Thursday, April 26, 2007

Modern Cubism and Mark Napier

In Graham Greene's legendary short story, "The Destructors," a group of neerdowell pre-teen boys set off upon the task of taking Mr. Thomas' (aka Old Misery) 200-year-old home, a Sir Christopher Wren masterpiece-- the sole neighborhood survivor of the Nazi blitz-- and obliterating it piece by piece, making it a shell of its former self.

In a sense, you could say that they were junior Matta-Clarks awaiting their "slicing" moment, but instead taking the weakest portions of the frame structure, destabilizing it, and then like a grand piano falling down a staircase, bring it down in an enormous collapse.
Post-9/11 America is self-destructing in a piecemeal fashion, too-- layers upon layers are newly revealed.

And so, too, in this way Mark Napier's digital art is breaking new artistic boundaries.
It is impossible to look at his take on the Empire State building and not think of that fateful day.
Napier makes it appear to painstakingly collapse upon itself in quite the standard cubist manner.
And with 9/11 at the back of our memories, any exhibit combining imagery of massive architecture and deconstruction brings to mind many painful thoughts.

The building seems to take on a human elemental form-- the fleshy and earth-toned colors; a kind of homosapien skin peeling away and showcasing the Pennsylvania steel underlayers in mirrored stained glass fragmentation.

Much in the way of a Georges Braque, Napier is a genius at creating new visions of hard forms.

The building, in this case, is the nude descending a staircase.

The stately obelisk suddenly feels like a deflated balloon-- in pure motion with the wind, or perhaps just barely escaping Kong's grasp.
Walking into Bitforms to view this exhibit I felt a sensation unlike most gallery visits.
It was a true inspiration-- and lovely in its harsh concrete feel, manipulated by computer software.

Autocad design for the future.

I do have to say that the lighting in the gallery could have been less prominent-- and would have showcased the video piece at the far wall in a far better manner.

But all in all-- one of the best shows currently in Chelsea during a Spring unlike no other.
Is it still winter?
Is it summer?
Let the lonely giant of 34th Street and 5th Avenue peel back its many layers-- shedding its past, and looking to its future.

Lovely indeed.
The exhibit is up through May 19th, 2007.
Definitely check it out.
See more at:

Monday, April 23, 2007

Celebrating cute garbage

I couldn't think of a possibly more offensive title than what I've come up with to describe "Suupaa Pop," currently on exhibition at the American Intitute of Graphic Art's Design Center at 164 Fifth Avenue.

Perhaps I've just grown tired of the subgenres of anime, manga, Japanimation, Harjuku Lovers, Cibo Mato, Shonen Knife, and maybe, just maybe, even Yoko herself.

In no uncertain terms-- here is what's left of the after-effects of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.........

Cuteness everywhere!

Even on our garbage!

And that, my friends, is what in a nutshell graphic design for "product" is.

It's making trash "cute."

I guess you could say that if you have a bottle of tea or snack food that's this funky, this tongue-in-cheek, this... uh... "pink hippo cutting-edge," you might be placated to "save," uh... or "display."

Come on!

Who am I kidding?

We all know it's going to end up at Fresh Kills, or somewhere of the like.

We are now entering the post-Yoshitomi Nara and Murakami era.

I want to just take these cute animals, and fluff, and puff, and whatnot and stuff it up these corporations' asses.

I'd prefer any day to go rent a copy of "Robotech" (greatest anime ever) and see this creativity in its finest mid-'80s timepiece, but all we are left with now is the remnants.

I'm hoping design eventually will take elements of reality into consideration, rather than mere "cartoonification."

But truth be told, there's nothing more bright, more sellable, more perfect for consumption (and truth be told, eye catching) and that's all that matters.

The dazzling array of color explosion here is organized so neatly, shelf by shelf.

Who wouldn't want a mini-tub of ice cream with the orange hued saturation at left?

Hence, here's my first really bad review of a show.

I think it's visually stunning, but truthfully 100% empty-- just like the packages themselves.

Once the product is drained, all you're left with is plastic.

A celebration of plastic people, plastic culture-- a great tie-in for 2007's first review post-Earth Day.

I guess this is what we've come to.

Enjoy the "cuteness" while it lasts, because truthfully it's just elevated garbage for now.

Truly disappointing show for one reason-- it says nothing about where design has been or is going.

Visuals are great-- but there must be some substance behind them.

Lamgelina over and out.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The painterly style of painting

If that's an actual way to describe a manner of painting, well, I'm going to use it to depict my feelings on Julian Lethbridge's works currently on display at Paula Cooper Gallery.

Much in the same way that I find a Bryce Marden work able to transport me into another dimension, I found a huge sense of calm take over me with each subsequent work.

Born in Sri Lanka, yet raised in England, I believe Lethbridge's natural cross-cultural lineage has greatly influenced his style.

I couldn't help but think of the sea snakes of the Indian Ocean; of ancient temples and their intricate carvings; of soft pallettes of earth tones mixed with a sudden brilliant swath of red, or gold.

All the same, there's certainly elements of on-the-surface conservatism of the British Empire.

Perhaps the patterns are too perfect-- not disjointed enough; holding back before reaching the point of no return.

Each subsequent application of paint begins to transform the work into layers of new dimensions.

I also can't help but think while looking at the magnified image of the work at right that each stroke reflects wavelike formations not unlike a raging Indian Ocean.

Enjoy these images-- I'm hoping these photos do at least some justice as to how beautiful these works are.

The exhibit is up until April 28th.

For more info, go to

Friday, April 13, 2007

Carla Klein at Tanya Bonakdar

Much in the way acrylic changed the face of art history, so, too, has modern photography.

Many of today's most widely known painters are not burdened by the easel and the sheer physical exertion that in the past it has required to be a landscape painter.

Instead, a good percentage of artists utilize what has been around for more than a century-- the camera; and now, even more conveniently, the digital camera.

In many ways, the ISO speed and "panoramic" settings have replaced what the hand and eye can do so naturally on their own with issues of perception.

In the case of Carla Klein, though, she is able not to be a slave to a mere contraption, but rather strongly exerts her own vision.Each work is devoid of humanity; an emptiness; a "last man standing" phenomenon not unlike the famed "Twilight Zone" episode, "Time Enough at Last."

(Image at right, all rights reserved, Cayuga Productions)

In this episode, Burgess Meredith plays Henry Bemis, a mousish little man whose only desire is to be left alone with his books; to not be bothered or nagged; to be alone.

Then he gets his wish, the hands of the clock frozen in time.A landscape appears before him of abandonment-- total destruction-- but his dream fulfilled as stacks and stacks of books lay before him.

Of course, the twisted hand of fate intervenes, leaving his myopic self with eyeglasses shattered-- forever negating his dream-come-true, so close to fruition.

In the same way Klein takes scenery not unlike this Armageddon scenario-- an abandoned parking lot; an empty airstrip; the salt flats of Utah, with endless horizons and no civilization in sight-- and makes it appear as a new world with actual possibilities.

The muted greys and charcoals of her work catch the eye with a gentle softness.

I like these images the best-- again, as I recently posted, looking in the car's rearview mirror.

There's something to be said for art that focuses on the subject of "looking backwards."

In many ways, we focus too much on the past, relegating the future to these visions of horrifyingly complex and nightmarish scenarios, a la the Twilight Zone.

Instead, Klein here is showing that there's beauty and peace in solitude, not necessarily something to fear.

Truly breathtaking work, and a beautiful exhibit, even if it has origins in photographic imagery.

Go to more images.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone, and happy Friday the 13th.

Rent a DVD of the Twilight Zone.

A perfect companion for today's grey NYC skies.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Fia Backstrom and Kelley Walker Just Kickin' It

Part 2 of "Just Kick It Till It Breaks, currently on view at The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street in New York.

A kinder, gentler conglomerate has been emerging ever so slightly in the past decade.

Fortune 500 companies are rapidly implementing policies of "social and ecological" sensitivity.

One in particular to note, BP, (formerly known as British Petroleum.)

See this caption below taken from the BP website.

(try not to sue me, I'm giving you guys credit here....)

Helios Power-- Our renewed commitment to make things ‘a little better’ for customers at our gas stations, through a new look, feel and fresh appeal
Find how we're doing things 'a little better'

Yes, even big oil is coming around to the new society of the 21st Century.

Or are they?

Artists Fia Backstrom and Kelley Walker make an absolute mockery (and deservedly so) of this newfound turnaround of corporate sensitivity and gives it a quick kick in the bum.

Taking the sunburst BP logo and uniting it with imagery commonly found in the currently treasured house and garden heart of America-- Ikeas, Crate & Barrels, and Pottery Barns of the world should take note.

After all, for all the plastics that they sell-- furniture, dishes, shower curtains-- what component is a main ingredient?


And make no qualms about it, these colors have been selected by the designers for a reason.


"Green has taken on a very strong connotation as the color representing ecology and concern for the environment, however, it also conveys meanings associated with money and the suggestion "to go ahead" which is obviously derived from traffic lights."

From Wikipedia:

Sunlight, joy, happiness, earth, optimism, idealism, wealth (gold), summer, hope, air, liberalism, cowardice, illness (quarantine), hazards, dishonesty, avarice, weakness, greed, femininity, gladness, sociability, summer, friendship, Taurus, Leo (golden yellow, star signs), April, September, deceit, hazard signs, death (Middle Ages), mourning (Egypt), courage (Japan).

What better way to sell (and perhaps deceive) a naive public than to use "pretty colors."

I took this photo below the other day in Brooklyn to help illustrate the point.

BP is makings its stations more user-friendly; more home-like-feeling, "a little better."

I had to almost break into a guffaw here, for how much does pumping gas remind you of homemade pumpkin pie-- it truly is All American.

"A little better," of course-- at $3.17 a gallon.

I personally would suggest a decomposing cartoon dinosaur melting into a pool of black ooze to illustrate a more "at one with nature" marketing ploy-- Little boys would love it!

But it is a sign of the times when corporations are finally using the billions in their marketing budgets to promote something a bit different than mere consumption; in this case, they're also selling "an experience."

Backstrom and Walker are also showing something to the viewer that's not easily recognizable-- the constant barrage of images of daily seduction-- "buy this, wear this, eat on these, sleep on these, cuddle up in this.”

And all of the above companies certainly do justice to deception at its finest.
Brilliant work by Backstrom and Walker.

I just hope they don't get sued for copywright infringement by the suits, but you never can tell when someone is making a point-- and a very strong one at that.

More reviews to come this week.

In the meantime, enjoy the below websites.
Walker is represented by Paula Cooper Gallery.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Now Kick It... Into Shape... Shape It Up... Get it straight...


Interesting show title and exhibition currently at The Kitchen.

I chose the image at right by artist Adam Helms to illustrate a point.

Revolutionaries or guerillas in 2007 might seem to be an era of the past (at least in the Western World.)

Our current living environment is more likely to have groups form based on commonalities of apathy or disaffection-- think MySpace (millions of members and counting), the mass popularity of "American Idol," or middle America's belief in fiction-as-fact through "The Da Vinci Code."

But what I liked the most about this work was how it drew me in gradually.

From afar it seemed harmless enough... then I got closer.

The interesting thing about revolutions is how slowly (or rapidly) they can develop.

Most rapid-moving revolutions throughout history have been led by charismatic, diabolical masterminds of public persona.

The more slow to form always seem to have "fighters in the jungle," or those cloaked in secrecy.

Think of the Phillippines' current Abu Sayyaf rebellion (see image of Martin and Gracia Burnham at left, missionaries abducted in 2001 while celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary at Dos Palmas Resort.)
The masks give this image an even greater sense of urgency; one that was followed with great tragedy-- the death of Martin in a gun battle with the Phillippine army to rescue him and his wife.

Helms' image confronts our fears of what lies beneath the masks.

Empty and hollow eyes; soulless bodies with minds bent on one thing-- united by the achievement of their common goal of revolution.

What this image says to me more than anything else-- we are currently emrboiled in a society neck-deep in guerilla warfare; a war for our hearts and minds, using modern day media manipulation.

Dave McKenzie directly addresses this manipulation with his work.

After all, this is not only a battle fought with weaponry, but also a war for our hearts and minds.

This piece attracts our attention not through a cluttered newsstand with images of Britney and Tom and Katie and Anna and Justin and Tori and Brooke and Brad and Angelina and Jen and... (you get the drift)... but instead a single issue of "Yesterday's Newspaper" laid out on a wooden platform.

For me, this image provokes massive feelings of guilt: "Of course this is IT! I get it. Even HE gets it. This is how we, together, could change things."

But upon exiting The Kitchen, you will face once again the frailty of mankind-- most of us possess an attention span not unlike that of a 3-year-old with its Easter basket; certainly myself included.

Isolation is a technique that is quite effective in terms of focusing the mind.

McKenzie truly makes a fantastic attempt at capturing just a tiny piece of what we have to offer emotionally as well as intellectually and guides our eye to the floor in what may well be the easiest to configure, yet strongest piece of the exhibit.

Next up, a bit more flash for your buck.

The modern comic book-- "Infinite Crisis" series DC Comics, to be exact.

Making a logo leap freshly off the page of a multi-issue 2005 edition into installation readymade, Gardar Eide Einarsson makes a literal translation of our current state.

If there is no one who will stand up for what is right in this world, where do we find ourselves?

Oh, Superman, where are you now?

Once again, the issue at the center of this exhibit comes to the forefront: what direction are we going? What can get us "into shape?"

Have we truly yet hit the lowest of the low points-- the "breaking point"?

Perhaps a good swift kick to the pants might help-- including this great exhibit.

Part 2 to come tomorrow.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Yutaka Sone at David Zwirner

"No two are the same."

In this 21st Century-- an age of mass commodification, individualism is certainly something that "sticks out".

In many cases, the individual has been supplanted by "the greater good," or a terminology better known as "society at large."

4 out of 5 dentists recommend;

37% of Americans rate Bush's job performance as poor;

Over 30 million of you voted tonight, and the winner is... Sanjaya Malakar.

Seacrest out.

At David Zwirner this weekend, I encountered work unlike anything I've ever seen, for it was a celebration of the individual-- in this case, the "individual" being a snowflake.

Yutaka Sone's crystal sculptures represent something so miniscule, only through the manmade creation of the modern camera lens could we ever have discerned nature's own multiplicity-- in this case, each tiny arm branching out to reach into new connections and patterns.

Sone crafts highly detailed works carved from solid crystal through his studio in China.

This exhibit brings to mind so many elementary school arts and crafts projects that we all go through-- taking construction paper, folding it into multiple parts, then cutting holes to our heart's content with the round-tipped scissors.

But there was nothing craftlike about this exhibit.

You can almost feel your lungs choking on the fine dust particles from Sone's chisel.

In many ways, stepping into the blindingly bright crystal snowflake room felt much more like entering Superman's Fortress of Solitude; or perhaps the final room of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The snow white walls transform visual perception into optical trickery.

The only color to be noted in the room is from one's self.

Your skin tone, the colors of the clothes you're wearing, your own jewelry sparkling amongst the prism-like light reflection from the crystals.

In many ways, Sone is putting the focus back on the individual amongst multiple 'individuals."

I took this photo from this angle to demonstrate a point-- as far as the eye can see, new pattern formations.

Each pedestal is placed in a corresponding location-- you could almost feel the outline of a snowflake being formed as your footsteps trace the pathways between the columns.

I really liked the feeling of post-Apocalyptic vision that this room created.

A new ice age we might encounter in post-Industrial society.

Sone also created this marble sculpture based on a ski trip outing he took in the Rocky Mountains.

The snow-capped trees brush against the skiers as they inch along the lift to the mountain's peak.

Quite a nice trip away from the ordinary, and quite pertinent on an especially cold Spring weekend.

The exhibit runs until May 5, 2007.

For more information, go to:

Friday, April 6, 2007

Road dangers and musician artists

It being a holiday weekend and whatnot, since millions of American are "on the road" this weekend, I thought I'd post a few pics from about a month ago that I took on I-75 in Tampa, Florida.

They tell you so many times in life not to drink and drive, but how about not to totally art nerd out and drive?

Or more "getting a great shot in motion with your Canon Powershot awesome digital camera in any way, shape or form that you can."

So there were a few swerves and near misses-- (bah)-- but I must say, for someone who's taken subways for the past 15 years, I did quite well with my Nascar driving skills.

My goal is to restart this blog next week.

I need to get a new memory card for the camera and get to the galleries tomorrow for some subject material.

Here's some new thoughts-- Artist/Musician.

I've known so many great ones, and thought it would be a great topic next week to focus on just a few... (David Byrne and Patti Smith notwithstanding, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.)

My ones are names more on the fringe than the Jim Lambie's of the world (hello, Teenage Fanclub masterpiece worker).
I'm thinking more on the lines of Mikey Welsh, former bass player for Weezer;
Nic Dalton, former Lemonheads bassist;
and Marlon Richards-- son of Keith).

Just a few to think upon as the pretty clouds and palms pass us by.

Review to come.
Stay tuned as Lamgelina gets her act back in gear.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Dry spell this week

One of the things that this blog has enabled me to do is look backwards while still focusing on the future.

I thought I'd use this photo of my rental car view of a Florida sunset to illustrate my point.

Until I go to more galleries and more shows, I'm going to be a bit on the dry side here.

I have a million things to do right now, (work and personal life) and taking care of myself is priority numero uno.

Of course, please feel free to comment on any review.

I really like to see who my readers are.

Also, if anyone wants to give any recommendations on my writing here, and what I can do to improve, (or to start actually getting published in journals, sites, etc.), would be greatly appreciated.

I doubt I'll be postless for very long-- it's my goal to do this each and every day, but for right now, it's just something I can't handle.

Thanks for your time, as always.

Olympia (aka Lamgelina in this case)