Friday, August 18, 2006
Thursday, August 17, 2006
On Thursday, August 17th, David X Levine opened a solo exhibition of drawings at the John Davis Gallery. The work was on display through September 10th.
David Levine's drawings incorporate abstract forms and recurrent concentric circles in sophisticated yet straightforward compositions. Through the use of fresh, pop-scrumptious colors layered over one another in graphite, gouache, ink, or colored pencil, Levine weaves an illusory vocabulary of forms that straddles the line between two and three dimensions. Their material solidity, rather than appearing to oppose their highly resonant graphic presence, becomes a touchstone for an extra-material engagement with the work.
Jazz and rock music are often at the center of Levine's compositions, which often feature handwritten passages that invoke the lyrics or titles of musical occasions. In this way, he unites the fundamental sensory experience of musical engagement with the visual semantics of abstraction. The intimacy of the invoked lyrics, combined with inviting, amorphous forms, produce a pleasing encounter that has a unique sense of generosity and order.
Levine has had recent solo exhibitions at osp gallery in
In August/September the sculpture garden featured the work of
He sees the casting process as a metaphor to volcanic activity and the origin of the earth. Working with natural objects that have been effected by some kind of force of nature, he presents the cast copy with the original to bring into question different realities. The casting with its history of process compared to the original and its history. With the evidence of the mold being integral to the image, Ruppert also casts the moulds of the mould creating a void of the original object.
Context is critical to these sculptures. The indoor and out surroundings, as well as the relationship to other objects and each other, are in constant flux. In an outdoor setting the sculptures act as a monitor to the surroundings; interacting with the context of the site (with each other ... if there are more then one form) and the various weather and light conditions.
There were five separate shows within the carriage house: Elise Engler, Tom Nicol,
Elise Engler's drawings and paintings are about unpacking--whether this refers literally, to depicting the contents of a suitcase before and after travel, or as in her latest work, examining and documenting the items purchased with tax dollars.
Engler’s earliest inventory drawing, entitled “Everything I Own” was just that small (roughly one inch with no regard to the size of the real object) depictions, scroll-like in format, of all of her 13,127 possessions. The next series of drawings were more encapsulated “portraits”. She made drawings of the contents of other people’s cars, or handbags or refrigerators. These were all done using colored pencils.
The newest work is about categories of objects our taxes actually purchase. While some of these drawings are more straight forward inventories of tax expenditures others combine gouache and watercolor depictions of newspaper clippings and other sources of information to create wry, sometimes humorous and always revealing commentary on current events.
“Style”, an example of this new work, contains a painted reproduction of a photo from the New York Times Magazine Style section surrounded by repeated images borrowed (and altered) from a photograph (also from the New York Times). The “Style” section “reproduction” shows a woman in a pose deliberately mimicking the famous torture victim from Abu Greib prison in
Engler’s projects are ongoing. All the series of drawings continue....whether they are the latest more overtly political pieces or the personal/ anthropological drawings of other people’s possessions.
At first glance, one would categorize the works of Tom Nicol as geometric abstract paintings. Although the work resides visually in an abstract tradition, the artist thinks of them as non-abstract objects. Nicol considers the work to be quite literal, not abstracted or distilled from any source.
His impulse to make a painting begins with either a word or a combination of numbers. These elements become a sort of mental anchor---a grounding to investigate the language of painting. The sizes of the panels are derived from mathematical relationships that are visually meaningful on an intuitive level.
Although the work resides visually in an abstract tradition, Nicol does not consider the work "abstract". He considers it quite literal, not abstracted or distilled from any source. The paintings are essentially plastic – they are all acrylic on canvas and reference molded and mass produced plastic industrial items –peripheral everyday items that we see, use and touch without really being aware of. I’m interested in the artificial qualities of plastic. He views the paintings as being artificial.
Nicol grew up in the flat farmland of
These recent images by
All the paintings in this small end of summer exhibition have been chosen for their preoccupation with a warm sunny day.
Summer Magnolia is a tree that Ms. Craddock has returned to over and over, both in paintings and drawings. This image of sunlight through branches is an almost primal one for her. Although the painting and its smaller study began with a digital image, both paintings were finished from memory.
symbol of hex
K'un - the Receptive
Sara Jane Roszak has been interested in doing illuminations of the I Ching for some time. Having studied the book and been captivated by a text where the concept of a spiritual journey is continually qualified by the unpredictable challenges of the forward motion of time, expressed in a language both metaphorical and psychological, - - the imagery of the hexagram and the interpretation of its symbolic associations affords an opportunity to address in visual terms the mutability of form within a contextual base. Although this is an ancient text, the beauty of the form and the scope of the content are so abstract as to be provocative and profound in suggesting a wide and inventive vocabulary as a means of addressing a world where the past has become meaningless and the future unpredictable.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Review: "David X. Levine" Drawings" by Neil Chassman
08.24.06, p. 10.
The John Davis Gallery is another very pleasing art ambience in Hudson. The room one enters is bright, just for viewing the pieces in this show by David X. Levine. The exhibit continues downstairs. There is a several story carriage house in back beyond a sculpture garden. These auxiliary components provide for the exhibiting of a number of shows at one time - which means that the opportunity for the visitor to "strike it rich" aesthetically is enhanced.
While "David Levine" is a frequently encountered appellation, the "X" makes the name more distinctive. Immediately, the silent-era film star Frances S. Bushman came to mind. He was called "King of Hollywood" until that honor transferred to Clark Gable.
The works are rather diminutive - engendering a personal interaction with them, although I understand that even though the medium - color pencil and graphite on paper - mitigates against large size, there exist some very sizable pieces.
Although I understand that Levine is self-taught, I can readily see that he has a familiarity with history of American 20th century art and that he is sophisticated.
The works are dynamic, with frequent brilliant color. The images are abstract, but not entirely so, and there is a nice play between hard and soft, angular and curved, neither one nor the other of the seeming opposites taking complete precedence. These ambiguities, if one calls them that, elicit interest on the part of the viewer and give them aesthetic strength and authenticity, and prevent them from falling into a shallow decorativeness. They are nice to look at to be sure, but their panoply of positives included a complex rhythmic play of colors, form and texture - a resting on the edge of readability, i.e., the uncertainty of the read gives emotional and intellectual enjoyment rather the way (although in very different format) Albers' "Homage to the Square" or his black-and-white linear geometric pieces did.
The "Untitled" work above - which is similar in motif, concept and structure to several other works he has done such as "Love Is All Around" - immediately brought Philip Guston's late work to mind; it is anthropomorphic in the same way. Many of the works hang on the line between figurative and abstract. In these works, the brilliant contrasts evoke surrealism as well - enigma of Magritte, flat puzzling moods of de Chirico, shapes of Picasso and even as I now read Andre Gide's "Amyntas" and Elias Canette's "The Voices of Marrakesh," a North African landscape, intensity of color - and vastness is suggested. Another very intriguing piece, somewhat large, evokes Arp, Ernst and Moore.
It's good to see a thoughtful and sensitive lyricism of 20th century art icons in terms of: masters, motifs and constructions. This is no "cutting edge" as they say. It is quietly innovative and has a satisfying originality. (This is not to criticize it.)
The titles of the works frequently play an enjoyable part and are from musical lyrics, pop/rock and jazz, such as "Just for a Thrill," which is written on the work:
"Just for a thrill
You You You
Made my heart
This approach makes the work superficially less serious but fundamentally more serious, because Levine allows himself to engage in straightforward play with a touch of the ironic.
The Boston Globe in 2003 didn't think so:
"If Levine had left his works untitled, with no guideposts, they would have been more enigmatic and provocative. As it is, he's making the mistake of asking us to view his intriguing drawings through his eyes, not our own."
The Boston Globe is wrong and perhaps unwittingly corrects itself in 2005:
"David X. Levine... sees colors when he listens to music."
(like Kandinsky)] "The works have a scuffed-up, humble feel, like you might have torn them off an elementary school bulletin board."
" ... the image is daunting, yet in Levine's typical style, strangely bright and easy."
Neil Chassman is an art historian and theorist who is teaching in the art department at SUNY New Paltz this fall.