Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thangka Painting with Sonam Rinzin Starts Sept. 20

Starting Saturday, September 20th, renowned artist and teacher Sonam Rinzin will be giving classes on the Tibetan art of Thangka painting and drawing at the gallery in Park Slope, Brooklyn. See details here.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Full House (west) Opens July 25th in St. Paul, MN

Full House (west), a visual dialogue between painters from Saint Paul, Minnesota and NYC, brought together by Paulette Myers-Rich and David Rich, opens on Friday, July 25th. This show coincides with Full House (east), which will commence in August and run through September 2014 at ethan pettit gallery.

exhibition home page
exhibition catalog (pdf download)
facebook invitation
photos of opening night in St. Paul
video of the St. Paul show

Jim Denomie, Attack on New Ulm, oil on canvas 26 x 32” 2012
Barbara Kreft, JCH, oil on canvas 8 x 8” 2014
Todd Bienvenu, The Space Between Us, oil on paper 15 x 13” 2014
Marcy Rosenblatt, Moonshade, oil on canvas 16 x 16” 2012

Gili Levy, gouache on canvas, 30 x 25 in. 2014
Elisa Jensen, Flushing oil/canvas 8 x 10” 2014
Robert Egert, Will You be Calling In? oil, charcoal, acrylic, pigmented glue on linen 24 x 30” 2014

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Summer Hours: By Appointment Only

From June 29 through the month of August, the gallery will be open by appointment only.  Regular weekend hours will commence again on Saturday, September 6.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Barbara Friedman - Closing Party

Please join us on Sunday, June 22, from 6PM-midnight, at a Closing Party for Barbara Friedman's show DEPORTRAITURE.

Location details are here.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

KB in Venice

Pool Cue Archery Bow Cello from 1981, is one of a large group of Ken Butler's pieces now on display in Art or Sound, a survey that spans four centuries of musical instruments and curiosities.

The mere fact that the esteemed founder of "Arte Povera" Germano Celant has chosen to put Ken Butler in any show is a cause for comment, never mind what the show is about. As it happens this is not exactly an Arte Povera show, but rather an historical survey of musical objects from over the course of four centuries. It is, however, a bit of a curatorial "spill" in the manner of Arte Povera. Very old decorative artifacts and sundry pieces of Weimar whimsy are rolled out into the company of objects from the historical avant-garde.

Antiques are pressed into the service of conceptual art, and all the objects in the show concern "the relationship between art and sound" or the "iconic aspect" of musical instruments. Never mind the context or the century of origin of anything, there is a theory that carries them all in a Prada handbag, whose foundation is sponsoring the show. So it is a good chance to see some beautiful and interesting objects from all over the map, and some really dull moves from the 1970s as well.

Adolphe Sax, Natural Trumpet, 1866–84, brass

But I will say this, Ken Butler's "hybrid visions" stand up to an Adolphe Sax trumpet or a dazzling old street organ, as much as they stand out against the stylistic uniformity of most of the avant-garde and postmodern representation here. Butler really is a new species in the art world, and in Venice it shows. His work has old world charm, and it looks and feels snappy in the generally mortified acres of assemblage art of our times.

I'll venture that Butler's work is the lynchpin of this show. His work is historically sensitive to the older artifacts. It responds to the antique functional objects as well as it does to the newer and patently art historical pieces. And what's more, Ken Butler's instruments are thoroughly and all about the confluence of objects and sounds.

Musical Chairs, roto-picker (for 8 chairs and channels) concept drawing 23.5 x 18 in. 2005. See enhanced album of these drawings.

Rifle Cello, exhibited at Test-Site in Williamsburg, early 1990s

Art or Sound, June 7 - November 3, 2014
Ken Butler's page on our website

Monday, May 19, 2014

Deportraiture: Recent Paintings by Barbara Friedman

April 20 - June 29, 2014
Opening Reception: Saturday, April 19, 6-9PM

Barbara Friedman, Cropped Gertrude, oil on linen 2014

Press Release (pdf download 4.6 MB)
The “portrait” has been Barbara Friedman’s idiom of choice in recent years, and yet portraiture is only one dimension of what the critic Lilly Wei calls, without exaggeration, a “formally inventive” approach to painting. These are instinctive and erudite paintings, and they summon a formidable range of strategies. Friedman sets up her easel in museums and pretends to copy the old masters, a trope she associates with “lady” painters. Then comes a subtle but unrelenting process of distortion, destruction, and recovery.

Friedman is a professor at Pace University, a resident of lower Manhattan, and a veteran of the East Village scene. I met Barbara a few years ago when she visited our showroom in Bushwick. Soon after that she became represented at our gallery, and since then she has also showed at Valentine, Studio 10, and Storefront Ten Eyck. Her unearthly portraits have cast a prolonged gaze into this inscrutable demimonde. They are tuned to the habits and the jitters of people who prowl the galleries of Brooklyn and downtown at the present time. And this quality sets them off, distinguishes them as a keen synthesis of painterly and temporal issues.

We are thrilled to be opening Deportraiture on April 19th, a large show of Friedman’s recent work. This show will occupy the front and back rooms of our gallery, it is a thorough display of the work of a painter who has already made a strong showing in Brooklyn. We are honored and proud to host this show, and I hope you will join us for the opening.

— Ethan

Saturday, May 3, 2014

BLASTA! - a thought about allegory in immersive art

Vlasta Volcano, Signs Along the Road, at Art in General, 1993
A good friend who is Serbian brought to my attention early this year, a piece made by Vlasta Volcano some 20 years ago for a show at Art in General about Yugoslav identity. That dimension of the work was lost on me when I first saw the photo. Volcano was a member of the Immersive scene in Williamsburg, and so my initial response to this work of his was from that perspective. Here’s what I wrote about it almost a year ago:

They are figures, like Rodin or Giacometti, except they appear in abject material in a desolate place. Out of the bubbling coils of melting rubber, phantoms peel out and spring to life ... on a ghetto beach, oh brave new world. From an artist's hand light of touch, comes a first rate exposition in Vlasta's work of a certain ... insouciant minimalism of warehouse art of the time. A very simple process, burn rubber tires on the waterfront. A regular fine art foundry. And why not. Everyone else is doing it. If you can have machine shops and fabricators making your art, it stands to reason that you should make art at the ass end of industry as well. Off the schmelting rubber come leaping lords and hipstresses. Vlasta did not draw or paint, he lit a fire, and he caught our shadows all the same. 
— Ethan, January 6, 2014

1992-93 was a very dark time in Yugoslavia, and there were a number of Serbs and Croats in the local art scene. As it happened I fell in with that crowd for a while. My friend Jelena Tomic is Serbian by way of Paris, I introduced her to my old friend Ivan Kustura, who is Croatian and a painter whom I knew from a circle of Greenpoint artists in the mid-80s. And soon we were drinking at Teddy's with eight or nine other Yugoslavians.

Vlasta Volcano, from photos taken between 1990-93.

Volcano is Serbian, and I knew him the way people in close art communities know each other. That is to say, like family, even though we rarely ever spoke to each other. Though I do recall one funny exchange with him at El Sensorium some 20 years ago. Volcano was wearing a strip of duct tape over his mouth for most of that evening. At some point I caught him without the tape, and I asked him if he thought the phenomenon of fame and celebrity might be an evolutionary precursor to some form of social telepathy that might become highly articulated in another 40 thousand years or so. More articulate, less bombastic, but getting there, at a simian pace, so to speak.

“Could be” he said.

Volcano was in the fakeshop circle for a while, a principal branch of Immersionism, and he always struck me as a most chill and immersive dude indeed. I called him “Blasta.” But I am only now connecting with this artist’s interesting work and its position in the Brooklyn movement.

I gather this work is made from burnt or unravelled automobile tires. I do think it is Rodin-like, in the sense that it is form achieved in a release of energy and raw materiality. It is exemplary immersive sculpture. A calculated event in material. He uses no arty trappings or skills known to the genres. A process will be deployed, upon such material as is readily available. No rules of the minimalists are broken. But a completely different world from theirs is revealed.

In 1998 Craig Owens located the “allegorical impulse” within minimalism and material art, and extended it to the postmodern art that followed. The immersive artists are also allegorical, but they absorbed this irritating chestnut from the history of art in a different way. They turned away from the analytic approach that was prevalent in the 80s, and used a synthetic approach closer to the materialist aesthetics of an earlier era. But instead of being denuded of allegory or approaching it in a measured and astringent manner such as in the work of Robert Smithson or Robert Morris, we have in immersive sculpture an art that is saturated, bloated, impregnated with senses of allegory and narrative. This may be one reason why this movement was at once so seductive to so many thousands who experienced it as entertainment, but maybe not symbolically explicit enough for many people in the art world at that time.

When Lauren Szold was making her seminal immersive work in Williamsburg in 1990-91, and when I interviewed her at that time, she spoke plenty about the meanings suggested by the raw material content of her work. But she also told me she tried to avoid any obvious cultural references, objects and symbols plucked wholesale from the culture. And there are other immersive works in which narrative is ingrained in the work, but not the imperative in its fabrication. Dennis Del Zotto comes to mind, the “plastic fog” of Frank Shifreen at the Flytrap, and of course the schemes of Lalalandia are emblematic of the movement.

The only hitch here with using the term “allegory” in this connection, is that this term has a precise meaning in literature and art. It means to tell one story by means of another, and usually this means to recover some aspect of the past, of history usually, and pitch it as a new “story” that can be comprehended by a present-day audience. Napoleon as Caesar for example. But when we get into modern speculations about allegory, the term does tend to get turned around in the general shuffle of thinking about language and signs and how they work. Still, even if we take liberties with the definition, allegory is a resilient, probably hard-wired attribute of our relationship to any aesthetic experience. It may not appear in present-day art in a literal “this-for-that” formulation, but allegory may be mixed in with the aggregate, so to speak, of a concrete and material form of art.

Volcano's work here is an example of allegory in immersive sculpture. It clearly suggests a lively narrative space, but it just as easily can stand for nothing but process and material. And it's funny!

Volcano, early- to mid-90s. With Ignatio Platas. Brooklyn or lower Manhattan. Photo by Megan Raddant
See my Facebook album on Immersionism