Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Role of Autobiography and Gender in Westermann’s Dance of Death

In a previous post I introduced H.C. Westermann, who is one of my favorite artists. Scholarship on Westermann is increasing of late, and I am pleased to present my paper that talks a bit about Westermann's life and art. The paper examines the 1975 print Dance of Death through the lenses of autobiography and feminism, and analyzes the recent use of the print as a motif in the work of Jeff Koons. My paper is available to read here

Tre Reising: "No Space"

images by Charles Fox and Paul Miller
Tre Reising currently has a solo installation up at Big Car Gallery in Indianapolis called No Space. Reising has worked in printmaking before, but his artistic practice consists primarily of installation art and sculpture. No Space, and art in general at this point in Reising's career, represents somewhat of an internal struggle. Sure, it has deeper significance than what immediately confronts the viewer, such as the concept of being stuck between two pages of an artist's sketchbook and the investigation of drawing and painting's relationship to sculpture. On the other hand though, Reising just wants to make art. As Frank Stella would say, "What you see is what you see." With that said, Reising's art is abstract and its independence from figurative representation is, of course, a definite step towards art for art's sake.

Despite being abstract and in a square room, No Space succeeds in creating the effect of a Cyclorama. In this regard, Reising's new work has some similarity to Kara Walker. Regarding the Cyclorama and its effect, Walker states "It's like the pique of the painter's creative enterprise to make the painting surround the viewer and to create the illusion of depth and of space, and to lure the viewer into the feeling of being a part of the scene." Reising creates illusions of depth and space through his use of similar shapes in varying sizes and lines that do not form right angles. Reising has also explored the territory first mapped by Fred Sandback through three dimensional yarn sculpture in the past, but in this installation the yarn stays on the walls. Painted shapes always take precedence over yarn in No Space, literally breaking the yarn's continuity, and this is also effective in creating illusions of depth. Overall, No Space is an intense and enjoyable aesthetic experience that surrounds the viewer with appealing colors and shapes that really pop off--or into--the walls.

I had a conversation with Tre in three parts, which occurred at an early stage of the installation, during the middle, and after its completion. Check out what Tre had to say about No Space:

Monday, December 7, 2009

Nick Allman at Dean Johnson Gallery

images (besides the last two) courtesy of Nick Allman and Christopher West

On Thursday, December 3 a new show opened up at Dean Johnson Gallery called New Design: Nick Allman, Morgen Bosler and Lauren Zoll

Quoted from Dean Johnson Gallery's website is a description of the show, which was curated by Christopher West:

Three local designers put their own unique spins on what are traditionally mundane items. Nick Allman imagines an environment where an entryway table and an iconic Arco Floor Lamp burst through (or crash into) the existing architecture of a home or building. Morgen Bosler handcrafts ceramic urns designed to honor a loved one’s individuality and spirit. Each piece is an expression of pure art and design created to bring a lifetime of comfort. Finally, Lauren Zoll has created a series of vases intended to represent the antithesis of design. Using materials such as rebar, Zoll is able to combine the brutality of the materials with the beauty of a functional vase.

Nick Allman recently won First Prize for a furniture piece in the Herron Galleries Undergraduate Student Exhibition, and the work he has featured in the Dean Johnson show is daring, strong and surprisingly functional. Destroying drywall in order to insert or remove objects, Allman creates furniture pieces that question perception and undermine traditional notions of design, space and aesthetics. Upon first viewing Allman's work in this show looks like a series of disasters rather than intentional design, and it is this element of surprise and rethinking function that gives the work its strength.

I had a conversation with Nick in two parts, during the installation and upon its completion. Hear what he had to say:

Conversations with Nick Allman Part One from Charles Fox on Vimeo.

Conversations With Nick Allman Part Two from Charles Fox on Vimeo.

There is also work currently for sale in the Dean Johnson Gallery. These pieces by Ted Ross are excellent.