Monday, April 5, 2010

The corny factor

(Amanda Ross-Ho, Bedroom Bandit, 2010)

At the risk of narrowing my field of vision, what I seem to want these days in my art viewing is just a dish of personal meat, hold the irony and hold the headiness. I visited a string of Chelsea galleries last week and I have nothing to report. I went around looking for a spark of spirit – something that speaks of the artist’s personal punch – but found only pastiche and pose. I do understand that originality is null and void, but is searching and experiment?

That said, John Bock’s wall hangings at Anton Kern came close. And I think Amanda Ross-Ho at Mitchell-Innes and Nash hit the mark. Her show is a complex and diverse installation and I’ll be going back to try to put some words to it. I especially like a quilt topped by a poster of a David Lee Roth gone tribal.

Because yes, I do think a personal universe is what I’m after as an artist – at least it is these days. I don’t want to make what’s in but what’s true – even if it’s torturous to reveal.

That’s why I enjoyed these lines from Roberta Smith’s review of "Red," a play about Mark Rothko that she thinks is best when silent, like looking. She recounts her own experiences visiting studios:
Also, corny as it may sound, as a young Kansan new to New York, I was always struck by the possibilities of self-invention and the autonomy and individual will that a studio represented, almost regardless of the quality of the art I encountered there. The basic message — especially powerful to a daughter and granddaughter of academics — was that you can do anything you want to; you certainly don’t need a degree or tenure. An artist made this place called a studio and then used it to make this thing called art that no one knew was missing or needed until it existed. (“We are making it out of ourselves,” to quote Rothko’s contemporary Barnett Newman.)

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