AFTER THE EXHIBITION

Brian Bress: Underperforming 
Cherry and Martin  What is painting? What is drawing? Why can’t I help but think of Lascaux??? Is Brian Bress, a Los Angeles Artist who is known for his video montages [Bress’s Video Work], a Cave Man?  Before art was Art, man made drawings on walls impregnating the repository of the cave wall much like a painter hopes when they hang their works in the historical time capsule of the museum. We want to live forever. The artist wants to inscribe history.  Bress made a large departure from his last presentation at his Culver City gallery, Cherry & Martin. His previous show, The Royal Box relied on slapstick comedy rather than on self-examining humor. Comedy and humor are different. Humor allows one to laugh at oneself and the condition of others, it has a tinge of the sublime perhaps, and the capacity to slice reality into reality; for a lack of better words, it gives perverse and inverted perspective to reality. Comedy on the other hand relies on someone being an asshole and whose job it is to make us laugh. The Royal Box employed pathos and the emotive reactions of the audience; there was repulsion, humor, and discomfort elicited. In Underperforming we see the Artist utilize the mind of the viewer in a dignified and contemplative way. The pieces in The Royal Box were accessible to a greater degree but in a way cut the depth of the aesthetic experience short. Underperforming is a funny title. In my opinion Bress’s pairing down of the works in the exhibition creates an intellectual air that allows the viewer to exist in a place of thought as opposed to being bombarded like in The Royal Box. This reminds me of the time I met the choreographer Merce Cunningham. The most valuable lesson that I took from meeting Mr. Cunningham was not to overdo it. He would tell his dancers that if they could do 50 pirouettes that they should not do more than 10. Cunningham would say that exerting yourself to your physical capacity shows the audience struggle and weakness, those final leaps would lose grace. According to Cunningham fineness and elegance are greater goals than demonstrations of talent and ability. Don’t let us lapse on the famous Robert Browning quote from the poem Andrea del Sarto (the faultless painter), “Less is more.”  Two artists in the Cherry & Martin stable seem to have this syndrome. Erik Frydenborg epitomized it in his 2010 exhibition ‘Distants’ by the Distants. Frydenborg’s show was more a physical demonstration of horror vacui than an exhibition. Perhaps it is the insecurity of exhibitions’ public display of the artists’ hermetic studio that prompts the creation of the cluster-fuck. The prospect of other’s judgments encourages the artist to give it their all in order to prove that they are valid. Often the viewer is overwhelmed and the strategy backfires. Frydenborg’s second solo presentation, Dr. (illegible) by comparison was élan, elegant, and had what people like to call, its’ act together. Both Bress and Frydenborg work very hard and put long hours into frenetic and manic practices. I admire them for this. If you don’t fall flat on your face you’re more of a charlatan and coward than an Artist.  Amongst the most striking works in Underperforming is Cowboy (Brian led by Peter Kirby), 2012. The work consists of an LCD screen set elegantly in white making the physical boundaries hard to define and relates it to painting and photography more than 4 dimensional works. It deftly features what I like to call the Elad Lassry effect where an artist paints the frame of their work the same color as the most prominent color within the piece. I don’t mean to say this in a disparaging way, in fact I recommend it to any artist seeking a beautiful alternative to the standard white or black gallery frames we so typically see everywhere in galleries. Cowboy (Brian led by Peter Kirby), 2012 shows a costumed cowboy on a blue grid that looks like a conflation of Colgate and and the movie Tron. The amorphous cowboy is awkward, clumsy, and in moments vulnerable. It becomes apparent that the person inside of the cowboy is the Artist. We assume that because the cowboy is drawing with such facility that only a seasoned draftsman could be behind the demonstration. The ironic part is that the drawings look like they were done by a young child drawing cartoons. What may seem like a naivety on Bress’s part is actually a display of an Artist whose craft is in top form. Once it becomes clear that Bress is drawing blindfolded we have that eureka moment that makes one gasp in astonishment. The only other artist I can think of performing this feat is Pablo Picasso. Virtuosity aside, the true brilliance of Cowboy (Brian led by Peter Kirby), 2012 is not draftsmanship but rather Bress’s contribution to the field of painting. Cowboy (Brian led by Peter Kirby), 2012, shows us that an artist can paint on a video. Sure there is the famous film of Jackson Pollock painting on pieces of glass in Hans Namuth’s famous 1950 documentary but that is more Namuth’s idea and we can’t say it is to be considered in the history of painting as it is more of a document than an actual work of art. Documentaries have a utility value that puts them outside the (Kantian) definition of Art, they are not art, they are artifacts. The classic painting discourse of the “figure ground” relationship is fleshed out. The artist paints the subjects on a transparent surface, which in a sense destroys the ground upon which the figure rests. The reliance on a new substrate to make paintings is exciting, perhaps not to a traditionalist like myself but it certainly is new. The ability of the line to erase itself and renew its’ form is inventive and alleviates the tensions of commitment and the frightening permanence of the mark. We are also given a contemporary view of drawing that exists not in real life but in Second Life. This alternative reality is scary but so is Facebook.  Another work of interest is Family (Devin, John, Jason, Lewis), 2012. One sees what appears to be a static image but is soon surprised to see that it is a moving video portrait. Here we have the relationship to photography that is typical of video. In a way videos are no more than a compilation of digital still images. Despite the fact that there is less innovation at work here I would be more than willing to invest in this work with both heart and spirit. What I enjoy about Family (Devin, John, Jason, Lewis), 2012 it is within the traditional canon of portraiture, which again shows that the Artist is able to expand the field.  Works like Pair, (Justin, Cara), 2012 disappoint however. They are dismal and morbid; they are also the most polished in terms of execution. The respected historian Dave Hickey once gave a lecture at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago when I studying there and he proclaimed that one could tell that a work of Art was a work of Art because it looked like it was made by hand and by the hand of an unskilled amateur at that (this was in comparison to the work of Hollywood magicians). In the case of Pair, (Justin, Cara), 2012 I can’t help but think of Hickey and feel the malaise of boredom.  Perhaps it’s in bad form to end on a negative note but the lighting of the exhibition was the most distracting element in the presentation. The lighting was dead; it felt like a morgue inside the gallery. I don’t know who lit the space but it was a misstep in an otherwise vibrant and enthusiastic show.  I have no doubt that Bress will continue to impress us and give us something to talk about.  From Los Angeles,
-
Esteban Schimpf
Feb 6

Brian Bress: Underperforming

Cherry and Martin


What is painting? What is drawing? Why can’t I help but think of Lascaux??? Is Brian Bress, a Los Angeles Artist who is known for his video montages [Bress’s Video Work], a Cave Man?

Before art was Art, man made drawings on walls impregnating the repository of the cave wall much like a painter hopes when they hang their works in the historical time capsule of the museum. We want to live forever. The artist wants to inscribe history.

Bress made a large departure from his last presentation at his Culver City gallery, Cherry & Martin. His previous show, The Royal Box relied on slapstick comedy rather than on self-examining humor. Comedy and humor are different. Humor allows one to laugh at oneself and the condition of others, it has a tinge of the sublime perhaps, and the capacity to slice reality into reality; for a lack of better words, it gives perverse and inverted perspective to reality. Comedy on the other hand relies on someone being an asshole and whose job it is to make us laugh. The Royal Box employed pathos and the emotive reactions of the audience; there was repulsion, humor, and discomfort elicited. In Underperforming we see the Artist utilize the mind of the viewer in a dignified and contemplative way. The pieces in The Royal Box were accessible to a greater degree but in a way cut the depth of the aesthetic experience short.

Underperforming is a funny title. In my opinion Bress’s pairing down of the works in the exhibition creates an intellectual air that allows the viewer to exist in a place of thought as opposed to being bombarded like in The Royal Box. This reminds me of the time I met the choreographer Merce Cunningham. The most valuable lesson that I took from meeting Mr. Cunningham was not to overdo it. He would tell his dancers that if they could do 50 pirouettes that they should not do more than 10. Cunningham would say that exerting yourself to your physical capacity shows the audience struggle and weakness, those final leaps would lose grace. According to Cunningham fineness and elegance are greater goals than demonstrations of talent and ability. Don’t let us lapse on the famous Robert Browning quote from the poem Andrea del Sarto (the faultless painter), “Less is more.”

Two artists in the Cherry & Martin stable seem to have this syndrome. Erik Frydenborg epitomized it in his 2010 exhibition ‘Distants’ by the Distants. Frydenborg’s show was more a physical demonstration of horror vacui than an exhibition. Perhaps it is the insecurity of exhibitions’ public display of the artists’ hermetic studio that prompts the creation of the cluster-fuck. The prospect of other’s judgments encourages the artist to give it their all in order to prove that they are valid. Often the viewer is overwhelmed and the strategy backfires. Frydenborg’s second solo presentation, Dr. (illegible) by comparison was élan, elegant, and had what people like to call, its’ act together. Both Bress and Frydenborg work very hard and put long hours into frenetic and manic practices. I admire them for this. If you don’t fall flat on your face you’re more of a charlatan and coward than an Artist.

Amongst the most striking works in Underperforming is Cowboy (Brian led by Peter Kirby), 2012. The work consists of an LCD screen set elegantly in white making the physical boundaries hard to define and relates it to painting and photography more than 4 dimensional works. It deftly features what I like to call the Elad Lassry effect where an artist paints the frame of their work the same color as the most prominent color within the piece. I don’t mean to say this in a disparaging way, in fact I recommend it to any artist seeking a beautiful alternative to the standard white or black gallery frames we so typically see everywhere in galleries. Cowboy (Brian led by Peter Kirby), 2012 shows a costumed cowboy on a blue grid that looks like a conflation of Colgate and and the movie Tron. The amorphous cowboy is awkward, clumsy, and in moments vulnerable. It becomes apparent that the person inside of the cowboy is the Artist. We assume that because the cowboy is drawing with such facility that only a seasoned draftsman could be behind the demonstration. The ironic part is that the drawings look like they were done by a young child drawing cartoons. What may seem like a naivety on Bress’s part is actually a display of an Artist whose craft is in top form. Once it becomes clear that Bress is drawing blindfolded we have that eureka moment that makes one gasp in astonishment. The only other artist I can think of performing this feat is Pablo Picasso. Virtuosity aside, the true brilliance of Cowboy (Brian led by Peter Kirby), 2012 is not draftsmanship but rather Bress’s contribution to the field of painting. 

Cowboy (Brian led by Peter Kirby), 2012, shows us that an artist can paint on a video. Sure there is the famous film of Jackson Pollock painting on pieces of glass in Hans Namuth’s famous 1950 documentary but that is more Namuth’s idea and we can’t say it is to be considered in the history of painting as it is more of a document than an actual work of art. Documentaries have a utility value that puts them outside the (Kantian) definition of Art, they are not art, they are artifacts. The classic painting discourse of the “figure ground” relationship is fleshed out. The artist paints the subjects on a transparent surface, which in a sense destroys the ground upon which the figure rests. The reliance on a new substrate to make paintings is exciting, perhaps not to a traditionalist like myself but it certainly is new. The ability of the line to erase itself and renew its’ form is inventive and alleviates the tensions of commitment and the frightening permanence of the mark. We are also given a contemporary view of drawing that exists not in real life but in Second Life. This alternative reality is scary but so is Facebook. 

Another work of interest is Family (Devin, John, Jason, Lewis), 2012. One sees what appears to be a static image but is soon surprised to see that it is a moving video portrait. Here we have the relationship to photography that is typical of video. In a way videos are no more than a compilation of digital still images. Despite the fact that there is less innovation at work here I would be more than willing to invest in this work with both heart and spirit. What I enjoy about Family (Devin, John, Jason, Lewis), 2012 it is within the traditional canon of portraiture, which again shows that the Artist is able to expand the field.

Works like Pair, (Justin, Cara), 2012 disappoint however. They are dismal and morbid; they are also the most polished in terms of execution. The respected historian Dave Hickey once gave a lecture at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago when I studying there and he proclaimed that one could tell that a work of Art was a work of Art because it looked like it was made by hand and by the hand of an unskilled amateur at that (this was in comparison to the work of Hollywood magicians). In the case of Pair, (Justin, Cara), 2012 I can’t help but think of Hickey and feel the malaise of boredom.

Perhaps it’s in bad form to end on a negative note but the lighting of the exhibition was the most distracting element in the presentation. The lighting was dead; it felt like a morgue inside the gallery. I don’t know who lit the space but it was a misstep in an otherwise vibrant and enthusiastic show.

I have no doubt that Bress will continue to impress us and give us something to talk about.

From Los Angeles,

-

Esteban Schimpf

The Defenestrationist Manifesto, Fall of 2004
-
ESTEBAN SCHIMPF & DANIEL KELLER
written at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Jan 21

The Defenestrationist Manifesto, Fall of 2004

-

ESTEBAN SCHIMPF & DANIEL KELLER

written at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

 
** Prada-Endorsed Porno-Pop
 -
Such is the experience of Googling “18+”, that when you do eventually stumble across the LA couple’s “slowed, throwed R&B theatre’” set to the mechanical gyrating of CGI ladies on Youtube, you’ve likely already blown your sensory load. Mind you, that’s exactly what they have in mind.
Though the duo only identify themselves as Boy and Sis, this ain’t no hackneyed wi†chery. Their sexy, mesmeric drag-pop leaves you, in Sis’s euphemistic words, “with a physical feeling even though you haven’t been touched.”
And to put it bluntly, 18+’s lyrics are fucked. In the most intoxicating, exciting way possible. Their best song “Forgiven” is like a sadistic take on K-Ci and Jojo’s “All My Life”, revolving around Boy taking Sis’ brother as his lover and insisting that they screw in full view of her Mama. “I’m influenced by the freedom of freestyle rap”, Sis explains. “Inhibitions become exhibitions.” And so for video accompaniment, three boulder-titted Second Life strippers sway in a sky-high temple like anaesthetised Bob Fosse dancers. By the time you get to the punchline “when we both cum, we’re forgiven”, it’s less a resolution than a kick in the teeth. Or as Sis says of the band’s sound, “like a rubber band being flicked.” Yow.
Ahead of their debut EP release on No Pain in Pop this Spring, you can listen to 18+ on their Youtube channel 18plus18plus18plus. You gotta play by their rules though - attempting to rip the audio (guilty!) creates a huge, self-corrupting file. Basically the digital equivalent of playing “Stairway to Heaven” backwards, then. Pwned.
“Do I think our songs are sexy?” laughs Boy. “That’s up to you dog, but I think it’s telling that I’ll only send my mother instrumentals.” And Mama like Miuccia - the back beat of 18+’s “Drawl” soundtracks Prada’s A/W 11 campaign film. “It was weird to think I’m helping to advertise products I can’t afford”, says Boy of Steven Meisel’s Lolita-noir short. “But it felt really good!”
http://youtu.be/4yi90nItMyw
—OWEN MYERS
Jan 19

** Prada-Endorsed Porno-Pop

 -

Such is the experience of Googling “18+”, that when you do eventually stumble across the LA couple’s “slowed, throwed R&B theatre’” set to the mechanical gyrating of CGI ladies on Youtube, you’ve likely already blown your sensory load. Mind you, that’s exactly what they have in mind.

Though the duo only identify themselves as Boy and Sis, this ain’t no hackneyed wi†chery. Their sexy, mesmeric drag-pop leaves you, in Sis’s euphemistic words, “with a physical feeling even though you haven’t been touched.”

And to put it bluntly, 18+’s lyrics are fucked. In the most intoxicating, exciting way possible. Their best song “Forgiven” is like a sadistic take on K-Ci and Jojo’s “All My Life”, revolving around Boy taking Sis’ brother as his lover and insisting that they screw in full view of her Mama. “I’m influenced by the freedom of freestyle rap”, Sis explains. “Inhibitions become exhibitions.” And so for video accompaniment, three boulder-titted Second Life strippers sway in a sky-high temple like anaesthetised Bob Fosse dancers. By the time you get to the punchline “when we both cum, we’re forgiven”, it’s less a resolution than a kick in the teeth. Or as Sis says of the band’s sound, “like a rubber band being flicked.” Yow.

Ahead of their debut EP release on No Pain in Pop this Spring, you can listen to 18+ on their Youtube channel 18plus18plus18plus. You gotta play by their rules though - attempting to rip the audio (guilty!) creates a huge, self-corrupting file. Basically the digital equivalent of playing “Stairway to Heaven” backwards, then. Pwned.

“Do I think our songs are sexy?” laughs Boy. “That’s up to you dog, but I think it’s telling that I’ll only send my mother instrumentals.” And Mama like Miuccia - the back beat of 18+’s “Drawl” soundtracks Prada’s A/W 11 campaign film. “It was weird to think I’m helping to advertise products I can’t afford”, says Boy of Steven Meisel’s Lolita-noir short. “But it felt really good!”

http://youtu.be/4yi90nItMyw

—OWEN MYERS

 
“Today I didn’t even have to use my AK; I got to say it was a good day”
-
ICE CUBE
-
BY COLLYN HINCHEY
-
Let’s leave our world for a little, let’s leave breaking news from Syria. Let’s talk about Colette— let’s talk about her, because, it’s impossible to take her in and not want to have a conversation. I was struck by it the other day, sending a passage from Earthly Paradise (her collected personal writings, always on my nightstand as it serves the dual purpose of bedtime story and holy book) to a friend in which she writes, “But I did have the habit— and still have— of marveling.” It felt generous of Colette to remind me of her talent and identity. A woman, an artist of great and feminine majesty.
-
There’s a documentary of her, in her last years, being interviewed in the Paris apartment where she famously retired overlooking the Palais Royal. I’ve seen a clip of it. Colette is a mountain of a woman with delicate features and a soft, large shock of white hair that recollects the court of Marie Antoinette at Versailles. A large silk pillow pushes her forward in the generous armchair; her companion (is it Cocteau?) sits perfectly forward in an upright side chair just out of frame but Colette, in her dressing gown, is suggestive as always of being in bed. The gentleman pours her coffee and they discuss with slight, deep pleasure the activity of children in the bright park outside. Colette receives her cup and cream and navigates her sugar and mail with the deft and delicate movements of a hostess and a dancer. As she is, as she was born. There is a muscle memory in her of a woman who has handled affectionate cats and luxurious dresses and the faces of cruel or pliant men like a jeweler, all her life.
-
The subtitles are as inadequate as they are unimportant. But they tell us, the man speaking first: “Many letters?” “Quite enough.” “About the post, what about the film they want to make? The one about you. What d’you think?” ”That I’m no longer photogenic,” Colette says, pouting, and lifts her arms to the height of her heart, protectively. Shoulder up to hide her head behind an imaginary fur piece, a bouquet of violets that don’t exist. A pout, flirt! At her age! A French woman. More than Brassai or Atget, more than Balzac or Rodin or Renoir, Colette allowed me, all the way in America, all the way in a different millennium, to understand the concept of a French woman. A costless, sensual existence punctuated with sharp and expensive accessories. A life executed in pleasure.
-
I remember having that lesson confirmed by a Frederick Wiseman documentary on the Paris Opera Ballet a few years ago. Three hours of footage with the whole soft machine: the dressmakers, the dancers and teachers, the men who vacuum the floors. All of them shown to live lives that hold the sensory at a level just above the sensible. In Paris, I think, they have a habit of getting their groceries fresh every day. No need for the deep freeze or the vending machine— food is processed in the body, not the factory. There is pride in the autonomy of it, and a satisfaction in the beauty it brings. Americans who stop short in their understanding of it often call it smug.
-
Bachelard, in The Poetics of Space, wrote in his essay on Miniature: “Thus the minuscule, a narrow gate, opens up an entire world.” I understand this, the value of it, in the way I consume and record the world. I grew up learning from poetry, which, at one of its more manageable bests is a moment that implies an entire existence, the world through the keyhole. But Colette is not looking through the keyhole. She is throwing wide the door and letting the summer air wash over her bedspread. Colette is receiving visitors in her dark apartments, Colette is pregnant and prone to naps at all hours of the day. Colette is young and ill in Paris, married to a man who takes advantage of her talent and beauty, and her mother is coming in from the country to buy her a warm winter coat. Colette is spending her only money on cups of warm chocolate infused with lavender, and cherished by people of influence who care for her. Colette is devoted to that which captures her attention and recklessly alive in the world.
She taught me how to revel in regret at the loss of beauty that age brings, and how to accept a compliment from a man. When my friend and I visit my older friends Arthur and Barbara for the holidays the other week I am dressed for a party; it is one of the first cold days of winter and Barbara tells the two of us we look like a Russian couple. So it’s easy to laugh right away while we unwrap ourselves from the coats and hats, and then there’s cold cider in champagne flutes for toasting. We sit at their table and talk about decisions I have to make and the perspective I’ve lost in my worries, and Arthur tells me, “No one who walks in a room looking like you did today has to worry about anything.” I know the beauty of how I accept it from Colette, the shy instinctive shoulder raise. My friend sees it, sitting next to me. He can’t stop staring.
Colette loved the attention and relished in playfully turning away from it. The raised shoulder is a gesture of protection, but a reveal of the shoulder as well, the strong naked lines of it. A diaphanous veneer of modesty over a true and stunning soul. In Colette, in her writing and existence, every movement is calculated, but careless. It is remarkably easy to stumble into it and fall down someplace soft and fragrant. She is a pleasure to read and to know.
—
From New York,
Collyn Hinchey
Jan 6

“Today I didn’t even have to use my AK; I got to say it was a good day”

-

ICE CUBE

-

BY COLLYN HINCHEY

-

Let’s leave our world for a little, let’s leave breaking news from Syria. Let’s talk about Colette— let’s talk about her, because, it’s impossible to take her in and not want to have a conversation. I was struck by it the other day, sending a passage from Earthly Paradise (her collected personal writings, always on my nightstand as it serves the dual purpose of bedtime story and holy book) to a friend in which she writes, “But I did have the habit— and still have— of marveling.” It felt generous of Colette to remind me of her talent and identity. A woman, an artist of great and feminine majesty.

-

There’s a documentary of her, in her last years, being interviewed in the Paris apartment where she famously retired overlooking the Palais Royal. I’ve seen a clip of it. Colette is a mountain of a woman with delicate features and a soft, large shock of white hair that recollects the court of Marie Antoinette at Versailles. A large silk pillow pushes her forward in the generous armchair; her companion (is it Cocteau?) sits perfectly forward in an upright side chair just out of frame but Colette, in her dressing gown, is suggestive as always of being in bed. The gentleman pours her coffee and they discuss with slight, deep pleasure the activity of children in the bright park outside. Colette receives her cup and cream and navigates her sugar and mail with the deft and delicate movements of a hostess and a dancer. As she is, as she was born. There is a muscle memory in her of a woman who has handled affectionate cats and luxurious dresses and the faces of cruel or pliant men like a jeweler, all her life.

-

The subtitles are as inadequate as they are unimportant. But they tell us, the man speaking first: “Many letters?” “Quite enough.” “About the post, what about the film they want to make? The one about you. What d’you think?” ”That I’m no longer photogenic,” Colette says, pouting, and lifts her arms to the height of her heart, protectively. Shoulder up to hide her head behind an imaginary fur piece, a bouquet of violets that don’t exist. A pout, flirt! At her age! A French woman. More than Brassai or Atget, more than Balzac or Rodin or Renoir, Colette allowed me, all the way in America, all the way in a different millennium, to understand the concept of a French woman. A costless, sensual existence punctuated with sharp and expensive accessories. A life executed in pleasure.

-

I remember having that lesson confirmed by a Frederick Wiseman documentary on the Paris Opera Ballet a few years ago. Three hours of footage with the whole soft machine: the dressmakers, the dancers and teachers, the men who vacuum the floors. All of them shown to live lives that hold the sensory at a level just above the sensible. In Paris, I think, they have a habit of getting their groceries fresh every day. No need for the deep freeze or the vending machine— food is processed in the body, not the factory. There is pride in the autonomy of it, and a satisfaction in the beauty it brings. Americans who stop short in their understanding of it often call it smug.

-

Bachelard, in The Poetics of Space, wrote in his essay on Miniature: “Thus the minuscule, a narrow gate, opens up an entire world.” I understand this, the value of it, in the way I consume and record the world. I grew up learning from poetry, which, at one of its more manageable bests is a moment that implies an entire existence, the world through the keyhole. But Colette is not looking through the keyhole. She is throwing wide the door and letting the summer air wash over her bedspread. Colette is receiving visitors in her dark apartments, Colette is pregnant and prone to naps at all hours of the day. Colette is young and ill in Paris, married to a man who takes advantage of her talent and beauty, and her mother is coming in from the country to buy her a warm winter coat. Colette is spending her only money on cups of warm chocolate infused with lavender, and cherished by people of influence who care for her. Colette is devoted to that which captures her attention and recklessly alive in the world.

She taught me how to revel in regret at the loss of beauty that age brings, and how to accept a compliment from a man. When my friend and I visit my older friends Arthur and Barbara for the holidays the other week I am dressed for a party; it is one of the first cold days of winter and Barbara tells the two of us we look like a Russian couple. So it’s easy to laugh right away while we unwrap ourselves from the coats and hats, and then there’s cold cider in champagne flutes for toasting. We sit at their table and talk about decisions I have to make and the perspective I’ve lost in my worries, and Arthur tells me, “No one who walks in a room looking like you did today has to worry about anything.” I know the beauty of how I accept it from Colette, the shy instinctive shoulder raise. My friend sees it, sitting next to me. He can’t stop staring.

Colette loved the attention and relished in playfully turning away from it. The raised shoulder is a gesture of protection, but a reveal of the shoulder as well, the strong naked lines of it. A diaphanous veneer of modesty over a true and stunning soul. In Colette, in her writing and existence, every movement is calculated, but careless. It is remarkably easy to stumble into it and fall down someplace soft and fragrant. She is a pleasure to read and to know.

From New York,

Collyn Hinchey

Michael Decker Adult Roman Numeral Thirty
 
-
When I declare my Love so loud and clear for a woman that she and I cannot deny it’s presence I fall fast (and flat) on my face. In the presentation Adult Roman Numeral Thirtyby young and emerging artist Michael Decker at Steve Turner Contemporary in Los Angeles, C.A., we see a blatant infatuation and unacknowledged imitation of the artist Mike Kelley. Decker’s exhibition conjures questions in the critical viewer of the fine line between appropriation and derivative artistic imitation. One cannot deny that the shadowy specter of Mike Kelley hangs high above the head of more than one artist in Southern California (and beyond) but most are more deft than to display it as brazenly as Decker does.
 
Upon entering the show we are greeted by a work that reads, “My policies don’t have to make sense, I’m the boss.” The object is made of particleboard and painted with the stencils a sign painter might use. 
 
My policies don’t have to make sense, I’m the boss. 
 
The impasse of the phrase repeats in the mind ad infinitum. Seldom are such arrogant claims made. Nothing could ring more true for an artist whose exhibition pivots on the laurels of its own self-justified narrative. Perhaps the stance of unbridled hubris would be of interest but disappointedly we find out that the Decker is not speaking from his own voice but rather talking through one of many aphorisms collected in the kitsch reliquaries of thrift stores in Bakersfield, Altadena, and Fresno where the artist was raised. We are given a presentation of form, which, appears to be outside of the artist’s imagination and inevitably falls into the realm of the artist’s casual, thrift store connoisseurship.
 
It is said that mimesis is one of the primary aims of the beaux-arts, which through the manipulation of forms allow a viewer to understand an artist’s subjective interpretation of reality. There is however, a marked difference between pure mimesis and appropriation. Appropriation is a circumvention of artistic production and akin more to connoisseurship and selection of form than it is to the craft of production. Appropriationist strategies have been employed since the early 20th century to bypass the subjugation of the object as subject and to exalt idea over form. 
 
The mimetic however rests on the reproduction of the tangible and physical-world not on the employment of an idea as the subject of art. 
 
 
The problem that Decker’s stance takes is further compounded by his secondhand use of  Mike Kelley’s interpretation of reality, both imagined and observed.
 
 
 
Kelley came to prominence through his use of punk rock slogans and bad boy phrases that dealt with mass culture’s representations. His early works were lovingly painted ink works on large pieces of paper. One masterpiece of the period is entitled SHOCK, 1982-83, which is in Los Angeles in the permanent collection of The Museum of Contemporary Art. SHOCK is a triptych, which features a flank of meat gleaming under the hot ray of a heat lamp; itdeals with Kelley’s personalized/sexualized view of fast food adoration and the sacrosanct substrate of the society that produces this fast/readymade food. It is classic in its use of nonchalant lowbrow language to access a higher cultural strata. 
 
It would be a matter altogether different if the style of Kelley had been employed or adopted in a critical fashion, however in Adult Roman Numeral Thirty it is used in the absence of the artist’s own personal voices.
 
We live in a conservative era that is pitted against modernity’s violent progression toward the future by the destruction of the past. The conservative cultural mode is epitomized by young artists taking a sycophantic voice; often for the lack of ideas or moral courage to hedge against their own careers—devoid of individualized ethics.

Sadly I must conclude that this is a boring exhibition not worth visiting by an  overly academic and educated artist that could use a dose of his own voice instead of ridding the proverbial laurels of a greater artist. By the age of 30 most of Decker’s contemporaries have already marched ahead of their professors to establish their own unique vision. Perhaps at Adult Roman Numeral 40 the artist will have moved on to another career or made an honest try to this one. It is a hard position to take perhaps, but there are so many other artists already doing harder work and contributing to the field of art in significant ways that I would not consider it a valuable use of time to invest in Decker’s luke-warm practice. It would make better sense to get the original not the thrift store copy. 
-
Written in Los Angeles by
ESTEBAN SCHIMPF
Jan 3

Michael Decker Adult Roman Numeral Thirty

-

When I declare my Love so loud and clear for a woman that she and I cannot deny it’s presence I fall fast (and flat) on my face. In the presentation Adult Roman Numeral Thirtyby young and emerging artist Michael Decker at Steve Turner Contemporary in Los Angeles, C.A., we see a blatant infatuation and unacknowledged imitation of the artist Mike Kelley. Decker’s exhibition conjures questions in the critical viewer of the fine line between appropriation and derivative artistic imitation. One cannot deny that the shadowy specter of Mike Kelley hangs high above the head of more than one artist in Southern California (and beyond) but most are more deft than to display it as brazenly as Decker does.

 

Upon entering the show we are greeted by a work that reads, My policies don’t have to make sense, I’m the boss.” The object is made of particleboard and painted with the stencils a sign painter might use.

 

My policies don’t have to make sense, I’m the boss.

 

The impasse of the phrase repeats in the mind ad infinitum. Seldom are such arrogant claims made. Nothing could ring more true for an artist whose exhibition pivots on the laurels of its own self-justified narrative. Perhaps the stance of unbridled hubris would be of interest but disappointedly we find out that the Decker is not speaking from his own voice but rather talking through one of many aphorisms collected in the kitsch reliquaries of thrift stores in Bakersfield, Altadena, and Fresno where the artist was raised. We are given a presentation of form, which, appears to be outside of the artist’s imagination and inevitably falls into the realm of the artist’s casual, thrift store connoisseurship.

 

It is said that mimesis is one of the primary aims of the beaux-arts, which through the manipulation of forms allow a viewer to understand an artist’s subjective interpretation of reality. There is however, a marked difference between pure mimesis and appropriation. Appropriation is a circumvention of artistic production and akin more to connoisseurship and selection of form than it is to the craft of production. Appropriationist strategies have been employed since the early 20th century to bypass the subjugation of the object as subject and to exalt idea over form.

 

The mimetic however rests on the reproduction of the tangible and physical-world not on the employment of an idea as the subject of art.

 

 

The problem that Decker’s stance takes is further compounded by his secondhand use of  Mike Kelley’s interpretation of reality, both imagined and observed.

 

 

Kelley came to prominence through his use of punk rock slogans and bad boy phrases that dealt with mass culture’s representations. His early works were lovingly painted ink works on large pieces of paper. One masterpiece of the period is entitled SHOCK, 1982-83, which is in Los Angeles in the permanent collection of The Museum of Contemporary Art. SHOCK is a triptych, which features a flank of meat gleaming under the hot ray of a heat lamp; itdeals with Kelley’s personalized/sexualized view of fast food adoration and the sacrosanct substrate of the society that produces this fast/readymade food. It is classic in its use of nonchalant lowbrow language to access a higher cultural strata.

 

It would be a matter altogether different if the style of Kelley had been employed or adopted in a critical fashion, however in Adult Roman Numeral Thirty it is used in the absence of the artist’s own personal voices.

 

We live in a conservative era that is pitted against modernity’s violent progression toward the future by the destruction of the past. The conservative cultural mode is epitomized by young artists taking a sycophantic voice; often for the lack of ideas or moral courage to hedge against their own careers—devoid of individualized ethics.


Sadly I must conclude that this is a boring exhibition not worth visiting by an  overly academic and educated artist that could use a dose of his own voice instead of ridding the proverbial laurels of a greater artist. By the age of 30 most of Decker’s contemporaries have already marched ahead of their professors to establish their own unique vision. Perhaps at Adult Roman Numeral 40 the artist will have moved on to another career or made an honest try to this one. It is a hard position to take perhaps, but there are so many other artists already doing harder work and contributing to the field of art in significant ways that I would not consider it a valuable use of time to invest in Decker’s luke-warm practice. It would make better sense to get the original not the thrift store copy. 

-

Written in Los Angeles by

ESTEBAN SCHIMPF

NAKED HOLLYWOOD
-
WEEGEE, Museum of Contemporary Art

-
By
Esteban Schimpf
-
The classic gore and glamour photographer, the indispensable liar or truth maker, it depends on your perspective. Which side of the camera are you on? Which side of the photograph are you on? Weegee, a peeping tom. A degenerate, a pervert. A moribund lecher cruising Hollywood (strip) clubs by the light of his camera flash.
-
There are photos upon photos in this exhibition. The mess is outstanding! Framed-up nicely, we can rifle through the frenetic mess. We are sowing another’s spoils.
-
Curator Richard Meyer has given us a focused and elegant perspective on this mad genius Weegee. His compulsive output suggests that he was a hectic artist prone to mania, and touched by greater missions than the bourgeois standards of a petit civilization. Meyer boldly put on the crime gloves and lifted the illuminating corpse for us. He found the emeralds we needed to see. **Bling**. The gruesome subjects—suicides, murders, beatings, and automobile crashes must have caused a nagging dismay in the appetite of the museum board. However, these lurid subjects ensure Weegee’s longevity in the demented American imagination that has a well-documented need for terror and disorder.  
-
Let’s look at Simply Add Boiling Water, 1950
-
It depicts a grim New York night where a fire is a blaze and the flimsy efforts of a fire department seem to be doing little to thwart the flames. The flames that cannot be extinguished simply boil, the ejaculate from the long hoses of New York Firemen seem powerless to effect change. Impotent against the fiery phallus of a previous generation whose monuments were composed of masons and steelworkers’ sweat, the men of today seem insignificant. This is a freak accident where logic defies fire and other commonplace laws. In this moment we find Weegee’s compatriot William W. Dyviniak with whose photograph, Automobile Accident, 1945 epitomizes his love of American dread. Dyviniak captured a dead man ejected from his crashed black car into a lattice of cruciform wires above him. The police seem concerned with the car; the onlookers transfixed by the sacrificed body above them that floats in the sky like an inoperative marionette.
-
In NAKED HOLLYWOOD at MOCA we get the slight impression that Weegee left the gore of New York streets for the glamour of 1950’s L.A.. We are left with the impression that this artist had little appetite for anything but carnage. In place of carnage however we are given vistas into the film industries saccharine and lurid extremities. We see people naked in their own artifice. Eating, Face Fucking, Face Bloated, Face Sunk Like Pirate Ships. For Christ’s sake this was the 50s!
-
Asses of women, asses of horses; side-by-side. Everything is the same when it comes to fame.
-
The photographer’s epitaph“Let me take your picture” echoes in my head. In spite of his corpulent frame, ugly features, and the large format camera strapped to his chest with a flash, the artist was able to get magically candid shots. This alone is a testament to his craft, and deft skill as a performer. The photographer is always performing with the camera in front of their face; they’re looking at everyone and everything through it just as much as everyone is looking at them through it.
-
Go see this show. Don’t listen to me about how good it is. It just is.
-
Photography is not art, you just push a button. Weegee was doing something else.
-
From Los Angeles,
ESTEBAN SCHIMPF
Jan 2

NAKED HOLLYWOOD

-

WEEGEE, Museum of Contemporary Art

-

By

Esteban Schimpf

-

The classic gore and glamour photographer, the indispensable liar or truth maker, it depends on your perspective. Which side of the camera are you on? Which side of the photograph are you on? Weegee, a peeping tom. A degenerate, a pervert. A moribund lecher cruising Hollywood (strip) clubs by the light of his camera flash.

-

There are photos upon photos in this exhibition. The mess is outstanding! Framed-up nicely, we can rifle through the frenetic mess. We are sowing another’s spoils.

-

Curator Richard Meyer has given us a focused and elegant perspective on this mad genius Weegee. His compulsive output suggests that he was a hectic artist prone to mania, and touched by greater missions than the bourgeois standards of a petit civilization. Meyer boldly put on the crime gloves and lifted the illuminating corpse for us. He found the emeralds we needed to see. **Bling**. The gruesome subjects—suicides, murders, beatings, and automobile crashes must have caused a nagging dismay in the appetite of the museum board. However, these lurid subjects ensure Weegee’s longevity in the demented American imagination that has a well-documented need for terror and disorder.  

-

Let’s look at Simply Add Boiling Water, 1950

-

It depicts a grim New York night where a fire is a blaze and the flimsy efforts of a fire department seem to be doing little to thwart the flames. The flames that cannot be extinguished simply boil, the ejaculate from the long hoses of New York Firemen seem powerless to effect change. Impotent against the fiery phallus of a previous generation whose monuments were composed of masons and steelworkers’ sweat, the men of today seem insignificant. This is a freak accident where logic defies fire and other commonplace laws. In this moment we find Weegee’s compatriot William W. Dyviniak with whose photograph, Automobile Accident, 1945 epitomizes his love of American dread. Dyviniak captured a dead man ejected from his crashed black car into a lattice of cruciform wires above him. The police seem concerned with the car; the onlookers transfixed by the sacrificed body above them that floats in the sky like an inoperative marionette.

-

In NAKED HOLLYWOOD at MOCA we get the slight impression that Weegee left the gore of New York streets for the glamour of 1950’s L.A.. We are left with the impression that this artist had little appetite for anything but carnage. In place of carnage however we are given vistas into the film industries saccharine and lurid extremities. We see people naked in their own artifice. Eating, Face Fucking, Face Bloated, Face Sunk Like Pirate Ships. For Christ’s sake this was the 50s!

-

Asses of women, asses of horses; side-by-side. Everything is the same when it comes to fame.

-

The photographer’s epitaph“Let me take your picture” echoes in my head. In spite of his corpulent frame, ugly features, and the large format camera strapped to his chest with a flash, the artist was able to get magically candid shots. This alone is a testament to his craft, and deft skill as a performer. The photographer is always performing with the camera in front of their face; they’re looking at everyone and everything through it just as much as everyone is looking at them through it.

-

Go see this show. Don’t listen to me about how good it is. It just is.

-

Photography is not art, you just push a button. Weegee was doing something else.

-

From Los Angeles,

ESTEBAN SCHIMPF

ESTEBAN SCHIMPF ON ASSIGNMENT IN VEGAS FOR  DIDDY
—
by Collyn Hinchey
-
Like guns and cars, cameras are fantasy-machines whose use is addictive. -Susan Sontag, On Photography
-
Esteban took a thousand photos of people at a party in Las Vegas. Everyone at the party is camera ready and Esteban gets paid to make them look pretty, the whole thing ends up looking like stills from a rap video or an ad for toothpaste. Wild smiles, a brightness so hard and plastic it’s genuine and sinister at the same time. These pictures are livid interaction, conversation in the eyes. You become conscious that everyone in the photos is either listening to or ignoring Esteban, who is surely talking and probably smoking and who looks at girls and cars and guns like a teenager. Some photographers are trying to disappear behind the camera but Esteban just wants to fuck; he is saccharine and sycophantic, he is looking for attention.  
-
Las Vegas is a smile for the camera; girls, smile for the camera! And the camera is Esteban, chemically pure assertion. Assigns an identity then captures it; Esteban is trying to brand the revolution. Stamps SCHIMPF DESIGN on the forehead of the beautiful eyes looking into the lens; every photo is a photo of Esteban. I built you, I own you. You owe me. I gave you everything. 
-
And then Esteban gets back from Las Vegas and then Las Vegas never existed; Las Vegas is another string of friend requests on Facebook and Esteban is branding a new world anyway-
-
Boy turned inside out; screaming look, look at me. I gave you everything! Cries on YouTube. The cut on his hand is stigmata and Esteban poses himself in a gesture of divine blessing; a thousand references recollect in the mind of my pretty friend. Esteban is always in harvest, scything the fields of the universe. Esteban decimates his friendships, seeking retribution from those he thinks have wronged him and trying desperately to convince himself of what he does not believe: that love is disposable, that loyalty does not exist. Esteban reminds me of Kali, blood soaked teeth and cutting off heads. Reminds me of other gods with his massive, bright existence. This is Apollo, driving wild horses through the rise and death of each day. Esteban has a car dealership, Esteban is going to get someone pregnant, Esteban designed a tax shelter, Esteban broke his heart. The luxurious capacity of his mind makes him a curator necessarily, the constant redesign of his life a mythic handicap born of being able to accomplish everything. Naturally critical and naturally supportive. Tells me I can’t do things I do every day: make coffee, drive a car. Tells me I can breathe under water. When I laugh about things he says no this is serious, this is really serious and hangs up on me. When I call him with problems he laughs at me and tells me I’m too rich. 
-
God of the Sun. Esteban wants to move to New York but not in the snow, I call him from an early snowstorm, fuck that! He says. I’m in shorts, I’m not going there if it’s cold! 
-
And he talks about waking me up, increasing my horsepower, pushing it harder. Make it rain! Esteban has thirty-two dollars and four rolls of film to rescue from Costco and he spends half his money on a bottle of wine; he is enjoying himself, he is not worrying. Esteban is handling himself like a delicate and powerful machine, he is building an army. Esteban is sleeping no more than six hours at a time. He just woke up, and he is working.
-
FROM NEW YORK,
COLLYN HINCHEY
Jan 1

ESTEBAN SCHIMPF ON ASSIGNMENT IN VEGAS FOR DIDDY

by Collyn Hinchey

-

Like guns and cars, cameras are fantasy-machines whose use is addictive. -Susan Sontag, On Photography

-

Esteban took a thousand photos of people at a party in Las Vegas. Everyone at the party is camera ready and Esteban gets paid to make them look pretty, the whole thing ends up looking like stills from a rap video or an ad for toothpaste. Wild smiles, a brightness so hard and plastic it’s genuine and sinister at the same time. These pictures are livid interaction, conversation in the eyes. You become conscious that everyone in the photos is either listening to or ignoring Esteban, who is surely talking and probably smoking and who looks at girls and cars and guns like a teenager. Some photographers are trying to disappear behind the camera but Esteban just wants to fuck; he is saccharine and sycophantic, he is looking for attention.  

-

Las Vegas is a smile for the camera; girls, smile for the camera! And the camera is Esteban, chemically pure assertion. Assigns an identity then captures it; Esteban is trying to brand the revolution. Stamps SCHIMPF DESIGN on the forehead of the beautiful eyes looking into the lens; every photo is a photo of Esteban. I built you, I own you. You owe me. I gave you everything. 

-

And then Esteban gets back from Las Vegas and then Las Vegas never existed; Las Vegas is another string of friend requests on Facebook and Esteban is branding a new world anyway-

-

Boy turned inside out; screaming look, look at me. I gave you everything! Cries on YouTube. The cut on his hand is stigmata and Esteban poses himself in a gesture of divine blessing; a thousand references recollect in the mind of my pretty friend. Esteban is always in harvest, scything the fields of the universe. Esteban decimates his friendships, seeking retribution from those he thinks have wronged him and trying desperately to convince himself of what he does not believe: that love is disposable, that loyalty does not exist. Esteban reminds me of Kali, blood soaked teeth and cutting off heads. Reminds me of other gods with his massive, bright existence. This is Apollo, driving wild horses through the rise and death of each day. Esteban has a car dealership, Esteban is going to get someone pregnant, Esteban designed a tax shelter, Esteban broke his heart. The luxurious capacity of his mind makes him a curator necessarily, the constant redesign of his life a mythic handicap born of being able to accomplish everything. Naturally critical and naturally supportive. Tells me I can’t do things I do every day: make coffee, drive a car. Tells me I can breathe under water. When I laugh about things he says no this is serious, this is really serious and hangs up on me. When I call him with problems he laughs at me and tells me I’m too rich. 

-

God of the Sun. Esteban wants to move to New York but not in the snow, I call him from an early snowstorm, fuck that! He says. I’m in shorts, I’m not going there if it’s cold! 

-

And he talks about waking me up, increasing my horsepower, pushing it harder. Make it rain! Esteban has thirty-two dollars and four rolls of film to rescue from Costco and he spends half his money on a bottle of wine; he is enjoying himself, he is not worrying. Esteban is handling himself like a delicate and powerful machine, he is building an army. Esteban is sleeping no more than six hours at a time. He just woke up, and he is working.

-

FROM NEW YORK,

COLLYN HINCHEY