The Studio Museum’s Expanding the Walls program, founded in 2001, is a photography-based residency for young emerging artists enrolled in high schools or equivalent programs in New York City, providing them with workshops with a diverse group of arts professionals, intensive instruction in the techniques of digital photography, opportunities to build community and a culminating exhibition. Each eight-month residency is based on the young artists’ investigation of the work of James VanDerZee (1886–1983), the iconic chronicler of Harlem life, whose archives are housed at the Studio Museum.
The fifteen young artists in the 2015–16 program took an interest in particular methods of VanDerZee’s practice, such as his use of hyperreal studio backdrops and etching notes on his negatives. They were also drawn to the performative and conceptual strategies of other photographers, including Xaviera Simmons, Christina de Middel, Miguel Luciano and Roy DeCarava. The resulting exhibition, Color in Shadow, reflects the young artists’ fascination with these formal aspects of photography, while also testifying to their close attention to the nuances of visual life in Harlem and other New York City neighborhoods.
Color in Shadow: Expanding the Walls 2016 is organized by the 2016 Expanding the Walls participants with Gerald L. Leavell II, Expanding the Walls/Youth Programs Coordinator, Adeze Wilford, Curatorial Fellow and Doris Zhao, Curatorial Assistant.
Honor Fraser Gallery is pleased to announce Ry Rocklen: L.A. Relics, on view September 10 through October 29, 2016. A reception will be held at the gallery on September 10 from 6-8pm. This exhibition is Rocklen's first with Honor Fraser Gallery and his first in Los Angeles since 2009.
Ry Rocklen's new sculptures offer a compendium of the diverse concepts and modalities that have permeated his practice over the past decade including altering commonplace objects; utilizing his personal possessions; casting clothing and found objects; and producing two-sided sculptures in which objects are flattened, given form, and flattened again via photography, clay, and mirrors. Collectively, Rocklen's new works insist on the depth and pathos—but also the absurdity—of the everyday.
The evidence of wear and tear in much of Rocklen's new sculpture evokes memory and nostalgia. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Rocklen is influenced by the landscapes and events that have marked his evolution as a person and an artist. His memory of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics is a particular touchstone for his current work. In a year that includes both a summer Olympics and a presidential election, ideas about international unity and both civic responsibility and national identity are woven through these sculptures. Rocklen's ongoing series of Globowls—porcelain bowls and planters cast from semi-deflated plastic globes—emphasize this universal perspective and encapsulate his continual efforts to create sculptural metaphors for the world. Despite their playful, bulbous appearance and pastel palette, they collapse in on themselves and allude to the inevitable processes of entropy that implicate us all.
The found object has long functioned as a cornerstone of Rocklen's approach to sculpture. Most recently, the streets, shops, and surroundings of Los Angeles have served as his wellspring. A dinged and dented City of Los Angeles trashcan's metal mesh is pierced with dollar bills that have been coated with sand; a bank of gym lockers is perforated to reveal a copper-plated interior; a found terrycloth pillow in the shape of a Sprite can is cast in shiny aluminum; and hundreds of tiles of cast clothing from Rocklen's personal wardrobe and found apparel are assembled into a wall relief that features three showerheads, suggesting a gym locker room or the bathroom in a counter-cultural commune. Through modifications of scale, material, and subtext, Rocklen celebrates the public, open-ended nature of his objects and imbues them with a presence at once dignified and peculiar. Taken together, this grouping of sculptures evokes idealized, collective spaces where people congregate to better their lives through communal activity and civic engagement.
Rocklen's L.A. Relics series extends this meditation on public space—particularly in Los Angeles—and the shared histories embedded in common forms. Each of these sculptures centers on an object that the artist encountered in his everyday travels through the city: a mystical-looking cat pillow; a crumpled empty water bottle, caked with dirt; a baby's car seat shaped like Batman. Represented in two-sided forms placed on glass shelves with mirrored backing, each sculpture has a flat side facing outward and a low relief form facing away from the viewer and reflected in the mirror. Photographs of the objects are glazed onto the flat façades of the ceramic forms. The back sides, visible only in their flattened reflections, are modeled from casts of other scavenged items including ropes, Army gear, superhero paraphernalia, and mythological figures. The complex relationships between back and front, flatness and depth, and form and meaning in the L.A. Relics series underscore the dense layers of cultural processing involved in each of Rocklen's found, altered, and ultimately mitigated objects.
Ry Rocklen was born in Los Angeles in 1978 and lives in Los Angeles. Rocklen received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2001 and a Masters of Fine Arts from University of Southern California, Los Angeles in 2006. One-person exhibitions of his work have been presented at the Lamar Dodd School of Art, University of Georgia, Athens, GA (2014); and Visual Arts Center, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX (2010). His work has been included in group exhibitions such as Sculpture from the Hammer Contemporary Collection, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2016); Wasteland, Los Angeles Nomadic Division, Paris, France (2016); Murmurs: Recent Contemporary Acquisitions, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA (2013); Baker's Dozen, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA (2012); Made in L.A. 2012, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2012); Nothing Beside Remains, LAND: Marfa, Los Angeles, CA (2011); Home Alone, Sender Collection, Miami, FL (2011); Knock, Knock! From the Collection of Paul and Sara Monroe, The Anderson Gallery at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA (2011); Second Nature: The Valentine-Adelson Collection, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2009); Athens Bienniale 2009 HEAVEN, Athens, Greece (2009); That Was Then…This Was Now, MoMA PS1, Long Island City, NY (2008); The Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2008); and Red Eye, The Rubell Collection, Miami, FL (2006).
A white line bisects a space of intense blackness. Two curving lines – whose geometries differ slightly – sit in sublime misalignment balancing an all-consuming emptiness. The viewer is drawn in, and, as if standing on the edge of a great abyss, struggles against the vertiginous desire to fall into the deep black. The feeling is almost overwhelming... and then, there is the line. Simply drawn it confidently reasserts itself, drawing attention once again to the surface and pushing the viewer back from the brink. Still the nothingness perseveres as does the unnerving and unconscious desire to allow oneself be enveloped by it. In just one painting, and with a few brushstrokes, the artist Wang Jian has made manifest what written and spoken language has been unable to articulate: the universal struggle between the Void and the not-void.
Nothingness was not, the existent was not;
Darkness was hidden by darkness…
That which became was enveloped by the Void
The exhibition, curated by Adrian George, London-based writer, lecturer and Senior Curator with the British Government Art Collection, takes as its starting point a 4000-year-old Rig-Vedic poem known as the Hymn of Non-Eternity. Reflecting on Wang Jian’s extensive body of work and research material this exhibition brings together photography, works on paper and large-scale oil paintings to interrogate the origins of Wang Jian’s explorations in metaphysics, Chinese Maximalism (after Gao Minglu) and international minimalism.
Born 1972, Handan, Hebei Province. 2003 completed Plastic Arts Studio course at the Chinese Painting Department, China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA). Lives and works in Beijing.
As a young adult Wang Jian worked as a train driver while following a period of self-directed study – reading extensively on literature, art, history and Zen. In 1996 he moved to Beijing to pursue his art career. He has worked an editor, TV director, art director and designer and completed his studies at the influential China Central Academy of Fine Art in 2003. His work, both abstract and minimal, references his early exploration of Eastern philosophies and demonstrates in its maturity an sophistication, his growing interests in Western poetry and sociology.
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