Work by Laura Hart Newlon. Photo from her site.
A couple weeks ago I went to the SAIC MFA show, where probably over 100 artists were featured. I don’t remember many to be honest, but I do remember a few prints of photographs by Laura Hart Newlon. I think I was drawn to the pieces on display due their underlying tension caused by the flatness of the medium itself and the digital layering of the elements in some of the prints. Those elements differed in their own particular flatness. The image above includes flattened fabric, covered partially by a wooden circle. One of the works had fabric itself attached to the photograph, running over the side of the print.
Robert Morris, “Untitled (Pink Felt)”, 1970. Photo from the Guggenheim.
Newlon’s use of fabric is a nice touch in this sense, because it’s a medium that was used by artists like Robert Morris to argue against the primacy of flatness in art, who even invoked the critique of Clement Greenberg, the priest of flat modernist painting. Robert Rauschenberg’s “Bed” (1955) is another piece that comes to mind, in which the high modern techniques of abstract expressionism are challenged by the relatively ignored arts of weaving.
On April 19th, UChicago hosted a portion of the work of their MFA students. Mark Beasley’s work is certainly impressive, and from what he’s told me, we’ll be able to see it on his website soon. It was an interactive video-panorama of a room including most of his recent work. Using your hands, you could zoom in on each piece in the room to get a better view. I haven’t known him for long, but it seems like some of his recent stuff has become more performative and conceptual. Not that those themes weren’t in previous work, but rather, there are times where a concern with computer interfaces is cast off, and he digs into the act of interfacing itself.
Nick Bastis‘s installation/environment seemed to be a hit. At one point people packed into the room within a room to read or listen to messages displayed on different screens. It was an interesting experience in that the work was an amalgamation of architecture, furniture, reading, listening, etc.
Robyn O’Neil, “Miserable Hawaii”. Image from the Western Exhibitions site.
Last Friday I went over to Western Exhibitions to see some paintings by Robyn O’Neil. If anyone knows about my thoughts on art, they know I love Mark Rothko’s paintings. And so, yes, O’Neil’s paintings reminded me of his work, specifically his later paintings, like the work he did for the Rothko Chapel in Houston, TX. The subtlety of the darkness in O’Neil’s paintings reminded me of a moment in art historian Simon Schama’s documentary on Rothko, where Schama remarks, “it’s almost as though he’s painting to see how dark he can make the light.”
From Western Exhibitions I went over to Las Manos Gallery for the opening reception of some other photographers. My favorite work there was probably that of Jaun Fernandez—a choice which is probably based on being a fan of the New Topographics style of photographers like Robert Adams and Joe Deal.
I’m glad to finally be getting out to shows now. I’m not sure what was keeping me, before. Now that it’s the end of the school year, I think there will probably a lot of great stuff to see in the next few days too.