March 27, 2019

Rwandan Daughters. Photographs by Olaf Heine, Hatje Cantz, 2019

Rwandan Daughters. Photographs by Olaf Heine
Hatje Cantz, March 2019

Olaf Heine
Olaf Heine
Rwandan Daughters, 2019
Text(s) by Matthias Harder, Olaf Heine, Antje Stahl
English, 208 pp., 70 ills., hardcover, 24.80 x 33.50 cm
ISBN 978-3-7757-4547-5
© Olaf Heine

The twenty-fifth anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda takes place in April 2019. The ensuing trauma is still deep, dividing Rwandan society. Nearly a million people were victims of the genocide in 1994, and around 250,000 women were raped. Today, victims and perpetrators live next door to each other. For Rwandan Daughters, Olaf Heine has created portraits of these women and the children who were products of these crimes.

In his moving images, the photographer Olaf Heine (*1968) has portrayed mothers and daughters, side by side at the crime sites, from a respectful distance, with a straightforward perspective. Olaf Heine’s photos show us the courage, strength, hope, dignity, and optimism radiating from these women, despite the suffering they have endured.

Olaf Heine
© Olaf Heine

Besides a travelogue by the Berlin-based artist, this volume of photographs contains brief statements from the women about how they dealt with their experiences, as well as informative essays by the Neue Zürcher Zeitung editor Antje Stahl, the curator Matthias Harder, and the journalist Andrea Jeska. This photo-book project was produced in collaboration with ora Kinderhilfe, an organization that provides psychological and financial support for the victims in Rwanda. Hatje Cantz will donate a portion of the proceeds from this book to Rwandan mothers and daughters.

“Heine’s series of images brings this forgotten, collective human tragedy to the public eye, and he exemplifies it with very authentic, emotional, and individual portraits. We owe him our thanks for that,” says Matthias Harder, chief curator of the Helmut Newton Foundation, of Olaf Heine’s portraits.

Olaf Heine
© Olaf Heine

Although women in Rwanda have been steadily gaining influence in society ever since the genocide, the rape victims and their children are at the lower end of the social hierarchy. Many young women still manage to rescue their traumatized mothers and help them to free them from the stigma. The courage and optimism of these women in an authoritarian society scarred by trauma are exemplary.

Olaf Heine is a photographer and director. He studied photography and design at the Lette Verein in Berlin, and is mainly known for his portraits of artists, politicians, and athletes, such as Iggy Pop, Bret Easton Ellis, and T.C. Boyle.  


March 26, 2019

Sadik Kwaish Alfraji @ Ayyam Gallery, Dubai - The River That Was in the South

Sadik Kwaish Alfraji 
The River That Was in the South
Ayyam Gallery, Dubai
Through 25 April 2019

Sadik Kwaish Alfraji
The River That Was in the South
Still image, 5 minutes, 2019
Courtesy the artist and Ayyam Gallery, Dubai

Ayyam Gallery presents The River That Was in the South, a solo exhibition of Sadik Kwaish Alfraji presenting his latest works. 

Artist Statement 

These are visions coming from afar, from a generation I haven’s seen, and a life I haven’t lived, yet I grew up in the arms of its legacy.

It is my grandfather’s generation who lived suspended between his own Southern heaven and the toll of its existence.

There, where the fistful power of feudalism and misery, where the beauty of life mixed up with cruelty bred an endless vortex of dreams and nightmares.

To overcome their wasted dreams and the phantoms of agony and loss; sorrow and grief would identify their world and encompass their perception of things, becoming a feature of their existence.

And with a devotion that is a mixture of lust for life and abstemiousness, they are to create songs of sorrow and tales where happiness takes the colour of grief and where anguish is replaced with joy, where reality blends with the myth with words of agony, love, yearnings, partings, desolation, death and the absence of justice.

A generation living in that paradise of the South, yet unable to own their life nor their fates, in spite of all the efforts and aspirations, ending up carrying their songs and stories, their dreams and fears, leaving behind the crops and reed houses to migrate. In hope of finding a better life.

The dream of migration always seems rosy.

And the paths of migration glisten like gold painting a bright horizon. It would be followed with devotion not knowing that they would end up living on the brinks of the cities.

A migration that would have lasted for three generations, burdened with the
same misery and loss.

Eternal migrants standing on the verge of cities carrying the same passion.

And I stand here with the same passion - on the side of the canals in Amsterdam - viewing the paths of departure, listening to the murmur of the streams stretching down to that southern land, carrying me to that slim snaky river of Rfayaah, wandering along the marshes and on its way watering the songs of love and hope, fading after a while, leaving but drought, absence and separation behind.

These works are an attempt to touch the vis ions of those migrants and those of us, “We” who are still on the move, driven by our everlasting yearnings to visualize a heaven we shall forever stand on its edges.


Sadik Kwaish Alfraji explores what he describes as ‘the problem of existence’ through drawings, paintings, video animations, art books, graphic art, and installations. The shadowy protagonist who often appears in Alfraji’s multimedia works represents a black void, a filter that allows him to explore the intricacies of life. By rendering his solitary character as a charcoal-coloured silhouette and minimising the formal properties of his compositions, Sadik Kwaish Alfraji captures the expressed movements and subtle inflections of the body in psychologically laden environments. The artist often records his own narrative in black and white scenes of this recurring figure, particularly the loss, fragmentation, and lapses in time that underline exile.

Born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1960, Sadik Kwaish Alfraji lives and works in Amersfoort, Netherlands. He received a Bachelor of Fine Art in Painting and Plastic Art from the Academy of Fine Arts, Baghdad in 1987 and a High Diploma in Graphic Design from CHK Constantijn Huygens, Netherlands in 2000.

The artist’s solo shows include Casa Arabe, Madrid (2018), Maraya Art Centre (2017); Red Star Line Museum, Belgium (2016); Galerie Tanit, Munich (2016); Ayyam Gallery Beirut (2015); Ayyam Gallery Al Quoz, Dubai (2015); Beirut Exhibition Center (2014); Ayyam Gallery London (2015, 2013); Ayyam Gallery DIFC, Dubai (2011); Stads Gallery, Amersfoort, Netherlands (2010); Station Museum, Houston (2008); Stedelijk Museum, Den Bosch (2007). Selected group exhibitions include 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (2018); the Iraq Pavilion of the 57th Venice Biennale (2017); British Museum, London (2017); TRIO Biennial, Rio de Janeiro (2015); P21 Gallery, London (2015); the British Museum, London (2015); 56th Venice Biennale, Italy (2015); Abu Dhabi Festival, Abu Dhabi (2015); Maraya Art Centre, Sharjah (2015); LACMA, Los Angeles (2015); FotoFest Biennial, Houston (2014); Samsung Blue Square and Busan Museum of Art, South Korea (2014); Ikono On Air Festival, online and broadcasted (2013); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2012); Institut du Monde Arabe (2012); and Centro Cultural General San Martin, Buenos Aires (2012).

Sadik Kwaish Alfraji’s works are housed in private and public collections including the British Museum, London; LACMA, Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; Berjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah; Novosibirsk State Art Museum, Russia; Cluj-Napoca Art Museum, Romania; Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman; The Khalid Shoman Foundation, Amman; and The National Museum of Modern Art, Baghdad.

A monograph on the artist edited by Nat Mueller was published in 2015 (Schilt Publishing, Amsterdam).

B11, Alserkal Avenue, Street 8, Al-Quoz, Dubai

Liliane Tomasko @ Kerlin Gallery, Dublin - The Red Thread

Liliane Tomasko: The Red Thread
Kerlin Gallery, Dublin
Through 13 April 2019

Kerlin Gallery presents The Red Thread, an exhibition of new paintings by Liliane Tomasko.

Liliane Tomasko’s abstract paintings employ a distinctive, bold lyricism, with an equally unabashed sense of colour.  The artist often begins with a study of the personal effects of everyday domesticity such as bedding or clothing to create work that suggests a gateway into the realms of sleep and dreaming; delving into the gulf between what we understand as the ‘conscious’ and ‘subconscious.’  This new series of paintings display an increasing vitality and assertiveness, articulating an abstraction that is rooted in the physical realm but attempting a departure from it.  Intense colour, subtle tone, shadows and painterly gesture are woven together in such a way that space comes in and out of focus, suspending one’s perception of them and emulating the clarity or lack thereof of dreams and memories.

Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include Museo MATE, Lima 2018/19, a dream of, Blain|Southern (2018); 12 nights x dreams, Rockland Center for the Arts, New York State; Kunstwerk (two-person exhibition with Sean Scully), Sammlung Klein, Germany; Feeling Folding, PIFO Gallery, Beijing; Sean Scully + Liliane Tomasko, Fundación Bancaja, Valencia; Mother-Matrix-Matter, Lowe Art Museum, Miami; In Visible World, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix; dusk at dawn, Kunsthalle Rostock, Rostock (all 2015); IVAM, Valencia, travelling to Casal Solleric, Palma, Mallorca and Herforder Kunstverein, Herford (2011); New York Studio School, New York and Zweigstelle, Berlin (both 2010).

Liliane Tomasko’s work is found in public and private collections worldwide, including: The Albertina, Vienna, AU; Bank Vontobel AG, Zurich, CH; Hilti Art Foundation, Schaan, LI; Hôtel des Arts, Centre Méditerranéen D’Art, Toulon, FR; Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, IE; IVAM-Institut Valencia d’Art Modern, Valencia, ES; K20 K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, DE; Kunstmuseum Bern, Bern, CH; Lowe Art Museum, Miami, US; Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich, DE; Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, DE; Sammlung Klein, Eberdingen-Nussdorf, DE; Try-Me Collection, Richmond, Virginia, US; VMFA Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, US.

Anne's Lane, South Anne Street, Dublin D02 A028, Ireland

Mark Francis @ Galerie Forsblom, Helsinki - Ocean Light

Mark Francis: Ocean Light
Galerie Forsblom, Helsinki
March 22 - April 27, 2019

In his seemingly abstract paintings, Mark Francis (b. 1962) visualizes what cannot be seen with the naked eye. Springing from his scientific interest, Mark Francis’ oil paintings explore ideas related to the mechanisms of the universe. His irregular, luminously pulsating lines are reminiscent of wavelengths measuring the frequency of light coming from objects in the universe. The patterns in his paintings appear to lay down the order in a world of chaos, yet the strict regularity of his compositions is disrupted by a pervasive element of turmoil.

Although his visual approach is systematic, Mark Francis otherwise works very intuitively. The initial scientific idea might fade into the background as a subtle allusion while the painting process takes over. His style is characterized by subtle layering, rhythmic repetitions, and irregular disruptions of ordered patterns. The sharp colour contrasts are softened by the haziness of the lines. Mark Francis creates the sliding colour effects and blurred outlines by applying runny paint through pipettes of varied sizes; he then tilts and shakes the canvas to let the paints run freely across its surface.

Born in Northern Ireland, Mark Francis studied at Saint Martins School of Art and Chelsea School of Art in London. His work is represented in such acclaimed collections as Tate Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, New York’s Metropolitan Museum and the Saatchi Collection. The artist is based in London.

Lönnrotinkatu 5 / Yrjönkatu 22, 00120 Helsinki

March 25, 2019

Monet - Auburtin. Une rencontre artistique @ Musée des impressionnismes Giverny

Monet - Auburtin. Une rencontre artistique
Musée des impressionnismes Giverny
22 mars - 14 juillet 2019

MONET - AUBURTIN. Une rencontre artistique
Musée des impressionnismes Giverny
Affiche de l'exposition

En 2009, le nouveau musée des impressionnismes proposait une exposition inaugurale intitulée Le Jardin de Monet à Giverny : invention d’un paysage. En 2019, le musée fête les dix ans de son ouverture au public. A cette occasion, il a choisi de célébrer l’œuvre de Claude Monet (1840-1926), en la confrontant à celle de son contemporain, le peintre Jean Francis Auburtin (1866-1930). Réunissant un ensemble important de peintures et dessins d’Auburtin, ainsi que quelques-unes des œuvres les plus remarquables de Monet, l’exposition propose de montrer deux regards différents portés sur les mêmes paysages. Alors qu’il mène une carrière de grand décorateur pour les bâtiments publics qui durera jusqu’en 1924, Jean Francis Auburtin se révèle être aussi un peintre de chevalet qui excelle dans l’emploi conjugué de l’huile, de la gouache et du fusain. Pour composer le cadre idéal de ses fresques narratives, le peintre parcourt le littoral français, scrute inlassablement les paysages, qu’il finit par peindre pour eux-mêmes. Ainsi développe-t-il, en marge de ses grandes décorations, une peinture plus intimiste sur le motif, qui se construit au carrefour d’influence diverses entre impressionnisme, synthétisme, symbolisme et japonisme. Son admiration pour Claude Monet, qu’il rencontre vraisemblablement vers 1896-1897, transparaît dans le choix de ses motifs. Très certainement touché par les paysages de C. Monet, régulièrement exposés à Paris, vers 1889-1890, Jean Francis Auburtin s’initie également à la peinture de paysage sur le motif proposant une réponse très personnelle, empreinte d’une sensibilité fin-de-siècle. Tout comme lui, Jean Francis Auburtin pose son chevalet sur les rivages escarpés de Bretagne, de Normandie et de la côte méditerranéenne, là où ciel et mer se rejoignent. En 1894, il séjourne à Porquerolles où il se rend régulièrement. En 1895, un peu moins de 10 ans après Claude Monet, il découvre avec émerveillement Belle-Île où il revient à sept reprises. En 1898, il est sur les côtes normandes, à Etretat, à Pourville puis à Varengeville, où il choisit de représenter les sites peint par Claude Monet auparavant. Dans son approche intellectualisée du naturel, Jean Francis Auburtin n’est pas moins moderne que son aîné impressionniste. S’il pratique le travail en série, Jean Francis Auburtin s’attache moins à rendre les modulations atmosphériques et lumineuses chères à Claude Monet et préfère une construction solide, l’étagement des roches et le théâtre imposant de la nature.

De nombreuses œuvres de Claude Monet et de Jean Francis Auburtin exécutées durant les années 1880-1890 attestent d’une véritable convergence d’intérêts. Leurs vues respectives des côtes bretonnes, axées sur le contraste entre le ciel, la terre et l’eau traduisent cette confrontation, ce dialogue avec ce paysage. A Belle-Ile, alors que Claude Monet plante son chevalet au bord du vide, cherchant à traduire la sauvagerie de la nature, le temps sans cesse changeant, les surplombs vertigineux, Jean Francis Auburtin se laisse envahir par la monumentalité de ces roches millénaires. Alors que Claude Monet se concentre sur la bataille que se livrent les rochers et la mer, laissant peu de place au ciel, Jean Francis Auburtin exprime la pérennité de ces paysages maritimes sur cette île grandiose où tout semble échapper à l’homme.

Chez Jean Francis Auburtin, il y a comme une compréhension intuitive du paysage et une puissance d’expression qui se traduisent dans ses falaises, ses plages, ses ciels, ses nuages ou sa végétation. Les falaises d’Etretat, Pourville et Dieppe, les roches escarpées de Belle-Ile lui offrent ce qu’il affectionne tout particulièrement – la rencontre de l’eau et de la terre, l’affrontement de la paroi rocheuse verticale et de la vaste étendue marine, la permanence robuste des hautes falaises, balayées par le ballet continu des nuages. L’expérience de la nature se traduit également au travers d’effets spectaculaires de soleils couchants sur les falaises.

Ce n’est qu’en 1904, avec la découverte de Varengeville et la rencontre avec Guillaume Mallet (1859-1945), fondateur du Bois des Moutiers, que Jean Francis Auburtin trouve un souffle nouveau dans ses peintures et dessins. Il affirme alors son style et sa manière d’aborder, le paysage change. Il introduit, dans sa peinture de chevalet, les principes simplificateurs qu’il réservait jusqu’alors à la décoration murale. Il élargit l’horizon de ses compositions. Les couleurs savamment nuancées s’éloignent de l’imitation de la nature (roses et bleus phosphorescents) et témoignent d’un rapprochement avec le synthétisme hérité de Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824-1898). Jean Francis Auburtin est désormais parvenu à élaborer un style résolument personnel.

Commissariat scientifique : Géraldine Lefebvre, docteur en histoire de l’art.

Exposition organisée par le musée des impressionnismes Giverny avec le soutien exceptionnel du musée d’Orsay, Paris, de Francine et Michel Quentin et de l’association les Amis et descendants de Jean Francis Auburtin.

99, rue Claude Monet, 27620 Giverny

March 24, 2019

Irving Penn @ Pace Gallery, Palo Alto, CA

Irving Penn
Pace Gallery, Palo Alto, CA
April 11 – May 26, 2019

Irving Penn
Hell’s Angels, San Francisco, 1967 
© The Irving Penn Foundation
“In 1967 there was word coming out of San Francisco of something stirring—new ways of living that were exotic even for California. People spoke of a new kind of young people called hippies, and of an area where they had begun to congregate called Haight-Ashbury. They seemed to have found a satisfying new life for themselves in leaving the society they were born to and in making their own. … It grew on me that I would like to look into the faces of these new San Francisco people through a camera in a daylight studio, against a simple background, away from their own daily circumstances. I suggested to the editors of Look magazine that they might care to have such a report. They said yes—hurry.”—Irving Penn, Worlds in a Small Room, (Grossman, 1974, 50)
In 1967 armed with a Rolleiflex, Irving Penn came to San Francisco. He rented a building in Sausalito that allowed him to photograph under plenty of northern light, with beams strong enough to bear the weight of the Hell’s Angels’ motorcycles. This studio—like countless studios Irving Penn used over the course of his career—became a neutral space where the photographer and subject could focus on the task at hand to capture individual expression. Photographing them in his signature smooth pared-down style, Irving Penn brought equal consideration and expertise into his work with young hippie couples, motorcyclists, and radical nude dancers as he did with celebrated actors, artists, and luminaries of his time. Decades later, Pace Gallery brings the work of Irving Penn to the San Francisco Bay Area.

The exhibition at Pace Gallery in Palo Alto highlights Irving Penn’s work in the Bay Area while contextualizing these pieces in his larger oeuvre. Rare streetscape works from a 1947 visit to San Francisco are on view, including Lone Star Baptist Church, 99-Year-Old House, and House Front. The exhibit features over a dozen photographs from Irving Penn’s return visit to San Francisco for Look magazine in 1967. Highlights include Hell’s Angels, and Hippie Family (Kelley). The latter is a sensitive portrait where the mother looks directly into the camera lens with an open expression, while the father, in a quarter pose, looks at the lens from a side glance. He clutches the child tightly against his chest and away from the camera, as if in protection from the viewer’s watchful gaze. The complexity with which Irving Penn has photographed the family reveals his renowned gift in extracting the nuances of personality and social relationships.

Irving Penn was not only one of the most seminal photographers of the 20th century, but he was also a master craftsman and innovator in photographic printing. The exhibition will present works made in gelatin silver, cibachrome, and platinum-palladium. Until Irving Penn began using the process in the mid-1960s, platinum-palladium printing was regarded as a 19th century technique that had mostly gone extinct. Irving Penn’s method required incredible stamina and an alchemist’s touch as he hand-coated paper with a light sensitive solution of platinum and palladium, then exposed each sheet multiple times through his large-scale film negatives using ultra-violet lamps. This printing process would take days to complete but gave a delicacy to the photographs and infused them with a soft internal glow that can be seen in Bird Bones (Sweden), New York (1980) and Hippie Family (Ferguson), San Francisco (1967).

IRVING PENN (1917–2009) was born in Plainfield, New Jersey. From 1934–38, he studied design with Alexey Brodovitch at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art. Following a year painting in Mexico, he returned to New York City and began working at Vogue magazine in 1943, where Alexander Liberman was art director.

Irving Penn photographed for Vogue and commercial clients in America and abroad for nearly 70 years. Whether an innovative fashion image, striking portrait or compelling still life, each of Penn’s pictures bears his trademark style of elegant aesthetic simplicity.

Irving Penn has had over 40 major museum exhibitions in his lifetime including shows at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, and his Centennial opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 2017 and toured at the Grand Palais, Paris, France; C/O Berlin, Germany; and the Instituto Moreira Salles, São Paulo, Brazil.

229 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto CA 94301

March 23, 2019

Dominic Dispirito @ Annka Kultys Gallery, London - Pie ’n’ Mash

Dominic Dispirito: Pie ’n’ Mash
Annka Kultys Gallery, London
Through 13 April, 2019

Annka Kultys Gallery presents Pie ’n’ Mash, an exhibition of new paintings by the British artist Dominic Dispirito.  Pie ’n’ Mash is Dispirito’s second solo presentation with the gallery following his successful 2018 debut show In the Garden, Council Housed and Violent.

Ostensibly, the paintings in Pie ‘n’ Mash focus on Jackie, a figure renowned across the East End of London as the “Pearly Queen of Hackney” or simply “Pearly.”  Jackie is the latest in an illustrious line often referred as “London Royalty,” her forebears first being crowned pearly kings and queens of Hackney in the second half of the nineteenth century.  The pearly tradition, primarily associated with wearing clothes decorated with mother-of-pearl buttons, grew out of the habit of London costermongers or street traders wearing trousers decorated at the seams with pearl buttons found in the markets. The first pearly king (a gentleman called Henry Croft, 1861-1930) adapted and built on this practice to create an entire pearly suit to draw attention to himself and his charitable activities of collecting money for the poor of London’s East End. The charitable nature of pearly culture continues to this day and Jackie’s daughters and grandchildren will inherit the pearly title, maintaining and keeping strong the tradition of helping local communities through performance and song. But beyond the immediate focus on Jackie, the works in Pie ’n’ Mash bear witness to Dispirito’s continuing exploration of issues facing the working class culture he grew up in.

The show revolves around the dynamic created by the exhibition’s two largest works, Smokin’ (2018; 180cm x 150cm) and She’s lost her marbles (2018; 167cm x 213cm).  In Smokin’, Jackie can be seen sitting calmly enjoying a cigarette next to a fire place, on the mantel above which sit a pair of black and white porcelain dogs. The distinctive mother-of-pearl buttons that were the original eponym for pearly culture are visible clearly adorning Jackie’s dress at the seams on the dress’s neckline, arms and sides. The look of calm contemplation and the enigmatic smile gracing Jackie’s face may be a reference to the bittersweet pleasure smoking has become in the 21st century. What was once a commonplace pastime of the masses is now largely outlawed in the public space, its last vestiges being confined to the private sphere. As Orwell noted “No doubt alcohol, tobacco and so forth, are things that a saint must avoid; but sainthood is also a thing that human beings must avoid.” Smokin’, in this light, can be seen as a commentary on the choices society makes when it elects to prioritise the public’s health over the individual’s pleasure, and the related but no less important question as to which individuals are most affected by such decisions.

In the largest work in the show, She’s lost her marbles, the figure of Jackie is presented in the same interior space of chimney and mantel, bent over and possibly literally looking for the said marbles referenced in the work’s title.  Less specifically however, Dominic Dispirito’s choice of title employs a common English colloquialism for mental illness, as in someone who has lost their marbles has lost their sanity or memory or may be both. Over half of adults in the UK aged over 55 experience mental health problems according Age UK and as demographics evolve and the average age of our society increases mental health issues will afflict more and more of the populace, as they may well be afflicting Jackie.

The aesthetic of Dominic Dispirito’s new works in Pie ‘n’ Mash represents a further refining of the tendencies identified in his first show.  Whereas In the Garden, Council Housed and Violent came out of the artist’s work with painting apps on digital phones and the saturated colours often associated with digital art (think neon pinks, bright blues and fluorescent yellows), the colours in Pie ‘n’ Mash are from an altogether more constrained palate: three tonal earth colours, the creamy bodies and faces, brownish dresses, and the red of the carpets, dress patterns and Jackie’s hair. Balanced against this development Dominic Dispirito nevertheless continues to display the simplicity of line and contour that won him the Bruce Maclean Prize and the Adrian Carruthers Studio Award in 2017. The pencil lines observable around the body and objects in his paintings remain consciously visible on the canvas, an effect enhanced by the identifiable brush strokes on the Jekyll linen canvas (a specialist linen Dominic Dispirito uses where only the back is primed) which reveal the artist’s process of painting, as the canvas greedily absorbs the paint to give the resulting paintings a washed elegance, not unlike the fading of that great working class clothing staple, denim jeans.

Four further smaller paintings round out the show. Each is a portrait of Jackie. The title of each is a references from Cockney rhyming slang, the vernacular of London’s East End.  In Sat ‘ere all on me jack jones (2019), Jackie is shown in close up with red hair and a hand hiding partially hiding her face. The title means ‘I sit here all alone’ and possibly alludes to the loneliness and social isolation that blight elderly lives. It’s all gone pet tong (2019) shows Jackie’s hand running through a thick mane of what appears to be not red but rather green hair, no doubt referencing the works title which is slang for ‘it’s all gone wrong.’ Tiny dancer (2019), in which Jackie looks up on her hand, and She’s a boat (2019), in which Jackie’s profile with green hair looks beyond the confines of the canvas, complete the sequence.

Drawing on his working-class upbringing, as well as his personal battles with drug and alcohol addiction, Dominic Dispirito’s paintings in Pie ‘n’ Mash (the show’s title is a reference to the traditional working class dish, pie and mash, which originated in the East End in the nineteenth century, while pie and mash shops are still common in the east and south of the city) continue his wry and sophisticated exploration of British working class life.

DOMINIC DISPIRITO (b. 1982) was born in London where he currently lives and works. Dominic Dispirito earned his MFA in 2017 from the Slade School of Fine Art, London.  In 2017, Dispirito was awarded the Bruce Maclean Prize and later that year won the Adrian Carruthers Studio Award.  In 2018, he was nominated for the Dentons Art Prize.

Dominic Dispirito joined Annka Kultys Gallery in January 2018. June 2018 saw Dispirito present In the garden, Council Housed and Violent, the artist’s first solo show and the first with the gallery.  In the garden, Council Housed and Violent presented a selection of the artist’s paintings, manually-3D-printed sculptures and animations in an immersive installation that explored working class experience mediated by popular contemporary digital technologies.

Works by Dominic Dispirito have been included in solo and group exhibitions including: Pie ‘n’ Mash at Annka Kultys Gallery, London; Pearly Party at Steve Turner Gallery, Los Angeles; In the Garden, Council Housed and Violent at Annka Kultys Gallery, London; i’m sorry, i didn’t quite catch that at Arebyte Gallery, London; Candy alongside Cristina BanBan, The Dot Project, London; and Cacotopia 02 at Annka Kultys Galley, London.

472 Hackney Road, Unit 3, 1st Floor, London E2 9EQ

Dominic Dispirito @ Steve Turner, Los Angeles - Pearly Party

Dominic Dispirito: Pearly Party
Steve Turner, Los Angeles
March 30 - May 4, 2019

Steve Turner presents Pearly Party, a solo exhibition by London-based Dominic Dispirito that celebrates the British working class and his upbringing in the heart of Cockney London. He presents paintings that depict “Pearly Queens,” Cockney characters who originated in Victorian London, who evolved from the Coster Kings and Queens, the elected leaders of London’s street hawkers. Benevolent societies developed to aid the less fortunate, and parades were staged in which the “Pearlies” dressed in elaborate clothing that they adorned with rows and rows of mother-of-pearl buttons.

Dominic Dispirito has updated his Pearly Queens by using new technologies and materials. He begins by using various iPhone apps to create drawings and animations that he transforms into actual paintings. In some, he uses plastic 3D modeling paste to build up thick textures on small panels. In others, he applies thin layers of acrylic on stretched linen.

DOMINIC DISPIRITO (b. 1982) earned a BFA from Middlesex University, London (2013) and an MFA from the Slade School of Fine Art, London (2017). He has had a solo exhibitions at The Dot Project, London and Annka Kultys Gallery, London. Pearly Party is Dominic Dispirito’s first exhibition with Steve Turner and his first outside Great Britain.

6830 Santa Monica Blvd. Los Angeles CA 90038

March 22, 2019

Jason Middlebrook @ Miles McEnery Gallery, NYC

Jason Middlebrook
Miles McEnery Gallery, New York
Through 13 April 2019

Jason Middlebrook
The Line Where an Object Begins and Ends, 2018 
Acrylic on walnut, 102 x 26 x 1 1/2 inches, 259.1 x 66 x 3.8 cm
Courtesy the artist and Miles McEnery Gallery, New York

MILES MCENERY GALLERY presents an exhibition of new paintings by JASON MIDDLEBROOK for his inaugural solo show with the gallery. The exhibition is on view at 520 West 21st. It is accompanied by a fully illustrated publication, featuring an essay by Mary-Kay Lombino.

Jason Middlebrook’s bold and glossy, yet surprisingly nuanced sculptures are a representation of man’s relationship with nature. Trees transformed into wooden planks with sliced cross-sections depict painted patterns comprised of geometric abstractions. Using three-dimensional constructions, Jason Middlebrook challenges viewers to think below the surface and invites them to reflect on nature as a work of art—calling attention to, how above any human activity, the natural world continues to prevail.

The three-dimensional works leaning against the walls of Miles McEnery Gallery embrace elements of both botany and geometry. Influenced by an aversion to wastefulness and a fond admiration for the natural world, Middlebrook’s pieces respect and acknowledge nature while simultaneously celebrating form through the artist’s brushwork. To create his intriguing planks, Middlebrook first meticulously studies the shape of the wood and lets it guide his next steps. Using the smooth side of the surface, Middlebrook paints the wood while taping off the margins of the patterns that in some cases completely cover the surface, and in others operate more as a net or a screen. This process allows the imperfect qualities of the wood to show through from the background, reminding viewers of the fundamental properties of the material itself. Through this process Middlebrook creates a juxtaposition between the artificial geometric patterns of the painting and the natural patterns of the grain. Additionally, the colors of the paint are purposely bright and striking to highlight the tension between man and nature. Using these techniques, Middlebrook draws attention to the tree and its form, making a statement with a delicate hand.

The natural world has played a central role in Jason Middlebrook’s work from the beginning. In this series of planks, Jason Middlebrook highlights the human interaction with nature, and emphasizes that art needs to reach beyond the space in which it is shown. As Mary-Kay Lombino describes, “For Middlebrook, abstraction is more than a preoccupation with line, form, color, and composition. In Middlebrook’s work, abstraction serves as a framework for his ideas about man’s degradation of nature’s resources and about the planet’s cycle of growth, decay, and regrowth.”

JASON MIDDLEBROOK (b. 1966 in Jackson, MI) received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1990 from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and his Master of Fine Arts degree in 1994 from the San Francisco Art Institute. He also participated in the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY in 1994-1995, and completed an Iaspis Residency in Stockholm, Sweden in 2009-2010.

Recent solo exhibitions include Jeff Bailey Gallery, Hudson, NY; “My Grain,” Galleria Pack, Milan, Italy; “Drawing Time,” David B. Smith Gallery, Denver, CO; “The Small Spaces in Between,” Gallery 16, San Francisco, CA; “Your General Store,” New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM; “Gold Rush,” Peters Projects, Santa Fe, NM; “Jason Middlebrook: Mosaic Tree Stumps,” Jeff Bailey Gallery, Hudson, NY; Morgan Lehman Gallery, New York, NY; “There is a map in every tree,” Monique Meloche, Chicago, IL; “Line over Matter,” Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin, TX; “Submerged,” SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA; “The Line That Divides Us,” Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin, TX; “My Landscape,” Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, MA; and “Underlife,” Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

Recent group exhibitions include “Arboreal,” Moss Art Center, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA; “New Acquisitions / Nuevas Adquisiciones: UAG Permanent Collection 2015-2017,” University Art Gallery, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM; “Wood as Muse,” The Art Complex Museum, Duxbury, MA, curated by Donna Dodson and Andy Moerlein; “Maker, Maker,” Children’s Museum of the Arts, New York, NY, curated by Paul Laster and Renée Riccardo; “Taconic North,” LABspace, Hillsdale, NY, curated by Susan Jennings and Julie Torres; “Cortesie per gli ospiti,” Galleria Pack, Milan, Italy; “Casa Futura Pietra,” Parco Archeologico di Siponto, Siponto, Italy; “Painting @ The Very Edge of Art,” Contemporary Art Galleries, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT; “The Big Show 9,” Peters Projects, Santa Fe, NM; “Painting is Dead?!, Figure One, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL; “Misappropriations: New Acquisitions,” Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA; “Geometries of Difference: New Approaches to Ornament and Abstraction,” Dorsky Museum of Art, State University of New York, New Paltz, NY; “Into The Woods, ” Morris-Warren Gallery, New York, N Y; “NO W-ISM: Abstraction Today, ” Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, OH; “My Landscape, abstracted,” Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; “SITElines,” SITE Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM; “Jason Middlebrook / Letha Wilson, ” Retrospective, Hudson, N Y; “Painting: A Love Story, ” Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TX; “Second Nature, ” Albany International Airport , Albany, N Y; “ Visual Arts Faculty Exhibition, ” Benning ton College, Benning ton, V T; “Expanding the Field of Painting,” Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; and “Pattern: Follow the Rules,” Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, which traveled to Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, CO.

His work is included in the permanent collections of Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Altoids Collection, New York, NY; Arthouse, Austin, TX; British Airways Art Collection, Waterside, United Kingdom; Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO; Harn Museum, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL; Marte Museum, San Salvador, El Salvador; Microsoft Corporate Art Collection, Redmond, WA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Museum of Modern Art, NewYork, N Y; NASA Art Program, Washington, D.C. ; New Museum, New York, N Y; Pacific Bell, San Francisco, CA; Progressive Art Collection, May eld, OH; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.

Jason Middlebrook lives and works in Hudson, NY.

520 West 21st Street, New York, NY

Wolf Kahn @ Miles McEnery Gallery, NYC

Wolf Kahn
Miles McEnery Gallery, New York
Through 13 April 2019

Wolf Kahn
Bright, but not too Bright, 2018 
Oil on canvas, 30 x 30 inches, 76.2 x 76.2 cm
Courtesy the artist and Miles McEnery Gallery, New York

MILES MCENERY GALLERY presents an exhibition of works by WOLF KHAN, on view at 525 West 22nd Street. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, featuring an essay by Martica Sawin.

Including paintings dating from the 1960s as well as a selection of recent works, this exhibition illustrates the evolution of Wolf Kahn’s prolific career and his continuing exploration of the relationships between color and form. Wolf Kahn’s earlier, more densely painted canvases often feature darker, tonal hues, while his works from the late ‘60s represent a transition to an increasingly vivid palette. Illuminated by brilliant bands of color, his vigorously painted landscapes possess a captivating rhythm and alluring vibrancy. By juxtaposing bolds tones with the muted shades of the natural world, Wolf Kahn produces a kind of contrast that energizes the surface of the canvas while simultaneously creating a sense of balance. After decades of painting, Wolf Kahn’s masterful use of color remains his primary subject.

While Wolf Kahn’s subject matter remains rooted in reality, his abstract methods of representation reveal a unique dynamic between representational painting and abstract principles. As Martica Sawin suggests, “The significance of his contribution to the panorama of contemporary American art lies in the way his works preservecertain values of modernism, pay homage to the nature that surrounds us, embody the highest level of painterly performance, and take cognizance of changing ways of thinking about and producing art, while not letting go of what has gone before.”

Wolf Kahn works intuitively, letting the painting guide his next movements. With over 70 years of experience, he continues to challenge himself, painting nearly everyday, and his work remains ever evolving. “I have to keep my innocence of spirit,” Wolf Kahn says. “You have to allow for failure. If you can’t grow at 91, when can you grow? I’m striving for the moment where the painting starts giving me a hard time.”

WOLF KAHN was born in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1927. He immigrated to the United States by way of England in1940. In 1945, he graduated from the High School of Music & Art in New York, after which he spent time in the Navy. Under the GI Bill, he studied with renowned teacher and Abstract Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann, later becoming Hofmann’s studio assistant. In 1950, he enrolled in the University of Chicago, and graduated in 1951 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

After completing his degree in only one year, Wolf Kahn decided to return to being a full-time artist. He and other former Hofmannstudents established the Hansa Gallery, a cooperative gallery where Kahn had his rst solo exhibition. In 1956, he joined the GraceBorgenicht Gallery, where he exhibited regularly until 1995. Kahn has received a Fulbright Scholarship, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, an Award in Art from the Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Medal of Arts from the U.S. State Department.

Traveling extensively, he has painted landscapes in Egypt, Greece, Hawaii, Italy, Kenya, Maine, Mexico, and New Mexico. He spends his summers and autumns in Vermont on a hillside farm, which he and his wife, the painter Emily Mason, have owned since 1968, but his primary residence is in New York City.

Wolf Kahn’s work is set apart by his masterful synthesis of artistic traits—the modern abstract training of Hans Hofmann, the palette of Matisse, Rothko’s sweeping bands of color, the atmospheric qualities of American Impressionism. The fusion of color, spontaneity and representation has produced a rich and expressive body of work.

Wolf Kahn regularly exhibits at galleries and museums across North America. His work may be found in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; the Hirshhorn Museum and the National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA.

525 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011

March 20, 2019

Lee Mullican @ James Cohan Gallery, NYC - Cosmic Theater

Lee Mullican: Cosmic Theater
James Cohan Gallery, New York
Through April 20, 2019

Lee Mullican
Kachina, 1959
Oil on canvas, 25 x 20 in.
Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York

James Cohan presents Lee Mullican: Cosmic Theater, curated by Michael Auping at the gallery’s Chelsea location.

The exhibition Lee Mullican: Cosmic Theater explores the late artist’s sustained interest in the universe as source material for his creative voice.  Lee Mullican was a seeker and tirelessly pursued a form of abstraction that connected nature and spirituality. Pulling from a wide range of influences he created works that found new meanings through formal explorations of composition, color, and mark making. In his conversation with Joanne Phillips from 1976, he recalled the push and pull between abstraction in the purest sense and what he explained as his “need for some kind of image.” Through a close examination of his paintings and drawings we begin to understand that these patterns, shapes, and figure-like forms reflect his deep and abiding interest in the cosmos. Lee Mullican’s enduring quest was to create through his art a new perspective. In his richly textured world, the bird’s eye and the mind’s eye are one, with outer space and inner space conflating and commingling on the striated surfaces of the picture plane.

The exhibition is curated by Michael Auping, who first met the artist in the early 1970s. They shared a fascination and knowledge of pre-Columbian and Native American art and mythology. Their long discussions often involved the melding of modern and ancient art. Carl Gustav Jung’s idea of a “collective unconscious” found its way into the conversations, a shared belief that connections can exist between vast distances in time and space.

The paintings and drawings chosen for the exhibition, some being shown for the first time, map a revealing path through much of Lee Mullican’s career, ending with paintings from his last series, The Guardians. Bringing together work spanning fifty years, the exhibition surveys key themes running through the artist’s career, framing his unusual hybridization of symbolic figuration, abstracted landscapes, and abstract space with his long-time fascination with the sky and the galaxy beyond.  

The exhibition is accompanied by a full-color illustrated publication, featuring an essay by Michael Auping and published by Scheidegger & Spiess.

LEE MULLICAN was born in Chickasha, Oklahoma in 1919 and died in Los Angeles in 1998. He attended the Kansas City Art Institute after transferring from the University of Oklahoma in 1941. Upon his graduation from the Institute in 1942, Lee Mullican was drafted into the army, serving for four years as a topographical draughtsman. Lee Mullican traveled to Hawaii, Guam and Japan before ending his tenure in the army in 1946, when he moved to San Francisco. After winning a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in 1959, he spent a year painting in Rome before returning to Los Angeles where he joined the teaching staff of the UCLA Art Department in 1961, keeping his position for nearly 30 years. He divided the later part of his life between his homes in Los Angeles and Taos, traveling internationally and co- organizing exhibitions at UCLA. Lee Mullican’s works are included in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Hammer Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as in numerous other institutions.

MICHAEL AUPING is an independent curator and writer based in California and Texas and a specialist in the international developments of Post War art. Over his 40 year career, he has organized numerous exhibitions that have focused on Abstract Expressionism and related movements. As Chief Curator of the Albright Knox Art Gallery, his 1987 exhibition Abstract Expressionism: The Critical Developments was considered the most thorough survey of that movement in over three decades, and the book of the same title redefined the movement from both new European and American perspectives. He also curated major surveys of the work of Clyfford Still and Arshile Gorky. As Chief Curator of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Auping organized Philip Guston: Retrospective. He has also organized exhibitions of the work of John Chamberlain, Susan Rothenberg and Richard Serra.

533 West 26 St, New York, NY 10001

Simon Evans™ @ James Cohan Gallery, NYC - Passing through the gates of irresponsibility

Simon Evans™: Passing through the gates of irresponsibility
James Cohan Gallery, New York
Through April 14, 2019

Simon Evans™
Simon Evans™
The city of lists, 2019
Mixed media, 52 1/2 x 74 3/4 in.
© Simon Evans™, Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York

James Cohan presents Passing through the gates of irresponsibility, an exhibition of new work by Simon Evans™ at the gallery’s Lower East Side location. This is the artist’s fifth solo exhibition at James Cohan.

Simon Evans™ is the artistic collaboration between Simon Evans and Sarah Lannan. Together the New York-based artists create dense text-based collages brimming with poetic handwritten phrases, drawings, and images often scavenged from the detritus of everyday life both inside and outside the studio. The works depict and describe a universe suspended between the poles of earnestness and irony. With deft wit and a wry brand of melancholy, ambiguously personal and fictional narratives are woven into diagrams, charts, maps, taxonomies, advertisements, diary entries, inventories, and cosmologies that plunge the viewer into alternate states of pathos and hope.

The works in Passing through the gates of irresponsibility demonstrate the continuous evolution and versatility of the artists’ distinctive visual language, reflecting their long-standing interests in concrete poetry, surface treatment, personal branding, and memory and historical narrative, both individual and collective. The stream-of-consciousness, elliptical prose layered throughout their work creates surprising—and occasionally startling—juxtapositions that produce moments of lyrical profundity and accidental poetry.

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud and Sky are contemporary ruminations on the work on 18th century English Romantic poet William Wordsworth. I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, 2018, takes its title from a line from Wordsworth's famous poem, “Daffodils,” yet the artists play against the romantic poet’s sentimental ode to bucolic pleasures. Their cumulus cloud is an expansive accumulation of the noise of the world today—the chaotic oversaturation of text and picture information enabled by the digital cloud—that hints at the anxieties and feelings of isolation often engendered by such omnipresent inundation. Sky, 2018, offers a distinctly serene counterpoint. As Evans notes, “I wanted to make a calm piece but I wanted it to be very much about the constant flux everything exists in. I wanted to construct a clear sky as a shield against the one we have, which to me seems loud and terrifying and constant, with noises and words and images...I saw it as a challenge as a word person to make something of satisfaction without them.”

All that potential energy, 2019, is a large-scale mixed media work on paper covered in layered gold leaf. The gilt surface of the work is a consideration of both the material’s elemental qualities—gold is a highly conductive metal and has been used in electrical wiring since the days of the telegraph—and its historical use in art and architecture, as suggested by the beautifully-sculpted hand that centers the composition. Into the grey night we go, 2019, is also an exploration of surface and material, in which delicate graph paper cut-outs represent fragile infrastructures and rich passages of orange poster board and pigment recall the gleam of construction signage under the headlights of passing vehicles at night. There is an ambiguous darkness to the composition that proposes both an end and a renewal. These works are preoccupied not just with the surface of the pictures but also, ultimately, the process of art making. They invite the viewer into a space suffused with possibilities for revelation and continued exploration.

In a tomb, 2017, Evans replicates his childhood bedroom in a shoe box. The impetus for the work was his parents’ sudden and dramatic split after forty years of marriage the previous year. As he recalls, “Now I was getting to know my mum, and I remembered this one time she helped me make an Egyptian tomb in a shoe box for school. I was big into ancient Egypt like many children were, and through it I began to look back before I was born down the long road of history.” The work is a nod to the rare special moment Evans and his mother shared in his childhood, as well as a way of mourning the demise of his parents’ marriage. It touches upon both intensely personal pasts and the broader strokes of world history. The microcosm of the personal and the macrocosm of the universal are also syncretized in The World Again, 2017, a map of the world filled up with other worlds—and other planets—all hand-drawn and labeled. Its title recalls a 2002 piece in which the artist imagined the world as a giant, man made island. With The World Again, Simon Evans and Sarah Lannan represent the world as it is today using the archaic language of cartography. The seeming condensation of the universe into the palm of the hand—achieved by smartphones and tablets—is reflected in the densely layered worlds that fill the composition.

Several other works in the exhibition continue the play between past and present. The city of lists, 2019, is an abstracted landscape of a city of cities, both ancient and modern, in which a length of classical meandros is juxtaposed with a contemporary wall clock. Relic, 2019, is—like a tomb—a work inspired by ancient Egypt. Hieroglyphic illustrations are interspersed with layered lists and phrases at turns profound (dear god i miss the old dark ages when your face was the sky/ in this new one all we have is money and whatever we want to think) and profoundly silly (Photographing your salad turns it in into a ghost). It is a picture that attempts to capture the flux of time through naming and listing, with small everyday acts and thoughts reflecting the movement of human civilization through history.

Simon Evans™ (Simon Evans, b. 1972, London and Sarah Lannan, b. 1984, Phoenix) has exhibited extensively, both in the US and internationally. Significant solo museum exhibitions include  Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2016); Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, OH (2013); Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (MUDAM), Luxembourg (2012); Aspen Art Museum, CO (2005); and White Columns, New York (2005). Simon Evans™ was featured in the 12th International Istanbul Biennial in Turkey and the 27th São Paulo Biennial in Brazil. Work by Simon Evans™ is included in the permanent collections of major institutions worldwide, including the Berkeley Art Museum, CA; Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO), Miami; Honolulu Museum of Art, HI; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark; Pérez Art Museum Miami, FL; Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (MUDAM), Luxembourg; Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design, Providence; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA. Simon Evans and Sarah Lannan currently live and work in Brooklyn, NY.

291 Grand St, New York, NY 10002

Nolan Simon @ 47 Canal, New York

Nolan Simon: Other People
47 Canal, New York
Through April 7, 2019

The toes of a New Balance sneaker touch a studio floor. The figure’s foot is extended, but without strain. The body rests outside the frame. Another painting depicts a similar step, but this foot wears a semi-brogue. The floor is a dark, celestial speckle, and blends with the pattern of a curiously weightless sock. Thin black shoelaces arc downwards like the ears of a young dog.

A hand, sporting a gold wedding ring, holds the style section of a Sunday broadsheet. Splashed across the front page is a photograph of another hand, which fastens the laces of a brown shoe. A headline declares “Life an…,” but the rest of the text cannot be read. Split down its middle, the scene is modeled like an unbuttoned garment that frames the soft shadows of a naked torso. Dotted by a few small moles, the torso intrudes into the painting’s foreground.

A face, withdrawn in contemplation, is reflected in a window. Transparency, in this image, is a trap. Head tilted, and eyes directed at the ground, the subject evades the viewer.

Phrases are repeated in Nolan Simon’s paintings, but with strange misalignments. The brushwork is careful yet subtly disobedient. There is a process of translation, but it is impure. A foot is washed in tea. A teacup catches the liquid. There is a sense that a spillage is only just contained.

Feet, hands, chests and backs populate Simon’s gaze, but we see less of the limbs that conjoin these. At once objective and unfixed, each painting takes a found photograph as its source. The connections that surround the original images are difficult to trace, their context shedded in the oceans of visual information that submerge the everyday world. A person becomes a pair of hands lifting an iPhone, and its unbearable mass, above purplish, lukewarm bathwater. In these detached, fragmentary portraits, questions about intimacy are posed. Privacy is staged. Spontaneity is contested. Meaning builds like waves rippling against the side of a tub as the body, gliding gently downwards, rests.

291 Grand St, New York, NY 10002

March 17, 2019

Fred Wilson: Afro Kismet @ Maccarone, Los Angeles

Fred Wilson: Afro Kismet
Maccarone, Los Angeles
March 16 - June 1, 2019

Fred Wilson’s Afro Kismet lays bare questions of visibility: where are Africans in historical accounts of early Europe? How have the narratives institutionalized by museums erased the presence of black individuals of the past and present. 

Over seven trips to Istanbul, Fred Wilson researched these questions, continuing the project he started in Re: Claiming Egypt and Speak of Me as I Am, his shows at the 1992 Cairo Biennale and 2003 Venice Biennale. In those works, Fred Wilson revealed the black diasporas of each region — histories made obsolete in the Western collective imagination.  He continues to interrogate the peripheral treatment of such histories in Afro Kismet, this time mining the history of Istanbul.

Fred Wilson remarks how Baldwin, like himself, was his “creative self” in Istanbul. From 1961 to 1971, Baldwin lived in and around Istanbul, directing theatre and completing his novel, Another Country, which Wilson quotes in Afro Kismet. Though the work Baldwin produced in Istanbul does not directly point to African histories in Turkey, it rings of the same sentiments that Fred Wilson describes as “aloneness or loneliness” (Fred Wilson, 2018). These are the sentiments that the artist centers when he isolates black figures in etchings thrifted from Istanbul’s antique stores.

Afro Kismet centers representations of Afro Turks and celebrates them as part of a broader diasporic community. The most striking example is the show’s two enormous Iznik tile walls printed with “Mother Africa” and “Black Is Beautiful” in Arabic lettering. These walls draw connections between the concealed Ottoman histories of enslaved Africans, their descendants in Turkey today, and the cultural movements of black Americans in the 1970s. Wilson reminds us that today’s Afro Turk presence in Istanbul bears a legacy of slavery. The connection to America’s history of slavery (and the institutional racism it has left behind) is apparent in Trade Winds, a black globe that visualizes the worldwide trade of humans.

Maccarone’s additional work by Fred Wilson invites viewers to reflect further. His black Murano glass mirrors and signature blown glass drips offer reflective surfaces, but their darkness denies the viewer a fully legible facsimile. In this way, the works question notions of objective representation and truth-presenting — the questions Fred Wilson has been raising since his watershed 1992 installation Mining the Museum. The artist’s flags of African countries contribute to this deconstructive project: he drains color from them, leaving viewers to ponder the reductive process of signifying an arbitrarily drawn territory through stripes and shapes.

The show’s glass works gesture back to Fred Wilson’s research for Speak of Me as I Am, which revealed the inherent connection between the African histories in Venice and Turkey. For the Venice Biennale, Fred Wilson used Othello as a vehicle to convey the histories he sought to illuminate, naming his Murano chandeliers and mirrors after the play’s lines and scenes. The works embody “things that are as complex as Othello himself. Most are a meditation on death, on blackness, on beauty” (Fred Wilson, 2018). They encapsulate the aloneness or loneliness that reappear in Afro Kismet.

FRED WILSON (b. 1954, Bronx, New York) had his first groundbreaking and historically significant exhibition, Mining the Museum (1992), at the Maryland Historical Society. Since then, he has had solo exhibitions including his retrospective Objects and Installations 1979-2000, which was organized by the Center for Art and Visual Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and traveled to Saratoga Springs, Chicago, Berkeley, Houston, Andover, and Santa Monica, before closing at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Other solo presentations include So Much Trouble in the World—Believe It or Not! at the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire (2005); Works 2001–2011 at the Cleveland Museum of Art (2012); Local Color at The Studio Museum in Harlem (2013); and Black to the Powers of Ten and Wildfire Test Pit at Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio (2016).

In 2003, Fred Wilson represented the United States at the 50th Venice Biennale with the solo exhibition Speak of Me as I Am.

His many accolades include the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s “Genius” Grant (1999). Fred Wilson is a trustee of the American Academy in Rome and the Whitney Museum of American Art. 

His work is included in many museum collections including Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College; Baltimore Museum of Art; Cleveland Museum of Art; Denver Art Museum; Des Moines Art Center; Detroit Institute of Arts; High Museum of Art; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Seattle Art Museum; Smithsonian American Art Museum; The Studio Museum in Harlem; Tate, London; Long Museum, Shanghai; Fogg Museum, Harvard University; Pérez Art Museum Miami; New Orleans Museum of Art; and Whitney Museum of American Art.

This exhibition is presented in collaboration with Pace Gallery, New York.

300 South Mission Road, Los Angeles

March 16, 2019

Isaac Julien @ Metro Pictures, New York - Lessons of the Hour – Frederick Douglass

Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour – Frederick Douglass
Metro Pictures, New York
Through April 13, 2019

Isaac Julien
A Chattel Becomes A Man (Lessons of The Hour), 2019
Matt archival paper, backmounted face on aluminum 
43 5/16 x 28 3/4 inches, 110 x 73 cm
Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

Isaac Julien’s visionary ten-screen film installation Lessons of the Hour explores the incomparable achievements of America’s foremost abolitionist figure. After escaping slavery in Maryland, Frederick Douglass gained celebrity on the abolitionist circuit as an extraordinary orator, becoming the most photographed American of the 19th century. Julien’s project is informed by some of Douglass’s most important speeches, such as “Lessons of the Hour,” “What to the Slave Is the 4th of July?,” and “Lecture on Pictures,” the latter being a text that connects picture-making and photography to his vision of how technology could influence human relations. Isaac Julien's immersive work gives expression to the zeitgeist of Douglass’s era, his legacy, and the ways in which his story may be viewed through a contemporary lens.

Created in consultation with Douglass scholar Celeste-Marie Bernier of the University of Edinburgh, Isaac Julien’s film imagines the person of Frederick Douglass through a series of tableaux vivants and gives life to his relationships with other cultural icons of the time. Mostly women, these characters were chosen for being representatives of ideals of equality and include African-American photographer J.P. Ball; Douglass’s wives Anna Murray and Helen Pitts; Anna and Ellen Richardson, the English Quakers who allowed Douglass to return to the United States as a free man; Susan B. Anthony, the suffragist and Douglass’s longtime friend; and Ottilie Assing, German intellectual, activist, and Douglass’s lover.

Employing both 35mm film and the latest 4K digital technology, the film was shot in Washington, D.C., where Douglass lived late in life and where in 1894 he gave his final speech, “Lessons of the Hour,” which addressed the shocking phenomenon of lynching in the post-Civil War American South. Additional filming took place in Scotland and England, where Douglass delivered over four hundred anti-slavery speeches––several of which Julien had reenacted inside the period rooms of the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

The presentation at the gallery includes four tintype portraits of characters who are featured in Lessons of the Hour–– Frederick Douglass, J.P. Ball, and Anna Murray Douglass. The series is titled Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow after a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar, whom Douglass once said was “the most promising colored man in America.” To create the works Julien had a tintype camera and developing facility on the film set provided by photographer Rob Ball, who produced the tintypes for the Lessons of the Hour project. Additionally, the exhibition will feature a selection of color photographs from Lessons of the Hour, a number of found archival images that appear in the film, and an assemblage of black and white analog photographs related to Julien's film Who Killed Colin Roach? (1983). Reflecting upon the death of Colin Roach, a 23-year-old black man who was shot dead at a police station in London’s East End, this early work meditates on the continued quest for equality that was Douglass’s life-long ambition, while also evoking the current Black Lives Matter movement.

An original score for the film was created by composer Paul Gladstone Reid. This is Isaac  Julien’s first work made in the United States since Baltimore (2003). Lessons of the Hour was commissioned and acquired by the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York, where it is on view through May 12, 2019.

ISAAC JULIEN lives and works in London and Santa Cruz, California. He has had one-person exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Art Institute of Chicago; Milwaukee Art Museum; Bass Museum of Art, Miami; Saint Louis Art Museum; Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover; SESC Pompeia, São Paulo; and Aspen Art Museum. His acclaimed film installation Ten Thousand Waves has been exhibited in Shanghai, Sydney, Madrid, Helsinki, São Paolo, Gwangju, Gothenburg, Moscow, New York, Miami, and London. Isaac Julien has participated in the 2004 Whitney Biennial; the 8th Shanghai Biennale; 2012’s La Triennale at Palais de Tokyo, Paris; and the 56th Venice Biennale. His films have been included in renowned film festivals such as the Cannes Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, and Venice Film Festival. Most recently Julien received the Charles Wollaston Award (2017) for most distinguished work at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, and in 2018 he was made a Royal Academician. He was awarded the title Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honors, 2017. Isaac Julien is Distinguished Professor of the Arts at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he and Professor of the Arts Mark Nash are establishing the Isaac Julien Lab. The newly conserved director’s cut of Julien and Nash’s film Frantz Fanon: Black Skin White Mask (1996) has just been released by Film Movement Distributors, New York.

519 West 24th Street, New York, NY 10011

March 15, 2019

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi @ Philadelphia Museum of Art - Spirit and Spectacle

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi: Spirit and Spectacle
Philadelphia Museum of Art
April 16 – August 18, 2019

The Philadelphia Museum of Art presents an exhibition devoted to the colorful and expressive prints of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892), widely-known as the last great master of the traditional Japanese woodcut. Spirit and Spectacle celebrates the full scope of his achievement, tracing his efforts to champion the artistic culture of feudal Japan while addressing the new realities of his modern world. The exhibition features nearly one hundred works drawn primarily from the museum’s holdings—the largest collection of the artist’s prints outside of his native country—to highlight the ways in which Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, in a remarkable display of inventiveness and imagination, re-energized the art of the woodcut before it fell out of favor in Japan. While other exhibitions have often dramatized aspects of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi’s personal life—his bouts with mental illness, his complicated relations with women, and his personal misfortunes—Spirit and Spectacle takes a broader view of the artist’s achievements through the lens of the social and political upheaval that characterized 19th-century Japan and other external factors that shaped his artistic production.

Timothy Rub, the museum's George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, stated: “This exhibition offers an opportunity to share a truly exceptional, but perhaps lesser known aspect of our collection with the public. While Yoshitoshi was among the finest Japanese artists of his age, he was also a contemporary of the Impressionists, many of whom became inspired by ukiyo-e prints just as the genre began to decline in popularity in Japan. We are delighted to present the artist’s achievements in tandem with an in-depth exploration of Impressionism nearby in the Dorrance Special Exhibitions Galleries, to illuminate the various ways in which artists working at the same time in different parts of the world benefited from a growing artistic exchange.”

The exhibition begins with select examples of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi’s work in the 1860s following his apprenticeship with the master Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861). These prints reveal his mastery of the woodblock technique and his exploration of various conventions of ukiyo-e printmaking, or “pictures of the floating world,” through subjects such as actor portraits, historic battles, legends and ghost stories. By the mid-19th century, such prints were characterized by exaggerated foreshortening, asymmetry of design, and cropping of figures. As Tsukioka  Yoshitoshi honed his technical skills, he also developed his own artistic voice, creating inventive approaches to subject matter that reflected major cultural shifts as the isolationist policies of the shogunate rulers of Edo Japan (1603-1868) gave way to international exchange and modernization under the newly restored Meiji emperor (1868-1912). His triptych General Masakiyo at Shinshū Castle during the Invasion of Korea in 1590, (1863) reflects a growing global awareness; the image of St. Paul’s Cathedral in the background is a subtle reference to Japan's battle with the British at Kagoshima in the year the print was made.

While the depiction of gruesome subjects had entered the repertoire of Japanese prints earlier in the 19th century, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi gained a reputation for his visceral portrayal of violence, as reflected in selections from his Twenty-Eight Famous Murders with Verse, (1866-67), and One Hundred Warriors, (1868). The latter was his last series before he took a short hiatus from printmaking. This was a period of financial struggle and residual health complications for the artist, one that coincided with a waning market for traditional prints and social upheaval during the Meiji Restoration.

A section of the exhibition explores how the rapid growth of the newspaper industry in the early 1870s provided new opportunities for Tsukioka Yoshitoshi and renewed his career as a print designer. Beginning in 1873, he produced imaginative designs for The Postal Newspaper, which led to other commissions. Increasing competition from the introduction of photography and lithography to Japan led Tsukioka Yoshitoshi to seek new ways to invigorate the woodblock print. He alternated between traditional subjects and styles and a more expressive approach that combined western perspective with energetic lines. Additionally, he imbued his prints with vivid colors made possible through the use of aniline and other inks that were newly available due to trade. A striking example of his application of intensely colored inks is found in the series, Beauties and Seven Daytime Flowers, (1878), which presents beautiful women of the Imperial court paired with flowers. Two other prints displayed in this section demonstrate the different approaches Tsukioka Yoshitoshi took in his portrayals of women, from a more traditional ukiyo-e example, The Courtesan Usugumo Holding a Cat, 1876 to the modern style reflected in the color woodcut, Strolling: A Fashionable Married Woman of the Middle Meiji Period (1880s) Dressed in Western Style, 1888.

Prints demonstrating the significance of fires and firemen in everyday life in Japan are juxtaposed with other objects such as A Fireman’s Coat and a Fireman’s Hood from the mid-late 1800s. As the population grew and cities became crowded with wooden structures in the late Edo and early Meiji periods, fires were a frequent occurrence. A rare early triptych of a fireman’s parade from 1858 and another recording a devastating fire in Tokyo from 1876, as well as a single-sheet print from his series Fireman’s Standards of All Great Districts,1876, among other examples, illustrate Tsukioka Yoshitoshi’s fascination with these contemporary subjects.

The last decade of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi’s life was his most productive and successful. By the early 1880s, he had gained financial stability through his newspaper commissions and headed an active studio with loyal students. Additionally, a new concern for the preservation of Japanese cultural and literary traditions arose in the 1880s, following the rapid modernization of the previous two decades, which created more opportunities for Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. It was during this time that he completed his most celebrated series, One Hundred Aspects of the Moon (1885-92). Images of the moon in its many phases is the common backdrop for the characters in this series. Stoic warriors, samurai, everyday townspeople, demons, poets, and courtesans reference stories relating to the moon and are drawn from Japanese and Chinese history and folklore, literature, and theater. Twenty-four highlights from the museum’s entire set are featured in the final gallery. In these mature works, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi achieved his distinctive aesthetic – combining flat design with a more realistic approach to perspectival space that conveys suspended moments of action. These dynamic prints made him the most popular artist in Edo (present-day Tokyo) at the time of his death. His passing signaled the end of an era for the genre in Japan.

The exhibition is organized by Shelley Langdale, the Park Family Associate Curator of Prints and Drawings. Langdale noted: “Over the last ten or so years, there has been a new appreciation, a sort of revisionist history, of Yoshitoshi’s life and work. While he remains best-known for his unforgettable scenes of gruesome violence, this exhibition demonstrates the range of his achievement as an innovative image-maker. Yoshitoshi’s challenges were not so different from our own– he was a traditionalist who sought ways to advance the cultural heritage and distinctiveness of his native country within an increasingly transnational world. As his work contains many elements that offer a rich dialogue with manga and anime today, we’ll be hosting a variety of programs that address these striking visual and literary connections.”

Select loans supplementing this presentation of works from the collection have been generously provided by Dr. Robert and Mrs. Linda Rudolph and by the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania.

This exhibition has been made possible by The Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Exhibition Fund.

2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130

March 14, 2019

Kimono: Refashioning Contemporary Style @ Cincinnati Art Museum

Kimono: Refashioning Contemporary Style
Cincinnati Art Museum
June 28 – September 15, 2019

Toshiko Yamawaki (1887–1960), Japan
Evening Dress with Wave Motif, 1956
Silk taffeta with gold-thread embroidery 
Collection of The Kyoto Costume Institute 
Inv. AC12555 2011-8-35AB
Gift from Yamawaki Fashion Art College
Photo by Takashi Hatakeyama

In Kimono: Refashioning Contemporary Style, at the Cincinnati Art Museum, visitors can experience more than 50 ensembles by Japanese, European and American designers including Coco Chanel, Christian Louboutin, John Galliano, Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, Rei Kawakubo, Iris van Herpen and Issey Miyake.

Organized by the Kyoto Costume Institute in Japan and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, the exhibition features fashion from the 1870s to the present day along with kimono, Japanese prints, paintings and textiles.

Kimono—literally translated “thing to wear”—has impacted international fashion since Japan opened its ports to the world in the mid-1850s. The form and silhouette of kimono, its two-dimensional structure and motifs used as surface embellishment, have all been refashioned into a wide array of garments. Kimono revealed new possibilities in clothing design and helped lay the foundation for contemporary fashion design.

The exhibition explores these themes in four sections. The first explores the influence of Japanese aesthetics, called Japonsim, on artists, specifically painters, of the late nineteenth century, who depicted kimono in many of their works. The second section examines kimono’s influence on fashion from the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, when couture designs were inspired by the shape and cut of kimono and incorporated Japanesque motifs in their surface decoration. Two of the pieces included in this section address the use of kimono by Westerners as dressing gowns with a Cincinnati connection. The third section examines contemporary fashion and the continued use of variations on the kimono silhouette along with traditional weaving, dyeing and decorative techniques. The final section demonstrates how Japan continues to inspire the world of fashion through popular design, including manga and anime.

From a nineteenth century gown decorated with Japanese-inspired floral motifs to a 1960s dress tied with an obi-like sash to couture designs as recent as 2016, Kimono: Refashioning Contemporary Style, is a product of international collaboration between Japanese and American institutions. It makes clear that kimono has had a strong presence in fashion and continues to be an inspiration for designers worldwide.

“We are excited to partner with Kyoto Costume Institute (KCI) and Asian Art Museum to tell the story of the influence of kimono on contemporary fashions. KCI is renowned for their collection of Western dress and more than 15 exceptional examples of traditional and contemporary fashion have been added to the exhibition from the museum own permanent collection. The Cincinnati Art Museum have also supplemented the show with paintings, works on paper and examples of Rookwood pottery that help tell this story. From the 1870s to today, the kimono has continued to be a touchstone for fashion couturiers on a global scale,” said Cynthia Amnéus, Cincinnati Art Museum’s Chief Curator and Curator of Fashion Arts and Textiles.

The Cincinnati Art Museum is the third of three venues in the United States to present this exhibition. It was previously on view under the title Kimono Refashioned at the Newark Museum in New Jersey and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

This exhibition’s Cincinnati presentation is organized with the generous support of Huntington Bank and Toyota of Cincinnati. Kimono: Refashioning Contemporary Style will be on view in the Western & Southern galleries (galleries 232 and 233).

The exhibition was initiated by Akiko Fukai of the Kyoto Costume Institute, and was jointly curated by Rie Nii of the Kyoto Costume Institute, Yuki Morishima and Karin Grace Oen of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Katherine Anne Paul of the Newark Museum, and Cynthia Amnéus of the Cincinnati Art Museum—all of whom contributed to the exhibition and exhibition catalogue.

953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45202