Friday, April 21, 2006

Armory Show, Day 2

Here are some works I saw in March on my second day at this fair.

London’s White Cube had a large booth in the center of things. High on one wall was a neon scrawl by Tracy Emin, “Everything for Love” (photo at top). It served as a snarky general comment on the fair. Also at White Cube were selections from the full set of Goya’s “Los Caprichos” etchings as re-worked by Jake and Dinos Chapman. The brothers, famous for their cheek, have collaged the Goyas by meticulously overpainting cartoony imagery on the figures. Mostly they have created replacement heads that look like Carnival or Halloween masks. Sort of a James Ensor effect. Unfortunately, the project comes across as a prank, offering shock value without content. If you didn’t know they were Goya prints, you’d shrug your shoulders and walk on. The prices were up to snuff, though: about $23,000 per print.

At D’Amelio Terras (NY), there was a terrific untitled sculpture by Heather Rowe. Made of metal and wood framing, with remnants of wood veneer, it looked like a folding screen that had been destroyed except for its framework. Strategically placed bits of mirror dematerialized the piece even further. Looking at it, you doubted your eyes. I decided the piece was too hard to photograph. Fortunately James Wagner didn’t—see the two shots on his blog.

At China Art Objects (Los Angeles), I enjoyed seeing one of David Korty’s paintings (photo above). He depicts contemporary scenes with a sensibility that seems to draw on J.M.W. Turner, Monet, Cézanne, and Klimt. In his hands, even a garbage dump has become ravishing. Is this escapism? Is this critique? Maybe both at once, a love-hate thing.

Produzentengalerie Hamburg offered paintings by Norbert Schwontkowski. He’s a mid-career German artist whose cultivated informal style projects a tone somewhere between whimsy and black humor. Sometimes his work resembles illustrations for the New Yorker or for a sophisticated storybook. But these associations did not press forward with the works on view. I liked “Cine” (about 110 x 140 cm, photo above) and “Captain in Love” (about 60 x 40 cm, photo below), which depicts an officer caught in the web of love.

Transmission Gallery (Glasgow) had David Sherry’s 5-minute video, “Smashing Every Aspect,” showing the artist banging a metal tray against the corner of a table, over and over. He had masking tape covering his face, like a Jason horror mask. At White Columns (NY), San Francisco artist Colter Jacobsen’s drawings looked good, and they were hot sellers.

At Leo Koenig (NY), Greg Bogin offered a sardonic logo for the planet, painted using automobile lacquer on canvas. The piece, about 36" x 30", is called “The Late Great Planet Earth” (photo above).

At Taxter & Spengemann (NY), Kalup Linzy’s video, “Lollipop,” was a hit. On a small monitor, Linzy and another man lipsync a blues song, the double-entendre kind, about whether the man is going to get his hands on Linzy’s “lollipop.” (Photo above.) This piece made camp seem fresh again. And it was technically stronger that Linzy’s videos in the “Frequency” show at the Studio Museum Harlem, a good sign.

Two other women artists caught my attention on Day 2. At Galerie Lelong (NY), I loved the dark Petah Coyne sculpture, "Untitled #1181 (Dante's Daphne)." Her work has an impact in person that photographs don’t seem to capture. At Wilkinson Gallery (London), I liked Joan Jonas’s B&W video from 1973, “Two Women,” a slowly rolling image of two women face to face.

No comments: