Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Art Comments Exhibition Review

MoMA PRESENTS: Comic Abstraction: Image-Breaking, Image-Making

written by don porcella in new york

Well, I went to the recently renovated
MoMA to see their current exhibition of contemporary abstract art titled "COMIC ABSTRACTION: Image-Breaking, Image-Making" a show inspired by comic strips, cartoons, and animation. Overall, I was disappointed that the artwork selected for the exhibition just didn't match the concept implied by the appealingly seditious title. I loved the idea of the show, but I just didn't think certain artwork belonged in the show and that certain artist’s work didn't fit the concept of the show. I thought one of the highlights of the show was Rivane Neuenschwander's comic abstraction (see below). They are not very big pieces, just 6" by 4” inches each (30 in all) and they are sweetly framed. They are fairly simple and exist only in the form of a good idea and not a great work of art.

Rivane Neuenschwander, Zé Carioca no. 4

A Volta de Zé Carioca [The Return of Zé Carioca] (1960)

Ediçao Histórica, Ed. Abril. (detail) 2004, Synthetic polymer paint on comic book pages

Thirteen images, each 6 x 4” (15.9 x 10.2 cm)

The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Fund for the Twenty-First Century, 2005

The other star of the show in my estimation is the work of Inka Essenhigh. I first discovered her work at Stux Gallery where I am also an artist. People were telling me about her because she had followed a similar path that I am now on. At first I didn’t get her work until I saw it in person at Stux Gallery and figured out exactly what she is doing in her paintings. She presents a perfect blend of chaos and order in her effort trying to make sense of chaos. And the result is a beautifully, lyrical image that is mysterious and open-ended, foreshortened and elastic. She is interested in her paintings demonstrating action and that her paintings are a place for action. As a painter myself, I enjoy most of all her opaquely pastel, comic inspired color palette that combines with the plastic quality of the toxic enamel paint she uses in her process. I imagine her throwing the enamel paint across the surface of her painting with a semi-planned yet unexpected result. Then I can imagine her coming back when the enamel is dry and drawing in and making sense of the shapes the paint has created. This is where you see her imagination take off. I imagine sitting on a hill looking up at clouds and Inka saying to me and pointing up at the sky, “Look over there, there is a cheerleader over there, see it?”

Inka Essenhigh, Born Again. 1999-2000,

Enamel on canvas, 7’ 6” x 6’ 6” (228.6 x 198.1 cm).

Tate, Purchased 2001 © 2007 Inka Essenhigh

March 4 - June 11, 2007
Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

PRISKA C. JUSCHKA FINE ART: Aaron Johnson’s Hellhound Rodeo

May 3 - June 16, 2007

Written by Don Porcella in New York

Aaron Johnson's third solo show at Priska C. Juschka Fine Art is entitled, “Hellhound Rodeo”. Johnson unique approach to painting (1) has developed into a very creative, lyrical language capable of handling the messed up world we live in today with sass and diligence. Demonic testosterone crazed characters act out an egomaniacal power monger agenda. We as viewers are taken along on a wild and crazy ride.

“Hellhound Rodeo” by Aaron Johnson
Courtesy of Priska C. Juschka Fine Art

Johnson’s unique process creates a mysterious result that is difficult to decipher how the paintings were made. This gives the paintings a life beyond just an initial impression. Viewers study his paintings for clues as to how they were made and the details in his work keep us coming back for more.

”Hatchet Man” by Aaron Johnson
Courtesy of Priska C. Juschka Fine Art

When you first view Johnson’s paintings his wild use of color grabs you by the throat. Stare deep into Johnson’s paintings and you just might get a sense of what a 1960’s acid-induced trip felt like. Johnson’s use of Op-Art (optical art) patterning and crazy psychedelic colors create a fantastical acid induced freak show.

”Strong Man” by Aaron Johnson
Courtesy of Priska C. Juschka Fine Art

1. The images are built by painting in reverse—first sketching the composition on a sheet of plastic, then applying controlled brushstrokes, gushes of acrylic paint, and minuscule magazine cut-outs to its backside. Through this method, a film of layers of paint accumulates on the plastic, and ultimately the work is completed by affixing stretched construction safety netting to this film with a pour of acrylic polymer. In the act of completion, Johnson peels away the plastic on which the work was created, leaving the painted composition congealed to the netting. (Hellhound Rodeo Press Release, Courtesy of Priska C. Juschka Fine Art).

May 3 - June 16, 2007
Priska C. Juschka Fine Art
547 West 27th Street
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10001
(Between 10th & 11th Ave.)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Jake and Dinos Chapman at Tate Britain:

When Humans Walked the Earth

review written by Ashley Elderidge-Ford in London

I arrived at Tate Britain not realising that the exhibition I rather desperately had wanted to see had in fact already closed and moved on - in my disappointed state I trudged upstairs to see the two installations I knew remained to be seen - the first was Mark Wallinger's 'State Britain' and the second the Basil Beattie's painting exhibition. Wallinger's piece was mildly interesting, perhaps more from a voyeuristic angle than anything more. I had anticipated it being a little more political, a little more hard-hitting, but by recreating Brian Haw's picket, which is not too very hard hitting and more a quiet statement against the Iraq war, the recreated installation could be no more than this. I suppose it says a little more about Tate Britain permitting the placement of such a piece within its walls - but it's only a quiet nod more than a shouting tirade. Basil Beattie's small exhibition was wonderful and definitely worth the visit - I was only disappointed to find out later that I had missed a video documentary on him creating the series.

Retracing my steps and preparing to leave I noticed that Jake and Dinos Chapman have an exhibition installation on as well at Tate; 'When Humans Walked the Earth' 2007. I have always to some extent enjoyed their work (except for the Goya etchings series where they painted over original Goya etchings, which I find sacrilegious) and thought I would drop in to see what this exhibition was all about. The installation is related to their sculpture, 'Little Death Machine (Castrated)' of 1993 (in the Tate collection) whereby elements of the earlier piece are reproduced in bronze to create a series of impossible machines. These sculptures emulate biological and psychological states such as breathing, thinking, copulation and death. Stepping into the exhibition one sees ten works in the gallery space. Each piece is reminiscent of a blend between a work bench and a torture chamber - and upon closer inspection they are indeed a cast bronze blend between the two.

Jake and Dinos Chapman
When Humans Walked the Earth 2006
View of this exhibition at Tate Britain
Photo © Tate 2006

Piece number 1: 'Cripple critique! Get rid of meaning! Your mind is a nightmare that has been eating you now eat your mind machine.' Which is the title. A brain is connected to an electricity wire at its base. A hammer is halted - it does not move - yet it gives the impression of the endless movement of it having endlessly knocked the nail, which sits in a socket in the brain. The lack of movement, the halt in progress, is due to the brain's wire being unplugged, with the plug lying patiently at the base of the work table. Slapped in bronze at the other end of the table are soft slices of brain, the castrated tip of a penis and the lips of a female vagina all between innocuous looking milk bottles with what could be either candle wax or human excretion. Covering everything are groups of fat maggots.

A typically provocative title for the brothers is given to piece no. 9 (the second one sees upon entry) that in essence gives a two-fingered salute to art critics in a humourous and rather long-winded fashion. The base of a crate sits upon silently stationary wheels. Extending and stretching up from this is an erect plank evocative of an executionary cross but without the T-shaped addition. Further adding to this analogy is the crucified body of a de-feathered rooster whose head has been nailed to the wood. The bent and rather petrified legs are attached to a wheel which, when peddled, would power a hammer that in turn knocks the nail further still into the rooster's eye. Sadistic really.

Jake and Dinos Chapman
When Humans Walked the Earth 2006
View of this exhibition at Tate Britain
Photos © Tate 2006

'Everything is beautiful and nothing hurts machine' is a piece in two parts. On the floor, to the left hand side of the piece, is placed a see-saw on each side of which is placed a brain. Above the see-saw is suspended a water gallon bottle, held by a sturdy and taut rope. Following the rope into the main heart of the piece one can see that the rope runs between wheels right across the work table, linking the various mechanistic objects together. There are two areas of danger here. Beneath one length of the rope is a brain with a candle atop, were the flame lit, the rope would slowly burn fibre by fibre until it would snap and from above would come crashing down a rather nasty looking nail-filled plank of wood. The snapped rope would also cause the water gallon bottle to fall, crushing another of the brains; the one on the see-saw. This would catapult the other brain - but to what grisly end I am unsure, but the sharp and pointed thorn-like nail menacingly above it is one scenario. Indeed, in this piece, the machine would not be hurt but rather the vulnerable and delicate flesh of the brains. And it would, of course, hurt very much.

Each of the pieces are interesting, despite them all sounding ghoulish. One family walked in, the two young boys clearly delighted at the gore and torture contraptions on display. I think the parents soon realised that these works were not really fun-filled family viewing on a tame Sunday afternoon and tried their best to hurry the children out of the room. I caught the tail end of the mother's sentence, "'s just sick." I debated turning around to speak with her about the nature of contemporary art but thought otherwise. These pieces are strangely not sick nor depraved nor even more surprisingly, ugly. They are curious and humourous and really rather well thought through - in terms of the mechanics that link every aspect of each piece together. I would almost go so far as to call them playful. There are ten pieces and each deserves its own description and mention for this reasons but I shall limit myself to describe merely two others as there are many elements that are similar and it would be dull to continue reading such repetitions.

Jake and Dinos Chapman
When Humans Walked the Earth 2006
View of this exhibition at Tate Britain
Photos © Tate 2006

Piece No. 10 I almost missed until I glanced upwards as a last resort. 'To invent the ship is to invent the shipwreck, the train, the de-railment, and so on machine.' In the centre of the room hangs suspended the petrified featherless body of another rooster. Around it's neck is tied a thick rope. It's wings and feet hang limp. The piece ties the installation together really well as it creates height and draws one away from the pieces entirely at eye level to a piece somewhat more surprising for its placement at a height rather than its subject matter.

'I put the 'fun' back in funeral machine' perhaps reflects the battle between a man's brain communicating directly with his penis whilst his head is decapitated and uncommunicative with the rest of his body (which is nowhere in sight). Alternatively, it refers to that moment when a man (and let's face it, this could apply to a woman also) is faced with either thinking with his/her head or his/her sex. The skinless head with eyes popping out of their sockets on spring stilts sits on the raised end of a see-saw (there are certain objects that are repeated throughout the exhibition on almost every piece - from the maggots to the roosters, the hammers, nails, milk bottles and the brains). Weighing the see-saw down on the other end is a strange contraption that is half machine (unplugged, of course), part hammer and definitively an erect penis pointing in the direction of the head, like it is giving the head the middle finger. It looks as though the penis has a mind of its own, powered as it would normally be by it's own energy source; the head seems incapable of operation without either body or mechanics. In terms of its relation to the title - your guess is as good as mine.

Jake and Dinos Chapman
When Humans Walked the Earth 2006
View of this exhibition at Tate Britain
Photos © Tate 2006

The Chapman Brothers have drawn on the mechanistic theories of the human mind referencing Freud, Dada and the Surrealists. They transform every day objects into something unconventional and challenging. As I write this last sentence I find it bores me - how many artists do this? So many! It's not new, it's not surprising. Yes, the assemblage of such repetitious objects on each of the ten pieces 'challenge' the view as we attempt to draw from unforgiving titles and humourous amalgamations. Yes, I enjoyed investigating the different pieces and seeing the exhibition. But do I find the concept behind the exhibition interesting? No, not so very much. Even drawing on 'distinctions between man and machine and the assumptions about historical progress' is not terribly new in the slightest - this has been done ad nauseum since the Dadaists and even as far back as the German Expressionists with the work of Grosz. I do find that some of the Chapman Brothers' work is interesting and provocative but, in all fairness, the majority of it is simple rehash with a lot of gore. Gore does not make good art, despite the Chapmans' continued return to, and use of it and the choice of the Tate and other large and highly respected institutions to continue to perpetuate such uninspiring and mediocre themes and concepts, reflects again, more so on them than anything else.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Hunter College MFA Open Studios

written by Don Porcella in New York

I went to the Hunter College MFA Open Studios on Friday night. This is an annual event held every Spring and Fall. It is an opportunity to see some of the future stars of the Art World and to buy their work at the student run auction. In recent years, Hunter MFA Program at 450 West 41st Street, NY, NY has vaulted to the very top of Master of Fine Arts programs in the world. Hunter College continues to see annual enrollment and applications increase every year because it offers artists a great opportunity to be discovered.

The highlight of this Spring’s Open Studios was the art of Carly Haffner. She makes wildly imaginative paintings, drawings and sculpture while at the same time saying something much deeper about the world we live in. Carly Haffner’s art exists somewhere between a minimal palette, where line takes the predominant role and other works where color is employed to “pump up” the playful feel of the work thus drawing the viewer in to the deeper message. Themes that run through her most recent work are: figures with heart hands, unicorns eating grass near a toxic dump, overly excited bananas and polluting cardboard cars. Haffner work offers a timely and open narrative to play out and engage the viewer.

Banana Boy, Acrylic on wood Moog, Giff, Acrylic on wood

Super! Acrylic on wood Car Pile, Cardboard and mixed media

Monday, May 07, 2007

Art Scene: Displacement and Shared Experiences in New York City

Temporary Displacement, Louisa Dawson
Photograph courtesy of the artist

Displacement, mobility, and the depth of the seemingly mundane, these are just some of the issues that the artist Louisa Dawson tackles with her various sculptures. Louisa Dawson, an Australian artist who has exhibited internationally, currently is participating in an artist in residence program at ISCP, here in New York. Tonight is the last night of their 'Open Studio Weekend' and one would do well visiting ISCP since the palette of artists exhibiting this weekend, as always, are international: 23 artists from 19 different countries.

  1. Artist Profile: Louisa Dawson
  2. Work of Artist: Louisa Dawson
  3. ISCP

Saturday, May 05, 2007


Written by Ashley Eldridge-Ford in London

As part of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery, various institutions in the UK are holding a selection of exhibitions dedicated to this theme. One such is the V&A’s Uncomfortable Truths, The Shadow of Slave Trading on Contemporary Art and Design, on until the 17 June. Despite a title that is ever so slightly misleading, this exhibition was really a lot of fun. This is not something I would often end up saying at the end of visiting an exhibition but in this case, it is entirely true.

To paraphrase the foreword of the catalogue to the exhibition:

‘This exhibition raises many questions, to which there may be no definitive answers: why is slavery so often discussed as something disconnected from the present? Why is Trans-Atlantic slavery seen as a black issue rather than a human one, by blacks as well as whites? Why does it take arbitrary anniversaries to bring these issues to the fore? How do we understand the roles of the perpetrators and the victims from our standpoint in the present? What can we learn from the history of resistance to slavery? How has slavery contributed to the benefit – and detriment – of the world we live in now? And, how has this institution, like many others, profited from the wealth generated through slave trading?’

The exhibition looks at the work of eleven international artists whose work is displayed throughout the V&A’s permanent collection. There are two ways to view the exhibition: either with the colourful map depicting on the ground floor, second and fourth levels where the new works are to be found or by following a series of five walks through the galleries, looking specifically at the works within the permanent collection and their relation to the slave trade. I chose the former, if for no other reason than I had a time restraint. Dodging past the queues for the Kylie and Surrealism exhibitions (the latter of which I still very much want to see), I was more than relieved to discover I needn’t queue and could make my way around the galleries, avoiding all the tourists who had been deposited outside the museum by the tour buses that lined the road outside. The first work by Julien Sinzogan entitled "The Gates of Return, 2006 – 7", surround a doorway in colourful patterns emblematic of Africa in the sails of the boat and in the all-encompassing robes and veils of the figures. On the left hand side there are two streams of people: one a colourful mass away from the boat, the other a grey-toned thick outlines depiction of a group of slaves chained and semi-naked walking hesitantly towards what will in essence alter their lives and those of their children forever. This made me wonder whether the artist was suggesting that those who became displaced peoples due to being shipped across oceans and continents returned colourful, confident, essentially but undifferentiatable figures. In other words, they left as Africans and returned as multilingual and in some cases, enterprising beings that belonged neither in one place nor the other. Then again, I pondered as I made my way through the shop towards the garden and the second work, very few returned. I thought then that perhaps Sinzogan was attempting to express (and this only became clearer later) that those who were taken carried Africa within them as the defining element of themselves after having been reduced to the bareness of what defined them as human. These figures emerged at their destination by definition only as African, no more, and this is how they chose to retain their dignity and strength. This comes across in the painting by the boldness of colour and pattern and the movement created. The title refers to the cities of Zanzibar, Goréz and Ouidals as the Gates of No Return.

The large sculpture in the fountain pool in the central courtyard garden by Romauld Hazoumé "Dan-Ayido-Houedo/Arc-en-Ciel, Symbole de Perpétuité, 2006 – 7", is of a suspended circular serpent who eats its own tail thus forming the symbol of infinity. The serpent’s body is made from jerry cans in deep reds and blues. It refers to the transportation of petrol in jerry cans on motorbikes, a highly dangerous but necessary entrepreneurial activity. Hazoumé questions the ongoing impact of exploitation and the continuity of slavery.

Moving on to the stairwell courtyard indicated on my gallery plan, is the work of four artists. Lubaina Himid has placed cardboard cutout figures throughout the V&A galleries; collaged or painted on the front and who have taped to their backs a name card and a Balance Sheet. The name cards describe partly the responsibilities of the figure, such as:

The Drummer

My name is Musenda

They call me Dan

I used to commemorate sacred events

Now I play at parties

But I have their thanks

His balance sheet reads 0. The figures are from the series "Naming the Money, 2004" and are placed, hidden sometimes, within the permanent collection to restore a black presence to history. The balance sheet acts as a reminder of the unpaid work of the slaves and their contribution to generating wealth for others.

Opposite this piece is Christine Meisner’s "Recovery of an Image: A Video-Tale Germany/Brazil/Nigeria, 2005". A video work that is difficult to hear due the foot traffic of people making their way past the alcove in which this is placed, meaning that I was straining forward attempting to catch the words being spoken by a rich and deep male African voice recounting his return to Lagos after having been taken to Brazil as a slave. To the detriment of this piece, due to the fact I was straining to hear the verbal story, which was very interesting, I forgot to look at the visuals. The voice tells of how English shapes were safer for the Portuguese ones would take them back to slavery. He recounts how on his way to Brazil he lost his orientation and lost Lagos and upon arrival lost some of himself to Brazil. When he was able to journey home no-one knew of his family. He had been allocated a quarter in Lagos from the government. In Lagos people were jealous of the achievements of some of the returning freed slaves. He suspected his parents had sold him in to slavery but he cannot find them to ask. The joy on his return faded and he began to think back to Brazil and believe in the lie. He had created a new identity in Brazil that was in contrast to his identity in Nigeria. He would speak Portuguese when he was upset. When he left for Brazil, the past added something to him; upon his return he realized he had not past for he had been Brazilianised. In Brazil he had cultivated his Africanism but upon his return he realized he had been cultured Bahir and he realized the importance of linking people to their history.

Another video piece sits in the corresponding alcove by Michael Britto "I’m a Slave 4 U, 2005", an image of a plantation house sets the scene. Two female slaves appear on the screen, as though on a stage in a play. One of them hums a tune praising God whilst the other realizes that God is speaking to her. We hear her side of the conversation. She thanks God for her master, Max who, she says with great enthusiasm, a large smile and genuine thankfulness, ‘feeds me once a day and who only takes my womanhood three times a month. Oh and thank you Lord for letting me work inside the house, it’s so hot out there on the fields and I get to sit inside and drink me some lemonade’. She then realises that God is asking her to free her people, to take them up north. She tells God, with a big smile on her face, ‘thank you God but I think Hattie would be better for the job’ and tells him that she just isn't the woman for the job. When he persists she holds her hand to her ear and says, ‘Oh, God, I’m sorry, we’re breaking up here, there’s some mighty static’.

There is also a series of delicate pencil drawings by Tapfuma Gutsa, "Tribute to Sango, 2002" but by this stage I was wanting to get on with the rest of my trail.

Up to level 2 I went where I discovered the majority of the galleries had been cordoned off and I was unable to see the pieces therein. I therefore spent some time looking for the pieces that were supposedly placed in this section. Within the recreated set of Chinoiserie stands another of Himid’s figures. I continued my search and after I had nearly given up on the hunt (my map reading skills have never been very good), I happened upon the most beautiful piece in the exhibition "Sir Foster Cunliffe, Playing, 2007" by Yinka Shoibare, which was placed within a recreation of a mirrored gold gilt room from Norfolk House on St. James Square in London from 1756, a headless archer stands with his bow drawn. The figure is dressed in a tailored military style jacket and plus fours of brightly coloured African patterns. Sir Foster Cunliffe was the grandson and namesake of a prominent Liverpool politician, philanthropist and slave merchant. He founded the Royal Society of British Bowmen to encourage archery as a leisure pursuit amongst his peers. The single headless figure is said to embody one particular beneficiary of the slave trade, while also representing the broader links between the self-indulgent lifestyles of a few at the expense of many. Diagonally opposite him is his bulls eye with three previous arrows that missed their mark therein. Framed by the opulent mirrors and gold and white decorative pattern of the room, the colourfulness of the figure and his dramatic movement is very striking.

Outside the room, my eyes now fully opened to the fact that this exhibition is more a treasure hunt than a straightforward exhibition, my eyes fell on a rather striking book within a glass vitrine with an engraving of Job Ben Solomon and William Ansah Sessarakoo, which was first published in The Gentleman’s Magazine in June 1750. Solomon was the son of a Muslim priest from The Gambia and Sessarakoo a prince from Ghana. Both were tricked into slavery but freed on account of their noble origins and education. Solomon lived in Britain in the 1730s and Sessarakoo between 1749 – 50. What made this discovery so extraordinary was that I doubt very much I would have either seen it or looked at it properly before Uncomfortable Truths. It brings to light that the objects within the museum have an immense history to them that has enormous resonance and reference to today. This appears a rather obvious thing to state but it is not often that it is illustrated in such an unexpected and clever fashion.

Up to level 4 where I found a treasure trove of objects and artworks that I had never before seen at the V&A. Alongside a plaque asking ‘Wedgwood or Ancient Greek?’ is another of Himid’s cut-out jester-esque figures; again placed next to "The Sleeping Nymph, 1820 – 24" and finally in The Strawberry Room, a recreation of said room from Lee Priory, Kent (1783 – 1794). There were two pieces by Keith Piper "Lost Vitrines, 2006 – 7" that I was unable to find. I then ambled through a permanent display dedicated to The Great Exhibition of 1851, which was fascinating. Hung within a small room dedicated to the Museum of British Art at South Kensington which was created as part of the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A), was the first gallery specifically intended for paintings by living British artists. The gallery was open in the evenings and on Sundays to allow working people to visit. This was unheard of at the time. The small hang consisted of paintings by Edwin Landseer, John Constable, George Smith, Charles West Cope, amongst many others and contains a sensitive and beautiful collection of paintings.

The last two pieces on my tour were placed at the top of a stairwell. The first is a sculptural collage by El Anatsui "Akua’s Surviving Children, 1996" made in Denmark. In 1792 Denmark became the first European nation to outlaw slave trading though until the ban took effect in 1803 it actually stepped up the trade. Akua’ba is a Ghanian fertility figure that protects children. El Anatsui made this symbolic clan after salvaging driftwood from Denmark’s northern coast. The scarred logs represent slaves imported from the African Gold Coast to the Danish West Indies. Anatsui performed rites of restitution scorching the wood in his workshop furnace and embedding it with nails.

The last piece is a series of delicate pencil drawings, "Quilombolisation and Portraits of Personalities from Recife, Pernambuco, 2005" Quilombolos are Brazilian settlements populated by the descendants of runaway slaves first brought to Brazil from Angola and the west coast of Africa. The word kilombo originates in central Angola and refers to the coming together of different tribes in order to rebel against the slaving authorities. Meisner’s drawings document the everyday aspects of life in these communities, from a lone male who walks upright and carries in his right hand a plastic carrier bag between one house made of mud and a tin roof and a house made of brick with glass windows. Another drawings is of a small doorless house with glassless windows that is connected up to a satellite dish outside of it. These strange parallels are symptomatic of a displaced people, from Brazil to so many countries throughout Africa. It is this displacement and loss of identity and land that one takes away from the exhibition, and is a complete paradox to the monumentality and greatness that is the V&A that holds within it objects that define Britain and ‘Britishness’ as well as modernity and key moments in history. It glosses over, or rather has glossed over, prior to this exhibition, the objects therein that were created due to the displacement of millions of people. It makes me wonder, with what is currently taking place in the world today, whether a similar situation is arising that will only be clear to us, if we choose to see it, in a hundred years time. What strikes me as extraordinary is that of all eleven artists shown in this exhibition, only three are currently working within Africa itself. This says it all and more so about the contemporary art market.

UNCOMFORTABLE TRUTHS runs until the 17 June 2007

Victoria and Albert Museum

Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Mixed Greens Gallery: Lee Stoetzel

“I am very interested in the far-reaching power of nature. We build houses and think that we have controlled space, yet nature winds its way into those materials.” Lee Stoetzel

"Courtesy of the artist and Mixed Greens, NY"

By Don Porcella in New York

Lee Stoetzel, born in Tallahassee, FL, lives and works in New York City and is currently having a solo show at Mixed Greens Gallery here in Chelsea. When one walks into the gallery they are immediately met by the most aromatic smell of nature - the smell of pecky cypress wood (a wood that is indigenous to Tallahassee, FL where the artist grew up.)

"Shell Motorcycle" (shells, steel), 2007

"Courtesy of the artist and Mixed Greens, NY"

In this, the artist’s third solo show at Mixed Greens Gallery, there are motorcycles, bibles and even dictionaries made of wood and seashells.

"VW Bus" (pecky cypress wood), 2007

"Courtesy of the artist and Mixed Greens, NY"

However, for me, it is the VW Bus that commands the most attention. Aptly put in the front of the gallery, the VW Bus (made of pecky cypress wood and steel) inspires thoughts of man’s need to control nature and the ultimate last word of nature over man - we wonder how long this VW Bus made from wood (ravaged by fungus) will survive.

Relevant Links:
  1. Artist's website: Lee Stoetzel
  2. Gallery wesite: Mixed Greens Gallery

April 26 – May 26th, 2007 at Mixed Greens Gallery.

Mixed Greens Gallery | 531 West 26th Street | New York City | 10001 | (212) 331-8888 (toll-free (866) 647-3367) |