title has a good ring to it, the use of the word Baroque doesn't bear
too close scrutiny. It ought to connote emotional excess, knowing rule
subversion, and theatrical directness. Roman bells and smells can also
help. The artist who best most evokes this last attribute is Ms. Gallaccio.
She has been active on the London scene since the 1980s and has devoted
her career, to the best of my knowledge, to a single idea. Luckily, it's
a cute one: She arranges fresh cut flowers in a modernist grid under a
sheet of thick glass, either on the floor or, as on this occasion, on
the wall, and leaves them, over the course of an exhibition, to their
inevitable, inexorable decay.
Mr. McQueen is a
Turner Prize winner and video artist of subtlety and depth. Alas, his
somewhat slight contribution here conforms to a stereotypical (think
Damien Hirst) view of young British art: pristinely executed renderings
of vague nastiness. The seven C-prints sealed within plexi that capture
rolled up rags rotting in gutters are hardly Carravaggio. On the other
hand, Mr. McQueen and Ms. Gallacio set a tone of slick rot which the
other two artists extend in more suggestive ways.
oil and charcoal on canvas, 63-1/2 82 inches
Courtesy Plane Space, New York
of Mr. Dawson's enigmatic sculptures and Mr. Lowenstein's graffiti-
and Sci-Fi-inspired lyrical abstraction is what makes this show worth
the journey. Mr. Dawson, who was given a solo exhibition this summer
at Chelsea's James Cohan Gallery, subjects found plastic industrial
containers to the blow torch to produce weird contortions, a kind of
postmodernized Arp. The sense of nature reclaiming artifice with avengance
connects with the flowers and rags, but Mr. Dawson's rich, ambiguous
work is more individual and laive than his copatriots'. His sculpture
has just the right mix of banality and otherness.
is genuinely Baroque in his collision of salon abstraction and street
attitude. He favors raw canvas and seemingly arbitrary stains for his
grounds and a highly developed calligraphy (plus occasional bursts of
cartooning and graffiti) for his figure. His mark-making is at once
fastidious, fiddly, expressive and aloof. It looks as if he has mastered
some lost semitic script, and like Islamic or Jewish micrographers,
who arrange text into motifs or geometric patterns, he has his marks
accumulate into vaguely depictive forms: In his case, what could read
as space ships or ancient cities are poised on the brink of legibility.
By showing Mr. Lowenstein with three emissaries of Cool Brittania, Ms.
Ivorian Gray has emphasized both the funkiness and earnestness of this
underrated New Yorker.
Reading Ossie Clark 2003
three stills from the DVD
and right: Where to Begin 2002-03
oil on canvas, 12 x 10 inches
Courtesy Feigen Contemporary
Baroque puts you in the mood for perfidious Albion, be sure
to catch Jeremy Blake's retro riot of a DVD, "Reading Ossie
Clark," on show at Feigen Contemporary through this weekend.
Clark was the great celebrity fashion designer of 1960s Swinging
from Clark's recently published diaries ("Marianne bought
a suede suit trimmed in python with a fluted peplum and never
asked the price") are narrated in a suitably plush, Julie
Christie-like accent by New York artworld impresario Clarissa
Dalrymple. Phrases like "She comes in color" and "One
snort of cocaine makes me into a new man, and that man wants
two snorts" rub up against a montage of period film clips
and fashion plates over which abstract psychedelic animation
is louchely layered in correspondingly gaudy hues.
would have been nine delectable minutes of an acid trip down
memory lane were it not for the fact that you have to pass a
display of puny paintings to exit the gallery. Mr. Blake's whimsical
and ephemeral vision is perfectly suited to the editing room,
but his painting, in the now ubiquitous knowingly inept "it's
okay that it's crappy because it's only from photographs"
style is a real let down. You need to watch your back if you're
painting Celia Clark, Ossie's Missus and the muse of David Hockney.
Aristides Logothetis Blorb 2000
fabric and tennis balls, 8 x 8-1/2 x 7 inches
For more fun and
games with clothing, check out Aristides Logothetis at Cue, the admirable
new non-profit space in West 25th Street's Whitehall Building. Cue awards
debut (or "too long since") shows to emerging or neglected
artists who are picked for the honor by guest curators. Athens-born
Mr. Logothetis was the choice of William Fagaly, former assistant director
of the New Orleans Museum of Art.
Mr. Logothetis orchestrates
a rapturous interplay of forms in paintings and sculptures that reference
DNA models, microscope slides, fashion, and Fifties decor. One piece,
"Protein," (2003), a five foot high open-form sculpture made
from Bermuda shorts joined at the leg openings and filled with foam
and cement, puts you in mind of a giant cell structure, perhaps the
protein of the title. The pulsating blobs and lozenges of "Tabla
Bubbly," (2001), a riff on early Ad Reinhardt or Bradley Walker
Tomlin, assume a new significance in company with the assemblages.
There is a cheeky
subversiveness to the back and forth banter throughout this show between
garish plaids and minimalist grids. The deft interaction of tennis balls
and fabric in "Blorb," (2000), in which bright colored stripes
are suggestively pulled and stretched, looks like an unlikely collaboration
between Louise Bourgeois and Ellsworth Kelly. There is all sorts of
nifty play with biomorphized handbags and writhing neck-ties. Never
has the modern sculptural convention of the "disagreeable object"
looked so agreeable.
Augusto Arbizo Sign
acrylic on canvas, 70 x 52 inches
Steinberg Fine Art
A more sedate set
of connections, sanctioned by art history, nonetheless produces sumptuous
and suggestive results in the work of the Phillipenes-born painter,
Augusto Arbizo. His show, entitled "Rise and Fall", marries
the romantic landscape idiom and abstract expressionism.
Readers of Robert
Rosenblum's classic text "Modern Painting and The Northern Romantic
Tradition: Friedrich to Rothko" would be forgiven, however, for
pointing out that this couple have already been living in sin for quite
Mr. Arbizo starts
his large, weird, glossy canvases with chance gestures which he proceeds
to interpret, discovering in the congealing paint a glowing moon within
forlorn trees or a dense forest of algae.
Of course, this
strategy extends much further back than Professor Rosenblum and his
romantics (original and latter day) to Leonardo, who extolled the suggestiveness
of stains and accidental patterns to the landscapist. While Mr. Arbizo
more closely recalls Rorschach tests, Max Ernst's forests, and Jay DeFeo's
legendary Rose (currently on view at the Whitney incidentally) than
Leonardo, he adds a welcome contemporary twist to the occult strain
in landscape painting.