Hadi Tabatabai’s Transitional Objects

Hadi Tabatabai is an abstract artist who emigrated from Iran in 1977 at only 13 years old. He finished his BS in Industrial Technology in 1985, and his BFA in painting at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1995.

When one first enters Peter Blake Gallery in Laguna Beach and happens upon Tabatabai’s current solo show “Black White Sometimes Blue,”, a few things happen. The first is that they notice that the works are beautifully minimal and seductive in nature, comprised of just black, white, and sporadically blue.  Numerous comparisons can be made with a keen sense of the balance between light and space. The artist has clearly studied the groundwork laid out by James Turrell and Sol Lewitt, and the compositions of Lee Lozano, Ellsworth Kelly, and Donad Judd.  The key addition he is making is by adding sensibility of the monochrome in line with Charles Hinman and Norio Imai.

Installation view of Hadi Tabatabai “Black White Sometimes Blue”. Courtesy of Peter Blake Gallery.

The second understanding is that though immediately intriguing, it is going to take some time to sit and contemplate these meditative works.  The viewer becomes acutely aware of how the artist’s sensibility deeply interacts with the gallery’s architecture and physical space.  In these times, most dealers will back the walls and try to sell as much product as possible, but Blake and his team understand that art is more than just something to sell, it’s a statement from an artist with a very specific intent, and the level of detail in the installation and lighting goes miles further than other galleries.    

Elegant and nuanced surfaces are created with a balance of acrylic paint combined with thread.  The thread acts as a three-dimensional break, whereas the painted surfaces are smooth and flat.  There … Click here to read more

Machiko Edmondson’s Unattainable Desire

In her first virtual solo exhibition taking place at Robert Berry Gallery from June 26th through July 26th, 2020, London-based artist Machiko Edmondson has once again created an expansive look into the beauty and consumer cultures we currently live in.  Just imagine, you can have a larger than life, never-aging fashion model being ever present on your living room wall for decades to come.

For her new body of work, Edmondson has painted new hyperrealistic faces through a rigorous studio practice and a renewed interest in offering the viewer some narrative into the lives of these stylized portraits.  The artist has combined a subtle mixture of images to create these new portraits, while also using some actual figures for the first time in years.

Image courtesy of Robert Berry Gallery

For the untrained eye, Edmondson’s works appear to be larger than life photographs of women with the type of ideal beauty that one would see in all the beauty magazines targeted to young woman to promote style and luxury through the acquisition of consumer goods: clothing, makeup, hair products and jewelry.  When in fact, the artist is actually promoting a disdain for the entire industry.  The viewer who takes the time to get up close to the paintings will discover the immense amount of brushwork, blending, and laborious effort that went into making these paintings become something much more.   

The artist states, “the works become paintings of unattainable desire,” and it is this bluff that is at the heart of the exhibition.  In the era of identity becoming dominant, Edmondson strips these figures of what makes each women an individual, and ironically furthers the notion of unobtainable beauty.  These idealized women have a level of beauty that is simply not possible in a reality without significant photo editing and … Click here to read more

Hiroshi Senju’s Polar Opposites

Everything can be divided between polar opposites, dark and light, good and bad, night and day, yin and yang, etc.  That can also be said of Hiroshi Senju’s return to waterfall imagery in his “Beginnings” exhibition across Sundaram Tagore’s two New York locations on 27th Street in Chelsea and Madison Avenue in the Upper East Side.  

After seeing Senju’s blacklight installation in Singapore in 2016, the beauty and immediacy of his work has been on this critic’s radar ever since.  There is something both calming and frenetic about moving water, and he is able to capture the picturesque moment like a photographer would, while creating movement and energy like the Futurists did.  The high contrast of black and white pigments in his waterfall pieces has always been one their strongpoints, and in these new paintings, that continues to be the case.   Although, there are a few canvases with blue backgrounds that are similar in tone and vibrancy to the blacklight, where white pigments appear when illuminated.  It is these blue canvases, alongside a few red background works that really showcase what new colors can do to an artist’s work.

Image courtesy of Sundaram Tagore

Compare them to the paintings of Italian ZERO artists Enrico Castellani and Lucio Fontana where subtle changes in the artist’s palette have significant and lasting changes to the work. By completely changing the color, Senju has augmented the contrast between the water and the earth, reducing the polar opposite of black and white in his other paintings.  The color becomes more of a focus, just as the flat red of a Fontana sets the stage for the violent cut that the artist performs to the canvas.  Whereas Senju adds the lighter white pigments to soften the work, creating an assemblance of harmony in each work.

In … Click here to read more

A Resource of Imagination

In the collaborative exhibition titled “Nocturnal Whispers of Pan” presented at WhiteBox Harlem, Thomas Rose and Lo Ch’ing have teamed up once again to offer the public an exciting new exhibition open from June 12th through July 17th, 2020.

On February 8th preceding the official announcement of the Coronavirus pandemic affecting New York City, WhiteBox Harlem opened “Trapped in Wuhan“, premiering the first known video work by Wuhan based artist Ke Ming offering an in depth, in-situ arresting graphic examination of the novel virus’s destructive plague-like effects​ in his human environment occurring as early as mid-January. In the tradition of WhiteBox programming responding to the tenor of the times, the next two exhibitions under COVID-19 confinement preceding the present, meta-poetic show “Nocturnal Whispers of Pan”, were dedicated to the exodus experienced by Chinese and Mexican èmigrè artists in New York City, both shows celebrated those artists’ positive contributions to its unparalleled art scene as whimsical immigrants, showcased in the present day and age of Trump’s antagonistic policies. 

Image courtesy of WhiteBox Harlem

“Nocturnal Whispers of Pan” meets this criteria acting as an ‘analgesic’ to counter today’s xenophobic times while doubling up as celebration of East-West artistic and cultural ties lost in the ether of either the political or the economic Sino-American unending confrontations.

Succinctly elaborated by two aesthetic masters in deep conversation, Minneapolis based sculptor Thomas Rose​ sculptor,​ and ​Taiwanese poet-painter scholar ​Lo Ch’ing, the exhibition presents two main opus, Nocturnal and Secrets, laid out in a format akin to the great ‘Illustrated Medieval Books’ where the visitor is solicited to enter the collaborative pages as if in a ‘stage’ where exquisite dual visual and literary narratives appear to invite the viewer to, in a Duchampian way, finish the works. 

The literary-visual narrative in Nocturnal Whispers of Pan befits … Click here to read more

Bill Scott’s Colorful Fantasies

For his eighth solo show with Hollis Taggart, Bill Scott presents “A Prolonged Moment”, an exhibition featuring new oil on canvas paintings and watercolors on paper. The show is viewable online and by appointment at the gallery’s 26th Street location from June 15 through July 24, 2020.

Installation view of Bill Scott: A Prolonged Moment. Courtesy of Hollis Taggart

The included works are full of rich color and a significant amount of energy and movement.  Although the gallery is currently open by appointment only at the moment of publication, Scott’s rich abstractions are likely to appeal to collectors exploring online, with their bright colors, energy, and immediately recognized gestures–all of which are characteristic of Scott’s previous work.  

All of the work in the show starts with large swashes of bold colors; reds, blues, and yellows become dominant surfaces for Scott’s expressive brushwork. Upon finishing the groundwork of color, the artist begins digging into his past and also his present surroundings.  References to natural forms, shapes, traditional landscapes, plants, and the local Philadelphia skyline are all visible in his new works.

Compared to his older pieces, there is a bit more geometry in these paintings, and there is a more illustrative influence, possibly from the return to using a finer watercolor brush for the smaller works on paper.   With the canvases, Scott is working with numerous layers of thin and transparent paint, with slow and methodical applications, which is in strong contrast to many abstract painters of his generation who were working quickly and thickly, which much less deliberate intent.

In the catalog that accompanies the exhibition, the artist states that the small watercolors are not studies for paintings, and it would appear that they are spiritually connected, but have a very separate intent. These small-scale works, measuring approximately 12 x 16 … Click here to read more

Steve Lewis’ Americana and the Memory of Neon

In his first solo show with Lyons Wier Gallery in Chelsea, New York-based fine art photographer Steve Lewis looks back on the classic Americana style, and reminisces about the appeal of the road for everyday Americans in his exclusive online exhibition “American Neon”. 

Featuring 12 new photographs, all available in editions of 10, and printed uniformly at a very easy-to-install size of 24 x 36 in | 61 x 91 cm, Lewis reminds us of our own personal history with neon signs.  We’ve all had a memorable encounter with this flagrantly blinding advertising whether it was downtown, on the Vegas Strip, in the red light district of Amsterdam, or even at the corner pharmacy when picking up a prescription.

Image courtesy of Lyons Wier Gallery

The use of neon is engrained in Americana, and was also brought to the art world by the innovative Dan Flavin in the 1960s into the contemporary context, and utilized by many artists since including light and space artist James Turrell, conceptual artist Glenn Ligon, and countless 21st century artists at every art fair around the world.  

When most hear of neon signs, it brings forward thoughts of Las Vegas, their infamous Neon Museum, Antique Road Show on PBS, or even any of the numerous shows on the History Channel where they buy and sell old goods.  Lewis’ show aims to change all the misconceptions and presents these signs who have seen better days in a documentarian style, with a heavy feeling of nostalgia that seeks to make one feel comfortable with the these familiar tropes.

Image courtesy of Lyons Wier Gallery

The standout photograph in “American Neon” is clearly “Motel Pool”.  The image was taken somewhere in the plains of the United States, and depicts a dilapidated neon sign … Click here to read more

John Ruby’s Textured Appropriation of the Late Greats

In his first virtual solo exhibition taking place at Robert Berry Gallery, Chicago-based artist John Ruby has appropriated imagery of the world’s most iconic musicians, and puts a renewed importance on the rock-and-roll side of Pop Art. 

For his new body of work, Ruby is creating digital recontextualizations of famous images of John Lennon, Bob Marley, Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, David Bowie, and other late greats.  Ruby’s inspiration behind the rock and roll motif seems to be one from the vantage point of an artist who clearly loves music.  Many artists listen to classical music when creating, but this artist clearly loves the electric guitar and all the culture surrounding it.   Every music fan has their idols, and Ruby certainly was inspired by what he grew up with in the 70s and 80s. 

Image courtesy of Robert Berry Gallery

The show is the first online only show at Robert Berry Gallery, which seems to be the new trend in the art world given the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, and virtual exhibitions are quite a step forward over the already stale “viewing room” that have been making their way into the online strategies of other dealers.  Not having physical limitations allows Ruby to exhibit these fantastic new paintings during a time when collectors are craving new works to fill up all their free time between Zoom calls and emails.  

Virtual only might be a concern for some, but what is very apparent from the detailed images and video clips uploaded onto the gallery site, is the deep textured surfaces which look to be colored string woven across the surface of the canvas. One can clearly see that there is a handmade painted acrylic impasto as the structural foundation of … Click here to read more