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Currently in galleries in Chelsea and the Bowery

Hiroshi Sugimoto – 7 days 7 nights at Gagosian
In what was probably the biggest surprise to me, this is probably the most intense and rewarding show currently up right now. In the past, I have never been the biggest fan of Sugimoto – he seemed a little easy, and the images seemed a bit boring – I really thought it was the case of the emperor’s new clothes. I don’t think I’ve ever been so wrong in my life.

Here’s the easy part, it’s a show of 14 photos. Upon entering the gallery you see seven photos in a line in a pristine white room. Everything is equally spaced it is literally like looking at one line of a calendar. The images are close to identical and frankly at this point I went in and studied the images, they reveal themselves slowly and force the viewer to spend some time with the image to get anything out of it. Then a guard led me into a totally black room, I took a corner and saw another line of seven. The night photos are shown in the black room are displayed almost the same way that Avedon showed the miners in the American West show here at the Corcoran in the early eighties, while the two shows have almost nothing in common they have almost everything in common. Eventually your eyes adjust and the images are popping off the wall. Its almost violent how much info your getting from the images. I started to notice that the images were revealing themselves in subtle ways I wasn’t expecting, the blacks and grays are so close that when they finally show the differences between each other it is just amazing.

A question I had leaving the gallery was who is able to print these? I mean your talking about some serious tonal differences that I don’t think anyone can calibrate these in a standard darkroom environment, the printing of these alone is masterwork, while the installation is genius. Combined it makes for a very special gallery experience.

I know very little of the official approach of the work, however, ideas of time, motion and stillness become the guideposts of the work in its entirety.

Hiroshi Sugimoto
Ligurian Sea, Saviore, 1993
Gelatin silver print
47 x 58 3/4 inches unframed (119.4 x 149.2 cm)
Ed. of 5

Imi Knoebel at Mary Boone
Have I ever said that the Mary Boone Gallery in Chelsea is like a church? It’s just an amazing structure, that certain shows kind of get swallowed up in that great space. This is not one of them.

As a friend of Blinky Palermo, Knoebel currently has an exhibition up at Dia:Beacon of works of his from the late sixties that are dedicated to Palermo, however the new work being show at Boone is really interesting These continue to explore his interest in picture space, support and color. The presentation is just amazing and the images themselves quiet but demanding of your attention.

Imi Knoebel, installation view

Worth Noting: Andrew Moore currently has a pair of amazing photographs up at Yancey Richardson. Although not an exhibit the two images by themselves are very close. Currently hung is new work showing the decay of the american rust belt, the images are sublime and tinged with a warmth that is hard to dislike. These were up in the back area, I hope they are still there if you get a chance to go.

Andrew Moore is also the Producer/Director of Photography of one of my favorite art biographies How To Paint A Bunny, a feature about the life of Ray Johnson.

Jim Dine – Hot Dream (52 Books) at Pace
I know that Jim Dine has ben focusing on his poetry quite a little bit, and upon looking at the current show, I think it’s the best thing he could ever have done. This show is like someone took his mind opened it up, dumped it on the floor and threw it all over the place. You have everything in this show it’s all there, all over the place and it’s all right. Those magnificent drawing of tools he did in the seventies are here, as are photos and sculptures of the recent “Pinocchio” works, as well as Santa Claus and every little bit of detritus floating around his brain. It is a brilliant and magnificent show. It’s also messy and fucked up and even stronger because of it.

It’s almost unbelievable as well, especially when you consider that it is showing at Pace, not a smaller, but larger risk taking type space.

The work on display means less to me than watching dine take over this space and change it to match the psychographic mood of what he does and possibly how he works. The show is fascinating and inspiring. I wonder if we might be moving into an era where only successful artists will be able to take these kind of risks in a commercial space – I want to see even bigger risks being taken with even bigger approaches getting even better results. This is not the show of an artist who is slowing down, but of an artist that is still looking with his eyes, heart, and mind – and then thinking about it to new and unexpected results.

Jim Dine, installation view

Peter Dayton – Black Boards, White Chicks, part II at Salon 94 Freemans
One complaint – what a pain in the ass to find this gallery. I had mapped it and still needed directions.

Other than that the show is a knockout. Peter Dayton has been on my hit list for the last few months and when I received word that this show would consist mostly of his amazing Black Stella paintings, well, I wanted to go. For those late to the party, here is what Dayton does; (in a nut shell) He plays the high culture/low culture game better than anyone I’ve ever seen. It’s that simple.

The Black Stella paintings play with shared images of Frank Stella’s “Black” paintings of the fifties through a filter of the california finish fetish movement of the sixties. Although these have one more layer attached – they look almost exactly like a Stacey Peralta Warp Tail Skateboard deck that was manufactured by Gordon & Smith in the late seventies/early eighties. I should know because every little hessian rocker type kid I knew had one – even me. In fact I had two because my first one got ran over by a car and was snapped in half.

Back to the work, earlier Dayton’s that I’ve seen play with color field painting – usually early Kenneth Noland (his stripes before the targets and chevrons), but these, with the Frank Stella “logo” on the top of the board mimic every important signifier that the real boards had, while using the geometric approach that Stella used. The idea is just so well executed it is hard not to be thrilled with the work. It is a show that asks a little bit from the viewer but returns more than asked with a smart approach and
pristine execution along with smart aleck humor thrown in for good measure.

Bonus Play: A great little story told to me in a gallery that day.
I was talking to a friend at a gallery about how bad the Diebenkorn show recently at the Phillips was – and we were bummed because we both really like his work but this was just student stuff that probably was best to be shown as a piece of two for guidance in a larger show as opposed to an entire show of immature works he did while pursuing his masters.

Here’s the story I was told. It is similar, but kind of worse.

She was at a show and the curator pulls out this painting from a flat file, that even in the best of times is laced with every bad Aryan stereotype you can think of. it’s a blond haired, blue eyed mother in traditional german garb (think sound of music here) with a daughter in front, same kind of features, etc. while in the background it’s the alps on the cleanest day that there ever was. Both of the figures are staring up and out to the bright future only illustrated in images like that. She turns to the curator and says “what is this?” The curator without missing a beat says. “It’s a Franz Kline”.

One Comment

  1. Matt,

    Based on your discussion of the Sugimoto show, I am guessing you missed his big show at the Hirshhorn a few years ago. Imagine the totally black gallery but with curved walls and image after image just blasting off the wall. I was officially a convert that day.

    Thanks for the write-up!

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