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Posts Tagged ‘art’

Hands, Spatula

February 9, 2016 | by

The Japanese artist Izumi Kato has his first solo exhibition in the U.S. at Galerie Perrotin, in New York, through February 27. Eschewing brushwork, Kato, forty-six, paints directly with his hands, rubbing the colors deep into the canvas; he wears latex gloves to protect his skin from the toxic oil paints and sometimes makes use of a spatula. His work, at once atavistic and endearing, features vaguely humanoid figures with penetrating gazes. More recently, he’s turned to sculpture, using camphor wood and a soft vinyl called sofub to bring his creatures into the third dimension. See more of his work at Artnet News. 

Izumi Kato, Untitled, oil on canvas. All photos by Guillaume Ziccarelli. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Perrotin.

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Distant Hammers

February 4, 2016 | by

Notes on art and apocalypse.

From Patrick Reed’s “Distant Hammers.”

How will the end come? Did it already come? Did we miss it? That we can ask this last question shows just how far our current mood of millenarianism has traveled from its antecedents in the distant and not-so-distant past. As late as Eliot, poets and prognosticators assured us that we would recognize “how the world ends.” Most visions of apocalypse were spectacular, sublime. The possibility that we have instead whimpered our way into some kind of boiling-frog scenario—marked by slow but irreversible global warming, mass human displacement, and a gradually perceptible slide toward famine, disease, war, and extinction—is a radical departure from the convulsive display we’d long been promised.

The first properly apocalyptic writings in the monotheistic tradition are the books of Joel and Zechariah, two of the twelve minor prophets in the Tanakh, or Jewish canon. Joel, whose account may date to the reign of King Josiah, around 800 B.C., and who may therefore be the oldest prophet, begins by describing a coming locust infestation, which he claims will be coincident with famine and widespread misery. The lament transforms into a hallucinogenic description of locusts as God’s army (“the increasing locust, the nibbling locust, the finishing locust, and the shearing locust”), of a fire that consumes the world, and of a day of thick darkness “like the dawn spread over the mountains.” The more famous book of Daniel follows approximately in this mold, albeit with new messianic trappings. Read More »

Things People Do

February 3, 2016 | by

Mernet Larsen’s exhibition “Things People Do” is at James Cohan Gallery through February 21. Larsen, seventy-five, works in what she has called “old-fashioned narrative paintings ... statements of longing.” “What I use are these perspectival ploys—diverse perspective, parallel perspective,” she told The Huffington Post last year. “You’re always sort of moving around inside the painting; you can never quite figure out where you’re standing, so you kind of absorb it. Matisse does that too for me too. And a lot of Japanese art, from the twelfth century particularly. They bring you inside and outside the space, you have no particular position. You can't quite get your bearings. And yet, I want you to have a sense of orient, a sense of mass, a sense of depth.”

Mernet Larsen, Alphie, 2015, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 71 1/8" x 39 1/2".

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Salubrious Cervantes, and Other News

January 26, 2016 | by

Illustration by Stefan Mart, 1933.

  • Flush your antidepressants, fire your therapist, and deaccession your self-help library: Cervantes is the only mood elevator you need. “Eduardo Guerrero, head of Mexico’s prisons system, told Radio Imagen that when El Chapo was recaptured earlier this month after escaping six months ago, ‘he arrived depressed, and more than depressed, tired—tired of being on the run.’ In the last few days, said Guerrero, the prisoner had been given a copy of Don Quixote to read, ‘because we believe it is an excellent book, and we have to start giving him such notions.’ ”
  • In the late eighties, Lex Kaplen launched Wigwag, an ambitious magazine that lasted for only fifteen issues, perhaps because of its unlikely name or its strange agenda: “The Wigwag office was in SoHo, on Spring Street, downstairs from a place where a man dealt in geological survey maps, two blocks from the Spring Street Natural. Lex set the tone for the office. His favorite outfit was Bermuda shorts and a cardigan sweater … Wigwag was a general-interest magazine that included some of the same kinds of things that The New Yorker ran—reporting, fiction, columns on the arts—along with quirkier features: a bedtime story, a map contributed by a reader (‘Dogs of Westhampton, Mass.’), a Family Tree of, say, TV sitcom writers or celebrity hairdressers. Its heart was a section called Letters from Home, in which writers from towns big and small (Baltimore; Dripping Springs, Texas) kept readers abreast of the local goings on.” The theme for one issue was polka dots.
  • The best way to remember Clarence Reid, the R & B rabble-rouser better known as Blowfly, is to read a few of his song titles: “My Baby Keeps Farting in My Face,” “Electronic Pussy Sucker,” “Shitting on the Dock of the Bay,” “Spermy Night in Georgia” … you get the picture. Reid died last week at seventy-six. “In both his parodies and his original compositions, Mr. Reid was lascivious but good-natured. Even at his most extreme, there was nothing harsh about him. While his songs painted him as a libertine and rascal, in real life he was religious—he had memorized the Bible, Mr. Bowker said—and rarely drank or did drugs … As Blowfly, Mr. Reid created an implicitly radical counternarrative to the more polite strains of soul that were popular at the time.”
  • If you want your very own National Magazine Award, it’s time to start being systematic. Just follow a few simple steps and that handsome copper elephant statuette can be yours, all yours! You’ll want to go long (no fewer than 6,500 words) and stick to the past tense. Write in the second person and try not to cuss too much …
  • Or you can liquidate some of that capital you’ve got tied up in Andy Warhol. Most of us have dozens, if not hundreds, of Warhol artworks just lying around the house, quietly skyrocketing in value. The time to sell is now, and the man to see is Geoff Hargadon, who operates a storefront in Boston called Cash for Your Warhol. “Hargadon, a financial planner by day, has been pretending to buy Warhols since 2009, when the recession spawned an influx of bandit signs promising ‘Cash for Your Home’ and ‘Cash for Your Gold.’ Fascinated by the sheer bluntness of the signs, Hargadon started collecting them. At some point, while thinking about markets left untapped, ‘the phrase [Cash for Your Warhol] just popped into my head,’ he says. He set up a hotline (617-553-1103), designed his own line of signs, stickers and billboards, and stuck them all over major cities from Kentucky to Pennsylvania.”

The Gayety of Vision

January 25, 2016 | by

Karen Blixen in Copenhagen, 1957.

INTERVIEWER

What is your favorite fruit?

DINESEN

Strawberries.

INTERVIEWER

Do you like monkeys?

DINESEN

Yes, I love them in art: In pictures, in stories, in porcelain, but in life they somehow look so sad. They make me nervous. I like lions and gazelles.

—Isak Dinesen, the Art of Fiction No. 14, 1956

When Isak Dinesen gave her 1956 Art of Fiction interview, she was into her seventies. It’s one of the strangest entries in the Review’s Writers at Work series. While the focus is, naturally, on Dinesen’s work as an author, the artist, also known as Baroness Karen Christentze Blixen-Finecke, addresses her career as a painter, too: Read More »

The Art of Investing, and Other News

January 25, 2016 | by

Sarah Meyohas, Paradise INC on January 12, 2016, 2016, Oil stick on canvas, 50" x 60". Image via 303 Gallery

  • Today in translating bugs: The Irish writer Lafcadio Hearn’s Insect Literature (1921), newly reissued, reminds that certain literary tropes are far from universal: “Yoko Tawada recently remarked that one of the difficulties she faced when translating The Metamorphosis into Japanese was that the associations Japanese people had with insects—even presumably giant beetles—were different from those of Europeans … In Japan, Buddhism teaches that a person might be reincarnated as any kind of animal or insect, creating a strong sense of continuity between the human and insect realms. That butterfly flapping above your head may contain the soul of a deceased lover … Humans (in the West at least) had, [Hearn] argued, become numb to the magic and horror implicit in the daily lives of insects.”
  • Want to support the work of young artists without pumping capital into the infernal machine that is Big Finance? Invest in Sarah Meyohas, whose first solo show is up now: “Meyohas, who studied finance at Wharton and recently received an M.F.A. from Yale, is known for creating a cryptocurrency called BitchCoin. Here, she cheerfully explains to visitors that she is using her laptop to buy and sell stocks on the New York Stock Exchange. Every day she selects a company for which little or no trading is happening, and with her own money she buys stock in that company, which drives up its price. This precipitates a sell-off, at which point she may or may not buy more stocks. After cashing out, she takes a black marker and draws a line on one of the canvases, loosely tracing the stock’s price line during the time she invested in it.”
  • Tim Parks does a close reading of Primo Levi in translation, looking at what changes in his prose and why: “The fact is that much space is required to say anything even halfway serious about a translation. For example, the three volumes of Levi’s Complete Works include fourteen books and involved ten translators … While Levi liked to describe himself as a writer with a determinedly plain style, the truth is rather different. Often a direct, speaking voice shifts between the colloquial and the literary, the ironically highfalutin and the grittily scientific. It’s true that there are rarely serious problems of comprehension, but the exact nature of the register, which is to say the manner in which the author addresses us, the relationship into which he draws us, is a complex and highly mobile animal. It is here that the translator is put to the test.”
  • In Medieval Graffiti, the historian and archaeologist Matthew Champion studies the long history of defacing English churches and the thin line between desecration and devotion: “Rarely were these marks and messages removed or written over by other parish members, showing a sign of respect and acceptance. Curiously, many of the graffiti traces discovered by Champion relate to curses, magic, and more pagan practices than are often connected with Christianity … It wasn’t outside the realm of belief that a symbolic carving in this sacred space had transformative power.”
  • Diana Kennedy is a ninety-two-year-old writer living in Mexico City. She’s also, as it happens, embroiled in a fierce debate about Mexican food writing: “Kennedy is far more than just a writer of cook books. ‘All anthropologists and botanists, they ought to learn to cook,’ she has said, ‘or they will miss the whole point of how culture and plants and food come together’ … There’s probably no better contemporary book that illustrates the food/non-food question than Diana Kennedy’s Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy. The book is exotic less for its unlikely ingredients, although there are plenty of them, than for its variety: throughout the province of Oaxaca, there are thousands of valley-specific dishes.”