Through Nov. 1, Karma, 172 & 188 East Second Street, Manhattan; 212-390-8290, karmakarma.org.
Because the paintings of the Finnish-born, Paris-based painter Henni Alftan stood out in Karma’s “(Nothing but) Flowers” exhibition last month, I expected a bit more bang from her solo debut in New York. For one thing, her palette here is a little too subdued. Still, the show introduces a painter with a distinctive artistic vision, even if its power is more forceful in the hefty book that accompanies the show.
And the paintings do bang, but slowly. Their spare compositions emphasize silence and stillness, the artificiality of painting, the magnification of everyday detail and the division of reality into nearly abstract areas of color and texture. The images come at you in stages, sometimes by requiring a second look. In the diptych “Haircut (Déjà-vu),” from this year, one panel shows a hand with scissors, poised to cut through a plane of long strawberry blond hair; its color is reflected in the scissors’ top blade. In the second panel, the deed is done; no reflection now. Just the closed scissors, the shorn hair and the bottom edge of the painting, all exquisitely and a little too strictly parallel.
In other works, the eye must hold two thoughts at once: The subject of “The Curtain” is half drawn across a dark nighttime window; its cheerful geometric pattern is distorted by its lavish undulations. The view outside is dark, recessive; the lighted windows of apartments beyond muster a sparser pattern. These paintings can be subtly confusing. Examples include the dagger of light that cuts through the becalmed geometry of the living room of “Morning Sun,” or, in “Self-Portrait,” where a vaguely male hand that holds up a pocket mirror in which is reflected a richly made-up female eye.
Sonja Ferlov Mancoba and Ernest Mancoba
Through Oct. 31. Aicon Gallery, 35 Great Jones Street, Manhattan; 212-725-6092, aicongallery.com.
If museums are serious about globalizing their collections, it won’t do just to pick out a few Africans or Asians or Latin Americans whose art superficially resembles what the West already approbates. Art history has to be reconceived as a perpetual migration of artists, images and ideas — across oceans, across decades. A sterling case study awaits in the upstairs space of Aicon Gallery, displaying the lean, precise, calligraphic abstractions of Ernest Mancoba (1904-2002), a South African painter who spent his career in Denmark and France. Defying past and present received ideas of nationality and identity, these delicate abstract compositions resound as the work of an artist committed to his full liberty.
Mancoba was born in Johannesburg in 1902 and studied art at an Anglican school; his early figurative sculptures, not in this show, are arguably the first “modern” artworks by a Black South African. The sensitive allover abstractions on view here were made in European exile (he left before apartheid was instituted in 1948), and feature thickets of lines orchestrated into discrete zones of color. Often scaled like portraits, they almost always incorporate a few strokes that hint at a stick figure amid soft, syncopated slashes of ocher, mauve, teal or gray; the use of untreated canvas, too, give the compositions the melancholy delicacy of a muted trumpet solo.
Drawings and paintings on paper are sparer still, and reveal outlines of bodies whose angled stylization put me in mind of Central African reliquary statues. The later works on paper here, some from his tenth decade of life, appear like sentences of black asemic glyphs over colored slashes and Xs.
This show at Aicon includes 18 paintings and works on paper by Mancoba, handsomely installed against peach-colored walls, and paired with bronze sculptures by his wife, the Danish artist Sonja Ferlov Mancoba. Her bronzes of roughly finished metal, which can recall masks or totems, show the enduring influence of African sculpture on European modernism — and reaffirms that both husband and wife were working in a postwar Paris where a clean division of “African” and “European” aesthetics could not be made. The real urgency here, though, remains Ernest Mancoba’s abstractions. They ought to be in every serious modern art museum: not as a token of “African” modernism, but an exemplar of forms in motion. JASON FARAGO
Through Oct. 30. Danziger Gallery, 980 Madison Avenue, third floor, Manhattan; 212 629-6778, danzigergallery.com
The inward-looking focus of much contemporary photography takes on a different air when the insularity becomes a necessity, not a choice. Matthew Porter made a splash at the “After Photoshop” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2012-13, with images of airborne cars that he composed by digitally combining photographs of toy models and streetscapes. But like the chase scenes they replicated, those were stunts.
While some of Mr. Porter’s new photographs in the show “This Is How It Ends,” made during the coronavirus pandemic, also involve digital manipulation, the overarching mood is more “oh no” than “gee whiz.” Fronds of Los Angeles palm trees bristle as dangerously as barbed wire. In one photograph, the silhouettes of trees against a jaundiced sky are backed with the lattice pattern of a chain-link fence. Another bilious yellow sky, this time in New York, adds to the ominous portent of a helicopter hovering over the 30 Hudson Yards tower. In a gorgeously post-apocalyptic picture, two birds — cordoned off graphically by an open parallelogram of electrical wires — rejoice on a streetlamp that hangs above arboreal foliage as beautiful as the Martinique banana-leaf wallpaper at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Finding a Baudelairean beauty in polluted sunsets and wire coils, Mr. Porter gives us an up-to-date report on the natural world that was recorded a half-century ago by his grandfather, the eminent photographer Eliot Porter. The traffic signals in several of his pictures glow an admonitory red or orange. ARTHUR LUBOW
Oak Bay sets aside $27,000 for Indigenous art at muncipal hall – Saanich News
Oak Bay’s newly renovated chambers will feature a new piece of public art commissioned from an Indigenous artist.
The district allocated one per cent of the budget for the hall renovation, $7,000 to public art. Combined with the annual public art allocation, the district has $27,000 to spend on a work for municipal hall.
The move to work with a local artist, specifically from the Lekwungen speaking people on whose land Oak Bay sits, was unanimous among council members.
“This is a rare opportunity to have the resources to do that and as the renovated municipal hall reopens, have that be one of the centrepieces,” Coun. Andrew Appleton said during council discussions July 12.
Still in the earliest of stages, conversation surrounded the how of the project.
Oak Bay is between arts laureates, but liaison Coun. Hazel Braithwaite said the public arts committee is taking on that leadership role.
Coun. Tara Ney lamented the district’s lack of policy or set protocol for engaging in such initiatives.
She voiced a need to create pathways for engaging so it’s not done piecemeal, and instead with confidence and in culturally appropriate way.
Mayor Kevin Murdoch, who is routinely in conversation with local First Nations leadership, said the district is doing well in the absence of policy, always seeking guidance and building relationships in small ways.
Council agreed working toward something more formal is something they could pursue.
“This does require more formality and we need to start to establish those connections so we’re consistent and so we’re completely aware and sensitive to their needs,” Coun. Cairine Green said.
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‘Lynn Valley LOVE’: artist collaborates with public to remember victims of stabbing tragedy – News 1130
NORTH VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Earlier this year, the tightly knit North Vancouver community was shaken after a stabbing claimed the life of one woman and injured six others.
One local woman says, since the incident, the community has had its security threatened, which is why she is behind the newly unveiled art project “to bring some love and positivity back into that space.”
Modern quilter, Berene Campbell, has worked on projects across the country and world, but her latest artwork “Lynn Valley LOVE Project,” was sparked by the tragedy right outside her home.
“This one was just down the road from my home. So for some reason, it just felt like I had to respond to that since I’ve done it for other communities. And now there was a tragedy in my own community. I felt like I needed to do something.”
So, Campbell went to work, collaborating with residents in the community and people across the country.
Today, if you walk into the Lynn Valley Library, you’ll be greeted with quilted panels spelling ‘LOVE’ “hung there to represent the general community to bring love back into that space.”
Banners made by hundreds are hung over the library stairwell.
“People do it to give back to the community to make them feel good [and] it’s also very healing for the participants to be creative and to make something beautiful and also to be a part of the bigger whole project and to feel a part of the community. So when you see that many people participating, it’s amazing.”
And Campbell says the turnout of participates was unexpected but incredible adding, she couldn’t have done it on her own.
“There’s something incredibly powerful about bringing multiple people together, and the healing of collective energy is much more powerful than one person making all of that work themselves on their own.
“There’s something just amazing about people working together for the greater good.”
VIDEO: Greater Victoria master carver says Indigenous art a way to restore culture – Oak Bay News – Oak Bay News
For internationally recognized master carver and lifelong artist, Temosen (Charles) Elliott, his art is a way of communicating with the public that First Nations Peoples are restoring their culture, once lost to colonialism.
A member of the T’sartlip First Nation, Elliott’s works are cherished in collections worldwide.
As a child he practiced art in many forms and when he attended T’sartlip Indian Day School, he won a drawing contest meant to advocate for awareness around tuberculosis.
It was through carving small pieces and drawing daily that he knew art would be a part of his life forever.
“Every evening in our family home, I’d wait until dishes were done and I’d sit down after dinner and draw and draw,” Elliott recalled.
His work can today be found at the University of Victoria, the Saanich Peninsula Hospital, Butchart Gardens and many more places across B.C. and in private collections worldwide.
“When you’re doing the artwork, you’re just putting the words to images,” he said, explaining that his work stands as a silent ambassador for First Nations Peoples.
Elliott has also mentored many emerging artists, including his own children and grandchildren who he said will carry on Indigenous artistry as part of their family legacy.
“I want younger First Nations Peoples to pick it up and do it, because it’s like speaking your language and holding your culture in place,” he said. “Don’t be discouraged; if you are, keep going because there are teachers around like myself who want to share their knowledge.”
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