Flash Art International no. 302 May – June 2015

We are pleased to announce that the March-April 2015 issue of Flash Art International is now out.

In this issue:

Martine Syms sits in conversation with Los Angeles-based artist Charles Gaines.
“The question of what is black art is still a legitimate one. The problem before with the identification of any kind of art of the margins was that the solutions being sought were rooted in essentialism. So whatever black art is, it has to be tied to something essential and core. If you just remove the essentialist models, you can ask the question legitimately. And you’ve got a lot better critical tools today to do that.”
Charles Gaines

Last summer, Genius declared a new mission to “annotate the world.” In practice, it means that soon on any site, a user could type the prefix genius.it to any URL, and arrive at a page annotated by countless Genius users. Orit Gat met with Genius’s Tom Lehman, Christopher Glazek and Emily Segal to discuss where the website is going and what the road there looks like.

Boško Blagojevic introduces New-York based artist Bradley Kronz.
“Kronz often presents us with work that is materially insignificant; that is, made from inexpensive or discarded material. But through operations of framing, presentation and doubling, he creates what appears to be a kind of auratic context of care and importance between himself and these objects.”
Boško Blagojevic

Mitchell Anderson reviews the art of Switzerland’s 56th Venice Biennale representative Pamela Rosenkranz.
“Rosenkranz crafts works about humanity with the air of someone who is not human. Imagine the disposition toward humans spouted by popular representations of superior humanoids and you’ll find this mimicked subtly in her work.”
Mitchell Anderson

Nicknamed “the enfant terrible of the design world” by specialized publications, Tobias Wong was an expert at playing with artistic conventions — the ready-made, appropriation, viral tactics, impersonation, provocation and societal commentary. Five years following his departure, Cyril Duval, a.k.a. item idem, highlights the relevance of his practice.

On May 1, the 2015 edition of the World’s Fair opened in Milan. The event marks the culmination of a decade of radical transformations to the city’s urban fabric, its political governance and its design, art and fashion industries. Michele D’Aurizio, Gea Politi and Lodovico Pignatti Morano met with three figures whose creative outputs are indissolubly tied to the city: architect, visual artist and educator Ugo La Pietra; fashion designer and entrepreneur Giorgio Armani; and writer, poet and visual artist Nanni Balestrini.

Robin Peckham spotlights Chinese artist Tianzhuo Chen.
“In the Chinese context, what is fresh and new about Chen is the fact that an artist would be willing to draw from the imagery of popular culture and the underground; as soon as it makes it out, the nucleus of the work shifts, and it is the specific connections between spirituality, clubbing, cartoons and drugs that become interesting.”
Robin Peckham

Sylvain Amic discussed the work of Italian artist Claudio Parmiggiani.
“Parmiggiani’s work has never stopped being rooted, ever more deeply, in the culture, the land and sky of Italy. But it is an Italy taken as a metaphor for humanity as a whole, not of a tradition with paralyzing virtues.”
Sylvain Amic

Plus, in Arena:

Peter Bläuer on Liste 2015, Basel; Eric Mézil on the Collection Lambert, Avignon; Del Vaz Projects and Park View, Los Angeles; Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island; Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin; Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev on the 14th Istanbul Biennial; Vetements, Paris; Sarina Tang on Currents – Art and Music, Beijing/São Paulo; Holly Herndon’s Platform; Florence Derieux on FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Reims; The Sunday Painter, London; No Problem: Cologne / New York 1984–1989.

And in Reviews:

Barbara T. Smith at Andrew Kreps, New York; Sascha Braunig at Foxy Production, New York; Sara Clendening at The Green Gallery, Oak Park (IL); Agency at REDCAT, Los Angeles; Pat O’Neill at Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles; Laura Lima at Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires; “Human Rights Human Wrongs” at the Photographer’s Gallery, London; Andrea Büttner and Brit Meyer at Piper Keys, London; Goutam Ghosh at Standard, Oslo; Mitchell Syrop at Croy Nielsen, Berlin; Abdoulaye Konaté at Blain | Southern, Berlin; Laurent Dupont and Lucy McKenzie at Svit, Prague; Mathieu Briand at Maison Rouge, Paris; Margaret Honda at Triangle, Marseille; Sam Falls at the Fondazione Giuliani, Rome; Slavs and Tatars at the NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery; Kei Imazu at Yamamoto Gendai, Tokyo; Andy Boot at Minerva, Sydney.

The issue will have special distribution on the occasion of Frieze New York (booth M6), Art | Basel (booth Z4) and during the 56th Venice Biennale.

Finally, we are pleased to announce that Los Angeles-based writer and independent curator Eli Diner has joined our editorial team. Diner has contributed to Artforum, Bookforum, the Bulletins of the Serving Library and The Los Angeles Review of Books, among other publications. Most recently he co-curated the exhibition “The New Gravity” at Overduin & Co., Los Angeles, and co-edited a book of the same title. This summer in Los Angeles he will launch a new project-space sculpture garden called Hakuna Matata.

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Review /

Maria García-Ibañez Guijarro de Pablo Gallery / Mexico City

In her exhibition “Arada” at Guijarro de Pablo Gallery, the petate is a central object of exploration through which Maria García-Ibañez poetically exposes the beauty in the banality of everyday life.

The petate is a handwoven mat made from the leaves of a palm tree indigenous to Mexico. It is a resilient and ubiquitous object in Mexican culture that has a long list of pragmatic uses, but is commonly thrown down on the ground for a bed, and also functions as a sheath to wrap a human body for burial. The process of weaving a petate is rhythmic and methodical, requiring ritualistic patterning not typically employed in quotidian life. García-Ibañez explores this involved process within the ten works that comprise the exhibition. It is an intimate show that lends itself to truly understanding the profound time and skill involved in handcrafting an object as banal as a petate.

Four exquisitely detailed graphite drawings depict indigenous objects in the process of creation. Coracle, 2015, is a drawing of the craftsmanship involved in the process of hand-weaving a basket. However, the artist deliberately chooses to draw the basket unfinished and with its frame exposed, illustrating it in meticulous detail that exposes the tedious and demanding process. The petate as a physical object is also explored through two works in particular, both titled Petate, and both produced in 2015. The first is a graphite rubbing on paper, and the other is an impression of a petate in white concrete. Both offer a moment to look at the petate as an object of hypnotically tangible beauty.

This is what “Adrade” is: an exploration of the beautiful and the banal through physically demanding techniques that offer moments of rare material transcendence.

by Leslie Moody Castro

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Arena /

Isabella Bortolozzi / Berlin

Most success stories begin with a formative event that becomes an integral part of the mythology surrounding them. For Isabella Bortolozzi, it was an encounter as a young child with a painting belonging to her father’s collection. From that beginning, her fascination and obsession grew until she finally decided to surrender and open a gallery in 2004.

Before moving to Berlin, you had a previous career as a translator. How did the gallery come about?

You are right! I didn’t study fine arts, and I worked for many years as a translator. My father was a collector of mainly paintings from the 17th and 18th century. After he passed away when I was in my twenties, I tried to document and archive his collection: this was my first encounter with art, as before I had just been observing him from afar. Retracing his collecting paths and all the stories related to the works he acquired over a lifetime (he was born in 1914) had a strong impact on me. The anecdote you refer to is accurate: I grew up in a hotel, and my father locked away a painting, which was supposed to be a Delacroix, because of its strong subject (it was an erotic/pornographic painting). I was supposed to see it only after my becoming of age (which of course didn’t happen).

When I moved the gallery to Schoenberg, the opening show was titled “Neolitic Porns.” My friend Henrik Olesen, who knew the story, encouraged me to show it, as it didn’t matter if it’s not a real Delacroix. We showed it with Paul Thek’s painting Neolithic Porn (1979–80). This gave us the idea for the title, which became plural: a mix between an orgy and a very sentimental show, which was basically a porn show.

Why did you decide to open a gallery in Berlin, and how has it changed over the last ten years?

It’s always hard to define what are the motivations for living in any given place. Regarding Berlin specifically, it wasn’t calculated — nothing I do is calculated in that sense — but it was a combination of curiosity and rootlessness, which I consider two very important drives. What attracted dealers I have no idea! The change that has taken place over the last ten years is a facsimile of change in the global art market. Let’s not be romantic: Berlin is a city like any other, but a little less driven, unfortunately.

Your first show in Berlin was by the Slovak artist Július Koller. The glass door to your newly opened gallery featured a big, hand-painted question mark. How do you think this exhibition set the tone for the ones that came afterward?

When I met Koller in Bratislava and invited him to do a show with me in Berlin, I asked him to just put a question mark in the gallery, to write it on the floor or where he wanted because the question mark had been his symbol. I liked the idea of opening the gallery with a question mark. My program is consciously selfish: it’s driven by my desires. And my desire is to question, and to question my desires, or the suspicion of taste.

You seem to stay in constant dialogue with a younger generation of artists such as Ed Atkins and Calla Henkel & Max Pitegoff. How do you decide to take on a young artist?

This sense of wanting to allow the flow of the now to invade and even to risk its diversionary seduction, to allow this seduction, and to enter into it, as opposed to defending or promoting illusionary values — this is what defines the contemporary, for better or worse. That’s the place I want to be, the place I work from.

Your gallery is part of a generation of dealers who opened shop in the 00s and both enjoyed the years of the boom as much as you suffered the financial crisis of 2008. Has it been a rollercoaster?

When I opened my gallery, like anyone else starting out, it was never a question of boom or bust, but more of “must or dust.” I didn’t care about, nor was I interested in the ups and downs other people’s stock. I was more interested in the local, the popular front of friends and fellow thinkers, nothing more. The rise and fall of certain values, the inflation and deflation of the market, from hot to cold, from in to out, this moves according to laws in which I have no interest, and over which no artist can have control, despite certain illusions to the contrary.

How do you see your role as a dealer?

The role of a dealer is to remain open at all times to the unknown, and to create the conditions in which others can share this opportunity. That is to say, I clear a space for the emergence of something new. Nothing else matters.

by Marta Fontolan

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In Residence /

Heaven, Fortune and the West / The Desire behind the Dream

Neville Wakefield has written fascinating texts on Californian artists such as Ed Ruscha and David Benjamin Sherry. He is also preparing a project that will, hopefully, take place in Death Valley. Therefore, his interest in the American West and the California Dream is very real.

But for Wakefield, the concepts of the Dream and the West are very different things. As he puts it: “The West embodies this idea of frontier that has embraced American culture from cowboys to spacemen. It is something different from the California Dream, which seems to be based on a certain kind of relationship to lifestyle as much as it is to landscape, light and space, and the ideals of freedom they embody.”

Hence, the West and the Dream are two distinct ideas, two different cultures. Have these ideas evolved dramatically? It appears that what we’re seeing in California now is not necessarily being built upon the same foundation. Furthermore, a lot has been written about the way the Dream has been broken. “My interest is less in the California Dream and more in the American West,” adds Wakefield, “and the way that landscape and particularly unbounded space has come to embody certain ideas of freedom.”

Nonetheless, there are commonalities between the Dream and the West. The biggest commonality is the idea of spatial expansion. “It is about laying claim to new possibilities,” Neville says. “The West is clearly an idea as much as it is a place in America. It’s a state of mind.” But is it a state of mind fed by special geographic features and cultural myths?

Philippe Vergne is a French man who, in a way, has responded to the call of the West by agreeing to become director of MOCA Los Angeles. Vergne insists on the fact that there are different ways to approach the California Dream: the dream that Mike Kelley had when he came to California to go to school, to find space to make, think and dream. Or the dream that Virginia Dwan pursued when she empowered artists like Yves Klein and helped Michael Heizer explore the desert. Although Double Negative is in the Nevada desert, it nonetheless could not have happened without the fascination of the West. There is also the horizontal dream that is embodied in Ed Ruscha’s work. The dream of endless urban space that Ed Ruscha has been documenting and transcending in his work since the 1960s. “There is not only one dream, but there is a fabric of dreams. They are extremely tangled together,” Philippe tells us. Were these artists just looking for room, or did the appeal of the desert play a role as well?

In his book City of Quartz, Mike Davis mentions the “Museum Archipelago.” Were the museums like islands in a metaphorical desert? If institutions are really rooted in reality, museums are places of artifacts and artifice. “The California Dream is a brand that is very good for tourism,” adds the new MOCA Director.

Interestingly, the former Dia director used to work at the Walker Art Center — a museum in the middle of a frozen plain in Minnesota, another type of desert. The Walker and the Pasadena Art Center together organized the first retrospective of Marcel Duchamp. “When you live in the desert, California, or in a plain in Minnesota, and you bring Marcel Duchamp… it’s not a dream, it’s a desire. The desire to change something in your city or the context you live in.” Thus the desert could be a metaphorical desert; and the dream could be to create a system of irrigation, “a metaphorical irrigation that would bring the world to your place.”

A desire that transcends geography, sparkles on the sand dunes and gives birth to a constellation of dreams. As Neville puts it: “The [California] Dream is a mirage that has come out of the American West. I don’t think the Dream would be the Dream without the West. What gives birth to this dreamscape and what one sees butted up against each other — particularly in California — is basically a very simple opposition between abstraction and configuration, a dialogue that has been going on throughout the history of art. This has been made manifest within the physicality of California.”

by Alexandre Stipanovich

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Flash Art NY Desk /

Hudinilson Jr., Hudinilson Jr. / Flash Art NY Desk

The art of Hudinilson Urbano Junior (São Paulo, 1957 – 2013) emerged in the late 1970s, when Brazilian cultural production was stifled by the military dictatorship, and the avant-garde Concretist project of blending art and life had been appropriated by the bohemia.

In a context in which the very few extant museums and galleries were presided over by the establishment, and the only interventions in public space had to assume the posture of a guerrilla action (Hudinilson Jr was originally part of the collective 3NÓS3 who, among their many performances, bagged monuments around the city), the artist turned to the intimate domain of his own body: by using a Xerox machine he accessed, reproduced and learned about every single detail of his anatomy. “Already from the beginning, the topic of my work was the body,” says Hudinilson Jr in one of his last interviews. “If a person is alone with a Xerox machine, what is the first thing this person will do? […] I first Xeroxed the hand, then the face — but then also all the rest. […] I would close the door, undress and continue my explorations.”

The exhibition at the Flash Art NY Desk brought together a constellation of works, mostly from the 1980s, which all insist on Hudinilson Jr’s obsession with the male body. Collages, photographs, found objects and sculptures, along with the trademark Xeroxes, allow for a scrutiny of the traits of virility, from clichéd representations of gay pornography to abstractions that result from the feverish process of enlarging, reframing and collaging together pictures of the artist’s own body. The narcissistic afflatus, which Hudinilson Jr always intuitively recognized as the thrust of his practice, can also be recognized as an empirical exploration of his queer identity — an impending onanism that exhausts the political gesture by imitating a sexual encounter that can only be nonproductive: hence, the artist’s posição amorosa, his “sex position,” fosters little more than the “exercise” of reproducing the self.

Organized by Michele D’Aurizio.

The exhibition is generously supported by Galeria Jaqueline Martins, São Paulo.

Flash Art NY Desk / Film Center
630 9th Ave (Btw 44th and 45th St.)
Suite 403
New York, NY 10036
T : (646) 682-7268
Thu – Sat, noon – 6 pm

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Review /

Melgaard + Munch Munch Museum / Oslo

What happens when a painting comes to define a nation? You cover it up. Such is the case with The Scream (1910) by Edvard Munch at the Munch Museum.

Curated by Lars Toft-Eriksen, “Melgaard + Munch” brings together the work of the late painter and what could be his contemporary. Upon first glance, it is easy to compare the works of Bjarne Melgaard and Edvard Munch, but according to Toft-Eriksen’s curatorial concept, their similarities diverge before reuniting. Thematically, and maybe more emotionally than anything else, the two share a darkness. It brews like the bubbling of a caldron, just below the surface. Melgaard uses text, paint and textiles to elicit a dynamic that Munch evoked using a muted, melancholic palette. Melgaard’s texts — often painted on top of another image or drawing — usher the viewer on a particular journey, whereas Munch’s work never ventured beyond the painted form.

Intention isn’t lost on those who do not read the words. Time and societal changes may insist upon this element, but during the era of Munch, his strange and unknown forms were enough to shock. Melgaard uses a more abject strategy, tapping into literal and metaphorical territories — such as snuff films and BDSM — where Munch never ventured. Separated by two generations, obsession is where the two artists collide. Bjarne Melgaard dives head first into obsession, whether it be drugs, sex or death. Munch breached similar territory, though more topically. Bodies assimilate and, as per the artist’s choosing, identity is erased, made less important than the thrust of passion and compulsion. Both artists share a neurotic preoccupation with sex and its resulting emotional turmoil. Munch viewed these relations with a creepy, almost compulsive distance, while Melgaard proceeds with a visceral desperation. At the Munch Museum, in what could be considered one large collage, the two basically tear out their mutually aching hearts — one buried deep in the earth, the other still beating — and display the bloody masses for all present to absorb, reject or admire.

by Katy Diamond Hamer

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