28.9.12

RELATIVE WHALE

fwhale, watercolor & acrylic

I've made a new series of paintings, a nice effort before jumping into some bigger paintings and projects. http://www.natalielomeli.com/#/relative-whale/

Check out my website to see them all.  Enjoy this rainy day in NYC!

26.9.12

MAGICAL TERRORISM: Andra Ursuta

When walking into Ramiken Crucible, a gallery in the Lower East Side, I thought the work felt unfamiliar.  The entire front pane of glass was broken out, with shards on the ground, setting the tone: startling yet engaging. 


*All photos courtesy of Fisk! (Thanks)*




A complex narration behind the work was immediately apparent. Ursuta's busts reference a multitude of different cultures.  Easily speaking to old female fertility sculptures, the work creates a layer of femininity in conjunction with common currency of at least 3 different nations.  The concrete sculptures look hard, yet the fabric nature of their construction makes an interesting dichotomy between industrial material and the comfort of fabric.



Then there was this alien craft that had crashed into the wall. It was impossible to figure out if it was created from tin foil, foam material painted silver, or metal.  Either way, it felt as though this machine just crashed through the window and landed here, either from the future, or our naive perception thereof.




That these sculptures referencing artifacts fit so well aesthetically with various examples of contemporary and even futuristic life is near astounding. The necklaces and garments are creations that lend themselves to many primitive cultures within the world, yet are completely their own.  Beings were raised high above us, somehow looking down upon us for something we may have done. The works carried a thick presence.



There is an incredible realism to this body of work. It relates to a real story.  The statement on the gallery website reads, 

"Ramiken Crucible presents Magical Terrorism, a body of new sculptures by Andra Ursuta that feed on meltdown mania, news reports, scams, and obscure Marxisms such as the allegation that the people of the Balkans are ethnic trash. Ursuta, a Romanian with inexhaustible enthusiasm for self-deprecation, has chosen to assume that this cultural cliche is accurate."
Recently, around the time of Occupy Wall Street, the BBC website featured the minor story of a group of Gypsy witches who cast a curse on the Romanian government to protest a law that recognized witchcraft as a legitimate and thus taxable profession. Mandrake, dog excrement, and a dead cat were tossed into the Danube. It is unclear whether the full spell recipe was withheld to protect the witches' trade or to prevent it from accidentally toppling some other, innocent bystander government. Magical Terrorism continues where the news article ends and outlines a latter-day personality cult of these unknown psychic soldiers."
I want to point your attention to the part where the BBC website featured a minor story of a group of gypsy witches who cast a curse on the Romanian government to protest a law that recognized witchcraft as a legitimate and thus taxable profession.  This statement to me clarifies the use of a variety of different aesthetics from culture. Romanian, witches, government, protest, profession... these are all words that could easily have their own aesthetic surrounding meaning. Not to get too far from reality, the statement clears a bit up at the end,
"Part made-up cultural anthropology artifacts beholden to a decorative use of money and part sportswear tailored for permanent outdoors urban living, these objects are also crude investment schemes in the way all legitimate artworks are. Coin chokers also appear on a set of faux primitive female torsos cast in iron, aluminum, and aggregates of concrete and manure. Like ritualistic conversion tables, these wares depict obsolete exchange rates between the Euro, US Dollars, and Romanian currency."
I'm not sure I can explain anything more clearly. This show felt very much like an extensive anthropology project, a very smart one at that.  In the end the statement asserts the ritualistic nature of aspects of contemporary life. Using a word like ritualistic renders contemporary life like primitive life, which based on the taxation of witches, doesn't feel far from the truth.  It's wonderful to see an artist who asks a lot of their audience.

23.9.12

Unschool MFA: Adjua Greaves


Last night I attended a launch party for artist Adjua Greaves. The launch began the long journey towards her MFA, with a curriculum all her own.  To be clear - she's attempting to do all the work necessary to qualify her for an MFA - but without an institution. 

There are a lot of politics surrounding notions of the MFA.  Higher education is responsible for putting many young adults into crippling debt that takes years to pay off (if it ever is paid off), and what's worse, is that many students feel the cost and effort aren't worth the title.  The relationship between student and university can be unhealthy for students, economically and socially.

As a recent graduate with my BFA, I'm very aware of my peers going off to MFA programs - but as a student who worked full time and went to school full time, I'm just not in a position to consider that kind of financial strain, social suicide, and workaholism at the moment.  This is what makes Greaves' project all the more interesting.

Greaves is an artist,  this MFA project is her step toward taking initiative against a set of standards. Greaves has created her own curriculum, her own program, with her own best interests in mind and she's calling it - unschoolMFA.  You can visit it here--> http://unschoolmfa.tumblr.com/ , and read about nearly every aspect of her project. 

Discipline and drive become issues of debate.  Can a student push themselves through an MFA program without the structure of the classroom?  The answer depends on the student, and I'm sure that many people cannot.  As with all things, if you love something enough, you make time to make it happen.  Greaves aims to bypass the institution and, by the end, demand the same credibility as those accredited with an MFA.  This is brave.

Isolation becomes another issue.  How do you simulate the community that one gains from a University?  One way might be to invite people into her study - teachers, artists, writers, and an unlimited amount of others, each in their relevant capacity.  Developing a network of peers also becomes relevant - but this skill is not so foreign, for every artist graduating from school must decipher how to develop a network and community outside of the one Universities so readily supply. 

What is most exciting is imagining what the aesthetics of a project like this will look like.  How will Greaves simulate critiques and lectures?  What is the relationship between this project as a performance and the authenticity of the degree?  How are these two notions facilitating the other?  I look forward to seeing future performances towards the completion of the uMFA. 

Of the many things that Greaves mentioned throughout the night, one phrase really stuck with me.  When not in school she expressed having, "expensive thinking, with crushing practical concerns."  The idea that thinking can be expensive feels wrong, because the act of learning as an action requires little money.  Have we commodified education so thoroughly that imagining knowledge causes anxiety?  Perhaps her statement is a reflection of how backwards higher education can be.

In no way do I mean to suggest that attending a University is not beneficial, but I aim to express that Greaves' project feels like the logical next step.  Why is there not a system for individuals to create their own programs - especially when resources and technology allow for it?  

Greaves' project is admirable, yet to her it seems quite simple. She wants to obtain an education that will lead to her own personal fulfillment - an aspect most worthy of consideration. 


19.9.12

Fall Season Grand Salon Show



I've been selected to participate in Greenpoint Gallery's Fall Season Grand Salon Show - Awesome.  Showing my latest series of paintings again is twice as nice. I'll be taking them over to gallery a little later today.  

The Opening is this Friday, September 21st at 8pm.  If you didn't get a chance to see my work at my solo show this Summer, now's a great time to come out.


Photos of the opening to come soon! Also - Fisk and I saw a few amazing shows in the Lower East Side this last Saturday - blogging about these to come soon. :)

16.9.12

Karen Kilimnik & Kim Gordon @ 303 Gallery







This duet of a show featured work full of implications about different aspects of performance. I was reading a book about magic when I saw this show last week so I couldn't help but make associations. The circle of black glitter feels ritualistic, as do the works on the wall that appear to be made of blood. Violent tendencies  come to mind when looking at the blood covered carving fork.  The show was curated in a somewhat odd arrangement, but was well suited for the nature of the videos (a band performing violently, snowy television) - it all seemed cohesive. 

15.9.12

Matthew Cusick @ Pavel Zoubok Gallery


THE MIND IS ITS OWN PLACE





What is the perfect amount of text about a show? It differs, from show to show. Usually I hate when there is very little text about the show, sometimes I hate when there is so much text that you don't really care to read. Either way, looking happens first, and text later. When Adriana and I walked into this galley we were really stunned by the craftsmanship of these works. Cusick has been making work like this for 10 years, so it's safe to say that he's nearly mastered this technique.  I couldn't help but really enjoy looking at these. The complicated nature of the maps creates compositional cues with color and shape that are hard to ignore. There is a sense of discovery in looking from afar and coming up close to find different lines of latitude marking particular places and parts of the sea. They were extremely engaging. Cusick seems obsessed with the material nature of these works, I think it's a great thing - very few artists will commit themselves to such physical labor when there are other more immediate ways to work.  This show had quite a bit of text, and after reading it, I wish I had taken more pictures of the portraits that Cusick made - it seems most of his important content lies in those images, the waves (pictured here) are not spoken about too much. Great work.

14.9.12

Dan Hernandez @ Kim Foster Gallery

GENESIS






The strength of this show is in the opposition in meaning between the book of Genesis and Sega Genesis.  Combining 2 very different styles can make for humorous and fun works of art. While it seems completely intentional that the artist married the colors of both styles to fit harmoniously, I don't think this works as an advantage to the work. The contrast in color and style would have made them more engaging. Also, I can see it's intentional to make these works look like relics, but again I think heightening the differences between both genres would have made for more interesting things for your eyes to look at. Painting the aspects from the book of Genesis, and then transferring the digital aspects would create an interesting dynamic.  These works are clever, it was great to dig around to see special moments where angels are blasting people with lazer beams, and the show was really well hung (ha).

13.9.12

yeah we friends and shit @ Josée Bienvenu Gallery


Kirk Hayes

Devin Troy Strother


Julianne Swartz

Austin Eddy

This group show felt very whimsical and fun.  These works utilize their materiality in a way that reminds me of childhood, there doesn't seem to be pressure to make anything perfect, and it makes the environment welcoming. The sculpture by Julianne Swartz was the most interesting, simply because it's fascinating any time something appears to be floating without any support (magic!). I would be interested to see what else can be done with those magnets, especially the precariousness and magical undertones of that material were used to create meaning more directly.






Ken Solomon

These works were a part of the show also, but felt very different from the rest of the carefree/fun work. I suppose I just don't understand why I'm looking at paintings of computer screens. I understand that technology needs to be addressed, but I believe not this way. Instead of making paintings about technology, one might find it more relevant to make work from the technology itself. Works like this have an "outside looking in" view of technology, which really doesn't tell me anything about the technology itself. On top of that, the google searches of Pop Art feels like bait, and I'm not convinced that it's good simply because Lichtenstein is in the search bar. 


12.9.12

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer @ Bitforms Gallery nyc

One of my favorite things about visiting galleries the morning after a big night is how the space feels so quiet yet there is a lingering excitement about the work. This show is much cooler than it looks, and it looks pretty cool.
Voice Array





The work at the top converted sound into light, you pushed a button, record yourself saying something, (anything) and it added your words to the beginning of 288 recorded voices. It sounded, as expected, like an ever increasing conversation. The light was just a great way to visualize sound. What does sound look like? I can't say, but this was a great experiment. The other contraption was a fancy machine that pushed air into a paper bag. It was quiet in the gallery, so the subtle crumpling sounded loud and strange - I can't imagine I would have had the same experience on opening night.  Great call on the gray walls, white becomes so exhausting.

11.9.12

Omar Chacon & Richard Tuttle

A step through these two galleries revealed some familiar faces...

Margaret Thatcher Projects:

Omar Chacon
Bacanales Tropicales



I never know how I feel about these works. They're nearly impossible to forget because of the way that they're made, but I can't say that they've changed much since 2004 - the first time I saw them. None the less, I'm glad this artist is doing well, it's always nice to see the work. I would love to talk to him about his process/concept in person, I'm sure he'd have a lot to tell me.


The Pace Gallery:



I snapped this photo before, (oops!), no photos! BUT, this is a pretty rad sculpture, and so were the rest of the ones I could not document.  Also, the internet is spoiling me, I hate that anything has to be a secret. :/

10.9.12

Matthew Lusk @ Zieher Smith Gallery

Last Thursday night kicked off the Fall art season - so Friday morning my friend Adriana and I went around to check things out in Chelsea.  Matthew Lusk raised funds to make his first show happen on Kickstarter (which is pretty amazing) and it was great to see what he accomplished. Here's what I got:

MORE BROKEN GLASS THAN THERE WAS WINDOW










When I showed Fisk images of this show he said, "A lot of that stuff looks like it could be in a trash pile." I can't really disagree, but my thought is, that's probably the point. The political undercurrent of this show reflects that ever present economic downturn that totally feels like garbage.  The space was utilized well to create feelings of strange displacement. I enjoyed finding the random assortment of art items being scattered along next to bags of money lying around. Trying to make a bunch of pseudo paintings and sculptures work in this environment felt like a metaphor for the art world itself- how do works of art fit in our local American society now that the political climate is a bit extreme?, displaced and strange I'd say. That turkey on the broken arm was one of my favorite parts of the show, as were all the random and subtle references to different art genres. Well done.