Spring 2012 CU BFA Critique

Logan Young’s space was by far the most cohesive and interesting aspect of the BFA installation. He presented several paintings exploring a common concept. By juxtaposing “…the cuteness of contemporary Japanese Kawaii soft culture and the lethality of the American industrial complex,” Logan challenged the nature of human desire. Ero Guro #1 and Hello Kitty Kill Zone (Ero Guro #2) is an installation involving two acrylic painted canvases and a series of model airplanes from the artist’ s childhood. The paintings depict humorous scenes of Godzilla destroying an ice cream civilization and a Hello Kitty-like figure destroying the city of Denver. Model airplanes are hung in front of the hello kitty painting as if flying away from the destructive scene. While in front of Ero Guro #1 the model airplanes are hung in a similar fashion but are directed towards the composition. I found the shadow work created from these various model planes very interesting. The other paintings he chose to display explore similar concepts of human desire. Melting Ice Cream and Pie, both painted with oils on canvas in 2011, realistically depict popular desserts; commenting on the irresistible human desire/necessity to consume sugar and sweets. His other painting The Impact, also painted in 2011, incorporates a single model airplane exposing a kamikaze act of destruction. The plane is hung in front of a stack of painted ice cream scoops with an adjacent ice cream cone exploding in the composition; foreshadowing the humorous destruction about to take place. Logan Young’s work explored a solid concept with humorous compositions and skillful execution and is my favorite aspect of the BFA exhibition.

Adam Siefkas, Generation Ship, was the worst piece within the exhibition. According to the media list on the placard this structure is composed of foam core, cardboard, and glassine. Just a pet peeve of mine but he failed to mention essential media involved with the installation and construction of this sculpture such as glue and string…that are plainly visible. His inspiration to create this object stems from architectural model making and rendering. He describes it as creating possibilities for the future with “heroic foolishness of utopian plans.” The structure was poorly assembled. Sloppy gluing, cheap materials, and a final product that wasn’t very visually appealing. When I consider an architectural model I think about precise rendering for an actual ability to possibly produce. Cad files and accurate measurements for architectural opportunity. This looked like a sloppy elementary school craft project. It was something but definitely did nothing for my artistic tastes.

Logan Lecture Review: Lawrence Argent

Andrew Davis

ARTH 3539

Logan Lecture Review

Lawrence Argent is known for his engaging public sculptures and installations worldwide. He produces site-specific work that reflects upon, integrates, and compliments various aspects of the space. Working with big budgets and teams of architects, engineers, and other specialized professionals, Lawrence Argent explores associated subjectivity in relation to one’s ability to perceive passion and symbiotic relationships within cultural symbolism. Lawrence Argent engages his space; retaining conscious focus on formal criteria including understanding the history of a space, ensuring the object reflects cultural value, while allowing one’s imagination to serve as ideological glue. Your Move, completed in 2011, involves three colossal abstracted gourds, two sculpted from granite and one cast in bronze. Commissioned by the University of Houston, the installation resides in the International Graduate Student Housing Complex. Each of the three gourds represents common facets of the academic system. “Of all the known plant types, the gourd is one of the few that experts believe spanned the entire globe on prehistoric times. It was used by virtually every culture.”[1] By choosing a plant that has worldwide cultural associations, Lawrence Argent comments on the international importance of education within different cultures. The polished red granite gourd represents the various “steps” involved in the educational process. The second stone-carved gourd represents the “weave” of knowledge that is researched, theorized, taught, and perceived within the educational system. The final and largest gourd represents the “patches” associated with the assimilation of information and processes. Lawrence Argent chose to name the piece Your Move to inspire scholars to consider their prospects and potential within their pursuits. The forms themselves resemble game tokens emphasizing one’s control in the game of life. This was my favorite piece because Lawrence Argent strived to compose simple ideas in a way that challenged state of the art technological processes and human capability.  This piece compliments its academic environment, abstractly providing a conversation for intellectual and physical ways of gaining knowledge. This piece reflects a relationship to the past, present, and future and was the strongest piece presented in Lawrence Argents lecture.

On a more critical note, I would like to address the pronunciation of the word: idea. It drives me crazy to hear world-renowned artists pronounce the word idea as i-dee-er. Artists primarily work with ideas. An idea fuels a process and a product that influences other ideas. It is clear that Lawrence Argent is not the primary executer of his ideas. Working with big budgets he is allowed the opportunity to work with other professionals to help plan and execute his ideas. The word idea has vast and general connotations; However, I feel the proper pronunciation would only have supported his role as the artist and legitimatized his primary work with ideas.

Works Cited

Argent, Lawrence. Lawrence Argent: Your Move. Retrieved 20 April 2012 from Lawrence Argent: http://www.lawrenceargent.com/public-art-projects/your-move

Visiting Artist Reflection: Janine Antoni

Andrew Davis

Visiting Artist Reflection

ARTH 3539

Janine Antoni primarily uses her body as a sculpting tool. Janine Antoni opened her lecture by showing and discussing a work titled Ween. This installation was an early work in her career and explored objects that seemingly defined humanness through culture. It was a series of horizontally adjacent relief molds into the wall. From left to right the dialogue began with a mold of her breast, then her nipple, three separated baby-bottle packaged nipple reliefs (maintaining a horizontal presentation) and a last relief of the bottle nipple consumer packaging. This sculpture questions the transition concerning consumer products replacing natural processes. I was particularly interested in the conceptual presentation of this idea. The artist as a mother, experiences first hand, the convenience of the industrial world and products that both mimic and relieve humans from maintaining traditional evolutionary necessity (such as breast feeding). The point at which these inanimate objects serve animate purpose is interesting. The composition as a whole maintains a balanced presentation.  Janine Antoni’s breast is the largest relief. The packaging relief is a little smaller, but visually challenges and relates to the size of the artist’s actual breast. The three bottle nipples reflect a very similar size and shape to the artist’s nipple. However, more attention is drawn to the deeper values of shadow within the multiple industrialized nipples. The simplicity adds to the complexity and I was particularly drawn to the meaning behind this work.

Lick and Lather, produced in 1993 was another playful piece done by Janine Antoni. This project involved a series of self-portrait busts, cast out of chocolate and soap. Janine Antoni proceeded to bathe with the soap busts, and lick away the chocolate busts, physically altering the appearance of the casts. This installation and process speaks to how everyday activities such as bathing and eating shape our lives. Simple concept and technical execution attribute to the beauty of Janine Antoni’s art. Her work explores the transformative nature of the art process, physically and mentally involving her body in the development. Her choice of media was specific for this project, providing opportunity for change and conceptual depth.

My favorite piece of hers was Tear. Tear is presented as a battered wrecking ball accompanied by live video and sound. The video consists of a blown up, close up recording of the artist’s eye. The process involved a soft lead wrecking ball destroying a building. The sounds of impact were recorded and synched to match the video of the artist’s blinking eye. It is a conceptually layered installation. The wrecking ball speaks to an oxymoronic quality of being destructive yet vulnerable to the damage. The word tear is a play on meaning and pronunciation. On one side tears from eyes serve as a defense mechanism and reaction to emotional stimulation (Tears are used to protect the eye as well as express emotion). The wrecking ball symbolizes a destructive object but yet bears the scars of its destruction. The viewer serves as a subject in the piece too. By understanding the influences of destruction in relation to a human response, viewers can relate to and understand the meaning of tearing (as an act of deconstruction) and tearing (crying) and the many correlations between the two acts. I found her lecture very inspiring. Her use of paralleled ideas and media to support concept, represented a full cycle of thought that was both intriguing and relatable.




Viviane Le Coutois Edible?

On a gorgeous day hinting at spring warmth, I couldn’t resist the urge to skip class, enjoy the weather, and stroll across town for a long awaited visit to the BMoCa. The BMoCA, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, resides next to the Boulder Creek and is based in a historic landmark building in the heart of downtown Boulder. As I entered the humble red brick building, I was delighted to discover the admission to be an affordable $4 for students and $5 for adults. Their spring exhibition involved two installations; Viviane Le Coutois’ Edible? and Jason Rogenes’ SP4C3CR4FT open until June 17, 2012. Both exhibitions reflect on consumer culture in different ways. However, Viviane Le Coutois’ installation was particularly interesting, exploring the dichotomy between organic and mass-produced consumerism. Her newly commissioned live interactive installation, The Garden of Earthly Delights, was contrasted by a display of sarcastically mocked products and ideas associated with unhealthy consumerism. Viviane Le Coutois’ exhibition provided a rejuvenating space for contemplation, challenging my inner fat kid to choose between a healthy meal afterwards or a delicious package preserved snack.

Within the confines of the BMoCA, I experienced something marvelous. For the first time in my art viewing experience I was alone in the gallery… me, myself, and I. Soaking up the essence of a seemingly rare occasion, I took my time to enjoy and interact with the work; exploring possible intentions of the artist and reflecting on my relationship to the media presented. The layout of the gallery was simple. Within the first major exhibition space was Viviane Le Coutois’ The Garden of Earthly Delights. The desk clerk advised me to end with this space and rather begin with the other half of her installation taking up the rest of the first floor gallery space. I took the advice and set out on my journey through the BMoCA. The first work I observed sarcastically referred to the delicious treat know as licorice. Licorice Sticks was a collection of branches from a licorice tree, casually chewed on like a delicious piece of candy. This piece led to a display of molded zucchini, spaghetti, and a pear core all preserved with polyurethane. Adjacent to the molded edibles were a series of cast iron apple cores. This sense of preserved “waste” provided an interesting perspective for entering the next portion of the installation.

Just beyond the candy curtains and approaching the hypnotizing sounds of sloppy chewing, a red form hangs like a slain butchered carcass. Cheetovore, a suspended sculpture created from papier maché, wire mesh, flaming hot cheetos, glue, polyurethane, and sound was originally created in 2002. From a distance the texture of the cheetos creates an ambiguous surface. However, when up close the experience of the loud chewing (coming from within the form), symbolic shape, and red color/texture of the cheetos made me consider animal rights and the vast quantities of meat consumed on a daily basis. Viviane Le Coutois’ addressed this delicate topic in a serious, thoughtful, but lighthearted manner.

An adjacent set of work involved an installation referred to as Pickles. Manifested in 2003, Pickles is an installation consisting of metal shelves, plexiglass, lights, and over 200 glass jars filled with objects and liquids. This installation was created in memory of the artist’s mother, who liked to save objects and kept a cabinet full of empty pickle jars with the vinegar still remaining. Two bookshelf-like displays, dramatically lit from the bottom of each shelf, gave off vibes related to that of a coroner’s collection. I felt a strong connection between Pickles and Cheetovore.  By preserving these candies they are no longer a product for consumption. Cheetovore on the other hand plays the role of a past life and future product. Ready to be chopped, stored, and served at a later date like a carcass of meat. But made out of a mass consumed product of Frito-Lay. This juxtaposition highlights consumer culture in relation to packaged foods and the meat industry. Should we really be consuming these colorful packaged goods or is it better to be a spectator in the candy isle? Do you consider that death of an animal when it I on your dinner plate? Or is it as standard as a globalized bag of cheetos?

Viviane Le Coutois’ provides an exceptional sense of dialogue between her works. The chronology of her exhibition was definitely the icing on the cake. The next few pieces displayed after Pickles involved the human figure. Venus of Consumption, created in 2010 is an acrylic yarn crocheted sculpture of an obese reclining woman. Next to this work is another awkward rendition of the human form created from papier maché, wire mesh, glue, and marshmallows referred to as Shane. These pieces are both a significant size and lead nicely into a group of small candy casted figurines called Little Fat Kids. This piece is the end to Viviane Le Coutois’ contemporary mock of candy consumerism. It serves as a final humorous concern to the unhealthy effects of a processed diet.

Making my way back to The Garden of Earthly Delights, I was eager to interact with the installation. “The Garden of Earthy Delights, a living interactive installation created for BMoCA, is envisioned as a space for people to relax, think, and interact. Herbs such as mint, verbena, thyme, sage, and rosemary are arranged throughout the gallery in miniature gardens for consumption in tea, in reference to the ancient process of growing, collecting, and consuming plants. Every Saturday between 1pm and 3pm, the artist will tend to the plants, serve tea, and offer samples of sprouts, micro greens, and baby greens, grown inside the museum as part of the exhibition.”[1] My first tea concoction involved a mixture of mesculn, pineapple mint, and lemon thyme. The taste was filled with a lemon zest and minty freshness that tingled my throat as I sat comfortably in the space; shoes off and toes free. Upon finishing my delicious cup of tea I hurled my handmade terra cotta cup at the wall. The artist made the whole interactive process a complete cycle. From the growing of the herbs, to the consumption of the tea, to the destruction of the cup, Viviane Le Coutois invited participants to partake in an expressive contribution to the exhibition. The terra cotta marks on the wall and pieces scattered made me feel like I had experienced and contributed to the exhibition as a whole. I left the museum inspired as an artist, satisfied as a critic, and wary as a consumer.

The dialogue between Viviane Le Coutois’ installations provided a clever relationship and represented a full cycle of thought. Edible? presented a balanced sense of playful humor, thoughtful execution, and meaningful content to create a wonderful museum experience. The exploration of the social implications of eating is a unique subject matter in which everyone can relate to. Viviane Le Coutois challenges packaged and preserved products while promoting organic means of consumption. She acknowledges freedom of choice and provides the opportunity for viewers to reflect upon the effects of a sweet tooth and experience the tasteful and aesthetic beauty of organic consumption.

[1] “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. 1750 13th St. Boulder, CO 80302. March 15, 2012.

Works Cited

Artist/Curator Notes. Edible? Viviane Le Coutois. Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. 1750 13th St. Boulder, CO 80302. March 15, 2012.

Clyfford Still

Clyfford Still was an important figure within the abstract expressionist movement and his career spanned nearly all of the 20th century. The abstract expressionist development was a post World War II art movement that achieved worldwide recognition for American artists. Although the work of Abstract expressionists varied, the style was consistent with a monumental scale that depicted abstract forms with expressionist brush and color work. These compositions conveyed themes in relation to creation, life, struggle, and death in a manner that psychologically invested the viewer.

 Still was born during 1904 in North Dakota, and started painting at an early age. His work displays an evolution of style, beginning with representational compositions and moving into pure abstraction. His early work explored the depiction of western life through the representation of figures, buildings, and machinery in his imagery. His semi-early paintings were particularly interesting to me. Ph-20, painted in 1936, depicts several abstracted forms existing and melding as a single subject in the composition. Human-like forms are contrasted by machine–like shapes and hint at the relationship between man and machine. The limbs are elongated and enlarged and faces are hardly recognizable. “Unlike the many upbeat images of labor made by diverse American artists during the Great Depression, Still seems committed to revealing the physical, emotional, and even psychological effects of hard work.” (Clyfford Still Museum) By depicting the figures using rough color, anatomical abstraction and coarse brushwork he taps into a conceptual representation of the effects of hard labor on the body and mind.

“By 1936-37, he began to simplify his subjects as he moved closer to abstraction. Passages that’s once described anatomy or landscape now reappear as carefully executed arrangements of line, color, and interlocking shapes.” (Clyfford Still Museum) By the late 1930’s his figures began to disappear into the background. His paintings became more abstracted with age and I found his sculpture work to be a blend between his representation and abstraction. PS-2, created is 1943, is an abstract wooden sculpture. The composition reminds me of his older paintings depicting juxtapositions of farm life and the human figure. The shape of the wood is similar to the way he abstracted the anatomy of the body. The rectangular head, with a notched out eye, is perched upon a fragile extended neck protruding from a roughly carved body. This abstract representation is complemented by two other wooden sculptures. The other two didn’t evoke the same relationship I saw between PS-2 and Still’s early painting.

By 1943 Still’s work was moving in the direction we now associate with abstract expressionism. 1943 marked a successful point in Still’s career when he landed his first solo exhibition. His paintings were expressing themselves on a deeper level. “Still built up his palpable, evocative surfaces through the use of trowels and palette knifes. His use of intense colors, ranging from blood red and blaze orange to powerful browns, yellows and pinks, is highly unique.” (Clyfford Still Museum) As his abstraction evolved, Clyfford Still began to influence other first generation abstract expressionists such as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. A very important Legion of Honor exhibition in 1946 made audience and critics alike breathless. First came shock and admiration to the raw vibrancy of his painting. Still had a strong relationship to his work and felt his “…paintings have the rising forms of the vertical necessity of life dominating the horizon. For in such a land a man must stand upright, if he would live. And so born and became intrinsic this elemental characteristic of my life and work.” (Clyfford Still Museum) This realization dominated is persisting work and inspired him to create and express the inner concepts of emotion rather than representational compositions.

PH-1049, executed in 1977, is the latest of his work in the gallery, done only 3 years before his death. The 9×13 canvas displays a monumental scale of primarily negative space, occupied by bare canvas. Still’s reserved use of color makes the jagged yellow and red brushwork pop against the unpainted void. “Since the Renaissance, artists usually arranged their compositions to focus attention to central subjects, which were often set against deep space. Still began to favor flat, ‘allover’ compositions in which the viewer’s eye never rests on any single image. This work appears boundless, as if the image extends beyond the canvas. Similarly, it is also filled with movement, both across the surface and between the foreground and background.” (Clyfford Still Museum) I resonated most with this piece because it sparked a curiosity about the artist’s psyche. I am curious if and why Still considered this painting complete? The amount of unpainted surface makes the areas of color tantalizing and valued. I guess abstract expressionism can be infinitely perceived and that is what gives Clyfford Still’s work a life of it’s own. “I never wanted color to be color, texture to be texture, images to become shapes. I wanted them all to fuse into a living spirit.”

Wall Text, Clyfford Still Museum, Denver, CO.

Andrew Davis Intellectual Profile

1. I am currently pursuing a BA in Studio Arts here at CU Boulder. I am a Colorado native and since a young age, music, art and other forms of creative expression occupied my time. I play several instruments and dip my hands into a variety of media. I have primarily focused on Painting and Drawing at CU, but within the last year I have found a desire to create sculpture. It is my intention to spend the rest of my time at the university utilizing the wood and metal shop to grow as an artist.

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Terry Smith Paragraphs

Being in a post historical time makes it difficult to define contemporary art. Terry Smith’s article, “What is Contemporary Art,” discusses various aspects of globalization, population growth, cultural influence, and the experience of artists evolving in a post historical era. Population, industrial, and technological growth attribute to more art being produced than ever before in more diverse aspects of medium, content, and location. The widespread access to information and images via the internet, television, news & entertainment, advertising, print media, ect… define Smith’s notion of the image economy he refers to as the “iconomy.” This iconomy, as an assemblage of past and present appropriations, directly influences the contemporary artist.

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