Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tameka Norris

I want to to introduce you to an artist who is finishing up her MFA at Yale, Tameka Norris.
First coming into contact with Tameka's work prior to her grad studies, she was just finishing up her undergrad work at UCLA.  I think it was her video, Licker, which first caught my eye. It was very original and I figured anybody who could dance around the Armand Hammer Sculpture Garden with nary a problem had my vote.  Little did I know that that will probably be the only video anybody will ever take of the type of dancing around with Gaston Lachaise and Debora Butterfield sculptures and the like.  I love the mixture of high brow and low brow, of mixing the sexual energy of a live person, together with sexual energy that is found within many classic works of art, yet are seen as something other than that because they are bronze and they are somehow hallowed (same thinking of Marc Quinn in some of his work) http://www.tamekanorrisart.com/projects/licker-video-dos-mil-diez/

The other works that also initially caught my eye were the vibrant, but seemingly simple portraits of Tameka eating a watermelon.  Provocative, sexually charged, while at the same time evoking racial stereotypes, replete with watermelon, I found the photos extremely compelling.  The details of the liquid dripping off the face and arms, and the pit adorning the cheek evoke Marilyn Minter.  You can't tell if Tameka is mocking the viewer or if she wishes to be mocked.  Perhaps, as is often the case, it's a little bit of both.  She draws you in with a look, but simultaneously attempts to repel with the seemingly ridiculous act of eating the watermelon and getting it all over herself.  Why, oopsie, I made a mess of myself.

Tameka's works really make you think.  While they have the obvious sexual draw, there is something about them that makes you want to look away as well, feeling guilty of looking in the first place.
It's the same with the Post-Katrina works, which are creating on bed sheets (evoking Rauschenberg's combine, Bed).  I find these much more interesting than another bed piece I can think of, Tracey Emin's homage to herself.  Tameka's stars in her works, but I don't feel that she trying to draw attention to herself, but rather to the character which she portrays, a la Kalup Linzey.

Tameka is somebody who is going places, and I could see her work up at the Whitney Biennial one of these years.  She was featured in Modern Painter's issue of artists to watch.  Wise choice.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

When I speak of accessible art, I'm not referring to appeal factor, but rather art that you can afford.  Sure, you can go to your county fair and find this type of art.  Not to generalize too much, but that's not typically my cup of tea.  You can certainly scout it out, as you can scout out your neighborhood art league.  One of the easiest ways to go about finding new and exciting art is to visit your local colleges and graduate schools.  Living in a major metropolitan area, I'm able to get to some, not a ton, of mfa shows and open studios.  This is typically a great way to see what up and coming artists are doing during their training, to forge relationships with them early, to show your support of their work, and to pick up some pieces for not a huge sum.  Of course many of the bigger programs, like Columbia and Yale are scouted from the get go and some galleries have mfa shows dedicated to mfa grad students.  You can also search for the various MFA programs on the internet and contact the artists directly.  I would email them, visit their studios, if possible, and see what they have available.  Some have already gone ahead and joined an established gallery, but many have not. Not everybody can be like the Vogels and get to 5-10 new art shows a week, but I don't think that's a necessity.  It's obviously helpful to see more of what is out there, but you can do a lot of the legwork via the internet, a medium that was not available to them during the peak of their art collecting.  Sure, it's not as accurate to judge a work from an internet picture, but you can  ask an artist to take additional pictures, including detailed, up-close shots and thereby gauge the piece with some accuracy.  If you can see a work in person then you can certainly gauge additional works from a particular artist that much more accurately.  I'm always interested in what artists somebody acquired or "discovered" early in their career and what attracted them at that time.

Dominic Mangila

Now I'll speak on Dominic Mangila and specifically on a newer work of his entitled "Han".  Dominic, originally from the Philippines, now hails from Long Island and is part of the teaching faculty at the Columbia MFA program from which he graduated several years ago.  This is definitely my favorite painting by Dominic thus far.  I love the use of color, the feeling of movement, the energy of the work.  One work it reminds me of a little is Chuck Close's Lucas where the colors emanate from the head.  Here, the eye is drawn to the forehead, with its circular lighthouse effect, a beacon to the rest of the piece.  The ultrafinished upper half in contrast to the seemingly unfinished lower half, almost sketched in some areas.  The stare of the figure draws you into the myriad of colors.   Dominic writes about the background reference for "Han":
"Han painting references human intelligence: mind's power to imagine,
project, gather and process knowledge. initially, the painting was
inspired by a friend who's name is Han who is quite a genius. he's
like a human wikipedia.

later on, as i work on the painting and researched about the Han
Chinese, i realize that it can also make reference to Han Chinese's
'major role in the development of the arts, sciences, philosophy, and
mathematics throughout history.'  (Science and Technology in China)"

 In the details, see the brushstrokes, feel them as they are pulled across the canvas.  You can feel the texture of the paint with your eyes (left side of canvas, midway up).

Then look at this next detail and see how the one rectangle in and of itself could constitute a work.  It's like a lovefest for color (by the left ear/right side of canvas).
 For additional works by Dominic, you can check out these other sites:



Friday, March 9, 2012

Magda Amarioarei pt 2

Since I didn't have any accessible pics of Magda's works in previous post, I wanted to include some here and go through a few of them and what I admire about each and why I would want to acquire them.

1.  This is a beautiful example of the emotion conveyed in the work through both the image itself as well as the way the image is painted.  It's not thick with impasto but the oil, used like an ink, is splotchy, distorted, smudged to signify the unkempt nature of the image.  It appears to be wires, almost like one is looking up from ground level at a vineyard.  It's thick with foliage, hard for the light to penetrate.  You want to see through it, but you must make an effort.  I'll often speak of tension in the works I like.  This piece has tension.

2.  This piece was not one one of my favorites until I saw it in person and then I loved it.  Smaller than a postcard, I love how much detail is fit in the work.  Now it's not detail like you might find in an Indian miniature work, but it has great detail nonetheless.  You can see the building or various building structures collapsing or having collapsed previously, while you are safe as the viewer under a structure, perhaps a bridge.  This work has the signature smudging that is used throughout the Recovery Cycle series.  It could be denoting grass in the foreground, the atmosphere that surrounds you, dirt, or some other mysterious quality.  when you hold this piece in your hand, you're struck by how precious it is, like a little jewel.

3.  One of the larger works from the Recovery Cycle series, this again shows excellent use of the smudging to convey a worn look to the building.  It's almost like you are looking at the image through a piece of gauze or cheesecloth, a dream-like image.  I know it shouldn't be pretty, but I'm drawn to it.  I feel like I want to drag a finger across the surface to see if i can feel the individual lines left behind by the smudged oil.  Don't worry, I won't.

I'll stop with these 3 and may revisit some more of Magda's work in a later post.  She is definitely one to watch and is one in my collection.  She's got tremendous talent at a young age and I anticipate continued great works coming from her studio.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

When you think of art, you think of fancy homes, snooty conversation, sipping wine with the pinky turned outward ever so subtly.  You think of Chelsea galleries with attendants who aren't interested in helping but rather are interested in an image.  You may feel that art is beyond your understanding or something only a certain group or class of people can appreciate.  Not true.  As I wrote earlier, art is a part of our culture.  Think of what we know from 5 centuries ago.  Religion, philosophy, books, art, music, architecture.  Sure, this is not an all exhaustive list, but art is way up there on what is passed down from one period of time to the next.  You should know about art, just as you should know about music.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Magda Amarioarei

Because I am working with somewhat limited funds, for me some of the fun of art collecting is finding someone with incredible talent, who might be at the start of their careers, sometimes in grad school or even college, and see what they are up.  Once an artist is "discovered", it's difficult to acquire much of their work without spending lots of money.  So the key is, educate yourself.  I remember when I was relatively early in my collecting and I was seeing how this collector and that collector were using art advisers. I thought, "gee, maybe I should be doing that.  These folks with money probably know what they're talking about."  Then I read something Charles Saatchi wrote about advisers, basically dismissing the whole notion and saying he collected what he believed to be worthy.  I follow that same line.  I don't need somebody telling me who is good and who to collect.  So what's the point of this blog?  To facilitate discussion.  I'm not here to dictate to you who is good. I am here to let you know who I think is good and talented, and you are free to agree or disagree and we go from there.  If Herb and Dorothy Vogel could collect such a magnificent and seminal collection of art on a relatively limited budget, then so can I and so can you.  Obviously you need a great set of eyes, or several great sets of eyes, you get to know artists personally and early in their careers, and you follow them as you and they grow older together.  It really enriches one's life and it is very fulfilling. I can attest to that.

So, for the first artist of this blog I have chosen a relative newbie to the art scene, Magda Amarioarei.  I came to know Magda's work through a friend of hers and am very thankful for that initial recommendation that I take a look at her work.  I wasn't able to actually see her work in person (something I am often faced with as I don't have the time nor the money to be crisscrossing the globe to look at art or anything else for that matter) but what I saw through pics on her website, http://www.wix.com/amarioareimagda/ro/projects , and pics which she sent to me really amazed me.  Magda is from Romania and is very early in her career, about 23 years old and in an MFA program, though has shown in several shows.  The quality of her work is quite apparent from first glance. The emotion her work conveys is what I love.  Well, I should preface that if you're into happy, fun types of work, this will definitely not be your cup of tea.  This leans to the depressed and pensive. But I like that it does that.  It conveys some of the same emotions you often feel with Kathe Kollwitz or Edward Hopper.  Obviously the compositions of all 3 of these painters are vastly different, but the emotional output is similar.  Some of the works also make you want you to touch their surfaces, like you might a photograph.  If you buy the work, you can do just that.  If you visit my home, please resist doing that to my pieces.

The smaller and newer works, part of the Recovery Cycle series, are oil on panel.  They look like they are created with a pencil or ink pen or piece of charcoal.  They are very detailed, and some convey a good deal of realism.  They are like little jewels when you see them up close and in person. The name itself conveys a sense of trying to build again, to get back some semblance of what once was.  I love the effect, but you need to see them up close to see what she has done.  Many of the images harken to WWII scenes, possibly of the camps, of areas that may be forgotten, left behind, where the overgrown weeds frames a memorialized scene.  Instead of blowing up small objects onto a huge canvas, she takes huge objects and shrinks them down onto a panel which you can hold in the palm of your hand, like a postcard.

The larger canvases from the newest series, as well as the large and small canvases from the Lanscape-Time series, all convey a sense of decay and of time passing by.  The pieces of architecture, often disembodied, are like lost souls, friends which have been ditched and forgotten.

She shows the "other" side of life, perhaps a seemier side, or at least a side that perhaps has been forgotten. She shows objects, often architectural structures in a state of decline, with overgrown weeds taking over.

Look at the work above, and what appears again to be pencil marks is oil on panel again.  I love the scratches on the piece, almost like I'm happening upon the pieces after they have been lost in storage for decades. 
What I love about Magda's work is the originality of it and the quality, especially for how young she is.  I look forward to how her work will evolve over time.  At the present time, because of her age, and that she has not yet settled with any particular gallery, her prices are still affordable for somebody working on a fairly tight budget.  I am acquiring her works because each one tells me a story.  I want to read as many pages as possible of this story, though I'm not sure I want the story to end.  There's always another twist and turn waiting for me around the corner.  (I will try to get some other photos up within these pages though most are unable to be directly imported here, hence the links. Forgive my unstreamlined blog posting.)