Travels
21 May 2009

Art Chicago and NEXT

I finally looked back through the various cards and artist bios I collected a couple of weeks ago at Art Chicago and NEXT. Here are a few artists that caught my interest:

Galería Leyendecker, based in the Canary Islands, was showing (photo) a series of large-format photographic prints from a film by German artist Julian Rosefeldt. The images look like outakes from a western, with a shadowy cowboy figure in a desert landscape. Fittingly, the film was shot at Fort Bravo Texas Hollywood in Almeria, Spain, a film set originally used in one of Sergio Leone’s classic spagetti westerns.

Dietrich Wegner takes pictures of babies and then, with the magic of photoshop, superimposes colorful brand name logos on their smooth skin. Amusing but disconcerting at the same time.

British photographer Tom Leighton creates fictitious urban landscapes from digitally altered photomontages. “I show a complete disregard for the fundamentals of physics,” he admits. His elaborate scenes look like they could be movie stills from a sequel to Bladerunner.

A Japanese artist based in New York, Sachigusa Yasuda takes hundreds of photographs of city landscapes and then digitally manipulates them to provide an impossible all-seeing perspective. It appears as if the viewer is hovring over the roof ledge of a scyscraper, looking down onto a futuristic metropolis. The series of works, titled Flying, is also a reference to the suicide cults of Japanese youth.

Carlos Betancourt is a collector. He collects photographs of seashells, flowers, folk sculptures, and modern furniture. Then he assembles all these pieces into a wall-sized brightly-colored montage which seems to have its own geometric structure. The Puerto Rican artist warns his assemblages “may include clashes of opposites and forceful unions that challenge logic yet propose beauty and sense beyond reason.” Beware.

Peruvian artist Cecilia Paredes’ series of photographs titled Naturaleza Urbana, which she calls photoperformances, are self portraits of the artist with her body painted to blend in with the flowery wallpaper she stands in front of. In all the portraits her face is turned towards the wall rather than the viewer. It is a simple idea, but surprisingly effective visually. The series gives new meaning to the term “wallflower”. 

Bethesda-based Douz and Mille was showing work from Venezualan photographer Angela Bonadies. She has created an enormous body of images of archives and collections of various kinds around Caracas, from archives of newspaper photographs to biological specimens. The photographs provide the view of a casual browser in these collections which are usually off-limits to the public.

Kim Keever’s large-scale photographs look like 19th century landscape paintings on acid. In fact, they are meticulously constructed dioramas photographed in a 200-gallon fish tank filled with water. The murky water and use of colored lights gives the landscapes a depth that belies their small scale.

Burk Uzzle’s photograph Desert Prada seemed particularly timely in the current economic recession. However, credit for the concept goes to the Berlin artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset who constructed the fake store off U.S. 90 in West Texas.

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