Saturday, December 05, 2015

Chelsea Gallery Hop

We went to see the Andy Goldsworthy show at Galerie Lelong, but knew we would make other discoveries along the way. The motorized sculptures of animals and lamps by the Swiss artist Jean Tinguely (1925 - 199) were a lot of fun to see. Shown at Gladstone Gallery, they were made of junkyard scraps and dime-store finds; the old motors, often decommissioned from 78rpm phonographs, produced unpredictable motions when you stepped on a switch on the floor. At Marlborough Chelsea, the black-and-white photos of Richard Kern in the viewing room were compelling takes on his friends living in druggy squalor in New York City. Taken in the 80's, the photos showed acts of sadomasochism and non-acts of ennui. There was one very different, rather sweet, "Brian with TV, 1981"

Over at Luhring Augustine, the British artist Rachel Whiteread was showing new sculptures made from casting windows and doors in colored resin. The pieces are then mounted on concrete casts of bricks, so the promise of transparency is finally blocked. Most impressive of all were the ash paintings of the Chinese artist Zhang Huan at Pace. A new body of paintings, made from incense ash collected from Buddhist temples, present passages from the Bible and "The Star-Spangled Banner" in braille. The highlight was a huge painting, measuring 122 feet long, drawn from a photograph of Mao and over 1000 loyal followers arranged in ranks for the camera. The work was monumental in its ambition, but also memorable in its human detail. When I posted Guy's photo on FB, the software asked me to tag the faces.

The Andy Goldsworthy show "Leaning into the Wind" did not disappoint. He made me laugh, whether he was scraping through a row of low thorny trees, or climbing up a waterfall, or washing in a stream his hands clean of blood-red poppy petals, or throwing a bunch of sticks up in the air so that they flew and scattered in beautiful patterns. He took such joy in making art. He takes life as it is and just adds one step.

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