Dear Lovers of Art, Freedom, and Democracy, 

In an effort to gain more clarity about the present crisis in the practice of democracy, I decided to look into the matter and share what I found in an open letter to you. This letter contains some of the important historical factors that provide insight into recent events seen in many mainstream news stories. The crisis in American democracy is also a crisis in creativity possibility, and I am writing about it from my perspective as a visual artist who is committed to the idea that art can be an effective catalyst for individual and social transformation. The creative process consists of making informed choices to manifest in the world what is conceived within the imagination. Therefore, democracy makes imaginary and physical space for the creative process to reach its full expression. In turn, creative expression generates the vital force driving the progressive cultural impulse of a democracy. We need to produce culture because it is how we individually and collectively advance in our evolutionary process. We create culture because culture will help create who we will become and I truly believe the practice of real democracy helps us to reach our full potential. And that is why advancement in the Arts and Humanities is crucial to American culture. 

The New Atlantis. First published in 1627. ISBN 978-1-775410-50-8 © 2009 THE FLOATING PRESS.

In 1627, Francis Bacon’s magnum opus, an unfinished work of fiction called The New Atlantis was published. Bacon’s novel put into tangible form his utopian vision and political objectives for a new democratic society based on scientific and spiritual principles. Francis Bacon’s ideas contributed greatly to the founding of the United States of America which became a reality 149 years after Bacon’s death. For almost 400 years, The New Click here to read more

Lily Kostrzewa interviews artist Lo Ch’ing

In the summer of 2020, I was invited by the director of Whitebox Art Center in New York City to write a piece art review for an exhibition “Nocturnal Whispers of Pan” by Lo Ch’ing and Thomas Rose. It was the first time I saw Lo Ch’ing’s paintings; I was fascinated by the exhibition. The two artists open a new artistic dialogue that begins with an interpretation of an image’s meaning and a discussion of the cultural concepts surrounding the image. Using the cultural concept of Chinese calligraphy’s reimagined scenarios, Lo Ch’ing creates images of Chinese calligraphic “playful” icons with a focus on bizarre spatial arrangements with an abstract traditional format. He also created a poem for each image in both Chinese and English languages. In my childhood, my artistic foundation was trained in traditional Chinese calligraphy/painting in Taiwan, which made me wish to interview Mr. Lo one aday. The wish was granted two years later.

A Maple Tree’s Magnificent Autumn, ink and watercolor on paper, 27 × 54 in | 68 × 137 cm, 2018

Lo Ch’ing, who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature, was a famous poet from Taiwan; he studied comparative literature at Washington State University in Seattle and obtained a master’s degree. After returning to Taiwan, he taught at the School of Foreign Languages ​​of Fu Jen Catholic University, later serving as the director of the Chinese Language and Culture Center (Mandarin Training Center) of the National Taiwan Normal University, taught at its Fine Arts Department and many other schools as well. He has been invited to give lectures in various countries around the world and has appraised calligraphy and paintings in well-known museums, including the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Shanghai Museum, … Click here to read more

Iranian-American Zahra Nazari’s abstract architectural paintings bring together two distinct worlds

Zahra Nazari’s work is a unique composite of gestural abstraction and intricate architectural painting. This combinations creates a compelling visual narrative with a mixture of pure abstraction and geometry gives the viewer a reason to stop, stare, and wonder. Today, her artwork is known for its gestural rhythms, layered density, organic feel, and the use of architectural and floral influences inspired by traditional formats from her native land of Iran. The artist herself offers a captivating tale of an artist who risked everything to break into the New York artworld–more on this later. 

After getting a sneak peek of her latest exhibition at Cinema Supply–the recently renovated former warehouse building at 217 W 21st Street in Chelsea, NY, and a tour of her new studio, Art Review City is pleased to share her unlikely, and often surprising, story with our readers.

Portrait of Zahra Nazari, 2022. Photo courtesy of Cinema Supply.

The artist is a prolific creator, proactive with every aspect of her career. Nazari paints every day and is constantly completing new work. Since her emigration to the United States in 2011, she has participated in 18 artist residencies across the globe. The 37-year-old painter and sculptor has lived in New York City since 2015, and has created monumental and easel-sized paintings that have been shown worldwide. Nazari rejects the concept of focusing on just a single idea, instead utilizing broad composites of investigation which she has explored to the fullest across her 10-year professional career. 

Her recent exhibitions include Uprooted at a temporary space in Queens, NY hosted by the arts non-profit Chashama– founded by Anita Durst; and Unification, a blockbuster exhibition at High Line Nine in Chelsea curated by Roya Khadjavi Projects. Her … Click here to read more

Curated by Yohanna M. Roa

For the second exhibition at its new East Village venue, WhiteBox showcased “JMA Matriarchive In Resistance”, a complex interactive project curated by Yohanna M. Roa; an  exhibition doubling up as the premiere worldwide activation of the Mexican-Lebanese pioneer ecofeminist architect Josefina Mena’s archive reconsidered within the contemporary paradigm of New York’s present-day artistic, cultural, environmental, and socio-political scene. This proposal constitutes the seventh chapter in the EXODUS Series celebrating émigré artists in New York City. Questioning the ‘use’ of the archive and of its memory, a select number of key documents going back to the 1967-76 period, from the Mexican-Lebanese pioneer ecofeminist architect Josefina Mena’s Matriarchive were activated by contemporary NYC based immigrant artists.  The task at hand for each artist was to respond and react to Mena’s works from the present day, each availed of its own experience. As fodder, the curator-archivist Roa selected works from a network of collaborative actions Mena did in various localities, in this instance concentrated in Portugal, Mexico, Chile and London.

Installation view of “The JMA MATRIARCHIVE In Resistance”. Courtesy of WhiteBox

What do we see in an Matriarchive? It is not the inert evidence of an individual event arranged on those classic chipboard walls that serve the documentary purposes so well; the dialectic and multiple relationships between forces, bodies, and threads of different histories interweaved. At least, that is what we see in a living, open archive such as in this one. In her lecture for the opening of the exhibition, Ángeles Donoso Macaya recalled Ariella Azoulay’s challenging ideas about revolutionizing the archive: the Matriarchive as a feminist practice that defies the ways documents should be presented and made accessible to the public.

Installation view of “The JMA MATRIARCHIVE In Resistance”. Courtesy of WhiteBox

One of the artist’s … Click here to read more

Terence Falk’s Documentational Abstracts

In his first solo show with Robert Berry Gallery, Connecticut-based abstract and found still life photographer Terence Falk’s intriguing and documentational, almost evaluational, photographs of the world taken with a large format camera. They’re about the natural world, but break it down into abstract shapes and form, evoking the viewer to slow down and rethink the world right around them. There is beautify and mystery right around us; it just takes a keen eye to find it. The artist has done just that.

Falk’s first passion as an amateur zoology thrived due to his observant nature. He minded snakes, butterflies, flatworms, and anything else that caught his fancy, and learned to observe them on a macro level through a microscope. He taught himself about every species of animal that lived at the shoreline near his home, and the nearby ponds and streams. At sixteen, photography entered his life, and has served to reaffirm the natural connection to the natural world that he felt since he was six, albeit on a more introspective level.  He wanted to continue discovering the world, but even though the tools are different, the passion for observing has never ceased. In 1976, he bought a Lindholf 4” x 5” view camera, since he was drawn to subjects that beckoned a slower, more intense process of photographing. The artist was right back where he started observing the world through a microscope, but now armed with a camera and documentarian approach.

Remains to Be Seen, Installation view, 2022

Falk received his BFA in photograph at the University of Bridgeport in 1977. In 1986, the artist was awarded an Artist Residency Fellowship at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Sweet Briar, Virginia and in 1996 he received The Weir Farm Visiting Artist Fellowship. His … Click here to read more

Reality is a Constant Becoming

Luis Cortés, a sculptor from Zaragoza who lives in Barcelona, has spent years investigating movement through his articulated sculptures, a series made up mostly of small minimalist sculptures with pure shapes, representing different animals, such as the horse, the elephant, or the whale. However, he has also studied the human figure and the hand. In Luis Cortés’ sculptures, you can observe a part of scientific research, and the artist investigates movement carefully. Each of his sculptures is made with a different number of wooden pieces, all of them with geometric shapes. These pieces are linked together through pivot points, thus allowing movement.

In Barcelona, Spain, the presence of exceptional creativity and imagination is around every corner, where artists like Gaudi, Picasso, Miro, and Dali once resided. I was lucky enough to visit Luis Cortes’ art studio, where I wandered around like a child in a Toyland. I was fascinated by his geometrical jigsaw puzzles that turn into motion sculptures.

Animals, plants and ultimately all living beings are important examples of morphological changes, their displacement, and relationships with other beings, based on their intentions, instinct, and intelligence.

– Luis Cortez

“Horse”, wood, 15 in | 40 cm tall, 2019

Luis Cortes went to school at Facultat de Belles Arts, Universitat de Barcelona (The Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Barcelona) and was initially trained as a filmmaker. Throughout his career, he has made a living as a special effects maker for motion pictures and commercials. Eventually, the evolution of sculptures made with kinetic chains captured his mind. He devoted his focus to it as he became a full-time artist. Over the last ten years, he has applied polygons’ continuous lines and rigid elements to create various figures through endless detailed calculations of multiple pivot … Click here to read more

LGBTQ+ Creativity In 2022 and Some Fierce Rhetorical Questions

In thinking about my subject position as an elderly Black Gay man and a conceptual visual artist, I propose that LGBTQ+ Art is not just about LGBTQ, intersexual, androgynous or pandrogynous identities but it is also consisting of a creative, imaginative practice in which people who identify as LGBTQ+ see ourselves in the world in ways that makes the unconscious conscious and visible in the physical world. We courageously explore the realm of the subconscious and its contents and we inhabit various intersections of subjective experience and imagination with the Cosmic Feminine as we marvel at her ability to invent new forms and venture into uncharted territory that exists beyond hierarchical and binary categorization. Our creative impulse calls forth—out from the subconscious mind, through the repressive barrier, authentic revelations which capture the conscious mind and radically reorders, reframes or rejects what we previously claimed to know about ourselves and our connection to others and the Cosmos. As a result, LGBTQ+ creative activity moves us from private space into the public sphere, from the personal to the political in service to our individual evolution, the progress of contemporary organized society and the biosphere. The elan…the je ne sais quoi of it all is so absolutely sumptuous that I can hardly breath! But how will LGBTQ+ creativity be implemented to navigate the surprising shifts occurring in the current global system that’s unfolding before our very eyes?

In 2020, we are charged once again to creatively meet the challenges of another life-threatening global pandemic within the last 40 years, in addition to the existing threats to our right to exist. International drag superstar, The Divine David stated that death was used to give meaning to the 20th Century. Oh yes, he made a very … Click here to read more

Artist Q&A with Matthias van Arkel

Matthias van Arkel has become known for his unique expression of merging painting and sculpture in his works made of silicone. Over the past few decades van Arkel has consequently investigated painterly ideas, his practice has emerged out of a conceptual approach. In his three-dimensional works meaning is achieved through density, sensuality and energy. There is a performative dimension involved in the creation process, as the artist balances intuition versus control through the special technique that he has developed. The sculptural shapes move like enlarged brush strokes forming abstract landscapes. Van Arkel challenges our perception of what defines a painting and invites us to see it from a new perspective.

Who is your favorite artist of all time?

That’s a difficult question. Probably Edvard Munch. I’m so interested in everything about him as an artist and a person–how he found ideas for his paintings. His graphic prints, especially, have a very strong impact on me. 

“Gobelin (F.A.S)”, silicone rubber, 106 x 137 in | 270 x 348 cm, 2012. Photo credit: Erik Lefvander.

How did you become a professional artist?

It all started because it was natural in my family: my father was an artist. But the one who took me further with the thought of being an artist was my 9th-grade art teacher, who inspired me in all ways and stood as a model for me after school hours. She also gave me pep talks about my ability to be an artist, that I had the talent for it, and she told me to apply to art school–my dad didn’t do that. He thought it was a difficult life to be an artist; he wanted me to choose something else. But this teacher encouraged me at that young age to go for it. … Click here to read more

Artist Q&A with Kim 25

In 2020, Kim25 began exploring the duality of the ‘boundary of undecidability’ that lies between inside and out, and sought to capture this complicated relationship. with her work “The Truth of Mystery.” In 2021 “The Truth of Mystery” series reveals its shape as the figure of the text at the point where inside and outside, inner world and outside reality, correspond. What is remarkable in her painting is that the undecidability of the boundary that belongs to both inside and outside turns into the very (textual, perhaps inter-textual) substance; the undecidability of the boundary becomes, through the artist’s kiasmatic logic, the boundary of undecidability that re-doubles the boundary and the object(s) and thus problematizes the boundariness of the boundary. Kim25’s poetic imagination that manifests itself on her canvas not only gives a new sense of aesthetics through which viewers can communicate with the newly expressed reality, but also facilitates the invitation to various interpretative participations.

“Meet of Each Other – L’éternité & Rimbaud”, oil on canvas, 32 x 46 in | 80 x 117 cm (each panel), 2021

Who is your favorite artist of all time?

My favorite artists of all time are Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, and Julian Schnabel.

How did you become a professional artist?

I was always friends with art and painting. Ever since I was born and had strength in my hands, I always played with drawing utensils. Painting is a fickle friend I meet every day.

What are the influences and inspirations in your work?

I am influenced by words from literature. On a gloomy day, looking out the window at the scarlet red sunset, I imagine the red sea. I think of the fate of the sea and how it becomes a mirror for the sky, mixed altogether and … Click here to read more