New Year-the journey continues

They say times flies. This idiom was first recorded about 1800 but Shakespeare used a similar phrase, “the swiftest hours, as they flew,” as did Alexander Pope, “swift fly the years.” When I realized that it’s been more than a year since my last post I ask myself, where did the time go? What have I been doing all the last year?

Well, it’s time to change that.

It’s February 2019, I will try to post more frequently. My goal is to write about the art I see and that talks to me, at least once a month.

A few weeks ago I made a list and headed down to Chelsea. I wanted to see the new works by Lynette Yiadom-Boake, an artist I discovered a few years ago at the art fair in Chicago. She was born in London, won a few prizes and is included in numerous institutional collections. The images in her paintings are pure imagination; she studies old paintings and lets her brush tell the story.

This show is called “In Lieu Of A Louder Love”. There is a poem which she wrote that might shed light on the images.

In Lieu Of A Louder Love
In the Shade of Hooded Cove,
In Debt to the Dead Oak.
In Range of a Twelve Gauge,
On Embers over Smoke.
 At Pains to Hold the Wanton,
At Home to all who Knock.
At Prayer on Prickly Hearth Rug,
An Eye upon the Clock.
 In the Parlance of the Pilgrim,
In Hallelujah Coat and Tie.
In Soul so Black Beguiling,
That the Ravens do Carp and Cry.
 In Memory of A Cipher,
At Peace beside resting Dove.
 In Light of Care and Kindness,
In Lieu of A Louder Love.

My next stop was at Mitchell-Innes & Nash.  What caught my eye was the detailed drawings of LA artist Karl Haendel.  The images draw from American life. You can see a portrait of Barbara Walters, a stack of lawnmowers, an American eagle and football players in a huddle. The common tread that links these images is the dialogue between memory, both personal and collective, and national identity. The artist gives his own interpretation and presents us with an alternate American reality.

Across the street I walked into James Cohen gallery to see the show ” Borders”.

It is a powerful show. A group exhibition that considers how contemporary artists engage in politics, ideology and formal borders. The exhibit seek to create a dialogue about borders both as a productive exchange and as a barrier.

I found some of my favorites artists: Yael Bartana; an Israeli pioneer black and white photo., although the photo is titled;The missing negatives of the Sonnenfeld Collection, https://www.bh.org.il/databases/visual-documentation/photo-collections/.                    Yinka Shonibare ; American Library. Shonibare uses African textiles to create books. The spines are  embossed in gold with names of American politicians who are first and second generation immigrants. Jordan Nassar, a Palestinian-American artist who uses tradition Palestinian embroidery in his abstract works. There is a nostalgic feeling to these works. Between the stitches one senses his desire for a peaceful resolution to the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. Dead Scott who imagines a world without America. A world without boundaries or borders.

 

“Imagine a World without America” was originally designed for and displayed as a panel of Mark di Suvero/Rikrit TIravanija’s Peace Tower at the 2006 Whitney Biennial. Subsequently it has been printed as a large print on canvas as well as a smaller version on paper.

As I was walking home I passed a Mark Di Suvero sculpture called Hugs.

Maybe it is a fitting ending to this first post of the year, sending hugs to all who are reading this.

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Dots, Dots and much more….

Once a month I take  a half day to walk two to three streets in Chelsea looking at art.

I compile a list of galleries, search for artists I like and look forward to discover new talent.

In November everyone was talking about the de Vinci, the most expensive art sold at auction to the tune of half a billion dollars. It was time to check what art is being shown at the galleries.

I decided to start my tour with the most talked about art show that opened in town. People are lined up for more then two hours to see  the Yayoi Kusama show at The David Zwirner Gallery.

A few months ago I saw an incredible installation at the Hirshhorn Museum of ten Kusama rooms. It was like diving into the rabbit-hole to Alice in wonderland. Here at the Zwirner gallery there were three rooms which were mirrored installations of balls. When I peeked through a window I could see myself on the other side. The highlight of the show for me was a room of recent works that looks like an a aboriginal work from New Zealand with African-like masks designed by Kusama who  lives and works in Japan. The colorful display makes you feel like you are in a field of flowers. You want to take each painting, transform it into a scarf and wrap yourself in these colors.

 

At The Jack Shainman gallery, Nina Chanel Abney works  are full of  abstract color but on second look one can discover the story behind the images. She touches on contemporary issues as race, politics, religion and art history. You feel drawn into the images that jump up from the collage-like art.

Cecily Brown’s work at Paula Cooper gallery with the title A Day! Help! Help! Another Day! is again full of references to art history’s iconic paintings such as The Raft of the Medusa by Eugene Delacroix and Shipwreck by Theodor Gericault but on closer inspection you can find a burka clad women, which transports us back to the present.

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William Villalongo at The Susan Inglet Gallery was a refreshing exhibit. I had not been previously aware of this artist but his cut-paper work with images of the black male figure lurking from among the cutouts conjures spaces of sensuality, humor and history.

The last two stops were a true surprise. I walked into The Hauser and Wirth Gallery to re-discover the sculpture of David Smith. I have been to Storm King and seen the outdoor sculptures but here in the space of the gallery were pairings of Smith paintings (or rather studies) with miniature sculptures. They were so delicate, yet strong . The show is called Origins & Innovations. The art  indeed reflects the subject.

 

Last stop was Richard Avedon Nothing Personal show at Pace Gallery which gives us a glimpse into the past. The photographs and archival materials are taken from a collaboration with James Baldwin. The two met in high school and throughout their writings dealt with issues of race, mortality or as Avedon wrote  “the future of humanity”.

I chose to highlight one photo of an iconic person – Marilyn Monroe.  We see her without the glamour we usually associates with her image. It’s like we can read her thoughts.

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There are many more shows to see but for now I will leave it to others to explore.

In today’s complex world the colors in the paintings bring a smile and fills my heart with the hope that although contemporary art represents the state of the world today, which is not always bright, there is a a ray of hope in all those red dots, yellow lines and blue skies.

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This images was taken at the Gagosian Gallery. Alex Israel Flying Pelican and Jeff Wall California Landscape.

Collecting – Life Moments

A little girl, red basket in her hand, walks along the beach. Every other step, she bends down and picks up a shell. When the basket is full she dumps its contents with her mother; who sits nearby, and she continues. The sun is going down, its time to go home. When she gets home she will line all the shells on a special shelf. She likes to collect. She has 30 Barbie dolls, all types; they are from different nationalities and life-styles: “exercise Barbie”, “fashion Barbie,” “stewardess Barbie” and more. Each Barbie gets a shell as a present.

As kids we collect toys. I remember my son’s obsession with having all the different Power Rangers and then all the Ninja Turtles. It seems that with each year there was a new interest. It’s hard to let go, so the comic books, the Transformers, the baseball cards and the key chains all found their place in the basement. All of these are mementos of childhood. Each generation has it’s own collective interest.

There is an interesting show at the New Museum called The keeper. The exhibit is dedicated to the act of preserving objects, artworks, and images, but what makes it most interesting is the passion for accumulating Teddy Bear images by artist Ydessa Hendeles. I have seen another show of her work at the Helena Rubinstein Museum in Israel where she collected wooden dolls from the past century.

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Her installation takes most part of the second floor but other artists tell their story through the display of model houses or, for example, a drawing describing the horrors of the holocaust or painting by Hilma of Klint found after her death.

At ICP here

The exhibit is called “Public, Private, Secret” and is about people telling their story. There is a dialogue between and about the diversity of photographic and visual culture in a wholly unique and unexpected way. Each of the artists presented,tells their own story and by that telling we are experience and are drawn to be part of that story.

One photograph is a compilation of photos of people at a fashion show. We see their expressions and imagine what they see, what they think.

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Collecting is not only about art. We all love shopping for cloths and by this act we do collect. The idea of letting go of a favorite sweater or jacket is hard so we are left with a collection of “favorite cloths” that don’t always fit or may be out of the current fashion.

When my family moved to Westport from the city, the movers complained about the number of book boxes we had. We built a library on the second floor; needless to say it was not enough. We tried to categories the books according to our interests, religion, math, art, travel and more. My collection of cookbooks found it’s place in the kitchen and again some books were delegated to the basement.

Life would not be interesting without friends. It could be someone we met on a flight that becomes a friend or someone we see at the gym. Over the years we keep collecting friends. The friendships are the ties that help us go through life. We share happy and sad moments.

What I find fascinating is that as we age, our collective memories make up the building blocks that helps with the challenges of what we call The Third Age. Each experience enriches us. Our mind is like a computer that’s filled with data.

I spend the last week in Israel visiting my Mom. The Biennale of Israeli Ceramics at the Erez Israel Museum is an exhibit not to be missed.

There is also an interesting Picasso show at the Israel Museum. It’s called Drawing Inspiration. What strikes me is that at the age of 86 Picasso painted 365, which is an artistic autobiography, and one can look at as a collection of life-moments.

I started asking my mom to tell me about her life in Tel Aviv. To which school did she go? Who were her friends? Where was she when Ben Gurion declared the birth of Israel? I want to collect these memories, these are her personal stories and through them I get a glimpse of her in a different time and place.

I have seen the performances of an artistic group called Public Movement at the Tel Aviv Museum where they reenacted the declaration of the state and then took a group of ten people through the museum, behind the scenes and through the exhibits. There is a show at the Guggenheim museum called But a storm in Blowing from Paradise: contemporary Art from the Middle East and North Africa. The show presents works by artists from different countries including an interesting video by Uri Gersht walking in Eastern Europe and an installation of sand by Attiya. This exhibit also hosts a performance by the Public Movement Group. I signed up for a one-on-one briefing about art in Palestine before 1948. I did not know but according to their research there is a void and although art was created at that time there is hardly any art to be found by Palestinian artists at any museum in Israel or the West Bank. When I arrived at the museum, it was in the middle of installing a new show. I was met by an agent and was lead through back doors to a room on the 7th floor by the agent who proceeded to tell me the story of the lost art. Here again I found a collection of memories.

In the age of technology when we hardly stop to smell the roses or send a hand written note or read a book in real print, Collecting takes on a different meaning.

 

 

 

Messages in posters

There are many ways to tell a story. We can write a book. We can write a poem. We can draw a picture.

When we read the newspaper about current events, we form an opinion in our mind or create an image. When we see a photograph, it tells the story . When we stop at a newspaper store and try to figure which magazine to pick, the cover image hints at what’s inside.

At the Tel Aviv Museum of Art there is a retrospective of work by a graphic artist; David Tartakover. You can follow Israel’s history through his images. He has an image called “Ima” (mom) where you see a Palestinian woman peaking from behind a wall that is built around her home and an Israeli soldier watching her. When I think of the word “Ima” I think of my mom but this image reminds you that mothers, have an instinct of watching and caring.  When you enter the second room you see a wall of skeletons called: “Heads” which is a series of 208 digital prints taken from the book: “Bibi: Who are you Mister Prime Minister?”  When he was asked why the image? He said he found a book in a store near his home in Neve Zedek with a Bibi biography from 1969 and after reading it he started drawing these images, he could not give an explanation. It is obvious that Tartakover is critical of the political situation in this country.

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There are some beautiful drawings and more reflections on the politics of the day.

The top left corner is Haim Nachman Bialik, a poet. The right corner is Mayor Dizengoff, the first mayor of Tel Aviv. The bottom left is Herzel and on the right is the Pasha from Jaffa.

The photo on the left is a composite of terror attacks in Tel Aviv (1994) , In Jerusalem (2001), in Hebron (2003), in Netanya (2002).

The writing on the right translates to :”Israel is not America”. This was done many years ago but it stands true today.

Last Wednesday I was watching a satirical show on Israeli TV with my mom. The show was interrupted by the news that there was shooting at the Sarona market. It is 15 minutes from her home. We saw helicopters circling above and heard sirens, as the hospital is also near. The mood changed immediately. There is a feeling of anxiety. Here we go again. After a relative quiet time with no terror attack or knife stabbing the sound of gunshot is an immediate reminder how a peaceful evening can be interrupted in a blink of an eye. Like a lion that woke from his nap; woke with a loud roar and with vengeance. The two terrorists dressed as business people  took handmade guns from their bags and started shooting. Four people dead and nine injured. It feels as though the whole country is mourning with the families. At this moment there is unity and political disagreements are brushed aside. How sad that terror has such power over our lives.

I read about an exhibit at the Islamic Museum of Art in Jerusalem called “A sign from Iran”. It gives us a glimpse into the contemporary design in Iran. Posters that describe the political situation. Posters that flood the social networks. All along the history of Iran, art was used as a tool to express political views. In a society when freedom of speech could cost a life. The art can transfer dual messages or messages hidden in a duality and allegorical way.

In this film,the traditional drawing of the woman is filled with letters.

We all wish for peace. It can be by spelling the word, SHALOM, or drawing a dove.

 

Contemporary art in old palaces

I returned few weeks ago from a trip to Morocco. As you read in previous posts we immersed in the culture and the jewish community but what picked my interest were two exhibits that showed that Morocco is moving forward.

The museum of contemporary art in Rabat was build by King Muhammad V in the last ten years and houses art by Morocco artist from the 60th till now. You can the influence of world art on the Moroccan artists.

The photo in the middle is of the king.

Next I found out that in the last 6 years Moroccans have been hosting a biennale in Marrakech and as this was out next stop on the trip I could not pass this opportunity to see it.

Artists from Africa and the middle east were invited to place their art in old palaces. It was fascinating to see Elanazue humongous piece as a wall hanging among the ruins of the palace. Each artist was given a space to crate and the results can be seen through some of the photographs.

My fascination with placing contemporary art in old mansions led me to the newly opened Renwick Gallery in Washington Dc. The show is called WONDER. Nine contemporary artists created site specific installations. Each artist took over a gallery. The artists used material that are found and therefore it gives the feeling of craft and not the usual paint or photography. Light plays an important roll in viewing the works. It does leave you with a sense of wonder and amazement.