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The Butler
Discreet but eager, well-placed if not well-heeled, awash with syntax but void of irony, he attends to Matters Esthetica that abound in the House of Culture
Recent Activity
Rodney McMillian’s work limns absence as an unmitigated presence. His take on absence is more sensuous than cerebral. He doesn’t deconstruct the idea of absence and then rebuild it as a dialectical opposition, positing that what’s not seen, felt, experienced is as significant, perhaps more so, as that which is. He waxes nostalgic, as Van Gogh does in his painting of the empty chair in which sat his chum Paul Gauguin when he dropped in... Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
In her eight large paintings on show at Patricia Correiea, Helene Slavin creates instant patina. Looking aged, well-used, as if they’ve been sitting in an attic, her works resemble maps that mischevious schoolchildren have dipped in coffee. Actually, they’re built up from layers of acrylic, encaustic, and oil applied via gesture, splash, and squiggle. They appear aged because Slavin drenches her canvases with mute color. Colors are on the brink of strident, as if seen... Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
Hans Burkhardt responds to war with deep felt feelings of rage, horror, and disgust. Moreover, he expresses these feelings with a sure hand that takes us to the brink of annihilation and back. It’s an exhausting process because Burkhardt’s catharsis is our catharsis, his redemption, of himself, of mankind, is ours, too. Born in 1904 in Basel, Switzerland, he moved to New York in 1924 and to Los Angeles in 1937. As he told Colin... Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
If Blum & Poe’s gallery one is thought of as the face of a clock, the first of Julian Hoeber’s nine acrylic varnish and sumi ink paintings, moving clockwise, would occur at 40 minutes past the hour. The final piece would be at 20 past. Cumulatively this suggests pictorial time that picks up near the middle and ends somewhat before the end, which thereby temporalizes our experience of the show as tenuous. Tenuous too is... Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION The fourth Qalandiya International (QI) will take place from October 3rd - October 30th. Also known as the Palestine Biennial, it’s the largest contemporary art event in Palestine. This year's QI examines the theme of Solidarity. Exhibitions and programs will take place throughout the country. Sites include Jerusalem, Gaza, Ramallah, Al Bireh, Birzeit, and several Palestinian villages. It will feature the work of dozens of Palestinian and international artists (See below). Solidarity-themed events will... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION. Since the Reagan administration, Robbie Conal has made and distributed more than 100 street posters that lampoon more-than-deserving politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, and televangelists. His themes have included the environment, censorship, war, and the Supreme Court (but, alas, not the current Kavanaugh kerfuffle). He’s been called “America’s foremost street artist,” and with good reason. His bleak, zombie apocalypse Cabinet of Horrors features almost two dozen routine abusers of power, authority and trust: Donald Trump, his... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION Farah Khelil was born in Carthage, Tunisia. She graduated from the Institute of Fine Arts in Tunis. She holds a PhD in Art and Art Sciences from Paris/Pantheon - Sorbonne. She lives and works in Paris. Graines de pensée is her first solo exhibition at the Selma Feriani Gallery, Tunis, Tunisia. Her work in the show includes installations made from documents, objects, refuse and plant elements. There is also a slide show, collages, and... Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION. The fourth Qalandiya International (QI) will take place from October 3rd - October 30th. Also known as the Palestine Biennial, it’s the largest contemporary art event in Palestine. This year's QI examines the theme of Solidarity. Exhibitions and programs will take place throughout the country. Sites include Jerusalem, Gaza, Ramallah, Al Bireh, Birzeit, and several Palestinian villages. It will feature the work of dozens of Palestinian and international artists (See below). Solidarity-themed events will... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION. The fourth Qalandiya International (QI) will take place from October 3rd - October 30th. Also known as the Palestine Biennial, it’s the largest contemporary art event in Palestine. This year's QI examines the theme of Solidarity. Exhibitions and programs will take place throughout the country. Sites include Jerusalem, Gaza, Ramallah, Al Bireh, Birzeit, and several Palestinian villages. It will feature the work of dozens of Palestinian and international artists (See below). Solidarity-themed events will... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION. What the world needs now is an updated metaphor for the human condition. One that captures the anxiety, uncertainty, and glibness of a digitally-infused social media global culture that flickers furiously with zeroes and ones, signifying nothing. Enter Alexander Iskin (interview here). At times, you can barely recognize the Berlin-based artist’s figures. An arm or shin, an elbow or knee, a torso, aslant, askew, and asunder. At other times, fully-formed figures hurdle an obstacle... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION Alexander Iskin (review here) was born 1990 in Moscow. He lives and works in Berlin. His solo shows include: The Future is Neanderthal (2017) at DSC Gallery, Prague, CZ Apple Sauce in Paradise (2016) and Reality Express, (2015) at SEXAUER, Berlin His group shows include Salon der Gegenwart (2017) in Hamburg
 Below please find an interview with Mr. Iskin on the occasion of his exhibition “ALEXANDER ISKIN: PLANET TOPSPIN” at Track 16 Gallery. This... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION. In 1914, the city of Long Beach hired two men to work as bounty hunters. Their pay? $15 a head. Their quarry? Social vagrants, i.e., gay men. Exposure for these social vagrants meant humiliation, a fine, prison, exile, or, in one case, suicide. This true story inspired The Twentieth-Century Way, written by Tom Jacobson and directed by Reed Flores for the Long Beach Playhouse Studio Theatre. The premise, direction, and acting are top notch.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION. In the beginning was the Word. Or was it the Light? Nevermind. Greg Mocilnikar’s work bristles with ambiguity, with trying to work through a moment’s feeling and the appropriate way to express it. Each piece represents a skirmish of formal elements. The combatants: meaty, organic black lattice-swaths of black versus a legion of colorful pastel-toned geometric confetti shapes. The action takes place in a pictorial equivalent of a dojo, seen from above. The space... Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION. Labour of Love: New Approaches to Palestinian Embroidery at The Palestinian Museum features 80 dresses and accessories. Archival photographs, posters, paintings, music, and a video place these objects in their historical context. Below follows a generous and thoughtful conversation with Rachel Dedman, the exhibition’s Curator. In it, she discusses the show's origins; expands on its themes; offers insights into the economic and social conditions of the otherwise anonymous embroiderers; and expands on the aptness... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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“Style is a very simple matter; it is all rhythm. Once you get that, you can't use the wrong words. (…) Now this is very profound, what rhythm is, and goes far deeper than any words. A sight, an emotion, creates this wave in the mind, long before it makes words to fit it.” Virginia Woolf INTRODUCTION. Caitlin Lonegan’s paintings riff on Abstract Expressionist marks and gestures. She orchestrates these riffs into atmospheric epic poems... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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Until August 19, Brussel’s Bozar (Centre for Fine Arts) will stage “Somewhere in Between: Contemporary Art Scenes in Europe”. Curated by Kathleen Weyts, the exhibition reflects the sum efforts of five separate artistic players. These players include Etablissement d’en face; Komplot; La Loge; Prague curator Michal Novotný; and Kunstenbibliotheek/ Students Curatorial Studies KASK, School of Arts Ghent. Each player will configure their portion of the Centre for Fine Arts as they see fit. Coordinated by... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
Please find below a conversation with Elyse Pignolet and Sandow Birk on their American Procession exhibition at Track 16 gallery (reviewed here.) Also check the above link to visit equally compelling recent work by Pignolet and Birk, including Birk's Trumpagruel series. -------------------------------------------- JS: The Procession of Princes on Dresden Castle’s exterior wall inspired the piece. Was it something either of you had seen in person, or was it something you saw in reproduction? Either way,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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"If you are only moved by color relationships, you are missing the point. I am interested in expressing the big emotions - tragedy, ecstasy, doom." Mark Rothko INTRODUCTION. 11 poured pigment and resin on aluminum paintings and one site-specific installation. The paintings are large; they engulf the viewer. Everything’s red. Everything quivers, pulsates, and throbs. Gravity would continue the shapes’ voyage down the wall, but they seem frozen in a moment of arrested flux. Smooshed... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION. Elyse Pignolet and Sandow Birk modeled American Procession after The Procession of Princes at Dresden Castle in Germany. The original image began as a painting in the 1870s. It commemorated the ruling family’s 800-year rule. It featured images of 35 monarchs, each following in the footsteps of the one before. This implied an orderly and peaceful transition of rule. The piece was transferred to a 335-foot-long series of ceramic tiles when the original began... Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION. Frame it as you might, you can’t help but delight in the disorder of Jordi Alcaraz’ work. It frets with purposeful indecision. Formal elements - jagged lines (literal, implied), amorphous shapes, hesitant modeling, ambiguous space (literal, implied) – attest as much. It brims with low-level anxiety, with backstage tentativeness. Is this particular piece a painting, a drawing, or a sculpture? How about a wall-hung installation? Could be all four, depending on what the Catalan... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION. Can a bed be a red herring? It can in Harold Pinter’s The Lover. House right, there’s a bed. A single bed. It’s there, but not really. On a small stage, it represents the bedroom. House left, the living room. Thing is, as the story develops, and you realize what’s going on, that bed, so full of possibility, literally and metaphorically, never gets used for the purpose for which the story’s title implies it... Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION. Listening to John Valadez hold court at the studio in which he worked during his recent residency (review here) at Fine Art Solutions is like hanging out with someone who used to paint Renaissance Popes in his youth and now, mellow and philosophical, follows his own idiosyncratic pursuits. He’s led a full, active life, which shows no signs of slowing down. He still works in his home studio, where he continues to experiment and... Continue reading
Posted May 20, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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My psyche was forever impacted by the conditions I grew up experiencing on the US/Mexico border in Laredo, Texas. Words like el norte, el otro lado, and la migra formed part of my everyday lexicon. I witnessed, firsthand, the separation of friends, family, and loved ones–while personally dealing with an internal identity crisis (or more commonly known as the Chicanx mantra, of “Ni de aquí, Ni de allá.” My experience on the border fueled my... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION. Google something and you can feel omniscient, like a god. You can feel the same way with gnarly pharmaceuticals, with or without the imprimatur of a religious practice. Finally, mental maladies can make you think that God speaks to you and you alone and that you must enforce anything that He commands. Anonymous 616, written and directed by Mike Boss, reminds us how these delusions of omniscience actually go way, way back. The film... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2018 at What the Butler Saw
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INTRODUCTION. A few years after moving, a family has yet to unpack their stuff. This doesn’t suggest laziness as much as it represents emotional baggage. Each character in Deborah Zoe Laufer’s black comedy unpacks emotional baggage in their own peculiar way. WHAT'S IT ABOUT? 11th grader Rachel Stein’s (Tara Coffey) attitude towards life stems from events on 9/11. Her father, Arthur (Chris Bange), only just escaped from one of the Towers. Sixty-five of his financial... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2018 at What the Butler Saw