Thursday, February 20, 2014


David Ratcliff is having one hell of an exhibition at Team Gallery on Wooster Street in Soho.

At first passing by the gallery in a peeking mode, I didn't know what to think of them, but upon entering the next day, was quite surprised and enamored with these pictures taken from a Ku Klux Klan book. David is someone who really likes to push the buttons of your psyche with his work and this set of paintings truly does that, and probably better than any of his other exhibitions. Working with stencils and spray paint, he's able to get all the information down onto canvas, and in such a way that it almost looks like they really are old books with not so great printing ink. The pages (canvas) are all covered with age spots, which are either linseed oil stains, or actual colored acrylic to look like a stain, either way they are quite intriguing. I spent much time going over each painting and with the longer viewings, made me wish I had one of these.

I'm copying this section from the Gallery website to give you more immediate insight into this exhibition...

"David Ratcliff’s process is always appropriative: he gathers visuals (often drawings or texts) from a wide variety of media, constructs large hand-made stencils and then spray-paints the collaged images onto canvases. In his latest body of paintings, the artist turns his attention exclusively to the Ku Klux Klan. These works take as both their form and their subject the official documents of the organization: incident reports, order forms, meeting minutes, etc.

These paintings appear innocent upon first glance, disguising under their quotidian bureaucracy the myopic world-view of a violent, racist organization. They feature a kind of fantasy language –- the consistent replacement of the letter “C” with “K,” for example –- and are totally divorced from commonly-held contemporary worldviews. These pieces expose the ways belief systems can relate to fiction and constructed realities, but do not suggest any emotional or political agenda whatsoever. Instead, Ratcliff uses this difficult subject matter to explore the ways in which paintings can affect an audience.

The exhibition is streamlined, both visually and in its subject matter, precluding any excess content or distraction.  The paintings share a common scale of 84 by 62 inches, while the color palettes are limited, individual works using only a single shade of paint. The backgrounds consist of raw canvas covered in yellow grease stains. These oily blotches seem familiar, but whether they recall the discarded wax paper of a fast-food hamburger, or actionist paintings, or something else altogether cannot be said."

It was quite strange to read these papers that document how a robe should be made, and what to do if you leave your post with the Klan. The minute papers for meetings and all the strange names they give to their upper Klansmen. I spent quite a while in there and I think if you head down there by March 2nd, you'll do the same. Enjoy it.

Interview with Bob Nickas

Click on image to view in larger format.

All photos taken by myself with my iphone 4. You can view even better images from the Team Gallery website, link above.


Monday, February 10, 2014


A few weeks back I made my way uptown NYC to visit a couple galleries in the 70's. Galerie Perrotin was the 2nd I visited that day. I had been thinking of making my way to the building of the two amazing galleries that inhabit 909 Madison Avenue. Perrotin is the ground floor gallery and therefore is the first thing you see when walking through the door.

Gregor Hildebrandt is on the turntable for this episode...sit back and enjoy.

Immediately bombarded with a black wall in front of you does put you off your normal gallery viewing experience. Notice that this wall is actually made from vinyl records pressed into a shell like form and made into a wall. Walk around the vinyl wall and you are greeted with walls that flow with the air of the heating vents. It makes me wonder how many people would notice within a minute that these walls are actually made from cassette tape. It's quite an unusual and cool experience. Beyond this is the actual viewing area for four large paintings, one on each wall. Each made with cassette tape again, but this time adhered to linen canvas. So these normally just look like a standard oil/acrylic on canvas until once again you peer deeper and see they are paint on magnetic cassette tape again. It's quite amazing the way the light plays upon this material. You really do need to see it for yourself. I spent a while in this room, checking everything out, before moving downstairs...where I was fully impressed and a bit depressed by the floor in the basement gallery.

Floor covered from one end to the other with a bevy of old cassette tapes like you used to buy to record your friends tape collection because you weren't able to afford the real thing. Funny how they've always given us the material to "steal" audio recordings, and then blasted us for doing it. Each cassette tape has been put into a group of eight for easy transport and then laid out in a herringbone pattern along the floor to make for what I believe to be, THE COOLEST FLOOR EVER! I spent much time walking over the tapes, looking for ones I remembered using myself. Checking to see whom this person might have been listening to, and then wondering how in the world he got so many tapes to do this project with, were they all Hildebrandt's, or did he put out a call to his friends... "hey man give me your cassette tapes, I need them for an art project".

In the midst of all this sits on the wall, a huge roll of magnetic tape. You could tell it was from various rolls from the colors within all the layering that went on. I really couldn't think of a much more cooler thing to do with old tapes. You could even see one of the cassette rollers in the center to give the piece a base to grow on. I sat there admiring that work of art for quite some time. Probably so much that the guy upstairs watching me on the camera thought I was going to do something. "No sir, just enjoying the art thoroughly". The piece was under glass, which made it hard to get a good photo of, but you can see my attempts in the photos below.

Hildebrandt got into the idea of magnetic tape and has really made it one heck of an art material for himself. On one of the lower level walls was a piece I didn't really pay much attention to until I told myself to really go view it. It looked from a distance just like any minimal type painting could in NYC. On further inspection, I found out it was all made from the pads that protect the magnetic tape from the pressure needed to keep it on the playhead. Hundreds of little felt pads, each with it's own color, all blended together to create such a wonderful piece of art that (dare I say it) Duchamp would have been proud.

So who am I to tell you all of this. Just a painter with a strong sense of what he thinks is good, great, interesting, and just plain awesome. Get your butt down to Perrotin Galerie and see this exhibition. You have till the 19th. I know i'll be down there in a few days.

You can learn more from their website. I hope you too are able to experience this fantastic exhibition.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Last day of exhibtion at The Painting Center.

Here's a group of pics I took on the last day of our exhibition (Jan 25) at The Painting Center. "Materialists" was a wonderfully successful exhibition and I know I'm looking forward to the future.

Enjoy the pics. Click to enlarge.

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Columbus, Ohio, United States