New York: the Armory Show, 2012

New York: the Armory Show, 2012

By Sarah Kate Jorgensen

The Armory, an art fair that brings together galleries from the Americas, Europe and Asia, began 100 years ago. Ten years ago there were just a few names and a particular aesthetic ran through the galleries in Pier 94, the contemporary section; the names of Ryan McGuiness, Barry McGee, Murakami, Jake and Dino Chapman come to mind. Currently, however, the galleries show programs of vastly diverse artists, ideas and forms.

Simon and Burke

If Not Summer #2, 2010

Light Jet Print and Custom Audio, 57 1/4 X 90 in

Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles

Evident at the Armory show is a trend towards experimentation with materials and media. At Italian gallery Galleria Continua, Cuban artist Carlos Caricoa’s unusual photo-topographies on styrofoam continue the artist’s reimagining of urban architecture.  Los Angeles based Michael Kohn gallery shows Simon and Burke’s large, dense light jet collages that go with an audio program that is a blend of sounds ranging from music to speaking to horns. Al Anatsui reconceives the tapestry through his weaving of copper wire and aluminum at Jack Shainman Gallery.

Another critic, when writing about the Armory show, lamented that the artist who views nature directly, with little more than a brush or pencil, is all but vanished these days.  Perhaps it isn’t that that the tradition of drawing the natural world has vanished. It is, rather, the surroundings and how artists are looking at them which have changed.  Instead of mining the sublime directly, artists seem to be investigating the often overlooked in nature both directly and indirectly.

Natalia Stachon

NEITHER 1-5, 2012

Pencil on Paper

75 x 55 cm

Copyright: Natalia Stachon, Courtesy: Loock Galerie, Berlin

One such artist is Natalia Stachon, a Polish artist who shows at Loock Gallerie in Berlin.  Her meticulous pencil renderings of abandoned construction sites in Spain seem to float on the surface of the paper. The buildings (which could be Becher topics) seem to be overtaken by nature; she leaves unmarked areas in the shape of vegetative forms, and they creep into the dense drawings. She further explores these sites of transition through her Plexiglas sculptures and installations.


Interior with a Bushy Plant, 2012

Oil on linen

102.0 x 68.0 cm

[© Paul Winstanley. Courtesy Alan Cristea Gallery, London.]


Sanssouci, 2011

Woodcut on kozo paper

Paper 79.93 x 130.0 cm / Image 119.7 x 61.3 cm

Edition of 12

[Courtesy of BILD-KUNST]

Two other artists who mine “the ordinary” are at Alan Cristea gallery in London.  Paul Whitstanley’s luscious painting of a waiting room at a doctor’s office, for example, plays with painting’s relationship to photography.  German artist Christiane Baumgartner ‘s woodcuts (made from video imagery) create enigmatic visions of such things as winding roads, planes taking off from the tarmac, or the reflection of water.

A student of Bernd Becher, photographer Michael Reisch was shown at Biscoff/Weiss from London. He takes on issues of the sublime and the poetic in his large-scale, technically accomplished photographs of ice formations and lush, but strangely barren landscapes.

Jacob Hashimoto

I’ve Held Your Old Heart in My Fingers at the Horizon of City and Sky, 2011

Paper, wood, and acrylic

183 x 366 x 20,5 cm

72.5 x 144.5 x 8.5 inches


American artist Jacob Hashimoto draws from both his American and Japanese heritages in his light three-dimensional structures comprised of wood, rice paper, and acrylic. His monumental piece “I’ve Held Your Old Heart in My Fingers at the Horizon of City and Sky”  (2011) at Gallerie Folsom Helsinki gave testament as to his reputation as one of the more intriguing artists in the contemporary art scene. Made of hundreds of patterned rice paper “kites”, hanging in rows four deep, the piece takes on the image of a city skyline. Light is both transmitted through and reflected off of the paper kites, while shadows play in between the kites and the wall.

Disappointment came in the form of Spencer Finch’s two large watercolors at Lisson Gallery.  They are an analysis of Velazquez’s color of the red robe of Pope Innocent X. Red dots scattered in the bottom quadrants of the paper correspond with the red sections of the Velazquez painting. This piece seems to be a continuation of Spencer Finch’s investigation of the experience of light.  The overall impression is not one of a deepened understanding of experience and color.  Even after hearing about what has now become Finch’s usual process of depicting perception and color, the painting still looks like a few red dots on a big white sheet.  The paintings appear to be commodities that an installation artist created for the market.

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