From the illuminated, impressionistic water lilies of Monet, to the bright and disjointed abstract forms of Kandinsky, to the thick earthy tones of Van Gogh’s landscapes, most of us can recognize an artist’s signature style at a glance. But photographer Matthias Schaller shows us a new side of these things we may not have seen, or even thought about before. Since 2007, Schaller has been compiling a fascinating historical archive of the palettes, the pigments, the chaos (or order), and the thought patterns of some of the world’s most famous creative brains.
He has photographed over 200 palettes from around 70 painters from the 19th and 20th centuries and is displaying a selection for us to enjoy. His exhibition called Das Meisterstück (The Masterpiece) is on display alongside the Venice Biennale. Having blown up several of his photographs to be around six feet tall, Schaller invites other art-loving fans to enter the creative space of the masters with him. We can marvel at the tools that they used in the same way we are impressed by the final product. These photographs of their palettes easily become the new masterpieces.
Schaller started his fascination with looking ‘behind the scenes’ of an artist’s practice and reputation when he visited Cy Twombly’s studio in Gaeta, Italy. Spotting the painter’s palette, and finding it just as absorbing as the paintings themselves, he started a mission to seek out others.
The paintings of Korean artist KwangHo Shin are most certainly portraits. Though they depart from many of the elements of typical portraits they’re instantly recognizable as such. Shin uses charcoal to build the underlying structure – parts resembling hair, neck, shoulders, and ears. The faces aren’t so much painted as formed by gobs of oi paint. Hints of facial features such as eyes and noses may be ambiguously implied in each piece. However, its really the inner person Shin is after, the echoes of which linger for a moment on the face.
Marci Macguffie’s work ride the line between relief sculptures and wall paintings. My favorite works are her When Animals Attack series (pictured above) which have a great playful nature to them while dealing with issues of space and abstraction.
If the still above seems uncannily familiar to you- it’s because it’s from Michael Jackson’s unforgettable music video, “Thriller;” sans MJ, flesh-eating (choreographed) Zombies, or any sign of human life, for that matter. In the video “Untitled #100, (Fantasia),” artist Josh Azzarella took two years to meticulously remove everything but the murky rolling fog of a smoke machine and ominously ambient noises. The full length feature can be viewed on the humorously titled Funk of 40,000 Years. The result is a haunting look at a seeming post-apocalyptic landscape; robbed of its ghoulish face paint and kitsch, the video is a frightening look at what is left behind. The film is certainly imbued with new symbolic meaning now that the prince of pop himself has left the building, so to speak.
Josh will be showing this video at Mark Moore Gallery this Saturday, from 5-7pm. They will also be showing artist Kim Rugg (who has a similarly “systematic” practice of cutting out every single letter from newspapers and arranging them alphabetically). Shown in conjunction, an interesting dialogue regarding notions of truth and fiction within the media ensues between the two artists. If you are in LA, this exhibition is not to be missed!
It’s almost dinner time in LA and I’m thinking about skipping the main course and going straight to dessert. It’s going to be one hell of a feast folks. It will most likely look something like this video by Castrovalva.
Here’s a quick look into the Barry McGee exhibit at the Berkley Art Museum. It’s been up since the end of August, but you’ve only got one more month to check it out, since it closes December 9th.
You may know him as Ray Fong, Lydia Fong, Bernon Vernon, P.Kin, Ray Virgil, or Twist, but whatever moniker he’s creating under, McGee is an incredibly talented artist. Trained as a painter and a printmaker at the San Francisco Art Institute, McGee is now one of the most influential names in graffiti and street art. During his time in college, he began to take what he was learning to the streets off the Mission District, tagging under different pen names and switching up his styles. Now, he’s brining the streets he knows so well into gallery spaces, creating imaginary urban worlds in his installations. These new landscapes are filled with paintings, sketches, graffiti and sculptures, and visiting them feels a bit like walking around in McGee’s own mind.