Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Kari Cholnoky

Kari Cholnoky's studio sits somewhere between a sci-fi laboratory, searching for the cure to our bleak and dismal future, and a costume shop, designing cutting edge couture for the Muppets. I am thinking of Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem in particular. While they have no shortage of humor, Cholnoky's artworks are incredibly sophisticated. They are laden with quips derived from blown-up consumer photography (that she has made at Walmart) to cleverly repurposed sex objects ordered and searched for online. Cholnoky's 2020 mash-ups are spot on ⁠— futuristic malaise is combated and transformed into unforgettably tactile and totally visionary contemporary art. Hopped up on boiled eggs, Kari's go-to studio chow, I position myself to draw with a WTF look on my face, while the mad scientist herself sorted through her parrot-colored materials.



Kari's punchy, furry, modular macrocosms are hard to unpack, but the results are as riveting as they are gratifying. In fact, the work is so compelling that I was recently willing to stand with strangers breathing down my neck just to get a good view of one at a show she was in at Anton Kern. Fissured surfaces get layered up with the color sensitivity of a Joseph Albers. Ghostly blues, Pepto pinks, and sour tangerine oranges are set off by exaggerated shadows of synthetic hair and orifice-like blobs. Sometimes sculptural protrusions look like part of a human body or at least an alien one. One piece in particular was lined with finger-like knobs that had been lit at their tips with bright red paint. Another piece's bottom half was encrusted with what looked like chopped up arteries, the depths of their crevices leaving a lot up to the imagination. Cholnoky's work is so unique, it is as though she is foreseeing the future of art. Her horizontally stretched paintings have always made me think of a sexier mission control panel. So maybe after taking our protein pills and putting our helmets on, we can press one of Cholnoky's gnarly doo-dads and sit in a tin can far above the world.


It really restores my faith in creativity to see someone like Kari making work. It reminds me that we haven't seen everything yet ⁠— thank god. She has two fantastic pieces up now in "Cult of the Crimson Queen" at Ceysson & Benetiere curated by Michele Segre. To see more of Cholnoky's work go here http://karicholnoky.com/index.html

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Michelle Segre


I was totally overwhelmed with the impulse to draw Michelle Segre's studio when I came across a recent photograph of it bathed in light. Layer upon layer of yarn, wire, thread, and papier-mâché mass the kind of wonder and mysticism that only art can conjure. There is a glorious abundance of line, boundless with detail, that her work accumulates — making it hard to decipher when one work begins and another ends. Each of her lineations led me to a new and unexpected punctuation. Be it a dried brightly colored lotus root, a large blue cut-out splat or a swaying eyeball dangling with tiny neon fibers.

Segre's sculptures act like portals to a more colorful universe, one where psychedelic afterimages hold fast and giant boulder-like carrots roam the land. Less than a year ago Michelle set up shop in a new studio in the Bronx, but to me it seems like she has been working there for all of her artistic life. Evocative forms emerge from every lap that her materials make around the often visible armatures she uses to build her work on. Suspending our disbelief of material strength, large forms are attach to one another, or the ceiling, by mere strings. I imagine these forms exchanging energies through their attachments or talking to one another as if speaking through a tin can telephone. Segre often repurposes older works by disassembling them and reusing parts in newer sculptures. It made me think of propagating a jade plant from a single leaf. We spoke about how her sculptures operate in and out of the studio; once set against the stage of a white-walled gallery, each pulsating element of her linear circuses stand out. But I am glad I was able to see them first in her studio — being the earth they were grown in.
               


What a perfect visit for picking up Pencil in the Studio again after a year and a half hiatus. My time with Michelle reminded me of all the good things that come from living in NYC and being a part of the art community here. Don't miss the three shows Segre has opening next week. A two person exhibition with Julia Bland at Derek Eller opens on Feb. 6th and the group show titled "All of Them Witches" organized by Dan Nadel and Laurie Simmons at Jeffrey Deitch in L.A opens on Feb. 8th. Michelle also curated "Cult of the Queen Crimson" at Ceysson & Benetiere, opening on Feb. 5th. To see more of her work go to http://michellesegre.com/

Monday, April 2, 2018

Angelina Gualdoni


In a studio building that hugs the JMZ tracks on Broadway the buzzing of the J train reminded me of another visit I had made, six years prior, on the same floor. There is an unequivocal energy that seeps out of this particular building’s dimly lit hallways — laden with paintings from artists' studios past and present. This year I had the pleasure of sitting with the lovely Angelina Gualdoni, and in 2013, I was with Lauren Luloff. I drew while Angelina prepared for her solo booth at NADA and her solo show at Asya Geisberg Gallery  that opens April 5th. Gualdoni made a delicious lentil stew with a hearty homemade bread for our visit. She is known to triumph in the kitchen as well as on the canvas.


We started our conversations on titles and ended them discussing the lush pours of paint Angelina was making on one of her final pieces. Sometimes the easiest way for me to understand a painting is by attempting to look through it. I blur my eyes, almost until they almost glaze over, and get at what a canvas looks like on the inside in order to draw its outside. Upon doing this I realized that Gualdoni is applying paint on both sides of her canvas. The pattern she begins with on the back side not only starts her work out with marks for her to react to, but also develops a kind of ghost-like perspective that delightfully disorients and furthers the intensity of her interiors. Eggplant colored drips pool around hard edges as she defines portions of her canvases, often depicting still lifes, and leaves others objectively abstract. In one of her newer paintings she lights the sky out of a kitchen window with a devouring red. It is unclear if it is a pleasing sunset or harsh apocalyptic reality. Beauty teetering on the edge of destruction sparks the painting's contemporary concerns. In two other works a laptop sits casually close to the edge of a table and a "No Ban" cardboard torch silhouettes in a window. These details quite fantastically remind us that we are looking at paintings made in the here and now.  

           

Gualdoni and I hid that afternoon from one of those punishing March storms. It was hard to leave the warmth of her studio for the spitting cold rain. I was so happy to know that I would meet with all the paintings again out in the world. Go see Angelina’s show at http://www.asyageisberggallery.com/ opening April 5th and to see more of her work go here http://angelinagualdoni.com/

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Stuart Lorimer

Stuart Lorimer and I blissfully breezed through a Saturday afternoon listening to albums of rock heroes past while sharing cans of local beer and drawing. His mug in one hand and his vibrant oil pastel in another, Stuart emphatically dragged the sticks across pieces of paper like someone just freed of a deadline. And that is exactly what he was; his solo show "Drama" is up through March 18th in the project space of Lyles and King. I caught his dynamic group of paintings a few days before we met up. I would encourage you to do the same.



The figures in Lorimer's show shook the canvases with dance and fornication. Unexpectedly, they brought to mind El Greco  not for content, but for curvaceousness. There are multiple ways to capture movement, and Stuart does so by letting the contour shapes of his figures' thighs and forearms manipulate the negative space around them  pushing the flatness of paint until it pulsates. El Greco's figures often squiggle up to the heavens; Lorimer's undulate as they tickle the ivories, balancing on their multi-leveled platform of keyboards. One figure lays below the instruments like a worshipper looking up at the gods. Stuart's colors match the idiosyncrasies of the paintings' delightfully peculiar narratives. Blues and oranges become very close in value, making them a challenge to draw in grey scale. Reds pop while accenting doorways and folds in clothing, not unlike Masaccio's paintings. Stuart talked about looking for figures that teeter precariously in their positions  legs out or arms intertwined. I find the combination of his color and uncanny fiction to also teeter, quite captivatingly.



While you are out and about at fairs this weekend,  make your way to the Lower East Side for Lorimer's show "Drama" at Lyles and King. Also, look out for a post soon on his studio mate and wife, the lovely Emily Davidson. To see more of his work go here https://stuart-lorimer.squarespace.com/ 

Friday, January 5, 2018

Elizabeth Glaessner

Before summing up my studio visit with Elizabeth Glaessner, I took a look back at our scheduling exchanges which started roughly in January of 2017. The subjects that came up in our messages included trips to DC, protest sign-making parties, and general expressions of stress and horror. In the end, I dropped in on Glaessner twice to draw and a handful of other times just to say hello. Her solo show opens Jan. 6th at PPOW Gallery and I prized seeing the journey towards it she was making. But there is another reason I kept coming back; Glaessner exudes the calm, confident kindness that I longed for over the year. And the figures in her work  tenacious, large female forms that twist in and out of positions that are at once tender and dominant  reminded me that women hold the greatest power. Both in our revelatory imaginations and our ever evolving realities.



Exotic birds with angelic female features perch atop a crawling woman's fingertips while two snails morph into human torsos as they embrace in silhouette at her feet. On another canvas, a female figure sways while straddling an algae green gator  they seem to share their fortitude, almost becoming a single superpower. Glaessner's reality fuses the ideas behind familiar mythology, her own personal history, and the imagery of ancient civilizations. Without a clear representation of a male figure in her fantastical world, it is fauna, animals and gender neutrality that tell the story and point the narrative's moral compass. Glaessner uses brilliant blues, desert sand yellows and eggplant purples in all-over patterns, isolating the bodies' giant shapes and lengthy gestures. In her show, she will have several larger than life hanging silk paintings whose vibrant hues alter in intensity depending on what angle they are seen from. These transparent screens will interact with the works behind them, changing the viewer's experience by not only adding another layer to the paintings' surfaces, but also to their narratives. Glaessner's figures live in a reality that is nonpartisan and without patriarchy, that brims with the vibrancy of the natural world, where they cavort and wrestle with its creatures without malice. A place I would rather be in 2018.


This weekend at Liz's opening, one of the first in the New Year, I am excited to celebrate her work and add another friendship and studio visit to long list of bad ass women I have drawn over the years. To see more of her work go here https://www.elizabethglaessner.com/ and don't miss her show at PPOW gallery up through february 10th.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Elisa Soliven

My mood lifts considerably when the cerulean sky outlines an especially bright cloud or bushy green tree. Such a simple remedy, but I forget to take note of its unyielding powers. Elisa Soliven's combination of pinks, blues and reds have a similar effect on my state of mind, as does spending time with her family. When I came to visit last month, Emil, her delightful second boy of just two months, sat with us for the afternoon along with her Husband and studio mate JJ Manford. Elisa was preparing for her solo show, open now at Sunday Takeout. Her foot gently rocked Emil in his bassinet while her hands engraved a repeated image of me drawing into a large slab of clay. JJ would pick up Emil occasionally to give him a bounce and a burp and then continued working on his paintings. Whenever I consider what keeps me going as an artist, it's days like this that give me an answer.



Multi-colored mounds emerge out of the glistening slabs that lay across Elisa's studio floor.  A Turquoise glaze nestles into their coarse crevasses like cool ocean water. The brightly colored porcelain pieces that she embeds in the slabs play the role of coquina shells catching their breath after each receding wave. Her sculptures are as gloriously individual as the shells and stones found on a bubbling shorelines. The consistency of Elisa's palette is the constant thread in the three dimensional manifestation of her invented reality, each body of work seamlessly related to the next. On a table against her studio wall, she has arranged a crew of lively ceramic commedia dell'arte characters. One, she has attached to its own proscenium, ready for performance. Below that, an upright hunk of clay repeats the shape of a torso in motion. Its metallic glaze catches the light from the window, making its figure with many faces fracture like a cubist painting. Leaning against the walls iron ladders are beautifully corroded with patterned bone-shaped cylinders. Soliven's studio reads like a room full of extraordinary artifacts, she has created a kind of archeology museum out of her own imagination.

 “Gathering Gravity Grows Gray” at Sunday Takeout
 “Gathering Gravity Grows Gray” at Sunday Takeout
“Gathering Gravity Grows Gray” at Sunday Takeou
It was a wonderful way to spend an early summer day. We ate falafel and laughed at stories of our shared experiences over the years. The breeze came in and out of the window and eventually my paper filled up with the joyfulness of Elisa's sculptures. Be sure to see her solo show "Gathering Gravity Grows Gray" open now at Sunday Takeout. She is also in "Figured Out" at Andrew Rafacz Gallery in Chicago and "Fantastic Plastic" curated by Jaqueline Cedar with Crush Curatorial.  In July, Elisa will be a part of the Jay Invitational of Clay in the Adirondacks that Jason Andrew curates every year in Jay, NY. To see more of her work go here: http://elisasoliven.net/.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Kenny Rivero

Upstairs at Elizabeth Dee, in a show curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah, I sat with two striking Kenny Rivero paintings, the artist himself, and his lovely mother at the opening of the exhibition. It was my first time seeing Rivero's work in person and meeting the artist  both such a pleasure. Illuminating a vitrine nearby were the smooth reflective graphite marks of the equally captivating drawings Rivero makes on salvaged book paper. I was eager to set a date to draw together as soon as Kenny had finished moving into his new Bronx Studio.


Tangled up in transversal spaces, Rivero's obscured objects and figures suggest notions of memory or  powerful visions between sleep and wakefulness. In one painting he juxtaposes small details, rendered with the precision of his drawings, next to massive brick walls, translucent structures, and the bottom half of a baseball player with the number 11 on his jersey. The bright white of a baseball stands out nestled in a mitt of gooey black paint. Through Rivero's exquisite mark making the viewer is able to put together pieces from his history and life as a Dominican American growing up in Washington Heights. Kenny often alters the space in which he shows his paintings, as he did for his Spring Break Art Fair project curated by Karin Bravin. Adding colored floor tiles, sweep piles and other debris to sections of the room, he allowed the narratives of his canvases to spill out into the space. Some smaller paintings focus on a single figure in portrait format, but push the boundaries of conventional portraiture. In one, a woman's arms melt into the pink of the background and her face is covered with shades of blue. Another canvas depicts a young man's head shooting out beams of red, yellow and white, while the color of his skin becomes one with that of the canvas.
Installation at Spring Break 2017
Kenny shares his studio, and the floor, with several other artists from his graduate program at Yale. We talked extensively about studio spaces and where they can still be found. He also talked about his experiences at residencies in Miami and New Mexico and his upcoming stint at Skowhegan this summer. I was happy to be able to meet the challenge of drawing the motorcycle that he picked up at one of his residences and now sits in the middle of his studio. Rivero has a show opening this week at EFA Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop featuring oil monotypes and a new lithograph edition. The show runs through June 11th. To see more of his work go here: http://www.kennyrivero.com/.