Alpaca: Figure, Form and Abstraction
Modeled after the mass movements of valise-carrying artists and others throughout the 20th and 21st century, I have curated a show entitled “Alpaca: Figure, Form, & Abstraction.” It is a playful art-historical tracing of various dimensions and theorizations of painting. Included are artists from Los Angeles and New York, who propose common identities within paint. There is a breadth of approaches, shuffling between the poles of conceptual and narrative abstract painting, suggesting a closer read into our current moment. Paying a particular focus on mobility, the exhibition aims to highlight the importance and value of physical representation to promote public discourse as it travels to Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris.
The second catalyst for this show stems from a reinvestigation of mobility and scale. In 2008, Thomas McCormick curated a traveling show entitled, Suitcase Paintings: Small Scale Abstract Expressionism. This title is derived from dealer Larry Aldrich, who coined the phrase “suitcase paintings”. This project/exhibition proposes that, despite the iconic status of large-scale Abstract Expressionist paintings, many important abstract works have been produced at 20 inches or smaller. This exhibition shows that small dimensions do not bar monumentality.
It is at this point where “Alpaca: Figure, Form and Abstraction” inherits potential discussion – American abstraction becomes a vocabulary rather than a representation of the success or failure of a particular movement. Continuing this theme and play with mobility and scale, this show investigates how the vocabulary of contemporary large-scale abstraction can simultaneously be grand and expansive, yet compact and tight.
I have just left Berlin and wrapped up the first of three exhibitions.The show in Berlin functioned like a durational piece. It followed the transition from day to night and was activated by the viewers. It’s main goals was to elicit an experience with in painting. The viewers could touch some of the work if they so pleased and smell others. The show was guided by what I like to call “loose improv” with origins coming from movement artists Loretta Livingston and Simone Forti.
Upon entering the gallery drinks were offered and the gallery was brightly lit. There was an empty dj set up, but no music. The sound of conversation an dialogue filled the room, while the sun began to set. A poor man’s dinner was served of oven-roasted quarter potatoes with rosemary and garlic. As people ate and inquired further about the work, smoothly the music started. It added extra padding in the room, but was scarcely noticed. Once the sun set, the music got louder and the lights slowly dimmed and then went off. By this point, four hours had passed and most of the attendees were still in the gallery with the paintings. They began to interact and process the work on a different level. Still being very conscious of the work on the walls, new questions began to arise, while dancing. After about an hour of dancing, the attention returned back to the work. The lights and music came to an equal place. Some people danced and some continued into further debate. There was a broad variety of people who attended and I engaged with both artists and non-artists. I was also very pleased to have been cornered by a few philosophers and art historians as well. Those who attended came from all over. Alpaca followed after the UDK (Art school in Berlin) Open Studios and many of the young artists knew about this opening. I am left wondering, where did the open-minded mentality came from? Was it the community of people I happened to get involved with? Or was this just the attitude of Berlin?
Here is a link to a short just taste the opening in Berlin
This weekend is the second opening of the exhibition in Amsterdam and I am very curious to see how things will develop here in Holland.
Here is a link to the show:
I will send additional images, as well as observations on the proceedings from Amsterdam and Paris