Thursday, September 29, 2005

On View at Kavi and Some Generalized Comments

Currently on view at Kavi Gupta Gallery

Susan Giles Panzoomtilt

Panzoomtilt • 2005 • 6 Monitor DVD installation • Edition of 5

(although on the website, images are of a 2004 installation at the MCA, confusing)

Several monitors display handy cam touristy images interspersed with occasionally charged images, soldiers for instance. The camera is always moving, sometimes subtle pans, sometimes not-so-subtle zooms. It makes sense, then to call it Panzoomtilt, since that is exactly going on. Actually, it would be much much more effective to have just had the tag on the wall, with the title and the medium of DVD installation becauuse that would have said exactly the same thing, except in a direct way. The title tells you exactly what is happening (panning zooming and tilting and the title is mildly clever, just like the imagery. The medium says “cool and techy” just like the suspended flat screens do in real life.

It looks like a mini version of the huge Doug Aiken installation at the MCA's Universal Experience. Except without the techno music. And Panzoomtilt is not captivating in anyway. except maybe for a Sharp ad (the maker of the TVs) Maybe it would be a brand name team-up like they do these days: With iMovie and Sharp you can make your home movies do this! (look contemporary art).

In the main gallery is a perfect example of the fantasy escapism everyone is talking about in these post-postmodern days.


Scott Anderson • Bapto • 2005 • oil on canvas over panel • 60 x 48 inches

Scott Anderson ReKrei

Anderson is no doubt a skilled painter. Playing the Neo Rauch card a little heavily, but technically, quite skilled. The images are directly quoting, not even quoting, cutting and pasting, real fantasy art. The images are the kind you would find in the last chapter of your fifth grade science textbook called “The Future.” Where all the boring test tubes and beakers have been brushed aside for colorful pictures by professional illustrators fantasize about what it might be like to take a Pan Am jumbo jet to Mars. For film references you have Silent Running and Saturn 3.

Unlike Giles, this stuff is fun to look at, and is captivating in some way. But it is the kind of captivation that leaves you feeling fooled. You ask yourself, “do I really I like this, or am I just conditioned to like it by current tastes?” Sadly, it is the latter. The paintings are interesting to look at, full of details, and implied stories of space life. Memories of video games and sci-fi movies you can’t quite place run through your head. Another factor of note is the appearance of macro/micro. Items like knobs and discarded parts of washing machines and other things appear, but as gigantic towers, space stations and power plants. Ultimately, though. There isn’t much there. This isn’t a comment on man and technology, it isn’t a complex narritive. It is just fantasy escapism. There is the urge to escape the crushing smarmy irony of postmodernism, but that is it. “Run!” our guts are telling us. But where? “Anywhere!” So for now it is outerspace, Middle Earth or a vague memory of childhood and heavy metal music.


Scott Anderson • Sendi• 2005 • oil on canvas over panel • 36 x 45 inches

Sure, it’s these space probes are hot now, but they will get ugly fast. In fact, one can’t even imagine a place for paintings like this now. What sophisticated urban condo would look good with this trapper keeper art up in it? Aside from appearing as an understated hilarious backdrop in a Wes Anderson film, Anders paintings don’t seem suited for a domestic situation. Actually most art is like this. Who is buying all the hot hot hot stuff? This kind of art is made for consumption, but not much beyond. In fact, in a commodity driven mindset, it seems rather foolish to produce work that looks good in galleries and art magazines but not elsewhere.

So Hot Artists beware: prepare for careers to be ruined when 5-10 years after your solo show sells out (like this one did, according to the price list) the works are unceremoniously dumped. It happens all the time, and unless you are very lucky, with some significant financial backing, you’re fucked.

It happened to Julian Schnabel, but he had a safety net of New York diamond dealers (source available). It happened to Enzo Cucci, and he didn’t. It happened to Laura Owens, and she had a network of proxy buyers on behalf of her gallery (source available) and it is happening to Damien Hirst, he has Jay Jopling. In short, when a successful mid or early career artist’s work suddenly inundates the market, prices drop, rarity plummets, and you are sunk. If you are big like Hirst or Schanbel, and have a golden parachute, your reputation is doomed. When it was popular to love them, everyone fell in step. Now it is popular to hate them, so everyone is again falling in step. Hirst's painting show is a prime example. It was unilaterally panned in just about every magazine and publication. This is guarenteed to happen with Matthew Barney. Read True Colors by Anthony Haden-Guest.

It is not standard practice, historically, for galleries to have contracts and clauses for buyers. But this is changing. As you’d expect in our market money driven bubble. And so, in preparation for the inevitable pop, galleries are introduction legally binding contracts for buyers. The Art Newspaper among other sources have reported on this. One such feature of gallery/buyer contracts is the buy back clause. This requires a buyer to inform the gallery a work was purchased from when they intend to sell and gives the gallery first shot at reacquiring it before the piece ends up at auction or elsewhere. At a panel discussion I participated in two years ago, a collector commented on the fact that it is not possible to acquire works from certain artists, even if you have the means to do so. Galleries simply won’t make work available to you if they don’t see your patronage as being advantageous either for themselves or their artist in question. Buyers are carefully allowed into the fold for networking and political purposes. It seems unlikely this is pervasive in a small market in Chicago, but it is bound to be going at some level.

These comments are not directly linked to either of the artists reviewed or to Kavi Gupta Gallery. Rather, reviewing these exhibitions led to a more broad discussion of the current market and climate of the artworld, both locally and in general.

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