Thursday, January 31, 2019

Valérie Blass, Odd Couplings and Body Doubles

 Valérie Blass, La Partie Pour La Chose (The part for the thing), 2013, digital print, watercolour on matte paper

Valérie Blass, The Mime, the Model and the Dupe
Oakville Galleries
January 27 - March 17, 2019

While this is a painting blog, and Valérie Blass is primarily a sculptor, I was taken by this watercolour and digital print combo that was part of an exhibition surveying the artist's work over the last decade. 

I first saw La Partie Pour La Chose at Hole Gallery in New York over five years ago and was taken by the odd comedy of its jarring juxtapositions: intertwined rope and novelty masks rendered in colour before a grisaille background with two shadowy, hooded figures emerging from it. There are shades of Baldessari and Salle both in terms of its humour and the formal technique of placing colour highlights against black-and white backdrop imagery that appears filmic for its implied narratives.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Nostalgia for Nineties Nostalgia in David Kramer's Paintings

David Kramer, Stupid Shit, 2018, oil, acrylic, enamel, pencil on canvas, 48" x 36"

David Kramer, Lodestar: Handmade Memes and Analog FeedsKatherine Mulherin Gallery, 250 Emerson Ave., TorontoDec. 1, 2018 - Jan. 12, 2019

Nostalgia in Post-Modern culture has been recycled so often that nostalgia chains form: in other words, nostalgia for an earlier decade that in turn was defined culturally by its nostalgia for an even earlier decade. Nostalgia two times over applies to David Kramer's painting. His retro Sixties and Seventies images - from groovy convertibles to soft lens porn shots - recall how trends and icons from those eras were fetishized in Nineties culture, for example in the film, Boogie Nights. It seemed at the time that the decade was an end-of-century mining and compilement of vintage kitsch that was then saturated with irony. The image of, say, the "square" picnickers preparing for a road trip (No Picnic, 2014) seen in the jaded Nineties may have carried an ironic bite, as did many images of pre-Sixties revolution culture, but its sharpness may be somewhat diluted in the eyes of today's viewers, who will not read it as a satire of their parents' generation as it was read twenty years ago. Nevertheless, it is refreshing to see paintings recalling the retrograde media searches of the Nineties. After all, that was a time when we did not fear the future nearly so much as we do now (remember "the end of history," the "information highway" leading to utopia, and the "we are the world" let's-hold-hands-across-the-world optimism of globalism), and thus we did not mind looking backward with a confident, cocky glint of the eye.