When an artist works with patterns- repositioning, repurposing and giving new context to his or her subjects- it is often in the interest of creating more from less, big from small. It’s a way of demonstrating a well-worn flavor of creative vision, one that lets the world know that you not only can see the unseen, but you can create the bridge between that which exists, and that which, as of yet, does not. It’s a way of asserting how smart you are (after all you’re a step ahead of everyone else). This is a good way to be. But it doesn’t take that much effort to be smart, to see the bigger picture. For many of us, it’s really just a matter of opening our eyes. What’s really special -what separates the thinkers from the human computers- is the ability to really understand your subject. And that’s something that takes time and effort, not some abstract, bullshit self-assertion of ‘creative vision’. What’s really special is to use pattern to go inward instead of outward. To demonstrate not how one thing is actually a part of something else, but how certain elements make something not like something else. To highlight how some things are just inherently the way they are.
Take Ron Ulicny’s recent work on view at Spoke Art in San Francisco: clever sculpture and belligerently patterned works that force you to really absorb the materials from which they’re made. Ulicny’s technique finds a way of getting inside the things that we usually use to make other things. A way of finding the small structures within the already small. Forced to confront his subjects in such a direct way, we begin to feel strangely acquainted with the work.
Tonight, FFDG in San Francisco opens Sylvia Ji‘s first solo show with the gallery, “Interwoven” (reception 7-10). Some of these new acrylic paintings on wood seem to expand on the more pattern-based elements of her previous work, inspired by Mexican textiles. The artist’s haunting female figures are present as well and look great as Ji continues to push her brushwork to new levels. These paintings deserve to be seen in person, so get over to Mission St. if you can tonight, where Ji will also be releasing a new print.
Eminent scholar, artist, and human being Kristin Farr recently gave the world an awesome gift in the release of her new app, #FarrOut. Neon rainbow laser beams from another dimension are what Kristin’s artwork is all about, and now you can mess around with her magical paintings for free! Add them to your photos or create brand new compositions using funny animals, rainbow diamonds, and super magical energy! #FarrOut is guaranteed to make you happy and bring you good luck. As the summer really hits its stride, we can now take part in a process heretofore only available to the artist herself. Definitely a good omen for the season.
DIAcussion, a group show that engages in dialogue and discussion through form and subject, opens tonight at envoy enterprises, 87 Rivington St. (6-8 PM). The exhibition seems to approach its concept very directly; a lot of the interplay between the work is very pronounced, sort of in your face. This is far from a problem, as the overall quality of the show looks to be pretty high. The focus on figurative elements opens up a direct, personal vein through which we are able to consider the implications of the vastly different ways in which we approach the same goals. You can keep your questions at face value (medium vs. medium, subject vs. subject). And you can take in the decaying face of Gerald Collings’ The Hollow (above) and go all out dust-to-dust; considering the myriad ways you might choose to live your life in the face of the possibility that we all end up in the same lame, dead position eventually, that we all think we know the best way out of the maze but none of us actually find the exit in time.
All images courtesy of the artist and envoy enterprises, New York.
The work of Mexican artist Curiot is still on display at FFDG in San Francisco. If you find yourself around those parts and have not yet seen the exhibition, then fear not- you still have three days to roll through. Age of Omuktlans closes this Saturday. I would get there before then if I were you. Curiot’s technique is looking pretty solid with this new batch of paintings that allude to Mexican traditions (geometric designs, Day of the Dead styles, myths and legends, and tribal tinges). His characters seem to exist outside of time, and possess so much magnetism that the artist’s compositions maintain a certain vibrancy even in the absence of any background elements. Spring is here, and these works express a lot of the churning, dynamic forces coming into play outdoors right now. Rain or shine, Curiot seems to have a handle on the natural dynamics constantly at play around us. And if you can’t make it to the SF institution’s IRL location, click past the jump to see more images from the show.
Last September, we visited Leon Reid IV‘s studio and brought back some photos. Less than a month later, Hurricane Sandy blew through the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, leaving so many of us devastated. Leon’s studio is located right up against Newtown Creek in Greenpoint. When the storm hit, the creek flooded the studio with nasty, polluted water; damaging equipment, artwork, and the space itself. Slowly but surely, Leon’s working to bring things back together. We recently talked briefly about his rebuilding process and where things are headed going forward. Click past the jump for Leon’s account of the ordeal and some news from his studio. And stop by his booth at the Fountain Art Fair (March 8-10, 68 Lexington Ave.), where he’ll be showing some of the flooded works.
Mark Mulroney is currently showing new work at Mixed Greens in Chelsea. The exhibition, entitled We’re Never Getting Rescued With That Attitude, features paradisiacal scenery created with graphite and acrylic applied to both found book paper and carved wood panel, respectively. In addition to reading Gauguin’s letters from Tahiti, studying Tarzan imagery, and internalizing clichéd tropical sunsets, Mulroney investigated 30-years-worth of Playboy and Penthouse magazines in preparation for the show. Click past the jump for some installation views, and check it out in person before April 20th.
Next month, Jay Howell is having a solo show of 25 new works on paper at FFDG in San Francisco (“Enthusiastic Person”, opening February 1st, 6-9pm). Always excited to see what this guy is cooking up. Every new series he does seems to improve on the last without abandoning the sense of freedom and experimentation that makes his work so appealing. This will be Howell’s third solo exhibition with the gallery, and if you’re in the area, I definitely encourage you to check it out. Click past the jump to see more new character-filled work, and keep a look out for the artist’s upcoming animated series with Nickelodeon, “Sanjay and Craig”.