Portland art blog + news + exhibition reviews + galleries + contemporary northwest art

recent entries

Resist: Inauguration at Una Gallery
Early February links
First Thursday Picks February 2017
Dead tree media & dead horse flogging news
Post Snowpocalypse Weekend Picks
More Disjecta'd
New Year opportunities
Monday Integrity Links
First Thursday Picks January 2017
Jason Berlin + Alanna Risse at Rainmaker
Saying goodby to 2016
Mid December Links

recent comments

categories

 

Book Review
Calls for Artists
Design Review
Essays
Interviews
News
Openings & Events
Photoblogs
Reviews
Video
Links
About PORT

regular contributors

 

Tori Abernathy
Amy Bernstein
Katherine Bovee
Emily Cappa
Patrick Collier
Arcy Douglass
Megan Driscoll
Jesse Hayward
Sarah Henderson
Jeff Jahn
Kelly Kutchko
Drew Lenihan
Victor Maldonado
Christopher Moon
Jascha Owens
Alex Rauch
Gary Wiseman

archives

 

Guest Contributors
Past Contributors
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005

contact us

 

Contact us

search

 


syndicate

 

Atom
RSS

powered by

 

Movable Type 3.16

This site is licensed under a

 

Creative Commons License

Monday 01.23.06

« Goose & gander the Oregonian on PAM's direction | Main | Extended Absence »

Report from France (Part I)

lyon_biennale.jpg Graphic design: Cédric Henry

The illustration for the 2005 Lyon Biennial seems as if it is lifted from a 60s or 70s sci-fi book cover. Against a paint-splattered psychedelic sky, the silhouettes of three men turn to face a gigantic planetary orb rising above the skyline. It's an image that captures a moment of discovery - the discovery of alien planets, foreign terrains and spectacular sights. It illustrates exactly the kinds of reactions one is hard pressed to find within museum or gallery walls these days. In a time when cynicism and re-appropriation reigns, it's rare to find newness or impact. I was in France for the holidays, traveling to see the last week of the biennial and catching several shows in Paris. As expected, I saw very little that was truly new or awe-inspiring [disclaimer: I can't blame France's art scene entirely, since many galleries were between the major exhibitions of last fall and a round of new exhibition opening in mid-January]. But I did see a new kind of crisis bubbling beneath the surface, one that is sure to influence if not define whatever artistic and curatorial impulses the future holds for us.

An obsession with imaginary or re-imagined terrains - physical, psychedelic and real - repeatedly appeared in the work that I saw. It's present not only in France (where nearly half of the gallery artists I happened to see were American), but also in recent U.S. shows like MOCA's Ecstacy. Perhaps against a backdrop of "already been done," artists are trying to reclaim their position as the creator of new aesthetic and intellectual terrain. Or perhaps, if I allow myself to have an utterly cynical moment, it's the curators who are taking on the job of inventing new worlds, conveniently relieving the artist of this "burden."

Nature

Nature is often at the root of exploration, as science opens up new micro and macro dimensions, but also as human nature provides a continual source of inspiration for inquiry.

perrotin.jpg Entryway at Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin

At Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Naomi Fisher's savage women frolicked amidst lush green flora, apparently situated in somebody's extended fantasy involving tropical islands and hot girls. Her photographs look like high-end fashion shoots that are trying to look like an updated version of campy Italian films. Her drawings feature luridly colored portraits of females with vacuous, blood-red eyes. Fisher plays out taboo fantasies to a highly choreographed end - the hyper-sexed woman, the hysteric woman, the savage woman, the mother-nature-goddess woman. It's not the clichés that are disappointing, it's the fact that they are so highly stylized that they have scarcely more affect than the glossy fashion spreads in wallpaper* that I read on the plane ride to France. The imagined terrains and savage subjects of Dana Schutz far outdo the work of Fisher. It was funny, however, to notice the dramatic strategies shared by Fisher's photographs and the Classically inspired sculpture and reliefs that flanked Perrotin's entryway, depicting dramatically posed figures and scenes of warfare.

maeda.jpg John Maeda at Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain

John Maeda's Nature at the Fondation Cartier re-imagines nature as a well-spring of abstract pattern from which he draws inspiration for his computer generated designs. Maeda, who is a professor at the MIT Media Laboratory, was one of the first to explore computer programming as a basis for graphic design. Mixing graphic design and art still presents challenges (see ongoing McGuinness commentary) and either Maeda or the exhibition's curators made the unfortunate decision to deem a series of seven flat screens displaying projections of nature-inspired design as "motion paintings." I was thrilled to see a significant show by this deserving designer, but I wish Maeda's projects were just presented for what they are, instead of relying on art-world terms and slick presentation to justify a design-based exhibition.

finch.jpg Spencer Finch at Yvon Lambert

Spencer Finch looks to nature not so much as a source for aesthetic inspiration as for pure data. At Yvon Lambert, Finch continued a series that appears to revisit minimalist light works, but is in fact a very scientific study of light. Using a series of colored gels, Finch alters rods of fluorescent light to mimic the light as measured at a specific locale and time, such as sunset in Texas. For this exhibition, Finch recreated the light outside of the cave of Lascaux, where the famous cave paintings reside. He mimics the nuances of light and color as they would have appeared to paleolithic men coming out of the cave. Listening to an interview with Finch in the gallery's incredible video library of exhibiting artists, I could barely stomach his romanticized musings on the work's reference to the origins of artistic gesture in the caves. But, it's not hard to look past the mushy rhetoric, since his work is at once scientific and sublime.

finch2.jpg Spencer Finch at Yvon Lambert

In opposition to his light work, Finch also presented a series of nearly identical drawings that one learned were meticulously crafted drawings of darkness in the caves. One comment Finch made in the video that did resonate was his explanation of the fact that in many ways, he considers himself to be working in the genre of hyper-realism. It is the play between the presence of highly scientific data and less quantitative qualities like time, nostalgia and memory that provide the key to Finch's art.


Report From France: Part II (Fictional Geographies and Disorientation)

Report Report from France: Part III (On the 2005 Lyon Biennial)


Posted by Katherine Bovee on January 23, 2006 at 1:18 | Comments (0)


Comments

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


Remember me?


s p o n s o r s
Site Design: Jennifer Armbrust   •   Site Development: Philippe Blanc & Katherine Bovee