Studio of the Absurd "Good-Bye Amsterdam"
In her latest installation at M55 ART, artist and curator Virginia Pierrepont reconstructs her personal studio practice into an allegorical showcase of her personal touchstones. Reversing of the normal order of things, she invites her artist friends, family, and social contacts to participate in her creative process while she develops new paintings during the course of the exhibition. Eschewing the idea that creativity is an internal process, Pierrepont is directly inspired by the energy of her social interactions. She has gathered together the work of six simpatico artists, whose paths collide in an expression of pure freedom and wild temporal energy. The combined effects evoke a historic theme of seduction and allure that reference back to the fading red light district of Amsterdam. As the main character in this theatre of the absurd, Pierrepont positions herself within the red light space of the Galleries main window. In what appears to be the artist’s studio space, she actively paints from a voluptuous reclining model.
Participating artists Eddie Martinez, Judy Glantzman and Chuck Webster exhibit an almost 80’s wild, Pier 34, East Village feeling. Sculptor artist Shari Mendelson juxtaposes her talents of recycling with ancient history through use of modern products. Jeffrey Bishop works on multiple series that don’t necessarily cohere to a singular signature style. Yosi and Kazuya Kobo complete this perpetual space with bizarre furniture creations that seem to echo Adirondack chic from old world stock. Seen together, these eloquently defiant artworks conjure up the ancient muse of poetry in our world absurd.
War Series: The Roses I began this series after visiting the Guernica, at the Reina Sophia Museum in Spain, in 2009. I had seen the Guernica many times at the Museum of Modern Art, but this time it had a more profound effect on me. Dark imagery had always appeared in my previous paintings. After seeing the Guernica, I decided to make war, or whatever I could imagine that war looked like, as the subject of my work. What has resulted is a group of collaged and painted paper works. In these, distinct sets of imagery: observed, imagined, and the accidental spills of paint are torn, cut, and recombined over and over, many times, over a long period of time. The goal, the moment when the work is finished, is when all the elements collide and recombine to make a palpable feeling. These paintings are my continued attempts to see what WAR looks like to me, and they encompass terror, mourning, and loss.
By nature I tend to work on multiple series that don’t necessarily cohere to a singular signature style. The Turks utilize the same constant irregular shape, hard of edge and spiky, perhaps comic, which I articulate in a variety of ways while retaining serial constancy. The Untitled watercolors were executed during an artist residency in Rome. They reflect a more intimate, atmospheric and whimsical approach to space. The Black and Green works employ a resinous surface that is poured and into which shaved charcoal is added. A migration occurs while the resin is setting up. The result conjures for me something both visceral and aquatic.
I work in paintings, drawings, collage and prints. I am interested in an image that engages the viewer on many levels. Forms are drawn from personal history as well as from shapes and phenomena that I observe in the world. I am interested in creating a narrative that comes from the work, my life, and the intersection of these with shapes, scale and color.
The work of making the picture and contacting the surface with the brush and hand leaves a journey of decisions, much as a well-worn tool contains the history of the touch and work of its owner.
I work on panels on an absorbent gesso. My surfaces are polished to a sheen that evokes encaustic paint and preserves gesture and glaze while showing a history of touch and work. I want the work to be both immediate and remote, as though you are encountering something for the first time that has been present in the world for 1,000 years.
It’s easy to imagine Martinez standing with his nose nearly pressed into the wet canvas, craning his tall frame in order to examine an area where thick paint curls like breaking surf. We can imagine him deciding to act, and dragging a thick wet brush into more fresh paint with a decisive gesture. In that way his paintings evoke the memory of a host of heroic painters, and like those heroic modernists associated with the early to mid-twentieth century, Martinez uses his canvases to make paintings which flirt with abstraction, but keep one foot planted in the referential.
Martinez’s work is both less serious and more serious than his forebears. The less seriousness mirrors the central turn in philosophy and art over the past sixty years, which has been the cementing of the unconscious into every facet of human activity. The paintings are more serious in the sense that, once the subject is decentered, the topic shifts from the individual towards relationships and communication. You’ll notice that the figures in Martinez’s paintings aren’t isolated. They are either in relationship to one another, or looking pointedly out at you, or in the case of Sun Setter, deliberately looking away.
In a world that loves to talk about the death of painting, Martinez offers optimism to lovers of painting. Martinez’s paintings have their own internal logic, and the startling clarity of his vision creates a testimony regarding the way he sees the world. In the same way that the works of Van Gogh or de Kooning evoke worlds and change the way we see, by meeting our world and leaving a trace behind, Martinez also discloses a world. His work holds the potential for historical continuity with earlier traditions, while breaking from their fallacies and charting new territory.
“A short trip can make an indelible impression and forever alter the everyday character of the senses. The sensory universe is assailed persistently with everything new. We are struck by the fresh qualities that form the individual nature of a new place. For an artist the challenge is a cognitive shift: how to adapt perception to the new dynamic.” – Fran Coleman, 2012
For me painting is a diary, an interpretive record of how I feel and react to my environment. I express a spectrum of emotions as well as intellectual processes in my canvases. Working in Plein Aire lends a more immediate connection to these perceptions and thoughts. Back in the studio, working from memory, the image is experienced and sensed once more through the filter of emotion and personal vision. The Natural world is reinterpreted through the passionate use of color, brush stroke and form. The act of painting is an additive and subtractive process. The landscape becomes layered with associative memories, as paint is scraped away or added, “I am interested in exploring how natural elements, such as time, distance, space, light, shadow and color coincide in a perceived image, and which element best expresses the essence of that image. The effect is truly sculptural: the layers of paint do not completely cover each other. Color radiates from underneath, like so many levels of the human experience, unseen but not forgotten.
My current work is constructed from found plastic bottles and refers to sources as varied as the painting of Giorgio Morandi, ancient Greek, Roman and Islamic glass and ceramic vessels, Boli Figures from Mali and Egyptian Sculpture. I collect discarded bottles, cut them into pieces and use the parts to create new vessels and small sculptures. Some of my pieces are coated with mixed materials and/or glaze-like layers of polymers and paint, which vary the levels of transparency and opacity, emphasize or obscure the original material, and alter the visual and actual weight. Many of my works are based on specific pieces that I’ve admired for years at the Metropolitan Museum. Others are based on collected images or built more intuitively through the playful reassembly of the individual parts.
Using today’s trash as material for sculptures that refer to early works of art may seem incongruent, yet it enables me to comment on our current throw-away culture while investigating issues of authenticity, originality, material, history, culture and the relative value of objects.
Yoshihito Ito, Kazuya Kubo & Tim Ito of D2 Creations
D2 is a NYC based Japanese design collective specializing in interior decor and clothing. We call ourselves Creator. We aimed at playful creation with designs and art aspects. Main focus is on contemporary furniture and clothing applying existing items such as vintage, antique, and junk, by changing its function. In other words, utilizing wasted items and giving them new functions and new life. That gives us new finds and interests, and inspires us.