Archive for:August, 2012

Abandoned Storage Unit #2: Satish Gujral’s ‘Composition’, Carlos Alonso’s “La Muker Del Vestido Colorado”, and Yayoi Kusama at the Whitney

August 31st, 2012



       Carlon Alonso (b. 1929, Argentina)
          La mujer del vestido colorado, 1956, oil on canvas

      How are all you pups? Back with another Storage Unit. First up’s “La mujer del vestido colorado” by Argentinian Carlos Alonso. I just discovered the piece tonite, as well as the artist. I love the subject’s wan, moody sidelong glance, her large eyes, her pursed mouth, her androgynous features. The black-maroon jacket dress opened to reveal the swath of red heat beneath. Red, the color of anger, hunger. Herself revealed, like a patient worked over by a surgical team, viscera bared, skin pulled & pinned back. Her eyes, angles, and the smudge of red on her cheek reminds me a little of Schiele (always delicious for me). I like too how there’s some strange armor-like bulk to the fabric in the arm region; the subject could be some kind of dystopic mercenary with her future-polymer exoskeleton peeled away momentarily while she waits for her contact to arrive.

* * * * *

* * * * *



       Satish Gujral (b. 1925)
          SATISH GUJRAL 1965 COMPOSITION, 1965, mixed media on canvas

      Gujral is a Punjabi-Indian artist. I just came across this piece on Artnet today. I love looking at this. Troubling and serene. I like the tine-like downward thrust of the object; how, left-offset, it anchors the work and gives it momentum. I like it’s strange conglomeration, like a trident after some kind of graphic-glitch youtube pixellation spasm. I like the barnacle-like encrustation of it. I also think of an underwater centurion, centuries dead, rusting away in his armor. Surrealist Yves Tanguy and his large scale underwater-alienscapes comes to mind — something in Gujral’s assemblage here has the same extra-terrestial presence for me as that artist’s works. Finally, I also think of Louis Nevelson sculptures, their stacked purposeful hodgepodges. Gujral’s is a rich work that rewards meditation.

* * * * *

* * * * *


      Yayoi fucking Kusama. Look at that kohleyed dotter dot, look at her look right back at us. Yum. She’s such a good egg, and my recent trip to the Whitney to catch her retrospective there burnished the ecstatic obsessive glowy shrine for her I’ve set up in my mind even more than it already was. I don’t think I’ve posted about another artist as much on snailcrow as Kusama — see here, here, here and here — and I’m perfectly happy to add yet another passel o’ pics to the mix.
     So much wowed me at her Whitney exhibit. First, the strength of her early 50s work. Just look at this trio:




       Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
          The Germ, 1952, ink and pastel on paper
          Corpses, 1950, oil on canvas
          A Flower, 1952, ink on paper

      I first fell in love with Kusama by way of her vibrant polkadotted pumpkins, boxes and installations; and her ruminations on infinity in the form of mirrored chambers, pools of floating mirror-orbs. And I feel that stuff’s among her greatest work. But discovering these early-50s works with their expressive coils and streaks, busy cilia and numinous shimmers, and firmly-established visual character and impact was a revelation for me. It deepened even further my admiration for her capabilities, her power, her instincts from the get-go. She was already capitalizing at an early age on the themes and traits that obsess her now, & that would characterize much of her later output: dot-work, obsessive attention to small details (these early canvases were a wonder to stand near and scrutinize), fleshiness and biomorphic repetitions, hieroglyphic-like impact. I just can’t explain enough how rewarding this was to see in person.
      Another thing I love about Kusama’s early 50s work is how some of these pieces conflate the micro and the macro — I can recall a piece at the Whitney that was sort of this globe-like dotted presence against a black background that felt either cosmic in scale, some kind of breathing judging mega-planet pulsing in deep space, or micro — maybe a nucleus, or a unicellular critter glowing in the guts of a spider. It was Kusama’s way of investing the object with force, with a weird sentience, and her use of lighting, glow and color gradation that gave it this dual citizenship as an entity vast and atomic all at once.
      I think what got to me most was the fact that her early works are imbued with such vitality and personality, such confidence, just like her later, more celebrated works, and, as I’ll touch on, especially like her most recent pictographic canvases. Take “Germ” — in its halo of Klee-like colorwork, this great floating animalcule serenely pulses, either nebulon-vast or scraped off the tip of an eyelid and spied on under-lens, secreting benevolence and blood into the universe. And look at “A Flower” — that barbed wire whipping, that bulging eye, that tree trunk stalk. Not a flower but the spirit of a flower perhaps, staring out in alarm, flailing psychic feelers, or maybe whipping its field of attraction into inward-pulling net for passing bees. Made me think right away of P.J.’s hairwhip from the cover of “Rid of Me”:


      And “Corpses”? This is such a great, creepy piece. I’m reminded of Kay Sage’s surrealistic work, with big metal eggs and geometric solids hanging out on platforms against vast featureless terrains. Here Kusama masses coiled viscera, like a close up of ropework on a shipdeck, against a featureless sky and the barest hint of sea or land. A bold statement of repetition, of vaguely uncomfortable and half-alien flesh that you find later in, for example, her phallic protuberances and tentacle-work. For me her “Corpses”-esque works remind me as well of certain late 60s/early 70s progressive rock album covers, take for example this back cover of a Comus record which in spirit and in execution (anatomically-vague mass against a flat background) came immediately to mind:

      Now keep all this stuff in mind as you fast forward to her work from the last few years:




       Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
          Joy I Feel When Love Has Blossomed, 2009, acrylic on canvas —
          Late Night Chat is Filled with Dreams, 2009, acrylic on canvas —
          Eyes of Mine, 2010, acrylic on canvas

      New visual language, and yet not so new at all. Note the familiar motifs and traits and tics: life-under-the-microscope biologic teem; the vacuoles, the lipid sacs, the paramecia, the cilia, the little wriggling virii and organelles, the ribosomal dots. The large tentacle-like shapes looming in from out-of-frame in “Late Night Chat is Full of Dreams”; the eyes in “Eye of Mine” echoing that in “A Flower”; the pictographic shapes and symbols in all three paintings. The stark, simplified heavy outlining and bold color against flat backgrounds. And of course dots, dots, O them dots. Some of what energizes and sustains these late works was prefigured in her 50s work, some of it draws from her obsessive gray-wavelet minimalist canvases, some of it suggests her polkadot pumpkins, some of it her giant dot-tentacle canvases. Such a rich drawing from herself here, such a diligent revisiting and refueling from her own abundance of expression.
      I celebrate these late works too for their sheer color impact — they really need to be seen live (isn’t that always the case?) to have this aspect appreciated. In person, all those hot colors and contrasts stacked up close (three or four high and wide per wall if I remember right) present a joyous color- and meaning-kaleidoscope. At the same time, seeing all these at once can be a bit lysergic, can lead to an almost headachy troubling ecstasy. Dissonances arise, and the eye just gets bludgeoned with all those sharp densities of dot, dash, eye, wriggle and spike and recurring but context-less and seemingly meaningless symbol: starfish, woman in profile, coffee cup, spermatazoa, jellyfish, crustacean, you name it. It’s all like a bunch of Haring dudes fed Giza dust and Gary Panter blood and biology book plant cell insets and then turned inside out and their guts microscoped in on a day later.
      What helped me vastly in absorbing and learning from all these canvases — and not just tolerating but embracing and integrating their visual heat — more than I would have at any rate — was Kusama’s titleing. Compare her 50s titles (“A Flower”) with these — “Joy I Feel When Love has Blossomed”, “Once the Abominable War is Over, Happiness Fills our Hearts” and “Shining Stars in Pursuit of the Truth are Off in the Distance Beyond Universe, the More I Sought the Truth, Brighter they Shone”. Sounds like Fiona Apple album titles (I mean that with all due affection, being a huge Apple fan). Having language like this in mind when trying to not just fleetingly glance at but study four, five, six of these in a row right in front of you helps enormously. Once I really took in the titles I was able to sit with these pieces, feel them, gain from them. Otherwise their volume — color-wise, but also as shotgunning of glyphs — can overwhelm, especially in aggregate in one big room.
      For instance, when I was able to take “Late Night Chat is Full of Dreams”, meditate on those nouns and pair up what that language meant to me with the actual image, it opened me up to be able to accept and work with the visual language. This is the kind of stuff Pettibon has made a career of, and it’s fascinating to see Kusama open up her titleing and explore the possibilities in the space between text and visual. Sometimes that game can be superfluous for a given work, but in this case, with this artist, with these works, her rich — if at times a bit belabored — titleing really helps the viewer hold on to a kind of highly personal backstory/narrative when viewing/reading these late canvases. A narrative open to interpretation of course but which, to this reader and viewer, seems to be one of rapturous tribute to the gift of surprise love, and the optimism, wonder, mania and even paranoia that gift can bring.
      I leave you with one last little Kusama bit — another one of her pumpkins, this one a squat adorable greeny:


       Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
          Pumpkin (Green) – from 5 Porcelain Pumpkins, 2002, porcelain


KUUUSAAAAAAAMAAAAAA at the Whitney here.

Check out Kusama’s page at here.

More Gujral works at Artnet are over here.

Finally, find Carlos Alonso at Wikipedia over here.


[posted by: C Way at 11:50 PM]

[file under: ABANDONED STORAGE UNITS ||| Ekphrasis ||| paintings/drawings]

Abandoned Storage Unit #1: Rodin’s Hanako, Daisuke Nakamura Vs Bogdan Cristea, Joey Diaz on Second Chances, John C. Bogle

August 24th, 2012

     Bigg shit’s changing on the S.Crow, and here’s how: no more Art of the Day. Just don’t have time sadly — too many skillets on the stove, had onions burning over here, corn oil frying up the joint over there, a whole zucchini exploding in the back — just wasn’t working. In fact, no more mandates to myself to try and post daily period. I’m just not a commit-to-anything daily kinda guy. Y’all will just have to accept my catch-as-catch-canness. Fuck it my friendz n frondz, I did my level evil best. No regrets as Tom Paxton wrote.
      So what’s left? Occasional posts on art (broadly defined), as always. Ekphrastic posts, posts on art (or non-art) stuff I’m hating on at the moment (called “Slags”), posts on art (or non-art) stuff I’m adoring at the moment (called “Lauds”), and big weird shambling bizzaro conglommied hodgepodges on multiple subjects called “Abandoned Storage Units”, the first of which type of post is happening now motherfuuuuuu’ers:



       Auguste Rodin (b.1840 in Paris, d.1917)
          Two Masks of Hanako, bet. 1907-8, Bronze (topmost), Bottom-most: material unknown — plaster?

      Rodin couldn’t make enough busts of Japanese dancer Ohta Hisa [1868-1945], otherwise known as Hanako. Purportedly he made more sculptures of her than any other sitter. His perseverance is our gain, since, if these two masks are any indication, his complex subject inspired Rodin to a rare degree of striving to — & I don’t say this lightly, being a huge Rodin fan and well acquainted with his diligence and commitment to his work — beautifully carve essence and emotion into existence. Isn’t that topmost piece a stunner? The Pride, the trouble around the brow, the full sensuous mouth, the fold under the left eye, the serenity, the fleeting pathos passing across her countenance. The youth in her, the wisdom of age in her. So much passes through and across these features. And the second-most piece, well, christ, what to say about that. The seized up visage of an immolated martyr, revenge-murderer, possessed sorceress, orgasm-peaking lover.

*  *  *


      Next up is, well, just fucking watch it, at least to the :50 second mark if you could, more if possible:

       Daisuke Nakamura Vs Bogdan Cristea
         M-1 Challenge 5 – Japan, courtesy of HDNET fights, July 17, 2008

      So what’s this? Yus yus, first time I’m posting about the combat arts. I’ve become a big mixed martial arts (aka MMA) fan in the past year or so, and these two practitioners of the art, Daisuke Nakamura and Bogdan Cristea, exemplify here one part of what makes this sport capable of beautiful displays of breathtaking skill — the submission art of Brasilian jiu jitsu. MMA bouts can thrill with all kinds of explosive striking, spinning back kicks and bulldozer uppercuts — many matches offer little else besides that — but what really hooked me about this sport wasn’t haymakers and flying knees (as fun as those are) but rather the jiu jitsu, the part-improvised body-strategy involved in trying to apply submissions/holds and, with equal improvisation-ready strategy, evade them. Watch both fighters deftly, rapidly transition from submission attempt to submission attempt, attempting to execute hold after hold against his foe only to have his opponent escape. All this fluid tangle, blink-and-miss-it give and take, it’s like listening to two skilled debaters or conversationalists interweave ideas and theses and & tropes & innuendoes & argument-sealing rejoinders, just leaves you breathless. The 1:40 mark and on is particularly lovely, with Nakamura rolling his opponent in an attempt to execute an armbar. If you’re interested in this kind of thing, you owe it to yourself to watch the whole damned fight — I guarantee you’ve rarely if ever seen a ground scrap this heated.

*  *  *


      Joey fucking Diaz. I’m a huge fan of this comedian, love his filthy, honest lunatic stories delivered with loud sputtering gusto, while he, wide-eyed in wonderment as if surprised and overtaken by the sheer brute force of his delivery and presence, always seems on the verge of some kind of blaze-of-glory combustion (example here, from his many appearances on Joe Rogan’s podcast). He gets you laughing not so much because of clever cracks or jokes but by dint of his convulsive fucking bazooka personality — it’s just his force of will that gets you guffawing in shock & mild trepidation at where the hell the guy is going to go next. He’s fearless and completely in touch with his core when he’s entertaining in a way that’s rare — he’s performing but not really, more just tapping into the current of himself for better or for worse and turning the amps up to 12. But what makes all this even more impressive for me is how, by contrast, Diaz will mix things up (unconsciously or not) with these moments where he’s vulnerable, where he’s disarmingly hushed in some moment of unaffected appreciation for the world, for women, for psychoactive drug experience, for friendship, whatever; or where he’s candid about what most would consider very private details of his life; or where he’s nakedly direct about his flaws and serious moral miss-steps. This is the Diaz that has deepened my appreciation of him as an explosively talented artist & narrator & performer, and this is the Diaz that you’ll find in one of his most recent posts, a post that moved the hell out of me with its simple plainspoken immediacy and confessorial power. Find it here, and I’ll quote part of it below:


We all have interesting lives because from time to time we struggle with life or our personal demons, how we overcome them and continue to live gives us that second chance. What many people don’t know about me is that I was married and had a child after I got out of prison and before I got into comedy. After a while my true colors started to show and like everything else in my life at the time, the marriage fell apart. It was fine, we had both made a mistake but their was a child involved. I made a simple deal with her because I wanted to stay in the childs life. After a few months, she got a boyfriend, I started fucking around and before you knew it we had a situation.
     The drama escalated and I ended smacking the guy, she took me to court but in the end the only one who suffered was my little girl in the car that day that witnessed the whole thing at the age of 4. I noticed her crying and it hit me, I had seen this type of behavior as a child and between you and I it didn’t do a fucking thing for me. Between that situations and many others I decided that for everyones sake I would move to Seattle for a while to give the situation air before it got worst.
     I would visit every few months but after a while I started to lose her, between me being away and whatever the Mother was telling her, it was starting to show, now I have nothing because we haven’t spoken in years.
     Now thats a great story and all, and I had a great time smacking the guy and acting like a fucking fool but the truth was…..I failed as a Father, period. For years it was my own little secret, but once I came to terms with that, it made my life a lot easier.


*  *  *


      Who dat? John C. Bogle, founder of investment management company Vanguard. What’s he got to say? This spot-on shit:

“Too much money is aimed at short-term speculation — the seeking of quick profit with little concern for the future. The financial system has been wounded by a flood of so-called innovations that merely promote hyper-rapid trading, market timing and shortsighted corporate maneuvering. Individual investors are being shortchanged, he writes.

     Corporate money is flooding into political campaigns. The American retirement system faces a train wreck. America’s fundamental values are threatened. Mr. Bogle remains a dyed-in-the-wool capitalist but says the system has “gotten out of balance,” threatening our entire society. “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else,” he says, quoting Winston Churchill. Now, he says, it’s time to try something else.

     He advocates taxes to discourage short-term speculation. He wants limits on leverage, transparency for financial derivatives, stricter punishments for financial crimes and, perhaps most urgently, a unified fiduciary standard for all money managers: “A fiduciary standard means, basically, put the interests of the client first. No excuses. Period.”

Source: The New York Times
      I guess you could look at this as a Vanguard plug. But whether it is or isn’t — and it’s probably at least some of one — it’s such a great concise summary of the lobster tank we’re all clacking around in folks, while the amuse bouches & celery foam & ostrich-beack canapés get passed around on crystal dishes and $20-a-glass prosecco’s sipped by wan brain-flecked vampire mouths. And I like the Bogle quote not just because of how it sums up the predacious and short-term way our financial overlords have seen fit to shark around and devour the middle and lower classes with subprime mortgages (and, now, the ugly scourge of for-profit colleges) — but how it applies to what’s happening to all of us, financially or otherwise:
      Collective anxiety and helplessness in the face of so many rapidly changing technologies, so many changing ways of life, so many threats (imagined or otherwise; fear-mongered & fed to us or otherwise) looming from within and from without, so many sources of hopelessness and dread have eroded at our collective intrinsic moral fiber. It’s like this: when you’re locked up in a train car with thirty other confused scared people and you think you’re headed to the killing fields, most people are going to break down and go into survival mode. Community begins to break down as higher-functioning aspirational society-building impulses are replaced by desperate amphibian hoarding, tribalism, pecking order, rule of might and me-first scrambles. As it happens in the micro, so it can happen with nations.
      It doesn’t have to be this way — people can band together and collectivize to ward off a common enemy and thereby escape, or cripple, or hijack that killing-field-bound train. But first I believe there’s an inevitable phase of short-term-minded thinking and acting, panicked mad scurry; of pre-Y2K bunker building, generator buying, canned food stockpiling, and, yes, rapacious operations visited upon us from on high by those cloud-wreathed oligarchs already far removed from the consequences of their dehumanized 21st floor boardroom actions and requiring little force to nudge them toward full-scale Après-moi-le-déluge cruelty.
      I hope desperately that we emerge from this phase and realize that we cannot allow ourselves to descend to myopic amorality even if our corporate oligarchy has (& shows no signs of stopping doing so); that we’ll just hasten our own slavery by doing so. Our only chance is to think long term, believe and act as if the world will be around for centuries and is worth fighting for and saving & upholding culturally environmentally and in all respects that we hold dear (even if data seems to support the opposite conclusion), and never forget that our fellow human beings are worth sacrificing our desires and comforts for at every possible opportunity.
      An isolated, suspicious populace attacking itself while in the grip of end-of-the-world dread is the best friend of those who seek absolute control.

More information about Rodin’s Hanako busts here.

A terrific list of unheralded MMA fights here.

More JOEY FUCKIN DIAZ — including info about his comedy cds, merch and tour dates — here.

More on Mr. Bogle in the Times here.


[posted by: C Way at 9:17 PM]

[file under: ABANDONED STORAGE UNITS ||| Combat Arts ||| Comedic Arts ||| sculpture]