Sunday, December 12, 2010

New Surfaces at Anya Tish

"On What?: New Surfaces Exhibition" at Anya Tish consists of three painters and one multimedia artist. The linking rule is that the artists work on unexpected surfaces, but this doesn't really work with Katja Loher, who is a video artist. Dina Brodsky, Maya Brodsky and Maxim Wakultschik are all painters. Painters have traditional surfaces (canvas, wood, plaster) that has a traditional quality (easel paintings are flat and of a certain size, for example). In the case of these artists, they ironically paint in very traditional styles, but on unusual surfaces. The Brodskys (who I assume are sisters, but don't really know), present a suite of paintings done on New York City MetroCards. If you have ridden the subway in New York in the past 20 years or so, you should be familiar with them. They look like this:

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They are the size of a credit card, and that's the main "oh, wow" factor here--the Brodsky paintings are so small.

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Anya or Dina Brodsky, NY City Metro Card painting, oil, mylar, MetroCard, 2010

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Anya or Dina Brodsky, NY City Metro Card painting, oil, mylar, MetroCard, 2010

One can't help but be impressed, but as art, this seems more like a stunt than an actual expression of something. I suppose one could infer a comment on the highly traditional rural subject matter and the very urban modern support, but that seems like thin gruel.

Maxim Wakultschik's work is similar. Here, the surface is unusual because it is hemispherical.

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Maxim Wakultschik, untitled, oil on polystyrol, 2010

I like these better than the Brodsky paintings--they seem more personal. But still, one has to ask, what's the point of painting them on hemispheres? When Jonathan Borofsky did similar works, he was experimenting with perception and psychology by forcing his viewers to stand in a particular place to see the work.

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Maxim Wakultschik, untitled, oil on polystyrol, 2010

So in the end, the artist whose work is most compelling in this show is the artist whose work least fits in with the curatorial concept behind it. I saw Katja Loher's fantastic solo show at Anya Tish last year and loved it. The pieces in this show continue the work from last year, but are in a way even more startling.

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Katja Loher, RGB Well, hand blown glasses, liquid, video screens, plexiglass, 2010

When you approach RGB Well, it appears to be a shelf with three clear glass cups of liquid dyed red, green and blue. When you get close, though, you see that at the bottom of each cup is a video.

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Katja Loher, RGB Well, hand blown glasses, liquid, video screens, plexiglass, 2010

The images are varied, but involve dancers in costumes in kaleidoscopic patterns. Loher sweats the details. She knows you will be looking at this image through colored water and designs the image with that filter in mind.

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Katja Loher, Double Bubble,  hand blown glass, video screen, wood, 2010

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Katja Loher, Double Bubble,  hand blown glass, video screen, wood, 2010

Double Bubble is similar. The images of swimmers taken from above make the sensation of seeing through water even more powerful. These are beautiful pieces. Photographs can't do them justice. You need to see them in person. The show is up through December 18, so you can see them if you hurry!

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