Review /

Li Shurui White Space / Beijing

The painting practice of Li Shurui has long been an investigation into the visual experiences of light and color, and her recent solo show LSR · Deep White embodies a continuation and an expansion of her work over the past decade. With an increasingly spatialized and immersive approach, the artist blends both immense scale and controlled minimalism. 

Beginning in the gallery’s cavernous left hall, three works form a colossal painting installation. Wave No. 6 (2015) echoes her earlier light-based works, though, without the figural elements and shadowy bodies that appeared in earlier paintings inspired by LEDs and Chongqing’s nightlife, it represents a move further into abstraction. In more recent works, her exploration of sound waves provokes a synesthetic experience that fuses the visual and the sonic; the picture plane is released from its two-dimensional limits, summoning both depth and movement from flatness and stasis.

In a subtler vein, Wave No. 10 (2015–16) employs a restrained color palette of subdued dark tones in gridded, plaid patterns. Mindfile Storage Unit No. 201708 (2017), positioned between these two ten-meter-wide canvases from the “Wave” series, is a pearlescent orb informed by Li’s research into natural forms and religious architecture. Combined, the three works form a cosmic flag, an occult tableau that could be mistaken for a set piece in an Alejandro Jodorowsky film. Questioning the boundaries of the frame, Li draws the viewer into an experience that is both intoxicating and sobering; when viewed up close, the canvases create their own bounded worlds of vision as the edges of the frames vanish.

In the adjacent hall, the exhibition’s eponymous work Deep White (2016–17) presents a mesmerizing array of 114 canvases of varying dimensions, installed together in a rectangular configuration. As a totality, the installation resembles a pixelated composite image, one that shares both the aesthetic tropes of Photoshop color gradients as well as the landscape painting idioms of a pastoral cloudscape.

While the works refuse to traffic in any direct, referential meaning, the paintings obliquely evoke the ubiquitous presence of digital screens that dominate our contemporary visual experience. The calculated repetition of airbrushed dots displays a meditative — perhaps obsessive — practice that might strike some viewers as cold and alienating, yet the works might also be read as preliminary experiments that open up new ways of seeing. The exhibition suggests a new relationship to the natural world, one in which the manual practices of painting are channeled through the digital apparatuses that mediate our vision.

by Benny Shaffer

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News /

Blanche de Lestrange on Parades / FIAC

The second edition of FIAC’s Parades, a special program dedicated to performative practice, will take place October 18–22, 2017, in conjunction with the international art fair held in Paris. Flash Art spoke to FIAC Head of Programs & Cultural Development Blanche de Lestrange.

The inclusion of a performance program in an art fair has been a trend in recent years, and it raises questions about exploiting performance art as a means of offering fair audiences something presumably lighter and entertaining. Are you interested in exploring this potential or are you trying to avoid it?

Blanche de Lestrange: This issue was central to us when designing the program for Parades. We have always been motivated by a desire to offer artists and performers unprecedented settings to present their projects, to give them a stage that could make their works potentially even more powerful. We strive to provide optimum conditions for the artists who perform in the context of FIAC. The idea is definitely not to show their works in a thoughtless way in the middle of the fair, disguised as entertainment, stripped of all intention and meaning.

The second edition of Parades is an homage to Trisha Brown. Why and how are you paying tribute to her work and legacy?

Our program honors the pioneers of performance and investigates intersections between music, contemporary dance, theater, performance and poetry. Over the last three years we have developed a focus on contemporary dance, with invitations extended to historical figures of postmodern dance such as Simone Forti, Yvonne Rainer or younger choreographers such as Jérôme Bel. Trisha Brown is a monument to contemporary dance. When she passed away earlier this year, it seemed obvious that we should pay tribute to her as one of the most creative choreographers of the twentieth century. Thus we invited the company to present historical works in various museum settings, such as the Petit Palais, the Orangerie and the auditorium of the Louvre Museum.

Trisha Brown’s practice corresponds to the identity of Parades: the idea of presenting dance not only on stage, but also outside, in museum contexts, in the street, on roofs as she did for Roof Piece (1971), and other unusual and atypical places. In the context of an art fair, it is fascinating to reflect on how her work connects with the visual arts. She was a bridge between disciplines, something we really want to encourage during FIAC. She is one of the main figures responsible for bringing an urgent form of contemporariness to dance, by underlying daily gestures, repetition, organic abstraction and human mechanisms. Trisha Brown was and still is an inspiration for successive generations of dancers and choreographers. With this homage, we seek to honor her sense of modernity and audaciousness.

What are some highlights of this edition?

We collaborated with the Ballet national de l’Opéra de Paris for two performances: Á bras le corps (1993) by Dimitri Chamblas and Boris Charmatz and Pour un abîme (2017) by Nicolas Paul. These are exceptional choreographers, who continue challenging the notion of body and weight, of relations and relationships. In the gardens of the Petit Palais, François Chaignaud and Marie-Caroline Hominal will present Duchesses (2009), exploring an unearthly, all-encompassing and captive dance, using the hula-hoop as an incessant choreographic instrument. It is important to us that the vast majority of the works we present in the context of Parades are performed in iconic spaces, and interact with their identity in a very unique way. In collaboration with the Festival d’Automne, we are featuring two projects by Gerard & Kelly at the Palais de la Découverte and the Centre Pompidou. With Songs and Book (2016) by Ivo Dimchev, we will present a medley of songs of his own composition. It will be a wonderful opportunity to discover the fascinating practice of this Bulgarian artist. His voice and his poetic universe are fascinating.

As stated earlier, every art fair in the international circuit offers a performance program. What makes FIAC’s performance program unique?

What is very central to Parades is that performances are held in prestigious spaces such as the Palais de la découverte, the Louvre or the Petit Palais — iconic venues that belong to Paris’s heritage. Each project is initiated in an intimate dialogue with the artists, giving them innovative possibilities for creating new works or adapting proposals. We are thrilled when artists create specific performances only for FIAC — and indeed for the fair format itself.

Among the most interesting proposals within your program, there is a performance that made the history of contemporary dance, the aforementioned duet À bras le corps. On this occasion it will be performed by two classical dancers of the Ballet national de l’Opéra de Paris. Can you explain the main differences between the two versions?

When Boris and Dimitri presented À bras le corps at the Centre Pompidou in 1993, the performance had the effect of an electric shock. It was one of the most striking duets in recent choreographic creation: a story of friendship but also conflict, of confrontation but also dependence between two men. The choreography pushes the dancers to the very limit of exhaustion. Yet although fatigued, sometimes seemingly reduced to a state of collapse, they always strive to stand. This year, the Opéra de Paris added to its repertoire À bras le corps. Dimitri Chamblas and Boris Charmatz transmitted this powerful choreography to two prominent étoile dancers from the Opéra de Paris, Karl Paquette and Stéphane Bullion, although they will also continue to perform it themselves.

During the fall season, with the presence of Le Festival d’Automne as well, Paris confirms its tradition as a leading capital for dance and theater.

Historically, France has developed a very unique relationship to dance and performance. It is refreshing to see that we are not only famous for our classical tradition, but also for innovative and pioneering endeavors in so many disciplines. Our ambition for Parades is that, in its own way, it can perpetuate this tradition. As an art fair, it is crucial for us to be a rendez-vous for high-level transactions in the art market, but also to make a concerted and energetic effort to support creation even when it is immaterial and therefore falls outside the usual logic of commercial exchange; to facilitate the emergence of projects, however ambitious; to create the conditions in which collaborations can be concretized; and to foster the public’s discovery of contemporary creation in its many diverse forms.

by Patrick Steffen

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Review /

The Overworked Body Ludlow 38 and Mathew Gallery / New York

Is it the 2000s or the aughts? Would you say post-9/11, the Bush years, or the war on terror? Housing bubble or housing crisis? Your twenties? MySpace? That time you lived in Williamsburg? Does “last decade” indicate our stern preference to not talk about it?

The same anxiety troubles “The Overworked Body: An Anthology of 2000s Dress,” an honest eulogy to that ten-year span of time. The exhibition collects radical fashion between spring/summer 2000 and fall/winter 2009 into a historical hall of mirrors in which dozens of studiously garmented mannequins recount the era’s feverish obsessions. Put another way, the show’s fitful attachments exhibit a budding angst.

There are many ways through this exhibition, which converts Mathew and Ludlow 38 into overcrowded showrooms. Connections between designers are largely intuited. Some were especially captivated by the apparatus of control. At the former space, Ann-Sofie Back’s cocktail dresses and reworked trench coat expose the shameless will to power behind the austerity of business casual. A Victorian-inspired Jean-Paul Gaultier dress employs new (at the time) photographic fabric printing to simulate patterns and ruffles, complimented by an infamous Stephen Jones shoe-hat flopped on the mannequin’s head. Decadence tends toward irreverence in other designers: Final Home’s mesh coat filled with all sorts of office trash (e.g., a Diet Coke can and FedEx shipping form); Margiela’s military-style vest made out of puffy ski gloves; the torched sequins in a Shelley Fox dress. Behind the naughty pastiche of ’90s styles is boredom in the KEUPR/van BENTM Fall/Winter 2000 show, a video of which is on view. Each time a model takes their turn, a Looney Tunes bonk-on-the-head sound effect is heard.

Neoliberalism spread rapidly during the aughts. Wealth flowed upward. Designers may have sniffed out clues to the nihilism driving our current predicaments, having made light of the ill-begotten popularity facilitated by the internet. It’s tough to name. The flipside involved special credence paid to New Age spiritualism and countercultural chic. Innocence, frivolity and joy describe several looks displayed on a catwalk-cum-skate park packed into Ludlow 38’s entryway — rejoice in fabrics and textures. Hideki Seo’s contributions, two school uniforms that transform the wearer into a scaly mythological chimera, speak to the narrow distance between animism and imagination. Bedazzled outfits by Andrew Groves and a gown by Arkadius balance frump and glamor; A.F. Vandervost’s dress is Weimar club gear; and an abundance of BLESS demonstrates their coy, cult-like sensibility, drawing connections between universal football fandom and featureless, unisex onesies.

The exhibition takes place definitively downtown, in a section of Chinatown and the Lower East Side that many of the designers included here, especially Susan Cianciolo or the late Ben Cho, helped to popularize. The proximity is voyeuristic. During the same era, galleries moved there, too. It’s been almost a decade and we keep coming back to sneak a peek.

by Sam Korman

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News /

Silvia Ammon and Clément Delépine on Paris Internationale

The third edition of Paris Internationale, the “convivial” art fair supporting a younger generation of galleries and artists, will take place October 18–22, 2017, in the former headquarters of Libération, the legendary French newspaper cofounded by Jean-Paul Sartre in 1973. Flash Art spoke with Paris Internationale co-directors Silvia Ammon and Clément Delépine.

With art fairs proliferating, a clear identity is pivotal to the success of newer ones. How do you define Paris Internationale in that regard?

Silvia Ammon and Clément Delépine: A large-scale art fair can be intimidating even to veteran fairgoers. The term “convivial” was used a lot in reference to Paris Internationale — to such an extent that it became a private joke among the team. One particular comment we received from our exhibitors and visitors is that they enjoyed the “deceleration” and being able to take the time to more thoroughly discuss an artist’s work. The fair is nomadic, founded by five galleries to promote the work of a generation of like-minded galleries.

One of the main new features of this edition of Paris Internationale is its location in the multistory car park previously home to the newspaper Libération. Can you elaborate on this choice?

The inaugural edition in 2015 took place in a grand but derelict mansion undergoing renovation. In 2016 we used a truly magnificent hôtel particulier, which was originally the Parisian residence and home to the collection of Calouste Gulbenkian. For the upcoming edition, we wanted to propose something new and to completely depart from the aesthetic codes we’ve explored thus far. On our first visit we were immediately drawn to the brutalist feel of this building.

The fair will be located in the heart of Paris, between the politically loaded Place de la République and Le Marais, Paris’s traditional gallery district. Will this new location color the fair?

Politically speaking, this venue is an appropriate context to address current challenges to journalism, freedom of speech and urban development. We worked closely with the Parisian collective The Cheapest University, which organized a program of collaborative work events titled “What’s in My Bag…?” Inspired by the eponymous TV show, the reflection was driven by the current security-driven political climate in which bags of citizens are systematically inspected. This year again, we benefit from the support of the Fondation d’entreprise Ricard to organize the public program.

One of the distinctive features of Paris Internationale is the presence of nonprofit art spaces. What is their role within the fair?

Nonprofit spaces spearhead and promote an emerging scene. In Paris specifically, nonprofits are definitely agents of the city’s dynamism, which is why we decided to focus on Parisian spaces this year. PI always supported nonprofits by inviting them to partake. As you know, the venue was originally conceived as a parking lot. Libération had platforms built along the spiraling ramp to install journalists. We positioned the nonprofits on these platforms, at the very center of the fair.

by Charles Teyssou

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Review /

Julian Rosefeldt Fundación Proa / Buenos Aires

Manifesto, Julian Rosefeldt’s film project that aspires to historical grandeur, landed in Buenos Aires as an overconstructed exhibition at Fundación Proa. Three rooms host twelve films starring Cate Blanchett, who performs a kind of textual survey of the twentieth-century avant-garde.

The actor, playing such diverse characters as a firm’s CEO, a news reporter and a stockbroker, recites the seminal texts of various art movements. The screenplay allows for small affinities in the coupling of character and text: Marinetti’s accelerationist emphasis and a financial employee; the Russian avant-garde and a scientist who finds, in a research complex, a black rectangular object. For the texts of Bruno Taut, Antonio Sant’Elia and Robert Venturi, Blanchett is a worker in a trash-incinerating facility, hinting at relationships between architecture, economic growth and environmental sustainability. With remarkable precision, the actor brings an emotional range to disparate artistic ideas, conveying in turn authority (a fancy choreographer), warmth (a first-grade teacher) and exaltation (a young punk lady in a bar).

Character development, nevertheless, gives way to synchronized lecturing via the primerisimo plano of Blanchett’s face and her simultaneous reciting, on all the screens, of discourses that can have an authoritarian undertone. This climatic synchronization shifts the viewer’s attention from the individual films to what occurs in the entirety of the room.

It’s a bit off-putting that Proa’s show doesn’t end with Rosefeldt’s work. A subtle pedagogical quality is already embedded in the virtues of Manifesto (the viewer, in a specific moment, confronts six of Blanchett’s giant faces reciting texts fundamental to the Western art canon) but, in addition to the films, the institution filled an extra floor with information (photos and texts) further explaining the characters, their manifestos and, more generally, what the avant-gardes of the past century were. It is a gesture more akin to the anti-avant-garde wooden donkey Bertold Brecht kept on his desktop with the famous lemma: “Even I must understand it.” Or at least, be lectured.

by Claudio Iglesias

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Flash Art 50 /

Flash Art 50: a weekend of Italian art history
28 – 29 October
Auditorium of the National Museum of Science and Technology “Leonardo Da Vinci” / Milan

Flash Art is turning fifty years old. The first contemporary art magazine in Europe, Flash Art was born in 1967 and has since represented one of the most influential sources of information for the international art system. To celebrate this special occasion, Flash Art promotes “Flash Art 50”, a two day symposium inviting some of the most influential personalities from the Italian art scene to retrace the history of art from 1967 until today.

“Flash Art 50” will be configured as a platform of exchange, where the voices that have contributed to Flash Art will flow in order to rehear and rediscover themselves. Articulated in five round tables, spread over two days and organised by decade – the Seventies, Eighties, Nineties, Noughties and Twenty-tens –, the symposium aims to deepen artistic research, theoretical lines and systemic trends that have characterised Italian art over the last fifty years. Each round table will include artists, critics, curators and gallerists – all pivotal figures in the evolution of artistic discourse in their respective eras – and will be moderated by a historical representative from our editorial portfolio.

The symposium will take place in the Auditorium of the National Museum of Science and Technology “Leonardo Da Vinci” (via San Vittore, 21), Milan, Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th of October 2017, from 11am to 7pm and 11am to 4:30pm, respectively.

Entry is free until allocation exhausted.

 

Program

Saturday 28 October

11:00 – 13:00

The Nineties

Stefano Arienti

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev

Claudio Guenzani

Roberto Pinto

Grazia Toderi

Angela Vettese

Luca Vitone

Moderator: Emanuela De Cecco

 

14:30 – 16:30

The Seventies

Giovanni Anselmo

Piero Gilardi

Ugo La Pietra

Paola Mattioli

Paolo Mussat Sartor

Franco Toselli 

Moderator: Renato Barilli 

 

17:00 – 19:00

The Twenty-tens

Invernomuto

Eva Fabbris

Anna Franceschini

Simone Frangi

Beatrice Marchi

Valentina Suma

Marco Tagliafierro

Moderator: Michele D’Aurizio

Sunday 29 October

11:00 – 13:00

The Eighties

Achille Bonito Oliva

Laura Cherubini

Corrado Levi

Emilio Mazzoli

Maurizio Nannucci

Aldo Spoldi

Giorgio Verzotti

Moderator: Giacinto Di Pietrantonio

 

14:30 – 16:30

The Noughties

Luca Cerizza

Massimiliano Gioni

Alessandro Rabottini

Marinella Senatore

Francesco Vezzoli

Andrea Viliani

Paolo Zani

Italo Zuffi

Moderator: Barbara Casavecchia

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