have been preoccupied with puritan form for decades,’ Tibor Gáyor wrote in 2006. The artist, who was born in Rákospalota, Hungary in 1929, graduated in architecture from the technical university in Budapest and had his first solo art exhibition while living in Vienna in 1964. Working both with paper and on canvas, and in dialogue with Hungarian (among them his wife Dóra Maurer) and international artists (such as the late François Morellet) he became well-known for serial collages exploring tectonic concepts and, later, a 15-year series of systemic-analytic works, that, among other things, involved the imposition of operative rules on a 4×4 grid in order to generate planar and three-dimensional formations. Serialisation, variability, regulation, systems and the intellectual research therein were his leitmotifs in works that displayed a clarity of thought and execution, while often producing visually rich and spatially provocative results: chiefly the illusion of three dimensionality. ‘Folding a grey canvas painted white on one side, cutting it up more mathematico, turning it inside out and then letting it hang freely haunted me like an adventure in self-regulated form genesis,’ he later said of a ‘very systematic’ series begun in 1986.
Around 2000, however, Gáyor’s output began to take an unexpected shift towards colourful installations that seemed to have little to do with the systematic approaches for which he had become known. Among these new works is Lares et Penates, which evokes Roman domestic deities (markers of personal, intimate space), rather than an operation or a mathematics (impersonal, abstract space) as many of Gáyor’s previous titles had done. It features blue, red and yellow pyramids attached to the walls (upon which are also inscribed the constituent components of a Roman house: atrium, tablinum etc) or placed on the floor, which, in its original incarnation, was itself scattered with dried lavender flowers and autumn leaves – a mixture of fragrance and decay – a mark of sensual pleasure and the passing of time, and an attempt to find a certain humanity in abstract or conceptual constructs. In particular, the work marks an embrace of the notion that the viewer might feel as well as understand what is going on in the work. It marks a moment where the divine abstraction becomes human.
Lares et Penates was first installed in a white-cube space at the Fészek Artists Club in Budapest, which had been set up in 1901 ‘to promote social contacts of artists, so that the groups up till now dispersed can meet in a common, warm nest, and they could serve the Art by means of communication and by an enriching interchange of ideas’. One can’t help but think that it’s these values that much of Gáyor’s later work evokes.
Dóra Maurer will have a simultaneous exhibition, organised by Katharine Kostyál, at White Cube Mason’s Yard, London SW1Y 6BU. Titled 6 out of 5, the exhibition will include early works from the 1970s and paintings from the 1990s and 2000s, among them two major new wall installations. The exhibition runs 24 May – 9th July, with a private view on Monday 23rd May, 6-8pm.
Snobs Doing Their Jobs
Born poor in a rich country.
Born rich in a poor country.
Lord have mercy, have mercy on my soul, can’t remember when I saw my soul the last time…if ever. But whatever, have mercy on my inner UFO.
Here we see the new arts: pics and stuff in rooms. So the question at hand is, is it any good? Is it any bad? etc. It’s all up to you. You can dump it in any niche bracket you choose, feel free.
Hate to break it to you, but we artists in general are scum: self-centered, lazy, delusional, egomaniac, piggy-backers, depressed slimeballs, semi-sociopathic social climbing whores. Irresponsible, greedy giant baby trust-funders. Magnetic dust meeting the most obvious criteria they’ve got in front of them.
Mummy or daddy’s special child.
And look at you now with your big boy pants on, getting a taste of that sweet success. All those hours of whatever you did wrong are paying off. A real cultural entrepreneur, within the higher discourses, of course. Oh you really can do it all.
And NO you are NOT a Marxist, you simply don’t know what you are doing and obviously have got too much time on your hands.
Respect is just a word gangbangers use as an excuse to terrorize their communities, most people would rather be peed upon than to be lonely
Give me a cup of coffee and a bullet to my dome. Oh wait probably someone took a bullet to the dome somewhere along the line in making that very package of coffee, will you drink it? Of course you will. I try to go with every other cup fair-trade to keep the body count down, I’m vain like that.
I like art that looks smart.
Don’t forget to eat your greens and brush your teeth.
This show was made in Iraq.
Thanks for taking your time.
“Here we have a man whose job it is to gather the day’s refuse in the capital. Everything that the big city has thrown away, everything it has lost, everything it has scorned, everything it has crushed underfoot he catalogues and collects. He collates the annals of intemperance, the capharnaum of waste. He sorts things out and selects judiciously: he collects like a miser guarding a treasure. Refuse which will assume the shape of useful or gratifying objects between the jaws of the goddess of industry’.
In this exhibition Jon Rafman presents a selection of video work in a series of immersive installations. In his recently completed Betamale Trilogy, Rafman mines video games, virtual landscapes, and the deep corners of the web for images, text and footage which he collages together to produce poetic narratives that critically engage with the aesthetics and subcultures of online communities.Still Life (Betamale) (2013) plunges us into the depths of obsessions and transgressions, as the film assembles an unsettling parade of still images, photos, and videos that form a kind of collective crie-de-cœur of online subcultures. Mainsqueeze (2014) continues this exploration, discovering in their arcane obsessions a means of capturing contemporary experience. As ironic detachment alternates with earnest confession, narratives of redemption are evoked but nipped in the bud. In Erysicthon (2015), Rafman extends his examination the depth of human desires through the visual metaphors of data flow.
In Rafman’s most recent film. tangible experience further intersects with imaginary scenarios .Featuring a cast of over 35 children and developed in collaboration with Daniel Lopatin (a.k.a.Oneohtrix Point Never), the video brings to life a fantastical world in which characters are on a quest, battling for dominance and in a race against time to archive past histories. Inspired by the costumes, staging and extended improvised narratives of Live Action Role Play (LARP) and DIY cultures, the video reflects the vivid, often violent world of children’s imaginations and games, as well as extending Rafman’s ongoing investigation into the nature of memory and the horror of data loss.
Alongside the video installations, Rafman will be presenting work from his image series, You are Standing in an Open Field. Examining our idealized visions and our inescapable physicality, the images feature a set of computer desktop tableaux in which the sitting subject has disappeared from view but can be recognized through a topography of corporeal detritus. The domestic and the discarded meet the majestic and the terrifying. Historically-situated, these works are at once portraits, landscape paintings and present-day still-lives, as well as portals into the virtual sublime
Robots are made of flesh:
Notes on Matteo Callegari’s work
By Nicola Trezzi
There is no such thing as either man or nature now, only a process that produces the one within the other and couples the machines together. Producingmachines, desiringmachines everywhere, schizophrenic machines, all of species life: the self and the nonself, outside and inside, no longer have any meaning whatsoever.❄
The mysteries and labors of Matteo Callegari’s practice shed light on pivotal issues dominating images’ (and painting’s) relationship to the construction of reality. His work encapsulates a specific position, which I would like to define as “oscillatory.” Continuously moving between opposites, swinging between one thing and its contrary, Callegari’s works are icons of the current impossibility of defining anything through the notion of dichotomy. Rather than commonlyheld binaries—human v. machine, analog v. digital, etc.—they supplant a grand, divine, or technological split with a hybridized pictorial practice.
In fact the difference between the primary meaning of “digital” and its etymology becomes the perfect example to trace the oscillatory action our eyes and minds need to perform in order to grasp the secrets behind Callegari’s oeuvres. While the most credited meaning is “whatever involves computer technology” its etymology is quite oppositional. Coming from the Latin word “digitus,”whichmeans“finger,”❅ it has been traced to 1400 1450 ACE—aturning point in the history of art and specifically the history of painting❆. In other words, the primary term to define machines, alterhumans, and robots, is in fact the most symbolic of human limbs. From Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel to Steven Spielberg’s E.T., the finger represents the dichotomies between divine v. human, as well as human v. alien. The digit is the instrument of creation that touches something godlike and the symbolic threshold of rupture and division.
The works at Carl Kostyál reflect Callegari’s move away from such dichotomies. In particular, we analyze Traverse(2016). In this work the artist created several “actions” and applied three related “layers”—two keywords to be investigated later—to the canvas. “First there is a layer of oil paint, very saturated Magenta. Once that is dry, layers of black and white oil paint are applied, and then more grey, black, and white, using directly the fingers on the canvas; paint is applied until there is an allover field of gestural cross hatchedmarks,developingachiaroscuro❇ effect;afterthefieldiscompleted, a digital drawing (made in Photoshop) is projected onto it, and the fresh oil paint gets removed from the surface where the drawing is, revealing the magenta underneath.”❈
Adobe Photoshop was created in 1988 by Thomas and John Knoll. The program uses various layers to build images: specific aspects of the picture are divided into layers, and the user can apply filters, tools, and actions to each component of the image. Everything is within his exacting control. This software not only revolutionized the graphic design industry, it also became part of reality at large: images are infinitely reproducible, divisible, fractured, and plastic. While Callegari’s unconventional hangings—floating in space or hung between doors and thresholds—may reflect the ways in which the images behave as a combination social and economic currency; the paintings themselves oscillate between the pictorial and abstract via forms of digital imaging systems.
Looking at this parallel, and historic uses of images, we can find a relevant example in art historian Roberto Longhi’s (18901970) orthodox refusal to show color photographs during lectures, opting for the more reductive and less illusionistic use of black and white slides❃. And on the other hand, images of paintings which appear on iPads, through which we can see the same ideological flattening and distortions via the literal emphasis on smart surfaces. Against this backdrop, Callegari conceives his paintings through the frought dichotomy between the tools of graphic design and the physical painting. His painterly language is the product of both modes of communication, which allows it to oscillate seamlessly between both the digital and analog realms.
Through this action, Callegari positions himself within a particular conversation around the influences of technology on picture making❉. At the same time, what makes his position so special and unique is the trajectory through which it has been reached. Rather than outsourcing, or letting the canvas simply have an affair with the machine⭑ , Callegari makes hermaphroditic paintings, simultaneously deciding to take the double position of “humanized machine” or a “mechanical man.” In other words, his hand (or finger) enacts the machine, insourcing the digital in accordance with the dizzying oscillations of Photoshop’s infinite layerings, and the complexities of the will of the user.
❄Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, L’AntiOedipe: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. by Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane (Minneapolis: the University of Minnesota Press, 1983): 9.
❆ LeonBattistaAlberti’sDePicturawaspublishedin1435,becomingonethemostimportant treatise of the Renaissance.
❇ MatteoCallegari’spaintingsoftenechothefourcanonicalpaintingmodesofthe Renaissance: Cangiante, Unione, Chiaroscuro, and Sfumato.
❃ OneoftheleadersofthisorthodoxywasthearthistorianRobertoLonghi(1890–1970), whose art history lectures, supported by highcontrast blackandwhite slides, became famous due to the connection to Pier Paolo Pasolini, who several times mentioned the influence of Longhi’s teaching method—which he experience while studying art history with him in Bologna—on his approach to moving making.
❉ See,forexample,therecentinstallationatTateModern’sRoom7(Level2East)—arranged by Curator of International Art Mark Godfrey under the title “Painting after Technology”—includes works by Sigmar Polke, Christopher Wool, Tomma Abts, Laura Owens, Wade Guyton, Albert Oehlen, Amy Sillman, Jacqueline Humphries, and Charline von Heyl, who is probably the closest to Callegari’s sensibility.
⭑ Modernismshistoricinterestinmachines:Futurism’sloveformachinesaswellasDadalike Comte de Lautréamont’s motto “As beautiful as the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on an operating table.”