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    Wolfgang Laib, Tadanori Yokoo Win Praemium Imperiale Awards

    German sculptor Wolfgang Laib and Japanese graphic designer and artist Tadanori Yokoo are among the five artists who have been named winners of the 2015 edition of the 27th Praemium Imperiale global arts prize.

    Taking out the Sculpture and Painting sectors, Laib and Yokoo each receive a price of 15 million yen (approximately US$124,000) as well as a testimonial letter and a gold medal.

    The other winners are Dominique Perrault in the Architecture sector, pianist Mitsuko Uchida in the music sector, and ballerina Sylvie Guillem in the Theatre/Film sector.

    Awarded annually by the Japan Art Association, the prize recognizes and awards artists for their impact and on the international arts scene and for their role in enriching the global art community.

    Candidates are proposed by six nomination committees, each chaired by an International Advisor, and the winner is then selected by the Board of Trustees of the Japan Art Association.

    The Praemium Imperiale group of prizes was established in 1989 according to the last wishes of Prince Takamatsu who passed away in 1988.

    According to the Japan Art Association, the Praemium Imperiale “is based on the idea that the arts celebrate man’s creativity and are the reflection of his spirit and enduring legacy.”

    Wolfgang Laib

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    500 Best Galleries 2015: Puerto Rico

    A special summer issue of Modern Painters, which will be published in installments on ARTINFO this month, surveys the world’s best galleries, across six continents and 36 countries. Throughout the issue you’ll hear from 50 of the most influential gallery owners and directors, discussing their achievements and envies, the artists they have their eye on, and the regional trends affecting this increasingly international market. Below you’ll find Q&As with two gallerists based in Puerto Rico. To see other installments from the special issue, click here.

    ROBERTO PARADISE | SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO.

    ARTISTS: José Lerma, Katherine Bernhardt, José Luis Vargas, Austin Eddy, Chris Bradley


    ESTABLISHED:
 2011


    CONTACT:
 robertoparadise.com; info@robertoparadise.com;
+1 787 429 4887

    FRANCISCO ROVIRA RULLAN, DIRECTOR

    How did you get your start as a gallerist?


    Very early on I realized I was the only one of my friends who was not an artist. If I wanted to stay in such great company, I needed to find a role for myself.


    How have you generally discovered new artists? Are there any new discoveries for the gallery whom you’re especially excited about?
I

    I rely heavily on instinct and on the recommendations of a select few. We are very excited about the work of Caroline Wells Chandler, a young Yale graduate with an extraordinary sensibility who recently joined our program.

    What was your biggest show of the past year?


    A massive multicanvas commission by Katherine Bernhardt, created in Puerto Rico for the collection of Alberto and Mari de la Cruz.

    What’s one show you loved in the past year at a gallery other than your own?

    Tyson Reeder’s “New Paintings” at CANADA, New York.

    What trend do you see happening in your region right now?


    A return to more conceptually based practices amid lots of rehash tropicalia and bland abstraction.

    What might you be doing if you weren’t a gallerist?


    I might be an actor.


    Name the last great book you read, art-related or otherwise.

    Puerto Rico: The Trials of the Oldest Colony in the World, by the late José Trías Monge.

    If cost were no object, what work of art would you have in your bedroom?

    Zilia Sanchez’s erotic stretched canvases from the 1970s, hanging on the wall above our bed!

    ***

    WALTER OTERO CONTEMPORARY ART | SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO

    ARTISTS: Arnaldo Roche, Angel
Otero, Ramón Miranda Beltrán, Gamaliel Rodríguez, Anthony Giannini

    ESTABLISHED: 2003


    CONTACT:
 walterotero.com;
+1 787 998 9622

    WALTER OTERO, OWNER/DIRECTOR

    How did you get your start as a gallerist?


    In the ’90s I met Arnaldo Roche Rabell, one of the most important artists in Puerto Rican, Caribbean, and Latin American art history and one of the most influential artists in the 1980s in the Latin American art scene in the United States. Roche offered me a position working as part of his team, which I gratefully accepted. During this experience, I had the opportunity to travel to exhibitions, biennials, and various museums; this opened my eyes to the art world and quickly led me to develop a passion for contemporary art that has been growing ever since.

    How have you generally discovered new artists? Are there any new discoveries for the gallery whom you’re especially excited about?


    We are constantly following careers and meeting established and emerging artists worldwide. We also look at and visit MFA and institutional shows. One of our latest discoveries, which we are especially excited about, is Ramón Miranda Beltrán.

    We began working with Ramón before his graduate studies at SAIC.

    What was your biggest show of the past year?

    Last year we had five major shows: Carlos Rolón/Dzine, Anthony Giannini, Rafael Vega, Gamaliel Rodríguez, and Luis Vidal; all these shows were big in their own special way.

    What’s one show you loved in the past year at a gallery other than your own?

    The show that I loved from the past year was “The Last Brucennial,” in New York.

    What trend do you see happening in your region right now?

    As time passes by, there is an overlap in mediums that seems to be strengthening more and more, but the trend that I see happening in my region is a resurgence of figurative and Neo-Expressionist work.

    What might you be doing if you weren’t a gallerist?

    I have never really given serious thought to this aspect of my life. I don’t see myself doing or being any other thing but a gallerist.

    Name the last great book you read, art-related or otherwise.


    Leo and His Circle, by Annie Cohen-Solal, was the last great book I read.

    If cost were no object, what work of art would you have in your bedroom?

    I would have Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son and any of Pollock’s action paintings.

    luis viddal

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    500 Best Galleries 2015: Beijing and China

    A special summer issue of Modern Painters, which will be published in installments on ARTINFO this month, surveys the world’s best galleries, across six continents and 36 countries. Throughout the issue you’ll hear from 50 of the most influential gallery owners and directors, discussing their achievements and envies, the artists they have their eye on, and the regional trends affecting this increasingly international market. Below you’ll find Q&As with several gallerists based in Beijing and Hong Kong. To see other installments from the special issue, click here.

    CHAMBERS FINE ART | BEIJING, CHINA

    ARTISTS: Ai Weiwei, GAMA, Taca Sui, Wu Jian’an, Zhao Zhao


    ESTABLISHED: 2000

    INTERNATIONAL LOCATIONS: New York, U.S.

    CONTACT: chambersfineart.com; bj@chambersfineart.com; +86 10 5127 3298

    CHRISTOPHE W. MAO, FOUNDER
AND DIRECTOR


    How did you get your start as a gallerist?


    During the 1990s, as I began my career in the financial world, I became increasingly interested in the visual arts. At the end of the decade I felt that the time had come to open a gallery in New York devoted to contemporary Chinese art. There was increasing international interest [in Chinese art] but no outlet for it in the U.S.A. I was taking a risk, but from the beginning the response was very good.

    How have you generally discovered new artists?Are there any new discoveries for the gallery whom you’re especially excited about?


    Very often through the recommendation of other artists. However, it can also happen serendipitously when a work by a young artist stands out in an exhibition and I immediately feel that he or she belongs in my gallery! I am excited about Fu Xiaotong, a young Chinese artist who creates extraordinary works using only handmade paper and a needle.


    What was your biggest show of the past year?

    Ai Weiwei in New York at the end of last year.

    What’s one show you loved in the past year at a gallery other thanyour own?


    Richard Serra at Gagosian in New York.


    What trend do you see happening in your region right now?

    It would certainly be the emergence of new collectors and institutions in China, neither of which existed 15 years ago when I opened the gallery.


    What might you be doing if you weren’t a gallerist?

    In different circumstances I would like to be a collector. Ideally, an artist!

    Name the last great book you read, art-related or otherwise.


    Penelope Fitzgerald, The Blue Flower.


    If cost were no object, what work of art would you have in your bedroom?

    Paul Gauguin’s Nevermore in the Courtauld Institute.

    ***

    DE SARTHE GALLERY |
HONG KONG AND BEIJING, CHINA

    ARTISTS: Zao Wou-Ki, Chu Teh-Chun, Chen Zhen, Lin Jinjing, Wang Guofeng


    ESTABLISHED: 1977

    CONTACT: desarthe.com; hongkong@desarthe.com; +852 2167 8896

    PASCAL DE SARTHE, OWNER

    How did you get your start as a gallerist?

    I started as an artist and did performances and installations. I opened my first gallery on the outskirts of Paris when a friend of mine gave me a space for free. In 1978, I was asked to run the Galerie-Association Katia Pissarro in the Beaubourg area of Paris, which I did for two years. In 1981, I moved to San Francisco and opened a gallery there. It was then that I started to travel to Asia and I slowly established a close relation- ship with collectors whom I still work with today.


    How have you generally discovered new artists? Are there any new discoveries for the gallery whom you’re especially excited about?


    I love art history and read a lot about it. Knowledge is the starting point to really discover an artist. The art market, however, has been more interested in following trends than focusing on creativity. Most artists nowadays are crowd pleasers, and for many of them, they are clueless of what was done previously and base their knowledge on auction catalogs. I am very excited about the Chinese artists we are working with. While keeping their cultural roots intact, artists such as Lin Jingjing, Zhou Wendou, and Wang Guofeng also have a presence
in the global art platform.


    What was your biggest show of the past year?


    Last year we presented a rare collection of masterpieces by first- and second-generation Chinese artists who went to Paris to learn Western techniques. The exhibition was titled “Pioneers of Modern Painting in Paris” and included materpieces painted from the early ’20s to the late ’60s and early ’70s by Xu Beihong, Pan Yuliang, Lin Fengmian, Sanyu, Wu Dayu, Yun Gee, Wu Zouren, Wu Guanzhong, Zao Wou-Ki, Chu Teh-Chun, Xiong Bingming, and T’ang Haywen.


    What’s one show you loved in the past year at a gallery other than your own?


    “Simon Hantaï | Pliage: The First Decade” at Mnuchin Gallery in New York. It is rare to see works from an important French artist from the ’60s in a New York gallery.


    What trend do you see happening in your region right now?

    There is a huge reshuffle within the Chinese contemporary art world, and this is a great time to stop just listening to the market-driven speculators and to be open to new creations in the Asian region.


    Name the last great book you read, art-related or otherwise.

    Lü Peng, A Pocket History of 20th-Century Chinese Art.


    If cost were no object, what work of art would you have in your bedroom?


    Zao Wou-Ki’s Hommage à Tou-Fou. This picture has haunted me since I saw it in a museum show over a decade ago. In a way, it is already in my bedroom, as it fills my dreams.

    ***

    GALLERIA CONTINUA | BEIJING, CHINA

    ARTISTS: Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor, Antony Gormley, Sun Yuan & Peng Yu, Qiu Zhijie


    ESTABLISHED: 2004

    INTERNATIONAL LOCATIONS: San Gimignano, Italy; Boissy-le-Châtel, France

    CONTACT: galleriacontinua.com; beijing@galleriacontinua.com.cn; +86 10 5978 9505

    FEDERICA BELTRAME, DIRECTOR

    How did you get your start as a gallerist?


    I studied art before starting Asian studies. In 1999, I came to China to write my thesis on Chinese contemporary art, and in 2001, after finishing my studies, I got my first job as a gallerist, at Schoeni Art Gallery. I moved to BTAP the year after that, and finally I started working at Continua in November 2004.


    How have you generally discovered new artists? Are there any new discoveries for the gallery whom you’re especially excited about?


    It’s about feelings—between the artists’ work and us, and between the artists and us. It’s like in a love affair: there must be this magical feeling—and trust—to work well together and sustain each other.

    What was your biggest show of the past year?


    We have big shows regularly in our space in Beijing. We currently have Ai Weiwei’s first solo show in China. It’s a massive exhibition; we have a huge number of visitors every day.

    What’s one show you loved in the past year at a gallery other than your own?


    I really loved the Louise Bourgeois show at the Faurschou Foundation.

    What trend do you see happening in your region right now?


    We don’t follow trends… I really don’t know. Maybe the only thing I’ve noticed is people collecting more and more design products. I guess that’s a trend!

    What might you be doing if you weren’t a gallerist?


    Funny question. If I weren’t a gallerist, I could have kept on dancing, maybe. Maybe I’d be a dancer—or, more realistically, a full-time mum of three.

    Name the last great book you read, art-related or otherwise.


    Having three kids, I don’t have much time left for reading. The last book I read before delivering was Patti Smith’s Just Kids, and I adored it!

    ***

    HANART TZ GALLERY | HONG KONG, CHINA

    ARTISTS: Fang Lijun, Qiu Zhijie, Xu Longsen, Liu Guosong, Feng Mengbo

    ESTABLISHED: 1983


    CONTACT: hanart.com; hanart@hanart.com; +852 2526 9019

    JOHNSON CHANG, FOUNDING DIRECTOR

    How did you get your start as
a gallerist?


    I started to write about art and curate exhibitions when contemporary art was a young field, and I opened an art gallery in the early 1980s because there were few places for artists to exhibit in Hong Kong and a gallery was the most viable way to create and maintain a platform for art.

    How have you generally discovered new artists? Are there any new discoveries for the gallery whom you’re especially excited about?


    We discover new artists from group shows and art academy graduation exhibitions. We also organize thematic exhibitions to create suitable contexts for new artists to present their work. The recent addition of monumental landscape ink painter Xu Longsen is very exciting; Xu Longsen has hitherto only exhibited outside China in museum exhibitions, including the first contemporary ink artist show presented by the prestigious Nelson Atkins Museum in 2013.

    What was your biggest show of the past year?


    We celebrated our 30th anniversary at the Hong Kong Arts Centre with “HANART 100: IDIOSYNCRASIES,” a noncommercial exhibition of 100 special artworks launched with an international symposium curated by myself and Gao Shiming of the China Academy of Art.

    What trend do you see happening in your region right now?


    The traditional medium of ink art has attracted many Chinese artists in the past few years, and the recent interest in sound-based art has opened a new vista for artists. Digital art is now a mature art form, and I see excellent works by the new generation of Chinese artists.

    ***

    PEKIN FINE ARTS |
BEIJING AND HONG KONG, CHINA

    ARTISTS: Chen Shaoxiong, Aniwar Mamat, Zhang Dali, Arik Levy, Zhang Xiao, Nashunbatu, Huang Zhiyang, WassinkLundgren, Yu Likwai


    ESTABLISHED: 2005

    CONTACT: pekinfinearts.com; info@pekinfinearts.com; +86 10 5127 3223

    MEG MAGGIO, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR

    How did you get your start as a gallerist?

    I come to the gallery world as an ex–corporate lawyer and art-loving collector turned entrepreneur. In 1997, I invested along with partners in one of Beijing’s first contemporary art galleries, the CourtYard Gallery—mainly in response to the lack at that time of permanent or fixed venues for exhibiting contemporary art in Beijing. We were able to work with many of China’s most well-known artists when everyone was still idealistic and there was no such thing as an “art market” or an “art industry.”

    How have you generally discovered new artists? Are there any new discoveries for the gallery whom you’re especially excited about?


    The best ones are well trained academically, imaginative, and ambitious. I look for new artists everywhere: at university graduation exhibitions, museum exhibitions, and online art media platforms. We work with artists of all ages, including artists representative of each generation of major Chinese art movements since the late 1970s: from post–Cultural Revolution Stars Movement artists such as Mao Lizi to young artists born in the 1990s. We are very excited to be newly working with Yang Dongxue, Xie Qi, John Clang, Liu Di, Xu Zhenbang, Zhang Xiaotao, Mao Lizi, and Zhao Liang.

    What was your biggest show of the past year?

    In Hong Kong, Zhang Dali. It’s hard to believe that one of China’s most influential contemporary artists, and China’s first well-known graffiti artist, never had a solo exhibition in Hong Kong before this one. In Beijing, Zhang Xiaotao’s solo exhibition. Zhang is the head of the new media department at the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute and one of China’s most well-known new media artists.

    What’s one show you loved in the past year at a gallery other than your own?


    The Chinese Photobook at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. This exhibition represents seven years of collecting the best of China’s artists’ photo books. And Ai Weiwei at Galeria Continua and Tang Contemporary in Beijing—a beautiful exhibition of new works.

    What trend do you see happening in your region right now?

    The massive explosion in museum construction and gallery growth in China has led to overproduction by Chinese artists who are hoping to take advantage of this recent increase in exhibition opportunities in mainland China. In the short term, there will be an excess of works by younger artists that simply mimic generic contemporary “global” styles. In the long term, the increased competition will push the best artists to the top. The mainland artists who maintain sincere practices, those who stay true to their idiosyncratic vision and impervious to global trends and styles, are the ones who will rise to the top and eventually receive critical success and attention.

    If cost were no object, what work of art would you have in your bedroom?


    Ed Ruscha made a wonderful work on paper, Discontinued China. I think that would be very apropos for me to own!

    500 Best Galleries 2015

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    25 Most Collectible Midcareer Artists: Joyce Kozloff

    In its September issue, Art+Auction compiled a list of the 25 most collectible midcareer artists working today. This month, ARTINFO will publish one installment from the feature per day. Click here to read Art+Auction editor-in-chief Eric Bryant’s introduction to the list. To see all the installments published so far, click here.

    Joyce Kozloff  |  b. 1942  |  United States

    The artist first won recognition in the 1970s as a member of the Pattern and Decoration and feminist art movements. Since the late 1990s, however, she has drawn heavily on cartography; her oeuvre includes a walk-in globe titled Targets, completed in 2000, which features 24 sections, each painted with an aerial map of a place that the United States has bombed since World War II. DC Moore, Kozloff’s New York gallery, and the French Institute Alliance Française staged solo shows last spring, and her works were included in summer group exhibitions at the Brooklyn Historical Society and bric House, as well as the Borough of Manhattan Community College and Vassar College. “I do see all this attention sort of bubbling up,” says Edward Deluca, a director of DC Moore gallery. “When we brought one of her pieces to the Armory Show, a number of museum people contacted us about her work.” Pieces are already in more than 50 public collections, including lacma and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Kozloff’s large-scale multimedia work runs between $150,000 and $275,000, medium-size pieces bring between $30,000 and $100,000, and smaller examples vary from $5,000 to $30,000. Prices for her largest pieces, according to Deluca, have more than doubled in the past 10 years, as private collectors and smaller institutional buyers have snapped them up. “Joyce is a first-generation feminist artist who maintains her roots and strength in her early work, and yet it’s grown and expanded so much over the years—I think that’s what attracts collectors and curators alike,” says Deluca.  

    Most Collectible Artists 2015

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  • 09/16/15--10:49: Khvay Samnang in Berlin

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    Peter York’s London Show Takes on Kanye West, Hipsters

    Peter York is best known as, for want of a better description, a style guru. The man who chronicled the Sloane Ranger. Now he is offering us advice on how to be better and nicer people. How to select the correct dress shirt and the most apposite compliment.

    Perhaps don’t take it all too seriously.

    Most members of the audience at York’s latest show don’t, although he says he’s deadly serious and adopts a lecture format.

    At Soho Theatre, there are a constant stream of deadpan one-liners, not all-out hilarious but enough to produce plenty of knowing smiles. “Edit yourself” before writing or speaking, he says.

    The event’s title is the wrapper for an amusing series of musings (and I know Peter will probably hate that phrase, I am trying to edit myself here) on the general theme of style. There’s little about Sloane Rangers this time and a lot of from his 2014 book “Authenticity is a Con (Provocations).”

    In all, expect an hour-long diatribe of waspish putdowns, sharp wit and strong opinion.

    How to be nice? Some seems nasty. The scripted rant has plenty of personal and sometimes easy targets. Kanye West is the first of a host of famous people to be dissed, along with Gwyneth Paltrow, several times.

    York works in some topical digs at “old Islington Trot” Jeremy Corbyn, with a picture of the UK’s new Labour Party leader: “One wonders at the genealogy of the hat: John Lennon? Pete Seeger? Worzel Gummidge?”

    Another UK politician, Nigel Farage, is in trouble because he doesn’t drink much unless it’s a photo opportunity, claims York. Technology gurus Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and his successors are lampooned for their dull tee-shirts. Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch gets it for his tracksuit: sporty clothes on men of a certain age who aren’t sporty are unacceptable in Yorks book.

    Also among his targets: The house-sharing website Air BNB; hipsters, especially those with beards; the George Foreman Grill, and Lycra. Plus any event held in a converted gasworks in Hoxton or similar with expensively-stripped bare-brick walls and reclaimed flooring: “there is an enormous global trade in bashed-up, authentic-looking old floorboards.”

    York sets out a list of words to avoid, starting with “creativity.” “Stop it right now,” he says. You don’t have to be a Groucho Club member or “the Shoreditch massive” to be creative. Even people in “industrial catering in Hartlepool” claim to be creative.

    “Spontaneity” is also to be avoided – the sort of thing best left to small children and dogs apparently. Don’t call yourself or anything “vibrant” because “people will assume you are estate agent.” And don’t use “authentic” because the word is the basis of a lot of scams.

    On the other hand, he likes words like “Elysian” because it is elitist. “Stoical” is also an acceptable adjective, with its British byproduct, the “Keep Calm and Carry On” tea towel.

    York does a straw poll of the audience about those who have proper dress shirts and confesses he has 600 and is running out of space. “I need a shirt lifter to come and steal them.” He adds a briefing on how not to be embarrassed by your shirt on the first day at the investment bank, moving on to show a £200 hedge-fund-manager shirt which comes in peacock colors such as orange.

    York has been developing the show from talks at literary festivals, and the lecture also went to Edinburgh. As those who have met him can attest, he has enough knowledge to expand any of the themes to full show or a book chapter: the best shirts, the worst words, the nicest people, good etiquette. Each is worth hearing even though most people would know the basics without needing to go back to class to learn it.

    “I am just saying things you know in your own secret hearts,” says York. Yes, but he does say it rather well.
     

    Peter York’s “How to Become a Nicer Sort of Person” is at Soho Theatre, Dean Street, London 

     

    Peter York

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    The first-ever retrospective of an Indian modernist who charted a significant path in Indian modern art through a radical exploration of the human form and its place in the world. The exhibition includes 80 works spanning the artist’s entire career from the mid-1950s onwards.

    Event Date: 
    Thursday, September 17, 2015 to Saturday, December 5, 2015
    Event Opening Date: 
    Wednesday, September 16, 2015
    VIP Preview Date: 
    Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - 15:14
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    Introducing Martine Syms: Screens and Self-Performance

    Like many young culture hounds who subscribe to an array of streaming services, Martine Syms has her shows: as of early summer 2015, Scandal, Nashville, and sometimes Silicon Valley. However, at the risk of undermining the leisure value of the Los Angeles–based artist’s television-watching habits, she possesses a particular grasp of the medium’s depth.

    “It’s like a prosthetic memory,” she says, speaking of TV’s relationship with American culture. “One of my early memories is of a white girl twirling in 
a circle. I realized later on that it was from that show Small Wonder—the oldest I could have been when I was watching it was four or five, but it’s one I think about a lot. It’s stuck in my head, this terrible Fox television show.” There’s a lot embedded in this single gauzy recollection, Syms points out: “I think about my family, my background, socioeconomically where I was. At that time, Fox was really heavily targeting an African-American demographic, part of a shift in the television landscape in general. Even though Small Wonder is an all-white show, there’s a reason that my parents would have been watching that show or channel.”

    This train of thought informed the production of her video A Pilot for a Show About Nowhere, part of her installation “S1:e1” in the New Museum’s 2015 triennial. The work posits a brief history of recent television (focused on three golden age shifts, in 1970, 1988, and finally 2006, with the advent of YouTube) alongside images of Syms herself interacting with screens in banal or domestic ways—constituting herself as a sort of hybrid viewer-user-creator.

    This structure of thinking—unpacking a moment, “looking at the context of production, the conditions of viewing an image, and including that contingency in the work”—informs much of Syms’s varied, but consistently media-engaged, practice. Her Twitter bio offers the tongue-in-cheek identification of “conceptual entrepreneur”; recent projects have taken the form of videos, lectures, narrative screenplays, and objects, and she also heads the publishing imprint Dominica, putting out two commissioned books a year, as well as artist editions. Prior to Dominica, Syms, with Marco Braunschweiler, founded and ran the Chicago project space golden age between 2007 and 2011, an artist-run endeavor that hosted projects by Jon Rafman, Alex Da Corte, Lauren Anderson, and many others. Though she found herself at the time “really crazy about being professional, and wanting to make it look like a commercial gallery,” Golden Age drew significantly as well on her background in the DIY-oriented Los Angeles punk community, her zine-making, and a stint working at print material mainstay Ooga Booga.

    Her day job is in design, something that came out of a long-standing interest in the Web, which Syms attributes to her “general nerdiness.” She notes that design, at least, “isn’t so directly related to my work, because it’s just how I get paid, and in a perfect world I wouldn’t have to work, I’ll put it that way.” But these different pursuits or methodologies do find common ground in her process. “I feel like there are actually a lot of relationships between a website and a film,” she says, “in terms of designing an experience for a screen. And I started to see a lot of parallels between books and publishing and websites, as far as pacing, sequencing, editing. I definitely think an on-screen experience is universal, in a way.” There’s certainly overlap, then, between Syms’s artistic output and net art, but the way she approaches the issue of digital technology is informed by a broader cultural context, not the least of which includes an eye toward the black radical tradition. In a 2013 
talk for SXSW interactive called “Black Vernacular: Reading New Media,” anthologized in Mass Effect: Art and the Internet in the Twenty-First Century, which will be published by MIT Press in November, she recalls an online project archiving her Google searches that was exhibited alongside those of two white male artist peers. Responses to her project led to a series of questions: “What does it mean for a black woman to make minimal, masculine net art?” she asks in the lecture. “What about this piece is ‘not black’? Can my identity be expressed as an aesthetic quality?” Considering “the tension between conventional, segregated channels of distribution and black imagination,” Syms invokes code switching, the sociological notion of moving between languages or dialects in varied cultural contexts, which entered mainstream vocabulary around the election of President Obama in 2008. “Writing the SXSW talk was the first time I thought about code switching as a metaphorical term,” she says. “I was thinking about it as more of a way 
of making stuff—the idea of smashing two things together that seem like opposites.” She compares it to amphiboly, a grammatical structure deployed formally by the collective Slavs and Tatars: “it could mean two things, or something and its opposite, contained in one idea. So it’s not just switching cultures but bringing ideas together. That’s something that’s continued throughout my work since writing that essay.”

    In late 2013, Syms wrote a piece for rhizome called the “Mundane Afrofuturist Manifesto,” seeking “a new framework for black diasporic artistic production.” The manifesto drew from the language and structure of 2004’s “Mundane Manifesto,” written by Geoff Ryman and others from the Clarion West sci-fi writing workshop, which focused on “this premise that if you focus on outer space, you forget about what’s actually happening to the planet,” she explains. “I took the environmental concerns and adjusted them to be social concerns.” Here, adherents (the “alternately pissed off and bored”) agree to imagine a future without magic, space travel, Martians, or alternative universes, instead seeking a “cosmology of blackness and... possible futures” rooted in black humanity, and “the awesome power of the black imagination” that already exists on earth. Syms’s own entry to this genre is Most Days, an audio piece set in 2050 in which she narrates the day of Chanel Washington, a young black woman living in Los Angeles. Accompanied in its vinyl release on mixed media recordings by Neal Reinalda’s ambient score, the voice-over lingers on both Chanel’s wholly relatable domestic routines (waking up alongside her boyfriend, painting her toenails) and her equally intimate interactions with technology (a sleep-monitoring blanket, a vaporizer pen). With the background synth sounds creating a dreamlike mood, that small distance Syms’s futurity creates between the listener and this imagined reality becomes one of quietly unsettling possibility.

    While any continued adherence to the rules of Mundane Afrofuturism after Most Days is unintentional, the mood of the piece certainly resonates in her work since then, particularly the presence of a solitary female protagonist, a role that, she says, will be a part of the body of work she’s producing for her upcoming exhibition at Bridget Donahue gallery in New York, which opens this month. It’s not an autobiographical representation
of herself but rather, she explains, “a reference to a vernacular, existing mythologies that we already have around us.” She references Georges Polti’s 36 Dramatic Situations: “I like using that because it’s the essence of all popular narratives from the renaissance to now. It allows me to focus on the interpretation of these things that we’ve already established.” By a mechanism similar to that utilized in Most Days, possibility through this proximity to autobiography, the solitary female character takes
on a performative edge as well. This has been of interest to Syms since her early LiveJournal days, under the handle “ambiguousperson.” “I like to think 
about self-performance, for screen and
 for life,” she says. “Where an on-screen performance is made to be more realistic or true to life, how that changes a gesture or a movement. How real-life performance is influenced by television or movies, that theatricality. I feel like LiveJournal was a really tangible way to create a self with many different personalities.”

    Which brings us back to TV, one of many containers of cultural knowledge that Syms has examined and unpacked, equal parts amused viewer and media archaeologist. Responding to the notion of a voice actor or LiveJournal user who’s layered different selves, she says, “I’m really obsessed with this show right now called Power, produced by 50 Cent. One of the characters owns this club and is a drug dealer, and his nemesis is a young, attractive black guy. The club owner invites him to come work with him, and asks, ‘You know, we can’t get blacks and Latinos at our club. What’s the secret?’ The guy’s like, ‘Different people come to my club because I’m different things.’”

    A version of this article appears in the September 2015 issue of Modern Painters.

    martine syms

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    VIDEO: In Conversation with Arlene Shechet at Anderson Ranch

    Anderson Ranch Arts Center's 2015 Summer Series featured a talk with the groundbreaking ceramic artist Arlene Shechet on July 9, 2015.

    Arlene Shechet

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    AGSA Announces 2016 Adelaide Biennial Theme and Artists

    The Art Gallery of South Australia has announced the theme and participating artists for the 2016 Adelaide Biennial of Australia Art. Titled “Magic Object,” the 2016 Biennial draws inspiration from the Wunderkammer and will establish a world of wonder and enchantment, but also caution and critique, fuelled by the artists’ interests in the talismanic, cultural rituals, and material riddles.

    Presented by the Art Gallery of South Australia, the ambitious event will unfold across an unprecedented number of venues in Adelaide, including the Art Gallery of South Australia, Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art at UniSA, JamFactory, Carrick Hill, and the Santos Museum of Economic Botany in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens

    “Spread across these sites, I’ve invited artists to consider magic and object-hood and to explore how materials speak to both artists and audiences.” said Curator Lisa Slade, Assistant Director, Artistic Programs at the Art Gallery. “Much of the work presented in Magic Object looks like one thing, but is really another. It possesses a materiality akin to trickery or magic.”

    2016 Adelaide Biennial of Australia Art Participating artists:

    Abdul-Rahman Abdullah (WA), Glenn Barkley (NSW), Chris Bond (VIC), Pepai Carroll (SA), Tarryn Gill (WA), Louise Haselton (SA), Juz Kitson (NSW), Loongkoonan (WA), Fiona McMonagle (VIC), Danie Mellor (NSW), Clare Milledge (NSW), Tom Moore (SA), Nell (NSW), Ramesh Mario-Nithiyendran (NSW), Bluey Roberts (SA), Gareth Sansom (VIC), Robyn Stacey (NSW), Garry Stewart & Australian Dance Theatre (SA), Jacqui Stockdale (VIC), Heather B Swann (ACT), Hiromi Tango (NSW), Roy Wiggan (WA), Tiger Yaltangi (SA) and Michael Zavros (QLD).

    “Magic Object” runs from 27 February to 15 May 2016 as part of the Adelaide Festival of Arts.

    Magic Object

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    Christie’s New York: The Ruth and Carl Barron Collection of Fine Chinese Snuff Bottles Part I

    On September 16, Christie’s New York auctioned part one of the Ruth and Carl Barron Collection of Fine Chinese Snuff Bottles. For 20 years, the Barrons—among the most well-known and respected collectors of the category—acquired a diverse collection of bottles with a focus on rare and fine examples in glass. The first run of the collection achieved solid results: 151 out of 154 lots offered realized $1,253,438.

    Leading the sale was a rare five-color overlay pink glass snuff bottle from the imperial palace workshops in Beijing, 1750-1850, which more than tripled its $22,000 high estimate to achieve $68,750. A 2-inch high pale greenish-white jade lobed snuff bottle, possibly imperial, produced between 1730 and 1820, leapt past its $6,000 high estimate when it sold for $43,750. An inside-painted glass snuff bottle, signed Shaoxian, Ma Guoting, and dated to the Bingzi year (1936), also realized the same price. One side of the bottle is decorated with a pair of birds in a magnolia tree, and the reverse has a four-line poetic inscription dedicated to Mo Zhuang. Other top achieving lots included an unusual two-toned pink tourmaline snuff bottle from 1880-1950, which details a seated lady on one side, with a scholar holding a book on the reverse. The carved bottle surpassed its $10,000 high estimate to achieve $37,500.

    Lesser examples could also be fetched for under $5,000: A carved red glass snuff bottle, produced in the imperial palace workshops in Beijing from 1720-1780, sold for $2,750 (est. $2,000–3,000).

    A RARE FIVE-COLOR-OVERLAY PINK GLASS SNUFF BOTTLE, IMPERIAL, PALACE WORKSHOPS, B

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    Tangible Textures: Trudy Benson and Russell Tyler at Retrospective Gallery

    In this two-person show, on view at Retrospective Gallery in Hudson, NY through September 20, recent works by Trudy Benson and Russell Tyler engage the materiality and referentiality of painting. Both artists’ works take into account the ways the Internet has reshaped images and how we process and understand them, yet the exhibition uses texture as an argument for the ongoing necessity of painting—in its tangible (and salable) form, dependent upon the physical experience of canvas and paint.

    Benson’s paintings are each composed of several layers, which overlap, interrupt, and peek through each other like a Photoshop collage in progress. In Invisible Man, 2015, a large canvas is covered with a haphazard rust-colored grid and spray-painted squiggles; atop this, sections in patterned black and white, yellow stucco effect, and swirling shades of gray intersect, while cut-out shapes reveal the colors and patterns of the layers beneath them. On top of everything, a thick line of white paint, as if squeezed out of a toothpaste tube, forms an organic, cartoonish design from which corporeal forms—fingers, a hand, what might be an ear—emerge. Benson’s other paintings on view likewise feature combinations of painting techniques, colors, and patterns; their surfaces, which can seem flattened and blandly imagistic online, reveal texture and resonance in the physical gallery space.

    Tyler’s works also deploy the materiality of paint toward a reconsideration of painting post-Internet. Apparently inspired by the spatiality of digital platforms, the richly colored, impasto paintings—both geometric and gestural abstractions—appear more interested in modernist art than digital space. 3BS, 2015, a work in shades of blue, roughly appropriates the form of Albers’s Homage to the Square, except that Tyler’s canvas and painted shapes are rectangular and his medium is applied in thick, swipe-like strokes. Several other pieces also feature bright rectangular forms, floating at opposite ends of the canvas or stacked on top of one another like a rigid, obsessive Rothko. In more than one instance a glob of paint has landed, as if by accident, on a rectangle of another color—blue on yellow, or neon reddish pink on blue—to suggest, presumably, the imperfection of the real.  

    A version of this article appears in the November 2015 issue of Modern Painters.

    Russell Tyler

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    Q&A: Patron Gallery Co-Founders Julia Fischbach and Emanuel Aguilar

    Former Kavi Gupta directors Julia Fischbach and Emanuel Aguilar have joined forces to open Patron, the first major new gallery to debut in the Windy City in more than a decade. Art+Auction’s Sara Roffino caught up with the duo as they prepared for their first show, which coincides with Expo Chicago, running September 17 through 20, where they will have a booth.

    Why did you decide to stay in Chicago?
    EA: We were both born and raised here, and we have been passionate about helping young Chicago artists develop their careers and reach their goals. For the most part, the gallery scene is still fairly small, but there are some really great schools that produce a lot of great artists. Unfortunately, because the opportunities are limited, they tend to leave the city. We want to create something that can tap into the potential that Chicago has.

    Over the past few years, collectors have started supporting local galleries and artists, and I think the lens of the city has started to focus on something very promising. The community is starting to champion the city and the artists here. A lot more is possible because everyone is on board.

    JF: With all our vast experience, not only do we have the connections with collectors, but we also have an international reach.

    What are you looking for in the artists you plan to show?
    EA: We both have a passion for socially engaged art as well as art that explores aesthetics. We respond to practices that are in some sense poetic in nature, or that are archaeological, with a lot of layers. Among the artists who have joined our roster are Kadar Brock, Daniel G. Baird, and Alex Chitty. We also look forward to working with a number of Latin American artists. Through our travels, the art communities that have gotten us most excited over the past few years are in large
    cities in Latin America—São Paulo, Mexico City, and Buenos Aires have very vibrant art communities. There’s not a lot of focus on Latin American contemporary art in the States, and less so in Chicago, so for us it’s a way to fill a void with something exciting and fresh and to add something to the scene.

    JF: Part of what’s interesting to me about the art coming out of these areas is that a lot of it has a strong architectural bent. And with Chicago having a lot of architectural history, we can really integrate that into the program.

    A version of this article appears in the September 2015 issue of Art+Auction.

    patron gallery

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