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Featured Artist

Cy Gavin’s Overture by Peter Neofotis

by Peter Neofotis on July 20th, 2015

One of the shortcomings of figurative art, across time, is that it fails to convey the true meaning of a moment because of its sheer literalism. This failure is most easily understood in photography, where the photograph supposedly captures a slice of life. The moment captured by the photographer, however,  is not at all like the actual experience of the person captured in the photograph.

For starters, we cannot see ourselves with exactitude as the very act of capturing the moment distorts our memory with the photographer’s vantage point. Also,  everything is frozen in time. The exactness of the image, then, gives a false sense that all meaning is captured, when in reality, it is just beginning. This dilemma, as represented in the human experience of trauma, is beautifully addressed in Cy Gavin’s solo show Overture, which opened to a packed, exuberant crowd on July 15th at Sargent’s Daughters.

Gavin’s paintings overtly or inadvertently the redemptive reconciliation that follows trauma. The exclusive subject of his paintings is black figures, usually men, in horrifying predicaments. The show’s signature work, Spittal Pond, Bermuda, depicts two black legs, the last glimpses of a man buried alive perhaps, coming out of a stunning, surreal landscape. Another untitled image is of a dark figure in a beautiful polar landscape, his black, curly hair having grown into an enormous boulder that pins him prone against the frozen land.

The images capture the experience of racial, sexual, or other human suffering.  The significance of the moment is not fully realized at the moment it happens.  Rather, it occurs weeks, months or even years afterwards, usually upon reflection or through dreams. Haunted by the event, the subject comes closer to a realization of its meaning and what it continues to mean in relation to one’s new experiences over time. Thus, the landscape of the change is not just as it was. It becomes surreal–part of the present and the past, the literal and the imaginary– a fluctuating setting that blends the impressionistic with the fantastic.

What makes these paintings about trauma so beautiful? The beauty lies in the bravery that comes with the determination to “never forget”.  Furthermore, only by reflecting on the moment in which our lives were inexorably changed, can we actually come to terms with what happened and move forward. The self is ripped in two, but upon reflection, the part left at the site of the crime is merely the shadow self. Indeed, despite the disturbing elements, the images evoke peacefulness. We realize that what we see is only the shadow.

According to Thoreau, “every man casts a shadow; not his body only, but his imperfectly mingled spirit”. Gavin’s deep black figures, painted using a combination of tattoo ink, acrylic and oil, are Thoreau’s shadows, reconciling fate.

Featured Artist: Oliver Warden

by Amanda Schmitt on October 24th, 2011

Oliver Warden, Untitled Box 2.0, 1993-2011. Photo credit: Josephine Phong, 2011.

A young woman rounds the corner and catches a glimpse of her reflection in a full-length mirrored box. Attracted to this, she stops to make sure her bangs are okay, and notices that the mirror also has a switch, at perfect doorbell height. Curious, she flips the switch, only to immediately jump back, letting out a half scream, half laugh. She might be going crazy, she thinks, but she swears she just saw her reflection change into that of a man’s.  Intrigued, she presses the switch a second time, and registers the flashing image of him again. Sure enough, inside the two-way mirror is a man, about 6’, standing at the ready, in a grey suit with a black tie. He has the appearance of James Bond, but the moxy of Elvis Presley vis-à-vis Andy Warhol’s prints. This man also has an identically placed switch on his side of the mirror. While the young woman can turn on the light, revealing the man, he has the power to turn the light off. The young woman giggles, fascinated by her power, yet she still feels the need to touch the switch again, and sees the opportunity to compete; a game ensues. She continuously turns on the light, as fast as she can, trying to reveal the man, to find out who he is, and what he looks like. He is calm and quick to the switch; she is relentless. She giggles more and more, and he remains stone cold 007, intensely staring into her eyes. You can see he is sweating, somewhat annoyed yet maintaining his authority, which fuels this woman’s sadistic tendencies even more. Who will win? Continue Reading More »

Andrew Guenther Talking to a Fish and Paraphernalia

by Carissa Pelleteri on October 21st, 2011

Go to Freight and Volume and see this show in its last week!

Check out the rad animation Andrew did: Talking to a Fish

Andrew Guenther has exhibited widely in New York, LA, and internationally, including: “Standing in Water up to the Shins, Your Foot Looks at a Minnow and Says,’Look What I Have Become!’” at David Castillo Gallery, Miami, and “The Slap of Bird Shit On Wet Pavement” at Mogadishni, Copenhagen. Guenther was born and raised in Wheaton, Illinois, studied undergrad in Wisconsin and Rome and received his MFA at Rutgers in 2002. He curated an artist’s storefront space, Arts Tropical, in Brooklyn for a few years. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY, and is a proficient urban gardener who grows his own tobacco, berries, and grapes.

Featured Artist: Kabir Carter

by Maria Papadomanolaki on October 17th, 2011

"Shared Frequencies"

Kabir Carter is a performance and installation artist based in NY. His work could be described as an eloquent study on the interactions and interpolations between sound, space and the body.  I was introduced to his work while doing research for the book Transmission Arts: Artists and Airwaves and I was intrigued by the physicality of his creative method as well as his attentiveness to the spaces he uses for his work.  Kabir Carter will be performing tomorrow Tuesday, October 18th, at the Transmission Arts: Artists and Airwaves book celebration at Issue Project Room.


When did you start to develop a sensibility about space in all its different manifestations (public, private, indoors and outdoors). What was the first interaction/experiment or project that sparked this idea in your head and consequently in your work?

What set me to actively consider space in my own work was Shared Frequencies. Several years ago, I received a grant to go out on New York City sidewalks and set up a loose array of radio scanners, signal routers, and analog synthesizer modules atop a pair of folding tables. My first few realizations of the work required me to rethink my relationship to sound in space on the fly. Continue Reading More »

Featured Artist: Ry Rocklen

by Brent Birnbaum on October 11th, 2011

Second to None

Ry Rocklen has developed a language that is poetic and unique. His originality is an accomplishment considering the thousands of artists who used found objects in their work. Ry inserts old objects with his artistic mojo, giving them new life in a different realm. Perhaps you caught his previous outings in New York City at Marc Jancou in 2009 or in the Whitney Biennial of 2008. Rocklen’s latest New York show is up at Untitled on the Lower East Side until October 16th. Continue Reading More »

Featured Artist: Ryan Wallace

by Howard Hurst on June 5th, 2011

Courtesy of the Artist

Ryan Wallace is a painter and mixed media artist who lives and works in Brooklyn.  His body of work spans a range of influences, re-purposing a variety of art historical and popular references into a fluid vocabulary of rough, playful abstraction. His paintings vary in size and medium but are united by their alternating notions of fragmentation and unity and by a moody, often diffuse tone. His compositions reflect the payload of modernism viewed through the dust covered lens of a gritty, sun bleached kaleidoscope. His interest in the way information is presented, transmitted and stored results in a sensibility that is equal parts science, mysticism and high fives. I had a chance to stop by the artists Greenpoint studio recently to talk with the artist.

Continue Reading More »

Featured Artist: Tim Knowles

by Helen Homan Wu on May 24th, 2011

E3-HS9, 2011

Tree Drawings, Nightwalks, Insect Flight Paths, Restorative Device, For the Baron, Postal Works, and his latest Recorded Delivery.  Those are the work titles of UK based artist Tim Knowles. You can pick up on the artist’s sensibility simply from those titles – simplified to bare bones – no more, no less. When I first experienced one of Knowles’ Nightwalks photographs at Bitforms Gallery, I was indeed speechless. One could easily muse at Knowles’ Nightwalks images and be inspired to write. Understanding the process behind this creation though, shows us a slightly different story. The artist uses all the natural elements as his materials, which forms a spontaneous and performative act. No, this has nothing to do with performance art, more like behavioral studies. Looking at Knowles’ body of work all together leaves me at this comfortable space that is somewhat ambiguous yet extremely familiar. Who would have the guts (or time) to wire-tap the inside of a package with audio/visual recording devices and send it off on a 902 mile journey?  I wouldn’t. It must’ve also required a period of trial-and-error before the package is ready to set off. The result, “an artwork which captures the topsy-turvy world of a parcel in the post.”  Recorded Delivery, created with permission from the Royal Mail, is currently on view at the Bitforms Gallery, NYC, until the 27th of May. Continue Reading More »