Posts Tagged ‘Barnett Newman’

Lipstick and a Pig

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010
Nate Lowman/Karla Black reads like a battle of the sexes.  Is it a lover’s quarrel?  Not really, because it feels too general.  Karla Black’s installation asserts its femininity – hear it roar.  Nate Lowman seems to be coming to terms with outmoded male rage.  No more misogyny, misanthropy, and misfiring.
Karla Black blankets the cold gallery floor with solvent femininity, without veering toward the Maternal.  Platonic Solids includes powder paint and cosmetics material, parted in some places to reveal whimsical drawings of geometric shapes, both flat and dimensional.  Its unprotected edges appear to be vulnerable, though the bright pigment is formidable enough to establish boundaries.
Above this scatter sculpture is …. a staggered grid of painted paper.  The contiguous body hangs limply and bears sheets individually  painted and undelicately bound together.  Most sheets seem to have passively drifted through pastel-colored fog, but a few pop out in bright red.  Is there a periodicity to these?  They appear random, but women artists using intermittent reds makes me think of menstruation.  “I don’t trust nothin’ that bleeds for seven days and don’t die.”  Speaking of, the whole piece is brutally, traumatically penetrated by a structural steel beam, which pins the piece like a butterfly specimen.
Meanwhile, Nate Lowman dances around Karla Black’s territory, melodramatically bidding “Happy Trails” to the priapic monopoly of art history, most specifically in High Modernism.  In “Anger Management Trilogy #2,” he revises Willem de Kooning’s violent Marilyn Monroe with a pathetic, infantile gesture too weak to even fill the canvas – like throwing a shoe down a hallway.  Next to it is “Snowman,” alkyd on canvas, whose subject pessimistically – but accurately – shares his fate via a caption that would make Gillian Wearing curdle.  To remind the viewer that the image is only a frozen moment in parabolic dissolution might correspond to the analytic interpretation that a Pollock is a record of gravity – or at least, “action.”  And his untimely death?
The sculpture “Broken Zip” fits perfectly into the show, foiling the steel probe overhead with a disintegrating erection that refers to Barnett Newman “zip” paintings, as well as his great “Broken Obelisk.”  A row of vintage gas pump veneers, rusted and decrepit, reminds me of Edward Hopper imagery, and maybe takes on the provincial heritage of American art history, now buried by globalization and the looming peak oil armageddon.  The trompe l’oeil in the middle chromatically coordinates with Black’s green.
Finally, his “For JJ” (like vah-jay-jay?) consummates in the back hallway with her “Division Isn’t,” which would collapse like a fainting wife and crumble to the floor, were it not suspended by tiny strings.  If the steel probe overhead is any indication, we’re seeing the result of a Lowman’s barbaric insertion, a crime whose only clue is a newspaper clipping about middle-aged riflemen.  Notably, the testicles are turned backward: for most men, the left hangs lower.  That is not the case here, so we must assume that we are sneaking a peek from behind.

... and in this corner ...
... and in this corner ...

Karla Black/Nate Lowman reads like a battle of the sexes.  Is it a lover’s quarrel?  Not really, because it feels too general.  Karla Black’s installation asserts its femininity – hear it roar.  Nate Lowman seems to be coming to terms with outmoded male rage.  No more misogyny, misanthropy, and misfiring.

The Scottish Karla Black blankets the cold gallery floor with solvent femininity, without veering toward The Maternal.  Platonic Solids includes powder paint and cosmetics material, parted in some places to reveal whimsical drawings of geometric shapes, both flat and dimensional.  Its passive expanse and unprotected edges appear to be vulnerable, though the bright pigment is formidable enough to establish boundaries and ward off trespassers.

No doubt, her work has feminine qualities.  Can that claim be derogatory?  What about “girly?”  But thank heavens for girls!  Can’t live without ’em.

The girly nature, and the pastel palette, remind me of Lily van der Stokker’s murals and installations.  Her lowercase cursive text and cartoony, buoyant fields of color are distinctly preteen feminine.

Lily van der Stokker
Lily van der Stokker

Above this scatter sculpture is Don’t Detach, Adapt, a staggered grid of painted paper.  The contiguous body hangs limply and bears sheets individually  painted and undelicately bound together.  Most sheets seem to have passively drifted through pastel-colored fog, but a few pop out in bright red.  Is there a periodicity to these?  They appear random, but women artists using intermittent reds makes me think of menstruation.  “I don’t trust nothin’ that bleeds for seven days and don’t die.”  Speaking of, the whole piece is brutally, traumatically penetrated by a structural steel beam, which gores the piece like a pin through a butterfly specimen.

Mary Heilmann, Rosebud, 1983
Mary Heilmann, Rosebud, 1983

Meanwhile, Nate Lowman dances around Karla Black’s territory, melodramatically bidding “Happy Trails” to the priapic monopoly of art history, most specifically in High Modernism.

Versus
Lipstick on a Pig

In Anger Management Trilogy #2, he revises Willem de Kooning’s violent Marilyn Monroe with a pathetic, infantile gesture too weak to even fill the canvas – like throwing a shoe down a hallway.  Next to it is Snowman, alkyd on canvas, whose subject pessimistically – but accurately – shares his fate via a caption that would make Gillian Wearing curdle.  To remind the viewer that the image is only a frozen moment in parabolic dissolution might correspond to the analytic interpretation that a Pollock is a record of gravity – or at least, “action.”  And his untimely death?

After Gillian Wearing
After Gillian Wearing

The lean Broken Zip fits perfectly into the show, foiling the steel probe overhead with a disintegrating erection that refers to Barnett Newman “zip” paintings, as well as his great Broken Obelisk.  A row of vintage gas pump veneers, rusted and decrepit, reminds me of Edward Hopper imagery, and maybe takes on the provincial heritage of American art history, now buried by globalization and the looming peak oil armageddon.  The trompe l’oeil in the middle chromatically coordinates with Black’s green.

Oh, snap!
Oh, snap!

Green with (penis) envy
Green with envy

Finally, his For JJ (like vah-jay-jay?) consummates in the back hallway with her Division Isn’t, which would collapse like a fainting wife and crumble to the floor, were it not suspended by tiny strings.  If the steel probe overhead is any indication, we’re seeing the result of a Lowman’s barbaric insertion, a crime whose only clue is a newspaper clipping about middle-aged riflemen.

Jasper Johns, Painting with Two Balls, 1960
Or is it the other "JJ?" (Jasper Johns, Painting with Two Balls, 1960)

Notably, the testicles are turned backward: for most men, the left hangs lower.  That is not the case here, so we must assume that we are sneaking a peek from behind.  They are also blue: coitus interruptus among us!

Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am
Wham Bam, thank you, Ma'am.  Ma'am?

I guess that’s why they call it the blues?