I'm working on another complicated review and we have a major interview in the works... till then here are some more links to consider:
Francis Bacon's last painting is uncovered.... and it is purposefully dusty. Now Bacon is a bit of a toss up, is he overrated or brilliant. Both, but what I love about his work is the crushing self awareness he gives to his subjects, become a kind of liberty by proxy. I'm not always in the mood for it frankly but I do appreciate the way this work approaches death as both proceeding and receding... coalescing and atomizing. You have to care about such things to see it. One cant just cite a bunch of quotes about his genre, you really have to take his work personally to get or even see the better ones. That simply isn't always possible as not every one is good. Would love to see the last one in person to determine that. Western civilization in general isn't good at addressing death but a few painters like Rembrandt and Goya were fantastic at it.
Temporary published an interesting essay on slow art criticism. I generally agree with most of it and it is what we do here at PORT but there need to be a few clarifications just for discussion's sake. First off the idea that there is a "crisis in criticism" is odd because "Crisis" and "Criticism" both share the same Greek root of Krisis. In other words, without a crisis there is no criticism, which supports the articles successful attack on "International Art English." It is a style that embodies no crisis, just a pedagogical resume of precedents (becoming an odd careerist statement of belief rather than critical assessment). Instead, I agree that spending a great deal of time teasing out the individual experience of the critic then comparing it with other relevant experiences is generally the thoughtful and responsible thing to do. This is different than simply forming an opinion though, a critic engages the matrix of ideas around the work rather than simply pronounce. That said a critic's most sensitive instrument is arguably themselves... and yes some critique me for bringing myself into everything but it is very much on purpose and in the tradition of Baudelaire, Herodotus, David Sylvester, Matthew Collings etc. where the critic is an on scene interlocutor and historian. Owning up to that inescapable subjectivity is a kind of honesty, which we lack from IAE... which is just junior varsity level college art curator wall text. Its just a dressed up CV in code and a kind of advertising.
It is that time again the 2016 Contemporary Northwest Art Awards and according to the video above there is a subtext of welcoming those who were not born in the USA featuring the work of; Willem Volkersz, Samantha Wall, Victoria Haven, Lead Pencil Studio (Daniel Mihalyo and Annie Han), Dana Lynn Louis, Helen O'Toole and Akio Takamori. So, will that chamber of commerce kind of ideation be enough to head off the oft repeated nickname of the Conservative Northwest Art Awards? True, many artists in the Northwest are from elsewhere but there is also a tradition of rewarding those who don't shake things up so much... even when Portland and Seattle are dynamic places. True, Seattle's top troublemaker Jack Daws won the Betty Bowen award last year but that should have happened a decade ago! Overall, we may be welcoming but for whatever reason we don't rock the boat much at the institutional level with few surprises. Usually it is just a lot of Northwest cliches of like nature, craft and figuration without much interrogation of what kind of nature, craft and figuration? At the same time so many artists have international careers so I ask, why? Frankly most group surveys have a similar problem where the announcement of the list overwhelms the actual exhibition time and again. Maybe this one will be different? These were initially designed to be like the SECA awards.
The show is curated Bonnie Laing-Malcolmson, The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Northwest Art and curatorial advisor Jessica Hunter-Larsen, curator of IDEA Space, Interdisciplinary Experimental Arts, at Colorado College. The show is Laing-Malcolmson's last exhibition and it is somewhat of an impossible job... especially when your own back yard has the most adventurous art scene with conservative collectors who are not very involved. Each year though Laing-Malcolmson has moved PAM in the right direction, question is if they can replace her with someone both dynamic and convincing enough to move the needle reflecting the tectonic changes we have undergone?
"Speak, Thou Vast and Venerable Head" (video animation still) Julia Oldham, 2016
The Fifth Wheel is a multimedia exploration of the arguably hypermasculine novel Moby Dick by four female artists, Julia Oldham, Sarah Nance, Jane Schiffhauer and Alanna Risse. The exhibition takes its title from a description in the novel and though the gallery is rather difficult to get to for openings (from 5-7 on a weekday) unless you are already in McMinnville its a perfect weekend sojourn.
Not It | February 10 - March 19
Reception: February 10, 5-7PM
Artist Talk: Saturday, March 12 5PM
Linfield Gallery | Linfield College
900 SE Baker st., McMinnville, OR
The Archer gallery is celebrating its namesake James Archer on the occassion of his donating 129 artworks to the college. 40 of the artworks are on display at the gallery and you can read a little more on the gift here. I have a thing for the way these personal collections enrich institutions as it is the way most people first experience art. Often in a very casual way they simply come across something that strikes them when they are on their way to a class or some other activity. There is tremendous value in this and art isn't just for museums, so go and tell him how much he has done. One things we dont do well around here is thank our leaders... especially the ones who stick their necks out enough, James is one of those leaders.
Celebrating James Archer | RSVP khukill(at)clark.edu
Celebration reception: February 9, 7PM Archer Gallery (Penguin Union Building)
1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver Washington
February has always been a good month for art exhibitions in the Portland art scene and everyone seems ready to get out and meet each other once again. Here are my picks:
The Histology of the Different Classes of Uterine Tumors, Wangechi Mutu (2005)
Internationally famous artist Wangechi Mutu creates chimerical anthropomorphichuman constructions exploring gender, identity and wry positioning within society... including immigrants. Her exhibition at the 511 gallery titled The Hybrid Human are a in that great tradition of the anthropological grotesque, like international Frankensteins for our time. This is the first in The Jordan D. Schnitzer Exhibition and Visiting Artist Lecture Series.
The Hybrid Human | January 19 - March 12
First Thursday: February 6, 6:00-8:00PM
PNCA (511 Gallery)
511 NW Broadway
...(more with Portland Japanese Garden and Portland Pataphysical Society)
Hans Ulrich Obrist on the future of Contemporary Art. One of the things that distinguishes him from most big name curators is the way he readily admits their cultural cache supersedes that of curators and institutional immpreneur. Of course the idea that the "present" is slippery or splintered into intangible pieces is a very Los Angeles sort of notion and yet a lot of art is about being "present" and is not so slippy for anyone with an eastern outlook or access to the splintering the internet, which seems to record what is present with relentless detail. The difference is velocity of consciousness/awareness. Here's my quote, "The future is always over before you know it"... that means those with "an edge" find it through the obsessive over-familiarity of experience that is hard to rationalize...
Ken Johnson on Flatlands at The Whitney. The de-skilling thing is hardly new and the masters of this sentiment like; Rosenquist, Duchamp, Max Ernst, Picasso, Neo Rauch and Dana Schutz should continue to loom large in the minds of those contemplating the exhibition. The Internet didn't inspire current painting... perhaps painters dreamed (or memed) of the internet?