Opening Reception: December 8, 2011
6pm – 9pm
Chelsea Art Museum is pleased to present Highlights of CAM, curated by Elga Wimmer.
To celebrate the Ninth Anniversary of CAM, CAM has gathered select works that represent highlights from our previous exhibitions. Since CAM was established in 2002, we have been at the forefront for creative endeavors and have become a rich platform on which to cultivate artistic exchange, social critique, community development and cross-cultural understanding. As an inherently collaborative institution and the youngest contemporary art museum in New York City, CAM strives to deepen and foster new and existing partnerships with other well-established, like-minded cultural institutions. Throughout our rich history we have provided exposure for over 1,000 new and thriving voices of all art disciplines through artist talks, dance performances, musical performances and more than 150 exhibitions.
Abstraction Revisited examined the work of various contemporary artists engaged in abstraction, alongside examples from some of the first-generation masters of Abstract Expressionism. The works were chosen for their visual impact and the strong dialogue they establish between the first generation and today’s modern abstractionists. This juxtaposition seeks to shed light on the parallels and differences within a practice which is arguably more vital, innovative and relevant than ever. The genre continues to inspire the art world, as evidenced by a surge of interest from artists, critics and art lovers alike. While the younger artists acknowledge their illustrious predecessors, they are less prone to the indoctrination of tradition and are willing to mix genres and media, from painting and sculpture to photography, video and film. Haeri Yoo’s psychologically expressive and vigorous brushstroke in Failing Eye (2010), Vicky Uslé’s lyrical abstraction and Lydia Dona’s Love Affairs in the Freeze (2011) – her painting always preoccupied with urban environment and mechanical parts (much like Matta’s) – take abstraction away from the conventional approach of paint to canvas and represent the genre’s limitless versatility in terms of form and expression. From Jean Miotte and Roberto Matta’s vigorous abstraction to Giorgio Cavallon and Theodoros Stamos’ range of biomorphic figures and softly geometric forms, Abstraction Revisited presents a fresh take on artistic independence and individuality which remain as vital an inspiration today as it was when artists first sought freedom from direct representation.
Francisco Goya’s etching and aquatint series Los Caprichos served as an inspiration to the exhibition Goya & Here Comes the Bogey-Man, which reflects man’s power of spiritual creation and the failings of his own nature. It is this characterization of man which makes it possible for Goya to depict the human figure as both beautiful and at the same time to portray it as a caricature with an awareness of man’s limitations. Such socio-political satire was enlightening to the Eighteenth-century rationalist, but has proven to be just as relevant to contemporary artists.
Goya’s renowned The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters reads: “Imagination deserted by reason, begets impossible monsters. United with reason, she is the mother of all arts, and the source of their wonders.” In Goya’s time, superstition, darkness, and uncertainty of the unknown was a source of fear. The artists in Here Comes the Bogey-Man give tribute to and carry the spirit of Goya into the 21st century. Here, they appropriate manifestations of our own modern monsters, as well as the vulnerable human frailties which continue to plague mankind: brutality, injustice, war, violence, arrogance, ignorance and vanity, perhaps best visually captured by Saint Clair Cemin’s tumultuous One Century Smites Another (1999). From Ray Smith and Conrad Atkinson’s modern renditions of Goya’s prints in Acrobacia Canina (2005) and The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (1985), respectively, to Madeleine Hatz’s apocalyptic Black Angel (2004) – it is evident that the relationship between the artist and society has never been more fragile or volatile. Rona Pondick’s Ram’s Head is a self-portrait of the artist with two ram’s horns that give her a sphinx-like, powerful and menacing appearance. Goya often played with the aspect of half animal/half human thus underlining the “animal” in humans’ behavior.
Jean Miotte’s distinctively gestural works will round out the exhibition and represent exactly what CAM has become known for: fusing the old and the new, the traditional and the contemporary. A proponent of L’Art Informel, which is often regarded as the European equivalent of Abstract Expressionism, the movement calls for a negation of traditional form and a radical break from established notions of order and composition. However, it is distinguished from its American counterpart by its loss of faith in progress and modernity through the expressive nature of the line and the steadfast belief that individual freedom is embodied within the spontaneity of the brushstroke. In response, Miotte developed a vocabulary of bold, quasi-calligraphic forms whose vaulting, liquid jets and arcs of paint were at once suggestive of the body in motion while at the same time denying corporality. Of prime importance for Miotte was the aspiration for this gestural, abstract language to create a bridge between cultures. Ultimately, his work aims to break beyond national barriers to form a truly international language, and foster individual dialogues within each culture.
Within his framework of gestural abstraction, Miotte continues to grow, fight repetition, and push at the boundaries of paint on canvas. While Miotte’s work remains committed to the utopian aspects of gestural abstraction, he has continued to progress by constantly pushing the boundaries and possibilities of line, gesture and the liquidity of paint.
Leading from the vigorous surface of Miotte’s canvases, So-Bin Park’s darkly enigmatic and subtly intricate piece sinuously stretches across the walls of the space. Selected from the exhibition Toward the Creation of a New Female Myth, Park’s starkly rendered forms play upon the extreme opposites – darkness and light, beauty and the repulsive, rough and the delicate. Park’s work also acts as a transition into to the second gallery, which will display Asian Variegations, a selectively curated exhibition of young contemporary artists representative of different Asian countries.
The artists shown in this collective exhibition represent the gamut of inspirations, subject matter, and media. However, what ties every work together is the artists’ commitment to CAM’s legacy of exploring innovative ways of viewing and experiencing art, a willingness to pose critical questions to already established ideals and – in the process – cultivate the next generation of artists, creative thinkers and visionaries.
Saint Clair Cemin
Francisco de Goya