The first time I saw Gordon Smith, he was delivering a talk to a group of students at what was then the Banff School of Fine Arts. I was 19, enrolled as an undergraduate at the University of Calgary and, in an attempt to catch up on credits after switching my major from English to fine arts, was taking a summer painting course in Banff.
For me it all started in 1991 in Munich at the Glyptothek. First visit there and unsure about the city with its place as a fertile bed for the rise of the National Socialist Party, indeed its foundation was there in 1919. Even though it was May, the weather had turned and we were faced—dressed in light jackets, jeans and sneakers—with angled sheets of rain and snow… Keep Reading
It takes four minutes and 14 seconds before the title of Avi Belkin’s brilliant documentary about legendary American journalist Mike Wallace finally turns up. That interval is a capsule of what the remaining 127 minutes will reveal: that Wallace’s 60-year-long career was more complicated than you could ever guess by simply watching the game-changing, compelling interviews he did on 60 Minutes, beginning in 1968 and continuing until his retirement 37 years later. Keep Reading
The Intimate Delight of Janet Nungnik’s Textile Art
At school, she was eventually consoled by the peaceful attitude of a teacher. “His name was Mr. Webster and he was always so calm. After I saw him, I was interested in learning English.” Then she adds, “My classmates were like me, abducted from their homeland. But we connected really well and we had an opportunity to have fun each day.” Later on, while she was home on breaks from middle school in Churchill and high school in Yellowknife, her father insisted that she and her sister and brother maintain their first language—written and spoken. Not incidentally, she signs all her work in Inuktitut syllabics. Keep Reading
The Painting and Photography of Elaine Stocki
In this exhibition recently opened at the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris, Elaine Stocki—formerly from Winnipeg, now living in Los Angeles—here proposes what appear to be two equally emphasized streams of work, one of images produced photographically, and the other and more recent of the two groups in the form of paintings. It’s tempting to retain the simple notion that photography is about looking and recording the look, and painting is about touching and the immediate touch. Keep Reading
The Changing Language of Tracey Emin’s New Paintings
Tracey Emin’s new paintings, recently exhibited as part of the exhibition “A Fortnight of Tears” at White Cube, London, reveal an uncommon depth of feeling. Yes, her art in all its many media has always been emotionally demonstrative; you always knew what was on her mind—the passions of desire, abandonment, pleasure, revenge, or whatever was at stake in any given piece—and the work declared the feeling… Keep Reading
an Interview with Neo Rauch
Two things are immediately apparent when you look at the art of Neo Rauch: his technical skills are virtuosic and the paintings are consistently enigmatic. Visually, there is much to see. The paintings and large drawings are activity-laden; every character in his compositions is doing something, the kind of work that moves objects around but to no evident purpose and with no apparent outcome. Structures get built, costumes are put on, men and women pay rapt attention to what they are doing. But for the viewer nothing adds up to anything that could be declared a readable narrative. Keep Reading
an Interview with Ross Bleckner
Ross Bleckner admits that the idea of beauty has always been a personal fascination, and the result of his compelling interest is the production of bodies of work that aspire towards and achieve the condition of the radiant and the sublime. At the core of his expression is a profound affirmation of the human spirit, and one of its deepest manifestations is a spiritual dimension that has little to do with conventional religiosity and everything to do with an unwavering humanist epistemology. His most recent exhibition, “Ross Bleckner: Pharmaceutria” at Petzel in New York, included 15 paintings, all large oils on linen, that, taken together, are a measure of where he sees himself and the medium that has been his primary focus from the time he left CalArts with his MFA in hand in 1973 and returned to New York. Keep Reading
The Various Arts of Wangechi Mutu
A successful collage is synthetic, its disparate component parts adhering as a rational whole. It would be impossible to imagine any other configuration of its diverse elements, recombinant and now perfect. Wangechi Mutu’s luscious, fantastical, multivalent, clamouring collage works hang together as intense composites— evidence of mind wrestling with matter. Prodigious, complex visual presentations, what they are not is static or fixed. Not one is a lullaby to sleep by. Keep Reading
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