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California Artist JB Blunk's Posthumous Second Act

CULTURED

October 30, 2020

At a moment in time when our collective culture is returning to nature to retreat and take cover from the pandemic, a resurfacing of artist JB Blunk’s prolific work feels fitting. The late artist, whose work enjoys a cult-like following in his native Northern California, never sought the spotlight, preferring to focus on making rather than promoting. Now, he is finally getting his due with his first-ever exhibition on the east coast, at Kasmin Gallery in New York.

Blunk, whose practice is seamlessly spread across a multitude of media—from ceramic and wood to stone and clay; from jewelry and sculpture to paintings and furniture—lived and worked off the grid in a home he built entirely by hand upon a hill in Inverness, California, a small enclave just north of San Francisco. After beginning his practice in Japan, where he studied ceramics, encouraged by lifelong friend Isamu Noguchi, Blunk returned to California and began experimenting with wood, and later stone.

Bosco Sodi on Minimalism, imperfection, and the emotive power of art

Wallpaper*

October 29, 2020

Bosco Sodi’s painting studio is set in a mid-19th-century warehouse in Red Hook, Brooklyn, a long, cavernous space with austere stone walls, exposed ceiling beams, and towering doors that open onto the waterfront. With its impressive proportions, it could comfortably accommodate a small army of technicians and assistants. Indeed, given the scale of Sodi’s work (the titular painting for his 2010 show ‘Pangaea’, at the Bronx Museum, measured 400 x 1,200 cm), one imagines a similarly sizable studio team. Yet Sodi prefers to work by himself, relying on an assistant only for the most physically demanding tasks.

‘I prefer to have nobody here. Painting is a very intimate process, so I don’t like having my concentration broken,’ he says.

Connected to Place

DesignMiami/ TheForum/

October 28, 2020

This month, New York's Kasmin Gallery opened its first exhibition dedicated to the work of JB Blunk (1926–2002), a pioneering wood and ceramic artist who left an indelible imprint on the culture of making in America. To mark the occasion, we reached out to Blunk's daughter, Director of the JB Blunk Collection, Mariah Nielson, to consider this “California Craftsman” through the lens of this year's Design Miami/ Podium's theme, America(s).

Read on to discover Nielson's thoughts on the role that her father's sense of place played in his practice and how the legacy of his ecological sensitivity continues to inspire others today.

Worlds Within Worlds

The Wall Street Journal

October 23, 2020

As a boy in Tehran in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq War, Ali Banisadr had a friend whose apartment building was sliced neatly in half by a bomb, revealing a cross-section of its interior. From the street, he could see the room where he had played, complete with wallpaper and children’s toys.

Born in 1976, Mr. Banisadr was 12 years old when his family moved to the U.S., but his tumultuous childhood still fuels his work as an artist. That is clear in his new show, which opened this week at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Conn., and includes a dozen paintings and prints made over the last five years. The references are as current as Covid-19 and the George Floyd protests, but Mr. Banisadr’s work is also rooted in art history. He often evokes the world of Hieronymus Bosch, creating large canvases thickly populated with creatures that are mixtures of human, animal and robot. The work of Bosch “never stops giving,” says Mr. Banisadr, “He had this way of zooming out and looking at the world from…a macro level,” showing “the folly of humanity in general. I’m in tune with that.”

Ali Banisadr and the art of ‘Visual Thinking’

Global Voices

October 22, 2020

OM: Good music and novels have been two of your sources of inspiration. How have they found a way into your painting?

AB: Music goes inside of my body and it turns into visual worlds. Novels and poetry can also provoke powerful imagery but also create a musical orchestra. Films can have a combination of sounds and imagery, but also movement. They are all a point of reference that comes and goes as I am painting. Since I don't use any references, they sort of become a part of my visual vocabulary to refer to when I am working.

A Beautiful Mess

Centurion Magazine

October 20, 2020

Imperfect, impermanent and incomplete: these are the guiding principles of the Japanese aesthetic wabi-sabi, and they guide the unique creations of Mexican artist Bosco Sodi, whose latest installations have taken up shop at two New York City galleries.

More than twenty hulking balls and cubes built from ruddy Oaxacan clay decorate the gallery floors of Brooklyn’s Pioneer Works. The creation, Sodi’s latest installation Perfect Bodies (until 20 December), is a curious synthetises between minimalism and the contemporary “Land art” movement that highlights the artistic purity and rawness of dirt from the artist’s home studio Casa Wabi in Oaxaca. In the words of the artist himself, it speaks to “silence, contemplation and the passing of time – small things in life and our relationship with earth”.

Editors’ Picks: 22 Events for Your Art Calendar This Week

artnet news

October 12, 2020

“Bosco Sodi: Perfect Bodies” at Perfect Bodies Auto Collision, Brooklyn

If you’re looking for an opportunity to get your art-viewing fix while still enjoying New York’s remaining days of seasonal warmth, chart a course to Red Hook in the next few weekends. There, in a normally unassuming concrete parking lot just two blocks from Pioneer Works (the installation’s presenter), multidisciplinary artist Bosco Sodi has sited an array of soulful spheres fired from the local clay of Oaxaca, where he maintains the Mexican branch of his studio. The work builds on the concerns prevalent in Sodi’s just-opened solo exhibition at Kasmin (on view through November 12): the timelessness of the earth, the synthesis of Minimalism with Land Art, and the progression of art-making from ancient civilizations to contemporary practice.

Pretty Please / Bosco Sodi: Perfect Bodies

Vanity Fair

October 8, 2020

Just as outdoor dining takes over sidewalks, art events are popping up in unclaimed corners. The Mexico-born artist Bosco Sodi’s latest installation—Perfect Bodies, presented by Pioneer Works and curated by the Noguchi Museum’s Dakin Hart—comes to a vacant autobody lot in Brooklyn this weekend, for a three-month run. The show assembles more than twenty hulking forms, all made from the ruddy clay in Oaxaca, where Sodi’s studio is located; by coincidence, the neighborhood where Perfect Bodies takes place—Red Hook—earned its name from a similarly colored ground. The artist describes the work touching on themes of “silence, contemplation, and the passing of time—the small things in life and our relationship with the earth.” Even on asphalt, there’s fertile potential.

Interior Designer Brian McCarthy Curates a Magical Les Lalanne Exhibition at Kasmin

Galerie Magazine

September 18, 2020

Visiting the new exhibition on the work of Les Lalanne, which recently opened at Kasmin gallery on Tenth Avenue in New York, is like stepping into another world. Not just because it’s been months since many have walked into a Chelsea gallery, but also because of the thoughtful curation executed by interior designer Brian McCarthy. Far from the typical white-cube experience, McCarthy has conjured a forest of green walls in which to display a selection of 20 surreal sculptures and furnishings by the legendary French artists Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne, who lived and worked together for some five decades.

“This show is everything that everyone needs right now,” McCarthy tells Galerie. “You walk in and feel like you’re in a bear hug.” That feeling of warmth and happiness comes from the design and the whimsical, imaginative flora- and fauna-driven artworks, each of which is perched on its own special pedestal at varying heights. “Coming out of this surrealist moment in time, they created their own habitat and environment.”

The First Major Posthumous Show of Les Lalanne Is Here

AD Pro

September 10, 2020

Ask AD100 designer Brian J. McCarthy about the work of Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne, and his sentences speed up with excitement. “The many times that I went to the workshops in their house, it always struck me as being like Noah’s Ark,” McCarthy says. “There was something so wonderfully alive about the experience.” Aesthetes can’t get enough of the surreal works of Les Lalanne, known for their otherworldly nature-inspired sculptures that tread the line between art and design. Though their oeuvre is expansive—from Claude’s mirrors dripping in gilded flora to François-Xavier’s multipurpose bronze monkeys—each piece is imbued with a quintessential playful spirit.

Chip off the block – lessons from my father, JB Blunk

Financial Times

September 10, 2020

I can still remember the smell of my father’s studio. A mix of freshly cut wood, sawdust and varnish. It was a warm, dusty, pungent scent that emanated from his sculptures and, at the end of the day, his work clothes. The smell would waft out of the open doors of his studio and envelop me like a strong hug when I stepped inside. 

My father is the late sculptor JB Blunk, best known for his large-scale redwood installations such as The Planet (1969) at the Oakland Museum of California. But before he started working with wood in the early 1960s, ceramics were his focus. When he was drafted into the Korean War in 1949, he saw it as an opportunity to visit Japan and meet the revered studio potter Shoji Hamada. There, a chance encounter with the artist Isamu Noguchi led to apprenticeships with the distinguished potters Kitaoji Rosanjin and Kaneshige Toyo – experiences that deeply influenced his work and way of life. 

Misogyny and making art in the shadow of Jackson Pollock—how Lee Krasner was shut out of art history

The Art Newspaper

August 24, 2020

The rehabilitation of the late US artist Lee Krasner (1908-84) continues apace with the publication of a new long-form essay by the art critic and poet Carter Ratcliff titled Lee Krasner: The Unacknowledged Equal. The new research, published by the New York-based Pollock-Krasner Foundation, provides insights into the evolution of Krasner’s work and relationship with her husband Jackson Pollock—“definitively bringing her out of Pollock’s shadow”, according to a foundation statement.

Three exhibitions to see in New York, London and online this weekend

The Art Newspaper

July 30, 2019

William N. Copley: The New York Years at Kasmin in New York features work from the era following the American Surrealist’s return to the city in 1963 after more than a decade as an expatriate in Paris. The paintings are full of American pathos: their content is said to spring from Copley’s repressive American childhood, and such an observation requires little digging for evidence. His humorous broaching of sexuality, religion and consumerism are delightfully ham-fisted, with a willingness to ladle muffled imagery out of the American subconscious and onto the canvas.

A New Exhibit Reveals Why Lee Krasner Was Not Your Average 1950s New York Artist

Forbes

July 15, 2020

What set Krasner apart from her contemporaries during the modern art boom is this: She rejected the idea of the artist’s brand (something wildly popular with creatives today on Instagram, for example), battling against the idea of the “signature image,” that being one kind of image or style that would define an artist - and stopped them from being able to go outside of that.

Influenced by artists like Hans Hofmann and George Bridgman, Krasner worked in collage, too, and experimented early on in the style of cubism. During the Great Depression, she painted murals, and ventured out on her own as an abstract artist, a style that was unpopular during the 1930s and 1940s. It wasn't until she joined a liasion of abstract artists that she met her contemporaries, all of which were men, including Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman, among others.

Plexiglas Barriers, Sanitizer, and Digital Reservation Systems: How New York Galleries Are Reopening

ARTnews

July 14, 2020

Kasmin, which has reopened with abbreviated hours, has also begun allowing visitors—and making changes to its business. Its online booking system lists around a dozen health and safety protocols that the gallery is taking; visitors must agree to keep in line with them when scheduling appointments, which are mandatory. Under the new guidelines, the gallery will offer gloves and hand sanitizer at the front desk, limit the amount of visitors to the gallery to just three at a time, and screen staff before they enter the gallery. All visitors are expected to wear masks.

“There’s a feeling of caution, but also rebirth and renewal,” said Kasmin’s managing director Nick Olney. “To start to come back together slowly feels wonderful, but we all know that we have to take each day one at a time and be really cautious.”

8 Must-See Exhibitions at New York’s Reopened Galleries

Galerie Magazine

July 10, 2020

AND/ALSO: Photography (Mis)represented

The increasingly blurred boundaries between photography and other media go on full display at Kasmin gallery this summer, as seen through the work of six diverse New York–based photographers. Artists such as Lucas Blalock and Michele Abeles explore the ways in which photography can be manipulated, while Roe Ethridge and Farah Al Qasimi focus on narrative structures and historical genres behind the meaning of a photograph. Erin O’Keefe and Daniel Gordon construct dioramas and collages that become the subject of their work, resulting in completely unique photographs.

What’s It Like to Go to a Gallery Right Now?

Vogue

July 8, 2020

Around the world, for better or worse, the Great Reopening is well underway. First, it was shops, salons, and beaches; later restaurants (if only for outdoor dining); and now galleries and museums are starting to peek through the curtain too.

Kasmin will reopen as well, with “William N. Copley: The New York Years”* and “And/Also: Photography (Mis)represented”*.

These major NYC art galleries are reopening with new exhibits this week

Time Out

July 6, 2020

Galleries have been a step ahead in emerging from the Pause because, technically, they were allowed to reopen during Phase 2, though most venues chose not to. Starting this week, however, numerous galleries are getting back to business, though mainly by restarting shows cut short by the lockdown. Some, however, are kicking off their post-quarantine season with brand new exhibitions. But as with everything in the new normal, certain restrictions apply.

"AND/ALSO: Photography (Mis)represented" at Kasmin Gallery, through Aug 21

The six artists in this group exhibition push the boundaries between photography and sculpture, architecture, painting, drawing, media and computer graphics. The gallery is also opening a solo show of the figurative painter, William N. Copley, on July 14.

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