Friday, October 25, 2013

Introspective women by Jocelyn Hobbie at Fredericks and Freiser Gallery

Photos are courtesy of Fredericks and Freiser Gallery

In previous reviews of her work, in years past, art critics have pointed out an influence on Hobbie's work of the New Objectivity artists, who worked in Germany between the end of World War I and the rise of the Nazi government.  

This painting below shows an influence by Otto Dix, who relished contrasting older with younger to portray the decay of human flesh.  The painting below shows a very grim, pessimistic humor which appeals to me a lot. 

When I walked into Fredericks and Freiser I detected the influence of Weimar artists too, but I think that Hobbie's work also stands apart from this influence on many levels. And, although Hobbie's work might have been influenced by artists from a different time and social context, it's highly relevant as a contemporary statement on the lives of young women in America and how they are adjusting to or questioning the demands that are being placed on them. 

Photo courtesy of Fredericks and Freiser Gallery

In this latest show by Hobbie, all of her women are decidely introspective, looking inward, not even aware of the viewer.  By altering the subject's gaze away from the viewer, and into the subject herself, the viewer is given license to become a type of judge/voyeur.  The artist is, in fact, inviting some type of admiration for the physical beauty of the subject as well as a judgment concerning the lifestyle of the person being represented. In many of Hobbie's pieces we see very young, attractive women surrounded by and garbed in the trappings of a contemporary consumer culture.  They are literally in their own little hedonistic worlds engaged in some deeper contemplation.

But what are they contemplating?  My friend Jeremy thought they were thinking about their boyfriends or an upcoming date.  I thought they were questioning how they are expected to be ultra-feminine and brand conscious.  Are they thinking about the satisfaction/dissatisfaction or the fullness/emptiness of their lives?  Are they thinking about anything?  

Photo courtesy of Fredericks and Freiser Gallery:

This piece is called "Infant."  We see one of Hobbie's typically introspective girls but the painting is also filled with ambiguity and possibilities for interpretation. 

The blond woman wears a trident on her tee shirt and bears an anchor tattoo. The trident was a symbol of the god of the sea in ancient Greek mythology but also seems to be a symbol of mortality due to the three points it possesses (the number three seems to represent Becoming, Being and Death).  The anchor was (as well as being associated with the sea) an ancient Christian symbol that secretly revealed the crucifix.  The crucifix, of course, secretly revealed the ancient symbol or ideogram for a tree.  A tree, in ancient cultures, was basically a bridge between the earth and God.  We also see that the genitals of the baby have been discreetly hidden so that we do not know the sex of the child.  We see a dark haired woman staring at the blond woman.  The flowers might represent a life in full bloom but why is the dog lying next to the child and why does the dog have the letter 'P' on its chain?  The letter 'P' was called 'Chi' in the ancient Greek language and was half of the 'christogram' Chi Rho (PX) a way Christians represented Jesus Christ. Could this be a key to understanding the symbolism?

Here is a public lecture Jocelyn Hobbie once gave (it's very interesting):

Examples of two New Objectivity painters:

Otto Dix

Christian Schad

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Secret Garden: Process Art by Moon Beom at Kim Foster Gallery

Secret Garden #320 by Moon Beom (courtesy Kim Foster Gallery):

Everyone is familiar with Jack the Dripper - Jackson Pollock.  Pollock literally walked around and over his canvases as he dripped paint on them with a stick.  

In the video above Pollock states that he wants to "" his "...feelings and not illustrate them."  This is the essence of what has become called 'process art.'  A process artist does not have a particular image in mind when he begins a painting. He feels a psychological need to 'act' or convey.  The result of the painting is due to a spiritually or psychologically initiated process within the painter.  In fact, Pollock compares his style to that of Native American sand-painters.  The painting reflects the process, yet the image is often amazingly complex and engrossing and it challenges the viewer to a deeper than normal level of interpretation.  

Moon Beom is within this process artist tradition. He doesn't use a stick like Pollock, however - he uses his bare hands.  First he covers a canvas with one color of acrylic paint - indeed, he seems to like using either very 'cool' or very 'hot' colors.  He then takes an oil stick - basically a crayon of solid oil paint - and smudges the canvas with it.  He then begins rubbing into this smudge and spreading it around the canvas.  By doing this over and over - like massage! - he creates very bizarre looking images.  It's hard to find an exact parallel but the Kim Foster Gallery refers to the images as being 'lettuce-like.'  They seem like strange tissue-like images suspended in artificial relationships to each other.

Believe it or not, there is actually a type of study called "the psychology of color" and researchers have found that light green is the most soothing color to us (the color of nature) while red is the color that excites us the most.  People in red rooms have experienced increases in blood pressure just due to that color.  Above we see Moon's Secret Garden #320 and the overall effect is calming. In Secret Garden #540, we see a more fiery image dominated by two phallic looking structures.

Did you know that in ancient Chinese culture, color was sometimes used as a form of 'chromotherapy' to heal physical ailments? The color red was used to increase blood circulation, for instance, while some of the cooler colors were felt to help end or decrease physical pain.
Moon's tissue-structures are, basically, the remains or residue of his physical motion. And they look like residue, although you'd have to call them quite elegant forms of residue. These look neither organic nor inorganic. They are like lovely waste by-products. The force and velocity of his movements in relation to the canvas become the elements of the language of the work, as do the color choices. Moon works in agitating or pacifying hues, in forceful or subtle movements. His movements are long or short, quick or lengthy. It's almost as if he is suggesting, through his new and unique approach to process art, that the 'real' language of our inner lives consists of such binary and opposing combinations.  

Someone made a short video of the opening.  So if you are in a far-away place, here's a little bit of what a NY art gallery opening looks like: