Christy Rupp | Streaming

by Jen Dragon

Christy Rupp, Streaming, installation view at the Fairfiled University Art Museum
Christy Rupp, Streaming, installation view at the Fairfiled University Art Museum

Since the ’70s, Christy Rupp’s sculptures and works on paper have explored the relationship between economics and the environment. Rupp seeks to make this complex topic – one usually examined in abstract articles – into a clear and direct visual narrative accessible beyond the language of dissertations, punditry, and scientific studies. Emerging from the lens of Discard Studies, a discipline that considers the systems and consequences of waste, Rupp weighs these systems and their short-term benefits against the long-term costs of climate degradation and the marginalization of threatened species.

Buried in history, politics, and culture, the politics of waste are rooted in consumerism with its voracious consumption and energy needs. Christy Rupp dives into this dystopia with welded steel, foraged plastic detritus, historical, scientific, and contemporary imagery, a dark sense of humor, and the uncanny ability to connect the dots. Her artwork charts a course through the turmoil, observing the trail of collateral damage as it moves through our world, seeking to interpret and magnify these interdependencies.

Christy Rupp, Moa (detail) in front of wall installation at the Fairfield University Art Museum
Christy Rupp, Moa (detail) in front of wall installation at the Fairfield University Art Museum

Some examples of Rupp’s visual unification of cause and effect are found in her installation Moby Debris, a collection of microplanktonic organisms made from welded steel rods and discarded plastic. To quote artist and art scholar Ellen K. Levy, “Rupp considers how waste and toxic elements in our environment corrupt the accepted way in which organisms function and evolve…Each of her aquatic-inspired “organisms” is composed of discarded plastic detritus and visually comments on the damage done to species when they consume the glut of inorganic detritus hurled into our food chain.” In magnifying the petroplanktonic microbes that inevitably find their way into a whale’s stomach, Rupp clarifies the irony of a food chain where the smallest organisms sustain the largest mammals along with the floating oceanic plastic waste that accompanies them into a whale’s stomach. A similar statement is made with the plastic-stuffed wall works of Aquatic Larvae, with the paradox of young hatchling fishes nurtured in egg sacks populated by a buffet of accumulated microplastics.

Christy Rupp, Pangolin, Installation at the Fairfield University Art Museum

In works such as her Pangolins and the series Remaining Balance Insufficient featuring aquatic mammal skeletons, Rupp bends and welds steel rods into graceful lines as effortlessly as if drawn on paper. The animals’ forms are then sheathed in innumerable, shimmering credit cards as they float jewel-like in the air. However, these pangolins and manatees are victims of environmental exploitation as they wrestle with human-caused habitat degradation. Rupp’s visualization of their plight equates the debt incurred with their survival, leveraged against the temporary advantage of human exploitation. Made as they are of credit cards, this work reminds us that, unlike the world of finance, the biosphere is not man-made, and it’s impossible to manipulate with numbers and percentages. Natural habitat is much easier to destroy than repair.

In addition to numerous sculptures, the exhibition features two giant digital prints on fabric that confront the emergency of non-renewable energy and plastic waste and their enduring damage to terrestrial systems. While these immense banners cannot ever be large enough to fully present this unfolding catastrophe, an abstract appreciation for the beauty of materials out of place is obvious.

As much as Christy Rupp’s art is about ecological emergencies, she is informative without being didactic, while her playful wit and whimsical spirit convey the darkest news. However, her direct and accessible message does not come at the expense of aesthetics as the artist’s accomplished draftsmanship and percussive colors are at once delightful and dramatic. In visualizing the effects of ecological degradation, Christy Rupp does not pinpoint any single culprit – only because there isn’t just one cause; rather, there is a collective complacency that permeates society. Anyone who views Rupp’s work is engaged in some way as a citizen of a world in which it is easier to participate in a petrochemical-fueled lifestyle, blissfully ignorant of our burgeoning carbon footprint and impending doom.

Garrett Lockhart’s “Wrinkle” at Hunt Gallery

by Steve Rockwell

Garrett Lockhart, Profile (Right), 2023, inkjet transfer on linen over board 5 x 7 inches, 12.7 x  17.78 cm
Garrett Lockhart, Profile (Right), 2023, inkjet transfer on linen over board 5 x 7 inches, 12.7 x 17.78 cm

Garrett Lockhart’s “Wrinkle” exhibition at the Hunt Gallery Toronto is an offering of paperback-sized objects that carry the look and feel of fastidious graphite drawings. The seven by five inch cotton and denim works over board are, in fact, inkjet transfers that wash onto the fabric imperfectly. This careful sifting and arranging of print magazine images evoke a memory of lived presence – a migration of the effluence of luxury amid closely-cropped photos of models and interiors.

arrett Lockhart, Deceit, 2024, inkjet transfer on linen over board, 5 x 7 inches, 12.7 x 17.78 cm
Garrett Lockhart, Deceit, 2024, inkjet transfer on linen over board, 5 x 7 inches, 12.7 x 17.78 cm

Although the artist’s sources to his subjects span the decades from the 80s into the near present, the citing of Andy Warhol’s “Interview” magazine in particular is significant. Lockhart’s “Wrinkle” can be read as a grainy homage to Warhol’s Factory, which at its giddy peak was an avant garde laboratory, a chaotic jumble of the rich and famous with artists and musicians – the celebrities of the day. In Warhol’s transfer, his silkscreen subjects migrated from canvas to celluloid, turning them into “superstars.”

Garrett Lockhart, Fire Escape, 2023, inkjet transfer on cotton over board, 5 x 7 inches, 12.7 x 17.78 cm
Garrett Lockhart, Fire Escape, 2023, inkjet transfer on cotton over board, 5 x 7 inches, 12.7 x 17.78 cm

Lockhart’s catalogue of exhibition images, on the other hand, can be read as an art director story board replete with character closeups, sets and locations. His “Profile (Right)” and “Profile (Left)” are actor test shots, much as Warhol’s screen tests became standard fare for his film works. It’s the viewer, however, in the “Wrinkle” exhibition that splices and edits their own narrative from the sparsely-placed “frames.” That the works mime the pocketbook format rather than a film cell, cues us for a story rooted in pulp fiction. To the gallery consumer they are an affordable “prêt-à-porter.”

In a wider sense, the aesthetic impulse of the artist is the poetic distillation the material presence of selected objects. Lockhart has mounted an impressive bouquet of solo and group exhibitions worldwide in just the past few years, that include, not only Toronto, but Vancouver, Chicago, Brooklyn, The Netherlands, and London, England. A single work in his 2021 “Sleeper Cell” show in Montréal contained blank keys, aluminum house numbers, deadstock glass beads from Queen Street, found plastic jewel, hardware store tag, and wire, salvaged wood, rope, twine, found steel pulley and a sailboat cleat. Each fragment of a Lockhart work is a trace clue to its origin. In a group exhibition, meaning and import sifts from their permutation with participating artists.

Garrett Lockhart "Wrinkle" exhibition installation view
Garrett Lockhart “Wrinkle” exhibition installation view

While a formal singularity sets Lockhart’s “Wrinkle” exhibition apart, it’s best to view the artist’s full oeuvre as patches and swaths cut from a single bolt of cloth. Here at Hunt Gallery, however, your steam iron is not required. The linearity of the presentation makes its reading smooth and wrinkle-free.

Garrett Lockhart: Wrinkle. From January 19 – February 17, 2024 at Hunt Gallery, 1278 St. Clair Avenue West, Unit 8, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M6E 1B9

Six Short Takes on Painting Exhibitions in New York

by John Mendelsohn

Dennis Hollingsworth, “extreme gospel”, 2017, oil on canvas, 30x20 in.
Photo courtesy of the artist
Dennis Hollingsworth, “extreme gospel”, 2017, oil on canvas, 30×20 in.. Photo courtesy of the artist

Perplexing, ingratiating, tricky – the paintings of Dennis Hollingworth are all these things and more. Most of the paintings in this exhibition date from 2016-2017, and will introduce some viewers to this intriguing artist’s work, last seen in in New York in 2019.

Hollingsworth primarily uses text in these works as a painterly motif and a cryptic language. A series of large words are stacked, elongated, turned inside out and backwards, and hung out to dry. The words take on a physical presence in thick relief, having been masked and painted on bare canvas, accompanied by fragments of patterns, and multicolored skeins of pigment.

The words exist on the edge of comprehensibility, as if we are hearing pressured speech or a transmission compromised by impinging forces. There is an aspect to this work that suggests concrete poetry or asemic writing. The former asserts the primacy of graphic form as means to convey poetic meaning. The latter uses the gestural qualities of writing as an abstract language in itself.

Both of these forms point to the central doubt in Hollingsworth’s work, a questioning of how or if language can communicate. With the words themselves windblown and torqued, they are like messages that cannot quite be grasped, but emphatic in their insistence in being heard.

Dennis Hollingsworth: Letters to the Future. Helm Contemporary, 132 Bowery, New York. December 15, 2023 – January 19, 2024

David Rhodes, 11 April 2023, 2023, acrylic on raw canvas 23x15 in.
Photo courtesy of the artist and High Noon Gallery
David Rhodes, 11 April 2023, 2023, acrylic on raw canvas 23×15 in. Photo courtesy of the artist and High Noon Gallery

David Rhodes paints stripes in black and white. This bare description is both true and not true, in that it is what we see, and that it is not all that is there. This artist’s work is both physically embodied in black pigment on raw canvas and philosophically an enquiry into what constitutes the experience of a painting.

Within the strictures of diagonal lines of varying thicknesses, Rhodes allows patterns, rhythmic movement, and optical afterimages to emerge. The lines themselves are taped to a hard edge, but glitches occur, with minor bleeds and skips allowed to stand. At Helm Contemporary the paintings have dense, zigzagging, miss-matched sections, leaving us with the frisson of what should, but does not fit. And at High Noon the paintings, dominated by black, have a central, vertical black stripe – an empty zone, the void that cannot be filled, except by our own sense of rupture or relief.

The implacable quality of these paintings, with their uncompromising commitment to a singular vision, bring to mind the work of Clifford Still. The connection goes beyond the jagged forms, at times mountain-like and imposing, and rather suggests a similar existential journey, following a path inscribed in oneself that leads further and further into a spaciousness.

David Rhodes: Aletheia. High Noon Gallery, 124 Forsyth St., New York. January 18 – March 3, 2024

David Rhodes: Partita. Helm Contemporary, 132 Bowery, New York. January 26 – March 1, 2024

Mario Naves, The Hallelujah Crowd, 2023, acrylic on panel, 30x24 in.
Photo: Adam Reich / courtesy of Elizabeth Harris Gallery
Mario Naves, The Hallelujah Crowd, 2023, acrylic on panel, 30×24 in. Photo: Adam Reich / courtesy of Elizabeth Harris Gallery

Mario Naves paints paintings. That is to say he aspires to make works that embody a kind of aesthetic resolution and solidity. In this intention he stand apart from the heady, supercharged possibilities that abstract painting currently offers. And in this there is a harking back to modernist models – think here about the work of Stuart Davis and Charles Demuth, and other painters of modern life, with the mechanistic and the graphic becoming worthy subjects of the artist.

But for Naves, the life he reflects seems infused with the technological, with its sheer surfaces that facilitate the seamless locking together of form and function. The facture is smooth and screen-like, with the shapes conforming to a kind of free-form geometry, a painterly choice that keeps any potential psychological mess at bay.

Yet at the heart of this work is a mystery. The curving shapes suggest silhouetted identities and personal scenarios that are encoded within the formal matrix. Disjunctive motifs – disks, stripes, flat vistas of color – are layered together, as if experience cannot be just one thing, but must always be various and contingent. The palette is bold, ranging from sonorous, saturated color to low down, unsaturated hues, and often with an insistent darkness as a recurring presence.

Mario Naves: Gratitude and Expectations. Elizabeth Harris Gallery, 529 W. 20th St, New York. January 6-February 17, 2024

William Carroll, City 54, 2023, acrylic on canvas, 11x14 in.
Photo: Adam Reich / courtesy of Elizabeth Harris Gallery
William Carroll, City 54, 2023, acrylic on canvas, 11×14 in.
Photo: Adam Reich / courtesy of Elizabeth Harris Gallery

William Carroll is a walker in the city, specifically New York, and what he notices is what we see in his small-scale paintings. Working in transparent brushstrokes, primarily in tones of gray, or in two colors, he depicts vignettes of urban life. This is the perennial city, not the leviathan of glass-clad towers, but the unchanged town of rusted bridges, old churches, and empty bill boards with their bare scaffolding.

There is a persistent melancholy here, in the restrained tonalities and the unpeopled scenes of rooftops, power plants, and apartment buildings. In this focus, Carroll shares a poetic kinship with Edward Hopper, with their shared interest in the infrastructure of the city as a kind of surreal stage set which might hold the stories of the isolated and the dispossessed.

Carroll’s images are washy, with a direct, home-grown quality that sits at an angle with his minimalist sense of structure and reductive form. There is as well a gritty lightness at work here, a claiming of the modest and personal as having a place in the life of the metropolis. The paintings of the upper reaches of the city’s towers, each in two sherbet-like colors, are buoyant images that hint at the fulfillment that life there can also promise.

William Carroll: Living in the City. Elizabeth Harris Gallery, 529 W. 20th St, New York.
January 6-February 17, 2024

Harriet Korman, Untitled,  2022, oil on canvas, 24x30 in.
Courtesy of the artist and Thomas Erben Gallery, New York
Harriet Korman, Untitled,  2022, oil on canvas, 24×30 in. Courtesy of the artist and Thomas Erben Gallery, New York

In her exhibition, Portraits of Squares, Harriet Korman (full disclosure: my spouse), extends her pursuit of painting that is abstract and structured, but activated by color and by the feeling that we are encountering a consciousness at work. Here are ten recent works, all 24×36 in., made of intuitive, hand-painted geometric forms, with the emphasis on a single square. One canvas from 1979 is also being shown. In the work from the last two years, the square is set within a matrix which varies from concentric bands, to a grid of squares and rectangles, to a perspectival vortex. The square that is the subject of each “portrait” is thus both an independent entity with its own character, and emergant from the life which engendered it.

The mood in these works is by turn introspective and declarative, with a willingness to let the works’ basic elements take the artist on a trip to the inner life of geometric painting. There we sense distant echoes of ancestors: Mondrian and Albers, traditional quilts, and other, older forms of abstraction. But what is most compelling is that with the plain means at hand – resonant color and formal composition – this artist has created a visual fugue that unfolds like music.

Harriet Korman: Portraits of Squares. Thomas Erben Gallery, 526 W. 26th St., New York. January 18 – March 2, 2024

Daniel Rosenbaum, Spirit Guide, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 86x72 in.
Photos courtesy of Woodward Gallery, NYC; © 2024 Daniel Rosenbaum
Daniel Rosenbaum, Spirit Guide, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 86×72 in. Photos courtesy of Woodward Gallery, NYC; © 2024 Daniel Rosenbaum

“Psychedelic” is a word that lately is much in the air, particularly in regard to the therapeutic use of psychoactive substances. It carries forward the traditional practice of mind-expansion via hallucinogenics that re-emerged in the 1960s. Daniel Rosenbaum’s paintings feel like they are part of this perennial, conscious-raising project. His vehicle is just paint on canvas, and the faith that abstraction is like a drug that goes right to brain, bypassing rational thought.

Rosenbaum’s paintings in this two-part exhibition range from works that evoke figural imagery to purely abstract engagements. Throughout are flowing currents of visual energy – rippling linear patterns that create nests of involuted loops and liquid unfurlings. We sense that the mutable nature of paint and Rosenbaum’s physical immersion in it constitute the works’ central drama. A painting’s image arises both spontaneously, and with the visible direction of the artist’s hand. Paint streams and pools, and moves with gestural writhings, becoming in itself a kind of animated body.

The body appears literally in a number of the paintings, including a comet/human hybrid, an archangel with reaching wings, and figures from a Renaissance painting. In two abstract canvases, each about 7-feet tall, Rosenbaum is able to expand his vision of cascading floods of color, which through sensitive layering take on an almost topographical presence, to evoke a watery realm and an airborne spirit.

Daniel Rosenbaum: Inner Guardians, Outer Explorers. Woodward Gallery, 132A Eldridge St. and Down Town Association, 60 Pine St., New York. January 12 – March 31, 2024

Jongsook Kang: Dreaming Desire

by Dr. Thalia Vrachopoulos

Jongsook Kang, Emptiness and Dreaming, 2023, installation view
Jongsook Kang, Emptiness and Dreaming, 2023, installation view

Jongsook Kang’s two-part series Emptiness and Dreaming Desire, presented together at this solo exhibition, manifest the artist’s innermost spiritual and mundane experience undoubtedly manifesting the secret nucleus of her ceramic sculpture in the last twenty years; namely New York/Seoul cities and Eastern Philosophy. Deeply inspired by the mystical teachings of Śūnyatā of Japanese Zen Buddhism, Kang imports a reflective quality that conveys silent introspection by interweaving a nexus of gold, silver, black and copper wires throughout her pieces that faintly recall the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi but also the Korean philosophy of emptiness as fulness called bium. By so doing, she ritually metamorphosizes her objects into memory vestiges of human social networks or relationships in her beloved cities New York or Seoul. These ceramic edifices can be read in terms of the isolation felt during the Covid-19 pandemic, or in general as the loneliness of city life. Simultaneously, they can be seen as reconstructions associated with objects and mnemonic taboos – a transcended net of intertwined potentialities withdrawn from our a-priori forms of time and space – for the deceased victims of the Corona virus crisis.

Jongsook Kang, Emptiness and Dreaming, 2023, installation view
Jongsook Kang, Emptiness and Dreaming, 2023, installation view

Furthermore, Kang’s delicate layers of clay, which vaguely recall Seoul’s or New York’s towering skylines casually observed from across the banks of Hudson or Han Rivers, deliberately function as metaphors and concrete incorporations of Confucian ontological principles. This philosophy is combined with Daoist aesthetics in Korea to formulate ideas of the yin and yang which represents the opposing yet similar principles of dark/light, feminine/masculine, action/inaction, dark and light in cosmic harmony.

Jongsook Kang, Emptiness and Dreaming, 2023, installation view
Jongsook Kang, Emptiness and Dreaming, 2023, installation view

Kang skillfully handles physical and architectural space through the precise use of artificial lighting as a metaphysical duality of substantial positivity or negativity (as in in yin-yang Taegeuk philosophy). Moreover, the artist consciously transfigures her skyscraper-like constructions of square plates into imaginative comments about the ever-growing solitude of everyday life, principally experienced in global metropoles like New York or Seoul. Through her sculptures Kang also comments upon the eternal continuation of incessant change in a hectic world of constant becoming. As she laconically wrote in her artist’s statement: “in other words, my sculptures embrace the possibility of countless changes, and infinite possibilities that lead to eternity. The realization of the true colors of yin and yang, in which the eternity of light is condensed, can be said to be my own Dream-Desire”.

Many German philosophers or psychologists of 19th and 20th century Sigmund Freud for example, firmly believed that desire is the inner drive that substantially formulates every human being, while always being dynamic and tenuously alternating between objects and needs. While concurrently eternal and torturously unceasing like a strong current, desire undeniably (re)defines the unique individuality of each and every life form on the planet. Kang’s Dreaming Desire powerfully constitutes the polymorph matrix of opposing desires, in which frenetic life and spiritual emptiness or receptive yin and active yang harmoniously co-exist together despite their existential dissimilarities and internal struggles.

Loy Luo: Secrets

by Jen Dragon

In the current solo exhibition at Mazlish Gallery in New York City, the soulful paintings of Loy Luo evoke timeless songs with unknown origins and infinite possibilities. The abstract artworks have the depth and strength of stone combined with the lightness of air and space. Luo not only encourages her audience to look but also to listen and move in place as they view her art. The musicality comes from Luo’s background as a musician and her notations that are painted on the canvas recount ancient songs of friendship and love. To fully experience the evershifting color, depth and space, the viewer is compelled to move from left to right and from up to down in order to grasp the dimensions described by the powerful presence of each artwork.

Loy Luo, Abstract Theater A8, 2021, acrylic, oil & mixed media on canvas. Photo: John Mazlish
Loy Luo, Abstract Theater A8, 2021, acrylic, oil & mixed media on canvas. Photo: John Mazlish

All of Luo’s artworks present a vast, borderless space. In this floating, gravity-free world, Luo paints intangibles with such conviction that these abstractions are made manifest. With precise, deliberate brush marks, Luo creates an alchemic surface that changes according to the ambient light.  In Half Diamond Sutra, the mineral green of the ground unites the suspended marks and objects as well as the calligraphic notations scratched into the patina. In Abstract Theater A8, the sense of the self suspended in the experience of gazing towards a rosy light peppered with floating forms that are at once bird-like yet solid. The vertigo created by this tilting space is caused by a depth of field that seems to accelerate with the passage of time. In the Rune series, the sensation of different spaces is more direct: in Rune 2, the painting evokes the sunlight through trees as one gazes upwards and in the painting Rune 3, the atmospheric blue places the viewer adrift in a celestial orb.

Loy Luo, Half-Diamond-Sutra, 2023, mixed media. Photo: John Mazlish
Loy Luo, Half-Diamond-Sutra, 2023, mixed media. Photo: John Mazlish

This cartographic quality continues through to the Heart Sutra series. In these paintings, there are luminous pigments lurking beneath a calming overlay of earth colors. It is in the incising of the paint through this glowing patina that Loy Luo reveals the depth of the painting’s journey. Calligraphic symbols rain down the canvases in a constant torrent of memories evoking stories, songs and poems. Some artworks, such as Heart Sutra I, go so far as to play with the light. As the viewer moves in front of the painting, the colors shift magically from black to gold and back to black. This optical illusion reveals and obscures its own meaning, cajoling the viewer to come close and then to step away in a continual “back and forth” sensation. It is only by remaining engaged with the artworks over time does the understanding of the inscribed words, the space and the shifting colors become clear.

Loy Luo, Heart Sutra 1, 2023, mixed media on canvas, 72" x 60". Photo: John Mazlish
Loy Luo, Heart Sutra 1, 2023, mixed media on canvas, 72″ x 60″. Photo: John Mazlish
Loy Luo, Guqin 2, 2023, mixed media, 60" x 72". Photo: John Mazlish
Loy Luo, Guqin 2, 2023, mixed media, 60″ x 72″. Photo: John Mazlish

The most recent series of artworks, Guqin, refer to the horizontal slide guitar native to China with which Loy Luo performs her music. In Guqin I and II, Luo writes the notes of a traditional folk song on a white field. Sometimes the notes are cut off abruptly by a jagged sanguine border like an ancient wound that refuses to heal. In both paintings, the texts seem to have been incised into white marble that is at once solid yet poised to vaporize like a cloud- just as the memory of music disappears just after it is performed.

The uniting force behind all of Loy Luo’s artworks is the immense strength and space she describes with her large abstract paintings and smaller works on canvas. The alternating erasure and endurance of her mark making, the piercing luminosity of her colors and the power of implied telluric currents are all infused by Luo with a lightness of being. The inscriptions are manifested thoughts that rain down in the mind of the viewer like a half-forgotten melody as the artist presents an ancient tale, patinated with age and its accompanying palimpsests, conveying timeless instructions on how to love and live.

Loy Luo at Mazlish Gallery, 98 Mott Street, #600A, NYC N.Y. 10013 • 917-373-4550 •