Matt Leines currently lives and works in Brooklyn. He recently opened a solo exhibition entitled Hyperbolic at Beginnings NYC. From the quirky press release: “First there was Da Vinci, then Picasso and now there is Matt Leines and this show is called Hyperbolic. Ever the patient and earnest image-maker, surrealist sign-painter and erstwhile myth-shaper, Leines relocated to New York after a spell in Philadelphia during the year in which the world was scheduled to end. Settling into a fresh rhythm, he began a series of paintings that drew on those familiar rituals, traced the good ol’ sigils, but manipulated colors and shapes from the present with an attitude more formal, bright and tight. The young man in the studio considering a renaissance–small “r”. Real, live inscrutable people and chattering patterns. A happy creature drifting through the kitchen cosmos. Native American name-givers and the zig-zag of eternity. Leines’ recent output is a reminder that creative, figurative work has always been foundational to modern art.” The show is on view through May 5th 2013.
Jillian Ludwig’s series Fam Farm reflects in a calm, gentle manner the loss of natural farming within westernized culture. Genetic modification, factory farming, as well as deceitful packaging and misguided labeling results in confusion and a disconnection between customer and the source of their food.
Subtle and steady gestures provide the backbone to Tom Haney’s movable figures. He creates characters using a craft called ‘automata’ which replicates human movement using mechanical devices. Each is constructed out of wooden found objects which eventually turn into characters pulled from novels like Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson. Haney’s narrative mostly finds its way through small towns of the 40’s and 50’s back to a time when rebellion meant getting drunk off whiskey on a Friday night or flying a kite made out of an American flag. It stays put in a simpler time when things were mostly done by hand and craft meant something. This also manifests in the facial features of the artist’s figures which are painted with deadpan humor recalling Norman Rockwell. This dynamic paired with slight movement focuses your attention on a specific moment which sets it apart from ordinary puppets. It spawns a type of poetry created from gesture. Haney chooses to slow down time and focus on little things that enhance life through his wooden cast.
The videos explaining Haney’s process are fascinating because the work is highly detailed and irregular. Usually when you think of puppets you envision uniformity and system whereas when you see Haney’s craftsmanship it transforms into a lost art form. He discloses intricate carving methods needed to shape and make the pieces function. All the nuts and bolts making it work take on a Frankenstein sensibility which adds to the appeal. However, the narratives are pure Americana. Some of his more in depth projects have focused on the underbelly of a small town carnival leading to a mysterious underground and a vignette about discovering first love in the forest. Both are set to contemporary music.
Photographer Tommy Kha, a 2013 graduate of Yale’s MFA program, will not kiss you back. In his project, Return to Sender, Kha documents himself receiving a kiss from strangers, friends, lovers, acquaintances, and not returning it. To what do we owe this visual pleasure and physical discomfort? These images of Kha’s bewildered, open eyes while his malleable body is taken, touched, and grabbed at another’s whim conjures up an amalgam of emotions, the least of which is our own discomfort.
Why? The photographer knows: “While my passive character mirrors stereotypes of the Asian men—almost always depicted as neutered, asexual, or submissive within media—it is my transgression as the photographer that undermines this passivity. Coupled with the other participants’ control over their own representation through their kiss, these images intend to question and confuse the role of the photographer and sitter, protagonist and supporting character, self-portrait and performance.” We recently found out more from Kha.
Why did you choose kissing as the method for self-portraiture as it is in effect here?
“I approach the picture making to explore desire, through intimacy, but it doesn’t necessarily look intimate in the photographs. It has to do with the desire to see oneself reflected. With kissing (on the lips), there’s something very expected about doing that act. I like to be surprised by photography since my work lies within the terrains of self-portrait, performance, and staged photography. Even in making these photographs, it’s not really about the kiss as an act itself but how each kiss is different.”
Carlie Armstrong’s Work Place site is a fantastic ongoing documentary project documenting the work places of Portland creatives. Whether it’s a painter, a musician, or designer, Carlie aims to not just understand the creative process but to also document the spaces that contain them.