Kehinde Wiley: Re-Imagining Art History

Kehinde Wiley Sculpture

Kehinde Wiley (American, born 1977), Digital Study for Saint Ursula and the Virgin Martyrs, 2014. © Kehinde Wiley. (Photo courtesy of the artist)

Anthony van Dyck’s Seventeenth Century Portrait of Charles I at the Hunt now hangs reverentially in the Louvre, so it’s easy to overlook the artist’s daring decision to paint an equestrian portrait of the monarch dismounted and dressed in civilian clothing as he makes almost mischievous eye contact with the viewer; to its original audience, this was emphatically contemporary art.  Multimedia artist Kehinde Wiley helps us look at these Old Masters in a new light.  His subjects strike poses straight from Old Master paintings, but wear camouflage and Timberland boots.  Furthermore, he playfully flips the switch on art, giving us a color-inverted pantheon of Who’s Who in art history.  Continue reading

Richard Mosse, Incoming

Still frame from Incoming, 2015–2016.. Three screen video installation by Richard Mosse in collaboration with Trevor Tweeten and Ben Frost. Co-commissioned by National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, and Barbican Art Gallery, London. Courtesy of the artist, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York and carlier|gebauer, Berlin.

Photographer Richard Mosse is perhaps best known for his expansive multimedia work ‘The Enclave.’ Using now-discontinued military surveillance film, Mosse travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo and captured scenes of the brutal civil conflict in the region. The film rendered the footage in bright pinks and magentas, creating disorienting and dreamlike landscapes, populated by heavily armed guerrillas roaming the hills.  In collaboration with cinematographer Trevor Tweeten and composer Ben Frost, Mosse then created an immersive installation for the Irish Pavilion at the 55th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in 2013. He later won the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2014 for the same work (which was also shown in an expanded form by The Vinyl Factory at their Brewer Street Car Park in Soho, Central London that same year). Continue reading

Ai Weiwei at Meijer Gardens

Ai Weiwei sculpture

Remains (detail), 2015. Courtesy of Ai Weiwei studio.

“How does he manage to do it?” One wonders.  It’s not just that Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei can work with media as varied as cast iron, steel rebar, porcelain, wood, or Legos, but that somehow the finished works are beautifully crafted and always embedded with carefully considered layers of meaning.  The exhibition Natural State at Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park brings an impressive cross-section of his recent work to the heart of America’s Midwest, and amply demonstrates Ai’s uncanny knack for seamlessly integrating craftsmanship with concept.  Continue reading

Rodin’s Human Experience, and Our Own

Rodin Sculpture

Three Shades, by Rodin. Photo courtesy of the Portland Art Museum.

I tend to prefer abstract sculpture— however, even in more representative work, there is plenty of abstractness to find and appreciate. Take the Rodin exhibition currently at the Portland Art Museum. Subtitled “The Human Experience,” the exhibition certainly showcases the representational aspects of Auguste Rodin’s masterful bronze works. The 52 bronzes in the show are almost entirely of human forms, and are curated so that the viewer learns about the process by which the sculptor produced the works both in detail and at scale. In re-using aspects of previous works, Rodin allowed particular characteristics of the human form to span across his oeuvre, and the viewer can immediately sense these pieces of humanity— hands, torsos, heads, limbs— extending throughout the gallery, like memories or ghosts of the many models that the artist employed to create these testaments to the human form. Continue reading

Rauschenberg at Tate Modern, London

Robert Rauschenberg Sculpture

Robert Rauschenberg Installation View. Photograph courtesy Tate Photography
© Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York

The first time I saw the film Casablanca, I must have been about twenty years old. I was sitting in my grimy student flat watching it on an old computer with my friend, when they turned to me part way through and said something strange. The film was incredible, they acknowledged, but the dialogue was making them cringe. Casablanca of course is now, and probably forever will be, famous for its incredible wealth of iconic lines. From Rick’s sad lament about ‘all the gin joints in town’ to perhaps the zenith of the picture’s dialogue as he and Ilsa say goodbye at the airport, it is responsible for some of the most memorable exchanges and suave one-liners of any film in history. But in reality, my friend wasn’t really commenting on the dialogue in Casablanca as much as the subsequent dialogue around the film. So much of it has become fodder for parody, imitation or even just general praise that even its most ground breaking moments have become over-worn clichés for many, making it hard to encounter the original film without a lot of distracting baggage. It begs the question, how does one say something interesting, original or relevant about work which has long been established as part of the canon? Continue reading

Tying the Knots of the World

Françoise Grossen Sculpture

Installation view of ‘Françoise Grossen Selects’, 2016. Photo by Butcher Walsh.
Courtesy of the Museum of Arts and Design.

The more I think about fiber arts, the more enamored I become with it as a form of sculpture. Visiting the Françoise Grossen Selects show at the Museum of Art and Design put this motion into overdrive, as I explored the variety of things that might be done using solely rope. Continue reading