5th February 2007 Painting February 2007
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Les filles du calvaire, Bruxellles
Leslie Tonkonow, New York
Lounge, London
Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne
Happy Lion, Los Angeles
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Merlin James, 2006 courtesy of Les filles du calvaire Les filles du calvaire, Bruxellles

Merlin James : painting

Anticipating much of today's painting 'revival', James's practice, evolving over the last two decades, is at once playful and somber, emotive and rigourous, physical and illusionistic. His paintings include elements of landscape, interior and abstraction; depictions of structures such as sea walls and piers; images of figures or anonymous buildings and houses; transcriptions of older art and antique photographs.

Mood is often melancholic or restless. Style and idiom are varied and unpredictable. Concerns with genre, convention and artifice have been a constant in James's work, as part of an interrogation of the language of painting and the nature of aesthetic experience.

While initially suggesting detachment, James's reserve and criticality diverge from much post-modernism in being a 'shield', protecting faculties of responsibility, compassion, empathy and expression. In recent years the work's disarming sexuality, and exploration of such emotive forms as the seascape or portrait, confirm a faith (however resolutely materialist) in the human capacity for feeling, meaning and expression.

Image : Merlin James
Farm Building, 2006
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 30 cm
Courtesy of Galerie les filles du calvaire, Bruxelles

Gallery website

Read on... Les filles du calvaire, Bruxellles

Ian Davis, Banquet 2006, acrylic on canvas Leslie Tonkonow, New York


Ian Davis incorporates the systems and geometry of minimalism within a descriptive style of painting that is timeless in its simplicity. His first one-person show in New York includes twelve paintings produced within the past year and one large work on paper.

In Davis’s universe systems crash and things fall apart. Whether populated or not (very often by groups of identically dressed men), all of his works retain a strong masculine presence, tinged by sardonic humor.

Davis’s figures are iconic representations — soldiers in period costumes, prisoners in stripes, businessmen in skinny black suits — in which the uniform is a formal device that underscores his interest in ideas rather than individuals. Patterning and repetition are used to engender structure and meaning while providing the artist with a kind of trancelike process that enables him to become hypnotically involved in the act of painting itself.

An illustrated catalog, featuring a conversation with the artist, will be published on the occasion of the exihibition.

Ian Davis was born in Indianapolis in 1972. He currently maintains a studio in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Image: Ian Davis
Banquet, 2006
36 x 42 in
Courtesy of Leslie Tonkonow, New York

Gallery website

Read on...Leslie Tonkonow, New York

Greg Rook, Interior, Oil on Linen, 2007 Lounge, London


paintings by
Greg Rook

Greg Rook's new paintings look to the wilderness myth of the first Americans and the landscape which inspired it. Images of fence building, rustic interiors and lonely exteriors, quasi-religious tableaux of sacrifice - these elements echo the 'American' story of the cowboy hero thrown out of the 'civilized' world into the vast and overwhelming wilderness in order to reinvent himself as a more 'natural', purposeful and free being.

They function as a metaphor for the artist's attempts to delineate his own creative and philosphical territory in a world where 'the old maps don't work any more'.

The register of the paintings shifts between knowingness and naivety, reflecting the artist's ambivalence about the loss of the 'grand narrative' and his stubbornly held faith in the possibility of 'meaning'. This inherent contradiction is echoed in the works themselves: cut and pasted from film, photography and the internet, the style and compositions nevertheless rest on the lineage of painting.

Greg Rook studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths College (MA) and Painting at Chelsea College (BA).

Image : Greg Rook
Oil on linen
117cm x 175cm
Courtesy of Lounge, London

Gallery website

Read on...Lounge, London

Kyoko Murase, Nap in Ruby Red, 2006, oil on cotton COHAN AND LESLIE, New York

Kyoko Murase :
Around the Lilac Rock

Cohan and Leslie are pleased to announce the US solo debut exhibition of paintings and works on paper by Kyoko Murase, a Japanese artist based in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Murase has developed a unique practice of combining layers of diaphanous washes and the direct application of dry pigment to create an ethereal, two dimensional world of figures continually dissolving into their ambiguous surroundings, surrendering to fields of water, wind or trees. Murase's world exists in a permanent dream state, or as memories, flickering at the limits of vision and tangibility.

Since Kyoko Murase first studied in her native Japan, followed by a move to Dusseldorf\'s famed Kunstakademie it is natural to see her work as a fusion of Eastern and Western traditions. Her exploitation of two dimensionality and disjointed relationships of scale are typical of the influence of traditional Japanese painting and printmaking on contemporary Japanese painting. However Murase has established a unique practice that clearly sets her apart from cultural confines.

Murase will devote the back gallery to a large wall installation. It is typical of her practice to further articulate her world through installations of unframed drawings, extrapolating them directly onto the open field of the wall in graphite and paint.

Images : Kyoko Murase
Nap in Ruby Red
Oil on cotton
55 x 47 inches
Courtesy of COHAN AND LESLIE, New York

Gallery website

Read on... COHAN AND LESLIE, New York

Xia Xing, 05.06.05 from the series 2005, Oil on Canvas,  70 x 100 cm Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne

Xia Xing: '2005'

Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne is pleased to present the first solo show of Chinese artist Xia Xing outside of China. After his exhibition of “2004” in the Beijing “China Art Archives & Warehouse” (CAAW), this presentation in Lucerne shows the “2005” sequence.

Every day brings new papers, new news, as it were. Like some tidal phenomenon, the deluge of texts and images is flooding the reader’s previously stored information. The picture chronicle begun in 2004 by Xia Xing (born in 1974 in Shihezi, Xinjiang province, now living in Beijing) is an intervention into this stream of oblivion. Ever since 2004, he selects front- page pictures from the “New Beijing News” (Xin Jingbao) and transfers the scenes in these press photos—more or less faithfully to details—in oil and often with broad brushstrokes, on canvasses of identical size: 70 cm in height and 100 cm in width.

Each annual sequence is composed of 60 pictures, each titled with the publication date of the newspaper. The related title page that carried the original photo and the article that went with it are technically part of the work though not necessarily displayed as well.

Xia Xing’s works create an imaginary reversal of time, they turn the standard dogmas of press photography into their opposite. For the principle of such photos is to reach the reader with the most possible up-to- dateness, i.e. with little or no temporal distance from the events shown in the photos. Xia Xing, however, gets the “water under the bridge” to flow back and invests it with a new function. Detached from the concrete headlines, his picture sequence make us realize the transitory character of emotions such as curiosity, outrage or dismay. Recurring motives like the meeting of politicians, mass gatherings, police interventions, mine accidents or environmental disasters show a continuity of the briefly topical, which in retrospect takes all the punch out of the punch line caption.

Image : “05.06.05” from the series “2005”
Oil on Canvas
h: 70 x w: 100 cm
Courtesy of Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne

Gallery website

Read on... Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne

Annelise Coste, courtesy of Reinhard Hauff REINHARD HAUFF, Stuttgart

Annelise Coste - qui suis-je

Galerie Reinhard Hauff is pleased to announce the opening of the third solo show with Anne-Lise Coste (*1973). In her art, as well as in life, the French-born Zürich artist takes a radical approach in which she articulates - in spontaneous drawn or painted gestures - the randomly said, written - thought.

Contrary to the mainstream standardisation of art, she focuses on the fleeting nature of the instant - on the risks and opportunities inherent in every new beginning - and expresses herself with uncompromising honesty.

The blend of picture and text, of drawing and commentary, of personal observations and political engagement have been characteristic of her work for years. In that process, portraiture takes increasing prominence - either as charcoal drawings on paper - or as compositions in acrylic paint on canvas.

In this exhibition, Anne-Lise Coste shows for the first time a group of small canvasses which she refers to as self portraits. The paintings are displayed with a group of over 100 A4 drawings from the past couple of years. In these paintings mask-like faces formed by colourful, thickly applied paint layers stand out on a white background. The rudimentary facial features - nose, eyes and mouth - in these portraits are reminiscent, not so much of deformity, as of a playful “research of the Self” as Anne-Lise Coste explains.

The existentialist question “qui suis-je” (who am I) in both the exhibition title and this very first series of paintings, reflect the artist’s probing search for identity. In this playful disguise she encounters the viewer. Just as Anne-Lise Coste in her prolific body of drawings always drew on her own experience, her own feelings and the conditions of her own Self - without limiting significance myopically to that of her own - the “Who am I” of these paintings can also be understood as the “erosion of that which we life-long thought ourselves to be”.

(Andreas van Dühren, in the catalogue “Anne-Lise Coste: 18 Heads”, Kunsthalle Lingen, 2006).

Image: Annelise Coste, 2006
Courtesy of REINHARD HAUFF, Stuttgart

Gallery website

Read on...REINHARD HAUFF, Stuttgart

Shay Kun, Outburst, 2006, acrylic and oil paint on canvas SEVENTEEN, London

Shay Kun :

Perversion is the love we feel when others feel love

This series of landscape paintings by Shay Kun draws heavily on a very specific historic period and location, namely the Hudson River School of the 19th century.

Kun's landscapes particularly reference Thomas Cole's (1801-1848) reverent paeans to nature and Albert Bierstadt's (1830-1902) towering Yosemite cliff faces, awestruck visions of the sublime in the American West. Both artists focused on idealized pastoral landscapes, whose romanticism is evident in the synthetic composition, and held values that were rapidly dismissed and out of fashion even in their own lifetime.

Kun's works, however, denote their cultural position with the addition of interlopers in the scenery. Applied in acrylic as opposed to the oil background, the inserts are not only out of place and out of scale, but they are moreover out of context, geographically and/or socially.

Pristine vistas are blighted by tightropes, flagpoles, killer-whales and evidence of contemporary human presence; battleships, estate cars and frogmen. The contrast between these contemporary figures and their stylized and specifically dated environment is abrupt, but despite this, they're an almost offensively inadequate substitute for the deities or characters of noble bearing that filled their place in painting of the past centuries. The cut and paste figures seem oddly pathetic, and while their jarring absurdity echoes the Knights and maidens in Thomas Cole's Gothic fantasies The Departure, 1837 and The Return, 1837, their modernity somehow fails to match their romanticized predecessors' august and worthy outlook.

The works, however, remain open-ended as Kun's almost contradictory decision to paint the landscapes himself rather than appropriate or collage onto existing images, implies a degree of sincerity and even a celebration of the Hudson Valley School.

If this much love, labour and effort is employed in the production of these landscapes, perhaps the re- presentation of these aesthetics might be justified beyond any ironic nod to the fickle cycles of art history.

Shay Kun lives and works in New York.

Image : Shay Kun
Outburst, 2006
acrylic and oil paint on canvas
36 x 48 in
Courtesy of Seventeen, London

Gallery website

Read on...SEVENTEEN, London

Alexandra Wiesenfeld, 2007 courtesy of Happy Lion Happy Lion, Los Angeles

Alexandra Wiesenfeld

The Happy Lion is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by Alexandra Wiesenfeld.

The large and medium scale oil paintings depict destroyed and desolate landscapes in which the compositions are littered with human remnants: broken architecture rises from smoldering earth, pearls in a nuclear hot palette festoon sleek black trees.

The absurd environments evoke a delicious tension; both dire and hopeful. Wiesenfeld’s paintings map a psychological terrain suggesting loss, empathy, and rebirth.

Alexandra Wiesenfeld was born in Munich in 1967. She received her BFA from Pomona College in Claremont, CA and her MFA from Montana State University. She has exhibited extensively around the US including Angles Gallery, Track 16, and Post Gallery in Los Angeles, The Roswell Museum of Art in New Mexico, the Dactyl Foundation in New York, Anton Gallery in Washington DC and the Helen Copeland Gallery in Bozeman, Montana. She has held teaching positions at Montana State University and the University of Iowa and currently is an Adjunct Professor of Art at East LA College. Alexandra Wiesenfeld lives and works in Los Angeles.

Image: Alexandra Wiesenfeld, 2006
Courtesy of Happy Lion, Los Angeles

Gallery website

Read on... Happy Lion, Los Angeles

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