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Posts by Howard Hurst

José Parlá: Walls, Diaries, and Paintings

by Howard Hurst on March 2nd, 2011

Biographical Dance of Combined Stories

Last week, I headed to Bryce Wolkowitz in Chelsea to chat with artist Jose Parla about his upcoming solo show. When I arrived Jose was busy attacking the front hallway of the gallery. The artist likened the space to an alleyway, one he had already begun to cover with a series of tags. Each signature had a story, a small remembrance of friends and writers from the past. Discussing the wall at hand, the artist smiled from ear to ear as he explained his homage with borrowed strokes of a paint marker.

A product of 80s Miami, Parla is possessed by the power of the paint encrusted street corner. There is an element of photorealism in his canvasses; each a re-exploration of a space once visited. The vivid and unruly paintings on display document and celebrate the beautiful underbelly of urban space. An avid traveler and long time resident of New York City, the artist pulls reference from a staggering mental and photographic data bank of urban facades. Brown tarnish mingles with the wriggling marks of phantom graffiti writers, conjured up from the depths of the artist’s mind. Each painting is a wall, each wall a port key to experience, a touch stone for memory. It is through this type of reflection that perception is given its layers. The artist speaks of painting as if it were theater; each work unfolding through a long process of remembrance. To ignore this is to ignore the high drama at play. Continue Reading More »

Mental States at the New Museum

by Howard Hurst on February 3rd, 2011

Courtesy of the New Museum

George Condo was born in 1957, meaning he is 53, the same age as my mother.

The artist’s newly opened retrospective “Mental States” at the New Museum, was exceptional in part for this reason. It was refreshing to see an exhibition of this weight and vitality at the New Museum. It was especially exciting considering the artist is not “younger than Jesus” but 4 decades into his mature career.

At the risk of seeming vague or trite, or both, there is something timeless about George Condo’s Work. During the 1980s, while friends like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Mary Heilmann were developing their own signature styles, Condo wasn’t. Rather, he was constructing his toolbox. The artist has become a master of appropriation, not of material but of style. He has an uncanny ability to pull inspiration and support from across art history. An avid museum visitor, the artist constantly footnotes artists as disparate as, Picasso, Bacon and Fragonard. Continue Reading More »

Featured Artist: Robert Janitz

by Howard Hurst on January 12th, 2011

I met this week’s featured artist, Robert Janitz, at Momenta Art in Williamsburg, where he is part of the new exhibition, Winter Break. Janitz grew up in Germany, and honed his artistic practice in France. His relationship to the space reflects this background. He arranges his paintings like installation, employing artificial backdrops made of cardboard. His interventions push as much against the old architectures of Western Europe as they do against the white of contemporary art galleries. When he speaks of the old great halls, and palaces of Europe, there is awe in his voice, though he speaks of tradition as an impossibly binding force.

When I first encountered them, the four paintings included in his show seemed sparse and harshly minimal. Looking closer, I realized each painting functions on a variety of levels. In them we see evidence of process, whether it’s the back of a canvas, or a portion of the stretcher, viewed through a translucent varnished surface. There is a serious level of self reflection in these paintings. This is not merely process painting, or art about art. Though they might speak with a different accent and walk with a strange gate, these are paintings nonetheless. To view Janitz’s work is to join the artist on a circuitous journey. Following him one gets the sense that the artist is searching for a new kind of space, somewhere to create work that is both powerful and approachable. Continue Reading More »

Featured Artist: Grayson Revoir

by Howard Hurst on December 15th, 2010

"603" (detail), 2010

While I was in Miami for art fair week earlier this month I had a chance to catch up with Brooklyn based artist Grayson Revoir, who was showing with West Street Gallery. Considering the thousands of artworks on display at the numerous fairs around Miami, Grayson’s exhibit was a welcome respite from the crowded booths. This is especially true considering where I saw it: his hotel room on the 6th floor of the Deauville – home to the NADA art fair.  For those who may not be familiar with the artist, the recent Cooper Union graduate is perhaps most recognizable for his fusion of woodwork, found object and conceptual underpinnings. For his newest project he invited visitors to his guerrilla style art “booth” to carve, scratch, draw and otherwise impact the surface of a “picnic” table specially constructed on site for the fair. Both the interactivity of the piece and the context of its display formed a welcome contrast to the rest of NADA’s bustling 6 floors below. I met with Grayson serendipitously while foraging for food on the last day of the fair. Our interview was conducted as a result of a discussion we had while eating burritos on his sculpture. Continue Reading More »

Art Basel Miami Beach Day 3

by Howard Hurst on December 5th, 2010

Photos by Carissa Pelleteri for Artcards Review

The tone at Basel on Friday was solidly optimistic. The mega galleries were out in force. Hauser and Wirth had a breathtaking late work by Louise Borgouise and drawing and sculpture from art star Paul McCarthy that were of particular note. Gagosian gallery had a similar spread, showing works by star studded gallery favorites Serra, Koons, Hirst and Warhol. White Cube was showing the YBAs in all their glory, but even here the tone seemed markedly less conspicuous than usual. A new, sparkling cubic zirconium filled gold vatrine by the king of bling, Damien Hirst, seemed awkwardly out of place.

Continue Reading More »

Odili Donald Odita

by Howard Hurst on November 28th, 2010

images courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY

“Color/Should not be submissive/It cannot be subjugated/It will not obey/It should not play nice/Color is unruly/It is not for the faint of heart/It can be hard and strong/It can be bold/It can be clear and true/It can also lie/It can trick and deceive us all/Color does what it wants/ It misbehaves/ But most importantly/Color can change our minds.”  These words belong to the painter Odili Donald Odita. His singsong manifesto is no less romantic and optimistic for its mischievous tone. Continue Reading More »

IFPDA Print Fair’s 20th Anniversary

by Howard Hurst on November 20th, 2010

Photos: Jenna Duffy for Artcards

Last week the Park Avenue Armory was buzzing with activity. A fantastical building, it was made even more enticing by the IFPDA Print Fair. In its 20th year, this fair has become the primary destination for all lovers of prints. The selection of dealers, and represented artists was varied. Among the international galleries were New York powerhouses Pace, Marlborough, and the ubiquitous Jim Kempner who was proudly touting his recent web series The Madness of Art. There was an abundance of high quality portfolios from international superstars like Chuck Close, Wayne Thiebau and Richard Serra. While the fair was full of incredibly beautiful art I would be lying if I said the air didn’t feel a little stuffy. This only served to heighten the impact of those booths dedicated to work by contemporary artists. About halfway through my visit to the fair I stumbled into the booth of San Francisco based Arion Press. This was my first introduction to the print/publishing house. Arion’s mission is to combine the work of contemporary artists with classic works of literature. The resulting collaborations are often spellbinding. Arion will soon publish Jim Thompson’s South of Heaven in collaboration with Raymond Pettibon. For the project Pettibon provided 40 illustrations in his signature style. It is encouraging to see a print house collaborating directly with an artist, in order to create a new, vital body of work. I am already looking forward to Arion’s next collaboration with Julie Mehretu who will provide a series of illustrations for a new translation of Sapho.