Eddie Martinez is hands down one of the best artists working today. I’m not even going to qualify it by saying he’s one of my favorite artists, he’s a lot of artists’ favorite artist. For visual people, being in front of Martinez’s work is like sitting down to a dinner where the food is so delicious you forget to say anything to each other. If you count visual as a sense, it’s sensual. I was very happy to get to visit his studio and report back to Beautiful/Decay with the goods. Eddie had a big stack of drawings which had not been photographed before. As I flipped through that rich pile of drawings my brain melted and the hair on my arms stood up. So take a moment, picture your spirit animal, relax and enjoy this. I feel like Morpheus, and you’re Neo, in that scene from the Matrix where Neo has to choose between the red pill and the blue pill. Once you’ve seen things through Eddie’s eyes you can’t go back.
Joe Diebes is one of those guys who is so smart you can feel the smartness coming off them in waves, like heat on blacktop. I don’t pretend to understand what he’s thinking, but like Potter Stewart explained hard core porno by saying “I know it when I see it,” it’s easy to see something intense happening in Diebes’ sound and video collage. He created a recording of a musician, the cellist Rubin Kodheli, and then sort of collaged it back together using a mathematical algorithm. One interesting conceptual aspect of this video, Scherzo, is that it never repeats. And I don’t mean that it doesn’t repeat in this little one minute snippet, I mean that if you played it for one hundred years and sat there – it wouldn’t repeat the same sequence twice. I told you, this guy’s smart. You can see Scherzo at Paul Rodgers 9w gallery until December 2nd, and at the Liverpool Biennial until November 28th.
Noah Becker has curated a sweet show of Canadian artists, Six Degrees of Separation, at Claire Oliver. It’s nice to see what’s happening in the Canadian metropolises of Vancouver and Toronto, and the bulk of the artists are from these two cities. The show covers a wide range of approaches, from the pop-optical abstractions of Ben Van Netten to Becker’s own highly detailed ink drawings. Becker’s drawings make a nice metaphor for the artists he selected for the show; he’s making connections and building relationships that go beyond superficial resemblances. Six Degrees will be up until November 13th.
Erik Parker was preparing for two solo shows, one in LA, and one in Fort Worth, when I visited his studio in Brooklyn. Parker is known for making large scale paintings that are as comfortable with their roots as they are disorienting with their forms and spaces. First you get a hug, and then a slap. He said he wanted his paintings to still look good 40 years from now. By reorienting Modernist and Pop sensibilities, and then almost using contrapposto to create a balanced but expressive distortion, Parker was remixing some old school classics — like flower still-lives– into something fresh. His LA show is at Honor Fraser and opens on October 30th, and the Fort Worth show is at the Fort Worth Modern and opens on December 5th, and is curated by Andrea Karnes.
Adam Helms is known for drawing radicals and constructing ominous wooden watch towers. His current project is a series of 48 charcoal portraits in response to Gerhard Richter’s “48 Portraits.” Richter’s work used encyclopedia photos to catalog the iconic males of Western culture. Helms is also cataloging icons, but shifts focus to the dangerous fringes where civil wars and insurrections take place. Ranging over the entire political spectrum, from anti-establishment and anti-government groups to official government troops, Helms’ portraits are intentionally politically ambiguous, stating “The politics are less interesting to me then this idea of a repeated identity.”
The space in Claudia Cortinez’s work is so convincing that it’s easy to imagine air whistling through the latticed forms. I can’t decide if these are space stations or awesome backyards, but either way I want to hang out there.
Brendan Cass has been busy turning out awesome new paintings since his studio visit in April. Nailing the beautiful, effulgent color he’s known for, Cass is pushing into some new terrain with night-scapes. It’s all headed to Paris for Brendan’s upcoming show, Infrared Scene, which opens September 4th at Galerie Zurcher.
Employing concrete barriers, make-shift housing and check points, Amze Emmons uses the architecture of refugees to paint urban disaster. His grim imagery is mismatched by a cheerful palette, creating the impression of Martha Stewart going wild with pastels in a war-torn camp. Emmons puts it dryly: “I’m interested in how strife, climate change, disasters and global migration effect the way folks live and the types of environments they build.”