Sep 192010

dear reader,

it’s happened. my two-cents are in print and are now available at your local art-magazine-furnishing news-stand.

the Arts Asia Pacific Magazine link is here & the review/essay is an account of the Art Brut Japonais exhibition on view at Halle Saint Pierre, here in Paris.  next month’ll be something of a shorter review of an exhibition at Emmanuel Perrotin, and the following’ll be Murakami @ Versailles. {check back in a few days for Murakami photos!}. till then, the Japonais review is online here.  à bien tôt!

Aug 182010

Dear Reader,

It has been a very very long time.  In the interim, I’ve been writing a bunch, making new works, dreaming of traveling, and wrestling (literally) with the folks at the visa office.  All fun things–ok, save for that last one.  I wrote this bit following for a magazine, and fortunately for you, it didn’t make the cut.  (this is fortunate, because I get to post it online here, and you can read it for free).  It’s another review for the show currently up at Halle Saint Pierre here in Paris.  The first one I wrote, a lengthier account, will be published in next month’s issue of Art Asia Pacific Magazine, which is based in New York.  With no further ado, here’s the text.  If you want to see some of the images from the show, there’s a great website www.art-brut.jp , which was created by the Japanese side of the equation to promote the exhibition here in Paris.  Happy reading~

<<The exhibition Art Brut Japonais currently on exhibit at Halle Saint Pierre in Paris, France has been lauded as a veritable tsunami of artistic innovation crashing upon Montmartre.  “Une vague Japonais,” literally “a Japanese wave” culls to mind Katsushika Hokusai’s iconic woodblock print The Great Wave, humorously likening Montmartre to Mt. Fuji, and the huddled boatmen to tourists visiting Sacre Coeur.  On another level, if we consider the myriad artistic allusions to Great Wave, and its immeasurable cultural impact, the iconic image becomes larger than itself, as its interpretations change with its absorption into disparate visual cultures.  Japonais Art Brut is similarly grander than the sum of its parts. The artist Jean Dubuffet once likened Art Brut to a strange wind blowing up against culture, challenging it to mutate and dry up before our very eyes. From strange wind to tsunami wave, this radical intensification of simile is apt, as it points to Halle Saint Pierre’s role in a drastic redrafting of the cultural and conceptual boundaries delimiting what’s nowadays considered Art Brut.

In its first iteration two years hence, Art Brut from Japan at the Art Brut Collection in Lausanne, Switzerland, was the product of collaboration with NO-MA Borderless Gallery in Japan. The twelve artists featured in Lausanne represented a diverse cross-section of Japan’s Able-Arts Movement and ateliers supported by Japan’s social-welfare system (principally the Mizunoki Workshop in Kyoto). True to Dubuffet’s intentions for the Art Brut Collection, Art Brut from Japan created the illusion of a finite set by way of conservative curation, while simultaneously alluding to the multitudes of correlatives in absentia. It seemed to be a comprehensive collection of Art Brut from Japan.  However, it’s important to note that this collaboration was predated by the Collection’s sizable acquisition of works from Mizunoki (1994), and was book-ended with the Workshops’ subsequent and generous donation of many more works.

The exponentially larger Art Brut Japonais at Halle Saint Pierre includes the original Lausanne dozen, expanding its scope to include a total of 63 artists drawn from a larger pool of ateliers. While Lausanne curated disparate Japanese visionaries into harmony within their own collection, Japonais’ cast of five-dozen unique voices simultaneously perform their own operettas. One is immediately dazzled by this veritable cacophony of imagery and color—tsunami indeed!  The breadth of themes and materials, coupled with the vast range of technical skill and pictorial intrigue bears neither the semblance of a finite collection, nor does it purport to represent the cream from the top.   In similar fashion to the Art Brut Collection’s debut exhibition at Galerie René Drouin (1947, Paris), in which Dubuffet erred on the side of maximalist-curation, Japonais proposes no hierarchy among those presently exhibited and those creators still ‘undiscovered.’  While the Lausanne exhibition—unintentionally, perhaps—created significant Japanese Art Brut artists, through their inclusion within the larger Collection, Japonais is open-ended, offering instead a survey representative of their collaboration with NO-MA those affiliates of the Able-Arts Movement, and their respective agendas.

Both NO-MA and Able-Arts endeavor to disentangle the “handicapped arts,” so-called in Japan, from its paradoxically stigmatized association with Japan’s social welfare system through re-contextualization within the realm of fine art. Though the terms Able-Art and Japanese Art Brut are not synonymous, both encourage a reappraisal of such works by imparting an art-historical precedent and affording them an alternate rhetoric.  And, as Martine Lusardy, Directrice of Halle Saint Pierre, suggested to Raw Vision, “The West has always been wary of art-therapy ateliers. ‘Art Brut Japonais,’ which has notably consisted of the mentally handicapped, obliges us to rethink our positions.” This simultaneous shift in eastern and western rhetoric is brilliantly in keeping with Art Brut’s original agenda.

Art Brut Japonais boasts an abundance of calligraphic text, appropriated popular and traditional imagery, codified personal narrative, fictive realms revealed, and microcosmic cartographies representative of the infinite complexity that is contemporary Japanese culture. Surpassing their shared nationality and similar mental handicaps, the most strikingly evident commonality among these works is the apparent urgency and intensity of their creators.  And as many of these creators are still quite young, Art Brut Japonais is but a primer for much great Japanese Art Brut still to come.>>

Jun 102010

it’s a rare day that i leave the atelier sans pen, smokes, cell, camera.  today, for whatever reason, i’d opted to use the camera case as make-shift change purse. it served its purpose, though i missed two once in a lifetime photographs (ok, maybe not once in a lifetime, but you get the point).  biking back from what was a rather stellar meeting with art brut afficionado & art historian, laurent danchin, i passed by the opera house at Bastille.  there, encamped enmasse were give or take a thousand sans-papiers africains. not quite protest, not quite sit-in, not official funding effort, they were just there in effort to bring attention to their plight, and on the steps and sidewalks of the cities prestigious opera house (one of..) aside from the usual “rasta woman” and “ma rasta soeur” projections, i was intercepted by a man wielding a change can (raising funds for…?) and got caught in side-walk standstill caused by the mass of pedestrians and sitters-in.  a sea of black faces, just waiting.  a month ago, there was a rally, an actual rally with speakers, signs, and information booths, for the sans papiers. i’ve been carrying this leaflet since then, inviting one and all to a march from paris to provence in support. on va voir.

at barbes-rochechouart, pedaling across the intersection under the metro station, i’m stopped in bumper to bumper traffic.  everyone’s stopped to observe the police fighting with three algerian men (i’m guessing algerian–the man i stopped to ask what was going on was algerian).  as i stopped, the younger 2 meter tallish one landed a blow on an older 50ish looking, drunken looking man who was then being restrained by the police.  i was so shocked that this fight continued (for what seemed an hour) for another 20 minutes while the police were restraining these people.  blows were landed. someone sprayed mace; i’d never felt my throat and tongue burn with that strange sensation. and there were several hundred algerian, french, black african men (a few women) lining all 6 corners of the complicated intersection. c’etait incroyable . j’ai jamais vu une chose comme ça. oh la la . in the end 4 more police cars pulled up, and the instigators were wrestled into various vehicles.  when it was over, we all…all several hundred of us…waited for the end. some resolution maybe.  when everything had dissolved and dispersed, a one legged, mohawk-ed man in a wheelchair (the remaining leg in a large bandage) sat resolutely, defiantly in the middle of vehicular confusion.  it took a policeman getting out of his car, and physically wheeling him out of the way for everything to begin returning to normal . then i left .

two pictures could have spared all these words.

May 312010

Mel Bochner @ Galerie Nelson-Freeman, presenting two bodies of new work (both from 2010) Blah Blah Blah, and a new edition of Thesaurus Paintings, the latter of which were exhibited first in 2004.  Nelson-Freeman is one of Paris’ more cavernous gallery spaces.  This Saturday, my allergies were the worst in recent memory… probably the worst in a decade. So much thunderous and echoing sneezing would’ve been embarrassing had I not actually felt that all the noise when well with the work.  Bochner says, “the function of color is to divert the responsibility of a text concerning its meaning.”  ergo:  color functions to decontextualize the text from itself–or to funk-up the implicit meaning of each word/phrase. I’m not sure I agree that the text is relieved of it’s responsibility-to-self; “Blah Blah Blah” is a neutral phrase avec or sans color.  The Thesaurus paintings’ loaded language is neither disarmed or muted; if anything it’s louder and in color.  The sneezing certainly complimented the cacophony.

Guillaume Bresson @ Galerie Nathalie Obadia is on view from 29 May to 17 July in Galerie II

Guillame Bresson lives upstairs from my studio here at the Cité.  I’m both pleased to know that he might be getting some sleep now that the show has opened & am completely in awe of what he’s managed to accomplish in his short time here.  Galerie Obadia is exhibiting Guillaume’s first solo exhibition, and I believe it’s one which merits some rave reviews.  Succinctly, Guillaume’s realist-style, sepia or umber toned canvasses depict urban scenes of confrontation between several or many young men.  In this series, the artist staged and photographed a loose narrative involving one-on-one confrontations, and what appears to be rival gang confrontations, with a non-descript parking garage space as the back-drop.  He uses these photos for reference in his paintings.

He explained at the opening that the subtle difference in hues, from one painting to the next, (from almost neutral gray to umber to a greenish brown) are meant to suggest different chapters in the series–they denote a shift in temporality.  In the press release accompanying, it’s noted “his painting is inspired by mythological figures and figures from history (from Poussin to Caravage) whom he revisits in a manner resolutely modern and powerful…”

Guillaume’s work will also be on view at the Palais de Tokyo, in a group show entitled “Dynasty,” opening June 10th.

Hamish Fulton @ Patricia Dorfman : Walking to Paris will be on view through the 26th of June.

and finally, One Man’s Mess is Another Man’s Masterpiece @ Bugada & Cargnel includes works by : Wilfrid Almendra, Pierre Bismuth, Etienne Chambaud, Martin Creed, Cyprien Gaillard, Piero Golia, and Zak Kitnik.

Kitnick’s Shelving Units