Sunday, March 29, 2009




Rigorous or excessive adherence to recognized forms, as in religion or art.
An instance of rigorous or excessive adherence to recognized forms.
A method of aesthetic analysis that emphasizes structural elements and artistic techniques rather than content, especially in literary works.

The aesthetic judgement must be one of disinterest, meaning that the empirical object is of no self-interest to the judge. The judgement is on no level concerned with the “real” object in relation to concepts associated with it, but instead seems to perceive the object as an end in itself, and the satisfaction or pleasure is induced by the judgement that has achieved this status rather than the judgement being a result of the pleasure experienced. It is at this point that true formalism comes into being, because, according to Kant, the judgement must only be concerned with form, rather than sensory content.

Rives Granade

Kevin Cyr

Kevin Cyr is a painter who, among many other things, paints images of neglected vans, bikes, campers, cars and trucks. He feels that painting these images conveys a sense of lineage, history, and tells a story about how these vehicles came to be how they stand and what they symbolize. These images also explore the idea of social economic classes within the asian american community. It also speaks about China's rapid movement towards modernizing their county and their ideas in contemporary culture.

Bear your motherland in mind while casting your eyes on the world. / 60 x 72 / oil on panel / date?

Glorious work. Happy life. / 48 x 60 / oil on panel / date?

Koolman / 24 x 48 / oil on plywood / date?

Candy Grumman / 72 x 144 / oil cardboard / date?

often times when i start a blog post, it's really hard for me to not just blurt out all over the page: HEY! I REALLY LIKE THIS. YOU SHOULD TOO!!! really, all i want to do w/ this blog is be a portal for the great art i come across. it's often hard to find the right words w/ out coming over like a polly anna who speaks abbrev.

well, this post isn't any different. i was recently very fortunate to be in touch w/ kevin cyr, a ginormously talented painter in brooklyn. he has a show coming up this friday at PEP gallery and he took a moment to sit down and answer some questions i had for him about the upcoming show, his work and the many vehicles he paints so beautifully. instead of getting all shouty about how incredibley talented he is, i'm going to let his interview do that for you. but just in case it's not clear by the end, i really like kevin's work and you should too!!

can you talk a little about your upcoming show at pink elephant projects? what are your inspirations behind it?

i was lucky enough to travel to india and beijing, china with an artist i worked for last spring. it was my first time in both places and i was really amazed at the cultural differences. i was immediately drawn to the different modes of transportation since i've been painting a lot of vehicles and industrial landscapes for the past couple of years. i took a ton of pictures of Indian rickshaws, because they were everywhere. when i got back to the u.s. i started doing drawings and paintings of them.

you have a lot of motorized vehicles in your work. what's the story w/ that?

i think painting vehicles has a lot to do with the small town i grew up in. i’ve never been interested in fixing cars or even owning one, but i like the way they look and what they can represent. it’s interesting how different vehicles can define not only the owner’s geographic location, but their social status. each vehicle i’ve painted has been found on the street and in some cases documented just before being carted off to the junkyard.

you mention that you took lots of pictures of rickshaws and vehicles in india and beijing. the vehicles you paint are these actual vehicles or are they ideas you have created on your own? for instance, the camperbike, is that an actual vehicle you have encountered?

the rickshaws are actual vehicles that i photographed in mumbai, india. the only changes i made were to add the american junk food logos. the camper bike does not exist in real life. the tricycle does, but adding the camper top is my creation. the tricycles in beijing carry so much stuff i figured why not a camper?

where did you grow up, and do you think that has an influence on your work?

i grew up in a small, industrial town called madawaska, maine. it’s one of the four corners of the U.S. right on the border of canada. when i grew up there, the majority of the town was employed by madawaska’s papermill, so it’s a pretty blue color town where very few people had fancy houses or cars. i grew up riding dirt bikes, playing in the woods with my friends and brothers. i wasn’t necessarily interested in cars, but there was definitely a modest, working-class quality to the town and people that has found it’s way into my work.

i love your chevy van sculpture...can you talk a little bit about that? did you build it completely? it looks did you get it to look so real?

the van was partly inspired by those “art” toys. i bought a plastic model on ebay, built it, then based the paint job on a few chevy vans in brooklyn. it started out more as a prototype than a sculpture. my brother is a toy designer in hong kong, so i asked him to look into making a real prototype, but it’s too expensive.

what are your feelings on graffiti and street art? what do you think about how popular and mainstream graffiti has become? can you name some of your fav artists.

i've always been too chicken to be a graffiti artist, and i don’t have strong feelings about the purity of it. i like how a lot of artists have bridged the gap between the street scene and the more mainstream toy industry or gallery exhibitions—artists like kaws and neckface. i also really like the wheat pastings of the collective faile.

did you go to school for art?

i went to massachusetts college of art in boston for illustration and painting.

you've done some work for some great firms and publications...what has been your favorite work so far?

i have done a couple of illustrations for readymade magazine. they were really easy to work with and i’ve always liked the magazine.

what are you listening to right now?

“this american life” on npr. i'm pretty lazy when it comes to music— either finding new music or changing a cd in my stereo. i usually end up turning on public radio and listening to it all day.

who are some of your favorite artists? who are you watching right now? any shout outs?

i like christian helmich who shows at lehmann maupin, jules de balincourt, anna conway, david hardy, who have all shown at P.S.1’s greater new york show. shout out to ain cocke who does great little paintings and drawings of WWII era soldiers, and also to all my chinese artist friends.

what has been your best experience as an artist so far?

i would say traveling to beijing and being part of a painting project. i have plans to do my own project there--hopefully soon.

what is your favorite piece of art (you can pick a few if narrowing it to one is too much)?

at the moment, it's a piece by david hardy. he built a mini recreational vehicle out of a wheel chair and wood grain contact paper. at first i didn’t like it, but mostly out of jealousy. i’ve had my own mobile home project in the works, but his piece is really good and really funny.

what was your favorite xmas or hanukkah present this yr? why?

an artforum subscription and a recycled bike part bottle opener. i've been using pliers to open beers in my studio.
any big plans for 2008? any collabs or projects you want to share w/ us?

i plan to expand on my camper-bike project. when i was in beijing i bought a motorized tricycle and had it shipped here. this spring i'll buy a camper top, the kind that goes on a pickup and modify it to fit the tricycle. then i’ll develop a series of paintings around it.

you live in nyc now, how is that for you as an artist? is it exciting? inspiring? can you tell us some of your favorite galleries and places you like to go?

new york is great. there is always so much to see and do. i live and work in brooklyn, so i tend to hang out in and around my neighborhood a lot. most of my favorite galleries are in chelsea: david zwirner, lehmann maupin, zack feuer, leo koenig. they all show the work of a lot of great artists. there are a lot of new galleries in the lower east side since the opening of the new museum, but i haven’t visited any of them yet. i’ve been busy working in my studio.

-Meighan O'Toole

David Shillinglaw

I chose David Shillinglaw for his simple yet complex paintings that deal with contemporary human condition and the ever changing social landscapes that effect us individually and universally. He primarily paints directly onto objects, and this use of form is something that really draws me into his work. His abstraction of the ever present human condition through line, shape, color and form also add a minimal and a hard to read nature to his works.

Site specific wall installation. "Sunset is an all day process" / Oil on Wall and blocks? / date?

Simple Paintings of a Complex Nature / oil on canvas / date?

David’s work illustrates ideas rubbing against each other, drawing on references to ancient mythology along side popular culture; creating a dialogue and vocabulary that skips between the historic and the contemporary.

“My work deals with an ongoing quest to control and define the human condition. The work depicts all the devious devices we use to conceal and reveal our true identities as we struggle both to fit in and stand out. I make work that illustrates the shifts between the multitude of fictions we labour under and the reality of who we are.

I often work directly onto objects I find so I can give up full control of what I make. This is very important to me as I am drawn into a dialogue between myself and my ever changing environments. My work shifts and mutates under the influences of external ideas, environments and conditions. I make things that force me to consider what it is to be human.”

David is a freelance artist and his work has been applied to a variety of contexts, including illustration, graphic design and theatre set design. Clients include Chicken Shed Theatre Company and The British Council. David is resident artist and curator of the Nowhere North Gallery, London.

Carter Mull

Although Carter Mull's work may not technically qualify as formalism, i feel that it can be interpreted in a such a way, due to it's simplicity and complexity of color, line, shape, and text. Many of his images seem like they can be related to a Jackson Pollack painting, but rather, are scans of newspapers and other sorts of publications. His work deals with the ideas of process and how the theme of obsolescence and futurity within the realm of photography interact within a paradoxical battle in our culture. He tries to merge the two ideas into a seamless image full of visual intrigue and confusion.

Los Angeles Times Tuesday November 27, 2007, 2007-2008, chromogenic process print, 49"x37"

Set & Logo, 2007, lightjet print mounted to plexiglass, 60 3/8" x 40 1/4"


Carter Mull’s exhibit, Ethics of Everyday Fiction at Rivington Arms Gallery, interrogates the photographic medium both as material construction and social fabrication. Mull presents us with several large, luminously metallic color photographs, abstractions void of specific social reference, with barely there traces of what is actually ‘representable.’ In Subject (“Umbrella,” Rihanna featuring Jay-Z, Billboard Magazine Hot 100 Number 1 for weeks June 9 – July 21, 2007), (2007), saturated colors dance like moving water across the surface of the image, calling attention to the plasticity of the material surface and the plasticity of that precise pop cultural detail Using painting and constructivism as his references, Mull subverts the script, suggesting that paint, reduced to its fundamental gesture, is what can point to reality, while photography, reduced to its elemental materiality, is what can point to fiction. ShutterSet & Logo, (2007) are decidedly gestural, the mark of the artist made apparent through brush strokes, ripped tape, and layered imagery. But even so, the marks remain surface as the collages surrender to the medium: depth becomes flattened and ‘reliable’ social meaning eviscerated. One is left to question both the integrity of material and apparatus – a question that ultimately allows us to examine our own position as cultural consumers.

by Hong-An Truong

Simone Nieweg

I wanted to use Simone Nieweg because of her use of repetition in her work about agricultural fields in Germany where small disruptions in the landscape take place. She centrally places the disruption, much like i do in my work, to put a point of emphasis on the thing that has gone wrong in the scene. Although her work focuses on how nature continues to resist agriculture throughout time.

Apfelbaum, Dillingen / c-print / 40x60in / 2004

Rosenkohl, Grevenbroich / c-print / 40x60in / 2000

Gallery Luisotti is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition of Simone Nieweg’s photographs. In her second solo exhibition at Gallery Luisotti, Nieweg presents an inspiring array of photographs documenting the natural and agrarian landscape. Known for her images of communal gardens and rural farmlands, Nieweg’s recent photographs blur the boundary between natural landscape and cultivated land, leaving the viewer with an enticing image of rural space.

Simone Nieweg was a student of Bernd Becher’s Master class at the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie in the 1990s. Though her work shares her peers typological method, Simone Nieweg’s photographs are notable for their precise handling of nature’s subtle colors, the purposeful use of scale, and a dexterous treatment of visual perspective. Unlike many of her peers, though, Nieweg does not focus her camera on the most evident forms of cultural expression. Ignoring the certain signs of urban and suburban culture, Nieweg takes us to a landscape of cultivation. In her images of gardens, farmlands, and other arable plots, Nieweg attenuates the balance between culture and nature.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in her recent work. Discovering gardens and farmlands that often have an improvised quality, Nieweg’s recent photographs picture liminal spaces between cultured, arable land, and arcadian sites in nature. Here fruit trees merge with forests, sunflowers mix with meadows, and cultivable flowers grow amongst untamed fields. In other instances, boundaries become more pronounced – a roadway lying against a field of wheat, or a plot of red beets is cut against grassland. In all cases, Nieweg places us (the viewers) in perspectives where these boundaries between the natural and cultural are both reinforced at the same time they are erased. Similarly, the scale of the images and the plants they depict compete for our visual experience, furthering Nieweg’s efforts to exploit the increasingly indefinite line between cultivated and undomesticated places.

Simone Nieweg has been exhibited widely across the United States and Europe. Her work has been published by Schirmer-Mosel, and her photographs collected by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, K21 Contemporary Museum of Art, Dusseldorf, The Victorian and Albert Museum, London, amongst other notable institutions.

Simone Nieweg, Plants, will exhibit from September 3 – October 28, 2008. Please contact the Gallery for any further information. Gallery Luisotti is located in Bergamot Station at 2525 Michigan Ave., Bldg. A2, Santa Monica. Contact us at (310) 453 0043 or

Andreas Gursky

First, I have to say that i can't believe that I haven't used him in these blog post yet, but i digress. His work is about form within contemporary culture. He uses a large format camera for maximum clarity and then he will use digital manipulations to create the aesthetic that he is trying to establish. His large scale prints are designed to stop a viewer in their tracks, the object and the presence of these images are astounding. He gives us a mapping of modern life that is ruled by forces that cannot usually be seen in the images, but challenges the viewer to realize its reality.

Hong Kong, Island / c-print / 1994 / 42x57in

Bahrain I / c-print mounted on plexiglass / 119x86.5in / 2005

Andreas Gursky makes photographs gorgeous enough to drop the jaws of philistines and sophisticates alike. Presented under glass in heavy wood frames, floating within milky white borders, these huge, densely detailed, dizzyingly expansive pictures have a knee-buckling cinematic richness. The most powerful images include the God's-eye view of the aftermath of a boxing match, a vertiginous look into a blindingly luminous 99-cent bargain store and the Piranesian vision of a gleaming hotel atrium.

Trained by Hilla and Bernd Becher, those busy German cataloguers of early 20th-century industrialism, Mr. Gursky, 44, also has moral fish to fry. His pictures reflect on life under corporate capitalism, a world in which pervasive organizational structure reduces the individual to one of a zillion antlike drones. The point is made most obviously in an overhead shot of the Chicago Stock Exchange that captures hundreds of frenetic little people in colorful jackets in tiers around a central stack of computers. It is in this conceptual context that otherwise puzzling (and comparatively dull) giant close-ups of brush strokes in paintings by van Gogh and Constable make sense: they invite the viewer to ponder the value assigned to romantic individualism by collectivized society. The picture of a page from Robert Musil's great novel ''The Man Without Qualities,'' with its text meditating on modern life as ''an infinite system of connections, now utterly devoid of independent meanings,'' is also intended to affirm, although not very convincingly, Mr. Gursky's identity as a deep thinker. His most compelling works are those in which he finds the essence of modernity in scenes of spectacular visual plenitude. KEN JOHNSON

Zoe Leonard

What I really enjoy about Zoe Leonard, is that her work, aesthetic, and process are very similar to my own. She seems to walk around her neighborhood and photograph the decline of her city's identity due to the influx of commercial chain stores. The social decay and recession of her neighborhood ties in with capitalism destroying local shops and the culture of her environment.

"Coca-Cola Shack" from the Dye Transfer Portfolio from Analogue, 1998-2007 , 9x9

"Mandel Tobacco" from the Dye Transfer Portfolio from Analogue, 1998-2007, 9x9

A resident of the Lower East Side for more than 20 years, Leonard began taking pictures of the neighborhood in 1998 to record changes occurring as a result of the city’s economic transformation. Although centered on the Lower East Side and Brooklyn, the completed project (an archive of about 500 images) captures the wide-ranging forces of globalization, with specific attention to the route and final destination of New York’s castoff clothing in the contemporary rag trade. As such, Analogue is not only a meditation on the costs of urban redevelopment, but an exploration of the replacement of local markets by a global economy. As its name suggests, Analogue is also an elegy of sorts to a long-standing tradition of documentary photography, from Atget to Walker Evans, which Leonard sees passing with the onset of digital photography.

The images presented here comprise a portfolio of 40 dye transfer prints, an increasingly rare process of color printing that is itself in jeopardy of obsolescence.

Myoung Ho Lee

I chose Myoung Ho Lee for his simple photographs of Trees with a large white backdrop behind them. The way he separates the subject from the landscape adds this sort of commercial twist to the image, although, it is truly about the form and contours of the true juxtaposed with the background. Simplicity, elegance, transcendence, and existentialism seem just as valid a point with this art as the act of photographing it.

Tree #2, from the series Photography-Act, 2007, c-print,

Tree #1, from the series Photography-Act, 2007, c-print


Myoung Ho Lee, a young artist from South Korea, has produced an elaborate series of photographs that pose some unusual questions about representation, reality, art, environment and seeing.

Simple in concept, complex in execution, he makes us look at a tree in its natural surroundings, but separates the tree artificially from nature by presenting it on an immense white ground, as one would see a painting or photograph on a billboard.

The work demands thoughtful analysis.

Sang Yong Shim (Art Critic, and Professor at Dongduk Women's University), has written a long intellectual essay about this work. Translation of these dense ideas is difficult. So, what follows is a shortened and very simplified version of the long essay:

Physical Isolation
and its Visual Confirmation

Myoung Ho Lee separates subjects from their original circumstances to derange the difference between subject and image. His work reveals nature by twists and turns, a little fabrication and optical illusion.

Myoung Ho Lee enacts his works as 'a series of discourse on deconstruction on the photography-act'.

His works are largely composed by following four procedures:

1. Selection of The Subject
2. Separation of The Subject (meta-subject)
3. Photographing
4. Confirmation of The Separation

First of all, Look at the procedure (2), separating the subject from its environmental condition artificially. By setting a big white fabric vertically for playing a square surrounding role behind the chosen subject (with significant physical force), he makes the subject appear neutral from its original context. The object becomes 'separated object', 'ambiguous subject' and 'meta-subject'.

The challenge of 'Photography-Act' is deep. Because 'Photography-Act' is not a real subject but a decontextualized and isolated variant from the subject, and is a real subject and nonsubject simultaneously.

Procedure (4) confirms the creation of identical chaos to the 'Photography-Act' itself by this separation and decontextualization.

Scarlett Hooft Graafland

I really enjoy Scarlett Hooft Graafland's work for its simple and elegant photographs. From her series titled "You Winter - Lest's Get Divorced" where she photographs the desolate nature of the arctic and the remoteness of it all, she investigates the inuit presence in Canada's harsh landscape far far north in the arctic. This work also explores issues of environmental concerns for the North as well, revealing the dwindling beauty of a once much more vast tundra and an integral part of the Earth's ecosystem.

Journey, 2008, C-type print, 100 x 125cm

Wrapped, 2008, C-type print mounted on aluminium in a sprayed white box frame with uv glass, 120 x 150

We are delighted to have had the first UK solo exhibition of work by Dutch artist Scarlett Hooft Graafland. Inhabiting the border between straight photography, performance and sculpture, Hooft Graafland’s photographs are records of her highly choreographed live performances in the salt deserts of Bolivia. Fascinated by the surreal beauty of the harsh natural landscape she utilises this as her canvas. Anthropologically curious, her ideas emerge directly from the local mythology that originates in this otherworldly environment.

Using naïve and childlike colour palettes her photographs draw on the language of the surreal showing familiar objects out of context (a llama wearing balloons, top hats flying through the desert and a pair of naked legs entwined around a cactus). Her humorous and unsettling juxtaposition of these everyday objects with the sparse, unforgiving landscape echoes the aesthetic of surrealists such as René Magritte. Hooft Graafland utilizes the medium of photography, associated with the representation of truth, to represent the fantastic and the irrational.

‘Vanishing Traces’, a homage to land artist, Robert Smithson, is made out of floating balloons at Laguna Colorada in southern Bolivia. Smithson was inspired to make his original piece after reading about this particular red salt lake (Laguna Colorada) in the book Vanishing Traces of Atacama’ by William Rudolph. Due to the remoteness of the location however, Smithson installed his work in the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Hooft Graafland has returned to the place of his inspiration, with her team, to build her own transient spiral balloon jetty. The clean simplicity of her finished works offer no indication of the difficulties in accessing and working in such inhospitable terrains. Highly dependant on the collaboration of the local people, her journeys are indebted to the assistance of the local people and artists with which she works.

Born in the Netherlands in 1973, Hooft Graafland is based in both Amsterdam and New York. She has studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, The Hague, Bezalel Academy, Jerusalem and Parsons School of Design, New York and has travelled to Iceland, Israel, Canada and the United States for her work. Her work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions all over Europe and as part of group shows at the Metropolitan Museum. New York, and the Musée D’Orsay, Paris amongst others.,show,3,83,173,869,0,0,0,0,scarlett_hooft_graafland_wrapped_.html

Craig Damrauer

Now, I'm not sure if this classifies as art or now... But all i know is that it can definitely fit into my theme of formalism, due to the fact that formalism can refer to math, but also that these images are incredibly minimal and formal. Although, this is typography (or so i think it got classified as such) it really seems to make strong and valid points in modern culture (something in which i explore in my photography).

I can't find much of a review.

Rachel Whiteread

I wanted to use Rachel Whiteread because how she manipulates space with sculpture. Her most impressive work, to me, is Place (Village) where she has arranged a ton of old dollhouse (some antiques and some contemporary) are creates a little town with all of the houses. But, She removes all signs of existence from the houses (furniture, people, etc.) and only leaves the lights on in the homes. Leaving the viewer pondering about a desolate existence of an almost apocolyptic feel to it.

Cabinet VIII, 2007, 1 metal cupboard and 55 plaster units, h: 17.8 x w: 18.5 x d: 17.5 in

Place (Village), Doll houses, crates, boxes, wood, electrical fixtures, and fittings, and electricity. 2006-2008

"Village...simultaneously encourages and thwarts voyeurism, inviting viewers to peer into one empty room after another. Eventually it turns the tables: the illuminated windows become hundreds of Lilliputian eyes."
—The New York Times

Widely known for her public monuments, including Water Tower (1998) in New York (now in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art) and Holocaust Memorial (1995/2000) in Vienna, Rachel Whiteread considers the scale and structure of familiar forms through the overlooked spaces essential to their identity. Throughout her twenty-five year career, Whiteread has created a critical body of work that addresses our presence, relationships, and the power of the past. Rich with meaning, her sculpture is also conceptually rigorous and formally evolves from the tenets of minimalism.

This exhibition features the US premiere of her most recent work, Place (Village) (2006-08) and traces the position of domestic objects through sculptures and drawings. Over several years, Whiteread has collected handmade English dollhouses and configured them into a sprawling "community" filled with haunting memories and melancholy. Place (Village), encompassing the left side of the Foster Gallery, appears as if it was discovered at night. In contrast to this installation are individual sculptures from an early floor piece cast in rubber as well as more recent "stacks" cast from the interior of tattered boxes.

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