My Highlights from PULSE Miami Beach 2014
The selection of works I have chosen span time periods, and show my general interest in process as well as a sense of anarchy and/or social subversiveness.
Seattle artist Robb Putnam’s “Pelt” works are amalgams of found materials that depict cheerful, childlike characters. The purposefully crude assemblage of these pieces contrasts with their subjects, and as a result, they appear as macabre taxidermied caricatures that are disturbing in their playfulness. They appeal to the anarchist in me.
I’m a huge fan of Andrew Schoultz’s work—I bought one of his editioned pieces from Locust Projects a while back and it remains a favorite. However, I know him for his large-scale paintings and installations that are entirely sprawling and chaotic. Although this work, Vessel in Chaos (Broken Order), is executed with Schultz’s expert precision, it is the first time that I see a tension between a formalist order and his characteristic chaotic technique at this scale. The work is entrancing.
Although this series is somewhat of a one-liner, it’s a good one-liner. I find the disruption of the traditional grid format gratifying, and the tactility of the disturbed canvas irresistibly seductive. It seems that Ignacio Muñoz Vicuña is creating sculptural objects of paintings that simultaneously celebrate and reinvent the painting medium. Painting is not dead, but rather guised in sculptural relief.
I first saw Israeli artist Tal Shochat’s work three years ago and was moved by her powerful imagery. She is painstakingly patient in her process in order to achieve the exact, pristine qualities she is looking for. In this series, Shochat finds the “perfect” tree and waits for it to reach its maturity before setting up a photo shoot around it. The tree becomes an ideal expression of life and living.
I did not know Italian artist Domenico Grenci’s work before seeing it here. I’m moved and disturbed by the layered darkness of this portrait, offering a multifaceted reading of this young girl. Perhaps referencing Marlene Dumas, Grenci’s use of bitumen oil and charcoal is alluring, in both the spontaneous effect of the medium and the exactitude of the subject presented.
Saturday proposes an alternative visual reading of a book. From Ann Hamiliton’s exhibition “Reading,” this work connects with her general interest in printed matter, sewing, and large scale installation, but on an intimate scale. In this way, the materiality of the object is seductive and the suggestion that this visual mass may represent a finite space in time, specifically a Saturday on a weekend, feels pleasurable. Perhaps I am tired and longing for the weekend, or perhaps the title somehow relates to the content of the reorganized book that is now an abstracted mass of interwoven pages.
I am generally enamored with Malick Sidibe’s social and photo studio images that tell stories and capture the spirit of their situations and subjects. I had the honor of meeting him in Mali about four years back and was taken with his cheerful and generous demeanor. This image, Christmas Night, seems to capture some of his character and shares a moment layered with multiple narratives—celebration, lifestyle, social behavior, ideology, and much more.
Walter Robinson is a true New Yorker, and this translates to his work. The dark, free lines of Wilhelm Sasnal meet a Pop palette and subject matter that appeal to the lifestyle mongers in all of us. Not only is Robinson cheekily playful in his cropped portrayals of fashionistas, he also knows his way around a paintbrush. This combination makes his work truly seductive.
I was introduced to Matthew Brandt’s work by New York curator Elana Rubinfeld last year and have been interested in it since. Matthew’s unconventional techniques—from using river water to develop photographs to using tar from the La Brea tar pits, as in this work—transforms what would ordinarily be considered traditional photographic techniques. This unique approach to process gives his work a fascinating materiality.
Simón Vega and I have worked together for a number of years. His combining of what he terms “first” and “third world” sensibilities offers a humorous and deeply poignant critique on the preconceived ideas and true differences between “developed” and “developing” parts of the world. He usually makes large ephemeral sculptures from found objects, but has begun showing his project sketches which are in and of themselves truly wonderful. Incidentally, he is also my co-editor on our new book Y.ES Collect Contemporary El Salvador.