Sunday, October 12, 2008

"Horse and Hattock"

Monday, September 22, 2008

an urban distaste for the concrete

Sketches can be preserved as legends to stories, and paintings serve as a code with which to read the meaning behind an artist's work.
Within my interests is a specific concern with language. what could be the possibility of a common language of the subconscious? Misinterpretations abound within the language of visual symbols. In the end, words "mean" nothing, they have no value in terms of material worth. Beyond matters of currency, however, I would say most people today have developed "an urban distaste for the concrete" (a line from the Great Gatsby).

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Art is: the opposite of carelessness. This piece could be described as a series of pigment application moving towards cohesion. The horizon is at once distance and boundary. The obvious conclusion is that if you believe the whole painting, then the whole thing is true. The act of imagining a good story is a way to make someone, including oneself, feel safe forever. Gravity can paint a picture, through time and natural processes. Like fear, gravity is a common denominator; it is also a connected to natural phenomena and creation. Decay, cultural and social decay is the same as oversimplification on such a grand scale that the basics of life have become abstract "concepts". Art is a circular idea process of formation and deterioration. Self-organizing matter is the secret.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

just like a photo

Images have become disposable. Possibly because of this we often seem to have trouble investing in our decisions or anything at all that we may choose. In a rather victimizing way our societal convention is to take what's given to us. I don't mean to condemn all connections to vain behavior, they're merely symptoms of a larger disorder, but I do wish to find the means to make stronger statements. Without being overly critical, I believe there is much to be learned by objectification. So many people would rather choose a private struggle than a public humiliation as we search for that fortune, nirvana, or revolution always just out of reach. But to be afraid of what you might "look like" while doing it seems to me an irrational fear. In the same way people shy away from the camera len,s many of us shy away from taking the "harder route". However, fear is the ultimate teacher, a natural state and a tool. We all fear the unknown; fear is our common denominator.
In this way I believe that people often fear the abstract, the borderline or the hard to understand. In my own works, what is veiled may or may not have meaning in the first place, the veiwer will never know. Is that not-knowing feeling a form of fear? It is at least uneasiness.
Through comforting familarity the photograph remains to most the purest visual record of a concrete moment in time.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

To leave a mark

Affecting a surface is essentially the subject of the act of painting. Presence and absence are binaries; represented as equally oppositional forces. On any surface the discovery of a mark is the dicovery of difference. Some may say the result of this marking is to be "condemned to an eternal desire for the non-relationship." In other words, zero; where identity is meaningless.

Monday, April 14, 2008


As a society we instinctively avoid many things during the course of the day. Somtimes we are aware of it, but most of the time we do not know how automatic our daily behaviors have become. On studying social reactions to different versions of the human figure, an uncanny appetite for irony can be revealed. We like to see things that we have already seen before. Our tendency towards the familiar is in complete combat with exploration in an urban situation.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The New Abstract School

Student Center Mural application, project description: Jenn Bakalar and Bret Slater (we didn't get the job)

The mural Bret and I plan to paint for the student center will be a large-scale version of the work that he has been exploring this semester in the study of painting. Research on Alber’s color theory as well as the mechanics of figure/field relationships has developed into a design aesthetic with an overall balance through the arrangement of forms. A limited color palette allows for delicate harmonies between shades and a “hard-edge” painting technique showcases color and placement relationships. The nature of the work is based on precision and champions many historical art concepts, such as those realized during Futurism and Minimalism. We will work with the entire area of the canvas, addressing the horizontality of the field by approaching the composition in three linear sections.
Each of these three sections will subtly interact and connect with each other, maintaining cohesiveness. The resulting image will symbolize the complicated duality of life as well as the natural relationships between positive and negative, or yin and yang.
The three sections will be arranged in two symmetrical pieces on opposite ends. The remaining space in the middle will be a transitional area between the two. The two bookend panels will be balanced areas, and explore the play of flat color on a painted surface. Each square will be a complete and stable composition on its own, but they will reflect each other like mirror copies. The middle section will be a stable and transitional location between the two “opposite” ends. The ambiguous space that exists between opposites is representative of the abstract synapse in which intuition and creativity resides.
The figures within the painting will be reminiscent of the Purchase campus architecture, or geometrical formations in a void. Through their shape, position and color, the forms will relate to one another and interact according to an invented system of order within the world of the painting. In the same way that the law of attraction is present in all things, they will attract and repel from each other like the poles of a magnet.
Color will be a predominant feature of the work as per its ability to universally evoke feelings, emotions and the majority of a visual “mood.” Flat paint will be used, as shine causes glare and takes away from the consistency and quality of color. Intuitive color choices will symbolize emotions like anger, love and loneliness. The piece will serve the Purchase College community as a visual meditation on spirituality and the thought process, as communicated through the very personal tools of painting: color, shape, proportion, position and scale.

Materials needed:
Rulers, pencils and erasers
Outdoor enamel spray paint with a matte finish
Masking tape

Monday, February 25, 2008

Tommy Hartung

Tommy Hartung at Moti Hasson Gallery
535 West 25th St New York, NY

February14-March16, 2008

Purchase Alumni Tommy Hartung is exhibiting a successful multi-media show at Moti Hasson Gallery in Chelsea. With an MFA from Columbia and showcased as part of Moti Hasson Gallery's inaugural Chelsea exhibition, Hartung is proving he can do a little bit of everything in terms of art-making and storytelling. Through his work in painting, digital video and sculpture, he tells a fictional tale featuring the mysterious settlement of the “New World” in the late 1400s by a Christopher Columbus-esque character and his ill-fated crew. In keeping with this theme, Hartung creates an exhibition in which everything has the feeling of something “found”, and the viewer is free to explore.
Entering the gallery space a video is shown for about 15 minutes. Behind the wall on which it is projected are presented an old-school projector, and a sculpture. In an adjacent alcove one can also enjoy two figurative paintings and sculpture, offered almost sarcastically as the last pieces to an interdisciplinary “puzzle” which spans the triad of video, sculpture and painting.

(Image stills)

Tommy Hartung

The Story of Edward Holmes, 2007

edition of 5000

still from color video on DVD

15 minutes

courtesy of the artist and Moti Hasson Gallery, New York

The movie consists of scenes comprised of animation, made out of small figurines and bits of toys, painted and glued together to create “characters”. He also films a miniature ship as well as busts of familiar-looking dignitaries, which recall portraits of our founding fathers. The myth Hartung weaves tells the story of one “Edward Holmes.” His journey at sea is narrated it as he had recorded it in a journal. The viewer is visually dictated the conditions of a storm, which causes the model ship manned by the crew of sculptural busts to crash on the shores of a mysterious land inhabited by strange animals and Natives. An overall sentiment of paranoia and anxiety can be felt in the spaces between the figures as they float and dance across the miniature stage. This is fitting as one could think of no story more relevant or obsolete than the “discovery” of the Americas. At some points you feel as though it is expected that you laugh, uncomfortable, as it would seem. This is especially true during the last scene, when Edward Holmes gets lucky with a young Native girl. The video, as the primary element, sets the stage for the rest of the show and is by far the most interesting piece Hartung presents. His main character is effective in that he plays into the myth of the early American explorers with an abstract dialogue between Fate and Edward Holmes.

The sculpture pieces behind the projection wall consist of the projector emitting an image of a blackbird. Pencil sketches of the model busts used in the video lay on the table next to the projector. Hartung plays with the idea of the artist’s studio being a work of art in itself, however this arrangement of tools reads very literally within the context of the rest of the work. The parallel between the worlds of video and real life is one of the most interesting concepts in the show. However, the sculptures, with their incidental compositions and scale shifts, seem negatively residual of the video-making process.

The last room of the exhibit contains two paintings and a sculpture. The paintings are large and colorful despite their limited palettes. The representational scenes depict a cottage in the woods with a bridge crossing a river or ravine, and a picnic at an RV in a forest. Abstraction is achieved through veiling the scenes with drippy, atmospheric paint, as well as obsessive patterning in the foliage of the trees, which also serves to camouflage the subject. The paintings seem to depict the magic of isolation found in the woods, with elements reminiscent of northern lights and other light phenomena such as shadows and silhouettes.

The sculpture in the corner of the room is a to-scale model of two cocks fighting, made of masking tape and wire, de-lineated with charcoal. The motif of animalistic aggression is possibly in reference to the outdoors, and the wild becoming tame through familiarization.

The whole show could be explained as a metaphor for the fear and confusion of the unknown. Hartung brilliantly parallels the anxiety of exploration and the thrill of a “Manifest Destiny” in Edward Holmes’s discovery of a new species of black bird. The animal’s strange behavior includes eating its surrogate mother upon hatching. Tommy Hartung will be at Moti Hasson from February 14 thru March 16, 2008.

(Installation shot)

Tommy Hartung
Raw File Dump #2, 2007
found objects and materials
dimensions variable

courtesy of the artist and Moti Hasson Gallery, New York

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Amira Mednick

Amira Mednick

Manna is proud to present eleven pieces by painter Amira Mednick on display now through mid April. Mednick’s work represents a trend in contemporary art addressing issues born out of the 1960’s art historical movement known as “Minimalism”. Mednick’s colorful, energetic sci-fi landscapes put a new spin on the simple and concept-based aesthetics of this section in art history. Taking her cues from minimalist artists such as Frank Stella and Sol LeWitt, she explores painting through a body of work focused on color play and spatial representation. Mednick utilizes a precision-based technique while still maintaining a traditional approach to painting.
She works in acrylic on canvas. A plastic-based paint, acrylics come in many “artificial” colors and can be manipulated with mediums (paint additives) and water until it dries flat, without visible brushstrokes. Impeccable craftsmanship is also another element of minimalism with which Mednick infuses her paintings. One must view the work in person to see the perfectly straight lines and edges, which separate colors of almost imperceptible shifts in hue and value.
This is truly the magic of original artwork. With every view one is reminded of the immense care taken in paint application and color selection. Some pieces seem to explode off the canvas in an expressive composition, while others represent figures suspended, motionless in an atmosphere of color.

Amira Mednick was born in Manhattan and grew up in Fairfield County, Connecticut - Westport and Stamford areas. Her mother is from Switzerland and is also a visual artist.
Mednick studied architecture for 2 years at the University of Miami and recently graduated summa cum laude from Purchase College in 2007. She know lives in CT, and works as a Specialty Art Project coordinator/instructor at Congregation Shir Ami, Stamford. Her past exhibtion includes: “Obviously Four Believers”/Senior Thesis Show/Purchase College/State University of New York/2007,"The Best of SUNY"/ State University Plaza Gallery, Albany, New York/ 2007 – awarded Critic’s Choice Award,"Downtown Cabaret"/ Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, New York City, New York/ 2007,"Art of the Northeast"/ Silvermine Guild Arts Center, New Canaan, Connecticut/2006,"25th Annual Photography Exhibition"/ Betty Barker Gallery, New Canaan, Connecticut/2005, "Spectrum 2004"/ Betty Barker Gallery, New Canaan, Connecticut /2004,"Alpan International 2004"/ Alpan Gallery, Huntington, New York/2003.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

John Torreano critique

Visiting artist John Torreano took a look at my work last semster and I finally found the notes from this discussion. He started out by metioning a method of drawing "by seeing." The piece I offered for critique is titled "red portrait."He explained his belief that painting and drawing particularizes the artist's point of view. Interest in perception and ideas of space, the galaxy often provide the catalyst for many events in painting. All art is contemporary art for an artist working today. An painter must be open to any influences; start from the inside and go out, returning to the inside. Fracture images, appropriate cross-cultural references and multiple points of view. Look for surprises in the particular. Let the intuition lead the production. You do need to intellectualize the background. Schizophrenic, simultaneous desires become choices in a vacuum. There is a tyranny of choices. The choices of a particular culture can reflect particular responses; more personalized. A person's identity is defined by the choices she makes. There is a sense of loss, void, space and multiplicity. The choices you make chart your personality and character. It is a process-oriented work.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A guide to "Myko"

The work of artist myko gave me reason to believe again in the job I do even though managing comes naturally to me, and I feel that providing public art is my life mission. In many ways it also restored my faith in painting; even my own. Maybe in a way I loved his paintings so much because they invoked in me an anxious feeling. I felt the urge to continue simply looking.
The painting that first caught my eye was the eerily abstract piece entitled "Nursey".
For some reason the horror I felt when I first saw it left me uneasy for the rest of the night. The mangled form of a diapered person stretches backwards into the depth of the painting. The viewer is not sure if the figure is in motion, or the image is simply being distorted. There is an unsettling ambiguity that is consistently provided as a main theme of the work.
As I would wish to see them,
"7 days of the week" then presents to the viewer an ultimately bizarre experience. There are fragments of cabaret identifiable in the high heel the figure tip-toes on. It might make the entire discussion easier to call out the blatant allusions to sexism, but there is a more complex language at work here.

"Alexa and Taylor dancing" is an incredible figure painting for all of the reasons you can think of for knowing who Matisse is. The negative space surrounding the figures is reminiscent of Matisse's large work hanging in MoMa entitled: "Music"

Friday, January 11, 2008

Link to Surrealism

Freud's "On Dreams" changed not only ideas of the subconcious, but also perception.
Why do people go mad? become obsessive? Images function as signs. Not in terms of iconography; latent and manifest content are a way to access the subconcious.
The return of the repressed can be romantic, dangerous and mysteriously intriguing.
Andre Breton wanted us to escape from order- be hysterical and criminal.
As the main goal of the surrealists was to liberate the subconcious, there is no one surrealist "style".
The images communicate more than what they appear to be. Metaphor is taken to the next level as the idea of image becomes more abstract.
In my own work, colors vibrate and say "I'm okay, you're okay". The paint looks good enough to eat.
The models in my work are just that: they are indifferent and vapid. They represent the stereotype of a "girl". They can be at once vulnerable and predatory, alluring and repulsive.
The goal is to take a relatively insignificant, or confusing act or object and reduce it to a clear, precise notation that contains a dramatic carrying power beyond its own physical existence.
In terms of a connection to the audience, I wish to successfully portray a world of solely formal devices, void of psychic dimensions and symbolic associations.
What you see is what you get. Anything more than that is derived by the viewer, is what the viewer brings from his or her own experience.
The prime compositional concern is the perceptual analysis of known quantities against austere conditions (blank background). This in turn stirs the debate over specificity, generality, linear time and timelessness.
There is no beginning; no end.
The viewer should vicariously participate in the present decision; the process of creation or destruction, and the act that took place in the past. "tableau vivant"
The potential of the stage affords space for adjusted intervals between objects. Also, there exist options for views from extreme, elevated angles, or views on level with the floor plane.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


To me an abstract idea used to be a normal thought processed and re-worked until it was unrecognizable. However, I know now that it is in fact more like a seed, inspired to grow from the deepest, most inaccessible part of the unconscious.

It is what is known as a "visualization", or imagery in "the mind's eye". These acts of abstraction are impossible to communicate to others without the vehicle of media.

As intangible as it may be, an abstraction need not lose its ambiguity once it is fully conceived and produced in the form of "art". This form is simply a translation of the artist's idea represented for the purpose of observation. However, no matter how accurately executed, or how apporpriate the choice of materials may be, the work of art will never be exactly as the abstract thought.

Abstraction occurs in time. It is intangible and subjective.

My own experiences with abstraction began as early as I recognized the similarity between aural structures and visual images. This link is a completely abstract idea; there is no literal connection bewteen music and art besides written musical notation being visual in nature.

Many people argue that jazz is closest to the abstract expressionist movement in terms of style.