Mexico City

La Ceiba Gráfica: Stamps of a Decade at Museo Nacional de la Estampa

On the outskirts of Coatepec—a small, foggy town, located in the forests of Veracruz and known for its coffee production—lies a former hacienda in the village of La Orduña. Built in the 16th century, this magnificent building currently fosters one of Mexico’s most interesting community printmaking centers, La Ceiba Gráfica, which was established in 2005. To commemorate the organization’s first decade, the Museo Nacional de la Estampa (National Printmaking Museum, MUNAE) presents a retrospective exhibition that highlights the history of La Ceiba Gráfica.

Patricia Córdoba. Coatepec I, 2011; lithograph. Courtesy of Museo Nacional de la Estampa. Photo: Museo Nacional de la Estampa.

Patricia Córdoba. Coatepec I, 2011; lithograph. Courtesy of Museo Nacional de la Estampa. Photo: Museo Nacional de la Estampa.

La Ceiba was founded through ­the vision of Swedish artist and researcher Per Anderson. After arriving in Veracruz in 1974, Anderson discovered that the high costs of equipment, tools, and materials hindered constant printmaking activity for the region’s artists and students. With his relentless creativity and with the help and expertise of locals, he designed presses and specialized furniture, using marble stones from Tatatila quarry, and produced lithographic inks and pencils, following the original recipes of lithography inventor Alois Senefelder. Anderson built the center upon a sustainable, decentralized, and horizontal model, in which students become teachers and are encouraged to propose new ideas and frameworks. Through the plurality of visions, La Ceiba’s community identity strengthens.

A Ceiba, in this case, is both a tropical tree and a model to follow: Its roots chose Veracruz as a home, but its branches and sprouts have spread worldwide. With a committed emphasis on artistic education, the center has disseminated printmaking as a valid and, moreover, renewing technique for contemporary art practices. The center’s geographic surroundings establish a slow, reflexive pace, which serves to enable questions about this way of producing art. Why should we keep traditional printmaking alive? Why place a printmaking center away from the big cities that often contribute to production, conservation, and education?

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Del Kathryn Barton: The Highway Is a Disco at ARNDT Singapore

Framed against a starlit sky, two female figures with feathered hair and large, limpid eyes sit astride blue and purple kangaroos. Their lush, naked bodies are stark white against a vibrant canvas of marks, lines, and dots. They stare out of pictorial space into an unknown distance, with their detached gazes separated from the viewer’s own perusal of them. Disengaged from us, their distance forms a boundary that renders Del Kathryn Barton’s imagined, pluralistic universe enticing, but inaccessible and impenetrable.

Del Kathryn Barton. The cosmos is disco lust, 2015; Acrylic on French linen; Diptych; 180 x 240 cm. Courtesy of the Artist and Arndt Singapore.

Del Kathryn Barton. The Cosmos Is Disco Lust, 2015; acrylic on French linen, diptych; 180 x 240 cm. Courtesy of the Artist and ARNDT Singapore.

Out of this universe, a particular aesthetic emerges: a deconstructed anime style of illustration that pulls together tribal and natural elements so tremulously sensual that it has viewers scrambling for adjectives to describe its manic, strange beauty. The Highway Is a Disco, Barton’s first solo debut out of her native Australia at ARNDT Gallery, is a testament to this eccentricity. Featuring large-scale paintings finished with acrylic and gouache, the works on show are few—and new—but ocularly challenging in their numerous fine ink lines, and virtually cenotophobic in their aversion to blank space. Her visual language is articulated in jeweled shades of pink, red, and yellow, and fleshes out some part of the female psyche that is polymorphous, sensual, desiring, and desirable.

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How Iraqi Are You?

From our friends at REORIENT, today we bring you a piece on the art of Iraqi-born artist Hayv Kahraman. Author Natasha Morris sat down with Kahraman at the Frieze Art Fair to talk about her research-based practice. Morris says “To attempt to read the dialogue between text and images in How Iraqi Are You? entails similar cognitive acrobatics, as tableaus of beautiful women hover over jokes about war and displacement; but, as with muraqqa’, their amalgamation is fixed in an instant of cultural deliberation.  This article was originally published on October 21, 2015.

Hayv Kahraman. Curfew, 2015; Oil on linen. Courtesy the Artist and The Third Line.

Hayv Kahraman. Curfew, 2015; oil on linen. Courtesy of the Artist and The Third Line.

As the trees of Regent’s Park gradually turn from green to yellow, they herald the coming of the largest commercial spectacle of the arts calendar: the Frieze Art Fair. While visitors to the fair swarmed around the booths, I sat down with Hayv Kahraman, an Iraqi-born artist of Kurdish descent, currently represented by The Third Line in Dubai. Before us were mounted two of her most recent works, Curfew and Magic Lamp, both produced earlier this year and recently released in the commercial market. Impressively large and beautifully executed, they were markedly different in comparison to the other works that surrounded us at the fair, which, for its 13th year, had a rather cartoonish bent; perhaps this is the beginning of Frieze’s teenage years. On my way in, I passed a gathering of life-sized plasticine-like figures that had seemingly escaped from what looked like a children’s television programme set during a cocktail party in the ’90s. Leaning in a corner was Mikhail Bulgakov’s Behemoth in the form of a towering and inflatable Felix the Cat. There were also a lot of rumpled, crumpled naked women. Kahraman’s work in comparison, however, boasted finely delivered figuration–not only unapologetically female and shamelessly lush in its decorative elements, but also referential to a visual heritage over 800 years old.

Read the full article here.



Manjunath Kamath: As Far As I Know at the SCAD Museum of Art

Four seemingly disparate kinds of artwork make up the exhibition Manjunath Kamath: As Far As I Know, currently on view at the Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia. Quiet paintings in glittering hues hang on three of the walls in the gallery; two groups of tiny, framed drawings and a large-scale digital print are installed among them. There is also a sprawling sculptural installation consisting of an upside-down, miniature car with an elaborately extended tailpipe that beckons a large group of fiberglass rabbits, curious to investigate it.

Manjunath Kamath. As Far As I Know, 2015; installation view, Savanna College of Art and Design Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia. Courtesy of the SCAD Museum of Art.

Manjunath Kamath. As Far As I Know, 2015; installation view, Savanna College of Art and Design Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia. Courtesy of the SCAD Museum of Art.

Perhaps the rabbits can offer visitors a bit of advice: When in a gallery of Kamath’s work, approach the diverse group with open and inquisitive minds. Kamath’s works offer very little in terms of clues to the ideas and questions he is exploring. Though they are visually scintillating, his works provoke contemplative attitudes and allow visitors to project their own narratives onto them.

Dominating the gallery, the sculptural installation Second Hand Car Goes to Heaven (2009) sets the tone for the rest of the show with its humor and its openness to interpretation. The car—similar in form to a Volkswagen Beetle—hangs near the gallery’s ceiling and has been painted white. The tailpipe of the car extends haphazardly down the wall through a series of elbow joints, and the diameter of the pipe becomes larger as it descends. The end of the tailpipe is at floor level, and the aforementioned group of about thirty-five white rabbits poses pensively on the gallery floor. A few rabbits closest to the opening of the tailpipe are dusted with black, presumably from the car’s exhaust.

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Howardena Pindell at Spelman College Museum of Fine Art

The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art’s current exhibition of Howardena Pindell’s work marks an important moment in the journey of an artist and an institution. The site of Pindell’s first major exhibition in 1972, the Spelman Museum in those years was not the sprawling 4,500-square-foot institution that it is now, and Pindell had not been established as the great artist, gallery director, curator, educator, and intellectual she is now. The return is mighty, and the Spelman Museum’s galleries open themselves wide to the glittering canvases of paint, paper, and collected pieces that have become closely associated with Pindell’s aesthetic. However, this exhibition reads more complexly than as a succession of highlights and instead reveals the rich landscape of Pindell’s interventions across a diverse range of materials, media, and conceptual concerns. Curated by Ms. Anne Collins Smith and Dr. Andrea Brownlee, Director of the Spelman Museum, Howardena Pindell empowers the viewer to engage with the resonant dynamics of Pindell’s processes and the richness of her thought.[1]

Howardena Pindell. Carnival at Ostende, 1977; mixed media on canvas; 93 ½ x 117 ¼ inches. Courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.

Howardena Pindell. Carnival at Ostende, 1977; mixed media on canvas; 93 ½ x 117 ¼ in. Courtesy of the Artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.

The modest scale of Spelman’s galleries allows for close viewing of Pindell’s canvases—a complete luxury when looking at early paintings such as Carnival at Ostende (1977), where paint and paper cut-out seem to engage in a vital but smooth dance across the uneven layers of surface and tactile difference. Pindell has spoken often of her powerful encounters with the work of Eva Hesse and Rae Morton while she was completing these early works, and one cannot help but make connections between each artist’s own engagement with the fragilities and strengths inherent in their chosen materials.[2] Small gestures seen in the careful assemblage of tiny dots across long horizontal bands subvert the language of minimalism by opening up the vocabulary to something more specific, worked, shaped.

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Franz Erhard Walther and Pae White at the Henry Art Gallery

The Henry Art Gallery in Seattle opens two exhibitions, Franz Erhard Walther: The Body Draws and Pae White: Command-Shift-4. The featured artists—albeit separated by 24 years and 5,600 miles—create a compelling juxtaposition, revealing shared interests in graphic art, architecture, and fiber as mediums that shift between sculpture and performance. Both artists produce works that are liminal and in flux—forever making and remaking themselves through direct interaction.

Selection of sculptures from The New Alphabet; installation view of Franz Erhard Walther: The Body Decides at WIELS, Brussels. Courtesy WIELS & The Franz Erhard Walther Foundation. Photo © 2014 Sven Laurent.

Franz Erhard Walther. The New Alphabet; installation view, Franz Erhard Walther: The Body Decides at WIELS, Brussels. Courtesy WIELS & the Franz Erhard Walther Foundation. Photo © 2014 Sven Laurent.

As the first major U.S. retrospective of works by German artist Franz Erhard Walther (b. 1939), The Body Draws presents nearly 300 artworks spanning 1957 to 2015. The exhibition delves into the artist’s process, displaying sketches and renderings alongside finished works to emphasize the significance of drawing within his practice. The notion of drawing, however, is further expanded in performance-based works to include the ethereal marks made by the body as it travels through space.

The exhibition begins with a selection of Walther’s youthful creative exploits, and includes Wortbilder (1957–58), a series of typographic experiments produced while the artist was enrolled at Werkkunstschule Offenbach, a school of design and applied arts. The influence of design—as a process, set of materials, and a way of conceiving of the relationship between humans and things—resounds throughout the trajectory of Walther’s career. Wortbilder is explicitly tied to the Bauhaus legacy, which challenged designers to see and leverage image, text, color, and form as communicative tools for creating meaning.

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From the Archives

From the Archives – Help Desk: Friends in High(er) Places

Today from our archives we bring you an age-old question about how to respond to friends and acquaintances who ask for (un)professional favors. Help Desk is an arts-advice column that demystifies practices for artists, writers, curators, collectors, patrons, and the general public. Submit your questions anonymously here. All submissions become the property of Daily Serving. This column was originally published on May 12, 2014.

Heidi Bucher. Hautraum (Ahnenhaus), 1980-82; Courtesy Freymond-Guth Fine Arts, Zürich

Heidi Bucher. Hautraum (Ahnenhaus), 1980-82. Courtesy of Freymond-Guth Fine Arts, Zürich.

I work at a museum, but not as a curator or any similar position that might have influence over content. I am sometimes approached by artists (friends, associates, acquaintances, strangers at parties) who want to know how to get their art into a museum. Specifically my museum. What’s the curator’s phone number? Can they drop off a packet? Will I put it on someone’s desk? The way to a museum show is convoluted and not the same for every artist. I’m an artist too, and while I sympathize, I am sure my “help” wouldn’t help them and would jeopardize my professional relationships at work. But I would like to have something to tell people.

You have my sympathies. It must be annoying and kind of frightening to have friends, colleagues, and strangers alike envisioning your job as their fast track to being shown or collected by the museum. I mean, there you are, minding your own business like a cartoon pig out for a sunny walk, while behind every tree lurks a wolf who imagines you as a delicious Sunday ham served up on a fine china platter. Okay, no more similies. You get the idea.

Responding to strangers is easy, because all you have to do with any unknown person who asks you for an inappropriate and presumptuous career favor—one that might induce your colleagues to loathe you—is to just stare at her in silence. The longer the silence, the better, so practice this on your significant other or on the cat. If the stranger doesn’t then fall all over herself to backpedal (“Just kidding! Ha ha! I hate museums!”), then maintain your dead-face and say, “I regret that I’m not able to help you.” You can go to confession later for fibbing about the “regret” part.

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