Day

March 3, 2020

Blum & Poe is pleased to present New Images of Man curated by Alison M. Gingeras.

This exhibition revisits and expands upon the Museum of Modern Art’s eponymous 1959 group exhibition curated by Peter Selz that brought together artists whose work grappled with the human condition as well as emerging modes of humanist representation in painting and sculpture in the wake of the traumatic fallout of the Second World War.

Some sixty years have passed since New Images of Man presented key figures of the European neo avant-garde such as Alberto Giacometti, Jean Dubuffet, César, Francis Bacon, and Karel Appel alongside the ascendant figures of the American art scene such as Willem de Kooning, H.C. Westermann, and Leon Golub. Set against the backdrop of existentialist philosophy and the socio-political anxieties of the postwar period, the esteemed humanist philosopher Paul Tillich wrote of these artists in the original MoMA catalogue, “Each period has its peculiar image of man. It appears in its poems and novels, music, philosophy, plays and dances; and it appears in its painting and sculpture. Whenever a new period is conceived in the womb of the preceding period, a new image of man pushes towards the surface and finally breaks through to find its artists and philosophers.”

Part homage, part radical revision, this two-floor presentation reconstitutes emblematic figures from the original MoMA line up of artists while simultaneously expanding outwards to include those of the same generation and period who were overlooked in the midcentury. This reprisal features forty-three artists hailing not only from the US and Western Europe, but also Cuba, Egypt, Haiti, India, Iran, Japan, Poland, Senegal, and Sudan. The overwhelming maleness of the original New Images of Man has been amended by foregrounding previously excluded women artists from the same generation. Had gender politics of the 1950s been less misogynist, Selz might have considered artists such as Alina Szapocznikow, Niki de Saint Phalle, Yuki Katsura, Carol Rama, and Lee Lozano. With the benefit of inclusive hindsight, Gingeras strives to present a fuller range of this humanist struggle, thus more acutely enacting the original curator’s vision to gather a range of “effigies of the disquiet man.”

As the capstone to this historical proposition, the exhibition argues for the contemporary resonance of this midcentury disquiet by judiciously including a selection of contemporary artists. These living artists are also “imagists that take the human situation, indeed the human predicament” as their primary subject, while also reflecting the legacy of the aesthetic concerns from the original period. Spanning painting and sculpture, this contemporary component includes works by Paweł Althamer, Cecily Brown, Luis Flores, Michel Nedjar, Greer Lankton, Miriam Cahn, Sarah Lucas, Dana Schutz, El Hadji Sy, Ahmed Morsi, Henry Taylor, amongst others.

Installed alongside these paintings and sculptures, historic and contemporary, are interventions that evoke the larger-than-life figures from the original show—de Kooning, Dubuffet, Bacon, Giacometti, Westermann. Playful tributes to these masters appear throughout the exhibition, including two wall murals by Los Angeles artist Dave Muller.

Embedded at the center of this revisionist enterprise is another historical MoMA exhibition also founded upon postwar humanism—this time through the lens of photography. The 1955 exhibition Family of Man curated by Edward Steichen—the legendary director of the Photography Department at MoMA—was conceived four years before Peter Selz’s New Images of Man, and was devised as a celebration of the camera as a powerful, immersive tool for the promulgation of images as well as the affirmation of the universal human experience. While it debuted in New York in 1955, Family of Man went on a veritable world tour. According to Steichen’s 1963 memoir A Life in Photography, between 1955 and 1962 about nine million viewers all around the world had the opportunity “to see themselves reflected” in the 503 photographs of people, making it the most popular photography exhibition ever.

As the legacy of Steichen’s curatorial endeavors lives on in contemporary visual culture, this section of the exhibition sets out to challenge the Western-centric bias of the original show. This reassessment of Steichen’s conceit focuses upon two women artists from the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The Polish, self-taught photographer Zofia Rydet was active in the mid-1950s yet she was separated from Steichen not only by the Iron Curtain. This redux presentation of Rydet’s photographic oeuvre suggests a more complex vision of postwar era humanist photography. In fact, after seeing Steichen’s Family of Man show in Warsaw, Rydet embarked upon her series of documentary images of children in the literal rubble of the Second World War in the early 1960s entitled Mały człowiek (Little Man). This presentation features a selection of Rydet’s photographs from her documentary series called the “Sociological Record” in which she captured thousands of ordinary households in Poland from 1978 until her death in 1997.

Rydet’s reworking of the Steichen paradigm finds a jarring echo in the contemporary oeuvre of Deana Lawson—an artist whose intimate, yet iconic imagery immortalizes African-American family life. Lawson grew up in Rochester, New York, the birthplace of Kodak—her involvement with photography is deeply bound up with her family’s history and their entwinement with the photographic industry. Unlike Rydet, Lawson’s images are often staged while they strive to capture the magic and textures of everyday struggles, emotions, and plain existence. Her gaze intrepidly focuses upon members of the African diaspora while also crafting stunning formal compositions that hark back to classical painting.  As Lawson has said of her work, “I have an image in mind that I have to make. It burns so deeply that I have to make it.”

Shown side by side in a scenography that references Steichen’s original Family of Man presentation at MoMA, Rydet’s communist-era documentation of Polish families in their humble interiors resonates uncannily with Lawson’s present-day portraiture. Despite being decades apart, culturally disparate, and approaching their medium with radically differing methods, both Rydet and Lawson create images that offer a sharp rebuttal to Steichen’s sentimental and melodramatic original opus. Both photographers share a quality that Lawson has articulated when speaking of her own work, creating images that are “thick with space, layered with otherness and belonging at the same time.” Together Rydet and Lawson provide a revisionist twist to this new Family of Man. This section of the show was curated in collaboration with Antonina Gugała with a new installation by Deana Lawson made especially for the show.

While much has changed in social and political terms since the 1950s, we are arguably again in a period of immense existential questioning and profound collective anxiety—artists now, as then, are on the frontlines of confronting what it means to be human, therefore making New Images of Man a subject still urgent for contemplation and provocation. This past summer, Selz died at the age of one hundred. In his New York Times obituary, his daughter Gabrielle remarked, “He would say that everything—a somber painting by Rothko or a Rodin sculpture—was about the human condition. My dad responded to emotion.” Arguably, emotion is the gravitational force that draws us to images of other people—from prehistoric cave paintings to press photographs of detained refugees and children on the Mexican-American border, humans find empathetic connection, solace, or simple recognition in the act of contemplating depictions of other humans. In the spirit of Selz’s original aim, this restaging of New Images of Man and reimagining of Family of Man resolves to recontextualize artists’ agency in addressing the fundamental questions of the human condition and to discourage apathy about our fellow humans’ plight.

While an art exhibition can only operate on a symbolic and discursive level, the impetus behind the new New Images of Man is to continue our collective rumination on the human condition with renewed emotional and intellectual urgency. By expanding the geopolitical and generational scope of artists, an expansive vision of humanity starts to emerge—broadening “man” to a more intersectional vision of human existence.

– for more information on additional images from this event please contact EMS at [email protected] or Instagram at @ericminhswenson

For over 25 years, Huma Bhabha (b. 1962, Karachi, Pakistan) has been making objects, drawings, and other works that depict the strangeness and vulnerability of the contemporary figure. Her hybridized forms, which borrow from ancient and modern cultural sources alike, exude pathos and humor, going straight to the heart of the most pressing issues of our time. Posing questions about the alien qualities of unfamiliar beings, and the criteria by which lifeforms are considered monsters, Bhabha locates the point where science fiction, horror, modernist form, and archaic expression intersect. The timelessness of her objects is enhanced by her technical mastery and her creative approach to her materials, by which she draws attention to the similarities and differences between natural and manmade substances. In monumental outdoor projects for public spaces, meanwhile, she uses bronze to stage large-scale mediations on nature, war, and civilization’s ancient past and distant future.

Huma Bhabha (b. 1962, Karachi, Pakistan) has been the subject of solo exhibitions at institutions that include the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2019); The Contemporary Austin, Texas (2018); the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, where We Come In Peace, an installation of large-scale sculptures, was a Roof Garden Commission (2018); David Roberts Art Foundation (2017); MoMA PS1, Long Island City, New York (2012); Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia, Italy (2012); and Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, Colorado (2011). Among the many group exhibitions in which she has participated are the Yorkshire Sculpture International (2019); Carnegie International, 57th Edition, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (2018); and All the World’s Futures, 56th Venice Biennale (2015). Bhabha’s work is in the permanent collections of the Centre George Pompidou, Paris; Hammer Museum Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among other institutions. She lives and works in Poughkeepsie, New York.

– for more information on additional images from this event please contact EMS at [email protected] or Instagram at @ericminhswenson

GAVLAK Los Angeles is pleased to announce Meta Minimal, a solo exhibition of new sculpture by Gisela Colon (American b. 1966, Vancouver, Canada; raised 1967, San Juan, Puerto Rico). The artist’s second solo exhibition with the gallery will open at Gavlak’s new space in Downtown Los Angeles at 1700 South Santa Fe Avenue, Suite 440, on January 11, 2020.

Through her syncretic process of exploring and expanding upon past history, sculptor Gisela Colon has succeeded in creating sculptures that convey the fullest possible array of sensory and intellectual experience, projecting cosmic energy and power outwards into the world. With her astute practice of Organic Minimalism– an idiosyncratic sculptural language that imbues life-like qualities into reductive forms– Colon approaches her sculptural practice from the expansive perspective of phenomenological concerns: addressing the physical laws of the universe such as gravity, time, movement, energy and transformation. Colon’s oeuvre is the result of a synthesis of pointed historical reflection and visceral raw energy.

Colon’s practice of Organic Minimalism simultaneously expands and challenges the legacies of Light and Space, Minimalism, Kinetic and Latin American Op Art, merging industrial inertness with transformative biological mutability. Her sensual, gender-ambiguous sculptural forms further connect her practice to a history of female artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Yayoi Kusama, Linda Benglis and Judy Chicago. By channeling Bourgeois’ notions of sexualized energies and Chicago’s nascent feminist atmospheric works, Colon similarly posits her sculptures as vehicles for conversion of classic masculine forms into feminized power.

Colon’s vocabulary of organic forms and humanized geometries embodies a feeling of energy, movement, and growth that stems from the artist’s connection to the Earth, the vital energy that pervades all living organisms, and the extensive, infinite forces that rule the cosmological realm. For Colon, what is most important in a work of art is that it “transcends the material to allow for metaphysical phenomena.”

A merger of scientifically advanced technologies and materials with naturally-occurring in vita properties places Colon squarely in the current international discourse of contemporary sculpture. Contemporaries such as Olafur Eliasson, Alicja Kwade, Jose Davila, and other practitioners, alongside Colon, integrate the use of ubiquitous industrial materials of the Anthropocene era with the palpable tension of the laws of physics that pervade the invisible world around us.

For the Meta Minimal exhibition, Colon’s works will occupy the entirety of the gallery, centering the installation on one of Colon’s signature large-scale aerospace Monoliths, sculpted in iridescent carbon fiber. At 12 feet tall, Colon’s Untitled (Projectile Monolith White Iridium), 2019, stands as a force of gravity around which all other sculptures effortlessly float in synergistic movement. In Colon’s words:

“The Monoliths convey evidence of equality, power, beauty, and strength. By appropriating classic masculine forms and symbols (the phallus, bullets, missiles, rockets) and making them aesthetically ambiguous and even beautiful, the Monolith sculptures subvert the traditionally aggressive and destructive references of these objects. Their negative meanings are transmuted into positive energies, by converting them into aesthetically desirable objects that address phenomenology and the universal concern of human relationships with the Earth.”

Interspersed throughout the gallery, the viewer will also encounter a series of translucent, refined Hyperbolic Monoliths, part of a new body of work entitled Unidentified Objects, which references cosmological origins and otherworldly enigmas. Like stalagmites forcefully growing upwards from the mineral earth, or foreign matter hailing inexplicably from unknown worlds, the 8–foot-tall streamlined Hyperbolic Monoliths act as sinewy reminders of our stardust origins, creating bodily experiences through the activation of surrounding space.

Surrounding the Monoliths, several wall sculptures from Colon’s groundbreaking series of biomorphic Pods will hover as beacons of light and life. The Pods are created through a unique fabrication method comprised of blow-molding and layering of acrylic and optical materials of the 21st century. This technique results in sculptures that emanate, refract, and reflect light while simultaneously possessing fluid spectral color and optical harmony. Activated by light and their surrounding environment, the Pods become perceptual objects whose physical characteristics are transformed by variable factors such as the position of the viewer, their source of light, and the time of day.

Anchoring the central gallery space, Colon’s large-scale 8-foot-long amorphous floor work, entitled Unidentified Object (Slaboid Incandescent Gold), 2020, protrudes from the floor as if growing out of the concrete, presenting a direct aesthetic counterpoint in both organic form and manifested purpose to the forceful verticality of the Monoliths. These objects, though apparently conceptually opposed, emanate from the same transformative world, sharing a primitive kinship with the fundamental aspects of life.

Extending into the east gallery space, Colon presents a subtle immersive installation with a series of Light Portals where highly refined linear swaths of light and color appear to float seamlessly on the wall. Through the elusive shifting of prismatic refractions of structural color, the disembodied Light Portals allow for glimpses into the infinite.

Presented together, all four bodies of Colon’s work, foster a symbiotic dialogue, evoking the physical states of matter that fluctuate between solid, liquid and gas. Meta Minimal evidences a dynamic encounter with the universal forces of energy that surround us, leading to an experience beyond perception– an encounter with the sublime.

– for more information on additional images from this event please contact EMS at [email protected] or Instagram at @ericminhswenson

Regen Projects is pleased to announce an exhibition by renowned artist Anish Kapoor. Since the 1980s Kapoor’s ambitious practice has continuously expanded the limits of sculptural form by investigating scale, volume, color, and materiality. With this exhibition, the artist’s sixth solo presentation following his gallery debut in 1992, Kapoor brings together a selection of new mirror works that challenge optical perception and phenomenological experience through experiments in shape and form.

The cornerstone of the exhibition is a monumental stainless-steel Double S-Curve. Expanding upon a singular work originally exhibited at Regen Projects in 2006, the sculpture’s alternating concave and convex structure snakes through the center of the gallery. Simultaneously appearing both solid and liquid, its highly polished mirrored surfaces refract and reflect its surroundings, creating an illusory sense of reality that confounds one’s relationship to the space.

A new series of wall-mounted mirrors subtly shift in shape between convex and concave. Hovering at eye level each sculpture projects various geometric shapes of acute triangles, circles and rectangles, that playfully tease the viewer’s optical perception and force them to re-examine their phenomenological experience. In his landmark essay on Kapoor’s work “Making Emptiness,” Homi K. Bhaba writes, “The tactile experience of transition is caught in the virtual space in between the double mirrors. The perspectival distance between subject and object, or the mimetic balance between the mirror and its reflection, are replaced by a movement of erasure and inversion – ‘reverse, affirm, negate.’ It is as if the possibility of pictoriality or image-making, associated with visual pleasure, has been unsettled to reveal emptiness, darkness, blankness, the blind spot. However, the purpose of Kapoor’s work is not to represent the mediation of light and darkness, or negative and positive space, in a dialectical relationship in which emptiness will travel through the darkening mirror to assume the plenitude of presence. Kapoor stays with the state of transitionality, allowing it the time and space to develop its own affects – anxiety, unease, restlessness – so that viewing it becomes part of the process of making the work itself. The spectator’s relation to the object involves a process of questioning the underlying conditions through which the work becomes a visual experience in the first place: how can the conceptual be visible? How can the perceptual void be spoken?”

Anish Kapoor was born in Mumbai, India in 1954 and lives and works in London.

Kapoor’s work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions worldwide. In 2019 he became the second contemporary artist to install their work in Beijing’s Forbidden City. The exhibition was presented at the Imperial Ancestral Temple and coincided with a survey at the Central Academy of Fine Arts. Additional recent solo exhibitions include CorpArtes, Santiago (2019); Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery, London (2019); Serralves Museum, Porto (2018); Parque de la Memoria, Buenos Aires (2017); MAST Foundation, Bologna (2017); Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), Mexico City (2016); Couvent de la Tourette, Eveux, France (2015); Château de Versailles (2015); The Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, Moscow (2015);  Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin (2013); and the Royal Academy, London (2009).

He has been the recipient of numerous international awards, including a Premio Duemila for his representation of Britain at the 44th Venice Biennale (1990), a Turner Prize (1991), a CBE (2003), Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2011), a Padma Bhushan (2012), and a Knighthood (2013) for services to visual arts.

– for more information on additional images from this event please contact EMS at [email protected] or Instagram at @ericminhswenson

Naama Tsabar: Inversions

Shulamit Nazarian is pleased to present Inversions, and exhibition of new sculptures by Israeli-born, New York based artist Naama Tsabar. This will be the artist’s first solo exhibition in California.

Naama Tsabar has become known for her ambitious installations, performances, and sculptures that parse the boundaries of spaces that surround us—both physical and metaphorical—for which we normally have no access. Cutting into walls and treating hidden interiors as sculptural and musical spaces, Tsabar considers the venues themselves as structures of power, enabling a display of fantasy, sexuality, and bravado. Tsabar upends the implicit gender roles and coded behavior of music and its related subcultures.

The exhibition title, Inversions, refers to a new body of work that is installed directly into the existing architecture of the gallery. Utilizing the shallow space behind the gallery’s walls, Inversion #1 and Inversion #2 assumes an overlooked space as a site of importance or a platform for action. Fusing together elements from guitars, harps, banjos, and violins, Tsabar creates an inverted instrument that relies on the contortions and penetrations of participants’ bodies for its activation. Inversion #2 includes a singing chamber, with holes and voids in the architecture for the voices of performers to fill.

Amplifying the sounds made on the Inversion works, Tsabar will present new pieces from her ongoing Transition series. In this body of work, the artist exposes the wires, knobs, and connectors from pre-existing guitar amplifiers to function as the palate for what she refers to as “sculptural paintings that have the ability to output sound”. Unlike previous works within this series, Tsabar has replaced the canvas substrate with fabric grills of commercial amplifiers.

These Transition works can be connected to an instrument or other sound-emitting device, which expands the visual experience of the piece into a sonic one. For this exhibition, Inversion #1 and Inversion #2 have each been connected to a Transition work, amplifying the actions that take place inside the gallery walls.

Also included in the exhibition are new variations from the artist’s ongoing Works on Felt series. At first viewing these wall sculptures made of felt, carbon fiber, epoxy, a guitar tuner and a single piano string exist as austere objects, artworks that nod to the sculptures of Robert Morris or to the shapes of Ellsworth Kelly. Once touched, Tsabar’s Works on Felt cross the threshold into instrument; the strumming of the piano string or the beating of the felt is amplified by a contact microphone and outputted by an amplifier.

Like many of the artist’s pieces, Works on Felt both subvert a power structure and simultaneously reveal the unseen. In this case, historic male minimalism – known for its anti-expressionistic authority – is imbued with the participant’s musical expression and physical body on the felt: a material that is usually used to damper and absorb sound. Whereas minimalist ethics abide to a ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get’ notion of literalizing either the object in the room or the paint on the surface, Tsabar departs from that idea of ‘transparency’. Concealing the carbon fiber, the artist manipulates the felt material to uphold the tension of the piano wire, while still making the felt appear materially unaffected. The work’s ability to be played like an instrument further highlights the gallery space as an active structure rather than a neutral background.

Furthering her architectural interventions, a new work titled Dedicated, Shulamit Nazarian will take form as a collaboration between the artist and the gallery’s founder. Dedicated, Shulamit Nazarian is a diptych that exists as both an addition, and subtraction, within the gallery architecture. Tsabar has invited the gallery founder to give her a list comprised of female-identifying and gender-nonconforming artists that have been influential to her. Tsabar will then transcribe the list directly onto the gallery wall, after which will be cut out from the architecture, framed, and hung inside the gallery -leaving the remaining hole exposed throughout the exhibition. Through this work, Tsabar asks to expose the unseen structure around us, while reversing the gendered hierarchy; the artist evokes a chain of feminist dedications through the very platform of display and real estate.

Through her architectural interventions and the transformation of sculptures – or entire spaces – into instruments, Tsabar questions complicitness and performance within power structures. Suggesting new feminist solutions, Tsabar continues to consider the role of both intimacy and destruction as an antidote to oppressive, and often unseen forces.

On February 11 and 12, Naama Tsabar, along with Nicki Chen-Walters, Diana Diaz, FIELDED, Kristin Mueller, and Sarah Strauss performed on the sculptures in Inversions, in which every work in the show was activated simultaneously.

On February 13, 14, and 15, Naama Tsabar and Kristin Mueller performed (Untitled) Double Face six times over the course of three days on the backlot of Frieze Los Angeles at Paramount Pictures Studios, as part of Frieze Projects curated by Rita Gonzales and Pilar Tompkins.

Untitled (Double Face) is a sculpture comprised of two guitars that have been fused together to form a single instrument. Sharing a back, the chromed-plated form is conjoined in a way that requires a mutual negotiation between the two performers, moving in unison and in tension.

 – for more information on additional images from this event please contact EMS at [email protected] or Instagram at @ericminhswenson

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