Bodily Profanations part 1 and 2 out now!

My critical review of this years “Abortion Is Normal” exhibit at the arsenal contemporary (by way of “downtown for democracy”) is out now at my good friend Roka Reviews!

Part 1. A general introduction to contemporary political art https://rokareview.com/review/2020/5/12/bodily-profanations-critical-review-of-abortion-is-normal-exhibition-at-arsenal-contemporarydowntown-for-democracy

Part 2. Am in depth critique of the giants of contemporary feminist art, from Marilyn Minter, Cindy Sherman, Cecily Brown and more! https://rokareview.com/review/2020/5/22/bodily-profanations-part-two

Modern Art Madness #26: Morris graves “Hibernation”, Anprim life made into art.

Two weeks ago we covered a somewhat well-known painting by Morris Graves, and the review touched upon his inner impulse towards art making that possessed a metaphysical aesthetic naturalism. here we have a popular Graves work that really captures both of his earlier an later works, and represents a cut-off point between the works made that were filled with anxiety and political-worldly frustrations, and the latter half of his life spent in deep meditative contemplation of the natural world. Graves spent his life in nature, in a constant state of purposeful isolation, and for this reason, he and his fellow Northwest visionary school artists tapped into a deep vein in the American unconscious, that of the rugged individual “going back” to the natural world. Continue reading “Modern Art Madness #26: Morris graves “Hibernation”, Anprim life made into art.”

Modern Art Madness #25: Violence and the Sacred, Cai Guo-Qiang’s Unmanned Nature”.

Every once in awhile you stumble across a monolithic piece of contemporary art that is cemented in a past and a present that goes beyond the fleeting moment of merely the now. Cai Guo-Qiang is certainly contemporary in his art-making, expanding the limits of certain materials, combining the plastic arts, painting, part performances, etc. But his work is grounded in a sense of tradition and philosophic insight that aims at an elucidation of motifs and emotions that seems almost out of this world, yet brought on by this world, Samsara. Continue reading “Modern Art Madness #25: Violence and the Sacred, Cai Guo-Qiang’s Unmanned Nature”.”

Modern Art Madness Week II, Saturday: Morris Graves “Dove of the Inner Eye”.

The Northwest school of visionary art does not get nearly enough attention it deserves in Neo E-hippie, new age, Jungian, etc. alternative circles that revolve around spiritual art and art practices. Achieving much fame in the 50s and 60s (Mark Tobey even represented America at the Venice Bienniale one year), they seem to have petered out in memory over time, being overshadowed by the AB-EX painters they inspired. Morris Graves and the Northwest school was one of the first true mystical art collective in the American new world, and thus were grand eclectics in their influences from mysticism and theological schools world-wide, but in particular from the orient, as many of them would travel of Japan, India and other locations.

Morris graves stands as one of the least cosmopolitan of his fellow Northwest artists, although he certainly possessed a deep care about the affairs of the world. He exhibited an intense reclusive regionalism in his art, taking direct influence from the natural habitat around him. Graves famously depicting small animals, birds especially, flowers and other creatures from the biosphere, and imbuing them with supreme mystical significance, even giving these depictions a subtle, almost fleeting narrative quality to them. Continue reading “Modern Art Madness Week II, Saturday: Morris Graves “Dove of the Inner Eye”.”

Modern Art Madness Week II, Thursday: Preternatural light, Paul Klee in Tunisia.

Paul Klee stands along with a choice few other modern artists of the early and later 20th century to express a spirituality, or the closest modern art can touch the spirit without heading back into ritual. What Kandinsky called “inner necessity” was Klee’s driving force to create works of lyrical and musical whimsicality. In 1914 Klee visited Tunisia, and did a few stunning studies that has much significance in his work, significance that not only bridges lyrical abstraction and representation, but a profound regionalism and weddedness to the earth that produced such stunning pictures. Continue reading “Modern Art Madness Week II, Thursday: Preternatural light, Paul Klee in Tunisia.”

Modern Art Madness Week II, Wednesday: Rootedness in a Rootless Globe, Chiharu Shiota’s “Dialogue from DNA”.

The global art market is truly global, no longer within the light of 90s world-beatesque utopian optimism, but in the sense of modern capital invading and making every territory on earth bend the knee. Artists from non-western cultures often struggle within a myriad of forces that puts pressure on not just their voices, but needs to express themselves within their cultural and filial contexts. The “great awokening” of the art world surly likes to pay lip service to these struggles, but unlike past imaginations of supreme mosaic expression, multiplicity and difference, the artistic voice must conform to still hidden, westernized assumptions about the work of art itself.

Deanna Havas, in an interview with the Red Scare podcast said it the best when she states that POC artists must become “POC artists” or “women artists”, in essence becoming a commodity selling an outsider/”marginalized” identity to social conscious boomer art collectors. Their art in other words, only gains value in a weird, inverted woke form of Neo-exoticism, where oppression and marginalization is bought and sold, not viewed as inherently valuable as a form of cultural expression, but as expressions of cultures that are swallowed whole by western signifiers. To put it plainly, their work is no longer about “this is art that is made within my culture and understanding of the world, and it is unique”, but rather “this is is valuable because it is not ‘western”. It is not western, yet is praised by the ideological concepts of aesthetic critical theory that the west has produced to critique itself. The artist from “outside the west” or outside the norms of (a bygone) white, heterosexual male society, etc. is objectified as producing works seen through the lens of modern bourgeois liberal sensibilities. They serve as ideological tools rather than genuine sources of alternative and newer art and aesthetic styles. In term, the non-western, non-male, POC, etc. artist conforms to this combination of cultural, economic and artistic-academic pressures in the west to make such works that only finds valuation in propping up the grand deconstruction of the west critiquing itself.

I am trying to air on the side of sensitivity when i say that modern liberal woke capital in the art world has placed non-western and POC artists in a unique position, at one hand being promoted and lionized, and on the other, having their potential genuine artistic expression stifled to be coaxed into creating works of “critique” alone. Let me also mention now a main thrust of this article, the issue of when artists from other cultures outside of the west have very “unwoke” opinions and customs that show up in their artwork. The woke cultural art world gatekeepers have yet to come up with an answer that is not pure unscrupulousness: Either they ignore these contradictions of promoting “unwoke” artists because they come from marginalized identity groups, or they violate their kayfabe liberal principles of morphological equality and “toleration”, and use the powers of cancel cultures to cancel the very artists they are trying to promote.

either way, there is this anxiety in the non-western artist that is born from this need to be true to ones self, yet conform to a new and even more insidious form of liberal cultural colonialism in the modern world. This brings us to the brilliance of an artist like Chiharu Shiota, who goes where certainly very few North-American born artists would go in the current oppressive cultural climate. Continue reading “Modern Art Madness Week II, Wednesday: Rootedness in a Rootless Globe, Chiharu Shiota’s “Dialogue from DNA”.”