Canada’s Inuit have a long history of tattooing that stretches back several thousand years. However, once the Canadian Arctic was colonized, the practice of tattooing faded almost entirely after being discouraged by missionaries. By the early twentieth century, few Inuit were continuing the practice. After the introduction of graphic art to the Arctic in the late 1950s by James Houston, many Inuit artists began depicting, and therefore recording, cultural practices such as tattooing that were in danger of being lost altogether. These artworks now act, alongside oral histories, explorer accounts, and photographs, as documents of a once thriving cultural practice. Inuit tattooing is now beginning to see a contemporary resurgence, with a number of Inuit women, such as Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, getting their own facial tattoos. Nevertheless, drawings and prints by Inuit graphic artists have become an essential part of the recording this practice’s history.
Jessie Oonark, Tattooed Women, 1960
Pitseolak Ashoona, Tattooed Woman, 1963
Peter Pitseolak, Tattooed Woman, 1975
Arnaqu Ashevak, Tattooed Women, 2008
There it is. I have shown it to you. It has been done. It is being done. And because it can be done, it will be done.
—Kirk Varnedoe, Pictures of Nothing
“The show is over.” Or is it? This exhibition is about abstraction and the end of painting, often proposed but never concluded. Christopher Wool’s statement in paintings, drawings and billboards, taken from Vasily Rozanov’s nineteenth century definition of nihilism, contains sufficient irony to suggest that painting itself, the spectacle that surrounds it, and the ultimate questions it poses about life and death, are never quite over.
The negation of painting emerged in Europe after WWII in Francis Picabia’s last paintings, Lucio Fontana’s punctured and slashed Concetto spaziale paintings, Yves Klein’s Fire-Color works, and Piero Manzoni’s quest for neutral materiality in the Achromes. When first exhibited in 1953, Robert Rauschenberg’s White Paintings—monochromatic panel paintings—were unprecedented in their deceptive blankness. These works anticipated diverse interpretations of the neutral picture plane. Gerhard Richter’s paintings of the 1970s in shades of grey project a removed, indifferent power. Richard Serra’s Left Corner Horizontal (1977), a dense black expanse of oilstick on linen, produces a physical and spatial void that appears impenetrable.
A shared spirit of negation is evident in the anarchic actions that fueled the urban Punk movement, epitomized by Steven Parrino’s physical attacks on the canvas and Kim Gordon’s evanescent wreaths. In Parrino’s Untitled (1992), the anarchist symbol is sprayed in black engine enamel on white vellum. Ed Ruscha’s hermetic painted wordplay reaches cinematic finality with The End paintings, begun in the early 1980s. The silhouettes of Hourglass #4 (1987) and End (1993) are set against grey-spectrum horizons that evoke transitions of time and space.
Seeking new ways to negate or efface the picture plane, artists such as Douglas Gordon, Mark Grotjahn, Wade Guyton, Adam McEwen, Albert Oehlen, Richard Prince, and Rudolf Stingel represent sustained challenges to the limits of painting, both real and imagined. (via)
WADE GUYTON Untitled, 2011 Epson UltraChrome inkjet on linen
ED RUSCHA End, 1993 Acrylic on canvas
ALBERT OEHLEN Untitled, 2008 Oil paint and collage on canvas
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Zhang Huan – Family Tree, 2001
December 11th sees New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art host seventy works by thirty-five Chinese contemporary artists in Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China; across four thematic groupings—the written word, new landscapes, abstraction, and beyond the brush—the exhibition will illustrate the artist’s often subversive reinterpretation of what is historically China’s foremost high art practice.
Amongst the chosen artists appears contemporary Chinese performer Zhang Huan, known for his often provocative works across performance, sculpture and photography, his practice is concerned with the body, presented through his own and those of others, positioning himself in extreme and often painful conditions seeking to remark on the conventions of the culture that surrounds him. One work for example, triggered by an experience in a rancid public restroom in a small village not unlike that in which he grew up, saw Zhang spread on his body “a visceral liquid of fish and honey to attract the flies in the public restroom in the village. He sat on the toilet, almost immobile for an hour” after which hundreds of flies covered the artist’s body. It is his works referencing the calligraphic arts of his past, though, that draw focus in the exhibition. 2001′s Family Tree sees nine portraits of the artist’s face sequentially documenting the process of three calligraphers transcribing a range of names and passages significant to the artist’s lineage until the accumulation becomes an indistinguishable mass of black as the “elaborate web of social and cultural relations smother any sense of the individual”.
12 Square Meters, 1994
Zhang Huan, 1998
The exhibition will run until April 2014
Cory Arcangel’s recent solo show at Montreal’s DHC/ART Foundation presents a wide array of the computer-based work that has come to characterize Arcangel’s artistic output. With an underlying humor, Aracangel’s exhibition “embraces the Internet’s anarchic potential and its Utopian open source culture” while simultaneously “question[ing] authorship, the status, and value of the art object” (quotation via DHC/ART).
Instead of offering a traditional exhibition review (as has already been done quite poignantly by Sophie Lynch at Canadian Art), we have chosen our favorite works from the exhibition and posted them below. Alongside the works you will find, taken from his website, what Arcangel calls a “Post Script.” These “Post Script[s]” offer contextual and anecdotal information from the artist himself, and in doing so, simultaneously allows viewers to become aware of both Arcangel’s physical and ideological processes.
“This was a video I made where, as the elevator pitch suggests, I played the movie Colors one horizontal line of colors at a time. A few years later, I released a personal edition of the software I used, called Colors Personal Edition. So, get ripping!”
I Shot Andy Warhol, 2002
“This is a Hogan’s Alley mod, where the gangsters have been replaced by Warhol, and the “innocents” have been replaced by the Pope, Flavor Flav (pre MTV show!!!!), and Col Sanders (note: Col Sanders was actually real person). So enjoy!, and please check below for the ROM which you can download, and in order 2 play this at home. pps – there is no source code to this project, because it is a “rom hack” aka all the modifications r done directly in the binary of the compiled ROM. Both the graphics and the program are modified for this project. The graphics are changed to add the new characters (duh!), and the program is changed to switch the mirroring of the sprites which compose the characters faces. For example Flavor Flav’s face is not symmetrical where as Col sanders’ face is.”
Super Mario Clouds, 2002
“Super Mario Clouds is an old Mario Brothers cartridge which I modified to erase everything but the clouds. Check below for the ROM, a link to the source code, a gif, and instructions on how 2 make it yourself. So, first the gif,……when I originally posted this on the Internet in 02, the web wasn’t actually able to contain video (it sounds funny now, but remember youtube didn’t start making waves till like 05ish??), therefore I made a gif of the video. Of the gazillion bootlegs of this project, most are from this gif. Enjoy!…”
Drei Klavierstücke op. 11 (part 1), 2011
“Drei Klavierstuke is a recreation of Arnold Schoenberg’s 1909 op. 11 Drei Klavierstücke (aka Three Piano Pieces) made by editing together videos of cats playing pianos downloaded from Youtube. Schoenberg’s Op11 is often considered the first piece of “atonal” music, or music to completely break from traditional western harmony which means it’s not written in a “key”. Below you will find the three videos (one for each piano piece), a technical description & the score.
This project fuses a few different things I have been interested in lately, mainly “cats”, copy & paste net junk, and youtube’s tendency in the past few years to host videos that are as good and many times similar to my favorite video artworks. I think all this is somehow related…”
At a recent show entitled El Choco at the Centro Cultural de España en La Paz, Swiss-Bolivian artist Luciano Calderon exhibited a series of brightly coloured handcrafted masks. These masks were created as substitutes for the mask worn by Superhéro Andino, a fictional, Bolivian version of Superman conceptualized by Calderon.
Superhéro Andino, 2013
Ahora Tienes Un Problema, 2013
El Dinero Es Mentira, 2013
Fuera De Control, 2013
Vered Sivan‘s recurring performance/installation Plasma uses live models, who lie still on the gallery floor as the artist slowly drapes synthetic thread over their bodies. As the models become slowly engulfed by a luminous chrysalis of thread, soft skin and light breaths give way to a still, glowing form. People become objects, anthropomorphic instead of alive.
I was initially attracted to the work of Amanda Ross-Ho because I liked her slashed black tee shirts and wanted to wear them; little did I know that all of Ross-Ho’s shirts were part of a wall sculpture series entitled BLACK RAGS, and that they are actually quite large and impossible to wear. Her exhibition GONE TOMORROW, of which BLACK RAGS was a part, also included a significantly enlarged wall sculpture cast of a gold-plated earring and a few collages including prints and photographs of human-sized shirts that seemingly served as inspiration for the sculptures. Personally, I enjoy how her work takes on tropes and visual signs of street (sub)cultures, fashion, and found objects, and mashes them together in complex and unexpected ways, how DIY culture and made-ness collide with mechanical production in her larger-than-life objects.
(Images via Mitchell-Innes & Nash)