Thursday, April 26, 2007

Takashi Murakami and Matthew Ritchie In HighSpeed Collision on the Moons of Jupiter

These amazing images came from the USGS Astrogeology site, presenting highly aestheticized false-color renderings of planetary topologies. I'm not sure of the depth of scientific information that these poppy, expressionist graphics convey, but they certainly are an example of how the universe (to paraphrase) is "stranger than we can imagine" and at least as strange as the imaginations of contemporary pop and graffiti artists.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Chris Natrop's Fabulous Hanging Gardens

above (L to R): Fern Space; Sparkle Bomb.

I just came across the work of Chris Natrop via dataisnature, and don't know how it could have stayed off my radar. Natrop creates intricate hand-cut paper sculptures and wall pieces that make careful use of the space, light, shadow, and application of surface materials such as wall paint, nail polish, and watercolor. The installations bring to mind both the rich decorative objects of Tord Boontje or Petah Coyne and the swirling, myth-infused psychogeographies of Matthew Ritchie.
above (L to R): Landscape Blossom Pop; Pink Dimension

Some of the smaller works have an almost devotional or altar-like composition; Natrop's process is both meditative and poetic without being cloying or precious, and responds to (in the artist's words) the visible but 'hidden essence' of his home of Los Angeles, an overpowering sensual environment of extreme urbanism infiltrated by a relentless efflorescence.
Visit the artist's website here, and read an interview with him here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Jorge Pardo @ Friedrich Petzel

Jorge Pardo, the whimsical & prolific artist/designer, has a solo exhibition of objects & paintings now through April 21st at Friedrich Petzel Gallery in Chelsea.
Pardo is popular for his multidisciplinary installations which blur the distinction between 'design' and 'fine art', although I feel that's more because he chooses to show his work in galleries and because his 'design' work--furniture, lighting, interiors--seems vaguely more conceptual and part of a process of working in which the artifact or fabrication is more an outcome rather than a goal. As such, the works in this exhibition create the ambiance of a not-completely-finished boutique hotel lobby.
The main feature of the show are a couple dozen milled-PVC chandelier pendant lamps hanging at various lengths from the ceiling. While variants of this design can be seen in multiple trendy boutiques right now, closer investigation reveals a form less akin to traditional ornament and something a bit edgier and aquatically primal--think Ernst Haeckel vs. Tord Boontje.
The paintings are actually silkscreen & applique on unprimed linen, and draped with fabric garlands, bringing to mind the large-scale collages of Beatriz Milhazes. The gay floral patterns are diffused somewhat by the dourness of the surface material.
Rounding out the show are a group of wine-storage credenzas with custom hinge fixtures and a series of bizarre clocks made from contoured layers of corrugated cardboard and wood. Pardo's work here as elsewhere playfully makes a statement about the sheer aesthetic experience of architecture, objects and spaces. While the objects are wonderful and exuberant in their own right, however, this presentation seems strangely unalive.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Fast Forward: 'New' New York

The built environment of New York City is undergoing a radical transformation. With a rush of new development, the city is going to experience a rapid evolution over the next decade. As New York Magazine reported, a city larger than San Francisco is now being “built on top of the city that we know.”
This show features a 'future map' of architectural projects on a large aerial shot of the city, and has a special focus on the (west side) High Line project the Bronx River Greenway.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Another Nifty Book

When I was in Toronto recently I visited YYZ gallery in the amazing 401 Richmond complex (a converted factory space with five floors of media centers, galleries, shops, gardens & arts organizations). They publish some great books including this one:
Crime and Ornament: The Arts and Popular Culture in the Shadow of Adolf Loos
Opening the book is the original text from Loos' incendiary (and quaintly, queezily racist) 'Ornament is Crime' diatribe, which laid the ground for the Modernist repudiation of decoration. The authors seem to take a pretty broad view of these ideas as they lay out their theses and projects, but so far it's a great read & a wonderfully designed little tome...the layout & type is actually quite classic & clean, rather ironic, I thought...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Cal Lane: Metal Lace Artist


(click image to view larger)
I first came across Cal Lane's amazing 'rust dust' patterns at Scope Art Fair and most recently at the Museum of Arts & Design awe-inspiring 'Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting' show. Ms. Lane is an artist who hand-welds intricate and delicate patterns and filigrees into steel beams and surfaces. Her work exists at a fascinating intersection between craft, fine art and industrial production; and on another level as a historical confrontation with the feminine 'decorative arts' and the macho heroic-sculpture monuments of Modernism.

Quoted from Ray Cronin, Curator at Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, from the catalogue of Lane's sculpture exhibition 'Fabricate':
"By cutting into the beams, reproducing the patterns of lace, Lane seems to be pointing out the limits of Modernity's asceticism. In this reading the lace patterns work as ornament, a decorative function that undermines the structural integrity of the beams...Is ornament eating away at the modernist purity of the towers? ...I suggest that the decorative is indeed a corrosive."