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.
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
GRT public art display misused to display hate symbol in Cambridge – KitchenerToday.com
A quick response from the region’s transit provider after a hate symbol was briefly seen on Sunday on the Cambridge Centre Mall transit terminal’s public art display.
Peter Zinck is the Director of Transit Services for the Region of Waterloo – speaking with 570 NEWS, he said that the station’s pinboard had been manipulated to show a swastika and that the behaviour was promptly addressed by GRT staff in under an hour.
“We’ve turned the matter over to police, who will investigate. We will be fully supporting their investigation in any way that GRT can.”
Zinck said that the report came through from a media service on Sunday morning around 9:00 a.m. Staff members were sent to the Cambridge Centre station to re-arrange the board before forwarding the issue to regional police. He said that Grand River Transit places a high priority on these kinds of issues – whether it’s a public art display or a reported piece of graffiti.
When asked about problematic behaviour with the pin-board display and whether a decision would be considered to remove it, Zinck said that this is the first reported circumstance of the public art piece being misused in this way.
“Hopefully this is just a one-off, and that people recognize this is there for public art and not for use of hate symbols.”
Zinck said that Grand River Transit remains committed to providing a safe environment for all riders and that they condemn symbols of hate or racial intolerance without reservation.
He added that if members of the public see anything like this on transit, they can report the behaviour on GRT’s website or through their call centre.
“… it’s just not acceptable on our services. We’ll deal with the matter quickly, and follow-up through the Waterloo Regional Police Services to ensure it’s investigated.”
Squamish Art Walk on tap – Squamish Chief
In a year where events of all types have been wiped out because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s comforting that a couple of cornerstones will be returning, albeit in a different form.
The Squamish Arts Council’s annual Art Walk is set to run from Nov. 1 to 28, with some pandemic adaptations, of course.
Executive director Amy Liebenberg said that while the number of participating artists, at roughly 25, is consistent with past years, there are understandably fewer hosting venues in 2020.
“They’re either not open or not interested in encouraging excess clientele, especially if they’re just coming to look and not necessarily coming to patronize the business,” she said.
The venues taking part this year as Zephyr Café, Saha Eatery, Squamish Academy of Music, Northyards Cider, the Squamish Public Library, The Ledge Community Coffee House, Andy Anissimoff Gallery and Britannia Mine Museum.
While the event’s art-viewing element is similar to years past, the more radical change has to do with studio tours and other artist interaction, as many of the studios are small and not suited to welcoming the public for a peek behind the curtain at this time.
Instead, artists will share “the tools they use, the processes they use and how their wonderful, creative imaginations transform ordinary materials into the magic you see all around,” Liebenberg said. The tours will be available on Instagram by searching the hashtag #squamishartist.
“Enjoy the behind-the-scenes tours and enjoy what these incredible artists are making,” she said.
As well, the Anonymous Art Show will be back for a second go-around.
“We have some of the most amazing artists I’ve ever known who live and work in Squamish and so it’s going to be really fun to have them back again for some Anonymous Art Show pieces,” she said.
Artists will submit their pieces by early November, while the show is set for Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. via Zoom.
“You hope to be the first in line to grab a piece that most delights you,” she said.
Introducing our Zephyr Cafe location of collaborative art work that will be displayed for our Art Walk program launching…
In terms of participants, Liebenberg said there are always a few surprises, as last year, there were several who hadn’t painted in many years if ever before, while there were some who work in a different medium, such as textiles, trying their hands at something new.
Liebenberg said that with many artists having had tough times this year, they would appreciate a purchase or, at the very least, a message of support for a job well done.
“Our creative community deserves all of our support and a big round of applause for continuing to do some pretty heavy emotional lifting on behalf of the community,” she said.
For more, visit squamishartscouncil.com.
Foyer Gallery set for fundraiser
One of the Art Walk participants, Foyer Gallery at the Squamish Public Library, will hold a fundraising event of its own in November.
The gallery was unable to host its traditional events, a May gala with an exhibit in the lead-up, where for a $50 sponsorship, patrons can take part in a “raffle for art” event.
This year, supporters are encouraged to take part in a pay-what-you-can campaign of sponsorship. Each supporter will be entered into a random draw for one of six pieces of artwork by a local artist or a one-on-one virtual art lesson from curator and painting instructor Toby Jaxon. To donate, head to squamishlibrary.ca.
“We formatted it and decided that we’d take a stab at getting some donations before 2020 ends,” she said with a chuckle.
Among the artists donating pieces are three volunteers, also known as the “hanging crew” for their work installing new exhibits monthly or, now during COVID, every six weeks: 20-plus-year veteran Fran Solar, 13-year helper Linda Wagner and, in her third year, relative newbie Karen Yaremkewich.
The three have not only diverse mediums, with Wagner being an oil painter, Yaremkewich being a fabric artist and Solar working with metal, but they also have distinct skills when installing the shows.
“Fran is a master at creating interesting vignettes. We’ve got these three beautiful display cases, so that’s her specialty. Linda, she’s super gifted at figuring out where all the wall art should go and coordinating the pieces based on size and style and colours. Karen, she’s really proactive at moving the inventory around, getting up on the ladder—and it doesn’t hurt that she’s super tall,” Jaxon said.
Jaxon added that she’s also been creating virtual versions of the galleries so visitors can decide if there’s a piece they’d like to see more closely or purchase before arriving, especially given the library’s limited hours.
Yellowknife drugstore stocking local art for holiday season – Cabin Radio
Craft sales face a tricky time this holiday season, so a downtown Yellowknife drugstore is stepping in to provide shelf space for local artisans.
Sutherland’s Drugs will spend several weeks setting aside room for the city’s craftspeople to sell their goods. Pharmacy owner Aaron LaBorde said the store wants to give back to customers and the arts community.
“We’re just trying to help some [customers] that otherwise, in a regular year, would have had the opportunity to attend some shows and stuff like that,” LaBorde told Cabin Radio.
“And of course, support the local artisans and give people a little bit of a chance to buy stuff that was produced locally.
“With the way the things are this year, it’s something that we thought would be a nice thing to do for the town.”
While some of the city’s usual festive craft fairs are going ahead, others have been cancelled outright and even those proceeding will have restrictions on numbers.
LaBorde said a couple of artists have already reached out to the store, looking to participate. Sutherland’s can’t guarantee everyone’s items will be displayed, but is trying to assess the level of interest from the arts community.
“We’re a local business here too, and we appreciate all the support that we get,” LaBorde said.
“We’ve been really trying our best to support other local businesses … just to try to improve the situation here in Yellowknife, because that’s where everybody’s at right now.”
Those interested in selling their products at Sutherland’s this Christmas are encouraged to call the store at (867) 873-4555.
This coverage of the NWT’s business sector during the Covid-19 pandemic is sponsored by the NWT’s Department of Industry, Tourism, and Investment. Visit Buy North for more information on businesses near you.
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