STILL SO BLUE

July 8, 2018

 

My Favorite Color is Blue

I wrote about the color blue recently because it’s my new favorite color. My post included a lot of images by modern artists who work with the color blue, including Henri Matisse, Richard Diebenkorn, Vincent Van Gogh, and Andy Warhol. I included a link to an article in the Huffington Post titled Blue is the New Orange written by Katherine Brooks (12/6/16) with many, many art works where blue was the dominant color, including art by Degas, Picasso, Yves Klein, Monet, Renoir, Matisse Rothko and more.

 

Yves Klein IKB 241

Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962 is my inspiration for the color blue.  I would love to be able to do a painting with collage that is totally blue. See the image here by Yves Klein. He created his own acrylic paint that is called International Klein Blue (IKB). He worked with a paint dealer to create a matte version of French Ultramarine Blue paint. The color is electric.

 

Andy Warhol, Flowers, 1964

Andy Warhol did an almost totally blue flower painting. See it here – four flowers in electric blue on a black background with a few thin green lines as stems and leaves. It’s an acrylic and silkscreen print with pencil on linen. It has a simple title: FLOWERS (1964). This image was included in the Huffington Post article.

 

Getting to Be More Blue

 

Nikkal, Blue Triangles

The image nearby is my acrylic painting on canvas, just completed. Notice it’s standing on 2 containers (also blue), leaning against the wall in my studio.  My painting is not all blue, but getting there. I won’t change this one (I frequently re-paint finished paintings), but I have a feeling that as I do new paintings there will be more and more blue, and less and less of other colors. My goal is total blue like the artist Yves Klein. My painting is 48×48 inches square, and acrylic on canvas. It has a lot of sharp edges and I didn’t use tape for every outlined edge. My triangles are black, white, blue and gray. Some are a yellow tan color blending into white. The patterns are a play of advancing and receding geometric shapes that are competing for space. I’m still creating color relationships. I will title this painting Triangles in Blue, Grey, Yellow, Black and White.

 

True Blue Affinity

Blue is the most popular color in art, and is favored by men and women alike. Here’s another fact: two of the greatest modern artists – Henri Matisse and Richard Diebenkorn also painted with blue, and Richard Diebenkorn loved Matisse’s blue so much that he used the same blue. The color is Ultramarine Blue.

 

Matisse/Diebenkorn at SFMoMA

In 2017 there was an exhibition titled Matisse/Diebenkorn at the Baltimore Museum of Art (10/23/16-01/29/17). It travelled to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (3/11/17-05/29/17). There’s an exhibition catalog with the same title. The images within the catalog are gorgeous. The image above shows two paintings. The one on the left is by Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954) and titled The Blue Window, 1913, oil on canvas, 51×35 inches (MoMA). The one on the right is by Richard Diebenkorn (American, 1922-1993) and titled Woman on a Porch, 1958, oil on canvas, 72×72 inches (New Orleans Museum of Art).

 

How Blue Are You?

I asked my students at the Pelham Art Center (Pelham, NY) to create a collage with painting and papers, and be inspired by the way Matisse and Diebenkorn used the color blue. I showed them images of paintings in the museum catalog. Their collages had too many colors and not enough focus on the one color I wanted: blue, so I asked them to do a second class project and we started with a solid blue painted background. Everyone taped their 14×11 inch Bristol substrate and applied blue acrylic to the entire paper background.  I helped them mix a blue color and they applied the paint with either a palette knife or a sponge roller. As soon as the paint dried, they added found collage papers from magazines or their own stash of papers. See four (4) collage paintings by students in my class Create with Collage below.

 

Jane Regan, collage

The image above is by Jane. You see the gorgeous blue back ground and the collage on top. Notice the shiny top additions. I think it’s cellphone over pasted papers. The work is 14″x11″ with papers, acrylic, and other media on paper.

 

Harriet Goldberg, collage

The image above is by Harriet. I flipped the image horizontal. I think it looks good. Notice the background is painted blue and there are a lot of collage papers. The work is 11″x14″ with magazine and painted papers, acrylic on paper.

 

Anne Haley Enright, collage

The image above is by Anne. She made the painted area smaller than 14″x11″ and square. You can see the blue acrylic in the center of the composition. Anne likes to extend the borders with collage. It’s a spiral design and has a lot of rhythm.

 

Paulette Coleman, collage

The image above is by Paulette. You can see the entire background is painted blue. She created a narrative collage with text and magazine cutouts with figures. There’s a lot of drama and personal story here.

 

I hope you enjoyed all the blue. Stay tuned. There will be more blue soon. Your comments are always welcome.

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An exhibition review and an interview with Carole Kunstadt

Nikkal, with her art at the 2018 ArtsWestchester Triennial

See me above. I have 6 collages installed on the 2nd (balcony) level at the ArtsWestchester Triennial exhibition in White Plains, NY (May 8-July 28, 2018).  I am one of 15 artists in the show. These works are part of my new Curvy Geometric series. Each work is mostly black and white and made with art magazine and painted papers. Some works include tiny wood strips, curved wire, and canvas.  Some include thin Washi papers layered over the painted papers to create transparency and texture. The sign on the wall to the left of the installation reads: My studio is filled with papers, glue, scissors and tools. I am a contemporary collage artist…exploring color relationships, layers, edges and connections within a gridded geometric format.

The Triennial exhibition includes a wide range of media from painting to photo collage, video, delicate sculpture made with human hair, sculpture in clay and terra cotta, ink on paper, installation and much more. The ArtsWestchester gallery is located at 31 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains, NY. Visit the exhibition (May 8-July 28, 2018) during gallery hours: Tue-Fri, 12-5 pm and Sat, 12-6 pm.

I interviewed Carole Kunstadt for this post. Like me, she is one of 15 artists in the Triennial exhibition. The image below was taken from the balcony at the opening reception and shows her installation titled PRESSING ON. What you see are antique irons covered in lace and text. Notice a visitor is reading wall text for the installation.

Balcony view of PRESSING ON installation at the Triennial

The wall text was written by Mara Mills, Deputy Director of the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in Peekskill, NY (HVCCA) and says: “Carole Kunstadt’s work is always unique and layered, literally and metaphorically. Her juxtaposition of materials, for her PRESSING ON SERIES combines artifact, word and fabric. The hardness of iron, the graciousness of lace, and the wisdom of words combine as a testament to women’s tenacious movement forward. PRESSING ON honors abolitionist/feminist Hannah More, and integrates history, memory, domesticity, and celebrates women’s political and public voice.”

 

Carole Kurstadt, PRESSING ON table installation

The image above shows 12 “sad” irons with lace and text similar to the 14 displayed on a pedestal at the Triennial. The image below shows 17 “sad” irons with lace, linen thread and other media on a shelf at the Triennial. Each iron in the installation is unique – small but powerful –  and I urge you see them all at the Triennial before it closes July 28th.

Carole Kurstadt, PRESSING ON shelf installation

Carole Kunstadt is a collagist, painter, book and fiber artist and her media are antique books, music manuscripts, ephemera and photo postcards. In her artist statement she says: “Through the exploration and manipulation of the antique materials, history, memory and time merge in a hybrid form. My devotion to books is inspired by the ability of the written word to take the reader to other places through stories, poems and prayers. My process reveals how language can become visual through re-interpretation.”

I asked Carole to tell me how she found the book that was the genesis for the PRESSING ON series. She said she was in a bookstore in Connecticut about 8 years ago, looking for an inexpensive antique book to utilize in her work. Carole cuts and pastes papers from books. She said she found a small book titled “An Estimate of the Religion of the Fashionable World by One of the Laity” (London, 1791). The book was published anonymously but, through researching the title, date and publisher, Carole discovered the book was attributed to Hannah More. Carole told me she found a more recent biography “Fierce Convictions – the Extraordinary Life of Hannah More, Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist,” by Karen Swallow Prior. She added: “… the more I read about Hannah More, the more inspired I became.”

Read about Hannah More (1745 – 1833) at Carole’s website. Hannah More was an abolitionist, poet, social reformer, philanthropist, feminist, writer and a member of the intellectual group “Bluestockings.” Hannah More is referred to as the “First Victorian”, bridging the 18th and 19th centuries…Hannah More’s life-long cause was galvanizing women to act not as domestic ornaments, but as thinking, engaged and responsible beings. She devoted herself to educating and helping the poor, and established over sixteen charitable schools.

I asked Carole to tell me about the irons. She said there’s a common element – scorched lace and text from book pages. She said most of the lace came to her through family. Her maternal grandfather worked in the garment district in NYC and used lace to embellish clothing. Some lace came from a dress her mother wore years later. There’s a delicate tatting lace that was made by her paternal grandmother and a piece of lace that was sewn to the border of a tablecloth from her husband’s paternal grandmother from Vienna. The use of personal fibers creates the connection.

Carole Kurstadt, PRESSING ON: Homage to Hannah More, No.5

The image nearby is titled PRESSING ON – Homage to Hannah More No. 5, 4x3x8 inches. This is an antique “sad” iron with scorched linen thread and paper, and pages from the book An Estimate of the Religion of the Fashionable World: By One of the Laity, London, 1791, Hannah More.

I asked Carole how she started the PRESSING ON series. She said the idea of combining the irons and the text and fibers came when she inherited an iron that had been in her mother’s house. She said it was not as old as the sad irons collected for the series, and added the first few sad irons did not incorporate scorching.

I asked Carole how long she has been involved with the PRESSING ON series. She said she started the series in September of 2017 and is continuing to develop it. She has over 70 works in the series and will have a solo show in December at the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum. All of the sad irons include some text from the book by Hannah More.

Fabulous PHOTO COLLAGE on the 1st floor at the Triennial

Gary Burnley, photo collage

I recommend viewing the 6 photo collages by Gary Burnley on the 1stfloor at the Triennial before the exhibition closes. The top left image is titled QUEENS OF YESTERYEAR #10. The other 5 works are titled FACING HISTORY #7, #10, #15, #18 and #19. The image you see shows my collage students Anne and Paulette in front of Burnley’s works. Burnley’s artist statement says he is conflating and contrasting the ideals, manners and purposes of recognized portraits from art history with images seemingly produced for contradictory purposes with historic photos and pictures from African American school yearbooks and/or photographs from family albums. Burnley says his works create unions that are strange bedfellows –transient confederates. He says what the viewer sees is influenced by the social, class and racial background of them as onlooker. Try to see his images before the Triennial closes July 28th. If you cannot visit the exhibition, see Burnley’s works online here.

Art on the Balcony at the Triennial

Michael Barraco, THE WORD, neon, 2015

You can see a neon installation titled THE WORD by Michael Barraco as you look up to the balcony from the 1st floor. I think this neon work may be more than 20 feet long. It’s all lower case letters that start bababadalghara….

Michael Barraco, BIRD SONGS: An Archive of Love and Loss, 2016

The image above, also by Michael Barraco, is titled BIRD SONGS: AN ARCHIVE OF LOVE AND LOSS. It’s a customized jukebox with 100 photographs, 100 CDs and preserved bird specimens.

Steven Lam, Director and Associate Professor, SUNY Purchase School of Art and Design wrote: “Michael Barraco’s works bridge humor with a biting critique on the ruins and pitfalls of modernity. His work titled BIRD SONGS: AN ARCHIVE OF LOVE AND LOSS includes bird songs and a photo album of birds that fell victim to building collisions. The work mixes melancholy, memory and poetry – a timely work for a chaotic moment.”

Michael Brown, IN THE MEANTIME, stainless steel

The image above shows Sarah and Jane, two students in my collage class at the Pelham Art Center who are standing in front of two of 4 large works made of hand-made stainless steel by Michael Brown. The installation is titled IN THE MEANTIME…III, VI, VII and IX. I took the photo and you see Sarah and Jane reflected in the pattern created by the stainless steel. Also reflected, you see an installation with abstract mixed media paintings by Karlos Carcamo on the opposite wall.

Barry Mason, oil on shaped canvas

The image above shows an installation (one of two) by Barry Mason, with oil on shaped canvas titled SAY IT LOUD, BETWEEN THE WORLD. It’s on a wall near my 6 collages on the balcony at the Triennial. There’s a sign near his installation which reads: “My art and rearrangements can be poetic or brutal; seductive or stark, but all of it is influenced by the callings of my heritage rooted in the African American experience where the djembe drum is alive and there is the sound of gospel – where I receive echoes from my past which “inform” my soul. Read about Barry’s photography and paintings and see his work here.

The Triennial: A snapshot of what’s now and what’s new in contemporary art

The Triennial will become a regular part of the ArtsWestchester exhibition programming. This 1st exhibition coincides with the 20thanniversary celebration of ArtsWestchester at it’s White Plains location. They say the Triennial showcases the vanguard of the region’s arts community and offers a snapshot of what’s now and what’s new in contemporary visual art. Read more here.

There are always people to thank for such an impressive show, including the two curators: Marc Straus, Marc Straus Gallery, NYC  and Paola Morsiani, Brodsky Center, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.

Special thanks to Janet Langham, CEO, ArtsWestchester and the gallery staff, Kathleen Reckling, Gallery Director, Logan Hanley, Gallery Manager and Kimberly McKoy, Programs Associate.

Your comments are welcome. Try to visit before the exhibition closes July 28th, and let me know what you think. Thank you for reading and thank you for your comments.

A NEW FOCUS ON DIPTYCHS

April 27, 2018

the artist with Metro twins at Upstream Gallery

 

The image nearby shows me standing with two acrylic paintings on canvas. I was at the Upstream Gallery installing my solo exhibition titled Duality/Assembly. The exhibition includes recent paintings and collages on canvas and wood panels.

My exhibition opens April 26 and closes May 20, 2018. Upstream Gallery is located at 8 Main Street in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY.  Gallery hours are Thursday to Sunday, 12:30-5:30. The opening reception is Sunday, April 29th, 2-5 pm.

 

 

I have a new fascination with diptychs, doubles and twins. Twins (identical and fraternal) fascinate me because there’s a paradoxical doubling: two the same and two different.  Identical twins share the same sex and (usually) the same features. Fraternal twins can be the same sex or different and may not even look alike. Fraternal twins are really just siblings, but they share a lot of the same closeness as identical twins because they were womb-mates. My diptychs are fraternal twins.

I call the paintings above Metro Twins. I see them as a kind of diptych because they are together and their colors and patterns are related.

I like to put things together. Diptychs allow me to play with doubles. Diptychs also ask the viewer to look at the differences and similarities, so the viewer is connected in the process in viewing the art and can make very interesting observations. Every diptych in the Duality/Assembly exhibition is about relationships and a metaphor for the spaces we share. Both Metro twin paintings touch and are placed so they stand on the same height above the floor. Metro 6 on the left is taller (60”x36”) and Metro Teal on the right is shorter (42”x40”), but the lines in the grid and the pattern of squares connect. Both paintings are acrylic on canvas. Both paintings are about color relationships and shared space.

 

Nikkal, Blue Triangle Diptych, acrylic and collage, 24″x32″

 

 

The image nearby, titled Blue Triangle Diptych, is made on two wood panels, each 24” high by 16” wide. The left panel is painted paper collage. The right panel is acrylic painting. The triangles are different shapes and sizes.  The colors are blue, and black (and brown) in the left panel and blue, green, black, white and caramel in the right panel. They’re fraternal twins.

 

 

 

 

Nikkal standing by 2 paintings at Upstream Gallery

 

 

The image nearby shows me standing in front of two acrylic paintings that are still placed on the floor, waiting to be hung on the wall. There are 6 paintings at the exhibition. Most show color relationships. Some of the colors are greens; others are blues. The painting on the left is titled Nines. It’s a medley of black and white colors, acrylic on canvas, 60”x36”. I added a lot of painted paper collage as I worked on the painting.  You can see all the papers when you stand in front of the painting. On the right is a painting I titled Jacob’s Ladder. It’s one of three paintings at the exhibition with the same title, all exploring triangles where blue is the dominant color. If you come to the exhibition you can see how each one is different – and you can ask me to tell you the meaning of the title Jacob’s Ladder.

 

 

 

 

Nikkal, B&W Triangles, acrylic and collage, 32’x40

 

The image nearby shows a collage with white and black painted papers on canvas. It’s titled Black and White Triangles, 32”x40” and installed near the gallery entry.  I love to work with colors like green and blue, but also like to create with black and white paint and painted papers. In this collage, I’m layering triangle shapes to show positive and negative space. I’ve created several black and white triangle collages on 24”x16” panels and put them together for this exhibition as diptychs and doubles.

If you visit the gallery, you’ll see one double installed as two panels hung horizontally, one above the other. The top panel is titled White on Black Triangles. The lower panel is titled Black on White Triangles.  Both are 16” tall and 24” wide. They are almost identical twins.

I show a diptych with two 24”x16” panels hung vertically, each touching the other. Together they are 24”x32”.  One is a grid with triangles. The other is a geometric abstraction with stripes and circles. I decided to put them together and let the viewer ask: why do they go together? Is it because they’re the same size done as paining/collage on panel, or the fact that they’re both black and white?

 

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Duality/Assembly is about putting things together. The exhibition includes works in the Metro series with squares that were never in line, but held in place, and works in the Triangle series that show triangles that intrude under, over and into another’s space. I think all the paintings and collages are an abstract representation about the spaces in which we live, how we live with others and how we share our spaces.

 

Nikkal, Roll Call, acrylic and collage on canvas, 14″x14″

 

 

The image at left is titled Roll Call. You can see it as soon as you walk into the gallery. Its acrylic and collage on canvas, 12”x12” framed to 14”x14” and part of a new series titled Curvy Geometric. I included several small works from the Curvy Geometric series because they are small and done with black and white painted papers I thought they fit in well with the other works in black and white.

 

 

 

 

 

There are two gallery rooms at Upstream. I have my works in the East room. Two new gallery artists will also show works at Upstream in the West room: Antonio Alvarez does abstract acrylic paintings and Madlyn Goldman does found wood assemblage sculpture and collage. There’s a lot to see.

 

If you are nearby, I hope you will stop by and see the exhibitions. Upstream Gallery hours are Thursday to Sunday, 12:30-5:30.

 

Nikkal, B&W and Red (2018) collage 14×11 inches

 

I created the collage seen nearby as a sample for a class I teach at the Pelham Art Center in Pelham, NY. My collage is on a 14×11 inch Bristol paper substrate. It’s designed as an abstract grid and includes a bottom and a top layer. The bottom layer is the image below – a large page from W magazine that shows a model sitting in a field of flowers, holding a flower in his hand. The magazine image was almost as big as the 14×11 inch substrate. I glued it down and added a top layer made with small papers from art magazine that show stripes, round letter forms, half circles and bullseye shapes. There’s also a drawing with concentric circles with two lines that criss-cross the circle. Almost all of the top layer papers were printed text in black on white or white on black.

 

 

 

 

Nikkal, lower layer in the B&W and Red collage

 

This image is the bottom layer of the collage.  After I glued it down, I payed attention to the visual relationship between the new pieces and bottom image. I added papers so they touched and overlapped, paying attention to contrast and connecting patterns. I included papers with high contrast and some with low contrast.  I didn’t cover the entire first layer but you have to look closely to see where the bottom layer image peeks through. I added 4 tiny red collage papers last.

 

 

 

 

 

Black and White Are Colors

I think black and white are colors just like red, purple, blue, green and yellow. Black and white are potent because they are at opposite ends of brightness (in the value scale). I like high contrast. It can be dramatic. We pay attention to opposites and high contrast.

 

I showed my finished collage to the class. I showed an iPhone image of the magazine paper that was covered and underneath. I asked my students to go through the W magazines we have in class, tear out a page with a large black and white image and glue it to the Bristol paper substrate as the first step. Their second step for this collage was to look through art magazines and find papers for the top layer. WE all used the same magazines, but you will see they selected papers with a lot more red.

 

See images below of black & white and red collages done by students in my classes at the Pelham Art Center.

 

 

Chris Timmons, B&W and Red collage (2018)

 

The image at left is by Chris Timmons. She used stripes, dots and circles in black white and red. You can see part of an image from her bottom layer. It’s a face partially covered by a red half-circle in the center of the collage. Chris added a second face on the right edge of the collage, facing sideways to balance the horizontal white on black stripes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ilene Bellovin, B&W and Red Collage (2018)

 

 

The image at left is by Ilene Bellovin. She used red, grey, black and white horizontal strips  for collage over her bottom layer. Notice there is a sense of a figure in this collage where the image peeks through the paper strips.

 

 

 

Leslie Cowen, B&W and Red Collage

 

 

 

 

The image at left is by Leslie Cowen. You can see a building face with fire escapes. That image is her bottom layer in the collage. Leslie cut and pasted a vintage image of Jackie Kennedy in the upper right. Notice there is a cartoon drawing in the lower center that looks like eyes. Notice Leslie pasted in text in white on red, white on black and black on white throughout her collage to add to the rhythm of the diagonals in the fire escapes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Magic of the Color Red

 

Red is one of the top two favorite colors of all people. Red captures our attention. It’s one of the most visible colors, second only to yellow. The history of languages reveals that red is the first color after black and white (all languages have words for black and white). If a third hue exists, it is red. When using red, where it’s placed and what it’s next to makes a big difference. I tell my students to use red as an accent color because a little bit of red goes a long way.

 

Here are more images in B&W and Red by students in my collage classes.

 

Estelle Laska, B&W and Red Collage (2018)

 

 

The image at left is by Estelle Laska. I believe the background layer in the collage is an image of a woman in a white dress. Estelle always makes narrative collage with a story and here she shows us her love of fashion illustration with collage she found of vintage drawings of ladies with long gowns and round hats. Estelle even included paper text with the words Fearless Fashion in the lower center of her collage, and used a red letter “A”, red quotation marks (on the right side), and a large open donut shape cut from red paper.

 

 

 

 

 

Harriet Goldberg, B&W and Red Collage (2018)

 

The image at left is by Harriet Goldberg. I can see part of the image of a building facade in the lower layer in the collage. Harriet cut two drawings with the letter “X” and pasted them in the upper and lower portions of her collage. Above the lower “X” he pasted a drawing of a cute face. It’s the same drawing that Leslie Cowen used in her collage. Harriet added red paper over the lips in the drawing, and cut and pasted 10 more red magazine and painted papers over her collage in a horizontal and vertical pattern to mimic the design in the buildings behind.

 

 

 

 

 

Paulette Coleman, B&W and Red Collage (2018)

 

The image at left is by Paulette Coleman. I think Paulette likes to work on a square substrate and probably cut it down from 14×11 inches to 11×11 inches. She used the white substrate as a background, and then pasted various magazine papers in red, black and white on top. There’s a rhythm of squares, dots and stripes that move horizontally, vertically and diagonally throughout. Notice the portrait of a face in profile on the lower left. Notice the sliced image of a red titanium red balloon by Jeff Koons on the lower right. Notice how reds balance the four corners of this collage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nelly Edmonson, B&W and Red Collage (2018)

 

The image at left is by Nelly Edmonson. You can see she used a duplicate (copy) image of the building facade with fire escapes. Harriet Goldberg used the same paper for her background. Nelly added red netting on the upper left to give a pink cast to the collage. You can see the pasted image of the building behind the red netting. Nelly strategically placed small red papers into the image of the building in the bottom layer. Notice the b&w face on the right. A lot of the papers mimic the diagonal patterns in the building fire escapes and lead your eye back into the image on the bottom layer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joseph Albers, The Interaction of Color, oil on panel.

 

Finally, here is an abstract painting by Joseph Albers (German-born American, 1888-1976), titled The Interaction of Color. This painting shows variations in the color red. Albers was an artist, educator and wrote extensively about color. Each painting consisted of either three or four squares of solid colors nested within each other to show how colors change when they are placed next to other colors. Read more about Joseph Albers here.

 

 

 

Read more about the color red here.

Creating a collage in two layers is challenging. You are working against an image. Working with black and white makes you focus on value and contrast.  Adding the color red, makes you selective in where you place the color.

Would you like to make a collage in black and white and red? Email me and ask for a free PDF for this project.

Your comments are welcome.

 

nikkal, NINES, 60×36 (2015) original version

 

I challenged myself to change a painting I completed in 2015, because I didn’t like the rough patches of paint on the surface and also wanted to simplify the geometric design. See the original version nearby.

NINES was exhibited recently in a 3-person show titled In the Space of Spirit (Nov 16, 2017 to Jan 11, 2018) at the Lakefront Gallery at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton, NJ. It was a big show. I had 23 works in the show, including large paintings and framed collages. Karen Fitzgerald, who organized the show, and Kristin Reed were there other two artists. Sheila Geisler selected and hung the show on the huge mezzanine level at the Lakefront Gallery.

 

 

 

 

 

NINES at the Lakefront Gallery

 

 

The image nearby shows NINES on the Lakefront Gallery wall, flanked on the left by Kristin Reed’s 2 works and on the right by Karen Fitzgerald’s two works. Notice there is a large number nine painted in dark grey in the upper left side of my painting. The exhibition was reviewed in a Times of Trenton article: Lakefront Gallery Fine Arts: ‘In the Space of Spirit’ | NJ.com (Nov 29, 2017). Janet Purcell wrote about NINES: “Pay careful attention to her (Nikkal’s) large acrylic on canvas where the number nine sometimes appears prominently and other times only obscurely. “ Purcell added a statement by Sheila Geisler: “Her (Nikkal’s) adept manipulations of contrasting color create a sense of movement – the surfaces seem to breathe. She is dedicated to exploring the layering of materials as well as the layering of form and pattern.” I was pleased with the review and the recognition that my abstract geometric works are always about surfaces and layering.

 

 

 

I brought NINES back to my studio on January 11th, looked closely at the way it was painted and decided I definitely would change it. On January 25th a pithy post arrived via email from Seth Godin to accept the challenge to begin. The post is titled Beginning is Underrated. Read the post.

 

BEGINNING IS UNDERRATED

Merely beginning.

With inadequate preparation, because you will never be fully prepared.

With imperfect odds of success, because the odds are never perfect.

Begin. With the humility of someone who’s not sure, and the excitement of someone who knows that it’s possible.

 

 

NINES in progress, close up view

 

The image nearby is a close up of the painting after I started to make changes. I wrote myself a work memo: Sand Nines when you arrive at the studio to make the surface smoother. Plan to use a sand block. Scrub gently in a circular motion. It’s hard to tell from this close-up, but I turned the painting upside down so the top is now the bottom. Look at the center of the painting here and notice the painted paper collage. The papers shows up because I reduced the layers of paint with sanding. Notice the cut paper letter D on the right sided. I started to add new collage. The paper, a reverse letter D is not glued down yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

nikkal, NINES, acrylic and collage on canvas (2017)

 

The image nearby is the new version of the painting. I painted out the large number 9 and large grey oval shape in the original painting. I painted large areas with thin layers of white acrylic to soften the grey yellow tones and unify the design. I changed a yellow square to grey. As I worked, I wiped the acrylic paint gently to reveal undertones. With the turnaround, the nines became sixes so I knew I would have to add more collage numbers to keep the title NINES. FYI: when I am working on a painting, I always paint papers at the same time. That way I have collage papers with colors that match.I eliminated the yellow gold bar at the bottom, the yellow stripe on the right and little gold square on the left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will show NINES soon in a group exhibition titled Black White & Grey at the Upstream Gallery in Hastings on Hudson, NY March 1-18, 2018. I am a member of the gallery and NINES now has the right colors for the group show. It’s all black and white and grey.

 

 

I found another Seth Godin post, dated January 21, 2018, that says exactly what I think and feel about this process. It’s titled The Gap. Read it here.

THE GAP

There’s a gap between where you are and where you want to be.

Many gaps, in fact, but imagine just one of them.

That gap–is it fuel? Are you using it like a vacuum, to pull you along, to inspire you to find new methods, to dance with the fear?

Or is it more like a moat, a forbidding space between you and the future?

 

What did I learn?

Go for it. There are always gaps. Dance with the fear. You can make it work.

 

Your comments are welcome.

 

If you are in Westchester County, NY, please stop by the Upstream Gallery, 8 Main Street, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY and see the exhibition (March 1-18). Gallery hours are Thursday to Sunday, 12:30-5:30. Come to the reception Sunday, March 4th, 2-4 pm. The show includes various media, all interpreting black, white and grey.

 

nikkal, Blue Triangle Diptych

I submitted two diptych paintings for a juried exhibition titled Duality: Glimpses of the Other Side at to the Islip Art Museum. One diptych – titled Blue Triangle Diptych (nearby) was accepted. One diptych, titled Blue and White Triangles (below) was rejected. The juror was Scott Bluedorn, an artist who lives and works in East Hampton, NY. The exhibition is June 24-September 17, 2017. The reception date is June 24th from 8-11. The Islip Art Museum is located at 50 Irish Lane, East Islip, NY 11730 on Long Island. Gallery hours are Th/F 10-4 and S/S 12-4.

 

I don’t typically submit works for juried shows but was intrigued with the theme and the wording in the prospectus. It asked artists to “seek out what’s hidden behind the veil of perception to reveal chaos in the mundane, beauty in the ordinary, and depravity in the wholesome.” I don’t see how my work is veiled, depraved or chaotic, but I suppose my approach to layering with paint and papers implies veiled perception – something below the surface. I am interested in duality. The diptych is my approach to expressing duality. I work with painted papers and collage. The media is dual. In the first diptych, one panel has painted paper collage and one panel is a painting in acrylic. Each includes triangles but the configuration is not parallel. Each panel is 24×16 inches. Together, the diptych measures 24×32 inches. I like the interplay between mixed media – collage and painting, paper and paint. The Blue Triangles Diptych was never intended as a diptych. Each panel was created to stand alone. By chance, I placed them next to each other against a wall in my studio (I was re-organizing space). I liked what I saw and I decided they belonged together – it was serendipity! I think of them as fraternal twins.

 

nikkal, Blue and White Triangle diptych

The image nearby is my 2nd diptych titled Blue and White Triangle Diptych. This work was declined. It was created as a diptych. I changed triangle shapes and added more light blue and white papers as I worked. Notice the way the triangles go from wider to thinner as they approach the center and press into each other’s space. I wonder if this work was declined because the two parts are united. What do you think? I hope you can attend the reception and/or see the exhibition if you find yourself in the area. Link here for more information and directions. The Islip Art Museum website says the IAM is a leading exhibition space for contemporary art on Long Island, and the NY Times calls the Museum the “best facility of its kind outside Manhattan.”

 

CONTEMPORARY DIPTYCHS

 

I have a skinny, 16-page paperback catalog titled Contemporary Diptychs: Divided Visions. See it nearby. It’s an old catalog from a 1987 exhibition. I found it while browsing for art books at the Strand Book Store (828 Broadway and 12th Street in NYC). I loved the cover image and the essays about diptychs inside. If you haven’t been there, you must visit the Strand. It’s a great destination for art book lovers.  The catalog cover image shows a contemporary diptych titled Slope of Repose, by the artist Edward Henderson, dated 1986. The catalog has the same title as the exhibition – Contemporary Diptychs, Divided Visions, – and includes essays written by Roni Feinstein, formerly Branch Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Fairfield, CT. Feinstein organized the exhibition at two Whitney Museum branch locations – one at the Equitable Center in Manhattan, 787 Seventh Ave., NYC and another at at the Whitney Museum branch in Fairfield County, Stamford, CT. Both shows were in 1987. The exhibition catalog is still available online.

 

According to Feinstein, the first diptychs were tablets consisting of two pieces of wood with writing hinged together. In the late 16th century, diptychs were used primarily for companion paintings with portraits of a husband and wife, intended as a pair, but also visually independent. The contemporary revival of diptychs in the 1960s was more about conceptual art – dealing with issues of narrative and allegory, autobiography and self-expression, social, political and cultural commentary.

 

The essay about Edward Henderson’s diptych Slope of Repose (image is seen above) says: “Things are not exactly as they seem. The left side may look like a collage with pasted newspapers and other elements, but it’s a trompe l’oeil painting. What looks like a wooden bar running down the middle is actually painted to look like it’s real, and the right side panel shows a letter N (an apartment house) but is assembled from thin strips of balsa wood. What seems to be collage on the left side is painted and what seems to be painted on the right side is collage.” The diptych makes you ask – what is real?

 

FINAL COMMENTS

 

I am pleased to be included in the exhibition Duality: Glimpses of the Other Side at the Islip Museum, and can’t wait to see the various works that were accepted in this annual show. Long Island is a lovely place for a day trip in the summer. If you are nearby, please stop by and see the exhibition. Let me know what you think. See directions to IAM here. Let me know what you think about contemporary diptychs and the idea of duality.

 

It Takes a Team

May 24, 2017

I visited the NYC Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) last week to see the exhibition Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction (through August 13). The show is fabulous and all the most exciting abstract artists (who happen to be women) are included. The curators selected works from the Museum’s permanent collection, including almost 100 paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, prints, textiles, and ceramics by more than 50 artists. I loved how the works were installed in the galleries. I am a keen critic when it comes to exhibition installation. It takes a team to select the great works and it takes a team to install the best exhibition.

The curatorial team included Starr Figura, curator, Department of Drawings and Prints, and Sarah Hermanson Meister, curator, Department of Photography, with Hillary Reed, curatorial assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints. According to the online comments, the installation was loosely chronological and synchronous, with works that range from gestural canvases by Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, and Joan Mitchell to radical geometries by Lygia Clark, Lygia Pape, and Gego. There are fiber weavings by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Sheila Hicks, and Lenore Tawney. There’s collage Anne Ryan. There are paintings – both large and very white  by Agnes Martin and Yayoi Kusama. The last gallery includes a large sculpture by Lee Bontecou. There’s a hanging sculpture by Louise Bourgeois (it looks very heavy), and – my favorite – a wall installation by Eva Hesse done with industrial materials. It’s a stellar cast. I include some of these artists below with images taken at the exhibition (my iPhone) as well as images from the MoMA website. Visit the exhibition online here. I hope you get to see the show and see all the media and  all the artists.

 

Agnes Martin, The Tree, oil and pencil on panel, 1964

 

 

The painting seen here is 6×6 feet, done by Agnes Martin (American, born Canada, 1912-2004). Titled The Tree, it’s oil and pencil on panel, and dated 1964. Image: copyright Estate of Agnes Martin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. This is a very white painting with faint pencil lines on canvas. When you walk up close you see it clearly. From a distance everything is quiet and delicate. Agnes Martin had a recent retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC – I made sure I got to see it more than once, and also attended a panel program at the Museum. I heard that Martin made all her pencil lines by hand. Amazing. Her work is highly regarded and her career and persona are fascinating. Here’s a link to see images and a video from the Guggenheim Museum show.

 

 

Carmen Herrera, Untitled, painting on canvas, 1952

The image nearby is by Carmen Herrera (born 1915, Havana, Cuba). It’s untitled and dated 1952. The artist is still working and showing her paintings and sculpture at age 102. I love this painting because it has black and white stripes that create the illusion of triangles. Notice the top and bottom of the painting where there’s black against white and white against black. Carmen Herrera was and is always focused on the edges of her paintings and sculptures. Herrera studied art, art history and architecture in Havana and then in Paris, France where she because part of an international artist’s group called the Salon des Realties Nouvelle. She distilled her geometric style of abstraction in Paris. She reduced her color palette to three, then two colors for each canvas. She created hard-edged canvasses at the same time Ellsworth Kelley (also in Paris) developed his style. The Museum website says: Herrera’s ascetic compositions prefigured the development of Minimalism by almost a decade, but the artist did not receive the critical attention she deserved. I saw this same image by Carmen Herrera at the Whitney Museum of American Art at her 2016/2017 solo exhibition titled Lines of Sight. See more images and read about the Whitney exhibition here.

 

Yayoi Kunama, Untitled, 1959

The work nearby is by Yayoi Kusama (Japanese, born 1929). I’m a great fan. Here work and career are amazing. This painting is very white and looks like lace. It has dimension. It’s untitled, done in 1959 and oil on canvas (41 ½ x 52 inches). Yayoi Kusama is almost 90 years old and still exhibiting everywhere. Her white painting in this exhibition looks nothing like current images that you see in galleries and museums. Recent exhibitions include installation with ceramic pumpkins and polka dots in mirrored spaces. When you think of Kusama, you think kaleidoscopic imagery and incredible color. The painting at MoMA is copyright 2017 Yayoi Kusama. I posted a blog about Kusama in 2012 – titled Collage Exploded – about her solo show that year at the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC. All about dots. See it here. The David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea, NY, represents Kusama, and organized Infinity Mirrors, Kusama’s current North American traveling exhibition (2017-2019), a survey of the artists’ evolution to create art in immersive infinity rooms. The traveling exhibition includes sculpture, installation and large scale paintings. Read about Infinity Mirrors here.

Women Artists: Eclipsed Careers

Elsa Gramcko, Untitled, 1957

 

I’ve already said that every work in the exhibition Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction  is part of the permanent collection at MoMA. But, many works are exhibited for the first time or in a long time. I’ve listed who donated the art to the Museum. Most of the artists – because they are women – were eclipsed in their careers by the “big guns” (i.e. male artists) and did not have a solo museum exhibition during their lifetime. That’s all changing now.

The image at left is by Elsa Gramcko (Venezuelan 1925-1994). It’s untitled, 39×13 inches, 1957, oil on canvas and painted with a deep Yves Klein blue, with black, white, red, yellow and green in a bold geometric design. The blue and white together are radiant. This is not a big painting in size, but the saturated colors and design are totally captivating. I noticed it immediately as soon as I walked into the gallery space.  The painting was a promised gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund, 2016.

 

 

Lydia Clark, The Inside is the Outside, 1963

 

I recognized the image at left as soon as I saw it. It’s a stainless steel curvilinear sculpture by Lygia Clark (Brazilian, 1920-1988), titled The Inside is the Outside, 1963, 16 x 17 ½ x 14 ¾ inches. Lygia Clark had a retrospective exhibition at MoMA in 2014 organized around three key themes: abstraction, Neo-Concretism and the “abandonment” of art (the last was participatory). The MoMA says Clark became a major reference for contemporary artists dealing with the limits of conventional art forms. Read about the 2014 Lygia Clark exhibition: The Abandonment of Art, 1948-1998 here. This curvy steel sculpture is another gift from Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund, 2011.

 

 

 

Eva Hesse, conceptual sculpture,1966

Here is my image of a sculpture by Eva Hesse. I saved my favorite image for last. I am intrigued with the industrial materials she used to make art, and by the shape the materials create on the wall. This conceptual sculpture is untitled, dated 1966, and made with enamel paint and string over papier-mâché with elastic cord, approximate size is 33 1/2 x 26 x 2 1/2 inches. Eva Hesse was German-American (1936 – 1970) and is associated with Minimalism and Feminist Art. In this work, contour is the primary concept. Notice the shape. Hesse’s work demonstrated to a new, postwar generation how to distill feelings and conceptual references down to a set of essential forms and contours. Her career spanned little more than a decade. Even though she died young, she left a huge legacy for others to follow. She said: In my inner soul art and life are inseparable. I think art is a total thing. Her work has remained popular and highly influential to important international artists who followed, including Louise Bourgeois, Bill Jensen, Martin Puryear and Brice Marden. Words associated with Eva Hesse’s works: wit, whimsy, evocative and spontaneous invention. Her media were casually found, everyday materials. Important critics describe her forms as languid and proto-feminist. Read about her Life and Legacy here.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

I am always impressed with the talented teams that curate an exhibition – what they choose to include and how they choose to organize how the show is installed. This exhibition is about great artists (who happen to be women) who were marginalized in the art world during the post World War II period. The MoMA, and other museums, are making amends for that exclusion.

This show feels contemporary. That’s a compliment from me.

I want to recommend a new book I’ve just read that I found at the MoMA bookstore after I saw the exhibition. I always stop at the bookstore to find a little book to add to my library. I like little books to carry and read if I’m on the train, waiting for an appointment, etc. Ideally, the book doesn’t have too many pages, there are lots of images and really good text. I found Who’s Afraid of Contemporary Art? An A to Z Guide to the Art World by Kyung An and Jessica Cerasi (2016, Thames & Hudson). The book is fun to read and answers 4 basic questions: What is contemporary art? What makes it contemporary? What is it for? And why is it so expensive? The authors discuss museums and the art market, the rage for biennales and the next big thing. Who’s Afraid of Contemporary Art? examines how artists are propelled to stardom, explains what curators do, and challenges our understanding of artistic skill, demystifying the art market, and much, much more. Every short chapter includes a 2-page commentary and an image by or about a significant work by a contemporary artist. Both authors are highly qualified to write about the contemporary art world. Kyang An is an Assistant Curator at the Guggenheim Museum, NY and Jessica Cerasi is Exhibition Manager at Carroll/Fletcher and was Assistant Curator of the 20th Biennale of Sydney in 2016.

 

Get the book Who’s Afraid of Contemporary Art? and go see the MoMA exhibition before it closes August 13. You’ll find there are artists you love and didn’t know about. There are more than 100 works by 50 artists to see. Email  me your comments about your favorite artists and works in the show. Tell me if you agree that many works also seem contemporary in spirit in spite of the fact they were created so many years ago. Tell me what you think about the sculpture by Eva Hesse. Thank you for your comments.

Nancy