|The First Art Newspaper on the Net
||Established in 1996
|| Saturday, December 16, 2017
|Almine Rech Gallery in Paris opens exhibition of works by Alex Israel|
Alex Israel, Pelican, 2017. External: Acrylic on fiberglass Internal: stainless steel, aluminum, plastic, 38 x 203 x 119 cm / 15 x 79 7/8 x 46 7/8 inches. Edition of 3 + 2 AP. © Alex Israel. Photo: Zarko Vijatovic Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech Gallery.
by Eric Troncy
PARIS.- Earlier this year, Alex Israel told me that his spirit animal was a pelican. He came to this conclusion while filming his forthcoming teen movie SPF-18there was always a pelican sneaking into the background of the scenes he was recording. He further explained that pelicans are the closest living animals to pterodactyls, and that they can be found up and down the coast of California. At the time, he had just started working on a sculpture of a pelican with Michael Curry, who designed animal puppets for the Broadway musical The Lion King. Alex wanted this sculpture to be suspended in the air, and its flight to be manually activated by the viewers. He sent me a video of Michael Curry commenting on a prototype flying above his head in a big warehouse. The object looked a little like those hanging mobiles for children, traditional wooden toys representing birds, whose wings flap when a string is pulled. Even though the object was rather rudimentary at this preliminary stage, the video nevertheless showed the sophistication of the mechanism animating the pelicans wings, while Michael Curry discussed the technical details of its fabrication, (ie. the position of the string activating the flapping of the wings, the number of attachment points on the ceiling, the tensile strength of the cables160 lbs.the duration of the movement, etc.).
The finalized sculpture is now exhibited all by itself in a room at Almine Rech Gallery. The intricacies of its genesis are not immediately apparent; instead, a sense of simplicity prevails as it does with all the artists works, from Flats to Lenses, or Sky Backdrops to Self-Portraits. Indeed, his works always seem extraordinarily simple, belying the complexity of the processes through which they came into being. They present themselves with an immediacy that makes them seem benevolent, friendly, or almost compassionate in a way. Unlike so many artworks nowadays, Israels works arent particularly contentious. They appeal neither to our tolerance, nor our cynicism, nor even our credulity; in short, they are the ideal artworks for Generation Wuss, an expression coined by Bret Easton Ellis to describe those Millennials who avoid conflict and repress criticism at any cost. What is remarkable about this era, in which Israels practice thrives, is that it bears witness for the very first time in the history of the avant-garde to a generation of artists who do not oppose the preceding one, nor the other ones before that. It is a generation that likes, yet never dislikesa judgment deemed so taboo that Instagram and Facebook dont even offer it as an option.
When the string is pulled, the bird engages in a gracious and hypnotic movement for about a minute: its eyelids start blinking, and its wings begin to flap. Since the automated sculptures of Jean Tinguely or Takis, the possibilities for animated sculpture have evolved in tandem with the emergence of new technologies. Yet, the blunt reality of such animatronics couldnt be more opposed to the disarming quietude of our pelican, which offers a kind of commentary on them through its use of a hand-powered spring mechanism. Its resolutely low-tech appearance further brings to mind Georges Braques Oiseaux noirs or the simple paper cut-out birds of Henri Matisse. As is the case with all outstanding artworks or exhibitions, the sculpture distinguishes itself through its ability to trigger a multitude of associations, which arise spontaneously like pop-ups on a computer screen, a rich ensemble inviting the mind to go beyond mere comprehension.
Alex Israel has titled the monograph, which has just been published on his work, b. 1982, Los Angeles. The two pieces of information that constitute this title define what characterizes his arthis generation and the city of Los Angeles being decisive factors when it comes to approaching his practice, which might be conceived as a continual self-portrait, figuratively speaking. In a more literal sense however, his portrait (the signature outline of his face) gives form to many of his paintings, the contents of which are drawn from photographic images. Among his latest Self-Portrait paintings, one depicts a pelican on the waterfront in Santa Barbara, which served as the model for the one flying at Almine Rech Gallery. Another represents three surfers, all young but each a different age, all wearing black wetsuits. Further on in the exhibition are the artists new Self-Portrait sculptures, which also reference wetsuits. Made of painted aluminum, Alex Israels body was cast to give shape to these sculptures, which celebrate Los Angeles by alluding to one of the citys most emblematic sports. Their stiffness, however, and their lack of heads, hands, or feet, make them more evocative of Greco-Roman statues and the remains of lost civilizations than of surfing per se.
The title of Alex Israels previous exhibition at Almine Rech Gallery (June 13 July 25, 2015) was Summer. He has titled this new one Summer 2. In doing so, he has adopted the strategy of the sequel, commonly used for tentpole summertime films by Hollywood studios. However, while Israels art certainly has narrative ambitions akin to those of a fictional movie or TV show, its overall purpose is arguably closer to that of a documentary (dedicated to Los Angeles) or a biopic (dedicated to Alex Israel). No matter what, his work exemplifies the ways in which art and entertainment coexist and cross-inform one another in our current day and age.
June 19, 2017
Museum Barberini opens "From Hopper to Rothko: America's Road to Modern Art"
Exhibition at the Morgan Library & Museum explores French drawing in the Classical Age
Scottish National Gallery opens "Beyond Caravaggio"
National Gallery of Ireland re opens with "Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry"
Giovanni, Alberto, Diego and Augusto Giacometti "a Casa" now open
Rijksmuseum exhibits examples of Dutch micro-carving from the late Middle Ages
Exhibition explores life of actress, activist and icon Marlene Dietrich
Major Alphonse Mucha touring exhibition opens at Liverpool's Walker Art Gallery
Steven Kasher Gallery opens first ever exhibition of photographer Alfonso "Fons" Iannelli
Heaven and Hell: New exhibition at the San Antonio Museum of Art explores Pure Land Buddhism
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston organizes first-ever museum exhibition of revolutionary Chinese 'bapo' paintings
Westfälischer Kunstverein exhibits five new sculptures by Tom Burr
A new exhibition, Gay UK: Love, Law and Liberty, opens at the British Library
Leading London silver dealer to present antique silver for modern times at Masterpiece London 2017
At the world's premier show for Modern and contemporary works, exceptional sales across all sectors
"Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic" makes final stop in Oklahoma
Multi-part exhibition curated by London-based curator Morgan Quaintance opens at Pi Artworks
Documenta 14 to collaborate on show in Luanda with Fundação Sindika Dokolo
Category winners announced for World Illustration Awards 2017
Aurélien Froment opens the solo exhibition 'Double Tales' at M
Now on view at the Getty Museum: The Borghese-Windsor Cabinet
The Venet Foundation opens exhibition of works by Fred Sandback
"American Artists and the Legacy of the Grand Tour, 18801960" opens at Vanderbilt University
Almine Rech Gallery in Paris opens exhibition of works by Alex Israel
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- A petition decries 'suggestive' painting at New York's Met
2.- Leonardo Da Vinci sold for $450 million is headed to Louvre Abu Dhabi: Official
3.- Desperately seeking this Frida Kahlo painting. Last seen in Poland
4.- Lubaina Himid becomes oldest winner of United Kingdom's Turner Prize
5.- Two Gustav Klimt masterpieces on loan to the National Gallery of Canada
6.- Frick makes its most significant painting purchase in nearly 30 years
7.- Met Opera suspends Levine after sex abuse allegations
8.- Louvre launches appeal to acquire King François I's Book of Hours
9.- Smart-Guard, a new way to pack, ship and store fine art
10.- Save Venice Inc. restores Titian's Madonna di Ca' Pesaro
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.