Chakaia BOOKER b. 1953

Sculptor Chakaia Booker fuses ecological concerns with explorations of racial and economic difference, globalization, and gender by recycling discarded tires into complex assemblages.

Booker began to integrate discarded construction materials into large, outdoor sculptures in the early 1990s. Tires, resonate with her for their versatility and rich range of historical and cultural associations. Booker slices, twists, weaves, and rivets this medium into radically new forms and textures, which easily withstand outdoor environments.

For her, the varied tones of the rubber parallels human diversity, while the tire treads suggest images as varied as African scarification and textile designs. The visible wear and tear on the tires evokes the physical marks of human aging. Equally, Booker’s use of discarded tires references industrialization, consumer culture, and environmental concerns.

Booker’s artistic process is enormously physical, from transporting the tires to reshaping them with machinery. Though she has adopted utilitarian jeans and work boots in her studio, she always wears a large, intricately wrapped headdress, which has links to her earliest wearable art and has become her fashion signature.

Booker received a B.A. in sociology from Rutgers University in 1976, and an M.F.A. from the City College of New York in 1993. She gained international acclaim at the 2000 Whitney Biennial with It’s So Hard to Be Green (2000), her 12.5 x 21 foot wall-hung tire sculpture. Booker received the Pollock-Krasner Grant in 2002 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005. She has exhibited in group and solo exhibitions nationally and internationally.

NMWA’s

            

Jason MARTIN b.1970

A young British artist, Mr. Martin paints by covering largish surfaces of stainless steel, aluminum and plexiglass with (usually) a single color of oil paint; he then pulls a fine, sometimes specially made comblike tool across the wet paint, creating striations that move up and down according to various intervals and rhythms.

The electric-blue glide of ”Patrol” wavers only slightly but nervously and consistently, like the results of lie-detector tests taken by the guiltless or dozens of flat-lining heart monitors. The marigold yellow surfaces of ”Cha-Cha” and ”Samba” have a lot of wave action; their wide undulations gleam, as if three or four spotlights were situated just above, or below, them. Elsewhere, as in the burgundy ”Boudoir,” the surface ripples, like a curtain. And occasionally the raking tool is lifted and the surface broken, creating dramatic fissures of fringed paint.

The artists brought to mind by Mr. Martin’s no-hands technique and glistening effects include Jackson Pollock and Robert Ryman, Alan Charlton, Bridget Riley and David Budd, an American painter whose monochrome surfaces accrue in small palette-knifed, light-deflecting strokes, as well as contemporary painters like James Hyde.

But mostly one comes away with a sense of sensational, tacky retro-chic, as suggested by titles like ”Stripsearch,” ”Harlot” and ”Slapjack” and corroborated by the slickness of the paintings themselves. The problem seems to be one of taste. Mr. Martin needs to raise his sights higher so that his paintings can transcend the gimmicky mechanics of their own making. At this point they actually do seem to have been made by machines and have the brief dazzle of a Slinky toy making its way down the stairs.

Roberta Smith, The New York Times

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Martin KLINE b.1961

 

 

The ingenious use of encaustic — dry pigments mixed with molten wax — gives Martin Kline not only his painterly medium but his subject matter as well, in that the thick built-up surfaces of his panels, amazing in their accreted detail, have a materiality that is quite as sensuous as their imagery. By repeated brushing, he builds his motifs layer by layer, as in ”Mirage” (1999), whose rough, ridged, overall pattern of dirty white strokes on brown closely resembles a tree lichen, and the mural-size ”Joy!” (2002), an extremely lively surface of ebullient, deeply layered color bars stroked side by side to make an informal, almost three-dimensional grid. In a similar mode is ”Autumn Boogie Woogie” (1997), a large grid of tiny squares that salutes Mondrian but in which each paint-packed square thrusts out as a separate image.
 
More intricate is ”Leda” (2001), a square format in which repeated sweeps of the brush from the center out have created a thick, flowerlike form whose dense central mass thins as the brush strokes die out at the square’s perimeter. Mr. Kline also occasionally takes his materiality into metal, as in ”Wounded Healer,” a stainless-steel sculpture depicting a short piece of crotched tree limb from which two branches have been sawed. From the cuts ooze congealed clots of steel sap.
In giving his minimal visions so much painterly flesh, Mr. Kline is by no means adrift from currents in modern and contemporary art, but he comes across as a hedonist, too, guilty of manipulating matter for the pure pleasure of it.
 
Grace Glueck
 

 

Public Collections

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York   |  View Image      

 
Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York   |  View Image     
 
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio   |  View Image     
 
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA   |  View Image     
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Magdalena ABAKANOWICZ b.1930

 

 “I feel overwhelmed by quantity where counting no longer makes sense. By unrepeatability within such quantity. A crowd of people or birds, insect or leaves, is a mysterious assemblage of variants of a certain prototype, a riddle of nature abhorrent to exact repetition or inability to produce it, just as a human hand can not repeat its own gesture”.

Magdalena Abakanowicz for many years has dealt with the issue of “the countless”.

Each of her figures is an individuality, with its own expression, with specific details of skin. Organic, with the imprint of the artist’s fingers. Their surface is natural like tree bark or animal fur or wrinkled skin. Like all her sculptures also these works are unique objects.

Magdalena Abakanowicz was born in an aristocratic Polish-Russian family on her parent’s estate in Poland. The war broke out when she was nine years old. Then came the revolution imposed by Russia and the forty-five years of Soviet domination.

Poland was a politically volatile country where instability was a permanent state. She has learned to escape to her corner, to make the best of things, to use whatever was viable and even to make gigantic works in a tiny studio. Her art has always addressed the problems of dignity and courage. This dignity resistance and will of survival conceal her individual personal affinities to the culture of Poland, the country where she has grown up, to this country’s political situation, and to the realities of existence of an artist, an intellectual.
The metaphoric language of her work has achieved a point of junction, which still is a challenge for mankind, for all its sophisticated civilisation. This is the point where the organic meets the non – organic, where the still alive meets that which is already dead, where all that exist in oppression meet all that strive for liberation in every meaning of this word. With forty years of work behind her one can see her development like a map unfolded on the table.

On this map the human figure belongs to a vast territory inhabited by crowds and flocks of headless figures. The idea of a crowd has many reverberations in her mind. One of them is the transformation of an individual into a cog. Abakanowicz says: “I immerse in the crowd, like a grain of sand in the friable sands. I am fading among the anonymity of glances, movements, smells, in the common absorption of air, in the common pulsation of juices under the skin…” The entire population of her figures is enough to fill a large public square. They are today over thousand but they have never been seen together. They remain in various museums, public and private collections in different parts of the world. They constitute a warning, a lasting anxiety.

Very few images in contemporary art are as emotive and as disturbing. She started with soft and pliable objects that were rough to the touch. First came the ‘Abakans’ (1966-75), so-called after her own name. These enormous three-dimensional hanging structures, woven form a variety of fibres. Michael Brenson has referred to as not only objects but also spaces. To enter the ‘Abakans’ and to remain inside them is to allow the sensation of interiority to become a condition.

Abakanowicz, creates ambiguous images with many meanings. Some are concealed, some combined with others. These are what every viewer must find for him or herself. To reveal them all would be to tell the reader how a film ends.

Selected by Artur Starewicz

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