Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Pornography of Desperation

5 March 2009

My first toe in the snow turned out to be not the Armory Show, but a run through Scope – it was nearly impossible to get to the Piers this particular evening – and frankly I was tempted to stop right at the newly renovated Alice Tully Hall, whose glass-faced façade disclosed a very warm and inviting looking bar and café. I consoled myself that I could always stop in afterwards. Inside (as opposed to outside) the pavilions, Scope has a slightly more manicured look this year – though the twilight may have enhanced the effect. ada (Richmond, Virginia) Gallery’s booth this year is close enough to the entrances that you could practically fall into it (no – I did not stop for a drink at Alice Tully Hall), and it’s always fun running into John Pollard who does such an amazing job with this gallery. This year, the gallery is celebrating the influence of the convulsive, hysterical films of George Kuchar, who is actually scheduled to present a few of his films at special events the gallery will present this Saturday evening (6-8 p.m.) and Sunday afternoon (12-2 p.m.). Kuchar really invented a kind of pornography of desperation; and, to judge from the business and economic news alone, you’d have to say these films have really found their moment. (Me – I’d just love to see some of these Wall Street money mis-managers cast and forced to act through a George Kuchar film.) John always shows something amazing, something surprising that takes you completely off guard; and I’m sure there’s more here that I should be mentioning; but I was most immediately fascinated by paintings and stop-action animations (from the paintings) he showed by Bruce Wilhelm – whose uncanny, abstracted, naïve style I found completely captivating -- e.g., horses and figures cantering into and out of a conventional landscape obscured by, morphing, or dissolving (more apparent in the animations) into other fragmentary elements, bits of landscape or other figures or color fields. Amazing (and not expensive!) There was much more; but, needless to say, I’ll be going back.

I’m not terribly familiar with dFaulken, a local gallery, but I was intrigued by their mix of artists – from expressive (if not tortured) and figurative, to rigorously cool abstraction, and they were friendly enough to invite me in when everyone was getting kicked out. I’m not sure what to make of an artist like Karim Hamid, whose work suggested a number of impressions or images superimposed upon each other and sunk into abstracted fields that might themselves be fragmentary images or merely background elements. A few were recognizably portraits. One of the portraits featured was of Chuck Close, a compelling one, recognizable though face and figure were all but blacked out. I was not so compelled by Sara Carter’s retro-De Stijl channeled abstraction – blocks and bars of color of varying density and transparency against dark fields – but perhaps it’s in synch with a certain mood of deliberation and determination that seems to be in the air. She’s certainly determined. I have more to say about Mark Gagnon, who showed some very interesting work – but I’ll have to come back to him. (He’s terrifically talented.)

Hey look – I know Costa Rica is incredibly beautiful (I’d love a place there myself) – but you can’t just plunk something down there on the beach or against one of those incredible landscapes and call it art. Can you?? (Or can you?) The Jacob/Karpio Galleria of San Jose, Costa Rica was showing some digital photography by Nefertiti Ingalls (love the name) – not without interest; and certainly an almost classical beauty and poise; and those gorgeous backdrops – but so what? This is not tai chi at the beach, honey. (Ya have to wonder – I came back from L.A. for this?)

There was a good deal of Chinese contemporary art and I have to talk about some stuff at Kuckei & Kuckei (Berlin) – but for now I’m putting it on HOLD. Gee, New York looks great under snow (although it’s already melting).

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