First Openings of the Fall Art Season 2009

I hope that last week's openings are a sign of the upcoming quality of future fall openings because that would make this a exciting art season (f' a recession!).

Last Thursday SoHo was a buzz with three big openings. Davis Rhodes at Team Gallery, Kehinde Wiley at Deitch Projects on Grand Street and Tauba Auerbach at Deitch Projects's Wooster Street space.

I walked into the Davis Rhodes first not really knowing what to expect. The gallery space was fairly crowded but you could still see the artwork. Rhodes minimalist paintings heavily referenced sign advertising production as well as sculpture and minimal painting traditions. Not really very exciting for me. He made solid pain fields on vinyl material with a large shape cut from the center. Each piece was then loosely hung creating a sculptural effect. I feel like I may be the wrong person to really give these painting their fair shake but I left that gallery board - flat color felt exactly that, flat boring. I crave some thread of detail or narrative to get excited with, this just didn't work for me.

The next stop was Kehinde Wiley's new show. Barely a half block down Grand Street at Dietch's smaller space; Wiley was showing a collection of expertly produced photographs and one large painting in the front room of the gallery. These photographs add nicely to Wiley's overture of highly realistic paintings.

Each image fits his aesthetic but exists in photographic space rather then the surface of a additive painted canvas. The poses still heavily borrow from painting but the clarity of the photographic production is striking and I thought the effect created from bringing slices of the background inform of the subject created a nice dimension to the work that reminded me of painting and less of photography.

From the Press Release:

September 03, 2009 - September 26, 2009
76 Grand Street, New York

Deitch Projects is pleased to present Black Light, an exhibition of photographs by Kehinde Wiley that thrusts the black male image, captured by means of light manipulation and digital technology, into focus. This shuffle of Wiley's artistic process reveals an integral component of his studio practice rarely seen while remaining, uniquely, Kehinde Wiley portraiture.

Enlisting the technical tenor of Hype Williams' hip-hop videos from the 90's, Wiley saturates his consummately styled subjects of Fulton Street Mall pedigree- caps flipped backward, wearing gear of New York legend- in "super rapturous light". To transcendental and beatific effect, such illumination proffers a new measure of Wiley's technical abilities, so that the medium of photography propels each figure to the point before paint consumes canvas- the moment when flesh, at its three dimensional, truth-telling, reveals scars long ago enacted. Browned fingernails, questioning red-glazed eyes and voluptuously glossed, cigarette-charred lips heighten what, for some, is no longer visible: a vulnerable microcosm of our metropolis- a black light. Through the 17 photographs on display, Wiley produces an intimate study of embattled psychologies whose adherents are at once flawed and majestic, canonized and misunderstood.

The exhibition Black Light will be accompanied by, Black Light, a full-color book published by Powerhouse and will be available at Deitch Projects

Lastly I walked around the corner to the airy Wooster Street space where Tauba Auerbach was showing paintings, photography and a performance on a organ she helped create with her friend Cameron Mesirow of the band Glasser. When you enter the gallery you are greeted with several large abstract photographs. In the center of the space there is a large wood two person custom made organ called the Auerglass. Behind the organ were several lager paintings from different series she has been working on, nicely reflecting the photographic abstractions shown at the entrance of the gallery.

From the Press release:

September 03, 2009 - October 17, 2009
18 Wooster Street, New York

The collapsing of two conflicting states is the central theme of HERE AND NOW/AND NOWHERE, Tauba Auerbach's new exhibition at Deitch Projects. The artist deliberately composed the title as an anagram. The paintings, photographic works, sculpture and the musical instrument that comprise the show are all structured around the threshold between order and randomness. The philosophical conflicts explored in the work include:

The liminality, or intermediate state between two dimensionality and three dimensionality.

The past and the present.

A combination of the two: a past three-dimensional state and a present two-dimensional state.

Being HERE vs. Being THERE, and being both HERE and THERE at once.

Randomness vs. Determinism and the unpredictable order of chaos.

In the marrying of two conflicting states, the work is also about the number 2, a concept that is inherent in the remote interdependence central to the sculptural works in the exhibition.

There are five bodies of work represented in the exhibition:

Crumple Paintings

The next generation of the Crumple paintings previously shown in Deitch Projects' Constraction exhibition last summer and in the New Museum's Younger Than Jesus. These new works have been created for the large space of Deitch's 18 Wooster Street gallery and require that the viewer stand far back from the work to perceive the illusion of a crumpled surface constructed from large Ben Day dots.

Static Photographs

A new series of more representational, but still undecipherable Static photographs. They focus less on the emergence of pattern as in the previous series, also shown in Younger Than Jesus, and more on the emergence of form. They address the question of what makes something "something."

Fold Paintings

A series of incrementally sized fold paintings, painted on raw canvas with an industrial paint sprayer. They explore the merging of a past three-dimensional state with a present two-dimensional state.

A sculpture that is half inside the gallery and half outside of it.

There will be a form resembling a black orb hanging from the gallery facade. It will blow in the breeze. Inside the gallery, there will be a light source dangling from a thin rod, moving around exactly the same way as the form outside. The sculpture is based on the phenomenon of entangled particles, two particles that, when separated from one another, continue to behave identically, even at a great distance. If you stimulate one, the other reacts too. It is as though they are supernaturally connected.

The Auerglass

The Auerglass, which is the central work in the show, is a two-person wooden pump organ designed by the artist with her friend Cameron Mesirow of the band Glasser. The instrument cannot be played alone. It requires two people to play. One player has to pump in order for the other to play and vice versa. There is a four-octave scale that is divided so that each of the two players plays every other note. Auerbach and Mesirow will play a composition written specifically for the instrument. It combines music that Auerbach wrote as a child, songs from Glasser and new material. The Auerglass will be played at the opening on September 3rd, as a prelude to a Glasser performance at 8pm on September 11th, and daily at 5pm from Tuesday through Saturday during the exhibition. Ida Falck Oien, who creates the costumes for Glasser, has created special costumes with shifting states for the Auerglass players to wear.

The highlight of the openings was the Auerglass performance. I highly recommend trying to catch the performance for yourself. It begins is a very amateurish tone. Sounding exactly as it was promised like a child's composition and really reminded me heavily of my own fumblings as a child trying to play piano. The piece then progresses into a crescendo of sound that washed over the audience a great ending. It was as if the artist's composition was also about them learning music and learning to play their invented instrument. The piece was about their very learning of music itself. starting off in the childhood composition of Auerbach and ending in the musical adultness of the new Glasser material.

I found some youtube footage of the concert check it out below. If you look carefully you can se me bopping my head.

Soho, Manhattan, New York City, Thursday, September 3, 2009.
Per New York Times:
"Wear your new statement accessories to Deitch Projects tonight for two big openings. Tara Auerbachs Crumple paintings mimic creased paper with patterns of Benday dots that can be dizzying when seen up close, writes Karen Rosenberg. But most of the focus will be on an The Auerglass, a wooden pump organ that the artist and the band Glasser will play at the reception."

On Saturday, I trekked out to see the Creative Time installations on Governor's Island called PLOT09: This World & Nearer Ones. I was only able to see a few of the shows but their quality was fantastic. Here are some of my highlights from Creative Times' TV:

Lawrence Weiner discuss his work in PLOT/09: This World & Nearer Ones entitled "AT THE SAME MOMENT"

Mark Walling discusses his work in PLOT/09 This World & Nearer Ones, entitled," Ferry".

Krzysztof Wodiczko discusses his work in PLOT/09: This World & Nearer Ones entitled "Veterans' Flame"

Anthony McCall discusses his work in PLOT/09: This World & Nearer Ones entitled "Between You and I"

And lastly, I caught the last showing of the night of The Bruce High Quality Foundation's "Isle of the Dead" Movie. This was the surprise of the afternoon. Really nicely made 18 minute site specific motion picture. With much of the final climax of the film taking place in the theater you are viewing the movie in. The theater is an old relic from when the Island was a Coast Guard base and Used to show first run movies when the base was operational. the haunting effect of watching a chorus of 200 zombies sing "Summer of '69" by Brian Adams was haunting and nostalgic at the same time. I'm still thinking about this movie and the fantastic sound production. If you want to listen to their song you can on The Bruce High Quality Foundation's webpage to the middle right.

The Bruce High Quality Foundation discuss their work in PLOT/09 This World & Nearer Ones entitled "Isle of the Dead"