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...
Exhibition view: Group Exhibition, Painters Reply: Experimental Painting in the 1970s and now, Lisson Gallery, West 24th Street, New York (27 June–9 August 2019). Courtesy Lisson Gallery.
On some timely occasions, we get the true pleasure to be reminded of T.S. Eliot's 'historical sense' (from his famous 1919 essay Tradition and Individual Talent). This historical sense involves a perception, not only of the pastness of the past but of its very presence, which simply implies a co-function of simultaneous existence and simultaneous order before reaching the synthesis of time being timeless and temporal all at once.
Known primarily for his conceptual photography, film projects and colour-intensive paintings, Roy Colmer challenged the boundaries between these disciplines in order to develop a new kind of perception. Inspired by the shifting artistic cultural landscape brought about through the introduction of electronic media, Colmer connected the surfaces of his paintings to video through the use of spray techniques and a careful selection of colour, suggesting filmic effects such as movement, flicker, distortion, and as Colmer described, "feedback." He was interested in the immediacy and versatility of the spray gesture and the ability to manipulate space and depth through colour and form, notions influenced by his Concretist mentors at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Hamburg, Germany. By the early 1970s, Colmer began to incorporate this telegenic feedback directly into his practice, increasingly working in video and film. His exploration and manipulation of electronic signals was part of a larger group of artists working in the area at the time, among them Nam June Paik and Bruce Nauman. Colmer stopped experimenting with paint entirely a few years later and focused his attention on photography and documentary projects.
Roy Colmer was born in London in 1935. Aged twenty, he was conscripted into the British Army and was stationed in Germany. After leaving the military, he studied painting at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Hamburg on a full scholarship, where he was taught by professors Almir Mavignier, Eduardo Paolozzi and Georg Gresko. As a student he began a lifelong friendship with Hanne Darboven that resulted in several collaborations. In 1966 he moved to New York where he continued his painting practice and began to experiment with film and photography. From November 1975 to September 1976, Colmer photographed more than 3000 doors, inclusive and in sequence, on 120 intersections and streets of Manhattan from Wall Street to Fort Washington. The project, titled Doors, NYC, became his seminal work, and the New York Public Library acquired a full edition for its archives in 2005. Colmer taught photography at the New School in New York from 1987 to 1995. His paintings and video feedback works were included in High Times, Hard Times: New York Painting 1966-1975, a touring exhibition organised and circulated by Independent Curators International from 2006 to 2008. His work _Doors, NYC _was incorporated in Darboven's work Kulturgeschichte 1880–1983 (Cultural History 1880–1983), 1980–83, and in 2015, it was exhibited as part of Greater New York at MoMA PS1, New York, and in 175 Years of Sharing Photography, an exhibition from the collection of the New York Public Library. Colmer was a recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 1988 and received a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Art in 1990. The artist died in 2014 in Los Angeles.
At the heart of Mary Corse's practice lies an interest in the subjective experiences of light and colour. As an artist positioned on the periphery of the American Light and Space Movement, Mary Corse is known for her lightboxes and monochromatic paintings made with a unique mixture of acrylic paint and reflective glass beads.
Originating in Southern California in the 1960s, the Light and Space Movement referred to a group of loosely associated artists who shared a penchant for exploring perceptual phenomena and pioneering the then-unconventional use of plastic, glass, resin and neon fluorescent lights in art. Partially influenced by the brilliant California landscape and its bright sun, ocean and surf culture, artists such as James Turrell, Robert Irwin and John McCracken developed a visual aesthetic that focused on perfectly polished surfaces and minimalist abstract forms. As one of the few women artists associated with the movement, Corse's contribution was not recognised until recently. While sharing with her contemporaries an understanding of perception as a subjective experience, she developed a distinctive practice that differs substantially from others of the movement in her deliberate inclusion of evidence of the artist's hand.
Throughout her career, Corse has experimented with embedding luminescence in her paintings, with a particular focus on white light. Beginning in 1966, Corse worked on a series of lightboxes that consist of Plexiglas lit by fluorescent and, later, argon-filled tubes. For another series titled 'Electric Light' (1968), she studied quantum physics and wireless cording to create light paintings suspended from the ceiling. It was also during this year that Corse discovered the possibility of mixing acrylic paint with the microspheres—glass reflector beads used to mark road dividers on the highway—that would become a hallmark of her work.
Having focused on all-white paintings in the 1960s, Corse began to introduce black in the following decade. Black Light Painting (1975), for instance, depicts a composition of white and black quadrangles. By painting the black sections in acrylic paint mixed with minuscule acrylic squares and microspheres, Corse transformed the colour black—commonly thought of as the absence of light—into a luminous shade.
Corse's evolving experimentation with light is grounded in her belief in the range of possibilities available to a single colour depending on light and perspective. From one angle, her acrylic paintings may appear to have an uninterrupted surface of monochromatic grids; from another angle, however, the varied texture of the brushstrokes and microspheres become visible, altering the impression of the same work. This optical illusion was extended with Corse's use of the 'inner band'—a composition of alternating columns of white and shades of grey—from 1996 onwards, in which vertical stripes appear and disappear as the viewer changes position.
Corse graduated with a BFA from the Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts), Los Angeles, in 1963 and received her MFA from the same school in 1968. Her recent solo and group exhibitions in selected institutions include Lisson Gallery, London (2018); Seattle Art Museum (2015); University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor (2014); J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (2011); Gropius Bau, Berlin (2011); and Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (2011). In 2018 the Whitney Museum of American Art organised A Survey in Light, Corse's first solo museum survey. The artist lives and works in Los Angeles.
Best known for his large-scale, grid-like paintings, artist Sean Scully has long been a proponent of abstraction. Desiring to rescue the mode from remoteness and re-inject it with exalted feeling, in a 2016 interview with Ocula Magazine, Scully explained his devotion to the style, saying, 'in my paintings, I don't paint space. I paint things. I paint the stripe as if it's a kind of life and death.'
Born in Dublin, Scully grew up south of London and studied painting at Croydon School of Art, London, and Newcastle University, where he was inspired by the colour field paintings of Mark Rothko and the minimalist abstraction of Bridget Riley. In the 1970s, he moved to America for a graduate fellowship at Harvard and later settled in New York, where he still lives part-time, in addition to Bavaria. His status as an immigrant and outsider has long been an important part of his philosophy about life and art.
Scully's earliest paintings, made in the UK, were inspired by the bright colours and wild stripes of Moroccan textiles. However, following his move to America in the 1970s, Scully simplified his motif and reigned in his palette. His paintings from that era to the present day are characterised by their compositions that are made up of several rectangular or square sections painted in various colours—often deep, rich and stormy or autumn-toned hues. Several thickly brushed layers of oil paint on each section result in illusions of luminescence or movement, with a dynamic surface texture often compared to skin.
Reflecting his upbringing in working-class neighbourhoods and his adult life in cities, Scully's works from the 1980s were inspired by conflict, discord, haphazard urban planning and human competition for survival—weighty themes reflected in the paintings' sombre palettes and cramped, brick-like compositions. While in such early works Scully used tape to delineate the clean, structured sections on his canvases, he later abandoned that hard-edge aesthetic and began painting more loosely, allowing the shapes to breathe and show evidence of their making. In Battered Earth (1988), for example, patches of cream-coloured rectangles belie their earthy underlying layers, as do the blood-coloured sections with the umber paint beneath.
Showing a further loosening up of technique, Scully's major 'Wall of Light' series works (1998–ongoing) are first drawn out with charcoal stuck to the end of a long stick before being filled in with paint. The series begun when the artist was travelling in Mexico and was struck by the play of light on Mayan stone walls. Indeed, the combination of vertical and horizontal bars in Scully's paintings are often compared to architectural elements; the sections are said to resemble Stonehenge-like structures.
While he mostly works with oil on canvas, Scully also uses watercolour, pastels and aquatints, as well as painting directly on aluminium—a support that enhances the thickness of the oil paint and its illusion of emitting light. His recent sculptures borrow the same compositions as his paintings; Air (2018) is a large cube made of multi-coloured recinto, marble and cantera, assembled in blocks that create asymmetrical grid patterns when viewed from each angle.
Scully has been named as a Turner Prize nominee twice: in 1989 and again in 1993.
Lisson Gallery now represents the estate of the American abstract painter Ted Stamm (1944 - 1984) in New York and London. The gallery will present a solo exhibition in New York in March 2018, featuring works from the artist's Wooster series, including paintings, works on paper, archival material and photographs of the Wooster Designator street works. Accompanying the exhibition, Lisson Gallery will produce the first major publication on Stamm with an essay by historian Alex Bacon.
Coming of age in the mid-1960s, Stamm was an integral part of the artists enclave of SoHo in downtown Manhattan. Upon graduation from Hofstra University in 1968, Stamm returned to his hometown of New York to continue his investigation of painting and printmaking. Between 1968 and 1972, Stamm produced lyrical abstract paintings consisting of poured red, blue and pink paint on canvas. In the summer of 1972, inspired by the work of Ad Reinhardt, he introduced grid-like patterns of black markings onto these works, which he referred to as his Cancel paintings. Black became an important component of Stamm's work from this point forward, a colour he associated with rebellion, rigor and reduction.
In 1973, Stamm began to make conceptually-driven works determined by systems of chance. For his "Chance" series, Stamm invented a system whereby the rolling of a dice or spinning of a roulette wheel would determine the format of the specific work and the number of layers of paint. In 1974, Stamm encountered an irregular shape on the pavement on his street in SoHo — a rectangle joined on the left by a slightly shorter triangle. Titled the "Wooster" series for the location of this revelation, these geometric forms with hard edges furthered the artist's exploration of shaped canvases, formalist elements of the line, and literal as well as depicted shapes.
Often working in different, overlapping series, Stamm created the Dodger works at the same time as the Wooster series. The Dodger shape was named for the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team and derived from the curved angles of a baseball field. Composed of arched stretchers, joined to irregular polygonal shapes, an interior shape was defined in precisely painted on raw canvas. The Dodger series evolved to the C-Dodger series in the late 1970s, as Stamm became increasingly fascinated with the concept of speed and the aerodynamic design of cars, trains and airplanes. The "C" in the title referred to the supersonic passenger jet airplane the Concorde. In 1979, Stamm introduced the Zephyr series which were inspired by the high velocity stainless-steel train of the same name that set speed records for travel between Denver, Colorado and Chicago, Illinois in 1934.
Stamm was heavily engaged in experimental work with other artists and his friends during his lifetime. For his Tag series, visitors to his studio were asked to make a mark on a found garment tag that was affixed to a page in a sketchbook. Stamm would then respond to this mark in a second sketchbook of the same design, and both pages were then stamped with the date and other collateral material to create a record of the time and place of their exchange.
In the mid 1970s Stamm also made proto graffiti street interventions that he titled Designators. Stamm discreetly stenciled a small "Dodger" shape in locations around New York City that held a personal significance to him. On repeat visits the image would be altered by changing black to silver or by adding a T on top of the shape. Other works from this series includes the TT and Wooster Designators.
In September of 1975, Artforum published a special issue on painting. In addition to articles such as 'Painting and the Struggle for the Whole Self' and 'Painting and Anti-Painting: A Family Quarrel'-in which Max Kozloff said 'brushwielders were afflicted by a creative halitosis'-were the responses to a questionnaire polling 21 painters on the state and prospects of the medium.1 While the construct suggests an attempt to engage the question of painting's future, the tone of both the preface and three questions is exceedingly stilted, rending it more of an obituary than rumination; an indictment of futility.
When Sol LeWitt declared in 1967 that the execution of the art object was now a 'perfunctory affair'2, it made Greenbergian formalism seem trivial and antiquated. As curator Katy Siegel noted in her 2006 exhibition High Times Hard Times, which explored unconventional painting from the late 1960s and early 1970s, a lack of a clear paradigm shift left the medium feeling listless. Terms such as 'Lyrical Abstraction' and 'New Informalism' failed to capture the breadth and dynamism of the medium, leaving many to simply condemn it. However, what if this lack of cohesion speaks more to a liberation of the medium as opposed to a symptom of struggle?
Painters Reply, curated by Alex Glauber and Alex Logsdail, aims to answer the Artforum questionnaire through an exploration of experimental painting practices starting in the 1970s and continuing to the present moment. The selected artists reveal how the pervasive antipathy towards painting perhaps afforded a greater degree of latitude whereby materiality, application, atypical support, performative impulse and format were all of a sudden in play. The exhibition brings together a diverse group of artists, including some of those published in Artforum's responses to the questionnaire such as Joan Snyder and Dona Nelson, where the common denominator is aesthetic emancipation.
Following this survey of experimental painting from the 1970s, Painters Reply traces this vanguard spirit to the current moment. The selected artists advance painting by probing similar fault lines-aesthetic variables relating to materiality, execution and presentation. For instance, Jacqueline Humphries' 'Black Light Paintings' harness light to activate an otherwise static surface with similar objectives to Mary Corse who turned to glass microspheres in 1968 as a visual catalyst. Similarly, one can draw a through line between Joe Overstreet's 'Flight Pattern' series of the early 1970s and the current practice of Eric N. Mack. Overstreet's unstretched canvases fluidly dissect space through a web of ropes which suspend his abstractions like sails anchored to the floor, walls, and ceiling surrounding them. 'My paintings don't let the onlooker glance over them, but rather take them deeply into them and let them out-many times by different routes.'3 This ethos resonates with Eric N. Mack whose painterly assemblages cloak spaces in works that collapse and fuse the histories of abstract painting and the aesthetics of fashion.
Artists include Polly Apfelbaum, Lynda Benglis, Sadie Benning, Roy Colmer, Matt Connors, Mary Corse, Lucy Dodd, Guy Goodwin, Ron Gorchov, Ralph Humphrey, Al Loving, Israel Lund, Eric N. Mack, Dona Nelson, Joe Overstreet, Steven Parrino, Howardina Pindell, David Reed, Dorothea Rockburne, Ruth Root, Sean Scully, Joan Snyder, Ted Stamm, Stanley Whitney and Duane Zaloudek.
1 Max Kozloff, 'Painting and Anti-Painting: A Family Quarrel', Artforum Vol.14, no. 1, September 1975, p 38.
2 Sol LeWitt, 'Paragraphs on Conceptual Art', Artforum Vol.5, no. 10, Summer 1967, pp. 79-83
3 'Joe Overstreet,' Rehistoricizing the Time Around Abstract Expressionism in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1950s-1960s, http://rehistoricizing.org/joe-overstreet-2/
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