Between Spring Break, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and really cold winds blowing off the Hudson, it had been a little too long since I toured the Chelsea Galleries. Yesterday I set off with my friend and classmate Rachel to see a few shows.
Rachel was especially interested in the Dieter and Bjorn Roth show at Hauser & Wirth (http://www.hauserwirth.com/exhibitions/1649/dieter-roth-bjorn-roth/view/) which I discussed on February 5th, so we headed first to 511 West 18th Street. I was happy to have a second look at the exhibition, and this time I was most impressed with the long wall of screens displaying Dieter Roth’s last work: the video documentation of his final year. Plenty of artists live compartmentalized lives, in which the art is just one box. Other boxes are filled with family, and outside jobs, and bills and pets, but Roth’s whole life was his art. His whole life was art.
We next stopped in at David Zwirner (http://www.davidzwirner.com) to see what was new since the Francis Alys show came down. A large installation by Michael Riedel was eye-catching, pleasing, and yet puzzling. The exhibition is called PowerPoint and is based on repetitive images from digital processes. Large canvases are hung on top of wallpaper with similar designs, and the huge graphic quality, plus the layers of information, attracted me aesthetically and intellectually, but left me emotionally cold. It took me quite a while to figure out that perhaps this was the point. That the computer age is powerful in repetition and reproduction, but not in personal connection. I was reminded of how many of my Facebook friends are actually bare acquaintances. Ultimately I was glad I had seen the show and felt its conflicting open space and claustrophobia.
Finally we made it to Edward Thorp Gallery at 210 Eleventh Avenue (http://www.edwardthorpgallery.com) to see the group show Painting Advanced. I was especially interested in seeing Gary Stephan’s work (full disclosure: Gary Stephan teaches in the SVA MFA Fine Arts program, although I will not be in his class until next Fall). http://garystephanstudio.com
I could analyze his paintings, and I did, but truthfully, they jumped off the wall and grabbed me. The colors and shapes, the textures, the abstract/figurative dance all captivated me. Some paintings don’t need dissection – good paintings.
In the same show I also enjoyed Rachel Malin’s work (http://rachelmalin.com), which reminded me a little of Cy Twombly’s scribbles, but are more colorful and restrained.
Then it was time for a quick stop at Whole Foods (Chelsea being rich not only in art galleries, but also grocery stores) and back to our own work.