Review: NUD NOB

Duality is an illusion; everything contains its opposite. Silence, too, is an illusion, as is wholeness.

But to speak of opposites at all is, again, an illusion; there is no real polarity. Rather, there is only mixing, conflict, and confusion – there is only the border. Sarah Lucas knows this; hence, she created NUD NOB.

Lucas’ sculptures challenge duality, security, and “common” knowledge. Indeed, Florian and Kevin are both vegetables and phalluses; they are both mundane and shocking; they jog our binaristic thinking.

What is gender? What is a body? For Lucas, identity is itself amorphous; art, too, is a fever dream, and bodies are experiments, formulas, mixtures. The body is really anything we want it to be – that is, if we dare.

Sarah Lucas' NUD NOB. Picture from www.gladstonegallery.com.

Sarah Lucas’ NUD NOB. Picture from www.gladstonegallery.com.

Luca’s smaller sculptures are also fascinating; here, we encounter indeterminate figures in passionate poses. Are they fighting? Caressing? Who is in charge? Is anyone in charge? We’re not sure, and yet, we’re drawn in; we feel in those glistening half-limbs a sense of freedom, fragility, and destruction.

Lucas’ exhibition is one of extremes – of small sculptures and vast forms, of image and blankness, of shock and rest. Definitely go visit – Lucas is a master not only of sculpture, but of space, silence, and mind.

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Comments? Suggestions? Let me know!

Review: Double Vision

I know, from my training, that drawing is a play of light and dark, of shadow – drawing, ultimately, is the flicker of light on planes. Hence, when I draw, I am sensitive to tonalities, to shades of pale, of dark; ultimately, I follow light, and I create a play of differences, of gradations.

Every figure, and every body, is different; every pose is a different play. This, indeed, is what Christian Johnson captures in his work; this is his tonal game.

From The Red Room's Facebook page.

From The Red Room’s Facebook page.

At Double Vision, works are arranged, fittingly, as plays, as variating flickers; as the eye moves, trembles, and stops, the shapes collide; slowly, the mind wanders, and the fingers grasp, if but for a moment, the rough arc of the charcoal stub.

I am intrigued by Johnson’s knowledge of bodies, and by his warping of planes. The works are elegant, yet disturbing; the forms are voluptuous, yet spare.

Christian Johnson, Untitled, 2014. Charcoal and Graphite on Paper. 25 x 19 inches. From The Red Room's Facebook page.

Christian Johnson, Untitled, 2014. Charcoal and Graphite on Paper. 25 x 19 inches. From The Red Room’s Facebook page.

How, indeed, does one create a contradiction? How does one match differences, variations, and textures? How does one capture bodies? If Johnson’s work is any indication, the key is abandon – total, playful artistic abandon.

I felt abandon, too, in that crowd, in that tiny space – that is, I felt the joy of eyes, the reel of minds, the tick of dreams. This, I feel, is the why of art shows; this is why we gather.

I strongly, strongly encourage you to visit Double Vision; it is an absolute treasure. I, for one, will absolutely visit again.

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Check out The Red Room here and here. Johnson’s works will be on view through March 22, 2014.

Comments? Questions? Want to suggest an event? Let me know!

Stay Tuned… (A trip!)

While I do love Queens (and, of course, art in Queens), I think that I am in desperate, desperate need of change. And by change, I mean… a trip to Manhattan!

This weekend, I will be covering Double Vision, an exhibition featuring drawings by the very talented Christian Johnson. And, even better, it’s curated by one of my former art teachers, the wonderful, glorious, and ingenious Bonnie DeWitt!

I really can’t wait; Johnson’s work is brilliant. And, in a way, Manhattan energizes me – I look in to its bright steel-eyes and I am pushed forward, ever forward.

So, if you can, definitely come to Double Vision – it’ll surely be fantastic. Remember: it’s just a 7 train ride away!

I’ll probably post my review on Sunday. Until then, keep creating!

Source Material

Art is not a leisure activity. Art is something we do – something we struggle with, something we form out of the raw materials of our lives. Art, simply put, is a process.

Source Material is ostensibly an exhibition of still life works, but it is so much more – indeed, it is a celebration of that artistic process, of that struggle. Here, artists show us how they respond to their worlds; they show us how art emerges from everyday materials, from the building blocks of myriad lives.

Xico Greenwald’s “Source Material Dioramas” are fascinating insights into the artistic process; here, indeed, the artist brings us in to his own worlds, his own responses, his own ways of living and seeing. In the first “Diorama,” we encounter a bottle of Goya peppers, a couple of shells, and a worn brush; we see here a universe, a place of collision, an artistic process in and through which raw materials – source materials, perhaps – collide and are changed, thereby producing art, a reimagining of worlds.

The second “Diorama” is also a process. Here, indeed, we encounter sketches of plants and flowers juxtaposed with actual plants, and actual flowers. We see, then, how source materials interact with each other, and we see how the artist has drawn from his world the materials with which he will experiment, with which he will struggle. He responds to those source materials; he changes them, molds them; he pours his own mind into their winding leaves. Ultimately, he makes art of them, and they of him.

The “Dioramas” are, fascinatingly, stationed outside of the exhibit room; inside, we encounter paintings in various stages of completion. I am drawn, especially, to Despina Konstantinides’ “Thanking Z,” which is a whirl of color, texture, and process. The artist has poured her paint, her arms, and her body onto the canvas; raw materials collide, and art is formed, unformed, and challenged.

And just nearby, Kim Sloane’s “Pale Flower” is engaged in a different, yet related, process. This, I believe, is a breaking-down, a vivisection of source material, of natural properties. Sloane’s flower is distilled, is torn down to its constituent elements; the artist has shown us how she, with cutting eyes, sees and responds to the objects, the world with which she is confronted, and in which she creates.

Source Material is indeed beguiling – it is a rare and exciting look into the lives, the vision, and the processes of artists. As I leave, I feel my own eyes changing; I feel that I, too, am engaged in a process, a world-building exercise, an artistic endeavor.

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Source Material is located right in our Library, on the 6th floor, at the Queens College Art Center. Go check it out!