on Katherine Porter at Galerie Hubert Winter

 
Katherine Porter at Galerie Hubert Winter choicely highlights a sampling of works made during each decade of her continuing career.  Primarily works on paper, the show defines Porter’s remarkable consistency and persistent emphasis on line.  Using a light pencil her signature and date often mark the works spanning the 70s to the present.  Insightful to view Porter’s works from different eras, this selection should by no means be mistaken for a suitable retrospective but just as the gallery show that it is.

In her movement across four decades, Porter shows sustained robust expression.  Apparently that that which began as manic moves ultimately shifted past adolescent release and toward knowingly composed and clarified gestures.  The jagged urgent scribblings that look inseparable in her earlier work become deliberate steps.  In later works, Porter continues to engage wacky compositions but with a premeditation to form.  Then her mastery of gouache, pastel, collage and charcoal reveal the ongoing meaning of her work and redefine the perceived definition of her aesthetics.

For her use of circles, Porter’s works have rightly been compared to the geometric abstractions of Sonja Delaunay.  Likewise there is no question of Porter’s likeness to Mardsen Hartley as well as the influence to younger artists such as Rebecca Morris.

Porter’s accomplishments include twice exhibiting in the Whitney Biennale, New York as well as extensive international gallery exhibitions and inclusion in innumerable collections.  Probably, it is hard for Porter to live down that her name comes from a long ago over marriage to the nephew of Fairfield Porter.  Yet, Porter takes a singular position with her particular a-rhythmic circle and diagonal relationships.  Proving here is that her work fits into the continuum of current perspectives.

– Ezara Spangl

Galerie Hubert Winter

10.11.2011 – 23.12.2011

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on David Leonard at Pro Choice

David Leonard presented three video works on a small TV monitor at Pro Choice on the 14th of September.  This screening culminated several weeks of Leonard’s shooting at the very location of the Pro Choice space.  A Los Angeles native, Leonard uses his experience of news journalism and video production as the medium of the work and does so considerably well.

In his art production Leonard’s success is twofold.  The impact of Leonard’s medium of candid journalism lays bare a primarily blurred reality of existing media standards.  The codes and societal expectation of which are everyday increasingly closer to the very social structure that it records and analyzes.  This is the rhizome coded by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in Mille Plateaux and here with Leonard’s work, it is conceivable.

Leonard painted the walls and floor of the public pedestrian passage adjoining Pro Choice and its two neighboring establishments a bright green.  In doing so he builds a set to record his dialogues and unscripted interactions with random people off the sidewalk as well as a guest cast of Viennese artists and borderline local celebrities.  In Pedestrian vs. Bicycle and Grüne Zone I, Leonard impeccably realizes his aim.

Pro Choice, Prater Hauptallee 2a, A-1020 Wien

07.09 – 14.09.11

– Ezara Spangl

on Karine Fauchard at Dienstag Abend at the Ve.Sch

In her installation ‘Thank you for the flowers’ presented at the Ve.Sch in the Dienstag Abend program, Karine Fauchard strongly expands the reach of understandings and the prospects for her work.  This site-specific sculptural installation opens new paths for her work and underscores the recurrent themes of her painting practice.  Particularly, that of a recent body of paintings depicting objects offered for auction by the Collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé.  Now, like in her paintings Fauchard re-contextualizes still life with cultivated material sensitivity.

In ‘Thank you for the flowers’ Fauchard leaves the white walls of the Ve.Sch’s backroom gallery untouched.  On two white pedestals of different heights and on the floor are installed clear glass vases of assorted sizes and shapes.  Each vase contains flowers that have been left to dry.  Every one is unique referencing possessing some type of an anthology of objects.  Here, Fauchard’s staging of the matter of collection has a different take than other artists.  For instance, Fauchard maintains a divergent interpretation when compared to the recent installation in the Secession by Manfred Pernice.  Hers is not meant to be especially educational or instructional, rather Fauchard highlights the meaning of having a collection by selecting to include each object for the pure form of the work.

Based on the suggestion of the title, the flowers are indications to gifts of cut flower bouquets seemingly once given to the artist.  Also, each glass vase holds a particular ikebana like arrangement of flowers as well as water or a trace of water.  The inclusion of water suggests that each time a bouquet was received, that then the flowers were place into a vessel with water to extend each plants’ life spans.   But now, the plants are dry and dead.  What is left of the bouquets, in their assorted degrees of slow disintegration, presents a view of beauty in the present and reflects that the flowers were enjoyed while the blossoms lived.   Thereby, the flowers were enjoyed alive and were given water to be kept so for a time.  As they were not hung to dry or placed on a drying rack, it makes clear that the production of dried flowers was not the concerned outcome.  Fauchard’s work points to the experience of viewing the plants at all of the stages during their life cycle albeit in a nonclinical fashion.  So it seems, these flowers were enjoyed alive and Fauchard simple chose for the flowers to remain to make the piece.

The individual flowers, a mix of species that certainly includes roses, each transform differently while drying.  Not just the flowers but so too was the water of each vase changed over time. Apart from initially being filled into each vessel the water was, just as the flowers, left untouched.  Resulting that in some vases while the flowers dried the water evaporated.  In other vases the flower stems began to rot before drying thereby turning the water into black sludge or green foam.  Of the vases with colored water, the water sometimes evaporated while in those, especially those having a sealed neck, the water continues to remains.  In these vases, the stems and flowers move along their biological change of decomposition and dehydration leaving trace in the water.  According to Fauchard, some of the bouquets are a year old while others have been included in the piece far more recently.

In sum, Fauchard engages ephemeral sculpture depicting still life achieving meaning.  Appropriating this genre so too are artists like Leslie Vance and Laura Letinsky, but Fauchard selects to leave hardly a trace of her mark allowing chance arrangements ripen.  Confronting the viewer with her real momento mori, Fauchard portrays death, growth, intimacy, nostalgia and aesthetics from a slight patient gesture.

Ve.Sch – Verein für Raum und Form in der bildenden <Dienstag Abend>

Schikanedergasse 11, A-1040 Wien

3 Mai, 2011

-Ezara Spangl

on Benjamin Hirte’s Diploma at Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

In his diploma exhibition, Benjamin Hirte concerns his work with compression as he manipulates and positions aluminum and steel.  Upon completing his academic studies at the University of Fine Arts Vienna in the class of Heimo Zobernig, Hirte tactfully sets his work projecting a demur and cogent aesthetic.

Shaping aluminum and steel into representations of parts from industrial sieves, Hirte effects gravity and indicates to the lightness of air.  Long rectangular poles with curving edges connect one to another, or press against the wall or floor.  In the molding of raw material, Hirte demonstrates his veneration of each essential matter.  He cites mechanical fabrication and societal utilitarian functioning both in each structure’s appearance and in including an industry produced grid laying upon a deliberate shape.  So doing, he appends formation, production, and contextualization into the inherent physical matter of  the functioning of his forms.

In addition to metal, Hirte employs a selection of other materials.  One cardboard box sits on the floor with available take-away inkjet print folders in an edition of 300.  On one wall hangs a single glossy colored print of an amalgamation from graphics of critical book covers.  There is also a bit of scotch tape hinging bands of metal together evincing a ‘so what’ ethos.  That is, so what if he uses a little bit of plastic?  That it is a petroleum bi-product and probably the most ancient material available does not matter.  Likewise, the introduction of soap is a deft move.  One bloc of soap pins down a metal rod to support a work. The waxy milky translucent substance is precisely another of Hirte’s double-entendres, an overt symbol of seduction and also an allegory of the human imperative to cleanse.

Removing the room’s wooden baseboards, Hirte kept only the reference to the building’s historic architecture.  Dealing with such considerations and removing possible distractions, Hirte intends each of his slights to be viewed.

Bildhauerateliers, Kurzbauergasse 9, 1020 Wien

28.1.2011 – 2.2.2011

-Ezara Spangl

on Pull My Daisy at •

The group show at Lisa Ruyter’s new gallery • proves appropriately provocative, given it is the namesake of the 1959 beat film by Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie, ‘Pull My Daisy’.  Like the film, this exhibition combines works from artists with considerable street credit.  With varying modes of current consciousness, the works of Lisa Beck, Jessica Craig-Martin, Francesca Di Mattio, Nicole Eisenman, Sissel Kardel, Laleh Khorramian, Julie Ryan and Garth Weiser are pitted against one another, making space to define each one’s logic.

Fearless in complexity is Francesca Di Mattio’s painting and collage.  Using black and white like a full spectrum palette, she unveils a timeless spatial love affair and a two-faced jester dreamboat.  Equally full-on are Jessica Craig-Martin’s gems triggering the inner voyeur.  Her penchant for tightly cropped high-gloss shots, slip in lamé lepord print and makeup wonders.  Likewise referencing pattern are Julie Ryan’s works on paper.  In her drawings and paintings, Ryan plays with combines and locates abstraction in an immediate setting.  The paintings of Lisa Beck carry on a dialogue between space and design depicting landscapes with lyrical circular forms.  The wall painting and canvas work from Garth Weiser fold-in his duly celebrated casual hard-edged air to the preceding painterly and conceptual signatures.  His blue, white, and black flat-on-flat works bring rythm and volume to this mix.

The large projection of Laleh Khorramian’s animation is wonderful.  Portraying dance, architecture, space and sex with the skins of two oranges, her’s is a terrific work.  Masterful to the same degree are Nicole Eisenman’s figure paintings.  Somewhat raw and somewhat poetic, the female and male portrait paintings graze being implicit proverbs.  In Sissel Kardel’s paintings and drawings the figure is also imperative.  Evenly balanced by the ornate wild landscape, Kardel’s nude self-portraits bring rapture to sight.

Its that this is a particular exhibition, where each artist is given the space to speak in her or his own tongue.  It follows Jack Kerouac’s text in the aforementioned film, “well, lets get on then.  Let em be courtly and polite as befits poets.  So, all the poets meet.”

, Kantgasse 3/20, 1010 Wien

November 19 – January 8, 2011

– Ezara Spangl

on Trevor Paglen at the Secession

In his exhibition at the Secession, Trevor Paglen shows stunning images from several ongoing bodies of work.  Though the show is predominantly photography, Paglen says he is interested in photography only as a means to explore the farthest boundaries of human optics; his pursuit concerns aesthetics yet veers towards epistemological inquiry.  With extensive research, invention, and a slow continuous practice Paglen is recording secrets, making unknown truths visible.

It takes Paglen sometimes up to five years to complete a unique image.  Laboriously carrying cameras, telescopes and astronomy equipment into mountainous or desert terrain, Paglen locates his subjects as far as 30 miles away and doing so is able to make photographs of secret US military bases, hangers, drone assassination aircrafts, and even the workers commuting in planes to these secret locations.   One such image is ‘They Watch the Moon,’ in which Paglen shoots an installation of giant satellite dishes sitting atop mountains in the middle of a massive radio frequency quiet zone located in West Virginia.  Paglen knows that these espionage satellite dishes are used by the military to pickup something called moonbounce, which apparently is the reflection of sound waves that literally bounce off the moon’s surface and travel back toward earth.  While he shoots such provocative images, Paglen’s attitude is that of simply collecting and preserving evidence and pointing out limits.  Knowingly though, the photographs are in fact just photographs and the said evidence is not always obvious.

With his specially designed photographic structures, Paglen maneuvers his camera machines to counteract the earth’s rotation in order to maintain long exposures capturing both distinct stars and trails of secret orbiting satellites.   In a photograph of the planet Jupiter and its moons, Paglen makes a direct reference to Galileo Galilei, whose discoveries about Jupiter led to his claims against the fundamental concepts of the universe.  The adjoining photograph is a nighttime image of a person in an office working in the US National Reconnaissance Office.  In another, a large image of a blue cloudy sky with two minuscule aircraft details, which are robot airplanes (with names like Reaper Drone and Predator Drone).  In a video Paglen projects feed that was hacked off of satellite communications between stationary military pilots and drone airplanes in the sky.  The video is the pilot’s view on the screen while remotely flying the drone plane through target practice somewhere over Eastern Europe.  These things are unsettling, that is absolute, but Paglen says it is not about explaining the secret things; he just helps us to see them.

Secession, Friedrichstraße 12, A-1010 Wien

26. 11. 2010 – 13. 2. 2011

– Ezara Spangl

on Rainer Spangl at Song Song

Rainer Spangl’s paintings are fresh for their lettered material sensibility in both oil and watercolor and because they address conceptions of traditional paintings within the framework of current practice.  In his exhibition Blätter und Kammern at Song Song in Vienna, Spangl selected thirteen paintings ranging in scale from one and a half meters high to 30 cm high, fluctuating between oil on canvas and watercolor on panel.

In watercolor, Spangl assumes a direct observational garden painting system.  His sincerity and craftsmanship are evidenced in the soft ivory surfaces of his wood panels.  Primed with traditional chalk ground, Spangl paints atmospheric washes of blues and yellows and upon these, depictions of trees, bushes, and plants.  Though there are no figures in Spangl’s intimate landscapes, his watercolor pieces carry a liking to post-impressionism’s use of gardens as metaphors for transcendent possibility.

Working with oil paint on canvas, Spangl’s style is indirect.  His canvases vary in size each covered by a unique monochrome of color.  On top of these color fields, Spangl illustrates scenes and objects composed of distinct marks, painted-in long and short strokes, also having a singular hue.  The effect of the limited color interactions is striking.  Likewise, Spangl’s choice of subject matter is equally bold.  The scope of his renderings range from a harbor view on the Cote D’Azure, to a monastery’s library’s 17th century Venetian globe, to a preserved 16th century whale horn believed to be that of a unicorn.  In his way, Spangl takes on one of today’s most difficult positions, that of confronting conceptions of leisure, the everyday and the role of relics.

The combination of Spangl’s garden watercolor paintings and his op-oil paintings together address not only their subjects, but also the history of western painting.  In that they are paintings, Spangl smartly shoulders credit for that which is in each piece from painting to painting.  There is no accompanying manifesto for there is no need.  They are, each one, knowingly painted on beauty and knowingly institutionally critical.

Song Song, Praterstrasse 11, 1020, Vienna Austria

September 3 – October 9, 2010

– Ezara Spangl