I was invited to take a walk through Chelsea. An art expert was giving us the tour. I don't know if "art expert" is the right term. I have met a few art experts. I suppose there are more than I realize. It is someone who certainly has an incredible wealth of knowledge in art history, is up-to-date on exhibits going on through the city and has relationships with a variety of galleries, helps clients collect art and sell if need be, helps catalog clients art, is hired by companies/hotels to purchase art or collect for them. Probably more is under the job requirement but that is the gist.
Sometimes the art world can be overwhelming to laymen such as myself. "Art experts" and gallery owners give so much information about the artist and history of why they came to create the piece that it is overwhelming. The names, the providence sometimes makes me feel like an idiot. The upside is that you get more insight into what you are looking at from a verbal presentation vs. reading about the artist in a book.
We started at David Zwirner on West 19th Street. The current show is of a 44 year old Swedish artist, Mamma Andersson. This is her first US show. Her work is well known among the art world and a variety of museums came in to purchase pieces from this show. At first look, that work didn't strike me but on the second walk through with the information I was given, made me really look at the work differently. She uses a combination of oils and paints that create a flat look yet there are so many questions that come to mind. Why are those pieces of art hanging on the wall in the painting, is that smoke above the painting, is that a mirrored image below, who are the people in that painting and why are they all there, the landscapes are beautiful and 3D but look so flat from afar. Her work is quite impressive and detailed. Glad that we were given info here or I would never have had the appreciation of the work that I did once I left the gallery.
In the back of the gallery, where it is always fun to peek, I saw some photos that I loved. The artists was James Wellington. It is fun in the back because all the artists that the gallery represents usually have a few pieces here and there left over from previous shows. Gives you a good idea of what the gallery is about. He lets light come through colored gels that create the photo you see on the left. Beautiful.
Next stop was Tanya Bonakdar Gallery. The installation was quite impressive. Not necessarily for your home but certainly for a museum or collectors that will donate their pieces or eventually open a museum of their own one day. Olafur Eliasson, the artist, is a scientist, mathematician and artist all rolled into one. He uses elements such as water, light and temperature to create interesting effect. You walked into a room that was encased in a circular soft rubber white wall. In the middle of the room was a round body of water which had a light fixture in the middle of it. The light was shown around the entire wall as if it was cut in half. When people walk in to the room, the light moves up and down. When the room is quiet, the light stays still. It was pretty cool. Upstairs he had built a huge sphere with tiny triangular pieces wired into the sphere, mirrored inside each piece. The light bulb hanging inside of it reflected on the mirror creating small triangular shaped lights all over the room. Quite impressive. Very intense stuff.
Sikkema Jenkins and Company was next. I had actually just read about this particular artist they were showing, Wangechi Mutu, in Vogue magazine the night before. Her work was first shown in NY at the gallery on 125th Street which carries mostly African artists. Then her pieces were a couple hundred bucks, now they range from $30-80K. Alas. This work was exceptional. African sex goddesses or warriors painted on mylar and then dressed up with ink, paint, glitter, beads, decoupage, etc. Very powerful and beautiful. Wangechi is a native of Nairobi. Her women are strong and the references she has made of sex, politics and social issues are very powerful.
Andrea Rosen Gallery show of Josiah Mcelheny was fascinating. His work is a total take on modernity from 1929-1965. All reflective pieces. He comments on modernity of that time are interesting. I'd love to hear talk about it. Hand blown glass in transparent mirrors that create images that go on forever and ever. All reflective.
Our next to last stop in Chelsea was at Yossi Millo Gallery. I loved these photos by Loretta Lux. Haunting, beautiful and creepy at the same time. Digitally manipulated pictures of children. Their heads are slightly larger than normal, the background are reflective of Old Masters paintings, the props and kids clothes are vintage. Each child looks directly into the camera yet they seem so alienated from what is going on around them. Her work is totally sold out but I did purchase a book of her work. Really liked this.
We did stop at another gallery in between of an artist from the 1980's boom with David Salle and Erick Fischl. Luhring Augustine show of George Condo was fantastic. Paintings reminiscent of Picasso and the masters yet funny and silly. I loved them. True artist. These pieces are only going up in price.
Big day. Great day. Always love a romp through Chelsea.