Ivan's Blog

Thank you for stopping by. This blog will be dedicated to art criticism in today's culture.

Month: May, 2013

Review of The Aesthetics of Scale by Simmons and Lines

One of the small treasures in the area for those seeking to be exposed to contemporary themes in the art world, the Orlando Museum of Art has a program called New Work: A Series of Bi-Monthly Exhibitions of Contemporary Art.  I always look forward to seeing these exhibitions, which are shown in a small gallery space, that is set-aside from the museum’s main galleries and an added bonus, it’s free! So how can you beat that?

The majority of the time the art shown here is more cutting edge and conceptual than what is shown in the museum’s main galleries.

New Work is aimed to educate viewers in the area of contemporary art that work in various mediums including new media and collaborative projects.

The exhibition I went to see was The Aesthetics of Scale, by Rachel Simmons and Lee Lines (http://www.omart.org/exhibitions/rachel-simmons-lee-lines).  The images were black and white on white paper, with visible traces of charcoal and graphite.  The sizes of the paper were roughly 16 X 20 inches or 8 X 10 inches, which was a series they titled POSTCARDS, even though they were not the standard size of a postcardThe imagery came from photographs taken by Lines on his travels across the world, which are later transferred by a printing method to paper.  Barren landscapes and modern structures are juxtaposed.  The choices made by the duo sometimes work and sometimes loses the formal qualities and disorients me, questioning what I’m looking at.

The pieces that I thought were particularly strong were;

Landscape as Measure 2, I thought of how humans make themselves at home no matter how isolate the area.

Economy of Scale, made me think of arteries and how we are connected.

Unconformity 2, the past versus the present, or is the past in the picture really the present, but we assume time lines without understanding the full scope.

Landscape as Measure, is it possible to contain the world in glass houses, and of course what happens when we throw stones at these structures.

The Postcards, were smaller images, covering one wall from top to bottom, and reusing the imagery from the large prints, but juxtapose differently, which did not offer any new insights to the artists intentions.

This exhibit was collaboration between an artist (Simmons) and a scientist (Lines), a dialog between the professions that started on a trip to Iceland where they witnessed first hand a nation that is dedicated to renewable energy.   They are addressing scale and sustainability in the landscape.

Overall the concept is very contemporary, but the artwork and use of materials did not relate to the concept.  It did not bring it into the 21st century, which stop me from defining it as contemporary art other than the fact the year is was made.

Here is a link to Rachel Simmons’s blog that has some of the images from the show.  http://www.omart.org/exhibitions/rachel-simmons-lee-lines


Review of SNAP! in Orlando

SNAP! took place this past weekend, which is a five-day photography festival.  Three years running and with each year the festival grows in bring in a talented scope of photographers/artists that work in this medium.  This year’s theme was Motion to Light.

Over the years SNAP! has shown photographs that are very beautiful, and this year is no exception, for example Jill Greenberg’s portraits of horses; sharp, clean, large, luscious, and mesmerizing to look at, in other words eye candy.  SNAP! organizers try to bring different genres of photography such as: fashion, commercial, documentary, portraiture, and conceptual, but the main qualification that dominates what gets into the show is eye candy, and I believe this to be a handicap sometimes.

In this critque I have decided to only write about photographs/art I found interesting in the festival:

Stephen Knapp’s (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqWnU3ClG6I) light painting titled Next Yesterday, grabbed my attention at first glanced.  This piece was installed on the second floor with one directional light, its beam broken up my various shapes and sizes of glass that created color fields as the light shined through.  It reminded me a little of Dan Flavin’s installations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Flavin), but without the fluorescent tubes, and this twist grabbed my attention with is jagged edges, and the way the light traveled from intense colors to soft hues in various directions creating a kaleidoscope on the wall.  His photos on the other hand were too closely related to Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and I felt the images functioned as documentation of his light installations.

George Rousse’s work came to mind when I saw Jeff Frost’s photographs, but the videos he made I found strong and captivating, again a twist on something that has been done before, but mixing video and stop motion into the artwork.  He showed three videos titled: Flawed Symmetry of Prediction, Modern Ruins, and War Paint for Trees, the videos not only references George Rousse’s work, but National Geographic, NASA, movies, and news broadcasts. His installations that referenced George Rousse came to life in their creation, but at the same time he wants the audience be aware that no graphics or CGI was used to create the videos, which I believe is not necessary.  Why destroy the illusion of what is transpiring? Does the audience need to know?

The last body of work that caught my eye was the large photos of Kerry Skarbakka (http://www.skarbakka.com/portfolios/struggle.htm).  Where each image is a self-portrait of him falling from different scenarios, such as a balcony, a tree, a cliff, stairs and slipping on something in the living room.  Two images where he falls from the tree, and him is slipping, closely references Sam Taylor-Wood’s photographs (http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/sam%20taylor%20wood), where the overall feel of the movement is that of levitation and not the movement of falling, which results in being weak in what his body of work. When he blurs the line of reality and makes you believe that he is actually falling, he makes the viewer’s mind race with several questions i.e.; Did he survived his fall without major injuries?  To what point of desperation is an artist driven to capture what he is trying to convey?  Were there props to break his fall? Or how many attempts did the artist do until he felt it was perfect? And this is what makes these images intriguing and beautiful.

I want to educate people on the history of photography and to point out the differences between past and present photographers/artists, and how they work, this is why I name artists that I see have something in common.  I firmly believe SNAP benefits the Orlando area in educating the public on current themes and trends in photography that is seldom seen here since we live in a world dominated by theme parks.