Exhibition // 'Ultraviolet' at Richard Heller Gallery: An Interview with Vanessa Prager
Article by Liam Casey in Los Angeles // Thursday, May 18, 2017
Last Thursday, installation was in full swing at Richard Heller Gallery for Vanessa Prager's solo exhibition, 'Ultraviolet'. Prager has made a name for herself as a painter with her portraits that more often resemble colorful and rich topographies of paint, blurring the borders between portraiture and sculpture. In the gallery, works were placed meticulously on the ground, awaiting mounting, as installers etched measurements on the newly constructed dry walls. Beeping sounds, originating from the platform lift, permeated the gallery space, located in Bergamot Station. On one of the pieces, a gently glowing tube of neon circumscribed the canvas, something Prager was experimenting with; "It became interesting to me to just put it on like an outfit, 'here's how I am today, here's how I am in this situation'". Although the atmosphere in the gallery was industrious, Vanessa Prager took the time to speak with us about her work and the upcoming show.
Elephant Magazine-5 Questions with Vanessa Prager
May 15, 2017
Text by Emily Steer
"They have neutral expressions on their face while all this seemingly wild and messy and chaotic activity is happening, and that is very real to me." American artist Vanessa Prager discusses her new series of self-portraits, which are currently showing at Richard Heller Gallery in Los Angeles.
Can you tell me a bit about Ultraviolet, your new show at Richard Heller Gallery?
Ultraviolet is a series self-portraits. Not literal versions of me but characters, personae, and aspects of my personality represented. I have spent the last two years making multiple series of portraits based on others, that I had actually known or had made up, and finally just felt like there were pieces of me I wanted to get out. There are often times I've said or done things that I can't even believe, phrases I have repeated in my head over and over, certain scenes repeat themselves. Some things just get stuck in my head on loop. There is a kind of shame or embarrassment that goes with all of these events—and an obsession—and I just wanted to air them out, get the pressure off and admit, yeah, I've done these things or desired this quality or wanted to be this part of this person. And really this is my way of being a million versions of me.
These are much more figurative than your previous works but the faces are still abstracted in many ways. How did you come to this balance?
I wanted to bring it back in and share things about myself that scare me but in the most beautiful way possible. Sometimes I'm uncomfortable, and sometimes that leads to weird solutions. I still feel like hiding a lot of the time, I still don't want to go out and be social, I still feel like crawling out of my skin when I get rejected. These portraits are my way of hiding parts of myself and showing all the things I pile on and cover up with, intentionally or unintentionally: jokes, makeup, outfits, vocal quirks. I can't always be open and outright about how I actually am and feel, I have to hide it, jumble it, obfuscate it.
You have also increased the size of the works, and it's been mentioned that they have become more "experiential". Has this changed your own relationship with the pieces as you are working, and do you feel you surrender some control the larger they get?
Yes, I surrender some control. That is true with all of the works really just in working with oil paint, but especially on these larger ones. I don't have the ability to simultaneously see the full painting and work on it, so there is always that element of working on two images at once, the micro and the macro. And they are two entirely different worlds that ultimately combine to make one. That fits well with how I feel too, trying to have an individual personality while being part of a group and all of the awkwardness, mistakes and clumsiness that goes along with that.
Your pieces are incredibly hands-on. What is your process when making a painting? Do you have quite structured plans for composition or do you work instinctively?
I don't start with super detailed plans, mainly because I've found I'll throw them out along the way. Often though I will have a colour concept or general compositional forms in the shape of masses. I lay out a bunch of paint initially, slather it on and make a mess and then I go about bringing order to it, forming the figure and shaping it together, then destroying parts of it again by adding more to it and so on. It's a back and forth. I work on it and walk backwards to see it, it's sort of a dance really. It's very instinctive. I get in a zone where time passes at a weird rate, it seems like hours and then it's only minutes and then it seems like minutes and it's been hours. I fall into another dimension.
Your works have been described as "tortured souls", and they are incredibly complex and energetic. Would you describe them as emotional and if so, do they reflect your own emotions?
They are definitely emotional to me. It's funny because often they have neutral expressions on their face while all this seemingly wild and messy and chaotic activity is happening, and that is very real to me. I often have this feeling of standing back and just observing it all. This world is so crazy I often have felt I'm not part of it or I don't belong here really and there is this distance from huge chunks of it, that is self imposed. It is a way of protecting myself. If I'm not in it fully I can't be hurt by it. But unfortunately it doesn't work like that. I try to work out all of these things in the paintings and go through all of the things I think and feel and put them into the paint more than the actual expression of the figure. And then there's the overuse of paint itself. So if they seem tortured I think that is part of the human experience. There's always this element of trying to fit into a world where they don't actually belong.
'Ultraviolet' shows until 17 June at Richard Heller Gallery, Los Angeles. richardhellergallery.com
CREATORS | VICE.com - Interview w/Vanessa Prager
May 12, 2017
CITY OF THE SEEKERS
Self-Taught Painter Sculpts Monumental Portraits With Oil Paint
TANJA M. LADEN
Vanessa Prager learned about art online—and turned it into a dynamic art practice.
Unless it's made to be seen online, art rendered in just about any medium needs to be appreciated in real life. Reading about an artist and viewing high-resolution images can be helpful, but let's be honest: most works are made to be engaged with physically, in order to truly be experienced. Take Vanessa Prager's dense, gravity-defying abstract paintings, for example. Throughout history, artists have aimed to infuse 2D images with dimensionality, but only since the 18th century has impasto, the technique of heavily applying paint so it extends from the canvas, become widely practiced. Prager's richly textured works on canvas are a rare contemporary example of this technique, and in her new solo show, Ultraviolet, she delivers paintings that are not only heavily-layered but are also self-portraits.
Up close and in person, Prager's works appear non-figurative, but step a few feet away, and a face materializes—Prager's own. It's a powerful departure for a woman used to working on a smaller scale and representing the world around her, rather than herself. It's also telling, given that her sister Alex Prager has achieved a measure of success as a photographer, challenging Prager to make a name for herself, too.
A native Angeleno, Prager works from a studio based in Boyle Heights, on the outskirts of Downtown LA. But the nature of her own arts education differs from that of many of her contemporaries. Rather than attend a prestigious arts college, she opted to learn about art online—an interesting choice, given that her work is so palpable.
"I consider my style maximalism," she tells Creators. "I work with large volumes of oil paint that I mostly get from a small manufacturer. Pints, quarts, and gallons—I work directly out of the containers using highly saturated colors, and any color-mixing is done directly on the canvas. The canvas is my palette. I try never to take materials away and only add to the whole, as I feel everything has a use, and if I can find what it is in the work, then I have done my job well."
Prager says her art stems from a need to "capture the feelings that life brings and study what it means to exist today." Likewise, she finds inspiration from such disparate sources as degraded VHS tapes, neon signage, melting ice cream, piles of trash, icing, bouquets, and wide open spaces. "I want the work to embody the franticness, the composure, the hysteria, and the resultant blanketing of it all," she says. "Opposing emotions can exist at the same time, and often do. There are often many things running through my head at any one moment, and I try to show all of that."
Beneath all her layers of paint, the artist has the simple goal to "make it all work," and though she's tried to do so elsewhere, it's only been in her hometown of LA where she's been able to truly develop a specific, unique style. "The characters that people put on—on and off screen—have impacted me a lot," she explains. "Just the idea of not really knowing who you are yourself, and yet putting on personalities as you would put on an outfit. [...] I became fascinated with that, and it has very much affected my art in general, and specifically this series. I see this in myself, and so in creating this new series of self-portraits, I was able to explore just how far-reaching this is. I can 'be' anybody, and it's actually quite liberating, and helps build empathy as well."
In the end, Prager's philosophy is simple, even though it sounds complicated. "The disgust, the excess, the stuff, the beauty, the ugliness—it all comes our way, and it's important to move forward despite everything. Even better to use it all to help you move forward," she says. "I think it can be really hard to make something, to start something, and to keep it going. But if all the worst parts of you are actually reasons to help you move forward, and each new thing you discover is another brick in the path, then it's welcomed instead of resisted. Try to flow with it instead of using it as a reason not to."
The Cantor Arts Center introduces: Hope Gangloff
May 24, 2017 - May 26, 2017
The Cantor Arts Center introduces Artist at Work 2017: Hope Gangloff as part of the Diekman Contemporary Commissions Program, a recurring opportunity for artists to create new work
Hope Gangloff, the first visiting artist in the program, transforms the museum's historic Atrium into an active artist's studio this May
May 24–26, 2017
Stanford, California — The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University is pleased to announce that Hope Gangloff has been chosen as the first Diekman Contemporary Commissions Program artist. For the inaugural presentation of the program—Artist at Work 2017: Hope Gangloff—she will paint several large-scale, site-responsive portraits to hang along the light-filled Atrium Balcony. She will create additional works on site in the museum's grand 1894 Atrium, painting for three days May 24–26, and display those works on handmade easels.
"This project allows contemporary artists to use the Cantor Arts Center as a laboratory of sorts as they respond to the architectural space and create new and unexpected works," said Alison Gass, Associate Director for Collections, Exhibitions and Curatorial Affairs. "This is a rare and exciting opportunity for the museum, since this type of boundary-pushing project can activate the experience of the visitor by altering otherwise familiar museum spaces and conceptually trigger a new engagement with the artistic ideas of our world. We are thrilled Hope Gangloff accepted our invitation to transform our Atrium into a space for contemporary creation and dialogue, and delighted that the public will be able to witness the artist's process."
As an extension of the contemporary commissioning program, Gangloff will mine the museum's permanent collection and select key historical works to hang alongside her own contemporary paintings in the exhibition Hope Gangloff Curates Portraiture. Using the format of artist as curator, this exhibition will contextualize contemporary art within the language of art history and investigate the traditional genre of portraiture. It will also invite viewers to experience the Cantor's rich historical collection through the eyes of a celebrated artist working today. The exhibition will be on view April 5–September 24, 2017.
Joakim Ojanen: Interview in Juxtapoz
Apr 28, 2017
INTERVIEW BY SASHA BOGOJEV
Swedish artist Joakim Ojanen has created an entire universe packed with a diverse army of endearingly gloomy characters. His own Les Misérables, if you will. Over the past couple of years, these oddballs and their pet companions, sculpted in ceramic and painted in oils, quietly enjoy a pensive sadness while keeping their native cool. The life of these mavericks isn't an exciting one, but they are content—they hang out alone or in squads, occasionally read a book, draw, play, or have a cheeky beer or cigarette. So mundane, yet so lovable, they are cheery monuments to melancholy and its quirky beauty.
To read the interview, and see images, please go to: https://www.juxtapoz.com/news/magazine/features/joakim-ojanen-merry-melancholy/
Corey Arnold, Zafiri - Endurance and Outdoors
Apr 17, 2017
Nature Overuns in Corey Arnold's "Aleutian Dreams" Los Angeles Show
Currently on show at Los Angeles' Richard Heller Gallery at Bergamot Station, "Aleutian Dreams" gathers a series of burly sea-faring images from National Geographic photographer Corey Arnold. Photographs capture the hardy lifestyles of fishermen and everyday residents in Alaska's Aleutian Islands.
Hyperallergic: Dallas Art Fair Review
April 7, 2017 - April 9, 2017
At the 2017 Dallas Art Fair, Big Ambitions and the Big Mo
Mayor Mike Rawlings recently announced that the city's annual Dallas Arts Week would become Dallas Arts Month, starting on April 1. Its centerpiece, the Dallas Art Fair, now in its ninth edition, has become a symbol of the local arts scene's impressive growth and increasing momentum.
… From Los Angeles, Richard Heller Gallery is showing some of the humblest but most memorable selections of the whole fair — the Swedish artist Joakim Ojanen's cast-bronze sculptures of cute-quirky animals; human heads with long, ribbon-like ears; and little heads with caps or top hats. With their subversive charm, free of self-conscious irony, this is the kind of art a tired ironist-entertainer like Jeff Koons could not even imagine creating. That's because, for all its offbeat aura, Ojanen's work is filled with soul.
Photographer Corey Arnold presents his new photo exhibit Aleutian Dreams at the Richard Heller Gallery. The exhibition consists of photos from Alaska's Aleutian Islands, some of the photos are part of his larger series titled "Fish-Work." While the photos themselves are related to fishing, Corey was brought aboard the fishing vessels not as a fisherman but as a photographer. The Richard Heller Gallery is located at unit B-5A at the Bergamont Station in Santa Monica.
Fishers and crabbers in such a harsh environment occasionally create opportunities for beauty.
The Bering sea, near the chain of the Aleutian Islands, is one of the most intense patches of ocean on Earth. Strong winds, freezing temperatures, and icy water are normal conditions. The combination makes for some of the most ferocious waves on the planet, where the water can rise and fall 30 feet on a normal day.
What drives a person there? The bounty of the waters. The region is one of the most productive fisheries in the world for salmon, char, and crab.
Corey Arnold is a salmon fisherman during the June to July summer season. But during the punishing winter, he's also a photographer, the rare expert who turns his camera on an industry he knows well.
This Saturday, April 1, the Richard Heller Gallery in Santa Monica will open a new photography exhibit by Corey Arnold, a Portland-based photographer. The exhibit, called "Aleutian Dreams" will showcase photos from Arnold's time in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. The Los Angeles magazine contributor's work explores the human relationship with nature, animals, and the environment. You can check out the collection until May 6.
The California Sunday Magazine - Corey Arnold
Mar 30, 2017
What it's like to live with a national symbol
By Laurel Braitman
Photographs by Corey Arnold
Dutch Harbor is a small town on a small island far out in Alaska's Aleutian chain, nearly 1,200 miles from Anchorage at the edge of the Bering Sea. It's the most productive fishing port in the United States. Every winter the tiny population swells with thousands of people who come to work in the fish processing plants, on the crab boats, or out on the big cod and pollack trawlers. But they're not the only ones trying their fortunes in town or out on the boats.
People in town call them Dutch Harbor pigeons. The rest of us call them bald eagles. In a community of just over 4,700 permanent residents, there live an estimated 500 to 800 eagles. They stare judgily down from light posts, peer intently into people's windows, eat foxes and seagulls while perched in the trees next to the high school, and sit on rooflines like living weather vanes. Down at the docks, they swarm every boat that comes into port like some sort of Hitchcockian nightmare, fighting for scraps of bait, elbowing one another for prime positions, crowding together on top of crab pots, and squawk-cheeping their opinions.
1 Apr — 6 May 2017 at the Richard Heller Gallery in Santa Monica, United States
Fifteen years ago, I wrote a job-wanted sign and hung it outside of a bathroom near Seattle's Fisherman's Terminal. It read: "Experienced deckhand looking for work on a commercial crab or halibut fishing boat in Alaska - hard worker - does not get seasick." I was 24-years old, energetic and ambitious, with a few years of salmon fishing experience (but naive to the world of high seas fish-work). After a few shifty respondents, I was hired by a seasoned Norwegian fisherman and flew on a small prop plane, past the icy volcanoes and windswept passes of Alaska's Aleutian Islands, eventually slamming down onto the short runway in Dutch Harbor. The experience would forever change the direction of my life and shape my identity as both a fisherman and photographer.
Isolated from the mainland by some of the world's roughest waters, Dutch Harbor is a thriving, working-class commercial fishing port surrounded by steep mountains and lonely windswept valleys. It's a place where industry and nature collide in strange and beautiful ways, a place where people harvest seafood on a massive scale, and share their meals and their refuse with local wildlife --- from rapacious bald eagles to curious foxes.
That first year I worked jigging for Codfish in the Bering Sea and continued to return for work as a crabber for the next seven seasons. What lured me back, though, wasn't only the money but the curious and often masochistic realization of the American dream happening in the Aleutian Islands. Those who come here often possess a desire to escape the safety of home to work in an environment filled with risk and visual grandeur that is far from ordinary. In recent trips, I joined fisherman at sea aboard crabbers and trawlers, and on land, documenting the surreal landscape of fishing culture that once captured my imagination as a young greenhorn. Aleutian Dreams is a collection of images from my journey through this wild and unforgiving frontier of Western Alaska.
Richard Heller Gallery is pleased to announce the representation of Christian Rex van Minnen
Interview with Joakim Ojanen in The Hundreds
Jan 8, 2017
The Secret Life of Joakim Ojanen's Art
Like most artists, Stockholm-based painter and ceramicist Joakim Ojanen aims to make work that is timeless. But Joakim's approach to timelessness is unconventional: His woozy characters are intended to be both 8 and 30 years old at the same time. "I'm fascinated about the fact that we are aging and all the time changing a little bit," Joakim explains. "And all the time we still have the memories and experiences from all our previous years. I try to use that in my work."
What results are oil paintings and stoneware sculptures that appear both childlike and innocent, mature and melancholy. For example, at a recent exhibition at Richard Heller Gallery in Los Angeles—the artist's first solo show in the United States—a downcast duckbilled character strummed a guitar, and a boy with an aquamarine Pinocchio nose fiddled with a soccer ball. The figures were a combination of both playfulness and profundity. "I definitely think they look the way they do because of my illustration background," Joakim explains in the following interview with The Hundreds. "The expression of the characters is really important to me—that's how you make them feel alive."
Andrew Chuani Ho Review in Hi-Fructose
Nov 5, 2016
Andrew Chuani Ho's Absorbing Colored Pencil Drawings
by Andy SmithPosted on
Andrew Chuani Ho, a Los Angeles native, creates vibrant scenes with colored pencil on paper, with works that are both surreal and autobiographical. In his first solo show at Richard Heller Gallery, titled Days and Days, the artist brings his trademark insanity and blending components in a new set of works. The artist cites influences like Matisse, Marquez, and even Henry Darger. From the gallery: "Having a deeply spiritual upbringing, Ho's work exhibits the use of patterns, colors and symbols to reinterpret myths and fables of yore into meditatively drawn colored pencil drawings."
Andrew Chuani Ho just opened his first solo show at Richard Heller Gallery and from the looks of these images, it certainly won't be his last. From the gallery: "In his inaugural solo show,Days and Days,Ho stages the inception of his narrative with a set of drawings that draw from a diverse range of influences, including the likes of Henry Darger, Henri Matisse and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Having a deeply spiritual upbringing, Ho's work exhibits the use of patterns, colors and symbols to reinterpret myths and fables of yore into meditatively drawn colored pencil drawings."
Amy Bennett channels Thomas Cole and other Hudson River School painters in her latest exhibition, a series of oil paintings on canvas depicting the gradual transformation of pristine New England-style wilderness into farmland and townships — changes she herself inflicted over a four-year period on the 8-foot square 3D miniature model she built in her studio. Out of handmade mountains, verdant forests and sparkling rivers, she cleared crops, roads, and pastures. Over the years, she eventually fabricated and arranged over 450 wooden buildings in 1/500 scale — barns, churches, houses, industrial buildings, storefronts, silos, and schools. Her daily pausing to document the progress of this analog game of The Sims comes to resemble a kind of time-lapse of this self-generating fantasy as it was unfolding.
"Are those model buildings or a painting? For artist Amy Bennett, the answer is both."
by Leah Ollman
Amy Bennett makes paintings that call little attention to the elaborate process of their creation, but what may seem like conventional landscapes come with a back story that gives us far more to absorb and ponder than what's visible on the wall.
For "Small Changes Every Day," her recent series at Richard Heller Gallery in Santa Monica, Bennett started with an 8-by-8-foot hunk of plastic foam and built a model of an undisturbed patch of verdant terrain. She painted a portrait of the land as seen from above, a handsome Eden dotted with ponds and etched with streams.
Modern Painters: 500 Best Galleries Worldwide
Aug 23, 2016 From Dallas to Dubai, Sydney to Shanghai, the global art market continues to swell its ranks. It can be a Sisyphean chore to keep track of this international scene — which is why Modern Painters has done some of the legwork for you, charting the most exciting and noteworthy galleries around the world. In its August issue, the magazine created a helpful guide that presents a snapshot of the ever-growing, globalized hunger for art. The issue also includes in-depth conversations with a dozen dealers, who talk about their passions, early days, and future ambitions. In the upcoming days, ARTINFO will publish Modern Painters' guide to the 500 Best Galleries Worldwide. Here, we present the magazine's selection of the top galleries in the Americas.
Richard Heller Gallery Santa Monica Leadership: Richard Heller Artists: Amy Bennett, Michelle Grabner, Sasha Pierce, Devin Troy Strother, Dustin Yellin Established: 1997 Contact: richardhellergallery.com firstname.lastname@example.org +1 310 453 9191
Swedish artist Joakim Ojanen creates paintings and ceramic sculptures that are quirky and compassionate. His part-human / part-animal creatures have distinct personalities and are full of feeling and emotion. Though the overall sentiment is a kind of melancholy, Ojanen's exhibition is remarkably refreshing and uplifting. The figures' frowns elicit smiles from the viewer.
Ojanen's ten paintings are strategically placed on the gallery walls, complementing the sculptures. Each is a 3/4 portrait of a doll-like figure against a light monochrome background. One, Untitled Portrait 07 (2015), appears to be an altered version of a figure in Picnic (2016) as both wear a baseball cap with the number 85.
The larger ceramics—both busts and full figures—sit in solitude on pedestals whereas many of the smaller works are presented in clusters. Ojanen also presents two tableaux with numerous ceramic items. Picnic and Friends from the Past (2016) are quasi-narratives where Ojanen's cartoony figures are seen together but not interacting, isolated from each other— reading a comic, holding a ball or staring longingly out into space.
Viewing the exhibition is akin to stepping into a world dominated by children, specifically boys in short-pants smoking, reading, drawing or playing. Many of the heads have long noses and floppy ears that often function like arms holding pieces of fruit atop their heads or wiping away tears. Amidst these sad boys are a few happy dogs. That the animals are the only creatures to smile says a lot about Ojanen's world view, or at least speaks to the difficulties of growing up. This is reinforced through Ojanen's titles. Indecisive (2016) is a double nosed, three eyed and three legged ceramic boy. The painting I Hate Mondays (2016) features a slumped-over baseball capped figure who refuses to move.
Ojanen's painted and ceramic figures are minimal and not rendered in exacting detail. Their large eyes, long noses, shorts, striped or logoed t-shirts and drooping cigarettes delineate an attitude of insecurity and defiance, yet rather than elicit stoicism they are empathetic, yearning and delightfully whimsical.
Joakim Ojanen, "What a Time to be Alive :(", June 25 – July 30 at Richard Heller Gallery, 2525 Michigan Avenue, #B-5A, Santa Monica, CA, www.richardhellergallery.com
Joakim Ojanen's playfully enigmatic ceramic sculptures are strangely endearing. Throughout the exhibition, the artist has set up a series of intimate vignettes using small-scale ceramic figures of people with bald heads and duckbill faces engaged in the various and often mundane activities of living. More importantly though, Ojanen's figures appear alienated and lovelorn, part of a larger community, yet unable to fit in completely. This theme is certainly pertinent given all the tragedy that is happening in the world today. One wonders if these forlorn and confused little sculptures might know more about us than they let on.
Richard Heller Gallery
2525 Michigan Ave. #B-5A
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Show runs thru July 30, 2016
LA Times Review: Joakim Ojanen
June 25, 2016 - July 30, 2016
Review Joakim Ojanen: Innocence and melancholy, sculpted into old souls and teary dogs
By David C. Pagel
JULY 5, 2016, 6:00 AM
The figures in Joakim Ojanen's "What a Time to Be Alive :(" look like they might be the same guy: a sensitive soul who has suffered plenty of indignities growing up in a cruel world yet still brings an open heart to
every experience that comes his way.
Innocence and persistence come together in the Swedish artist's U.S. solo debut. By turns comic and tragic, his exhibition at Richard Heller Gallery in Santa Monica features 31 standalone sculptures, 10 oils on canvas and a pair of tableaux, each of which includes boys wise beyond their years and soccer balls, soda cans, beer bottles
The pitfalls and benefits of vulnerability are Ojanen's great subject. It takes shape in all his works, which suggest that the capacity for forgiveness is the source of real strength. Toughness, on the contrary, comes across as dimwitted insensitivity. In the eyes of the 31-year-old, the cost of growing up is too high a price to pay for what it
takes away from us.
Ojanen's paintings are whimsical. The seven largest are portraits of creatures that seem to have been modeled on dolls made from scraps of fabric by an eccentric aunt. Their creamy pastels and obsessive-compulsive paint handling give them terrific tactility.
But Ojanen's ceramic sculptures steal the show. Their expressions are far more complex — more wounded, befuddled, earnest, excited and surprised. Also more melancholic, mischievous, levelheaded and wise. All seem to be old souls trapped inside kids.
Many are simply heads that rest on tabletops. The smallest are no bigger than saltand- pepper shakers. Packing loaded emotions into a few cubic inches, they show Ojanen at his best.
Others, about the size of a child's head, similarly surprise in their capacity to elicit empathy. It's hard to tell if some of Ojanen's heads are human or canine. His dogs often use their long floppy ears to wipe away tears, to tug at their lowers lips (as if deep in thought) and to cover their eyes (as if they've seen enough). Four freestanding mutts are among the happiest — and most well adjusted — of Ojanen's creatures.
His full-body figures stand about 2ó feet tall. They have the presence of ventriloquist dummies that have run away and are now on their own. Most know they are in over their heads. But the responsibilities of adulthood have not extinguished their passion or joy. They make room for those moments when innocence and wisdom commingle.
Richard Heller Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica.
Through July 30. Closed Sundays and Mondays. (310) 453-9191,
Follow The Times arts team @culturemonster.
Interview: Devin Troy Strother - Elephant Magazine
Jun 1, 2016
Interview with Devin Troy Strother in Issue 27 of Elephant, The Art Culture Magazine (Summer 2016).
Matt Mignanelli / Brian Rochefort / Russell Tyler – Richard Heller Gallery – Santa Monica CA
Born in 1983 in Providence, Rhode Island. Mignanelli lives and works in New York City and is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design.
In his works, Mignanelli's approach to painting has evolved from subtle monochromes to a stark black / white, deep blue / white, and deep blue / black palette. While continuing to explore relationships between structure and nature, which are relayed through the use of harsh light and shadow against architectural elements, Mignanelli has been reexamining the evolving interactions amongst light and surface in these works.
The hard edge is applied over gestural strokes and drips of the background. Mignanelli allows for the hand to come through again on his surface through the use of handpainted shapes and the imperfections the human hand creates amongst them. Chance enters into these paintings through the mode of execution; the works are all painted flat on a table. As Mignanelli moves around the work, painting in sections, the viscous enamel splashes and drips into the negative spaces. This spontaneity that emerges makes the paintings feel alive, and have allowed the works to become much more about painting itself.
The subtle variation of shapes in each painting creates areas of "disruption" within these environments. The visual breaks within the repetition of shape create a movement that forces the eye to dance.
The return to color in Mignanelli's works has been marked by another significant change in his life, the birth of his daughter last summer. The many sleepless nights that followed changed his work. The midnight blues of the night sky, and the early morning light inspired the deep blue palette for these new works. There is a certain serenity in the palette, representing those peaceful moments when the world is still asleep.
Mignanelli's paintings have been exhibited extensively throughout the United States and internationally with solo exhibitions at Richard Heller Gallery, Los Angeles, LUCE Gallery, Torino, and Dubner Moderne, Lausanne. He recently had a twoperson exhibition at Anonymous Gallery, Mexico City (2015). His works will be included in Face to Face: Selections from the Ernesto Esposito Collection at Palazzo Fruscione, Salerno (forthcoming), and have been exhibited in Linear Abstraction at the SCAD Museum of Art, Savanna (2015), Ameringer, McEnery, and Yohe (2015), Dickinson Roundell (2015), Contemporary Istanbul (2015), EXPO Chicago with Richard Heller Gallery (2015), Regina
Rex (2014), Bleeker Street Arts Club (2013), GRAHAM (2013), Guerrero Gallery (2013), Art Copenhagen with Marianne Friis Gallery (2012), GossMichael Foundation (2012), and Quint Contemporary (2012).
*** Brian Rochefort
Born and raised in Rhode Island. Lives and works in Los Angeles, California. Rochefort received his BFA in Ceramics at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2007. He was awarded the Lillian Fellowship from the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Helena, Montana 2007/2009.
Rochefort is a mixed media sculptor working in ceramics, glaze (on vessels) and automotive paint (on sculpture).
Rochefort's vessels, ceramic "paintings" and sculptures flaunt the anxious and risky mindset of disorder and chaos in the face of the viewer, reminding us that the Horror Vacui exists. His works are homages to both AbEx and contemporary painting, he builds layers slowly and uses multiple firings in his quest for texture.
The seductive messes and goo that spread out in our lives, regardless of our attempts to contain them, are the insistent presence at the forefront of the work. Freezing untidy, mucky moments, the works scream at us to pay attention to their nauseous ornament, throwing up our most base funhouse selves, celebrating the pleasure, beauty and horror of the entirety of what is worldly and human.
Rochefort has had recent exhibitions at Sorry We're Closed, Brussels, Retrospective Gallery, Hudson, New York, and Vault Exhibition, American Museum of Ceramic Art, AMOCA, Pomona, California.
*** Russell Tyler
Born 1981 in Summertown, Tennessee. Lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Tyler received his MFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and BFA from Concordia University in Montreal.
Tyler's practice consists of two complementary qualities: the gestural and the hard edge, or geometric.
The geometric paintings are redolent of both the history of abstract painting as well as the contemporary image space of the computer screen. While sensuous and tactile, with expressively applied oil paint and rich impasto, the work is also highly structured and unfolds with deliberate shifts in color schemes and forms. The work invites a playful dialogue with several dueling movements from the history of abstraction, including Minimalism, Concrete Art, and Expressionism. While Tyler's work shows the strong influence of artists from these movements such as Josef Albers, the work is also distinctly of its time, related to digital technologies both outmoded and new. The unfolding blocks of color refer to the computer's organization of virtual dimensional space on a flat surface.
The gestural paintings push the boundaries of confined space by allowing a certain cosmic wildness in which colors collide. Clearly influenced by Philip Guston and Cy Twombly, the work allows for drips, splotches, and textures which are meaningfully applied or randomly allowed to come through on the surface.
Tyler has had solo exhibitions at Denny Gallery in New York, B15 Gallery in Copenhagen and EbersMoore Gallery in Chicago.
To see all images included in this article please go to:
Familiarity, warmth, and exuberance take center stage in Hope Gangloff's latest exhibit, a series of acrylic-based portraits currently on view at the LA-based Richard Heller gallery. The figurative works stem from tender encounters with close individuals, mostly friends from Gangloff's inner circle, who are presented in a succession of engaging and intimate moments. Gangloff continues in depicting creative life in Brooklyn through vivid, expressive, and highly textured canvases bursting with fluorescent waves. Artist peers such as Yuri Masnyj (former classmate from Cooper Union) and Benjamin Degen (Gangloff's husband), as well as rising actor Christopher Abbott (of 'Girls' fame) have all served as characters in her work, beautifully captured in a variety of vulnerable, pensive, and introspective states. Executing her paintings in a large-scale format coupled with a striking color palette, mundane aspects of everyday life - laying in bed, playing chess, waiting at the airport, getting dressed - become sublime and compelling scenes. In these casual snapshots, as seen through the artist's bright and vibrant lens, Gangloff presents contemporary American urban life and challenges us to cherish the ordinary in our daily lives.
Hope Gangloff was born in Amityville, Long Island and is a graduate of Cooper Union. Gangloff is represented by Susan Inglett in New York and by Art Dept for her illustration work. The artist lives and works in upstate New York. Hope Gangloff: New Paintings will be on view through April 30at Richard Heller in Santa Monica, CA.
To see all images included in this review please go to: http://gallerygurls.net
DEVIN TROY STROTHER: IN CONVERSATION WITH LINDSAY PRESTON ZAPPAS
Devin Troy Strother knows how his work can be perceived and he's not afraid to talk about it. I joined Strother in his LA studio, where we discussed the unique references in his work, and how he situates himself within the art world, the art market, and the black community.
Devin Troy Strother: Both of my parents worked all day so I was basically raised by television. They would just leave me at home with the television on so I watched a shit ton of TV and a lot of movies all the time.
Lindsay Preston Zappas: That's kind of a suburban condition, right, to be a latchkey kid? Do you watch TV a lot in the studio?
No, at home after I leave the studio. I have this publishing company called Coloured Publishing that my girlfriend Yuri and I started and work on at home. Basically, I watch TV whenever I'm at home, working on a book. I'm kind of hard of hearing so I play shit really loud, which my girlfriend hates. I used to go to a lot of shows when I was younger so I fucked up my ears. I listen to music really loud in the car. I play everything really loud. We started living together and it's usually just me drawing until 4 in the morning, blaring the TV (usually comedy specials) or podcasts hosted by comedians like Marc Maron, Joe Rogan, and Doug Benson, to name a few. I think a lot of my work comes out of that. A lot of the titles have an aspect of me trying to be a comedic storyteller—almost like the title is a one-two punch line to the visual element. The piece is the set up and the title is the punch line.
ENTERTAINMENT / ARTS & CULTURE / CAROLINA A. MIRANDA
Datebook: Abandoned buildings, new paintings
and a show that tackles race and violence
By Carolina A. Miranda
MARCH 25, 2016, 2:24 PM
A trio of painters. Photography that records ruin in intelligent ways. And abstracted bits of landscape rendered as mosaic. Plus, the Underground Museum unveils a timely new exhibition.
Here are four shows to see this week:
Hope Gangloff, Benjamin Degen and Yuri Masnyj at Richard Heller Gallery. Heller's gallery is featuring a series of solo exhibitions by a trio of New York-based painters. These include Gangloff's moody portraits, Degen's glitteringly surreal landscapes and the diagrammatic paintings by Masnyj, which function as strange inventories of objects and things. Opens Saturday at 5 p.m. and runs through April 30.
Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Ste. B5, Santa Monica, richardhellergallery.com.
Recently, I saw your work in an exhibition at The Hole and was intrigued to learn more. You've stated previously 'A lot of my works are based on industrial facades and architectural elements.' How does working from your studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn influence your art?
The entire city has been a source of great inspiration, but the industrial landscape that Bushwick is comprised of has critically influenced the works as they have developed over the years. The roll down gates, corrugated metal walls, sidewalk hatches, diamond plate steel, surfaces in the subway that have been repainted hundreds of times all fascinate me. These industrial surfaces and the utilitarian applications of paint feel so pure to me, and something I strive to bring into my own works.
I am immediately drawn to the meditative quality of your paintings. Please discuss your process and the importance of repetition.
When analyzing the construction of surface, repetition is at the core of all we construct. It readily appears in the natural world; such as blades of grass that repeat to create a lawn, and has been copied by man to create surface as well, such as in the bricks we build structures with or the brush stoke that endlessly repeats to coat a wall. Repetition presents itself again in the form of time, and our daily routines.
Within this line of thinking, repetition feels so natural to me. Within my works, the choice to focus on repetition creates immersive environments.
The works are begun with gestural brush strokes using large house painting brushes to lay down a base coat. The painting is measured out with a pencil and ruler, and then painted entirely free-hand in enamel. The work is painted flat on a table. As I move quickly through the shapes, the viscous enamel splashes onto the surface.
Currently you have an exhibition at the Richard Heller Gallery; can you talk about the work you have included?
The new works being exhibited at Richard Heller mark the first exhibition where I have departed from the subtle black on black and white on white works, and returned to color after more than 4 years, moving into bolder black/white, blue/white, and blue/black works.
I have been thinking about these new works as "Disruptions," as the different shapes disrupt these repetitious fields and create a sense of movement within the picture.
Many of your works explore harsh light and structure. Would you ever consider an artist residency in the desert?
The desert does interest me quite a bit, the desert light enhances such a unique landscape. I would certainly consider working there, I have a couple of friends who have recently decamped to Joshua Tree and absolutely love it. I have been inspired by the structure and light in Mexico. The painted stucco in the harsh sun creates such beautiful shadows.
I can't wait to see more of your paintings! What's next?
I'm going to continue to explore the works focusing on disruption, and the reintroduction of limited color.
Hope Gangloff - Modern Painters, March 2016
Mar 1, 2016
PAINTING FROM LIFE
A social network, on canvas
"THERE IS A KIND of mania that I court when working," says Hope Gangloff. "I'll work on way too many pieces, ruining most and finding clarity in others. Decisions get made fast. I like when the brush is falling through space as fast as gravity." Gangloffs paintings-many hyper-contemporary, moody portraits of her friends, set against vibrant patterned interior& are imbued with this sense of motion.
As of press time, the artist wasn't certain which pieces would be among the new paintings on view in her upcoming show at Richard Heller Gallery in Los Angeles, opening March 26. (The artist also shows with Susan Inglett Gallery in New York.) But a likely candidate is Study for Wigmore, in which the lighting sculptor John Wigmore reclines on his side on a picnic blanket, button-down rumpled and Corona in hand. His form is accented by decorative patterns: crosshatch grass, blankets in checkered red and wavy blue-details typical of the artist's intimate canvases. Gangloff pulls in such textural elements from, she says, "the things that I surround myself with. I hold on to old sun catchers and books and ladders from my youth; I make quilts, sew dresses in particular patterns, make decorations, and buy plants, just so I can paint them." -THEA BALLARD
Interview with Ryan Schneider
Feb 16, 2016
Curate Joshua Tree
February 16, 2016
Right off of Old Woman Springs Rd. in Flamingo Heights, perched on top of a hill over looking this incredible landscape sits Ryan Schneider's cabin and painting studio.It's a gorgeous day, and exceptionally windy on this hill, we caught Ryan for a studio visit and interview as he is just about to ship off all this work for an upcoming show in March at Gerhard Hofland Gallery in Amsterdam (GerhardHofland.com)
Before we met, I sent a few questions to Ryan, below is what he had to say to those. Listen to podcast to hear the entire studio visit, Ryan talks about his shift from NYC to the Mojave, his spiritual act of painting and his new found patience in his work.
Tell us about where you are from and how you ended up here in Flamingo Heights area?
I grew up outside of Indianapolis, Indiana. Sort of a rural/suburban area but mostly rural where my family and I were. Just acres of woods, a creek, and up the road is just an endless sea of corn fields. I went to school at the Maryland Institute College of Art, so I lived in Baltimore for 4 years- those years are a little fuzzy. Then in 2002 I moved to New York, and never imagined I would live any where else because I loved it so much. Last year my wife Dana and I came out to Joshua Tree for what was supposed to be just a three-month retreat in the desert. We rented a house a few miles down a dirt road, near the back entrance of the park. I was painting outside, she was working and we were just enjoying the silence and nothingness of the desert, hiking, breathing, and sort of recovering from 13 years of intense living in the city. I think it was in March that we started to realize we weren't going back to New York. It was a shocking but titillating idea, and we didn't really tell anyone about it, until our friends offered us the house they were about to move out of in Flamingo Heights. We came to look at the place and as soon as I saw the green studio on the property, I knew we were not going back to New York. We were just seduced by the strangeness and openness out here, and ready for a radical change in our lives. I still love New York and consider it home as well. But now I can love it from a distance and get to work out here with my wife and two orange cats wandering around.
ARTE FUSE Interview With: Sasha Pierce
Feb 14, 2016
Laura Mylott Manning
February 14, 2016
LM: Recently, I had the pleasure of viewing your paintings at the Richard Heller Gallery booth during the Untitled Miami Art Fair. I am very impressed by the meticulous detail of your work. Can you talk about your process and how you arrived at it?
SP: Thank you. During my Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, I wanted to create a terry cloth texture on a section of a canvas. I wasn't satisfied with a painted illusionistic texture and so I carefully extruded thin thread-like lines of oil paint out of a little plastic bag to re-create the three-dimensional terry cloth texture that I desired.
I have continued to experiment with this technique, which has evolved to the work that you saw at Untitled Miami Art Fair. My current work has a multi-colored woven-like surface, and as I lay each thin line of it down it goes from a thicker to a thinner stream of paint and ultimately to a vanishing point. In my paintings you'll find a paradox of space between the textured surface and the illusionistic space created by a vanishing point.
LM:In a review of your paintings, it's been written that 'A connecting thread between the artworks of Sasha Pierce is literally thread… (and) reference textiles, even though they are not textiles in themselves.' In which ways has fiber arts influenced your work?
SP: Surprisingly it is not fiber arts but textile itself, which inspires my paintings and silkscreen collages. When I was a young child I remember sitting on the floor and enjoying the sensation of drawing temporary lines and patterns in the carpet. I was seduced by the soft, malleable and tactile qualities of the carpet. Now, as an artist, I am interested in visually representing the sensations of textile with oil painting and collage.
There is also a historical thread that connects me to my ancestors. My great grandmothers were quilters and knitters, and my maternal grandfather's occupation was fixing and selling sewing machines. For my ancestors working with textiles was not considered an art but a part of daily life.
That being said, just last week I had the opportunity to tour the textile storage facility at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Toronto. I had no idea that looking at historical textiles and fiber arts from around the world would make me so happy. I am drawn to earthy hand-dyed colors and I enjoy the meticulous yet imperfect labor found in hand-woven textiles. This visit to the ROM was deeply inspiring and I look forward to continuing my research into historical textiles and allowing them to influence my work.
LM: Your compositions are very dynamic. What sparked your interest in using geometrical forms as a starting off point?
SP: I have an interest in math and I am fascinated by the possibility of representing 3D space on a 2D surface. The simpler shapes in my previous paintings have become more complex over time and my compositions have become more dynamic with the use of tessellations and vanishing points. A few years ago I came upon an amazing mathematical website called Tilings Encyclopedia which was created with support by the University of Bielefeld, Germany. This encyclopedia includes examples of substitution tilings, which are listed in lexicographical order. I love the colors of the diagrams and the names given to the each tiling. Currently I am using a substitution tessellation called Birds and Bees, which will be the name of the painting when it is complete. I often use tessellations as a starting point and then I sort of camouflage the geometry with my own processes.
LM: Ancient geometric art comes to mind because of your use of labor and patterns. Are there any specific time periods that you look to for inspiration?
There is no one specific time period influencing my work at the moment, however with the historical research that I'm doing now, that could change with my next paintings.
If, however, I were to pick a time period that I am generally interested in I would have to say the 9th century Islamic Golden Age of mathematics. I love the complexity of Islamic geometric patterns and Muqarnas, which is a form of architectural ornamented vaulting.
LM: I'm looking forward to seeing your paintings again. Any upcoming exhibitions?
SP: Yes, I am very happy to be working closely with Richard Heller Gallery – with the amazing Richard Heller as well as his awesome team: Associate Director Barry Belkin and Registrar Kaye Heller. Richard Heller Gallery is located in the Bergamot Station in Santa Monica and the gallery represents a talented group of artists. I am currently creating new work for a European art fair in June, and I am working toward a solo exhibition at Richard Heller Gallery early 2017.
In addition, I was just awarded an Ontario Arts Council Chalmers Research Fellowship to research the art practices and writings of Anni and Josef Albers. In order to conduct this research I will be travelling to Milan, Italy; Dusseldorf and Bottrop, Germany; Bethany, Connecticut, US; and New York, New York, US. I will also be participating in an upcoming 2016 residency at the Digital Painting Atelier at OCAD University in Toronto. I am excited to see what impact these experiences will have on my work.
After Fashion Week, it's easy to feel that fashion has become depressingly monolithic. Dark and muted colourways in styles that look like you're prepping for the dawn of Ragnarok have been everywhere recently.
Thankfully, a few brands are infusing joy back into their collections, none more so than Soulland. For SS16, the brand has teamed up with Norwegian-based, American artist Charlie Roberts to create a unique and colourful collection that blurs the line between fashion and art.
Soulland and Charlie Roberts' partnership follows a successful collab during Soulland's LCM 2015 presentation in July. For this show, Roberts created a enormous spray paint piece, working as a complementary background for the models stood in front of it.
For the Soulland SS16 collection 'Iron Wheel Club', Roberts created unique, wearable art pieces. Different elements from his original artwork are embedded in the clothes, from jacquard woven patterns to cordelia embroidery and needle punch.
Roberts is known for his use of a wide range of materials, abstract patterns and flowing colours, in pieces that are often inspired by pop culture and hip-hop. It's no wonder then that Soulland felt such a kinship towards him, considering its focus on Scandinavian craftsmanship, mixing classic and simple designs with playful contemporary elements influenced by urban subcultures and skateboarding. We're calling it a masterpiece.
The Soulland x Charlie Roberts collection is available now in store at goodhoodstore.com.
For fashion images included in this article please go to: http://www.fashionbeans.com/2016/soulland-charlie-roberts/
REVIEW: Ryan Foster - Art Scene, February 2016
January 9, 2016 - February 13, 2016
Art Scene, Vol. 35, No. 5, February, 2016 Continuing and Recommended
By: Jody Zellen
There is something disconcerting about Ryan Foster's paintings. Upon careful viewing, what is seen in the foreground of one painting appears in the mid-ground of the next - a bit out of focus and in the background of the next even further distorted. Foster is a skilled representational painter. What makes the images compelling is his ability to paint in myriad styles in a single painting. The Alabama based artist has perfected the illusion of painting one work that folds into another over and over again. The works allude to the passage of time as well as the dissolution of the object. Foster's subjects are surreal landscapes filled with homeless and disabled characters who pay no attention to that which unfolds around them. In these works the harder one looks, the more one sees. Also on view are small scale intimate gouaches by Oslo based artist Charlie Roberts.
CHARLIE ROBERTS | BEAUTIFUL SAVAGE REVIEW
January 9, 2016 - February 13, 2016
"HALCYON DAZE" BY CHARLIE ROBERTS AT RICHARD HELLER GALLERY
by Chad Saville / January 10, 2016
"Charlie Roberts opened a solo show in Los Angeles this past Friday. And it's gorgeous."
Charlie Roberts' lives and works somewhere in the forests outside of Oslo, Norway and made a name for himself a few years back by creating mesmerizing, sexually charged and sometimes violent images featuring hundreds of tiny characters and severed heads arranged together in something akin to Byzantine complexity. In 2012, Vice writer Milene Larsson said Roberts' work "looks like the mindstream of a comics-obsessed tween with a Ritalin prescription."
Roberts' latest series Halcyon Daze, which opened last Friday at Richard Heller Gallery in Los Angeles, the artist's Fifth solo show, is a strong departure from his past work. The images are astonishing, peaceful even. I'm particularly drawn to the image "Wet Lite," a figurative work featuring two characters lounging in a bathroom and framed by hypnotic black and white tile. I'm not one for artspeak, but the image is rad.
Born in 1984 in Hutchinson, Kansas, Roberts attended the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Canada, and has exhibited internationally at Galerie Magnus Karlsson in Stockholm, David Risley Gallery in Copenhagen, and Vous Etes Ici in Amsterdam.
"Charlie Roberts' work takes us into the mind-stream of a manic, obsessive and eclectic collector of contemporary pop culture and art history," according to Richard Heller Gallery. "Everything is sampled and laid out without hierarchical order and judgements. Roberts uses a wide range of materials and masters a furious force as well as a sensitive subtleness. Abstract patterns, flowing colors and a primitive brutality alongside tender lines, seductive realism and psychedelic poetry."
Richard Heller Gallery opened Halcyon Daze, a series of gouache on paper works by Charlie Roberts on January 9. It will be on view through February 13 at their Santa Monica location.
Los Angeles-based artist Devin Troy Strother wields humor with an acerbity not often seen in the prestigious exhibition spaces his work frequent.
With titles like "Gurrrl I'm just talking about that composition", "Gurrrrl what'chu know about that post modernism", Strother grounds his references and his art in the language and drollery of the ghetto. He refers to these titles as "the punchlines of the paintings".
As for the paintings themselves, Strother's style is characterized by the collaging and painting over of paper cutouts. The figurines of his paintings, which he fondly refer to as "little black people," are rearranged in various fictive narratives or abstract spaces, oftentimes in blatant, even satirical reference to the works of other artists. His 2012 painting, "A Black Marina Abramovic in "I'm gonna fuckin' shoot you with this arrow" ", for instance, references the 1980 performance piece, "Rest Energy", by artists Marina Abramovic and Ulay.
Strother's sculptures are magnified and monumentalized versions of his painted figurines, featuring his characteristic long-winded and humorous titles, such as "Look at my guuurl Shariece over there getting her shie on".
Strother has frequently expressed his ambivalence towards the framing of his art as black art and of himself as a black artist. The majority of his work indubitably feature themes of black identity; however, the double standard stands that a white artist painting white subjects would not receive such scrutiny about racial identity. In a cultural context where white identity remains the default, Strother's works are a poignant and accessible antithesis to intersectional elitism in the art world and society at large.
Matt Mignanelli, born in Rhode Island in 1983, lives and works in New York City and is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. His paintings have been widely exhibited throughout the United States and internationally with exhibitions at Richard Heller Gallery, Los Angeles, LUCE Gallery, Torino, SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Goss-Michael Foundation, Dallas, Quint Contemporary, San Diego, among others. His works will also be included in Face to Face: Selections from the Ernesto Esposito Collection at Palazzo Fruscione, Salerno.
His studio is located in Bushwick, a really industrial section of Brooklyn. This landscape consists of cinder block, diamond plate steel, roll down gates and corrugated metal buildings painted in basic colors: black, white, chrome, brick red and grey. There is vibrancy and work ethic in the neighborhood. Since architecture and environment play such a huge role in informing his work, Matt loves the utilitarian nature of it all. New York is a constant source of inspiration and there is the right energy around his studio for him to feed off. Check the pictures below and how they capture such a unique space.
LOS ANGELES TIMES | DEVIN TROY STROTHER
Nov 22, 2015
LOS ANGELES TIMES
Devin Troy Strother To an oeuvre that includes paintings, sculptures and collages, Strother adds custom-made carpeting, custom wallpaper, neon signs and three new bodies of work. The double-barreled extravaganza is a throbbing, rollicking party that, like all great art, you have to experience for yourself (D.P.). Richard Heller Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica. Tue.-Sat. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; ends Dec. 19.
PROFILE: CHARLIE ROBERTS
Exhibition "Halcyon Daze" begins January 9, 2016 - February 13, 2016
The Fine Print Magazine
PATRICK LABA, November 16, 2015
Find a physical comfort. Look at your fingers, your toes. Count them; order them in any kind of obscure way possible. Now, sprawl out on a mattress; loosen your limbs. Try; if possible, to feel your extremities stretch and curl around you like the smoke of a cigarette. Perhaps most people associate such body-bending images with the effects psychoactive drugs can produce, but artist Charlie Roberts offers a similar visual world through the pieces he dreamily creates. Originally from the United States, Charlie Roberts studied in Canada and currently resides in Norway, and has been unleashing his unique blend of pop-culture, day-in-the-live-of-an-angsty-adolescent work to the world of art and social media (you can follow him on Instagram at @colonelcatfish) throughout the years surrounding his relocations. Roberts' earlier work presents meticulous rows of animals, human heads, tombstones, sneakers, needles and everything in between. These early paintings present a dizzying attention to an obscure detail that Roberts seems to have perfected. Following this artistic phase, Charlie Roberts began to create scenes of contorted bodies, lying loosely and oftentimes intertwined with one another. These pieces explore themes such as lazily smoking joints, drinking beers, the absent-mindedness that accompanies our technological age and the seemingly elastic sensation of love when you're young, high and care free. Venturing through Charlie Roberts' repertoire is quite a jarring experience, but one that is remarkably exhilarating in the duality of his work. More recently, Roberts has expanded his talents to the art of creating sculptures. His work can be viewed at various exhibits, including the Kravets Wehby Gallery in New York, the Richard Heller Gallery in California and the David Risley Gallery in Denmark. A collaboration with Danish menswear brand Soulland is also due to be released in Spring of 2016. Although his work presents a comforting looseness, one can expect nothing short of total artistic tightness to come from Charlie Roberts in the future.
Ever wonder what the inside of an artist's mind looks like? Devin Troy Strother isn't afraid to show us his.
Based in LA, Strother studied at the Art Center College of Design, and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, Maine. Strother's works are in permanent collections at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. He has also been featured in solo exhibitions at the Richard Heller Gallery in Santa Monica, the Marlborough Chelsea in New York, and the Bendixen Contemporary Art in Copenhagen.
In his new show at the Richard Heller Gallery, Strother explores the paradigm of an African American who pursues "the stereotypical route of becoming a rapper, an athlete, or some type of entertainer" and becoming successful; subsequently, making a lot of money and not knowing "how to spend their money wisely or invest it properly." It's unapologetically named "They Should've Never Given You N*ggas Money,"after a Dave Chappelle comedy sketch about Rick James (you know, that "f*ck your couch, n*gga" sketch).
Strother focuses on furthering the conversation, adding a touch of humor as he does with all his work, with aluminum sculptures painted with acrylic, exploring with neon, wallpaper, and carpet. He masterfully transports his audience into another world as the visual aesthetics of his show are wonderfully correlated to the trope he attempts to bring to light.
Welcome to the Next Dimension: A Tour Through Strother's "They Should've Never Given You N*ggas Money"
After taking the first couple steps into the gallery, your mind goes into a psychedelic mind trip by everything that's going on. Think listening to Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" while being stoned out of your mind.
To the left of the entrance is a matte, Barbie-pink wall with neon piece of a woman lounging in front the ocean and a palm tree; to the right is a multi-tasking aluminum wall highlighting mixed media pieces and wavy faces on a neon sign. All the while reflecting the full color spectrum from the neon pieces from the other wall and the lights from the roof which reminiscent of Newton's color spectrum experiment– but this time it's splattered on a wall instead of through a prism.
After orbiting through a handful of 10-foot-long sculptures of faces stacked on top of each other expressing every feeling imaginable, you find yourself gazing at the Picasso-esqe neon piece at the end of the wall.
Bright and harsh on the eyes, with salmons, whites, reds, blues, yellows all jumbled together in straight lines, squiggly lines, parallel lines, and half smiles and faces; all while being stared at an angry afro rocking dude to the top left corner.
Next to our afroman friend, you'll notice the end of the progression piece, "N*ggas on a 'nana," where several bodies are riding on bananas through rainbows and marshmallow clouds. Sitting below the progression piece: "Too many n*ggas & 'nanas to count (you count 'em up n*gga)" and "A bunch of n*ggas & 'nanas falling thru space (n*gga where's the rocket ship).
WEST GALLERY: Enter "What if Yayoi Kusama had Jungle Fever?"
Greeted by Strother's "Lazy B*tch," a blue neon piece depicting a woman positioned on her hands and knees, you'll experience a sort of head change, as if you are transitioning from our universe and into the matrix en route into the next dimension.
A blood-red wallpaper and carpet filled in with wavy faces, sausage-shaped smiles, Nike swooshes, and cartoon-esque expressional faces. Revisited by the smiley abstract sculptures, another Picasso-looking piece, and a bi-polar neon face that seems to not be able to make up its mind.
In the middle of the gallery, we are greeting once again by our sculpture friends, this time, each beaming a friendly glare, trying to express their unique personality like lonely rescue center pups showing themselves off to a potential owner.
"Oval shaped n*gga" expressing his curiosity for the world with with his head tilted and "single n*gga on a plate" sobbing away the crushing pain of solitude while his alter ego looks at your woman's behind with a smutty grin.
As you make your way out of the gallery, Strother reminds you of the travels ahead with his satirical piece brought back from his previous shows which says, "BABY, I HAD TO SWERVE THRU MORE F*CKING TRAFFIC YESTERDAY." Possibly a self-fulfilling prophecy, but most likely if Waze navigates you back home through the 10-FWY.
Devin Troy Strother runs through December 19th at Richard Heller Gallery 2525 Michigan Ave, B-5A Santa Monica, 90404
REVIEW: DEVIN TROY STROTHER | LOS ANGELES TIMES
Nov 3, 2015
Critic's ChoiceArtist Devin Troy Strother's raucous, rollicking extravaganza in Santa Monica
By David Pagel
NOVEMBER 3, 2015
Devin Troy Strother wowed Los Angeles five years ago with a solo debut that linked pleasure and African American imagery.
That was groundbreaking because of the no-holds-barred nuttiness with which Strother approached fun, and also because pleasure had not played a big part in the discourse that had grown up, since the early 1990s, around art made by African Americans.
In 2012, Strother's second exhibition showed him to be a formidable storyteller, a master at broaching such loaded subjects as blood, money and sex — or race, class and gender— without getting heavy-handed or glossing over the tough stuff. In 2013, he upped the scale and intensified the impact of his art, making laser-cut silhouettes that amplified the sidesplitting hijinks.
All three shows pale in comparison to "They Should've Never Given You ... Money," Strother's fourth solo show in Los Angeles and his best yet. (The title includes a variation on the N-word.) At Richard Heller Gallery, the 29-year-old artist cranks up the volume, filling two rooms with enough art for six or seven exhibitions.
Artist Dustin Yellin has been in the spotlight in the past few years—a cameo in rapper Jay-Z's 2013 video for "Picasso Baby"; being labeled the art world's It boy by Vanity Fair this past September—all the while creating works of art that sell for millions (one of his installations went for $1.7 million in a private sale in 2014). Now, the Brooklyn-based artist has left his mark on his hometown of Los Angeles.
To read the complete article and see images please go to the following link: http://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/dustin-yellin-los-angeles-psychogeographies-outdoor-art-installation-sunset-boulevard
Michelle Graber - VICE SPORTS
Oct 21, 2015
B. David Zarley
ART BY THE BALLS
In the end, it was the laziness—not the venom—that most disappointed Michelle Grabner.
As an artist, Grabner explores the vernacular and familiar through formalism, the application of shapes and patterns as art in and of themselves. These somewhat abstracted works can then reference a multitude of themes, including repetition, domesticity, and suburbia. A professor at the highly regarded School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Grabner's work has been exhibited around the world; she was one of three curators chosen for the 2014 edition of the Whitney Biennial, among the most important contemporary art exhibitions in the country.
Her eponymous exhibition at James Cohan Gallery last fall spawned a tempest when New York Times art critic Kevin Johnson appeared to write off the show with strokes broad and base enough to hazard accusations of sexism.
New world: artist Dustin Yellin unveils his first outdoor installation in LA
ART / 19 OCT 2015 / BY MICHAEL SLENSKE
Information Photography: Sarah Lawrence
NeueHouse 6121 Sunset Boulevard Hollywood, Los Angeles
About a year and a half ago, the Kilroy Realty Corporation approached Brooklyn-based artist Dustin Yellin about permanently installing six of his increasingly popular Psychogeographies in Columbia Square, the plaza outside the 1938 CBS Headquarters, which will re-open this month as the Los Angeles outpost of NeueHouse. Over this period, these monumental glass collage works — created by Yellin and a small army of assistants with small paint gestures and thousands of print images clipped from magazines — have anchored a TED Talk, an installation at Lincoln Center for the New York City Ballet, and a comprehensive Vanity Fair feature. This project, however, was Yellin's first al fresco installation; providing many new challenges, such as finding the right UV-protected laminated glass, stainless steel frames and concrete plinths to secure the work. He also had to consider his source of inspiration.
'It was the first movie studio and I got a bunch of historic shit from them, some I copied and some I destroyed,' says Yellin during a tour of the site, noting that Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and Orson Welles ('cats that I dig') all worked in the building over the years. 'There's the Lone Ranger, some movie tickets,' he says, pointing to hidden micro-clippings of CBS ephemera. 'For me, these pieces are supposed to be like if you put a piece of glass on one side of your body, and another on the other side and just started cranking yourself until your skull exploded into a thousand pieces, but instead of blood and guts you'd see your memories, your experiences.'
By trapping the collective consciousness of the Hollywood landmark — or 'DNA in images', as Yellin calls it — he hopes to project the city back onto itself. 'I think when you die you realise this layer was just one existence and you'll become aware of many worlds,' says Yellin, now 40, who first got the inspiration for this mode of thinking at 18 after going through a series of Altered States-like 'consciousness experiments' (think intramuscular ketamine injections) administered by Adam Trombly, a physicist in Aspen who once worked with Buckminster Fuller and tried to launch a Tesla-like free energy initiative. 'I think a lot of my work came from those days. I was on all these drugs making art and I had no culture, and I thought if I became the most famous artist in the world I could convince the billionaires and movie stars to give money to the scientists to make free energy.'
Though he hasn't fulfilled the latter promise, he has connected the monied classes and artists with various Nobel laureates ('my brain trust') at his Pioneer Works art centre in Red Hook, Brooklyn. 'It's mixing all these weird fucking people all the time,' he says. Having completed this installation, the artist-activist hopes to do more public projects should the opportunity arise. He's also busy making new works, be it his new 'ant farm' series (made from detritus paper stuffed between glass panels with a stick) or the 32-ft landscape inspired by the epic 12-ton triptych he showed at the SCAD Museum of Art, which all began simply as a 'series of accidents'.
'With the glass I can go backwards, change my mind, add perspective, build a city, put a horse in the city, cut the city in half or add an explosion. Then I saw the Terracotta Warriors and realised I don't want to make figurative art, I want to make an army,' says Yellin, who hopes to create 120 Psychogeographies for a huge retrospective, whenever or wherever that might happen. 'I don't believe in the art world, I just believe in the world. I just make shit that I would want to live with and shit that in 500 years would be artifacts I care about because I'm obsessed with artifacts. I don't think about anything else.'
Dustin Yellin is an artist who comes in many guises.
In Vanity Fair last month, Yellin, posing naked but for mismatched socks and eyeglasses at his Brooklyn studio, was presented as the art world's "it boy."
Other images in the media collage that is his public history: Yellin break-dancing in Jay Z's 2013 performance art video, "Picasso Baby"; the sky-high dollar amounts that his elaborate sculptures command (one installation went for $1.7 million in a private sale at Sotheby's last year); Yellin's romance with actress Michelle Williams; the time in the late '90s when he was accidentally stabbed in the leg by model-actress Bijou Phillips; and the artist's 1999 mental breakdown, which landed him in a psych ward — but not before he recorded the entire episode, ultimately turning it into a performance art video called "The Crack-Up."
Dustin Yellin's stupendous, life-sized glass-pane humanoids made from NatGeo clippings
Earlier this month, I attended a two-day meeting at Pioneer Works, an art and innovation center in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The center is both physically beautiful and filled with interesting people from many disciplines doing work in open workshops. It was founded by sculptor Dustin Yellin, and the lobby has one of his remarkable, life-sized three-dimensional humaniform sculptures, composed of thousands of collaged magazine clippings pressed between many sheets of glass.
Michelle Grabner on Soccer Balls & Art in the American Interior
By Sehba Mohammad on September 22, 2015
Founding the Midwest's most avant garde art spaces (The Suburban and Poor Farm), co-curating last year's Whitney Biennial, enriching young minds at the Art Institute of Chicago, and a robust studio practice, couldn't save Michelle Grabner from Ken Johnson's lackadaisical New York Timesreview last year.
For twenty years Grabner explored dynamics of domesticity through thoughtful paper weaves, hypnotic needlepoint canvases, and ironic documentary videos, but in his critique Johnson boils her down to a "middle-class tenured professor and soccer mom."
Instead of lamenting, Grabner — with the help of object-based publication The Thing Quarterly — turned the classicist critique into a cheeky and creative rebuttal. The Grabner-designed issue is an actual soccer ball patterned with the artist's iconic gingham.
Flavorpill caught up with the artist to discuss The Thing Quarterly issue, art in the Midwest, and of course balls. Below, our discussion via email.
What was your first reaction after reading Johnson's New York Times review?
I was in D.C. at the time doing a visiting artist gig at American University. I remember that I could not contain outbursts of laughter as I read it to my husband over the phone. Honestly I was most disappointed in Johnson's opinion being culled from a distorted narrative of me, instead of it being based on the activity of scrutinizing and assessing the artwork in the exhibition. His review was built solely on the ironic, didactic video made by the artist David Robbins that functioned as a 'send-up' of 'identity narratives' rampant in the contemporary art world.
Why a soccer ball and not a more weave-oriented goal net or soccer gloves?
The soccer ball is much more iconic, and a more perfect geometry.
What do you plan to do with your soccer ball?
It will go on the shelf in the garage with the rest of our sports equipment.
You've used the gingham pattern for two decades. It takes various incarnations, the most recent of which is The Thing Quarterly issue. What draws you to this pattern?
Gingham is a simple weave. It is color and geometry that functions as a spectacular social cliché. Included in a forthcoming artist book published by Rocket Gallery in London are two essays by scholars Lottie Hoare and Laura Perry who examine the textile's history, first as an industrially produced material developed in the Dutch colonies of Indonesia, and today as an American brand of nostalgia.
Your work contains references to domesticity, suburbia, and boredom, which Johnson distorts in his review. How do you explore these themes in your art?
Your response to Johnson's article (on the surface) appears dually masculine and feminine. Is this intentional? Does the ball have feminist undertones?
The ball is a result of a fictional "identity narrative" that certainly foregrounds woman's work. But I would go further to say that the greater feminist position is based in the freedom to call out Johnson's lazy criticism with an iconic object and a sense of humor.
You're one of the pillars of the Midwestern art community. What is unique about the art scene in the area, and how is it changing?
The vertical shadows cast by cultural centers don't reach the American interior. Plus, do you know how much studio space you can get in Milwaukee for $300? The Midwest offers an abundance of space, time, and resources ideal for dedicated work. Even though, to be perfectly honest, it is often more difficult to be an artist living in the Midwest because it is up to individual artist to develop and nurture the criteria for how work succeeds. Yet there is great vision and ingenuity here that can only evolve from a perennial lack of commercial and institutional distraction.
. . . Another Art Center graduate who came to his dealer's attention through the artist grapevine is David Jien, who joined after his best friend Devin Troy Strother told Richard Heller that he was someone he needed to snap up. As a test, he brought in two of Jien's larger drawings; they sold three days later. Looking at his work, you can see why. A former graffiti artist who decided to change course after doing a little jail time for his art, Jien uses a magnifying glass and colored pencils to make incredibly intricate drawings that seem to combine comics with Persian miniatures and Medieval illuminations, and which all together build a broad master narrative about a world of creatures locked in a battle of good versus evil. (If you look closely, you might see that he occasionally works his old tag, Lyfer, into the compositions.) At the fair, Heller featured several drawings including this small rendering of the artist in his studio (priced at $4,500) that seems especially suited for hours of close looking.
All Night Wizards, 2015 / Color pencil and graphite on paper / 8.5 x 11 inches / Sold
Corey Arnold works as a photographer and seasonal commercial fisherman in Alaska. Since 2002, he has been exploring and documenting the world's fisheries, an ongoing project entitled "Fish-Work." His photographs have been published in National Geographic, Harpers, Outside, The New Yorker, The New York Times LENS, Time and The Paris Review, among others. Arnold has published two books of photography, Fish-Work: The Bering Sea and Fishing with My Dad.
Corey discusses his experience working as a commercial fisherman in Alaska while simultaneously documenting his life at sea.
Somewhere in an underworld, the Who riders battle the Lizard overlords, and David Jien is the grand puppeteer pulling the strings. Articulating consciousness and ruminations through visual imagery is the foundation of his storytelling language. Asking an artist to describe their craft can be a difficult quest, as the message is rooted not in words but in their creations. Regardless, I held a dagger to David Jien's throat and made him talk, threatening him with lizard attacks and snake chokeholds. This unstoppable lizard man from another dimension just hugged and kissed the reptiles, but managed to divulge a few secrets to avoid my wrath. —Kristin Farr
"Model motorised boats crammed with migrants, paparazzi photographing a dead Cinderella, and a pocket money loans kiosk offering cash to kids at an interest rate of 5,000% – these are just some of the installations in Banksy's new art show, Dismaland bemusement park, which opens on Weston-super-Mare seafront on Thursday."
Pomet's next solo show will be at the Richard Heller Gallery in early 2016. Please contact the gallery for available works and to be put on the mailing list for next year's opening.
CHARLIE ROBERTS | IT'S NICE THAT
January 9, 2016 - February 13, 2016
IT'S NICE THAT
A dreamy love letter to young adulthood by painter Charlie Roberts
Artist Charlie Roberts is based in Oslo, but the energy and dynamism of his work belies the tranquility that I can't help but associate with Norway's serene landscapes. His past work dealt almost obsessively with collecting remnants of pop culture and laying them out in orderly lines to be documented, but more recently Charlie has shifted towards cool canvases depicting adolescents lazing about, smoking joints on car bonnets, wrapping their long arms around their friends and watching the world go by. It's a relaxed portrait of young adulthood – all seductive almond eyes, tangled limbs, Nike sportswear and ripped jeans, and it feels like a sweet love letter to this universal but transitory time.
Devin Troy Strother on Why Michael Jordan and Gerhard Richter Belong in the Same Conversation
By Noelle Bodick July 18, 2014
What does the song "Hey Soul Sister," Matisse, NBA players, National Geographic spreads, disco, baby daddies, and the candy piles of Felix Gonzales-Torres have in common? They are all flotsam from the cultural tides that Devin Troy Strother, a self-described product of the 1990s TV generation, nets in his intricate and often provocative collaged paintings. Into this already potent—and downright hilarious—satirical farrago, the 28‑year-old California-born and Brooklyn-based artist also adds his signature characters—impish, jet-black figures with the exaggerated facial expressions of minstrelsy.
Strother talked with Artspace about injecting humor into the buttoned-up art world, and why he thinks Michael Jordan and Gerhard Richter belong in the same conversation.
VIDEO: The World Through the lens of Corey Arnold
Jul 13, 2015
July 13, 2015
Photographer and commercial fisherman Corey Arnold has made it his life's work to document fishing culture. From his years crabbing on the Bering Sea to life at an abandoned cannery in Graveyard Point in Bristol Bay, Arnold focuses on the playful and the often surreal and extreme scenarios commercial fishermen find themselves in.
Giant waves, predatory birds, mounds of rope and bloody fish make for pictures Arnold thinks of as "curiosities."
"You don't always know what going on, or there's something a little off, strange or something mysterious," says Arnold. "I think that's my goal when I'm taking photos... to create something that the viewer wants to know more about what's going on. The whole story's not totally there."
KVICHAK BAY -- Last summer, after all the other fishermen had gone home at the end of the Bristol Bay salmon season, Corey Arnold stuck around Graveyard Point. A photographer and commercial fisherman, Arnold described the scene at the old cannery as eerie and empty. When the people left, grizzly bears showed up, a sure sign that it was time for Arnold to leave.
As an artist (in this case, David Jien) what do you do when you've created a body of work (in this case Exodus) so brilliantly executed and far flung in its mythical references and bizarre abstractions that you don't really know what to make next?
For LA-based artist David the answer lies in a series of funny sculptures, which push character design off the page and into the 3D realm. Some of them resemble mosaic eggs with faces on, sobbing angry white tears onto a downturned mouth. Others look more like a pale butternut squash might do after one too returning to its desk after many shandies of a Friday lunchtime. Beautifully crafted from ceramics and mirrored tiles, the series looks exactly like what we'd imagined David's sorcerers and dog-people might do given a life of their own outside of this fantastical drawings.
Artillery Magazine Pick of the Week: Joakim Ojanen
Jul 7, 2015 ARTILLERY MAGAZINE - PICK OF THE WEEK:
Richard Heller Gallery
by Eve Wood ·
July 7, 2016
Joakim Ojanen’s playfully enigmatic ceramic sculptures are strangely endearing. Throughout the exhibition, the artist has set up a series of intimate vignettes using small-scale ceramic figures of people with bald heads and duckbill faces engaged in the various and often mundane activities of living. More importantly though, Ojanen’s figures appear alienated and lovelorn, part of a larger community, yet unable to fit in completely. This theme is certainly pertinent given all the tragedy that is happening in the world today. One wonders if these forlorn and confused little sculptures might know more about us than they let on.
Richard Heller Gallery
2525 Michigan Ave. #B-5A
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Show runs thru July 30, 2016
INTERVIEW: Brendan Monroe | Long Beach Post
Jun 25, 2015
celebration of all things POW!
WOW! Long Beach, from the outdoor muralists—who began transforming
blank walls throughout the city earlier this week—to the artists currently
installing their work inside the Long Beach Museum of Art's (LBMA) upcoming
and Verve: Transforming the Urban Landscape, the Post reached
out to several of these world-class creatives who have been working to change
and inspire the landscape of Long Beach's art scene as a whole, indoors and
out. Today we
feature Brendan Monroe, a Southern California-raised contemporary artist who
now resides in Oakland. His work is incredibly visceral and his anonymous
characters often seem to hold an introverted silence riddled with a deeper
meaning the viewer must find for himself.
completed his installation at the LBMA, as of last week. Visitors can see the
artist's self-described "little walk-in closet" at the museum
beginning this Friday, a room of wavering lines that seem to wrap themselves
around you, to make up a dreamlike, illusory enclosure surely each visitor will
REVIEW: DAVID JIEN | LOS ANGELES TIMES
Apr 19, 2015
Art review: David Jien serves notice with 'Exodus' at Richard Heller Gallery
Ancient mythology and contemporary gaming culture commingle in David Jien's colored pencil drawings and tabletop sculptures at Richard Heller Gallery. Titled "Exodus," like the nearly 8-foot-long drawing that took Jien two years to finish and anchors his second solo show, the two-gallery exhibition is a double-barrel blast.
It confirms that the young L.A. artist is a force to be reckoned with. It also reveals that his talents as a draftsman, which are dazzling, are the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the brilliance of Jien's virtuosity with a pencil lies a world suffused with goofy humor, head-scratching nuttiness, unexpected empathy and, strangest of all, serenity.
There's plenty to see before you get to such old-fashioned experiences, and Jien does not begrudge any pleasure any visitor may take from his impeccably rendered pictures, many of which depict action-packed dramas that put comic book movies to shame.
Most of Jien's works are not much bigger than illuminated manuscripts drawn by monks and holy men all over the globe, before the printing press was invented. Persian miniatures also come to mind.
The cast of characters that climbs mountains, vanquishes foes and embarks on Odysseus-style quests includes artists, aristocrats, backpackers, samurai, magicians, demons, robots, Humpty Dumpty-style eggheads, cobra-hooded acolytes, cat-headed pharaohs, wide-eyed innocents, gigantic mallards, reptilian monsters, hermit crabs and birds astride horses, which are fantastic renditions of the real thing.
The delicacy of Jien's lines and the elegance of his compositions make his phantasmagorical pictures seem sensible — not totally believable but certainly not freakish, exotic or out of touch with reality. The way he collages bits of holographic film and patches of glitter into his images makes them all the more magical. That's where the wisdom — and serenity — come in.
The innocence of children's book illustrations is even more boldly embraced in Jien's sculptures, each of which is about the size of a cookie jar. His 10 handcrafted icons — or supersized chess pieces — are 3-D mosaics whose DNA seems to shares strands with Hello Kitty, Pac-Man and B-movie versions of the monumental heads on Eastern Island.
The bright colors, pixel-style compositions and general silliness of Jien's sculptures do not detract from their sense of composure. In fact, their cuteness adds to the uncanny calm they exude. It's a welcome respite from the free-floating anger of adolescence, which seems to have made its way into every corner of modern life.
Richard Heller Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 453-9191, through May 2. Closed Sundays and Mondays.www.richardhellergallery.com
"The serpent no longer slumbers! He is awoken! Who shall deliver us from this affliction? Deep corruption has befallen our lands. Lo, Formosa has fallen, Shakran and his black words have immersed deep within our peoples. We have forgotten our ways and are divided, father against son, mother against daughter. The reptilian plague promises pleasure and power. We have lost many kin to its deception, they now fill the ranks of Shakran's saurian swarm. Those fortunate enough to elude the intoxicating clutch have found refuge under a different regime. Pilgrims have flocked together from all corners of the land in search of a new Formosa, Exodus dawns."
This is the preamble to David Jien's latest show, Exodus, that's currently running at Richard Heller Gallery in Santa Monica, California; the latest addition to David's ongoing mystic saga that attempts to make sense of the real world through bizarre, beautiful fantasies.
His pencil-drawn narratives are primitive in their origins, focussing on battles between good and evil, darkness and light and the fallout from an ideological war. But his protagonists are lizard-men and purple eggs, giant ducks and badgers in hats, navigating their way through an anachronistic world. Go and see them!
Are African-American fine artists today free from pressures to perform in specifically (but "acceptably") "black" ways, as determined by a mostly white audience? According to the critique implicit in Devin Troy Strother's impressive exhibition of new paintings and sculptures (all 2014), the answer is no. The work isn't Strother's most rigorous, but it is his boldest: "I'll give you your performance," it seems to shout, "but it won't be comfortable."
Titled "Space Jam," the exhibition partly took its name from the 1996 film starring Michael Jordan in which the basketball legend and an animated Looney Tunes cast compete to avoid enslavement by an alien race. Miniature, cartoonlike painted cutouts of Jordan appear on many of the paintings' surfaces, usually stuck to a colorful, straight-from-the-tube smear that trails him like he's a slam-dunking comet. For other paintings, Strother enlarges images of Jordan from what were probably basketball cards or fanboy posters and uses them as backgrounds for his Jordan cutouts and acrylics.
The young Los Angeles-based artist's new paintings are larger, brighter and filledwith more art historical references than his previous works. I got a Joan Miro all over my brand new holograms offers Miró-like shapes atop a panel of holographic mylar, the latter a nod to the hologram basketball cards that were popular in the '90s. Devin Troy Strother x Rob Pruitt x Cory Arcangel x Walead Beshty x A Sad Face x 3 Michael Jordans is a color gradient slathered with impasto acrylic that crudely resembles eyes and a frowning mouth, bedecked with three Jordan cutouts.
Strother's work usually deals with themes of stereotyping and cultural coding—specifically regardingthe language and imagery of African-American culture. Despite the obvious affection Strother has for '90s basketball aesthetics, his critique outstrips any nostalgic underpinnings: it's no small ironythat Jordan, one of the most famous men on earth, was performing for his freedom in Space Jam, and Strother's work has always underscored the art world's oppressive demand that black artists, like athletes, perform in specifically "black" ways to earn legitimacy. By co-opting such caricatures and throwing them back at his audience, Strother forces viewers to acknowledge their complicity.
But "Space Jam" isn't just a referential conceit; it's also a description. As press material explains, the title puns on Strother's need to jam (or work quickly) to fill Marlborough Chelsea's cavernous gallery space with new work.
Perhaps out of haste, Strother sometimes jams too many references into his work too haphazardly. Five 9-foot-tall, glossy black monoliths stood around one room whose floor was painted like a basketball court. Press material mentions that these pieces reference both basketball players and the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. They were also intended as pedestals; upon them rested cast-bronze sculptures, including several of deflated basketballs. But so many metaphors get muddled. (Do we put our heroes on pedestals, or are they the pedestals? The reference to 2001, an otherwise unrelated space movie, clouds things further.) On their own, the basketballs are perfect. How many children have had the air let out of their golden, inflated hoop dreams?
Much of the writing about Strother's work seems fixated on his titles, which is as avoidable as it is unfortunate; such criticism easily becomes an act of merely taking inventory. (He cites Richter, but where's Tony Smith?) That's largely Strother's own fault: they're his titles, and all that name-checking, however humorous, invites that kind of lazy scrutiny. But the art objects offer plenty of rich material for deeper aesthetic and sociocultural analysis. Criticism will almost always take the easy route if you point the way.
VIDEO | Dustin Yellin at VOLTA NY 2015
Apr 3, 2015
GalleryLOG's video interview with artist Dustin Yellin.
Dustin Yellin is represented by Richard Heller Gallery (Los Angeles, booth B1) at VOLTA NY 2015.
Dustin Yellin - The Huffington Post
Jan 23, 2015 Brooklyn-Based Artist Dustin Yellin Takes Over The New York City Ballet The Huffington Post | By Katherine Brooks
What better way to really dig into the post-holidays spirit than a trip to the ballet? This time of year, there are less sugar plum fairies and mouse kings hanging around New York City's Lincoln Center, and more multi-dimensional human forms encapsulated in suspended animation.
To be fair, the "Psychogeographies" -- the 3,000-pound sculptures that indeed resemble human forms suspended in glass encasements -- are only on view until March 1, 2015. They are the work of Brooklyn-based artist Dustin Yellin, the founder of Red Hook's Pioneer Works, who specializes in human-size, three-dimensional collages depicting fantastical and sometimes sinister scenes. For the NYCB, he's crafted 15 of his large-scale pieces depicting figures that seem to be dancing throughout the David H. Koch Theater, confined of course by translucent material on all sides.
The sculptures are part of the NYCB's Art Series, which aims to produce annual collaborations between contemporary visual artists and the ballet. Before Yellin, street artists FAILE and JR debuted their own projects in Lincoln Center. And like years past, Yellin's residency of sorts involves three special ballet performances, which will take place on Thursday, February 12 (All Balanchine -- Serenade, Agon, and Symphony in C); Thursday, February 19 (Peter Martins' Hallelujah Junction, Christopher Wheeldon's A Place for Us, and Jerome Robbins' Interplay and Glass Pieces); and Friday, February 27 (Alexei Ratmansky's Pictures at an Exhibition, a new work by NYCB resident choreographer Justin Peck, and Christopher Wheeldon's Mercurial Manoeuvres).
Tickets for these performances are just $29, and audience members each receive a special limited-edition takeaway created by Yellin.
Managing Editor at Complex Media covering art and style
January 15, 2015
Devin Troy Strother laughs excitedly as he rushes over to a rolled up carpet in the middle of the prestigious Marlborough Chelsea gallery. "I've been WAITING for this!" he exclaims with a smile, ripping off the tape and rolling out a purple floor covered with stars and planets. After a quick tour, where Strother's so ecstatic that he can barely catch his breath, it's clear that he's made the gallery his universe in more ways than one. Juxtaposing outer space with his childhood hero, Michael Jordan, Devin Troy Strother has expanded his art practice by visualizing Jordan's legacy as beyond human—as a brand. Enter "Space Jam," his new exhibition.