Sunday, May 30, 2010

painting is dead (or was killed)

after spending the last month or so visiting a variety of exhibitions in the Detroit metro area and meeting/talking with many artists, curators and the likes in town, and a day before leaving the country for 30 days, I decided to finally finish what would be the longest entry on this blog.

my goal was to cover the following exhibitions and artists:

- Dick Goody's paintings in The Decay of Lying at The Butcher's Daughter gallery;
- Ian Swanson's and Adrian Hatfield's in I don't believe in art. I believe in artists, curated by Cedric Tai at the Whitdell gallery;
- Donald Baechler's, Ed Fraga's, and Susan Campbell's in Black & Blue at the Lemberg gallery;
- Clinton Snider's, Andy Krieger's, and Faina Lerman's in Nocturnal Translations at the Public Pool gallery;
- Petrova Giberson's in who loves the sun at the Susanne Hilberry gallery.

that blog entry, titled "painting the town...", was divided into the following sections: red; blue; black and blue; everything in between; with controversy. while most of the argument existed inside my head, there were specific images I planned on using to anchor each section.

as luck would have it, while transferring all the photo documentations I had carefully collected with my iPhone to my laptop, the application froze and subsequently crashed. I thought that a simple restart would put me back at the place where I started, but then noticed that most images were simultaneously gone from my phone and my desktop, with the exception of somewhat unrelated images I photographed today.

this saddened me because, in addition to completely destroying the structure for my writing, those images documented beautiful instances of contemporary painting here. and unfortunately most of these shows are either closed, or will be closing very soon.

how could I write about Goody's brilliant excess of color painted with humor and lightness (a departure for him from previous works that were dark, heavy-handed and somewhat bitter)? like Goody himself, who brilliantly combined fetish objects with cartoonish representations of his youth with text quotations on what he is/was "interested in" (or taking a jab at such statements) I felt the need to also connect my words here to his images there and, dare I say it, let them together speak for themselves, my role becoming that of a guide rather than a translator.

I also wanted to write about being engulfed in Hatfield's ocean of blueness, magic and mystery - his painting so hypnotic that I had to refrain myself from trying to jump right in for a swim (with my phone in my pocket nonetheless)... or attempt to drink from it... or steal it.

without images it would also be difficult to explain the relationships of materials, architecture and structure Swanson produced and processed, which in my view is the strongest work to date, by this extremely dedicated but at time discouraged young artist (don't stop believing!).

needless to say, the multiple and wonderful collaborations Tai undertook with his selected artists would go unrepresented, though not completely unmentioned. a squid will never be the same to me.

Fraga's implication of a three-dimensional space within a gallery (his paintings arranged as an "L" on the corner of the space, creating two of four sides of a rectangle), had a nice resonant but disagreeable dialogue with the two dimensional space within each work's frame, that effaced the maps and floor-plans used as ground for his whimsical, dream-like escapes.

similarly, the dots/holes that Campbell punched off her works, which denied the painterly and fluid aspect of the underlaying colors she first applied to the surface of the paper, resembling braille markings, would go unheard.

and what can I say, I learned a new term "flocking," while looking at Baechler's work (which must be seen in person anyway, as even my lost pictures, after many attempts from so many angles and vantage points, had failed to capture a grasp of lushness of their surface).

like a good dream you never want to end, Snider, Krieger, and Lerman captivated my attention with their wandering and meandering forms and figures in the popular and crowded collaborative concept exhibition during its opening reception. you will have to take my word for it.

last but not least, the poetry of Giberson's run in sentences - as far as I remember, they were the only text-based paintings in a group show that ironically was also poetically and fittingly titled (as many exhibitions in that venue are named after the featured artist) - will have to remain in my memory (as it was also erased from my computers' memories).


I should have concluded this blog entry with my brief summary, an exploration-that-never-was, on these artists' paintings.

but perhaps a better fit should include the only images that survived the mostly failed file transfer, shot a few hours ago. in hindsight an art blog about contemporary painting in Detroit during the spring of 2010 could not go about without a reference to Banksy, even if his paint comes from a spray can.

this infamously famous artist made his mark in the greater Detroit urban and decayed landscape (no lying); four of his pieces were discovered, documented, discussed, and argued over in the last few weeks. as it is (somewhat) known, and wonderfully written about on the weekly Metrotimes, one of Banksy's piece, from the dilapidated Packard Plant, was removed, without permission, by gallery 555. little has been written about them since (rumor has it that the piece has been hidden, as it's been threatened by unknown or unmentionable persons), also partially because local tragedy has taken central and national stage in the media, deservingly so.

my view on the matter (aside from the controversy of Banksy himself - a non issue really), is that the removed/destroyed piece would live best under the conservancy of the Detroit Institute of Arts, because they have the facilities and know-how to properly preserve this art work for posterity (and that might heal some wounds opened by the Packard and 555 folks with each other, as well as the community at large).

out of the four site-specific pieces created by Banksy here, as per said Metrotimes article, and if we consider the Packard/555 his first, the second piece was washed off by an overzealous property owner (whose property is up for sale for a price under Banksy's supposed market-value for a similar piece), and the third was irreparably damaged by another local group while attempting a second removal. only the last forth piece survived in the façade of an abandoned warehouse south of 12 Mile Road, on Van Dyke Road. before leaving Detroit for a month I wanted to go see, in person, the surviving Banksy, of the little mouse wearing star-shaped sunglasses, holding a pole and balancing itself on a real-life chain, that stood for a tight-rope. this cute and most expressive mouse, a recurring character from Banksy's extensive cast, symbolically depicted my journey here.

here being art. here as art

here being blog. here as blog.

here being site. here as sight.

here being Detroit. left and right.

the mouse is now gone, gone before I could meet him/her in person. like so much around here, it is gone before you know, and yet it leaves a mark, a mark that fails to erase what was once there. a mark like a scar, a reminder of what is sometimes forgotten. look around!

the mouse is now gone, and it wasn't me... or was it? did the mouse leave, because it knew I would photograph it, and then later lose the photograph?

the mouse is now gone.... as of 12:30 pm Eastern, on May 30, 2010. mouse being art. mouse as art. mouse depart.

this mouse is now gone... and soon so will I.

not being here. not being art. not being site, not as sight. not as here. not as art. not left, nor right.

UPDATE #1: it seems another Banksy piece has been found in Detroit after all. let's see how long this one will last.

UPDATE #2: someone comes forward as being Banksy, according to The Onion ;-)

1 comment:

  1. So sad to hear you lost your photos. I actually have shots of some of what you're after, if you want them just for historical purposes.

    Will miss you while you're out of town. Thanks again for writing.