Bryant Park, located about a block East of Times Square in Manhattan, has been home to a several fun contemporary/public art projects recently. Right now, they’re hosting the “Battle of the Brush.” Which happens to include alumni of the Beautiful/Decay Studio Visits: Alison Blickle and Tom Sanford. It’s based around the idea of a civil war reenactment, except instead of the North and South, it’s between abstraction and figuration. Bryant Park was a campground for soldiers during the Civil War, so that’s where the whole Civil War thing comes in. Personally, I just like the paintings… It’s coming down this Wednesday, Feb 2nd, so get over there asap. The show was curated by Corporate Art Solutions.
Paul Brainard’s got a healthy libido, there’s no doubting that. He mixes it up with junk food, memento mori, geometric abstraction and political anger to create work that seduces and repels. Dredging into the murky area of what the French psychologist Jacques Lacan called “desire;” defined as: what you want after you’ve got everything you need. Cue the Rolling Stones, I can’t get no (guitar riff) satisfaction. Brainard is bad mofo with a pencil, after the jump there’s some tasty drawings. You can see Paul’s work in SF at Guerrero Gallery, and in NYC at Allegra LaViola for the upcoming group show Pornucopia, which is running from Feb 4th to March 11th.
Ryan Bradley’s large, intricately composed pastel paintings of attractive female faces are seductive. The delicate paintings are “unfixed,” which means the pastel is left loose. This creates a surface similar to butterfly wings. If you touched the paintings, some would rub off onto your hands. I can’t help but think there is some relationship between the fragility of the surface and the portraits’ beauty. Like the really ripe moment when someone is at the tops of their looks, you know it can’t last, but you can look away either.
Tom Sanford’s new work touches on politics and our infotainment culture with equal enthusiasm. For your viewing pleasure there is an erotically oily Sarah Palin, the repressed sexuality of Philip Guston, a Jong Il fist-bump, Jail Birds, and love affairs between beautiful nymphets and strangely hairy men. I think that’s something for everyone. All of these paintings have emigrated to Europe. Some for Copenhagen at Gallery Poulsen, and some to Norway, for a show at Galleri S E.
When Michael Anderson says that the “street is my palette,” he actually means it. It’s not a metaphor. Anderson’s practice, which Beautiful/Decay detailed in a studio visit over the summer, involves snatching up posters from the street at night. Anderson has collected posters all over the globe, but lives in Harlem, and brings the energy of that place into his work. His current show, The Street is My Palette, up at Claire Oliver in Chelsea until December 30th is a virtuoso exhibition of collage with the flair, rhythm, and charisma of the street.
Ted Gahl is making some beautifully paired down paintings. They are amazingly suggestive for the minuscule amount of information they present. The painting above feels, to me, like portraits in profile, but is it really? I’ve never seen a facelike these pink hieroglyphs. It’s interesting what a painting can make you think you see, and with just a few clues. Gahl is in a bunch of upcoming shows: The Power Of Selection 3, curated by Ryan Travis Christian at Western Exhibitions, in Chicago; 2020 at the Above Second Gallery, in Hong Kong; and Color Me Bad(d): Joshua Abelow, Ted Gahl, and Hugh Scott Douglas at Nudashank in Baltimore.
Eddie Martinez is hands down one of the best artists working today. I’m not even going to qualify it by saying he’s one of my favorite artists, he’s a lot of artists’ favorite artist. For visual people, being in front of Martinez’s work is like sitting down to a dinner where the food is so delicious you forget to say anything to each other. If you count visual as a sense, it’s sensual. I was very happy to get to visit his studio and report back to Beautiful/Decay with the goods. Eddie had a big stack of drawings which had not been photographed before. As I flipped through that rich pile of drawings my brain melted and the hair on my arms stood up. So take a moment, picture your spirit animal, relax and enjoy this. I feel like Morpheus, and you’re Neo, in that scene from the Matrix where Neo has to choose between the red pill and the blue pill. Once you’ve seen things through Eddie’s eyes you can’t go back.
Joe Diebes is one of those guys who is so smart you can feel the smartness coming off them in waves, like heat on blacktop. I don’t pretend to understand what he’s thinking, but like Potter Stewart explained hard core porno by saying “I know it when I see it,” it’s easy to see something intense happening in Diebes’ sound and video collage. He created a recording of a musician, the cellist Rubin Kodheli, and then sort of collaged it back together using a mathematical algorithm. One interesting conceptual aspect of this video, Scherzo, is that it never repeats. And I don’t mean that it doesn’t repeat in this little one minute snippet, I mean that if you played it for one hundred years and sat there – it wouldn’t repeat the same sequence twice. I told you, this guy’s smart. You can see Scherzo at Paul Rodgers 9w gallery until December 2nd, and at the Liverpool Biennial until November 28th.