I was lucky enough to catch the showing of Brett Amory’s new “Dark Light” series of paintings at the Jonathan Levine gallery in New York City this past weekend. Quite amazing stuff. I was completely hooked by Amory’s use of shadow and light — scenes of lonely denizens drifting in and out of the lamplight, past rundown stores, as they move down rundown streets. Think Edward Hopper’s darkest hour.
Check out one of the video interviews with Amory posted on the Levine gallery blog.
So To Speak – Brett Amory, Episode 1 from lenny gonzalez on Vimeo.
I was lucky enough to witness an exhibition of Siah Armajani’s art at the Max Protech gallery in Chelsea this past weekend. I was immediately intrigued by the Iranian-born artist’s pencil and ink drawings which paid homage to Goya while focusing on the current political unrest in Iran. They were neo-classical and yet completely modern at the same time (as #7 reveals above). Iranian police forces torture, beat, and kill characters right out Biblical drawings, highlighting the fact that violence of this nature has happened throughout human existence and yet it is no less disturbing to witness now.
Click here to view images from the rest of the exhibit.
… but it’s vital signs don’t look so hot.
I walked away from the New York City armory show thinking one thing: all process and not enough passion. The art, especially in the contemporary pier, was very lackluster. In fact, the photographic work on display was head and shoulders above the paintings, cementing a thought I’ve had as of late: that photography has become far more groundbreaking. But for the most part, many of the pieces seemed as if the artists we really trying to impress with the amount of work they were putting into the project, rather creating art that struck one as truly memorable or innovative. All the Italian galleries seemed to be employing Darrel Hannah’s character from Oliver Stone’s Wall Street as their curator. It was that bad. Thankfully the Swedes and South Africans came with some very interesting pieces. The Modern Pier (up the treacherous improvised staircase) had more going for it, but even there it was more “eh” than fascinating.
However, there was still enough good art at the show to make the trip worthwhile. I was able to see “Arrest” by my favorite living painter, Odd Nerdrum. As always, I never cease to be awestruck by his work — the flesh lives and breathes on his canvases. Seeing his painting “The Dying Couple” at the Konstmuseet in Göteborg, inspired me to write “Taking the Happy Bus on Home,” which you can read in The Love Book. In many ways, Deborah Poynton’s great “Untitled” reminded me a lot of Nerdrum’s style with its unflinching portrayal of human ugliness (that still resonates as beautiful). Both Annie Lapin’s “Affection Experiment” and Adrian Ghenie’s “The Collector” were wonderfully macabre. The former was almost a rendering of the now infamous soft mother/wire mother psychological experiment and the latter was very much in the Francis Bacon style with a grim Death-figure in a military uniform floating above the recently deceased. I also discovered the photo-realistic work of Gottfried Helnwein and his eerily gripping “Epiphany III (Presentation at the Temple).” Finally, on the last walk through, I spotted Romare Bearden’s “Of the Blues.” I’ve always been a huge fan of his Harlem street-life and jazz collages, so it feels like seeing an old friend when I spot his work.
Here are some shots of my favorite paintings from the Armory show: