If there is an artist known for documenting other artists’ work habits and studio spaces, it’s Joe Fig. Definitely do yourself a favor and check out the sculptures on his website, they’re amazing. In Joe Fig: New Paintings, up until April 9th at Cristin Tierney, Fig takes us on a detour to another time and has painted dudes you might recognize from Art History 101, and also some that are more obscure. By placing them in scenarios where they are either in front of a mirror and painting their self-portrait, or surrounded by art; Fig has made paintings of people who are looking. Putting us into a position where we are looking at them looking.
Chris Kerr uses the fantasy aesthetic of wizards, unicorns, beer cans, and psychedelic swirls; but in his best work Kerr adds a disorienting dose of reality. In the process creating what philosophers might describe as a parallax view. Kant referred to this sort of arrangement of irreconcilable ideas as antimony, the purpose of which is to create a “decisive experiment, which must necessarily expose any error lying hidden in the assumption of reason.” In Kerr’s work, where we see both the hip iconography and reality, something starts to skew inside our heads. It’s a message written in two languages which you already know how to read, but it takes a long time to read them together.
Ventured over to Brooklyn to see what visual awesomeness Melissa Brown was up to in her studio. Melissa had the studio organized for making large-scale prints. She’s known for working with a variety of media including: used scratch tickets, oil paint, lino-cuts, wood-cuts, drawing, mail art, video, and performance. The color in Brown’s prints and paintings is what initially drew me to her work, but I admire her work for its openness and psychological generosity. Talking with Melissa was really fun. I actually got a little dadarhea of the mouth and started talking about philosophy, which in retrospect is embarrassing. Melissa is in a bunch of cool shows, one at Canada called Dadarhea which runs until March 20th, and two upcoming shows: Paper A-Z at Sue Scott, and the upcoming show at Zieher Smith in Chelsea.
Last Summer Evan Gruzis openned up his studio for a visit with B/D. His work struck a chord with me. It’s the way he takes “cheesy” tourist imagery, 80′s nostalgia, and advertisements; and then intellectually flips-that-shit to create paintings that deal with death, infinity, and desire. It was like he was reading my mind, because those are the first three things that occur to me when looking at an add for a cruise ship or a Caribbean resort. His work interested another website, sightunseen, and there’s a new studio visit where they get into creativity and the aspects of hallucinogenic perception.
Bryant Park, located about a block East of Times Square in Manhattan, has been home to a several fun contemporary/public art projects recently. Right now, they’re hosting the “Battle of the Brush.” Which happens to include alumni of the Beautiful/Decay Studio Visits: Alison Blickle and Tom Sanford. It’s based around the idea of a civil war reenactment, except instead of the North and South, it’s between abstraction and figuration. Bryant Park was a campground for soldiers during the Civil War, so that’s where the whole Civil War thing comes in. Personally, I just like the paintings… It’s coming down this Wednesday, Feb 2nd, so get over there asap. The show was curated by Corporate Art Solutions.
Paul Brainard’s got a healthy libido, there’s no doubting that. He mixes it up with junk food, memento mori, geometric abstraction and political anger to create work that seduces and repels. Dredging into the murky area of what the French psychologist Jacques Lacan called “desire;” defined as: what you want after you’ve got everything you need. Cue the Rolling Stones, I can’t get no (guitar riff) satisfaction. Brainard is bad mofo with a pencil, after the jump there’s some tasty drawings. You can see Paul’s work in SF at Guerrero Gallery, and in NYC at Allegra LaViola for the upcoming group show Pornucopia, which is running from Feb 4th to March 11th.
Ryan Bradley’s large, intricately composed pastel paintings of attractive female faces are seductive. The delicate paintings are “unfixed,” which means the pastel is left loose. This creates a surface similar to butterfly wings. If you touched the paintings, some would rub off onto your hands. I can’t help but think there is some relationship between the fragility of the surface and the portraits’ beauty. Like the really ripe moment when someone is at the tops of their looks, you know it can’t last, but you can look away either.
Tom Sanford’s new work touches on politics and our infotainment culture with equal enthusiasm. For your viewing pleasure there is an erotically oily Sarah Palin, the repressed sexuality of Philip Guston, a Jong Il fist-bump, Jail Birds, and love affairs between beautiful nymphets and strangely hairy men. I think that’s something for everyone. All of these paintings have emigrated to Europe. Some for Copenhagen at Gallery Poulsen, and some to Norway, for a show at Galleri S E.