Michael Bevilacqua current exhibit at Gering &Lopez Gallery in NYC showcases a single, monumental painting titled An Ideal For Living; a canvas that the artist has spent more than the past year painting. As with a number of Bevilacqua’s works, the title references a particular source of music, in this case the 1978 debut album by the post-punk rock band Joy Division. The band became an obsession for Bevilacqua, so much so that the painting grew along with his focus, consuming his attention and mirroring his state of mind. Each song, each lyric began taking on particular significance for Bevilacqua, who found many parallels to his own life and reflected his outlook on his surroundings. An Ideal For Living in fact created the rhythm of the artist’s life over the past year, further loosening his painting style and bringing about a series of work that he refers to as ‘the New Dis Order.’ Clearly diaristic in nature, the 30’ painting features an eclectic mix of color, text, visual styles and process. As rich as one would expect a yearlong work to be, the painting is also nuanced, with areas of sharpness and clarity layered upon washes of color and moody hues. Juxtaposed against this singular outpouring, other new works take a different approach, becoming extremely minimal and hauntingly symbolic, drained of color or highly textured.
Using abstract expressionism as muse, Brooklyn painter Andy Piedilato plays off visceral emotion. With unyielding imagination, he reaches a place between here and another, a type of painter’s purgatory, where ship wrecks float in brick shaped waves on huge panoramic canvases. Intertwined with vast metaphors, the ship motif was first inspired when a friend built his own boat. The idea stayed with Piedilato and he started thinking about how a handmade vessel would fare at sea. Soon he was painting parts of boats with a technique he had already acquired using bricks. This completely changed his purely abstract canvases. Paintings that were once finished in a day were now taking a month to complete. Before, the focus was not so much on a thing but a moment. This produced dozens of messy works which concentrated on sole mark making.
Today, his painstakingly tedious process uses a technique which paints around hand taped sections of canvas, allowing the tiny brick shapes to form into pictures. The results are flatter and less heavily impastoed. There’s a translucency present, especially in two recent works called “Red Sail” and “Sea Snail.” Both over 10′ wide, they exude a Japanese scroll effect making them slightly more watercolorish. This might account for the large amount of white in the background, thus opening up a new path for Piedilato. His present state of mind, is that of an artist who’s been asked to paint ‘smaller’ by potential dealers to encourage more salability. His refusal has allowed the paintings to get bigger and weirder, adding more aura to his increasing cult hero status.
We have featured the work of UK artist Adam Batchelor on the blog (here) in the past. He continues to produce provocative mechanical and colored pencil drawings that shine a light on socioeconomic issues. Batchelor explains that he “…explores the breakdown and conflict between humanity, the man-made and the natural world, and looks into the ever rapid transition of developing cultures. I introduce themes of capitalism and consumerism and highlight the threat these have on global issues such as the rights for Indigenous people, the agricultural industry, corruption, health, war and conflict.”
Tianmiao Lin‘s artwork combines household objects and human figures with a technique called “thread winding”: wrapping thread — or hair or silk — around an object until it is completely covered. The result is oddly tactile and organic, looking like something spun by a spider caught in a fevered dream. The use of string, Lin reveals in an interview with The Culture Trip, is partly for that very reason. They are organic and natural, and contain an element of mysterious strength. “The materials take on a life of their own,” Lin says.
When Chinese artists are discussed, it’s hard to ignore politics; Lin is no exception. As an artist — particularly a female artist — from a country that went through a rather recent revolution, her creations are rife with subtext whether intended or not. It’s difficult if not impossible to draw on the themes and symbols of family and femininity without also summoning the specter of their cultural context.
In a collection called “Mothers!!!,” pearls and webs of string become tangled cancerous masses on the backs of women, weighing them down. The pearls are beautiful but also destructive. In another installation called “Chatting,” several figures stand in a circle, heads bowed, seeking connection perhaps but resigned to the impossibility of it.
To be fair, Lin has rejected feminist and political readings of her work. As an artist, she most likely wants to defy labels and have her work speak for itself. Still, it’s hard not to feel a little glimmer of dissent and rebellion in her art — arising organically, woven into the very DNA of it, strand by strand.
The current political situation in Greece is on everybody’s mind at the moment. So the installation by Madrid based artist SpY couldn’t be more poignant. Made up of €1000 worth of 2c coins, he glued the coins to a neighborhood wall in Bilbao, spelling out CRISIS in bold, eye catching capital letter. Not surprisingly, given the current financial state across the continent, the passing public helped themselves to the work, and in less than 24 hours, all of the coins had disappeared.
An active urban artist since the 80s, SpY has been long involved in making subtle social commentary for all to see. He often installs large letters or text-based work on the sides of buildings, or creates shapes in ivy on walls; has wrapped up a police car in plastic and has also formed inaccessible areas that make people look twice. He interrupts people’s daily routes to work, or comments on the urban structures that surround them.
The bulk of his production stems from the observation of the city and an appreciation of its components, not as inert elements but as a palette of materials overflowing with possibilities. His ludic spirit, careful attention to the context of each piece, and a not invasive, constructive attitude, unmistakably characterize his interventions. (Source)
No doubt SpY’s techniques are effective – his irony and positive humor draw attention to pressing social matters, and in a non-aggressive way, make viewers think twice about their political and physical environment.
SpY’s pieces want to be a parenthesis in the automated inertia of the urban dweller. They are pinches of intention, hidden in a corner for whoever wants to let himself be surprised. (Source)
Adam Friedman is a painter who is drawn to the similarities between the geologic process and human institutions (financial, governmental, etc.) He is interested in showing a million years on one canvas through the changes the surface, ridges, etc of the earth undergoes through time. But more importantly, he attempts to show a world that is healed of the human intervention it is currently suffering.
Izumi Keiji’s figurative sculptures seem to ridicule their subjects’ oblivion, in a playful way. Does anyone else find it humorous his poor sculptures are trying so hard to be normal, but can’t contain their bizarre idiosyncracies? It’s almost as if Izumi takes delight in rendering a white T and blue jeans, business-only bun wearing woman into a magical, blue lagoon water-fall headdress goddess with rainbows erupting from her armpits, as if about to take off in flight. She stands sort of delicately, both aware and inanimately unaware of her liminal position between a world in which anything is possible, and the mundane one you and I reside in. Not to be missed is the casual wear young man whose “afro” is turning into a martian below, completely unbeknownst to him…who knows, maybe I have a giant bolt of lightening erupting from my armpits, and I just don’t know it?