Since I first met her in early December, she has been my New York cornerstone for arts culture. Last night we had a date- an arts crawl throughout a few of the Chelsea galleries. It was a two-hour tour through four openings featuring artists representing very different forms and mediums.
We began at the massive and highly sought out David Zwirner gallery. The enormity of the high ceiling-white walled space was the perfect landscape for artist Marlene Dumas' "Against the Wall" solo-exhibition. Her work represents her experiences with, and her world view of political discourse through paint using a dark and minimalist technique.
"Her paintings integrate complex themes- ranging from segregation, eroticism, or more generally, the politics of love and war- to explore how image-making is implicitly involved not only in cultural processes of objectification, but also in the way which events are documented and collectively understood."
With time frames in mind, we hustled out of the gallery and onto the next with artist Lisa Hoke and onto the next. At first glance, artist Warren Isensee's large-scale optical and sculptural oil on canvas paintings draw you in with their linear and brightly coloured geometric radiance. But, give it time and the exquisite multi-dimensional shapes will captivate the senses and create an image so visually stimulating that you feel like you are looking into the soul of the painting. I never would have assumed that something seemingly so simple could evoke such depth. In truth, this exhibition was my favourite.
Ground Loop, 2007
Oil on canvas
Our final stop was at the Don Joint: Waldameer exhibit at the Pavel Zoubok Gallery. The space itself is reminiscent of the Queen West galleries in Toronto, but the crowd couldn't have been more unlike the trendy west-end hipsters that flock to them. His pieces, created in collage form and style suggest a fantastical carnival-like theme. Layers of acrylic paint and ink are the backdrop to various prints and paraphernalia thoughtfully; Japanese Geishas, black and white pen drawings, and vintage movie tickets create dimension. Connedia Dell Arte -esque clowns are studded with tiny diamonds and stand in the forefront of colours so rich and deep and textured. The artist said that he had been working on these pieces for over twenty years, mentally layering the visuals.
As we left, I asked Melissa if there was a market for collage. In my ignorance, I wouldn't have assumed that this "arts and crafts" technique held much weight in the arts world but she said that she tells all of her students that collage is the most important form in American arts history. It is the best representation of the mind and the creative process as it best shows how we build and create from a single layer.