currently on view in “Ritual for Letting Go” at:
Two Rams Gallery, 215 Bowery, NYC (entrance on Rivington)
84”x72”, oil on canvas, 2014
“El Diablo (pictured, top) began as an attempt to paint a giant ceramic bowl on a beach. Hopefully one day I will be able to pull that motif off, but in this instance, I was not. I worked on this big bowl with little crabs crawling all around it for about a day until I realized it was hopeless. This was not going to work- so I turned it around to face the wall and got really annoyed about the whole thing. Another giant canvas I was going to have to take off the stretcher, then stretch and gesso another one. It always breaks my heart a little when I can’t get it on the first try- but of course it happens all the time.
The next day I went to Pearl in the morning. I thought, ok, if I’m going to re-stretch this one and start over, then I’m going to get some really bright colors. I bought a bunch of nice paints- with a lot of very bright colors I hadn’t tried before- in particular an amazing orange I was really excited about. I also got some canvas.
When I got to the studio, I turned the canvas back around and studied it. What exactly was going on here? What did I see? I turned the canvas from horizontal to vertical (it’s 7x6 ft), and something clicked. That big bowl shape could be something else. Everything around the bowl (palms, crabs, clouds) was kind of working now that it was vertical, but the bowl had to transform. But into what? I immediately saw an owl- I kind of wanted to paint a big owl. But hadn’t I recently read some article somewhere about how owls were going to be really cool to paint this year, like cats were last year? Well then I’m definitely not painting an owl today. What else do I see? I saw a big mask. I’ve always wanted to paint a mask but felt like I shouldn’t because many artists before me have painted them. But I could really see it. This was going to have to be a big mask, and if it didn’t work, oh well.
I had to scrape away a lot of the wet paint that was there from the day before. Then I could almost immediately see where everything was going to go. I sketched it in- starting with the eyes and nose, naturally. Then I just started filling in big areas with color, beginning with orange. It was the most amazing orange I had ever seen, and I know that what goes really well with orange is turquoise, so I filled an area in with turquoise. Really quickly the mask took shape with bright wet paint, and looked really at home with the foliage and crabs all around it, even though they were sideways. I just left them as they were. Everything just kind of solidified.
It was a mask just floating there in the night. I was really attracted to it- it didn’t matter to me that it made no sense floating there. I imagined if I was walking on a tropical beach at night, the smells, the sounds of the waves and foliage blowing, and I happened upon this big mask floating in front of me. The mask was scary, but welcoming, and I was attracted to that. I added some stars in the sky and other details but wanted to keep it simple. By the night time I was finished. It almost felt as though it had painted itself.” -Ryan Schneider
Opens Sun, Mar 2nd, 6-8p:
“Crosseyed and Painless”
Daniel Rios Rodriguez
Sargent’s Daughters, 179 East B’Way, NYC
Daniel Rios Rodriguez’s work combines the intensely personal with the historical in a manner both humorous and dark. The paintings begin with drawing into a thick layer of oil paint, and can include collage elements of raw canvas, linen and the scraps of old t-shirts onto the canvas. This is a means of recovery and reinstating a fresh surface, exploring the materiality and variety of textures a painting’s surface can have.
The subject matter of the work spans the immediate and classical: skulls, lemons and tall grass along a river are repeated- calling to mind the traditional vanitas pieces. The search is ongoing and the images are abundant.
- thru Mar 30
opens tonight, Jan 11, 6-8p:
“Stairs and Ramps”
Feature Inc Gallery, 131 Allen St., NYC
Todd Chilton’s relatively small and intensely colored abstract oil paintings layer patterns that are bounded by the edge of the canvas, leading you to believe these paintings are easily graspable. The exhibition title, Stairs and Ramps, references the flat and manipulated space of computer games and, as well, ways to move by foot or wheelchair through architectural space. At the same time, it is also just two ways to graphically read a triangle, the shape that is the basis of the patterns in most of these paintings. Titles of the paintings point to alternate readings of what may be initially perceived. Geometry is undermined by handedness.
opens Jan 16, 6-8p:
“Between the Fragments”
Claire Oliver Gallery, 513 W26th St., NYC
By creating a desolate narrative through his use of color, time, and mystical topologies, Zurich-based artist Andy Denzler expands and skims the boundaries of both photorealism and action painting. By uniting the precision and nostalgia of realism with gestural abstraction, Denzler creates secluded and pensive tableaus. - thru Feb 15
thru Jan 5:
Eleven Rivington, 11 Rivington St., NYC
Candela is comprised of a focused series of 10 x 8 inch oil paintings which the artist began last year, following a group of figurative works that were presented as a solo show at LISTE, Basel in June 2012. In these canvases, painted from observation, full figures were posed and defined by ambient candlelight. The new works featured in this exhibition focus even further on this initial, simple idea: a single, lit candle defining the object, figure or space adjacent to it. Each painting contains light and delineates the subject, proposing simple and poetic pictorial narratives.
nycARTscene Interview: Noah Becker
Noah Becker is a NYC-based oil painter, a jazz saxophonist, the founding editor of Whitehot Magazine and a contributing writer for numerous publications (Art in America, Interview Magazine, Canadian Art, the Huffington Post).
Becker’s recent paintings are currently on view at The Lodge Gallery, a solo exhibition of his portraiture and collage-like reconsiderations of art history.
nycARTscene contributor Gabriel Sands leads us in conversation with the artist:
GS: How have you been influenced by other prominent New York City artists who came before you? Whom specifically?
NB: I was influenced by Warhol, Basquiat, Jackson Pollock and many others.
GS: How has your relationship to and perception of portraiture changed as a result of your own work?
NB: Making unknown people or making famous people becomes an issue. I try and do as few famous people as possible… I’m painting mostly unknowns but that might change.
GS: You are also a musician. What is the interplay between your music and your visual art, if any?
NB: I’m a saxophonist. There are shapes and feelings in music and shapes and vibrations in painting. It’s coming from a source that transcends the human world. I’m not sure that they have an interaction except for the fact that I do it and it comes from my consciousness. The world is mysterious and we really don’t know everything yet.
GS: Can you tell us about the idea of mass production in culture and art? What does that mean to you?
NB: Mass production is something Warhol was doing with his Factory and now people like Jeff Koons and Kehinde Wiley are doing it. Supply and demand is the issue here. I’m not sure how much work an artist needs to make… Vermeer made only about 35 paintings I think… How many do you need to be a famous artist?
GS: On Twitter, you recently tweeted an offer to paint people’s portraits. Tell us why you did this.
NB: Twitter is an interesting thing because you can test the social and creative dynamic. I Tweeted that because I’m interested in the challenge of painting someone I don’t know. It’s also a way of dealing with the current situation with the online world in an experimental way. For example I offer people Skype studio visits where I link to them and they give me a one hour tour of their studio. I’ve been invited to studios all over the world via Skype.
Noah Becker: http://noahbeckerart.com/
The Lodge Gallery: www.thelodgegallery.com 131 Chrystie St., NYC