Ragnar Kjartansson’s The Visitors at the Frist

posted by – 01/27/17 @ 5:00pm

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Ragnar Kjartansson’s The Visitors is a nine channel video installation arranged in a black room on the second floor of the Frist.  Each camera is positioned in one of forty-three rooms in a historic mansion in New York, where Ragnar Kjartansson and seven friends begin a musical performance sitting alone in eight individual rooms.  The ninth camera is focused on the back porch of the house where a large group of people are sitting.

The musicians listen to the group via a pair of headphones, accompnaying Kjartansson on a cello, piano, drum set, banjo, accordion, and guitar. Without visual cues from their fellow performers, the begin to play a very complex and long musical composition. The song itself ebbs and flows in emotional crescendos and diminuendos.  Kjartansson pulls inspiration from Icelandic poet, Ásdís Sif Gunnarsdóttir, borrowing lines from her work, including the performance’s haunting mantra: “Once again, I fall into my feminine ways.”

The music evolves from meditative and melancholic to a thunderous intensity. Lasting for about an hour and a half, the song is full of quiet, mysterious, contemplative moments, alongside loud, emotional outbursts.  With each artist playing in isolation, the piece explores ideas of relationships and collaboration. The length of the performance alone lends itself to contemplating endurance in production and spectating.

Eventually, characters on each screen interact with each other and move between films.   While the characters walk from screen to screen, the audience moves to follow, blurring the line between audience and performance.  As the video ends, each performer gathers in a single room, where they migrate out of the home, continuing their melody into the distance of the Hudson River Valley.

Frist Center Chief Curator, Mark Scala, says that Kjartansson “…pushes the limits of endurance for himself and his collaborators, he congenially accepts that audiences will come and go as they please, experiencing the work in its entirety or in brief episodes. But…the reward of extended viewing is a heightened perception of differences in the repetition of a scene, musical phrase, or physical action. The whole world is contained in these variations.

The Visitors is certainly worth staying to view the entire performance.  The music is captivating, and the composition in its entirety is a romantic, mournful rhapsody.  It manages to become a portrait of the audience as well as the performers, showcasing their unique personalities and relationships, perhaps mirroring our own.  The immersive installation will certainly leave you feeling enchanted.

The Frist is currently offering free admission to view The Visitors until February 9th, 2017 while they are transitioning exhibitions.

Artist Spotlight: Martica Griffin

posted by – 01/24/17 @ 4:11pm

Dreamboat, 48"x48" acrylic and mixed media on canvas

Dreamboat, 48″x48″ acrylic and mixed media on canvas

Martica Griffin is a Nashville-based artist whose work is primarily abstract and figurative. She has been with Tinney Contemporary for over eight years and four of her works are currently being exhibited in the gallery’s new show, Women of Abstraction.

For the pieces in the exhibition, Griffin drew inspiration from children’s stories – “each with a positive message, strong rhythm, and great sense of humor. Some of the paintings are a bit more structured, others freer and flowing, but all with the same purpose – to stir up the imagination through color, line and texture.”

Her four exhibited paintings focus on having the same starting point and limited palette. Each work starts with intentional and organic black lines covered with a colored grid. This gives each piece a unique sense of energy and rhythm. The work is then built, layer upon layer, through painting, drawing, and scraping, until the completed piece is revealed. Characterized by energetic lines and bold colors, each piece should leave viewers with a smile.

Altered State, 47"x47" acrylic and mixed media on canvas

Altered State, 47″x47″ acrylic and mixed media on canvas

Although her current works utilize the same starting point, Griffin normally works with a continuously changing process. Sometimes her canvases are first filled with color, while other times the canvas is filled with marks or crazy textures using tape, spackle or thick gloss medium. Griffin’s desire to always try new ways of tackling the canvas drives her continuously evolving process and ever-changing way of viewing the world around her. For example, Griffin is currently working on a new body of work on paper that involves starting with offbeat materials and then depicting a figurative group using only large sharpies.

 

On the topic of producing art, Griffin believes creating work can sometimes be frustrating and unenjoyable but is ultimately rewarding. She says, “When I feel like something is finished, that’s the payoff. And when someone has one of my paintings in their home or office and it adds to their life, that’s the best.”

Art Basel Miami Highlights

posted by – 12/08/16 @ 12:56pm

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The 15th annual Art Basel at Miami Beach came to a close on Sunday. It featured nearly 300 galleries from 29 countries in just five days.  Commonly the art market’s largest week of activity, Art Basel faced uncertainty in sales due to slowed growth in art markets, the U.S. presidential election, Brexit, and the presence of Zika in Miami.  Although the halls of the Miami Beach Convention Center were reportedly less crowded, dealers reported steady business. In times of political uncertainty, writer Alexander Forbes for artsy.net explains that it will take some time for any Trump or Brexit inspired policies to be enacted, and even more time after that to take effect on the art market. Even then, their interaction with the art market will be unpredictable. Galleries with diverse programs and international involvement will fare well.  Of course, Art Basel witnessed a small shift toward directly political artworks, due to the current political and economic conditions weighing heavily on artists and dealers alike.

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The sculpture park featured Glenn Kaino’s “Invisible Man” (2016) as a centerpiece.  The aluminum figure stands on a large concrete plinth. From behind, the figure is rendered in full textural detail portraying a man surrendering with his arms up.  The front half of the sculpture is sheared off into a flat, mirrored plane.  Since the the killing of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer, the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture has become an iconic protest.

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Paintings, films, sculptures, photographs, installations, and performances from around the globe filled Miami.  Hyperallergic’s Rob Colvin details a plethora of paintings from international contemporary artists in the article, “Painting According to Art Basel Miami Beach.” Art Basel featured surrealist, Leonor Fini’s “Chthonian Deity Watching over the Sleep of a Young Man” (1946), which was created at a time when female artists weren’t really supposed to depict men in relaxed or vulnerable poses.

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On the other end of the painting spectrum, Katherine Bernhardt’s explosive “Untitled” (2016) is very street art inspired, rendered in spray paint and acrylic.  “Light Landscape 2” (2016), by seasoned Art Basel Painter Alex Katz is one of, if not, the largest paintings exhibited.

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Over the course of 15 years, Art Basel in Miami has doubled its size and witnessed the formation of hundreds of satellite fairs.  The number of galleries in Miami has increased from 6 in 2002 to over 130 today.

 

Sumida Hokusai Museum Opening

posted by – 11/29/16 @ 3:02pm

An article on Artnet details the opening of the Sumida Hokusai Museum in Tokyo on November 22nd. The museum features the work of Katsushika Hokusai, a Japanese artist best recognized for his The Great Wave off Kanazawa. This iconic 19th Century woodblock print, from his “36 Views of Mount Fuji” series will be on display in the museum alongside changing exhibitions featuring a collection of 1,800 paintings by the artist.  The museum also features a recreation of Hokusai’s Susanoo-no-Mikoto Yakujin Taiji no Zu, which had been lost in the Great Kanot Earthquake in 1923, as well as Sumidagawa Ryogan Keshiki Zukan, a 23 foot long scroll recovered from going missing for over a century when it was taken abroad.

(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko/Japan Times)

(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko/Japan Times)

Hokusai was a famous artist, best known for his illustrations, paintings, and prints done in the ukiyo-e genre, featuring a seemingly hedonistic urban Japanese lifestyle. It wasn’t until his 70’s when Hokusai created one of the art world’s most iconic images, nicknamed The Great Wave. The print can be seen in across the globe in museums from New York, Boston, Chicago and LA.  The print’s original conception was rooted in commercialism. The  “36 Views of Mount Fuji” series was intended to showcase Mount Fuji as a sacred icon of Japanese identity that had its own cult following.  The prints enjoyed attention on the souvenir market, as they were easily reproducible.  Japanese art historians are hesitant to call The Great Wave a definitive representation of their artistic culture because woodblock prints in that style were regarded as a form of expression and commercial printing, not fine art.

Today, The Great Wave enjoys status as a one of the most reproduced artworks in the world.  It has been referenced in films, modern graphic design, video games, album artwork, and even reproduced as a sculpture.  A smaller version of the work is even featured as an emoji!

Regina Jose Galindo at the Vanderbilt Football Stadium

posted by – 11/10/16 @ 1:31pm

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This Saturday, November 12th, at 10:00 AM, Regina Jose Galindo, an internationally recognized performance artist will be premiering a public performance piece in the Vanderbilt Football Stadium. Entitled Comunidad, this piece calls upon the Latinx community to exhibit its resilience in troubling times.  Galindo is setting out to “generate a real experience of the strength of the community,” rather than just a pictorial representation.

 

Regina was born in Guatemala and lives in Guatemala City.  As a poet and an artist, her work explores the ethical implications of social injustice. She uses her own body in performance art pieces to illustrate how institutional violence can impact the bodies of women and minorities around the world.  Her often graphic, courageous pieces serve as reenactments of violent history.  Regina calls on her audience to remember this history and use that memory as a tool against social injustice.

 

Galindo calls on the Latinx community of Nashville to create Communidad in the following video: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/clas/regina-jose-galindo

Other members of the Nashville community are invited to observe the performance piece as well.

For more information, or to RSVP, click here.

Michele Pred on The Patriot Act

posted by – 11/01/16 @ 1:17pm

michele-predLast Wednesday was the 15-year anniversary of the passage of the Patriot Act – an Act of Congress whose abbreviation (USA PATRIOT), expanded, describes, “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.”  The Patriot Act was passed into law immediately following the terrorist attacks in the fall of 2001, without receiving much scrutiny.  In hindsight of its passing, legislators began to realize the significance of the laws they put into place and how they could potentially subvert federal privacy laws.  Since the tragedies of September 11, 2001, Congress has adopted quite a few new laws that many citizens feel interfere with the delicate balance between combating domestic terrorism and maintaining our own civil rights.  To date, hundreds of American factions have attempted to pass resolutions against the Patriot Act, stating they will not comply with much or all of its restrictions.

One such restriction of the Patriot Act was the federalization and strengthening of airport screening.  At the baggage claim of the San Francisco International Airport, travelers were greeted by conceptual artist, Michele Pred. Clothed in 1960’s-era flight attendant dress, Pred gifted tiny pocket knives reading, “Official Air Travel Replacement Knife” to departing commuters.  The 2.25 inch knives Pred presented are the most common type of pocket knife confiscated by TSA officers.  In regards to the chosen text, Pred stated in an interview with Hyperallergic: “The text that I had printed on them was intended as a somewhat humorous way of driving home the notion that our focus on security has not only taken things away from us, but has not clearly explained what it has given back.”  Pred did receive a Free Speech and Expressive Activities Permit and permission from the airport after an extensive application process.

encirclementHer performance was an extension of a group exhibition through the FOR-SITE foundation in San Francisco, called Home Land Security Her “Encirclement” installation features hundreds of confiscated items from airports arranged in a ring, intended to call attention to the small personal cost that comes with growing airport security.  The exhibition is housed in the Presidio, a former military base overlooking the Bay area.  Home Land Security brings together contemporary artists making work to reflect on the complexity of national security.  The show will be on display through December 18, 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

ArtFields 2017

posted by – 10/11/16 @ 3:03pm

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ArtFields is a public charity created by the Lake City, SC Creative Alliance, whose mission is to contribute to the area’s education and community through creative and cultural development, connecting people through the arts.

Art fields is a weeklong celebration and competition honoring artists of the Southeast. Over 400 submissions by emerging and established artists will be displayed in locally owned venues, such as renovated warehouses, upscale restaurants, boutiques, and art galleries.  The program is offering life-changing amounts of money to artists of all media who live in Southeastern states.  A panel of judges made up of acclaimed artists and educators will be evaluating the work and awarding over $100,000 of prize money up for grabs.  $50,000 for the Top Prize, $25,000 for Juried Panel prize, and two $12,500 People’s Choice.  Various smaller prizes will be awarded, including $1,000 for a portrait painting contest!

The submission deadline is November 16, 2016, and the event will take place April 21-29, 2017.

Visit http://www.artfieldssc.org/ for more information.

Inka Essenhigh at the Frist

posted by – 10/04/16 @ 2:40pm

In Bed

In Bed, 2005

Inka Essenhigh is a New York based painter whose surrealist paintings feature dramatic figure distortions, moody palettes, impossibly vibrant hues, and mythical landscapes.  She manages to transform simple every-day situations into extraordinarily fantastic scenes from a fictitious world. Drawing on imagination, Essenhigh creates intricately detailed topographies, pulling viewers into a whole new realm of existence.

Her influence by modern Surrealism is especially apparent in In Bed, depicting a malformed humanoid blob writhing in a sea of undulant, animated blankets, battling an army of its own inner demons.  She often includes influential, dark, psychological intimations, inviting a contemplation of the unknown. Viewers are then lent to the mercy of their own imaginations.

Green Goddess II, 2009

Green Goddess II, 2009

Essenhigh also revives myth and antiquity, often including characters of lore, gods, goddesses, nymphs, sprits, and elves in her paintings.  Green Goddess II and similar are redolent of animism. The woodlands are depicted as a sentient creature, leaving the relationship between nature and humanity equivocal.

Spring Bar Scene displays a hallucinogenic theme, casting slimy, green characters in a boozy, uncouth atmosphere. The bargoers seem raucous; they sway and carouse while the bartenders maintain a seemingly affectionate demeanor.  Essenhigh recontextualizes the bar atmosphere into a grand, whimsical new territory where her ghoulish characters are fused together and their energy animates the composition.

Spring Bar Scene, 2008

Spring Bar Scene, 2008

A selection of the artist’s paintings and drawings in Inka Essenhigh: Between Worlds are on display at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in the Gordon Contemporary Artist Project Gallery until October 9th, 2016.

Native American Artists Redefining What It Means to be “American”

posted by – 09/13/16 @ 3:43pm

Since the approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline project in July (and well before this), Native Americans have been peacefully protesting their mistreatment.  In particular, they’re working to preserve sacred and cultural sites.

At the same time, as discussed in Hyperallergic’s article, “Native American Students Fight to Remove Colonial Imagery from University of New Mexico,”  Indigenous people are rejecting labels and stereotypes perpetuated by the current Colonial American Narrative.

Cleopocahantra by Meritt Johnson

Cleopocahantra by Meritt Johnson

As art parallels history, Contemporary Indigenous Artists are growing in popularity alongside these events, such as those featured at the Cross Currents exhibition at Metropolitan State University of Denver in late 2013-2014.  More and more frequently, they are being given a voice to fill in historical gaps, preserve their own culture, and contribute to the current cultural conversation. Each artist in the exhibit explored topics of marginalization, stereotypes, and the deeper meaning of identifying as an Indigenous person in the United States.  Exhibits like this one give them a unique opportunity to draw attention to both historical and current progressions in the treatment of Native Americans.

(No)otalgia by Cannupahanksa Luger

(No)otalgia by Cannupahanksa Luger

“Being a Painter in the Digital Media Age”

posted by – 09/08/16 @ 12:50pm

Artnet news published a beautifully written recount of an interview with young contemporary painter, Jessie Edelman, on being a painter in the digital media age.

Edelman’s painting is primarily influenced by impressionism – a genre of painting that deeply inspired her upon visiting the Art Institute of Chicago at a young age.  She uses this alongside her own unique brand of figuration to express emotion and contemplation on her textured canvases.  She describes her work as “painterly,” purposely exploring the materiality of her paint, leaving evidence of human touch.  In what Walter Benjamin described as “The Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” Edelman maintains her historic roots to combat the mechanization of imagery.  As Impressionists were exploring what it meant to paint with the birth of photography, Edelman contemplates what it means to create paintings in the age of social media.  She utilizes Instagram as a source of references for paintings, in which she often depicts figures sans technology – either bored of or engaged with the scenery.

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Edelman gives a mature reflection on how our phones drastically change the way we view the world.  We swipe through images, seldom ever appreciating their beauty for long, constantly cycling ahead for more content.  In Edelman’s paintings, the figures experience what she describes as “melancholia,” or a separation from the environment they find themselves in. The full Artnet article can be read here.

 

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Knowing her interest in how digital media affects our lives, this melancholy theme in her work leaves viewers to wonder whether their sense of detachment stems from simple contemplation, or their lack of digital media.  The paradox of social media is highlighted: It is meant for connection and sharing information, but it often distracts us from purer elements of living.  It even strips us of true alone time.  Are we truly disconnected without our phones? Has the age of digital media completely changed the way we interact with the real world?