28 Sep 2011

New paintings, Elizabeth Neel at Pillars Corrias, London

'When I was three years old, a fox raided the chicken coop on my parent’s farm. The site of the massacre was strewn with evidence of its swift violence. One particular bird had only been partially consumed - almost perfectly bisected in such a way that it’s entire reproductive system was revealed. I could see a series of stages beginning with a yolk and ending with a perfect, shelled egg within that body - fixed at the moment of death in pristine order. This visual experience represented a turning point in my relationship to the world. I now see it as my first clear instantiation that life, and nature underneath it, is a baroque, mysterious thing that hangs precariously on a framework of elegant reason.' 
                                                               Elizabeth Neel (Deitch)

Elizabeth Neel, 'Almanac' (2011, detail).
Photograph: Elizabeth Neel/Pilar Corrias Gallery/AP
Some intriguing works are on show at the Pillars Corrias Gallery, by the American artist Elizabeth Nee (and grandaughter of Alice Neel). There is a certain naivety to the paintings that are refreshing, what I mean by this is that there are some classic 'no-no's' from art school being totally ignored here, like using masking tape and to make it look like you are using masking tape. But there are some good exploratory works here that push paint around and produce interesting surfaces and juxtapositions of the picture plain's push and pull. Even though much of them are abstract paintings, there are also some that explore everyday domestic settings. 
Elizabeth Neel, 'The Grounds', 2011, Acrylic on Paper72.4 x 59.7 cm,  (c) Pillars Corrias
In these paintings there is an attempt at gravitas, at suggesting death, to me there remains a nihilistic quality, some of the paintings are based on real life disasters, there are the traces of Romanticism, of Abstract Expressionism and yet the Minimalism of Frank Stella and Ad Reinhardt..Already making a splash in New York, I think we have a future great artist here....

13 Sep 2011

Black paintings, 'Antumbra', Daniel Lergon, Galerie Christian Lethart, Koln, Germany

It's time to 'darken the glim' with the fascinating black paintings of Daniel Lergon, 'Antumbra'  at Gallerie Christian Lethart. These are reminiscent of the classic minimalist paintings of Frank Stella, Ad Reinhardt or Rauschenberg's painterly abstractions some 40 years ago now. However these have a slick contemporary feel to them, especially the yellow green paintings (see below) for more retrospective paintings click on Daniel Lergon link above.

Daniel Lergon 'Antumbra' oil on canvas, 2011
From the press release: 'For this year’s 'DC OPEN', the Galerie Christian Lethert is presenting a fourth solo exhibition of works by Daniel Lergon (born in 1978). Since beginning his studies at the Universit√§t der K√ľnste (UdK) in Berlin with Professor Lothar Baumgarten, in his painting, Daniel Lergon has been dealing with the correlative interplay between light and surface, and the optical effects and perceptions that result from this. Whereas in his early works, Lergon used color pigments within the range of the color spectrum, applying them to all kinds of transparent, reflecting, and absorptive material surfaces, he later also included colors at the very extremes of the spectrum into his work. His intensive study of the colors was thus always tied to the materiality of the painting’s ground and the question regarding this influence this would have on the viewer’s perception.

Since 2007, Lergon has been working without using color pigments directly, painting instead with colorless, clear lacquer on technical grounds. These initially grey, later white, retro reflexive materials behave unusually concerning how they reflect the light. By using them, Lergon creates a painting that dispenses with color pigments, and which essentially comes about in the special reflection of the light upon the varnish and painting’s ground.'

Daniel Lergon, 'cold fire', 2008, Aerea, Stockholm (not in the show)

'Antumbra'. Here, the theme of light has been linked to the notion of shadows. In his new, black works, instead of using bright, light, reflecting materials Lergon paints on a black ground, which, due to its consistency, reflects the light less intensively. The varyingly dense traces of the transparent painting lacquer yield extremely different intensities of darkness. Hence, the title of the exhibition, 'Antumbra' - a technical term that comes from astronomy and geometric optics and describes the area of a shining surface located behind the occluding shadow of an object.'

7 Sep 2011

Robert Rauschenberg, 'Botanical Vaudaville' Inverleith House, Edinburgh

Robert Rauschenberg 'Eco-Echo IV', 1992-3 (detail)
courtesy Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh/Gagosian Gallery.
Robert Rauschenberg is such an accessible and versatile artist, always surprising you with his juxtapositions of materials and ideas, questioning your thinking and approach to art and life. This show at Inverleith House, Edinburgh, is yet another example of quality curating in Scotland, especially after their Joan Mitchell exhibition. How great it would be to see such a show 'South of the Border' especially in London, can't believe it's the first show of his in the UK for 30 years, ho hum...Part of the press release for the show goes like this:  
'The American artist Jasper Johns (b.1935) once said of Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) that he had invented more than any artist since Picasso. Rauschenberg has altered the cultural landscape and continues to exert a profound influence on contemporary artists. Robert Rauschenberg 'Botanical Vaudeville' is the first museum exhibition devoted to the artist to take place in the UK in thirty years – and it features thirty seven works made between 1982 and 1998.
Robert Rauschenberg 'Tropical Mill Glut' 1989.
 courtesy Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh/Gagosian Gallery
During this time, Rauschenberg was exploring the reflective, textural, sculptural and thematic effects of metal, glass and other reflective surfaces in several series of works. All are represented here, and the paintings and sculptures on display vary from the highly polished glamorous metallic works from the 'Shiner' and 'Borealis' series that celebrate energy and motion, to the Kabal American 'Zephyr' and 'Gluts' series which represent Rauschenberg’s; fascination with the discarded object.  He once stated: 'I think painting is more like the real world when it is made out of the real world. These works in particular benefit from being shown in natural light which is such a feature of exhibitions at Inverleith House, revealing their true colour - enhanced by multiple reflections of the viewer and garden which become part of the work.''

There are none of the big works like 'Monogram' (see below) or 'Bed' and the 'Combines', you have to go to Moma for them, however this looks like a an interesting exhibition because they are small, intimate and poetic works, in the way only Rauschenberg can make detritus look poetic..    Click below for that great interview where he discusses buying the goat for the 'Monogram' piece at the Guggenheim show back in the 1990's.

Robert Rauschenberg interview about 'Monogram' Guggenheim retrospective, 1990's