December 31, 2018

Douglas Melini @ Van Doren Waxter, New York

Douglas Melini: Starry Sky
Van Doren Waxter, New York
Through January 12, 2019

Douglas Melini 
Starry Sky #7, 2018 
Oil and acrylic on canvas with artist’s frame 
20 x 22 ½ inches (50.8 x 57.2 cm) 
Courtesy of the artist and Van Doren Waxter, New York

Van Doren Waxter presents paintings by Douglas Melini as the inaugural exhibition in the gallery’s new gallery space at 23 East 73rd Street; this newly renovated public exhibition space is an expansion on the building’s 3rd floor, adjacent to the gallery’s private viewing room. Douglas Melini: Starry Sky is the artist’s third show with the gallery. It follows the artist’s solo institutional exhibition at the Schneider Museum of Art, OR.

For this exhibition, Douglas Melini debuts a new series of paintings that merges his densely textured abstractions with the representation of a field of stars. In these chromatically charged works, pattern and saturated color become night skies, strewn and illuminated by stars. Formally rigorous, the canvases emerge from a meticulous collage process made entirely of paint; first layers of thin, nearly transparent acrylic are laid down in a lattice-like structure followed by gestural smears of oil impasto applied with a palette knife, or by hand. These thick tangles of paint become landscapes themselves transforming the work into a study of landscapes both within its materiality and its content. The paintings are then custom framed by the artist, presenting the works as deliberate objects.

Douglas Melini’s new Starry Sky paintings thoughtfully examine the abstract, pictorial, and conceptual nature of image making. In these paintings, he examines several modernist ideas about painting, including the use of the grid, the painterly surface and the painting’s objecthood. The artist also proposes ideas about light and space, both depicted and physical. The artist alludes to varied art historical references and inspirations, in particular the iconography of the night sky, including Italian frescoed ceilings depicting the heavens; saturated stained-glass windows which are illuminated from the back; the image and idea of a star as a symbol and pattern – often used as decoration and background throughout art history; and to gauge and mark the condition of night. 

Van Doren Waxter
23 East 73rd Street, New York, NY 10021

December 28, 2018

Michael Scott @ Xippas Paris

Michael Scott : Circle Paintings
Commissaire : Vincent Pécoil
Galerie Xippas, Paris
15 décembre 2018 - 16 février 2019

Michael Scott
Michael Scott, #142, 2018.
Peinture émail sur aluminium, 81,3 x 121,9 cm.
Courtesy de l’artiste et de Xippas Paris

Avec Circle Paintings, la première exposition personnelle de Michael Scott à Xippas Paris, l’artiste revisite et donne une nouvelle direction à ses premiers travaux, réalisés dans les années 80 – des peintures de cercles concentriques, quasi-identiques les unes des autres.

Ces tableaux, avec leur absence de style, leur refus manifeste de la maîtrise et de l’originalité, mettaient en avant l’idée en peinture. Ils valaient comme une prise de position par rapport au néo-expressionnisme alors triomphant à New York, et s’inscrivaient dans la voie ouverte par d’autres peintres comme Olivier Mosset ou Peter Halley. Réunies, ces peintures créaient un effet optique fort, qui est aussi un des ressorts de l’exposition à Xippas Paris.

Avec l’ajout de la couleur, les variations sur la taille et le cadrage, les peintures récentes sont nettement plus enjouées que les précédentes. Les choix d’accrochage suggèrent l’interchangeabilité de toutes les peintures, et conservent cette même méfiance vis-à-vis du concept d’originalité qui était le moteur des peintures des années 80. Dans le même temps, réalisées sur des panneaux d’aluminium, ces oeuvres ont une présence plus forte et se donnent comme des objets qui existent dans le monde, plutôt que comme des peintures « pures ».

Le travail de Michael Scott a été associé à celui de ses amis Steve di Benedetto, Matthew McCaslin et Steven Parrino, avec qui il a exposé de nombreuses fois. Sa peinture incarne depuis la fin des années 80 un versant majeur de l’art américain récent, héritier de la peinture abstraite radicale, mais aussi de l’art conceptuel et du pop art.

MICHAEL SCOTT est né en 1958. Il vit et travaille à New York. Ses peintures intègrent aujourd’hui des collections publiques importantes, parmi lesquelles : Le Consortium Museum, Dijon ; le Fonds National d’Art Contemporain ; le FRAC Nord-Pas-de-Calais ; le MAMCO, Genève ; le Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne ; la Kunsthalle Bern et le MACBA, Buenos Aires ; LACMA, Los Angeles. Michael Scott a été représenté par les galeries Tony Shafrazi (New York), Pierre Huber (Genève), Sandra Gering (New York) et Triple V (Paris). A Paris, son travail a été montré dans l’exposition Dynamo, au Grand Palais, en 2013. Parmi ses expositions institutionnelles significatives, figurent : le MAMCO, Genève (2017 et 2016) ; le Schneider Museum of Art, Ashland et le MACBA, Buenos Aires (2015) ; le Circuit, Lausanne (2014) ; le Consortium, Dijon et la Kunsthalle, Bern (2012) ; le CAPC, Bordeaux (2011) ; Le Magasin, Grenoble, (2009) ; la Fondation Vasarely, Aix-en-Provence (2008) ; le Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne (2005) et le Naples Museum of Art, Naples (2001).

108 rue Vieille du Temple 75003 Paris

December 26, 2018

Simone Fattal @ MoMA PS1, Long Island City, New York

Simone Fattal
MoMA PS1, Long Island City, New York
March 31 – September 2, 2019

MoMA PS1 presents the first solo museum exhibition in the United States of the work of Simone Fattal (Lebanese and American, b.1942). The retrospective will bring together a selection of over 100 works created over the last 40 years, featuring abstract and figurative ceramic sculptures, paintings, and collages that draw from a range of sources including war narratives, landscape painting, ancient history, mythology, and Sufi poetry. The exhibition will explore the impact of displacement, as well as the politics of archeology and excavation, as these themes resonate across Fattal’s multifaceted artistic practice.

SIMONE FATTAL was born in Damascus, Syria and raised in Lebanon, where she studied philosophy at the Ecole des Lettres in Beirut. She then moved to Paris where she continued her philosophical pursuits at the Sorbonne. In 1969, she returned to Beirut and began working as a visual artist, exhibiting her paintings locally until the start of the Lebanese Civil War. She fled Lebanon in 1980 and settled in California, where she founded the Post-Apollo Press, a publishing house dedicated to innovative and experimental literary work. In 1988, she enrolled in a course at the Art Institute of San Francisco, which prompted a return to her artistic practice and a newfound dedication to sculpture and ceramics. Simone Fattal currently lives in Paris and has had recent exhibitions at the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech (2018), the Rochechouart Departmental Museum of Contemporary Art (2017), and the Sharjah Art Foundation (2016).

Simone Fattal is organized by Ruba Katrib, Curator, MoMA PS1.

Major support for Simone Fattal is provided by The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art. Additional funding is provided by the MoMA PS1 Annual Exhibition Fund.


Rodney Graham @ 303 Gallery, New York

Rodney Graham
303 Gallery, New York
January 11 - February 23, 2019

303 Gallery announces their ninth exhibition of new work by Rodney Graham.

In a suite of new lightbox works, Rodney Graham continues to probe the semi-conscious creation of cultural archetypes. Begun in 2007, Rodney Graham's lightboxes synthesize and expand upon his practices in painting, photography, sculpture and film, using highly detailed set design and arcane conceptual inspirations to point to the paradigmatic functioning of stock characters from the realms of art, Hollywood film, music, history and the social world.

For Vacuuming The Gallery, 1949, 2018, Rodney Graham's monumental piece takes as its inspiration a photograph of New York gallerist Samuel Kootz smoking a pipe in his own gallery during a Picasso exhibition in 1949. On the walls in this image are a series of Rodney Graham's own abstract paintings, part of a series of variations based on a single watercolor by Alexander Rodchenko (Abstract Composition, 1941). Rodney Graham inhabits a role based on the image of Kootz, vacuuming the floors of his apartment-cum-gallery in a quaint-seeming gesture of domesticity. His taciturn, smug expression seems to translate not only the uptown art dealer persona, but the upending of that persona in performing a menial, unusually gendered task. Rodney Graham's Rodchenko-inspired paintings hang in the current exhibition as well, their anachronistic expressionist tendencies magnified by the contextual disconnect between the tableau the lightbox portrays and the contemporary tendency to view art in a sleek white cube.

Tattooed Man on Balcony, 2018, follows from a poem Rodney Graham penned in the style of Mallarme that was intended as an instructional guide for a tattoo artist. The image described, in which Popeye is clad in a deep-sea diving suit battling a giant squid, has been extended to an entire phalanx of characters from Popeye's compatriots in the Thimble Theater. The man's pompadour and spread-collar, open to the chest 50s-style shirt suggest an aging rockabilly fan whose most whimsical and hardscrabble years are behind him. Perched on the balcony of an apartment featuring a particularly Vancouver-centric brand of vernacular modernism, Graham again creates a strange kind of third-person self-portrait, as if this character is simultaneously himself, a model, and a type of standardized, unconscious prototype - an 'extra' of sorts.

A different type of stock character emerges in Remorseful Hunter, 2019, inspired by a found thrift store painting. Rodney Graham takes the guise of a mountain man with a rifle apparently in the midst of a remorseful existential crisis, sitting on a rock overlooking a Caspar David Fridrich-style landscape. He appears overtaken by sentimentality, a kind of existential Elmer Fudd who suddenly finds himself identified only with a sympathetic squirrel. Another type of "man with beast" portrait exists in Central Questions of Philosophy, 2018, a lightbox work inspired by two versions of the Pelican paperback cover for the philosopher AJ Ayer's titular book. In one version, the philosopher poses stoically in his home with a learned smirk, and in the other, he assumes the same pose, this time with a dog on his lap. The work nods to Ayer's work as a logical empiricist, positing two versions of reality: in one, a philosopher sits in a chair; and in the other, a philosopher and a dog sit in a chair. Graham is Ayer, Ayer is Graham, a dog is a dog is a dog.

RODNEY GRAHAM was born in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada in 1949. Solo exhibitions include Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden, Germany (2017); Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar, Netherlands (2017); BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK (2017); Le Constortium, Dijon, France (2016); Sammlung Goetz, Munich, Germany (2015); Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada (2012); Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Austria (2011); and the Museu D’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Spain (2010). He has participated in group exhibitions such as the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh, USA (2013); the 13th, 14th and 17th Sydney Biennales, Australia (2002, 2006, 2010); the Whitney Biennial, New York, USA (2006); and the Biennale d’Art contemporain de Lyon, France (2003). He represented Canada at the 47th Venice Biennale, Italy (1997). He has received the Gershon Iskowitz Prize, Toronto, Canada (2004), the Kurt Schwitters-Preis, Niedersächsiche Sparkassenstiftung, Germany (2006), and the Audain Prize for lifetime achievement in visual arts, British Columbia, Canada (2011). In 2016, Rodney Graham was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada, for his contributions to Canadian contemporary art. He lives and works in Vancouver.

Upcoming: ELAD LASSRY, March 2019, his second exhibition at 303 Gallery.

555 West 21st Street, New York, NY 10011

December 21, 2018

Ceal Floyer @ Lisson Gallery, London

Ceal Floyer
Lisson Gallery, London
Through 5 January 2019

Lisson Gallery presents a new exhibition by Berlin-based artist Ceal Floyer, her sixth with the gallery since she first showed in the same spaces in 1997. Over 20 years on, Ceal Floyer has lost none of her defiant simplicity or piercing philosophical precision, producing a distinct body of sculptural works, featuring poetic situations, subtle interventions, as well as new video and light installations.

A sonic experience beneath a clear, parabolic dome, which contains a directional speaker, hung from the ceiling, briefly drenches visitors with a gushing loop of static sound. While Untitled (Static) could be a strangely meditative zone of white noise, within the already white confines of the gallery, it might also act as an approximation of the sound of rain atop an umbrella, creating a momentary trompe l’oreille (the aural equivalent of a trompe l’œil).

Elsewhere, a diptych montage of small-sized images of Hotel Rooms (all works 2018) culled from travel brochures and glossy magazines advertising hotel suites and interior décor, is hung on two adjacent walls. This travelogue of pristine lodgings bespeaks not so much Ceal predilection for ironic image appropriation as it deconstructs some of the hidden conventions of commercial photography: each vista of a freshly made-up double- or twin-bedded haven is shot from either a left-hand or right-hand point of view. Ceal Floyer proceeds to uncannily mirror and re-stage the angle of the camera in a literal way by categorising and placing each image on either the left- or right-hand side of the space.

An understated survey of what constitutes the boundaries of this exhibition continues on the window where two typical hazard signs depict the maximum headroom available both inside and outside, although the extreme unlikelihood of anyone transgressing the height restrictions render these warnings as merely conceptual in nature. Multiple versions of this work, Maximum Headroom (2014/2018), will be adorning the façade of the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein until next year, further expanding (rather than limiting) where in time or space Ceal Floyer’s suggestions can exist or operate.

The function or lack thereof in Ceal Floyer’s subversive statements is compounded both by their ubiquity in everyday life and by their absurdity in her hands. As if to ram this point home, the main gallery features an outsized video, Hammer and Nail, of a hammer violently pounding a nail into a board. The progress of metal into wood seems stunted by the movement of the entire filmic frame, which gradually comes up to meet the nail’s head with each blow, enacting a negation of duties and a structural reversal or complication of the usual hammer-meets-nail relationship. Riven through, as these pieces all are, with Floyer’s inimitable humour and rigour, it is no surprise that she has been included in the South London Gallery’s current group exhibition, ‘KNOCK, KNOCK: Humour in Contemporary Art’ (until 18 November).

67 Lisson Street, London