My friend, who happens to review the arts, and is a historian of the art world plotted out a 2 hour journey for us through the Chelsea galleries last week. Really enjoyed hearing her perspective on what we saw. Her understanding of each artists work gave me the ability to see everything from a completely different angle. Sometimes I wish that like a museum that has the taped recordings, you could get the same thing from a gallery. Maybe taped Gallery walks that change every four weeks. Understanding the art vs. just an appreciation for what you see makes a tremendous difference.
Our first stop was Andrea Rosen Gallery at 525 West 24th Street. The show is called Matthew Ritchie: The Universal Adversary. A huge folded black lattice work hangs over the entire gallery which is the center of the exhibit. You can take a staircase up to overlook the work where there is also a projector up there that makes one feel as if they were peering into the universe. The paintings and drawings also complete the space. The work is to "evoke an atmosphere of indeterminate crisis, precipitated around an entity called the Universal Adversary, a shadowy character who seems to have been conjured from our collective past to imperil our immediate future". Even if you don’t get it and I’m not sure I do, it is worth seeing.
Our next stop was Perry Rubenstein Gallery at 534 W. 24th Street. Jesper Justs, a Danish filmmaker, shows us a 20 minute film. 3 different segments. Each have their own dangerous overtones and are beautifully shot. Youth vs. age, life vs. death. I really enjoyed the beauty of the film but not sure I got what he was trying to tell me but I did stick it out for the entire 20 minutes.
We walked up to 533 W. 26th street to the James Cohan Gallery. I was really excited to see this exhibit of Fred Tomaselli. I have been watching his work for the past 7 years. His work was always fantastic but he has truly reached another level. Beautiful intense landscapes that incorporate plants and pills using paint and decoupage. Everything is layered under thick resins. One of my favorite and funny pieces is a newspaper clipping of Worldcom and paintings over that. Really worth seeing.
Robert Miller Gallery was next up. Yayoi Kusama, who I was told committed herself to a mental facility in Japan, has created intense black and white paintings that are quite incredible. There is also a mirrored box that when you peek inside goes on forever and ever. She is definitely on the avant-garde.
My most favorite of the day was at the Sean Kelly Gallery at 528 W. 29th Street. A maze of black and white. Each wall is covered with quotes. The work is by Joseph Kosuth. Funny quotes, thought provoking quotes, famous quotes, art work with new quotes. You get lost in the labyrinth as you walk through the entrances and exits but you also get lost among the words. Really great. I’d like to bring the kids back to this one.
Last was at Peter Blum at 526 W. 29th Street. A unique wool carpet that almost takes up the entire space of the room that is in the form of a famous labyrinth found at the Chartres cathedral. Themes from Persian gardens. You can take off your shoes and walk the carpet. I passed but my friend walked it and said it was really interesting looking at each piece while attempting to stay on the path. Again, I might be a bit too pedestrian for this one too but conceptually interesting.
That’s it for my day in Chelsea. The Sean Kelly exhibit was the one that really stayed with me. What I loved about the walk was that each exhibit we went to the artist was really thinking big picture, big concepts. If it wasn’t for my friend, I am not sure I would have been able to see the insight but luckily she was my guide.