Art news round-up

Art news from around the world:

MOCA is putting itself back together - the old board members are returning.

Ukraine’s deposed president thought ‘borrowing’ some art might ease his retirement – but it has now been recovered.

This Detroit non-profit gallery said they just wanted to preserve and share that Banksy they ‘saved’ – but now they want to sell it.

Diversity in Dallas? Not so much, if you’re thinking about contemporary art.

Popular stories from the week:

What makes a professional artist? And why aren’t more people inclined to describe themselves that way?

The experience of learning from the master – the warmth and wisdom of Ansel Adams.

If you’re looking for items of interest on Instagram, check out these museums.

Woman turns into parrot – no smoke and mirrors, just amazing body painting.

Art news round-up

Art news from around the world:

Some artists in Russia and Ukraine are willing to protest publicly – but it’s a very serious decision for them.

There’s some skepticism surrounding the new art market report.

Pollock’s famous ‘Mural’ is back on display and now we know how long it really look.

Museum affirmative action – MoMA hires consulting curator to focus on works by black artists.

The debate resurfaces, as Van Gogh Museum reintroduces ban on photography – should we or shouldn’t we?

Popular stories from the week:

You probably don’t associate drones with art – but that’s about to change.

Is street photography, as such, over? Has the cellphone taken over?

Paint + water = dreamlike clouds. I always love these.

Entertaining – food gets a disguise by being painted to look like other food. It’s very convincing.

I bet you just use your flatware for eating and serving food. Turns out they’re useful for creating sculpture, too!

Reception Review: March 6, 2014

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This past Thursday night at Agora Gallery, our staff was delighted to unveil two exciting new shows, Mélange of Milieau and The Essence of Abstraction. We greeted an energetic, congenial bunch, as artists who had traveled alone or with their families quickly acquainted themselves with one other, with our staff, and their admirers. As one who takes an interest in artists’ personalities, what I noticed about this group was their passionate dedication to their subject—sometimes emotional, sometimes theoretical or critical, but always with the purpose of communication.

Edward J. Morét discusses Home with Essence of Abstraction artist Jane Magarigal.

Edward J. Morét discusses Home with Essence of Abstraction artist Jane Magarigal.

First, I spoke with one winner of the 2013 Chelsea International Fine Arts competition, Edward J. Morét, about the activism of his paintings. Morét defines his goal as the elevation of “conscious awareness of the stages of climate change.” I considered the spherical Home, and Morét named California’s ongoing drought as one of his concerns. Not all solutions to this crisis are nonthreatening, as the growing number of desalinization plants are extremely expensive and cause brine to be pumped back into the ocean. “Global warming is no longer a debate,” says Morét. I inquired about what I found to be his most uniquely surreal work, Time For Peace. “I wanted to portray the essence of the trees’ life,” he explained  “I wanted to emphasize the unity of nature and the power of our collective participation in nature. If we can realize our collective consciousness, then we can begin to heal our environment.”

STAM with the paper series Clouds.

STAM with the paper series Clouds.

The significance of a communal identity is also treated in the ink-on-paper series of Greek artist STAM, titled Clouds. The setting of the four scenes is woven together by a strong wild and dark tempest. The artist compared storm directly to the clout of financial strain that continues to loom over the Grecian people. STAM hoped to express this idea through the modesty of his materials. “This project cost me nothing, and this is deliberate,” STAM said, “These papers are the cheapest you can find. In the works you can see that due to a strong wind, pieces of the composition become detached. Strong clouds will always come again. Despite the crisis in our country, we can still realize our dreams.”

Robert Kirov stands by Screan

Robert Kirov stands by Screan

Swiss artist Robert Kirov also prefers to keep his arsenal light. In a discussion of his sculptural A PM F, Kirov told me he’s enjoyed working with duct tape for this project, because “it’s angular and versatile, and I try to produce something organic with it. Not many people think of duct tape as organic.” Experimentation is hugely important to Kirov’s artwork. “It’s a totally open process,” he said, “I have no restrictions. I need a room and my materials.” I was charmed hear him so determinedly assert his lack of method in creation. He could not estimate the amount of time it takes him to complete a work, or even how he strategizes the beginning of a project. In his words, “I couldn’t attempt to make something I was expecting, because the artwork changes during the process.” We can ascertain that Kirov’s work represents a truly organic and honest expression of his creative energy.

Fernando Braune, Labutos P.

Fernando Braune, Labutos P.

I always appreciate the opportunity to check in with veteran artists of the gallery. This Thursday marked Fernando Braune’s third exhibition with Agora Gallery, and he described a new responsibility he feels for his work. “Agora has granted me so much visibility,” he told me, “and because the demand is much higher I’ve had to dedicate myself completely to my work.” Since we first exhibited Braune in 2012, he has shown work in London, Florence, Lisbon and Cannes. As a photographer, Braune wants to avoid the categorization of documentarian. “I want to take people out of their context. I don’t want to document my subjects, but transform them.” He revealed to me that the photos in this series were taken of a construction site next door to his building. “They were disrupting me,” he chuckled, “so I decided to take pictures of them.” The portraits were printed on cotton paper, so that the artist could “interfere with dry pastel, ink, and oil pastel. The volume and texture of the paper is receptive to these colors.” Both mechanically and mentally, Braune has succeeded in transfiguring his subjects.

Claudia Gomez Ferández with the metaphysical Desapego.

Claudia Gomez Ferández with the metaphysical Desapego.

It is always stimulating to engage with the purely abstract. Essence of Abstraction artist Claudia Gomez Fernández described to me, “My paintings hope to portray ideas something more than what you can touch, the phenomenon that escape the five senses.” I understood the paintings as exploring the physicality of the imagination, the body of which sparks random emotions and associations in our minds. Looking at Composición Uno: Nacimiento del Nuevo Ser Humano (Birth of the New Human Being), Fernández surprised (and delighted) me by describing light as a false symbol of origin. Light is perceived by those who are conscious, while darkness “represents the deepest part of all of us. You yourself came out of the darkness.”

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Visitors consider series by Javier Porras.

As always, it was a pleasure to socialize with the talented and prudent artists we represent at Agora Gallery. The current exhibitions, Mélange of Milieau and The Essence of Abstraction, each offer a rich repository of very diverse artwork. We invite you to come explore the collection yourself. All of these artists and more have their artwork for sale on Keep yourself updated with the goings-on at the Gallery by subscribing to our blog, and joining our mailing list.

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Art news round-up

Art news from around the world:

Those artists who were boycotting the Sydney Biennale? They won.

The new arts budget is good for… D.C. museums, mostly.

Pattern of rising rents in NYC causes problems for artists – illustrated by this giant hamster wheel.

The bitter political debate in Venezuela continues – and the country’s artists are getting involved.

Interesting – how biennials try to keep their distance from commercial art fairs.

Looking at the future of the Corcoran’s art – once there’s no Corcoran.

Popular stories from the week:

A question that plagues so many artists – How do you know when a work is finished?

Why are artists are so important? Saul Bellow says, because they can help lift people from their daily distractions.

Yes, it’s Monday, but don’t let it get to you – unwind with the sight of these rainbow-colored melting ice crystals.

Creativity, the gift of failure, and why we should aim for mastery – not success.

Hyperrealistic landscapes – of space.

Do you get tangled up in electronic cables from time to time? You could always repurpose them as art materials…

How To Critique Your Own Work – And Get It Right

We’ve talked before on this blog about how to deal with criticism, whether unasked or solicited. It can be difficult to react positively and appropriately to comments that criticize your art, and getting your response right – and treating each instance as an opportunity to improve – is always a challenge. But there’s another kind of criticism that is equally difficult to get right, though in different ways.

I’m talking about self-critiquing, that delicate balance between loving all your work uncritically because it’s yours and hating it all because it doesn’t match what was in your head. Many of us feel both of these emotions, at one time or another – sometimes even about the same piece! It’s natural – but don’t let your feelings run away with you. Here are some points to bear in mind:

1) A critique is not negative. Just listing the things you don’t like about the work you just finished and complaining about them for days on end to anyone with the patience to listen isn’t going to help anything. Yes, if you’re upset, you should deal with that; we all have art disasters from time to time. But that’s not a critique. What you need is to look at your work and be honest about it – both the positive and the negative aspects. There is always some of each. Be constructive.

2) This is a learning exercise. Finding things you don’t like about your work doesn’t mean that the piece is problematic – it could be wonderful! But a good artist is always learning, from others, from the world, and from themselves. Be open to what your own work can teach you.

3) Don’t forget to notice the positive. It’s easy to get so caught up in thinking about what you could improve and how to do it that you forget to appreciate the things you’re doing well. But this aspect of the process is just as crucial – you need to know your own skills and abilities to have a realistic understanding of what you’re capable of. This has an impact on your direction as an artist, and on your future works.

4) Be honest. Don’t look at it in the way that you think you should, using some hypothetical academic ideal – approach it from a frank perspective. Your evaluation must have integrity for you to be able to internalize the lessons you learn.

5) Consider the work from a number of angles – both physically and conceptually. Walk around it, try it out in different lights, put it in different places in the room. Look at it from a technical standpoint, in terms of its artistic influences, and when thinking about its subject matter. Take into account its position in the broader scheme of your work.

6) Emotions are ok. Some artists think that they’re only critiquing their work properly when they are being totally analytical about it. They think the emotional involvement they feel colors their approach in an inappropriate way. But the feelings a work stirs in the viewer are a legitimate element to consider – the most powerful art reviews, after all, are those when you can feel the reviewer was genuinely moved by the works in question.

7) Let some time go by. Yes, you’ll want to engage in the self-critiquing process almost as soon as the paint is dry, the print is in front of you, the sculpting tools put away. And that’s fine. The immediacy of the creative experience and your connection to it will bring out certain things as you consider the piece. Write them down. But then leave it for a while, and come back again later – you’ll often find that your perspective has developed in valuable ways, and your assessment gained in richness, if you give yourself some time.

What do you find useful to remember when critiquing your own work? Let us know in the comments!

Exhibition: The Essence of Abstraction; Mélange of Milieu

Celebrate the changing season with artwork that will help you to feel the freshness in the air. This March, Agora Gallery presents two exhibitions of warming, approachable art. The show begins on March 4, 2014 and continues until March 25, 2014, and there’s an opening reception on the evening of Thursday, March 6 for which entrance is free, and art lovers looking for some light and air in their lives are all invited. Don’t miss the chance to see the delightfully varied art in New York City 2014: Synchronicity in the gallery upstairs on the third floor, at the same time!

Dinah Cross James, September Twilight #2

In The Essence of Abstraction we are introduced to the vital, lively and inspirational element that exists within forms and colors. Despite the fact that they generally eschew narrative, these artists infuse each work with a firm sense of purpose and direction which lends the completed piece the ability to enthuse and energize the viewer. Although the artists have their own specific sources of inspiration, which help to provide their works with structure, they leave room for the perspective of their audience, so that the viewing experience becomes in a sense an interactive one.

Mélange of Milieu features the work of artists whose work is grounded in a realistic assessment and understanding of the people around them – for good and for bad. Characterized by an unflinching determination to view the world and humanity as they are, each artist nonetheless finds ways to bring their own personal interpretation to events and ideas, adding a touch of charm, whimsy or optimism to what they see and present to us. The result is art that includes both a careful tension and a feeling of resolution, as if harmony is, if not yet at hand, then at least around the corner.

Ines De Poligny, Splash

Exhibition dates: March 4, 2014 – March 25, 2014
Reception: Thursday, March 6, 2014 6-8 p.m.
Gallery Location: 530 West 25th St, New York City
Gallery Hours: Tues – Sat, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Featured artists:
The Essence of Abstraction: Jian Jun An, Hillary Butler, Agostino Di Munno, Ulrike Fried-Heufel, Charles Goldstein, Claudia Gomez Fernandez, Elva Hreidarsdottir, Dinah Cross James, Lidiya Keiser, Dr. Albert Legault, Jane Magarigal, Christine Meyer, Hoang Ngo Duc, Russell Steven Powell, Gerd Rautert, Juan Fernando Silva
Mélange of Milieu: Fernando Braune, David Cabrefigue, Talal Chadli, Massimo Contran, Ines De Poligny, David Graux, Hyunsoo Kim, Robert Kirov, Edward J. Morét, Anna Mueller, Jim Murphy, STAM, Javier Porras, Gloria Helena Rivera Briceño, Clemencia Uribe Rivera,  Loovan

Art news round-up

Art news from around the world:

There are definitely issues surrounding the Chinese-American art agreement but there are opportunities as well.

Artist resale rights and what to be wary of now that it might really happen.

This Renoir could have looked quite different before its colors faded – take a look.

These third century murals might literally turn to sand, destroyed by natural elements.

Why collectors love Berlin, and what’s next for the city’s art scene.

Popular stories from the week:

Parkinson’s, a daunting work schedule, a dying craft – nothing deters this octogenarian movie billboard painter.

Mapping art history with engaging visualizations.

Words of inspiration, advice and encouragement from artists who know how hard it can be to keep going creatively.

Striking sculptures which appear to be seamless parts of brick walls.

Something to get your week off to a soothing start – let this pelican take you over a stunning national park.

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