[ Content | Sidebar ]


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.

The Kitchen Presents: An Evening with Cinema16

by Amanda Schmitt on July 3rd, 2012

June 26, 2012 New York, New York

Inspired by an Oliver Sacks lecture on hallucinations and perception, Molly Surno brought four delightfully abstract films to her ongoing experimental film series, Cinema 16, at the Kitchen on this Tuesday evening, leaving an entire theater-full of guests bug-eyed and awe-jawed.  To add to the experience, she invited musician and composer Matteah Baim to imagine an original soundtrack for the screening, adding another dimension of emotionality to the atmosphere, and creating an unlikely collaboration between artists who will never meet. The works span over the course of almost an entire century, from 1924 to 2010, all running on a 16-mm projector (Bravo Kitchen!). Continue Reading More »

Review: Santiago Taccetti

by Kristin Trethewey on February 18th, 2012


I’m trying to describe the feeling I had when I first met Santiago Taccetti and saw his artwork. As he scrolled through his website showing me piece after piece I became excited about what he was doing in his art practice. Images of installations, paintings, video and prints all emphasized a similar consideration and viewpoint toward our relationship with technology and the pervasive aesthetic that has emerged. What’s incredible is that Taccetti translates this across artistic disciplines, which to me means you are onto something. His work floats on the white page of a website with the same ease that he builds a sculpture or paints. This delicate sensitivity towards contemporary aesthetics is something we are all becoming more attuned to through the web. To make a comparison I have a historical anecdote. As a kid watching way too much television I became a super critic of TV and movies. The editing, lighting, sound and costumes all spoke to me. I understood this medium naturally and could differentiate between incredibly subtle details and differences. The web is developing a similar critical and aesthetic awareness and Taccetti’s artwork translates this like a mother tongue. His work represents a certain perfection that is more than real–it is actually unreal. It is the aesthetic of the machine. And strangely after viewing his work I began to perceive the city differently. I started to see the digital aesthetic everywhere, permeating the real world. Continue Reading More »

Destroy All Monsters at Prism Gallery

by Lee Foley on December 17th, 2011


Mike Kelley, Mall Culture, 2000 Acrylic on canvas, 96 x 138 inches, Courtesy of Prism Gallery

In the 1970’s, a typical suburban youth wouldn’t conceive of declaring a new art movement. A more natural mode of rebellion would be to start a band. At Prism Gallery in West Hollywood, Mike Kelley curates the first retrospective of work by the original artists in Destroy All Monsters. “Return of The Repressed: Destroy All Monsters, 1973-1977,” presents Mike Kelley, Cary Loren, Niagara and Jim Shaw as members of an experimental band and art collective. This expansive exhibition highlights a rich archive of prints, drawing and photography, including several mural-sized paintings, which commemorate influential figures in their collaborations. Continue Reading More »

The Future is Now

by Kristin Trethewey on December 9th, 2011

Rachel De Joode, Seeing the Future, a skype-performance, 2011

A young, naked man stares at us, reacting in real-time via webcam; his image is projected onto a typical artist’s canvas and easel a few meters away. Every few minutes he speaks to us. Sometimes I hear what he says, “a woman walks across the room” or “the man with a blue jacket just moved towards the back”. Other times the Internet connection is too weak and his words become fragmented. But the audience understands he is watching us. We continue standing in front of him immobilized, it is awkward and the tension is real. Continue Reading More »

Other Spaces Generates New Spaces Through Sound at LEAP

by Kristin Trethewey on December 3rd, 2011

It Pays My Way and it Corrodes My Soul, 2011, Performance by Stephen Cornford(UK) and Paul Whitty

Last Saturday LEAP, the Lab for Electronic Arts and Performance, launched a new bi-monthly series called Body Controlled, presenting
artists dedicated to performance art and exploring sound using electronics and other art forms. For its first installment titled, Other Spaces, the artists used the dynamic of preexisting architecture and virtual spaces as a point of departure for work on display through December 2, 2011. Highlights of Saturday’s inaugural event included Robert Henke’s twelve-hour installation/performance, Microsphere. Well known within both academics and club culture Henke has been involved in negotiating the evolution of computer based music for decades and helped pioneer today’s standard software for live performance, Ableton Live. While I only stayed for the first two hours of his set visitors were welcome to pass by until mid-morning the next day, breakfast was apparently served in the final hours. During the time I was present I took notice of Henke’s peaceful performance demeanor, the invisible anxiety that permeates most was non-existent. His expert execution allowed sounds to develop within the space breaking down typical audience-performer barriers. Focus returned to the audience and the space as Henke took short smoking breaks and even ate some grapes while he played at what looked like a recording station from the future. Massive cabling protruded from the back of a desk that was under lit by a florescent red tube and a carefully rigged computer screen floated, suspended from the ceiling. Fluctuating between listening to the development of sound, Henke added various traditional and non-traditional instruments to the mix and their play back became part of a developing new sound and spatial atmosphere. Continue Reading More »

Black Mountain College and Its Legacy @ Loretta Howard Gallery

by Gabriella Radujko on October 24th, 2011

Installation View

At the heart of the interdisciplinary, experimental approach to art making documented in “Black Mountain College and Its Legacy” at the Loretta Howard Gallery, is a human ethology that emphasizes cooperation and interdependence.  What happened at Black Mountain College is as nostalgic as it is antithetical to western society’s preoccupation with the importance of the individual over the group, most recently highlighted with the passing of Apple’s visionary icon earlier this month. Continue Reading More »