Read below to learn more about Saturday’s Riad Art Tour from tour guide Merrily Kerr and checkout Instagrams from our fellow art lovers and tour goers on our blog!
It was ‘bodies, bodies, bodies!’ on our Lower East Side art tour last Saturday, as we
checked out seven different exhibitions which somehow led us back to the human
form in its wondrous variety.
At Bitforms, the gallery/new media hotspot, we encountered young D.C. artist
Jonathan Monaghan’s otherworldy animation of flying Faberge eggs that emerged
from a couch in an enormous walk-in closet and exited through an oculus in the
domed ceiling…which doubled as a very human-looking orifice. Surreal but
mesmerizing, Monaghan’s animations literalize his theme – that ever-more lifelike
technology elicits desire – by purposefully confusing luxury consumer goods and
Gina Beavers – the standout artist at our next stop – likewise traffics in desire with
paintings that poke fun at cheesy titillation. A bra made of hands, a reclining nude
with a slice of cake cut from its rear and more, were highlights of a group exhibition
titled ‘Third Heat’ at Canada Gallery. Torey Thornton’s multi-media (including nail
polish) paintings, Brian Belott’s messy abstractions and Annie Pearlman’s acid-
color, melting interiors may be colorfully experimental, but were no match for
Beavers’ brilliantly kitschy send-ups of digital age imagery.
Objects from the history of decorative arts have recently inspired Francesca
DiMattio, a painter-turned-ceramic-artist who has recently realigned her skill set to
create outlandish sculptures that riff on English Rococo vases, Turkish fritware and
Wedgewood porcelain. A ‘fetish sculpture’ – part-vase, part-Congolese power figure
– at the entryway to Salon94 Bowery and a ‘chandelabra’ that combines figurines
with a riot of colorful and varied shapes set the tone for a new body of work that
leaves the use-value of ceramics far behind in favor of inventive forms.
So far on our tour, we’d seen imagined bodies; at our next stop, Salon94 Freemans,
we were able to watch the artist himself as Chilean-Swedish sculptor Anton Alvarez
converts the gallery into his studio for the month of April. Using his signature
‘thread wrapping machine,’ Alvarez lays down colorful glue on pieces of wood, then
inserts the wood into a motorized spinner that wraps it in colorful threads. We
watched a bench being crafted; next week, the public can return to the gallery to see
all the work Alvarez created during his time in New York.
Across the street at Eleven Rivington, the mood turned more somber with Brooklyn-
based artist Sarah Peters’ black bronze busts of anonymous figures. Two male
figures with magnificent beards recalled ancient Akkadian sculpture from present-
day Iraq or Greek busts from antiquity. A female figure with cascades of wavy hair
suggests Greek dramatic masks or sex dolls, while also bringing Darth Vader to mind
Bodies were hinted at, at Eleven Rivington’s second space on Chrystie Street, where
LA-based artist Aiko Hachisuka is showing her sculptures created from found
clothing, silk-screened in various colors and assembled into foam-filled columns
that suggest a multitude of figures. It was amazingly difficult not to touch the
artwork; the tactility had us fantasizing about the pieces as furniture.
The human touch, or lack thereof, was the theme at The Hole, where we took in
work by sixteen artists in the lively group show ‘Post Analog Painting.’ The artists’
strategies included paintings that appeared digital – e.g. Mariah Dekkenga’s painted
abstractions, blurred to resemble an out-of-focus image or Trudy Benson’s
physically painted works that were inspired by the look of graphic programs like
MAPaint. Other artists used digital processes to generate their works, like Matthew
Stone, who hand paints brushstrokes on glass, photographs them, tweeks them
digitally, then prints them on canvas. Trying to decide if the artist had much of a
hand in the production of the artwork at The Hole was the perfect way to conclude
an afternoon inspired by the body.
-Merrily Kerr, New York Art Tours