As New York’s unofficial artistic ambassador to Copenhagen this September, Tom Sanford is presenting a possessed Charlie Sheen grinning while staring fixedly forward, blue flame lighter in hand, delicately pinching a glass pipe. Sheen is entwined with a bemused, half-dressed woman about to slur out something not worth hearing, or maybe she’ll recite Macbeth: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player. That struts and frets his hour upon the stage. And then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” She’s palming a cocktail tray piled with white powder and and balancing a can of Four Loko. Four Loko is the drink that famously mixed alcohol with stimulants (Wikipedia says it’s just alcohol now), confusingly allowing us to do more and experience less at the same time. This painting is funny, but it also digs in the human condition in ways that we can all relate too. Sheen’s grimacing face might as well be the anamorphic skull in Holbein’s The Ambassadors, because it carries the same warning. Tom Sanford is one of those guys, who if you’ve been around New York, you sort of know already. He speaks with the charisma and articulate precision of an evening news anchor, but instead of scaring you like the news anchor does, he creates strangely healing images. Tom Sanford’s newest show is “The Decline of Western Civilization (Part III),” and it opens at Gallery Poulsen in Copenhagen on September 2nd.
Beth Livensperger’s painterly canvases are full of confusingly convincing visual miscues. Fluorescent lighting, mirrors, and expanses of reflective glass complicate vision by blinding, doubling, and flipping what we see. Livensperger uses these illusions in ways which prompt the question “what exactly am I looking at?” She makes us pay attention to places we would normally ignore, like store fronts, wood shops and laundry rooms. In the process bringing us into a one on one confrontation with our sense of sight.
Caves evoke primordial feelings. In our globalized culture they seem to suggest looking for a home in a world full of anonymous locations. Secret and safe places, caves also point towards introspection – an unknown location where you can think your deepest, most private thoughts. Noah Becker uses caverns in his recent work to set the stage for both the social and private. In some paintings people to play and socialize and in others people are withdrawn into thought.
Don Porcella is best known for his awesome figurative sculptures made using pipe cleaners. He also makes very tactile and colorful paintings. I love how the flatness of a messy drip painting can transform into the immensity of a sky which is back-dropping a space opera on an alien planet. Check out Don’s blog for updates and shows, he’s been in a bunch of cool shows over the last couple of months.
Nestled around a fire, inside a cozy cave, the first painter picked up some charcoal and drew a Mastodon. The Cave is also the place where Plato described the world unenlightened people view as “shadows of the images the fire throws” against the back wall. Courbet painted his cavern, The Source of the Loue, with an oarsman like the mythical Charon, ferrying people across the river Styx for a coin. Caves are mysterious places, tied into our deepest roots: metaphors for our experiences, fears, and knowledge. Melissa Brown, who we did a studio visit with a few months ago, has been working with an interesting group of printmakers at Random Number. She has a new silkscreen out – Cave View. Check, it, out.
Michael Anderson has been busy, since the studio visit Beautiful/Decay did with him in August he’s prepared two major solo shows. Anderson makes large-scale collages from street posters, sometimes measuring 12 feet across. Anderson’s newest show promises to a be visually mesmerizing cultural stew of optimistic, reverse advertising, aka subvertising. I talked with him about “She’s Okay,” the above collage, and he compared the golden lattice structure to the complexity of the girl’s thoughts and experiences. The exhibition, Equal Opportunity Destroyer, is opening April 8th in Copenhagen Denmark at Gallery Poulsen.
Samantha Bittman makes good-looking opstractions. They are painted on handwoven textiles, which adds a nice ripply surface to go with the hand painted lines. If you focus and un-focus your eyes they get even better.