Ongoing since 2012, the Real DMZ Project interrogates the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea through annual, research-based exhibitions that bring together the works of Korean and international artists. Sunjung Kim, the independent curator behind the project, conceived the idea of exploring the DMZ while curating Japanese artist...
The fifth edition of Sydney Contemporary will take place once again at Carriageworks between 12 and 15 September 2019, with Spring 1883 bringing together a cohort of 27 galleries from across Australia and the region to inhabit rooms at the Establishment Hotel from 11 to 14 September 2019, uniquely presenting contemporary works propped up on...
Mark Bradford walks through Mark Bradford: Los Angeles Mark Bradford: Los Angeles at the Long Museum West Bund in Shanghai (27 July–13 October 2019) is the artist's largest solo exhibition to date in China. In this video for Ocula, Bradford and Diana Nawi, curator of the show, walk through selected works that convey the artist's concerns with...
Almine Rech Paris is pleased to present Nuwar, Leelee Kimmel's first exhibition with the gallery.
'Stirring up a mass of dull grey plankton, again there came the shock of sheer colour—like a blow to the body, or a crashing chord to the ear. I know of no other sensation which quite equals the effect on the eye–or the brain behind the eye–as that of a great, glowing, living, rich-scarlet-red shrimp, cold as ice, just raised through a half mile of water. No flower I have ever seen in any setting could vie with it for a moment. It is worth recalling that for countless ages this shrimp and its ancestors had been merely the blackest of beings in a jet-black world, and only for the past few minutes had its blazing colour existed. This may partly explain its exciting quality, like the unused rods and cones in our own retina, when we stand on our heads and look out at the world.'1
'I am nature', Jackson Pollock famously said, and from at least the beginnings of Abstraction artists have sought deep nature, a primal language of shapes and colours presumed to lurk deep in the mind, unpolished and unmediated by conscious rationalisation. Michael Fried, equally famously, believed that the greatest Modern art was work with the condition 'of existing in, indeed of secreting or constituting, a continuous and perpetual present'.
But when you look at the unconscious mind—that is, literally look, with your eyes—what do you see? After sitting for a while in a dark room, or when you're about to doze off at night, what you see is phosphenes: those patterns, dots, grains, and swirls of (initially) weak colour on a dark background caused by the more or less random firing of neurons in the retina itself. These usually start off more abstract but, as the brain's automatic visual system begins to interpret them, they take on more figurative features, until the stage where they're called hypnagogic hallucinations—not any of the types of stronger hallucinations that arise in the brain, but something so unmediated that even less conscious animals than ourselves—insects? planaria?–might often see something very similar. These images don't at all live in that ideal garden of Modernism, the Unconscious: instead, they flash in and out of their half-existence in the Hadean-eon wilderness of our dimmest pre-unconscious.
Leelee Kimmel's paintings are investigations of inner and outer space, collisions between ur-ancient, chthonic nature and the hyper-sophisticated realm of Modernist and postmodernist art histories, between the preverbal and the phantasmagoria of the library, terse and voluble, suddenly laughing then stonily silent. Kimmel's abstract biomorphs skitter through pitch black abyssal depths, like those of Beebe's Arcturus Adventure, at once terrifying and comic. The shapes harken back to nature, while Kimmel's palette is neon and acid, resoundingly anti-naturalistic.
There's a sense of potential catastrophe crowding the margins, as forms coil and ricochet through darkness: is that a turtle or a hand grenade revolving on the periphery, is that polyp a gun? Transformation is the guiding formal but also psychological and dare I say spiritual governing force in Kimmel's dark glittering universe, fearsome and newborn, cunning monsters, mutants, aliens, explorers, invaders, these phantoms of Nuwar.
1 William Beebe, The ‘Arcturus’ Adventure, 1926
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