Ding Yi: Ivory Black at ShanghArt

“Grids punctured with crosses in varying patterns” is perhaps the best—and admittedly, the most simplistic—way of summing up Ding Yi’s oeuvre. Ivory Black at the ShanghArt gallery is his latest iteration of these basic, severely geometric forms, in varying shades of blue, black, and white hues, distinguished only by date and serial number. Like an astronomer’s chart of the night sky, Ding’s gridded, ordered forms lend a semblance of artificial order to infinite black space as the plus and X marks pulse and shimmer with subtly placed colored accents on a dark background. Yet they offer no central focal point that draws the eye; it just isn’t possible to look at the flattened layers of vivid colors and patterns and pick out a distinguishing mark to begin a detailed examination of the canvas. Without a visual anchor, viewers can only drift within the spaces in which grid and cross intermingle, uncomfortably caught between two- and three-dimensional spaces where boundaries between pictorial depth and surface flatness begin to get fuzzy.

Ding Yi. Appearance of Crosses-12, 2013; acrylic on canvas; 120 cm x 140 cm. Photo: Courtesy of the Artist and ShanghArt gallery Singapore.

Ding Yi. Appearance of Crosses-12, 2013; acrylic on canvas; 120 x 140 cm. Courtesy of the Artist and ShanghArt Gallery Singapore.

The masterful, intricate complexity of the Appearance of Crosses (2014) series is impressive and unsurprising; after all, Ding’s unswerving commitment to rational abstraction began nearly thirty years ago, in the years of socio-political upheaval following China’s Cultural Revolution (1966–76). Like many artists of that time, Ding’s earliest venture into abstraction was a personal act of rebellion against the earthy tones and glib smoothness of Russian socialist realism, a figurative style that had heavily influenced the propagandistic art of the revolution. Looking instead to the Post-Impressionists, the Abstract Expressionists, and the De Stijl movement, Ding painted Taboo (1986) out of a limited palette of muted tones and bold, long brushstrokes depicting a dynamic combination of marks, its anxious, forceful energy seeming to mirror the turmoil of state and self in the aftermath of the revolution. Just two years later, he had created the first of his so-called “cross paintings,” a template of abstraction that he would follow for the next three decades as the contemporary Chinese art world made its own great leap forward.

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From the Archives

From the Archives – Help Desk: Pressure to Review

Today’s Help Desk column contains some advice that bears repeating: There’s more than one way to support your art-making friends. This article was originally published on August 19, 2013. You can submit your question to Help Desk anonymously here. All submissions become the property of Daily Serving.

I’m a new arts administrator, and I live in [a mid-size city]. Through my four years of art school here and my job, I know many artists who live in this city. I started writing art reviews last year, and all of a sudden I’m feeling pressure to write about my friends’ work. It’s not like they are asking me directly, but hints have been dropped. I have no problem reviewing work that I think is good, but the problem is that there are some people who I like very much, but I don’t think their work is that great. How do I get out of reviewing the work that I don’t like without losing my friends?

Ken Price. Liquid Rock, 2004; Acrylic and ink on paper; 17 3⁄4 x 13 7/8 in. Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery

Ken Price. Liquid Rock, 2004; acrylic and ink on paper; 17 3⁄4 x 13 7/8 in. Courtesy of Matthew Marks Gallery

This is a sticky situation indeed. You want to write about the artwork that you enjoy, but you also want to support the people you love; unfortunately, sometimes there’s not much overlap between these two groups in the big Venn Diagram of Life. Let’s review some of the ways you can negotiate this minefield without blowing up your friendships.

First, there’s the “it’s out of my hands” tactic, which is my personal favorite because someone else gets to play Bad Cop. If you’re publishing reviews, you ought to see if there’s an editorial policy already in place at the blog/newspaper/magazine(s) with whom you are working. The policy will spell out what you’re allowed to write about and what you’re not, and if you haven’t been presented with one yet, it can’t hurt to ask. Many editorial policies state that a writer cannot review the work of an artist with whom she has a personal relationship. Admittedly, this kind of thing is a double-edged sword: It removes all responsibility for not being able to review friends’ bad exhibitions, but it also eliminates the possibility of reviewing friends’ work that is good. The important thing is that your hands are tied; in either case, all you have to do is shrug and say, “It’s too bad I can’t write about this show.” End of story.

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From the Archives

From the Archives – Andrew Moore: Dirt Meridian at Yancey Richardson Gallery

With the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s recent announcement that California’s Central Valley farmers will not receive any contracted federal water for the second year in a row, the photographic work of Andrew Moore is a bleak reminder of the state’s ongoing water crisis.  Author Nandita Raghuram describes the artist’s aerial photographs of the 100th meridian as “sweeping views of windswept houses, splintered earth, and prairie grass growing like a horse’s hide.” This article was originally published on February 12, 2014.

Andrew Moore. First Light, Cherry County, Nebraska, 2013. Courtesy of Andrew Moore & Yancey Richardson

Andrew Moore. First Light, Cherry County, Nebraska, 2013. Courtesy of Andrew Moore & Yancey Richardson.

The 100th meridian west is a longitudinal line that snakes through North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma, and forms the eastern border of the Texas panhandle. Historically, it divides the weathered, parched land in the western Great Plains from its lush eastern neighbor. Through digital aerial photographs and large-format negatives taken on land, artist Andrew Moore captures this sparsely populated area, not scarred with train tracks and city clusters, but empty and yawning. His collection of photographs, Dirt Meridian, is currently on view at Yancey Richardson Gallery.

Many of them were taken from above, in an airplane with a camera placed on the strut. The results are sweeping views of windswept houses, splintered earth, and prairie grass growing like a horse’s hide. The symmetrical composition of these photographs belies their flux. Moore explains that the area “teeters between being lost in time, so to speak, yet at the same moment itʼs highly affected by large-scale global forces, such as climate change, energy exploration, resource management, and food production.”

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Clayton Colvin: New Way to Forget at beta pictoris

Today, from our friends at BURNAWAY, we bring you a review of Clayton Colvin’s solo exhibition at beta pictoris gallery in Birmingham. Author  notes, “[The exhibition] represents a strong commitment to the practice of painting as much as to its meaning.” This article was originally published on February 4, 2015.

Clayton Colvin. Frontiersman, 2014; Acrylic, charcoal, pigment, and india ink on linen on panel; 46 by 56 in.

Clayton Colvin. Frontiersman, 2014; acrylic, charcoal, pigment, and india ink
on linen on panel; 46 by 56 in.

In “new way to forget,” Clayton Colvin’s third solo exhibition at beta pictoris gallery, we see the artist exploring what can only be termed “soft abstraction.” Intelligently and unapologetically walking a ground that meshes figuration and abstraction into a practice—more grounded in the latter and structured by the former—Colvin is at a stage in his career where he is far more interested in teasing out the edges of an idea than he is in categorizing a concept.

With this show, Colvin has almost, though not entirely, abandoned his earlier, more complex hard-edged radical geometries in favor of a saturated and fluid field. Glanton and The Land, in particular, are marked by patches of color that look as if they have literally pooled and spread on the linen surfaces of the canvases. Perhaps a reference to the characters in Cormac McCarthy’s novel Blood Meridian, the red edges of Glanton look as if blood has dripped from above. As with many of the other works in the exhibition, Glanton makes a literary reference that may or may not resonate with the viewer, something Colvin is unapologetic for. The experience of his works does not hinge on a higher understanding of his references, although this knowledge adds an additional layer—a respite filled with both humor and darkness—that separates the visual from both the cerebral and the emotional.

Read the full article here.


Los Angeles

Sky-Lit: Volume, Light, and Sound at the Broad, Los Angeles

On Sunday, February 15, the Broad opened its doors on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, proving the ease with which hype can be deflated like a big white balloon. The daylong preview offered VIPs—and, in the later afternoon, members of the public—a sneak peek of the still-raw interior of the three-story, 120,000 square-foot, $140 million building. The Broad will house and exhibit its 2,000-work collection and serve as the Broad Art Foundation’s headquarters. Slated to open officially on September 20, the space still has an unfinished quality (easily the most exciting aspect of the preview), requiring visitors to sign a liability waiver upon entering the construction site.

Visitors in The Broad’s third-floor gallery space, before art walls are constructed, February 15, 2015. Photo by Ryan Miller / Capture Imaging. Courtesy The Broad.

Visitors in the Broad’s third-floor gallery space, before art walls are constructed, February 15, 2015. Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging. Courtesy of the Broad.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro have managed to design a building that, in reality, is both underwhelming and garish at the same time. The Broad’s “veil,” an already-infamous element that the architects liken to a honeycomb and Christopher Knight has humorously compared to a cheese grater, forms both its façade and ceiling, which previewers experienced fully with the raw unveiling of the third floor. The success of the design is certainly in capitalizing on LA’s ability to deliver sunshine almost daily, and the skylights and windows formed by the veil do admit light judiciously (though one wonders whether works on paper can be shown in this space at all). Visitors entered through either the stairwell or freight elevator, ascending to find the bright white space free of temporary walls and visible artworks; the gallery seemed to fall victim to the real-estate truism that an empty space feels smaller than one filled with objects. The dynamism of the ceiling was immediately striking—its futuristic modular skylights seemed to tilt the room diagonally like an unsettling Kirchner painting—but it’s hard to imagine works of art having to compete with the ceiling and façade.

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New York

Charles Atlas: The Waning of Justice at Luhring Augustine

“Glitter/Utopia,” “Boring/Because,” “Decade/Asshat,” “Wartime/Paisley”: These are a few of the word combinations that appear in Charles Atlas’ two-channel video projection, Ethel’s Fortune or The Waning of Justice (2015), currently filling two expansive, adjacent walls at Luhring Augustine’s Chelsea location. Each term in the dyad phases into position in front of footage of a maritime sunset while the letters themselves open up similar vistas contained within their block forms. Alone, this composition does not amount to much: an exquisite corpse and a field of solar kitsch, folded into one another with the aid of pedestrian video-effects software.

Charles Atlas. The Waning of Justice, 2015; installation view, Luhring Augustine, New York. Photo: Farzad Owrang.

Charles Atlas. The Waning of Justice, 2015; installation view, Luhring Augustine, New York. Photo: Farzad Owrang.

But it is not alone. Ethel’s Fortune has three companion pieces, Terri’s Option (2015), Chai (2015), and Kiss the Day Goodbye (2015). Although described by the gallery as autonomous works, the four are linked by shared medium, duration, subject matter (most involve sunset footage that Atlas captured while at the Rauschenberg Residency in Florida), and an audio track composed by the London-based electronic artist Helm. Their combined presence creates what the gallery aptly characterizes as “one dynamic visual experience” (effectively having it both ways): an immersive, Rothko-esque bath of fiery ochres, salving lavenders, and darkling blues, in places interpolated by digital enumeration, notably countdowns. The latter element, paired with Helm’s soundtrack of gloomy, anxious electronica followed by a funerary bagpipe, serves to evoke the more brooding connotations of sunset. Behind the brilliance, we perceive a harbinger of inevitable darkness.

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GIF Studio at the Jepson Center

Within the Jepson Center of the Telfair Museums in Savannah, Georgia, there is a hallway that connects the main atrium to an auditorium, an education center, a small technology gallery, and the restrooms. This hallway gets a significant amount of foot traffic, but it does not provide optimal conditions for exhibiting traditional artwork. However, six flat-screen TVs, a digital projector, and an iPad are currently hung in the space, all belonging to the exhibition GIF Studio.

Nicolas Sassoon. Studio Visit, 2014 (still, detail). Looping GIF. Courtesy of Telfair Museums, Savannah, Georgia.

Nicolas Sassoon. Studio Visit, 2014 (still, detail); looping GIF. Courtesy of Telfair Museums, Savannah, Georgia.

GIF Studio was organized in conjunction with the 2015 Pulse Art + Technology Festival held January 21–25, 2015. It enters an international debate concerning not only the status of GIFs as works of art, but also how GIFs are meant to be viewed. Artists have been experimenting with small digital-animation files since the mid-1990s, but the popularity of the format has exploded in the last several years with internet platforms as modes of distribution.[1] Once the domain of the web, GIFs have made their way into galleries and other fine-arts settings like other forms of digital and net art—and this migration has helped elucidate the essential qualities of GIFs.

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