Sunday, October 26, 2014
Exu, a Macumba spirit of the crossroads, above left, is a vortex of eyes, spears and slashing yellow and crimson brush strokes within which we see the snarky demon himself leering amid the chaos. Dating from 1988, Exu is one of Basquiat's last works but recalls his early days as a grafitti artist. Zydeco, top, a vast, wall-size painting, is more lyrical and harks to Louisiana's Creole-Cajun heritage as an accordion-playing figure appears amidst an array of vintage audio-visual equipment that resonates a cryptic mythic significance. Also vast is King Zulu, his wall size 1986 opus featuring a grinning, tragicomic black-man-in-blackface mask floating in a field of blue flanked by horn playing jazz musicians, perhaps a reference to Louis Armstrong's reign as King Zulu in 1949. As iconic as Giocometti figures in shades and zoot suits, they seem to almost hover around the mask as we sense an invisible system at work. Similarly, his anatomical expressionist work, Back of the Neck, above, presents us with a visionary universe of symbols that may only be fathomed intuitively and never cerebrally, in what may amount to Basquiat's final, unspoken challenge to late 20th century culture. ~Bookhardt
Basquiat and the Bayou: Paintings and Works on Paper by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Through Jan. 25, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 925 Camp St., 539-9600. Left: Untitled (Cadmium), 1984, by Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Bookhardt: Prospect.1 got rave reviews for its mix of outstanding international, American and local artists, and Prospect.2 also had some memorable moments despite appearing during a severe recession. Can you give us a sense of Prospect.3's similarities and differences compared to those earlier iterations organized by Prospect's founder, Dan Cameron?
Sirmans: We set some parameters immediately: There are no repeat artists, so Prospect.3's content is all different. And P.3 is not a (Hurricane) Katrina show. Prospect.1 was very much about coming out of that moment, P.2 less so, and P.3 will be even less so. Dan Cameron is a curator I admire greatly, so even though P.3 will be different, there will also be similarities because it will be a continuation of the Prospect lineage.
Prospect.3: Notes for Now, will be the first Prospect New Orleans international biennial inspired by a literary work, Walker Percy's homegrown existentialist novel, The Moviegoer. Could you tell us how the novel affected you and your approach to producing Prospect.3?
S: I gave myself a year during which I avoided putting in place any ideas, themes or structures, and instead just visited artists' studios, listened to the artists and tried to be aware of the changing world around us. In the course of one of those studio visits, an artist mentioned the book. I had never read it before, but I'm often inspired by literature, and a fiend for the writers Percy liked, so I got a copy and read it, then read it again, then one more time — and it was obvious: The book provided a structure for the initial ideas that were starting to shape up. In order for these kinds of shows to be successful, no matter where, they must be somewhat reflective of their location. I was already into Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, James Baldwin's Another Country and Milan Kundera's The Book of Laughter and Forgetting — but The Moviegoer delivered us directly into the city of New Orleans. Like those books, it is really about the universe and not just the city in which it is geographically located.
"Somewhere and not anywhere ..." is a phrase from the book, and that has been my experience in New Orleans. It is so distinct, and yet so reflective of a wider country, our America. And Prospect.3 is an American biennial that, at its core, is about its relation to other places. Which leads into the next part of the thesis: How do we see each other? More>>
|Pride of Samuel Adams by Troy Dugas|
|Big Heart Gown by Lesley Dill|
|Red/Passion 7,000 Day Candle by Dave Greber|
|Radiant Purple Flower by Troy Dugas|
Feel Good Paintings for Feel Bad Times: Mixed Media by Deborah Kass, Through Oct. 25, Arthur Roger Gallery, 432 Julia St. 522-1999. Left: Enough Already by Deb Kass.
Sunday, October 12, 2014
Sculptor Brian Borrello initiated the first such show in 1996, and returns this year with a modified Mac-10 automatic pistol fitted with a cartridge magazine so long that it circles back on itself, left. Its surreality recalls Ionesco's Absurdist play, The Rhinoceros, a parodic take on how extremist violence is a contagion that can increase exponentially and, like the play, this piece is both absurd and insightful. Sculptor/ urban planner Robert Tannen extends the metaphor with his Four Barreled Handgun, a pistol that holds dozens of bullets but can never be fired without endangering the shooter. But H. Cole Wiley and Luke DuBois take it to another level with a plexiglass-encased pistol that fires a blank whenever a NOPD homicide report is posted.
Any murder map of New Orleans is necessarily a map of misguided revenge, collateral damage and mistaken identity, and Ron Bechet's murder map with victims' names written in smudgy red is perhaps best described by its title: Why? Here again, little bullets grow into a big, bloody mess. John Barnes takes this city's residential architecture literally in his evocative "shotgun house" sculpture, Marigny Warning, below, perhaps a reference to the shooting of an unarmed young black dude who broke into a fearful Marigny home owner's walled yard and got shot as he gazed upon his car. Unlikely works like Onegin, Nicholas Varney's gold and diamond bullet commodity fetish displayed with a decommissioned handgun, or Generic Art Solutions related Target: Audience bullet-filled gum ball machine, above left, plus a simpatico work by Dan Tague and a trove of talented others round out a very varied but mostly high impact show. ~Bookhardt
Guns in the Hands of Artists: Decommissioned Guns Repurposed as Art, Through Jan. 24, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, 400A Julia St., 522-5471. Left: Marigny Warning by John Barnes
Sunday, October 5, 2014
|River Trees (Detail)|
Engineers would not approve of the vessel Aeolus, top, a skeletal canoe that seems to hover in space as crystalline drops fall from its spindly ribs like vastly oversize tears. What it means will vary with the viewer but, like a ghost boat in magic realist fiction, it seems to ply etheric currents in a sea of dreams. Others look equally gossamer whether made from steel rods shaped like reeds or clad in paper as sheer as the lanterns Brazilians set float for All Saints Day. Imagined Islands suggests a spindly seed pod, but pages from antique books appear embedded in its silk fabric skin. The creations of man and nature are similarly interwoven in her works on paper, whimsical drawings of trees, structures and coral reefs on collaged backings of vintage book covers. Even her Tower of Babel, in this context, recalls the spiraling interior of a nautilus shell. Bedsole's bronzes are more substantial, but their repetition of iconic forms reinforces the subtle elemental subtext that underlies this show-- namely the way all things created by man and nature are ultimately interwoven, connected by subtle but imperishable bonds that can be bent but never be broken. ~Bookhardt
Imagined Shores: Sculptures by Raine Bedsole, Through Oct. 26, Callan Contemporary, 518 Julia St., 525-0518.
Left: Babel by Raine Bedsole