Art news round-up

Art news from around the world:

Automakers pledge millions to help the Detroit Institute of Art.

Google has added graffiti art to its art project – some graffiti art, anyway.

UK Culture Minister thinks arts organizations should all be self-funding and calls the alternative ‘pathetic.’

Auction houses and galleries – rivals no more?

Property developers funding public art? Sounded like a great idea. But the Percent for Art law is not being enforced.

Popular stories from the week:

We take artists’ studios for granted – but they haven’t always been like this. They’ve changed over time.

Artists certainly aren’t always loners – but apparently people prefer art made by individuals.

Have you seen the ‘Leg Gun’ yet? It’s a new meme created by Ai Weiwei – but no one knows yet what it means.

These bird sculptures are made from wires – but they look like detailed sketches.

Reception Review: June 12, 2014

by: Justine McCullough, June 14 2014

Agora 2014_0612_0005

This Thursday evening, artists, friends and enthusiasts gathered at Agora Gallery for the opening reception celebrating our current collective exhibitions Evolving Abstraction, Figurative Realms, and New York City 2014: Synchronicity. I had the opportunity to speak with five artists about their artwork and practice, and throughout our conversations, I was particularly interested to learn about their visions and what they hope to impart to viewers.

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Navah Porat is a lifelong artist whose most recent work explores the theme of waiting. “We are always waiting,” Navah explained to me. “Whether for a drink, a doctor, a husband, we are always waiting.” She begins by photographing her subject and then reinterpreting it with oil on canvas, sometimes adding textual components and often altering the clothing, the scene, and even the identity of the subject. “What you see is the last step of the process,” she said as we discussed one of her paintings, which consists of two women seated on a bench. A bird rests atop one woman’s head, a whimsical addition to the painting that Navah explained was crucial to the overall composition. Numbers painted on the background of the painting suggest a clockface and time, and thus waiting. Born in Italy, raised in Argentina, and currently based in Israel, Navah recently completed her MA with a thesis focusing on the aesthetics of the female body. This is Navah’s second exhibition with Agora Gallery.

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Nathan Plung creates dynamic portraits using the celebrated craft of cross-stitch. The artist’s portraits feature famous and historical figures who are “inspirational to everyone for all different reasons,” such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, and Albert Einstein. As Nathan’s work demonstrates, “cross-stitch is not just your typical decorative art. It is art, not craft.” Composed in tones of monochrome, Nathan’s portraits contain vibrant background colors that deliberately reference the subjects’ expression. The portrait of American musician Frank Zappa, for instance, features a deep red background to suggest the musician’s “intensity and anger.” The deep purple background of the portrait of Pablo Picasso references the pensive, sometimes lonely life of an artist. Speaking of another famous figure in art history, it is difficult not to think of Andy Warhol and his iconic portraits of celebrities when viewing Nathan’s work. Born with cerebral palsy, Nathan began working with cross-stitch initially as a motor skill exercise. As he refined his practice, he realized the artistic and expressive opportunities presented by the medium. “My art is about complete expression,” Nathan said.

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Using vibrant colors and various textures and materials in her paintings, AnnaMaria Critelli captures the forces of nature inherent in the universe. “I am very excited about what is happening now,” she said. Her painting Russian Comet, she explained, memorializes a recent cosmic occurrence over Russia. Visually, the painting is a movement of light, with degrees of color suggesting the heat patterns of a comet. “I like to work in a three-dimensional form to engage the viewer,” AnnaMaria told me. Her painting Warp Speed, for instance, is sculptural in places where it has been built up with Plaster of Paris, resulting in a sense of depth that represents the atmosphere as it would appear to a viewer seeing an aircraft fly toward him or her. “Every time I paint I try to use a different surface,” she said. This is AnnaMaria’s second exhibition with the gallery. “Agora is so inspiring to artists,” she told me. “It is a venue for artists to be creative and true to who they are.”


Elisabeth Radomsky’s current exhibition is her first at Agora. An internationally renowned portraitist, Elisabeth explained to me that a good portrait “must show the soul of a person, and still-lifes and seascapes are the same.” Her paintings portray moments in time that reveal “the beauty and tragedy all around us.” When she shoots photographs, she sometimes thinks, “What a painting that would be!” Elisabeth’s classical and romantic landscapes begin with the camera, where she shoots what moves her and then translates the images into paintings with imaginative elements. “I capture what moves my heart,” Elisabeth told me. Indeed, her painting Bella Venezio was inspired by her honeymoon trip to Venice. Looking at the window that covers the composition of this painting, one can imagine life in the Italian city. She told me about a window in Venice where she could see a woman watering plants – although the woman is not pictured in the painting, one can practically sense her.


Self-taught UK artist Neil Masterman has been painting professionally since the 1990s. During the reception at Agora Gallery, Neil was traveling by boat from England to New York, where he arrived the day following the reception. He sat down with me at the gallery to discuss his work. His favorite among his paintings currently on display at Agora is Earth, Wind and Fire. “I thought about it quite a long time,” he explained. “I wanted to create space using color.” Indeed, the vibrant colors flow into each other, moving the eye and holding one’s attention. A Fellow of the Royal Chartered Institute of Building, Neil has extensive experience and technical skill in sketching and design. “I like to have fun and jolt the viewer,” he told me. Despite the artist’s obvious and infectious playfulness, some of his work exudes alternate qualities. Neil told me about another painting, Cypress Trees, inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s treatment of the same subject, and how a copy of which hangs in a dentist’s office. “The painting is restful,” Neil told me. For a painting hanging in a dentist’s office, this is a fine quality, indeed.

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The current exhibitions, Evolving Abstraction, Figurative Realms, and New York City 2014: Synchronicity, are on view until July 1, 2014. Each offers a rich and diverse selection of some of the most exciting contemporary artists working today. All of these artists and more have their artwork for sale on To keep updated with happenings at the gallery, please subscribe to our blog and join our mailing list.

Exhibition: Evolving Abstraction; Figurative Realms

At Agora Gallery we’re celebrating the beginning of summer with artworks to enliven and inspire. With not one but two exhibitions full of beauty, insight and charm, and a third delightful show in the gallery space upstairs, you’re sure to find something to your taste this month. The show opens on June 10 and runs for the rest of the month, ending on July 1. The opening reception will take place on the evening of June 12, and all art lovers are warmly encouraged to attend.

Peter Watson, Patchinko Sound

Peter Watson, Patchinko Sound

The works in Evolving Abstraction seek to lift the veil of commonly perceived reality to expose and investigate the forms, hues and concepts that lie beneath. The result is something that has a tinge of magic about it, as if we are being introduced to secrets that are offering to share themselves so that our vision may become more attentive, and ultimately more creative. The sense of half-suppressed energy that characterizes these pieces only enhances the feeling that there is something here out of the ordinary – and appealingly extraordinary.

Figurative Realms presents the artwork of artists who seek to open our eyes to the connections and complexities that make up our shared world. Although they remain consistently grounded in lived experience with which we can all relate, they take their observations and memories to another level, investing them with a feeling of freshness and bringing out new perspectives which enrich the works themselves and the perceptions of those who see them.

Steven R. Hill, Fisherman Bay Peninsula Path

Steven R. Hill, Fisherman Bay Peninsula Path

Don’t forget that you can add more art to your day by visiting the wonderful works on view in New York City 2014: Synchronicity, in the gallery on the floor above Agora’s main gallery.

Exhibition: June 10, 2014 – July 1, 2014
Reception: Thursday, June 12, 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:
Evolving Abstraction: Murielle Argoud, Yuka Chokai, AnnaMaria Critelli, David DuTremble, Samantha Emery, Hannah Greenberg, Lynn Izzard, Chris Langley, Neil Masterman, B.A Mintz, Dmitry Sostakovich, Eponine Saint Hillier, Fahim Somani, Antoinette Tontcheva, Peter Watson
Figurative Realms: Shawn Belanger, Monique B., Sherwin Paul Gonzales, Steven R. Hill, Sylva Kanderal, Nick Kontostavlakis, Jules Miller, Mila, Nathan Plung, Marie-Luise Quandt, Elisabeth Radomsky, David Rosenthal, Yves Siegrist, Varda Yoran, Arlette Zurbuchen

Art news round-up

Art news from around the world:

Egypt’s artists continue to defy censorship despite clampdown leading up to elections.

Famed performance artist Marina Abramovic is causing controversy again – this time, the discussion has erupted around claims that she’s plagiarizing ‘nothing.’

Courageous firefighters saved much at the Glasgow School of Art. A ‘small army’ of conservators volunteer to fix the rest.

The latest in the Detroit museum saga - creditors want the whole collection to be fair game.

Street art used to be almost entirely male-dominated. It still is – but increasingly, not by as much.

US Ambassador turns London home into space for contemporary art.

Popular stories from the week:

Keep an eye out while you drive – this summer, 50,000 US billboards will be transformed into art.

Fun idea – if paintings had soundtracks…

I love Matisse – and these children seem quite impressed, too.

Creativity – when insight is combined with the hard work of analytical processing.

Living sculptures are exhibited at the Atlanta Botanical Garden – like topiary, but with more emphasis on color.

Art from anything – coral reef sculptures made out of household objects.

What We Think about Creativity – and Why You Should Care

At Agora Gallery, we’re in constant contact with people for whom creativity is both a natural part of their daily existence and a drive to self-expression that is almost an extension of themselves. It’s easy to take it for granted – but sometimes it’s worth taking a step back and reflecting on what it looks like from the outside.

Clemencia Uribe Rivera, Calentamiento en Barra 2, 1993

Clemencia Uribe Rivera, Calentamiento en Barra 2, 1993

It turns out that the way we think about creativity is informed by hidden preconceptions – slightly surprising ones! A series of recent studies indicated that for many people, eccentricity is linked to creative success. People introduced to artworks they’d never seen before were more likely to appreciate them and enjoy the viewing experience if they were told that the artist was eccentric rather than conventional, or if they were shown a photograph of the artist wearing ‘unconventional’ clothes rather than ordinary ones.[Tweet “People introduced to artworks they’d never seen before were more likely to appreciate them if told the artist was eccentric”]

In part, of course, this merely reflects a stereotype which is obviously more powerful than most of us working in the art world realize – the idea of artists as people who prefer to work in the middle of the night, keep paintbrushes behind their ears, break off conversations to scribble in their notebooks and run a risk of cutting off their own ears (ok, that one might be just Van Gogh). While one or two of the attributes of this mythical being might sound familiar, few artists embody many of these traits. We’re people, just like everyone else!

John Wolter, Ride that Moa

John Wolter, Ride that Moa

But as well as that, there is something interesting here. That unconscious bias is an indication that people expect artists to be a little different – to be able to think outside the box, to view things with a perspective not available to everyone. Essentially, there is an expectation of vision.

Why should you care? Well, for two main reasons – neither of which is that you ought to start behaving eccentrically when clients are around!

Etsuko Shida, Creative Thinking

Etsuko Shida, Creative Thinking

1) The time that you spend developing ideas, the occasions when you’re taken aback by how differently you perceive an issue to the way everyone else around you does, the moments when you worry about whether you should make an effort to fit in and not stand out… These are all connected to your vision, and your drive to create. Not only is this a positive thing for you as an artist, it’s what the rest of the world expects of you anyway. Embrace it.[Tweet “Everyone expects artists to be a little eccentric – so embrace it, and maintain integrity in your work”]

2) Remember this when you’re wavering about whether to maintain integrity in your work. Have you started to find yourself thinking first of the audience, and second of your art? Do you wonder about what will sell more than you think about your creative process and how to engage with it? Don’t. Your work will be better if you’re honest with it and with yourself – and that’s what your viewers expect, too, even if it’s on an unconscious level.

Neema Lal, Dream

Neema Lal, Dream

Of course, you shouldn’t ignore the practical considerations; you do need to be aware of your market, and how to work within it, and you should work on presenting yourself and your work appropriately to potential buyers. But approach these challenges from the perspective of someone who respects and is rooted in their own creative drive – you might be surprised by how much this helps!

Art news round-up

Art news from around the world:

The iconic library of Glasgow School of Arts has been lost to fire – but there’s hope for archives, building, & art.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has just released a massive collection of hi-res images which you can download!

20 months later, that Rothko is back on display – and you wouldn’t know from looking that it had ever been vandalized.

Another protest, this one inside NYC’s Guggenheim itself, over working conditions building the museum in Abu Dhabi.

Latin American art – finally being taken seriously in U.S. museums?

Popular stories from the week:

Florence might have as many as 1,500 works by female artists in storage – but most haven’t been seen in centuries.

How arts and music really do help in schools – A case study.

When Diego Rivera met Frida Kahlo for the first time – she was a teenager totally focused on art, and he had no idea what was going on.

These ‘ice books’ are made of frozen river water, studded with seeds – and are designed to melt away with time.

Ordinary objects transformed into conceptual art… I can’t decide if my favorite is the headphones or the eggs!

ARTisSpectrum Volume 31

It’s May, and the seasons are changing all over the world – but at Agora Gallery, May means ARTisSpectrum! The latest issue is now out, and as always provides a useful and fascinating insight into the world of fine art and artists. If you’re in New York, you can pick up a copy at Barnes and Noble, various other locations around the city, or of course the gallery itself. If you’re not, you can subscribe to receive the magazine to your door or read the magazine online.


In Volume 31, Agora Gallery’s own Angela Di Bello discusses the intricacies of building your own art collection. She discusses the factors that are most crucial to bear in mind and gives essential advice to anyone thinking of collecting contemporary artwork. There is also a Spotlight piece featuring the work of Shokoufeh Malekkiani, a lawyer who discovered that she could contribute more to the world through her brave, moving and thought-provoking photography.

One of the highlights of every edition of ARTisSpectrum is the collection of artist profiles that it provides, which introduce the reader to some of the talented artists emerging onto the global art scene. Their mediums, styles and motivations vary enormously, but the skill and passion behind their work does not, and each profile sheds light on their different, fascinating creative processes and artworks.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Any art lovers thinking of visiting New York will want to read the article that gives tips for making the most out of a visit to the must-see collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The wonderful artworks there are categorized by different topics, times or themes, and divided between the various wings of the museum. A visit there can be a fantastic experience – but it can also be overwhelming if you haven’t prepared for it. ARTisSpectrum is here to help!

You can also learn about the pleasure and the challenge of plein air painting, the nature of the experience of exhibiting art in NYC, and hints for how to enjoy the art scene in cities around the world, as well as more articles on a range of issues and areas that are crucial to an understanding of contemporary art and the art world, including a gorgeous photo-essay on the challenges and satisfactions of underwater photography.

Pick up a copy, sit back, and enjoy!


Belgian Painter Max Werner Astounds with Large-Scale Landscapes


Monsters at the Museum is a very popular piece at Max Wener’s solo exhibition.

At Agora Gallery in Suite 301, we invite you to revel in the sweeping landscapes, preparatory sketches, and often ironic scenes of Belgium-born Max Werner. Max originally taught printmaking at the Byam Shaw School of Art and the Slade School of Art, before establishing his own etching workshop in London. In Buenos Aires, Werner was represented by Art House Gallery, and was moved by the vibrancy of Argentinean art to develop his painting. “Once I saw the colors,” he told me, “I knew I couldn’t go back.”



Preparatory sketches play an imperative role in Werner's development of a landscape.

Preparatory sketches play an imperative role in Werner’s development of a landscape.

Beyond the Horizon: Max Werner / A Solo Exhibition traverses the landscapes that Werner appropriated throughout his travels, some of which portray the dry plains of central Spain, the blustering Scottish coast, and the American Midwest. He executes his work with astonishing realism, but there remains some mysterious, graphic quality in these pieces that secedes natural observation. In the artist’s words, “I am a painter of the imagination.” Werner does not often paint at the scene, but instead takes photographs and composes pencil studies to refine his vision. “I don’t want to be restricted to one idea,” he told me, indicating the piece Adieu Old Mate: “On this day I noticed the way the clouds opened, and illuminated this area of sand. I wanted to capture this in the foreground.”

In Adieu, Old Mate [center], Werner balances contrasts between light and dark with the small, imagined detail of a seagull.

In Adieu, Old Mate [center], Werner balances contrasts between light and dark with the small, imagined detail of a seagull.

We will host a public reception for Beyond the Horizon: Max Werner / A Solo Exhibition tomorrow night, May 22nd, from 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. The exhibition is on display at Suite 301 of Agora Gallery until June 5th, and we advise you to behold the dynamic and masterful collection before it is gone. Max Werner’s artwork is available for sale on, among others. Also, keep yourself updated with the happenings at Agora Gallery by subscribing to our blog, and joining our mailing list.

Painter Max Werner [center, left] poses with director Angela di Bello [center, right], both of whom will be happy to greet you at our reception.

Painter Max Werner [center, left] poses with director Angela di Bello [center, right], both of whom will be happy to greet you at our reception.

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