Drawing

Fan Mail: Marcus James

Marcus James. Bidean Nam Bian, 2015; colour pencil on Fabriano paper; 2000 x 1300 mm. Courtesy of the Artist.

In this time of rapid environmental decline, visual depictions of landscape can become sites for critical positioning. Marcus James’s 2015 works encapsulate the disjuncture between a desire for pristine, solitary experiences in nature and the technological interventions that reveal this desire as pure fantasy. But rather than present a crass comment on this contradiction, James’s pieces offer a possibility outside of the binary constructed between[…..]

Bruce Conner: It’s All True

Bruce Conner. UNTITLED, from MANDALA SERIES, 1965; felt-tip pen on paper; 10 x 10 in. Courtesy San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Among the works at the threshold of Bruce Conner: It’s All True, a massive retrospective at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), PRINTS (1974) is atypical even for the protean artist.[1] Consisting of a steel lockbox containing photographs, documents, and fingerprints, PRINTS records a protracted dispute between Conner and San Jose State University, which had invited him to teach in its art department.[…..]

Odd Jobs: Charles Gaines

Charles Gaines. Numbers and Trees V. Landscape #8: Orange Crow, 1978; acrylic sheet, acrylic paint, watercolor, photograph. 46 5⁄8 × 38 5⁄8 in. Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer.

For the past forty years, Charles Gaines has employed system-based methodologies to his artmaking in order to critique subjective expression within art. Influenced by Tantric Buddhist diagrams in the late 1960s, his photographs, drawings, and works on paper investigate how rule-based procedures construct order and meaning. Gaines is also a highly regarded educator at the California Institute of the Arts. He received his MFA from the Rochester[…..]

From the Archives – La Polis Imagi-nada at El Quinto Piso

Liz Misterio. El regreso de Ana Suromal, 2015 (action-art still); action-art and video projection. Courtesy of the artist and El Quinto Piso, Mexico D.F. Photo: Liz Misterio.

While nation-states elect or appoint internationally recognized power brokers, real politics emerge on the ground in the lived experiences of our communities, in the polis. In the face of shifting national and international politics, local communities must commit to uphold human rights. In that spirit, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors recently dismissed threats of funding cuts by the President-elect and affirmed the city’s commitment to[…..]

Fan Mail: Rachel Wolfson Smith

Rachel Wolfson Smith. Bound to Earth, 2015; graphite on paper; 54 x 96 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Rachel Wolfson Smith’s pencil drawings of motorcycle and car crashes seem to memorialize modern epics. At once glorious and kitschy, these homages to what the artist calls “Renaissance battle paintings” capture moments of intense struggle, dialed up to eleven: they border on the farcical but maintain an undeniable gravitas. The monochromatic graphite tones and occasional gilt highlights situate the drawings in a context of glorified[…..]

Fan Mail: Suchitra Mattai

Suchitra Mattai. Generally, I don’t think that way II, 2016; mixed media installation; dimensions variable. Courtesy of the Artist. Photo: Wes Magyar.

Suchitra Mattai’s work turns about conceptual and material inversions. It thrives on site-specificity while rejecting its basic premise—that specificity necessarily connotes place-ness. Having been raised on two separate continents and with cultural heritages tracing back to a third, Mattai is familiar with incongruities between the illusory promise of place and her lived experiences. Her practice is disjointed and dreamlike, yet throughout her uneasy landscapes runs[…..]

Joan Jonas: From Away at DHC ART

Installation view, Joan Jonas: From Away, 2016, DHC/ART. Joan Jonas, They Come to us Without a Word (Wind), 2015. Multimedia Installation (site-specific adaptation). Originally commissioned for the U.S. Pavilion of the 56th Venice Biennale by the MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Courtesy of The Kramlich Collection, San Francisco. © DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art. Photo: Richard-Max Tremblay.

As psycho-historian, I try to diagnose the schizophrenia of Western civilization from its images, in an autobiographical reflex. (Joan Jonas, The Shape, the Scent, the Feel of Things) Joan Jonas’ retrospective exhibition From Away occupies two buildings at DHC/ART in Montreal. Arriving at the basement’s miniature cinema felt like entering a cauldron of the Jonasian universe, and moving up and down in the tightly vertical first building[…..]