Friends of the High Line commissions artists to make site-specific works along the former railway. Tabitha Piseno speaks to curator Lauren Ross and artist Kim Beck about art and the urban environment.
Tabitha Piseno talks to Callum Innes and Colm Toíbín about the interconnection of painting and writing, the basis of their water/colour exhibition at Sean Kelly Gallery.
Interventions: The Nexus of Art, Fiction, and Authorship: Part I—Tabitha Piseno interviews Christopher K. Ho taking a new look at regionalism and an autobiographical approach to painting.
Rob Voerman’s sculptures rise from the wreckage, each one the phoenix of a modern age.
Rob Voerman is a bricoleur. His work nudges global collective memory with a generation’s worth of material history. A whimsical pile of remains of a machine age, industrial revolution, pieces of bygone eras that form a hybrid of heterogeneous meanings and interpretations—pieces of car parts, cardboard boxes, colored glass, wood, clothing, jewelry- which when compiled together, transform into a kind of temporary architecture that makes wreckage more captivating than structure. The ways in which he compiles such materials into precarious structures also dictates how viewers can interact with his installations. Voerman recently exhibited his work in the group show Kaleidoscope with Shannon Finley, Grazia Toderi, and Canon Tolon at C24, where the particular interior architecture of the gallery informed the dimensions and materials he came to use for his featured sculpture, “A Permeable Body of Solitude,” where, at the opening reception for the exhibition, some viewers posted up inside the sculpture like voyeurs to watch the gallery’s crowd. At the 2012 Armory via the Amsterdam-based Upstream Gallery, viewers could enter Voerman’s “Dawn of a New Century” and partake of single shots of whiskey. In other iterations of this installation done abroad, viewers were invited to do the same—take time in his post-apocalyptic, untenable structures by enjoying conversation, drinking booze, and smoking. Voerman himself is constantly at work navigating his practice. This Spring, he completed the first of two 3-month residency interims at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP). Voerman will return for his second interim in 2013; a solo-show will be presented at the C24 gallery in Chelsea.
Charles Mary Kubricht’s new piece on the High Line dazzles and delights.
High Line Art, presented by Friends of the High Line, announced the beginning of its Fall 2011 season of public art with Texas-based artist Charles Mary Kubricht’s installation Alive-nesses: A Proposal for Adaptation. Implementing the celebrated Dazzle camouflage scheme of WWI and WWII naval merchant vessels, Kubricht reproduced the painted design on park storage containers located at the Hudson Yards end of the High Line. Originally garnered from the visual language of Cubism, early camouflage studies by Abbott H. Thayer, the general coloring of seagulls, and the final design implementation and promotion for military use by Norman Wilkinson—illustrator-cum-British lieutenant of the Royal Navy—Dazzle painting on commercial ships was once thought to effectively dodge attacks by enemy U-boats.
The evasion was, of course, not a result of the brazenly painted ship camouflaging itself into the sea, but instead a result of artillery rangefinders being unable to determine the painted ship’s distance, course, and speed due to its painted, black-and-white, angular geometry. Beginning in 1918, the American Camouflage Corps began camouflaging merchant ships in various east coast harbors including New York, Boston, and Norfolk, Virginia. Towards the end of WWII, the New York harbor was the busiest in the world with up to five hundred Dazzle camouflaged ships anchored at one time.
Tabitha Piseno You have been using the Dazzle painting technique in various installations for a few years now. How did your interest in this particular design begin, and what was the impetus for proposing such a project for the High Line?
Charles Mary Kubricht I have been investigating landscape art and technology since 1989 through rigorous experiences in the wilderness and research in historical moments, technological stages and political agendas that often converge at isolated wilderness sites. I started investigating the visual strategies of camouflage and came across the complex geometric shapes of Dazzle painting and anti-range finding camouflage schemes of World Wars I and II. Visual transformation occurs through the un-reading of the form so that it can be read in a new way. The High Line is a perfect example. What existed as industrial form was transformed into aesthetic form. The walkways and plantings are camouflaging the industrial past by adapting to the original form in a way that reorganizes our perceptual experience with nature. The tension between nature and culture is reduced.
Nabil Nahas on painting with starfish, the reception of his work in the Middle East, and the symbolism of cedar trees.
Born in Beirut in 1949, Nabil Nahas spent the first decade of his life in Cairo before returning to his native country of Lebanon, where he remained until 1968. During the uprisings preceding the Lebanese civil war, Nahas, like many others, left the country to start a new life elsewhere. After studying painting under Al Held at Yale, Nahas moved to New York in 1973, where he has been living ever since. It was twenty years before he began to visit Lebanon again, and those trips would prove to have a profound affect on his work.
Ranging widely from densely textured works on canvas formed with layers of an acrylic and pumice mixture to abstract representations of the native olive and cedar trees of Lebanon, Nahas’s work consistently oscillates between many aesthetic sensibilities, ultimately driven by his almost religious passion for abstraction.
Nahas’s character has the same rapidly shifting qualities of his painting repertoire. His personality is iridescent, shifting rapidly yet gracefully from a serious man weathered by worldly experience to a sage with a sly sense of humor. I visited his Chelsea studio on a cold but bright afternoon in early March. After coffee and a light brunch, we perused the set of newly finished paintings to be included in his solo show at Sperone Westwater and discussed the stylistic shifts in his work, his recent exhibition at the Beirut Exhibition Center, and his relationship to the landscape of Lebanon.