Something Is Not Right With The World

Alexi Worth, “Curtain” (2020), mixed media on mesh, 68 x 48/45 inches (all images courtesy DC Moore Gallery)

Alexi Worth brings together processes many observers have regarded as ill matched in order to arrive at something new: drawing (which is the basis of all his work), stencils, and airbrush. He has depicted figures in a believable space and also portrayed shadows; silhouettes in an indeterminate, abstract space; smoke; crumpled sheets of paper; solid surfaces (such as the top of a lectern); and transparent objects (such as a wine glass). Over the years he has developed a number of recurring motifs, most often returning to the image of two different hands holding wine glasses. He has gone from multiple silhouettes demonstrating at a political rally to close-up views of a hand holding a lens cap. In 2008, after painting on canvas, he began to paint on mesh. He has tended to work with a muted color palette and paint tonally. It is apparent from all of his changes and decisions that Worth is engaged by formal issues, such as the relationship of figure, shadow, and silhouette; sequence and still-image; realism and abstraction. 

While I have seen a number of his shows, I often felt that something was off in his work, though I cannot say what seemed to be missing.

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Tel Aviv Artist Orly Maiberg Obliterates Horizon Lines Through Her Abstract Landscapes

Orly Maiberg, Blue Hole (2020). Courtesy of Shoshana Wayne Gallery.

About the Artist: Tel Aviv-based artist Orly Maiberg (b.1958) has spent her career exploring the tensions and harmonies between nature and the human figure. The scale of these figures has vacillated dramatically depending on the intentions of the series, from occupying the majority of the canvas in her “Bedroom Eyes” series from the early aughts, to being drawfed by sublime and tumultuous surroundings in her recent works currently on view in “Where Do We Go from Here” at Los Angeles’s Shoshana Wayne Gallery. Maiberg’s works have been featured in exhibitions at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Israel Museum, and the Haifa Museum of Art.

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At 80, the German Neo-Expressionist Markus Lüpertz Is Still Inventing and Experimenting

Markus Lüpertz, German Motif – Dithyrambic II (1972). Courtesy of Galerie Michael Werner. © Markus Lüpertz.

Every month, hundreds of galleries add newly available works by thousands of artists to the Artnet Gallery Network—and every week, we shine a spotlight on one artist you should know. Check out what we have in store, and inquire for more with one simple click.

About the Artist: Over his career, 80-year-old Neo-Expressionist artist Markus Lüpertz has explored a painterly style that blends abstractions with bursts of figuration, focusing on singular elements. Born in Liberec, in what is now the Czech Republic, Lüpertz developed his unique visual language in Berlin alongside artists such as Georg Baselitz, A.R. Penck, and Jörg Immendorff. His was one that sought a more expressive, emotional language, seeking a predecessor in the oeuvre of Francis Picabia.

The artist, who is represented by Galerie Michael Werner, is currently the subject of a comprehensive exhibition, “Small Irrational Retrospective Under the Guidance of the Artist,” at the Museum of Modern Art Moscow. The exhibition works from the 1960s to the most recent works created in 2021. 

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Dash of Earth, Flash of Sky: Alice Trumbull Mason at Washburn Gallery

View of “Shutter Paintings,” 2021–22, at Washburn Gallery, showing Bearings, 1965 at center. COURTESY WASHBURN GALLERY

“Like ordinary everyday experience, except about two inches off the ground”—that’s the Buddhist scholar D. T. Suzuki explaining what enlightenment feels like, but he might as well be talking about the late style of Alice Trumbull Mason, the subject of a quietly superb exhibition at Washburn Gallery. Nothing she paints is all that bold or new—yellow triangle here, thin white rectangle there—but each shape is ever so slightly intensified by a mystical rightness of color and balance. Some of the time, the effect is faint enough to miss entirely, and even when you notice, it’s easy to get frustrated with Mason for not floating up to showier heights. But isn’t it enough that she’s floating at all?

For decades, gallerists’ answer was, more or less, “no.” Mason didn’t have a solo show in New York until she was almost 40, and at the time of her death in 1971 she was a pretty minor figure, well-connected but hardly well-known (a 1973 Whitney retrospective changed this somewhat, but not much). Even today, the art world has struggled to give Mason her due, since her style is neither passionately gestural (i.e., easy to interpret psychologically and thus biographically) nor big and boastful (i.e., easy to sell to rich idiots).

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The Transcendent Power of Black in Norman Lewis’s Abstractions

Norman Lewis, “Eye of the Storm” (1973), oil on canvas, 51 1⁄8 x 87 1⁄2 inches (all images © Estate of Norman Lewis; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY)

The color black can have many different expressive meanings. There is the soothing black of the night, when the sunlight has faded and the world looks peaceful. But there is also the black of terminal depression, when life seems hopeless. And in politics, there is the black often aligned with anarchists, along with the red of communist revolution. Kazimir Malevich’s “Black Square and Red Square” (1915) trades on those political associations. The great Japanese printer Shikō Munakata, who often worked in black and white, perhaps invoked these political claims when he said, “Black and white are absolute. Expressing the most delicate vibration, the most profound tranquility, and unlimited profundity.” Consider also the calligraphic blacks of Franz Kline’s abstractions and the highly personal aesthetic of the French master Pierre Soulages, who works almost exclusively in black. What happens when a modernist chooses to use black is sure to be complex, especially when the artworks are abstractions. 

Do the uses of the color in Norman Lewis’s exhibition Shades of Blackness at Bill Hodges Gallery reflect any issues related to race? According to the catalogue, on one occasion Lewis (1909-1979) himself seems to have rejected that interpretation, connecting his interest in it with his realist paintings of rhododendrons.

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Sofia Crespo’s Speculative Nature

{assemblage_9087}, from Sofia Crespo’s series “Neural Zoo,” 2018-21.

The creature appears to be, at first glance, a parrot, with bright feathers in yellow, red, green, and blue. But another look, and one sees that it’s shaped more like a duck, or perhaps two ducks melded into one. What looks like an eye might really be the wing of a butterfly. The more closely one looks at the image, the more the creature is unrecognizable; it dissolves into a strange jumble of component parts, which seem to add up to nothing, and then cohere once again into something both familiar and unknown.

This is one of the images from Sofia Crespo’s series “Neural Zoo” (2018–20). Crespo is an artist whose work combines neural network technologies and images of the natural world to generate what she calls “speculative nature.” All the images in this series have this quality of the real and unreal combined: frogs that seem to be flowers, moth wings that appear to become their own landscape, translucent jellyfish-like creatures with impossibly vivid internal organs.

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Rethinking Kandinsky

Kandinsky in front of his painting “Dominant Curve” (Courbe dominante, 1936) in 1936 (Photo: Bibliothèque Kandinsky, Centre Pompidou, Paris. © Lipnitzki/Roger Violett/Getty Images)

The Guggenheim website suggests one way to view Vasily Kandinsky: Around the Circle: “Kandinsky’s work unfolds in reverse chronological order, starting with his late-life paintings and proceeding upward along the Guggenheim’s spiral ramp.” So let’s start with “Ribbon with Squares”(1944), with its wheel, ribbon, and ladder suspended against a deep purple background. Next, we get to “Dominant Curve” (1936), in which a larger green, red, and white ribbon encloses a brown and yellow centered form. Walking on, we arrive at “Upward” (1929), wherein the right half of a face set in a dark blue background recalls some works by Paul Klee, Kandinsky’s colleague at the Bauhaus. Going further up, how different is “Blue Circle” (1922), in which a triangle, a trapezoid, and a whole variety of other forms float in from the blue circle. And then there’s “Black Lines” (1913), a field a rounded green, blue, red, and white shapes linked by thin, jagged black lines. Next comes “Sketch for Composition II” (1909-10); Kandinsky is backing into abstraction in this high-pitched landscape of a horse and rider, and numerous other figures.

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Playing Dice With The Universe

Tauba Auerbach: Extended Object (detail), 2018, acrylic on canvas with wooden stretcher and aluminum frame, 14 by 18 inches overall. PRIVATE COLLECTION/COURTESY PAULA COOPER GALLERY

In the fall of 2020, Deutsche Bank’s “Long-Term Asset Return Study” announced the Age of Disorder: an era of clashing superpowers, worsening inequality, faltering economies, quarreling generations, deteriorating ecosystems, and suffering populations. Instead of identifying a path from crisis to opportunity, the investment bank simply advised readers to avoid “extrapolating past trends.” Reading summaries of the report in the press, I was disoriented by the mix of dutiful doom saying and eagerness to drop a buzzy, epoch-defining slogan, as if disorder were just another trend to be tagged and tracked. As I delved into the report’s accounts of debt, inflation, and the “new Cold War,” I wondered where people without high-performing assets might turn, beyond schemes to dispossess unrepentant boomers. To the heavens, perhaps? A writer I know had been chronicling the anxiety-fueled surge in astrology, and she pointed me to highly rational, distressed acquaintances who’d become preoccupied with star signs and tarot. I took note of teachers, economists, lawyers, and journalists who were adopting a symbolic system that ties human agency to the transit of celestial bodies, and artists who were creating horoscope-themed performances and paintings.

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Parallel Fields of Color Align in Daniel Mullen’s Precise Mathematical Paintings

“Future Monuments 10.” All images © Daniel Mullen

What are the visual impacts of converging planes of color? This question is central to Scottish artist Daniel Mullen’s most recent series of paintings, which displays stacks of thin, rectangular sheets in exacting, abstract structures. “I am looking more at Rothko’s body of work and studying the vibrations of color and the almost alchemic effect that his work has on the sense,” the Rotterdam-based artist tells Colossal.

Comprised of meticulous angles and lines on linen, the acrylic paintings are studies of precision, geometry, and perception, allowing each element to collide in a mathematically aligned composition.

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The Whirling, Spiritual Abstraction of June Edmonds

June Edmonds, “Caravan: Better Here Free” (2020), acrylic on canvas, 48 x 60 inches (collection of Alex Friedman & Erica Tennenbaum, copyright the artist, image courtesy Luis De Jesus Los Angeles and Laband Art Gallery)

LOS ANGELES — In sacred geometry, the “vesica piscis” symbol describes the almond shape nestled between two overlapping identical circles. The symbol, one of the oldest in the world, recurs across all cultures and faiths, and pops up frequently in religious paintings, architecture, and nature. It is often associated with divine femininity, birth, spiritual crossroads, sexuality, and unity. In Christianity, the fish-like shape represents Jesus of Nazareth. For the ancient Greeks and Romans, the circles corresponded to their mythological goddesses, Aphrodite and Venus. In more esoteric readings, the almond shape symbolizes a portal to the universe and/or a higher power. No matter the context, what’s fascinating about the vesica piscis is that it involves a joining of two or more energies that results in the creation of a third source, a door that leads to another realm, and by extension, a different way of being. 

Los Angeles-based painter June Edmonds takes inspiration from the multiple inflections of the vesica pieces.

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