March 19, 2019

Art and Jung

"We know nothing of man, far too little. His psyche should be studied because we are the origin of all coming evil."

Much to be written here about this and much that comes afterwards, but time won't permit at the moment. When I listen to this segment, this quote in particular, I think of mankind's competing capacity for creation and destruction, of how the Information Age has delivered not clarity but a blizzard, of how the sheer naked lust for power dwells impatiently within us, that we are on the brink of innovations that we barely understand the impact of (the internet of things, AI, robotization, gene customization...) and I have to conclude that if science will take too long to deliver insight into the human mind, then art will have to pick up the slack.

The history of art has shown us to be prescient in the past, can a new generation contribute in the future?

"Man cannot stand a meaningless life."
Posted by Dennis at 4:44 PM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2019

Art and Authencity

On the way to the studio this morning, listening to BBC/Melvin Bragg's In Our Time episode Authenticity.

Notes on the fly:
1. I thought of Ryman when the discussion turned to Heidegger, about how the singularity of his brushstrokes mirrors the singularity of being. Good for analysis of the signal but we live in a myriad. You might be able to make music from a single note but it will have a short horizon of interest. On the other hand, by isolating color, Ryman illuminates facture, the multitudinous qualities of brushstrokes, each as different as snowflakes.

2. Many times I thought of the Duchamp interview while listening to this podcast. His emphasis on avoiding the bonds and integration into society is about the individual and free will and how art can be extinguished by the mechanism of taste and the herd mentality.

3. When the discussion turned to Simon de Beauvoir and the development of self in childhood , I thought of art school and the need to simultaneously champion the authentic within each student and help pilot them into a world very different from the falsely comforting fantasy of trend compliance and utopian dreams.

4. In the mornings when my wife and I are preparing to get on with the day, she asks me, "What will you be doing today?" I reply with a half ironic wink, "I'm going to make something that people will remember and love for hundreds of years to come, Bebe." Temerity is an artists' occupational hazard, after all. But if an artist isn't swinging for the bandstand as the idiom goes, what are they really doing in the studio? At least don't make something that's a dime a dozen.

Posted by Dennis at 2:10 PM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2019

Painting Towards Paradise

Below the fold, my second try at an intro to painting in California. (First one here) A total fail. After passing 1400 words, I abruptly stopped. Auto-critique: I'm trying to cram too many ideas (it all seems so relevant!) and the focus isn't centering on painting qua painting. The problem is that there is so much back story to tell. Concision. Concision. I'll plunge into another draft after I clear my head.

1. In the piece, I pegged the problem apocalyptic Utopianism inherent in Western Civilization but afterwards, I remembered the Ghost Dance, a Native American religious movement in the late 1800's led by a charismatic leader who yearned for deliverance to a Promised Land. The urge I'm describing is universal.

2. This morning, we awoke to the horrific news of the mosque terror attack in New Zealand. Add to the list of apocalyptic visionary cults, Accelerationism. However benign it had started (contestable), it has become a political version of Charles Manson's Helter Skelter. Ruinous factional infighting is what they want. Every sane person must resist that call. The assailant/murderer has inflicted terror for its own sake (a precise definition of evil). As the line in the movie "Dark Knight" goes: "Some men want to see the world burn." The irony of the Information Age is that the deluge of data blinds us, rendering us prey for predators. Analysis and concision are capabilities that must be mastered, today's urgent survival skill.

Continue reading "Painting Towards Paradise"
Posted by Dennis at 1:32 PM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2019

between chess and painting

I was born in the year that this was made, perhaps at that very moment since Marcel is in shirtsleeves.

"I wanted no more obvious influences. I wanted to be living in my day."
-Marcel Duchamp
"I wanted to change... never repeating myself..."

"...a dry conception of art..."

" had to go according to plan, so to speak."

"...this led me to the conclusion that you are either a professional painter or not. There are two kinds of artist. The artist that is integrated into society and the completely freelance artist who has nothing to do [with society] , who has no bonds."

"The danger is to please an immediate public, the immediate public that takes you in and accepts you and gives you success and everything. Instead of that, if you wait for your public, that should come fifty years, a hundred years after your death, that's the right public I want."

"The danger is to lead yourself into a form of taste.... it's a habit, a repetition of the same thing long enough to become taste. If you cut it shortly after you've done it, it becomes a thing unto itself. But if it's repeated itself a number of times, it becomes a taste."

"... a sort of conclusion a consequence of the dehumanization of the work of art. In such a point that I came to the readymades."

"I found some common points between chess and painting, actually. When you play a game of chess, it's like when you design something or constructing a mechanism of some kind by which you win or lose... the thing itself is very, very plastic and that's what probably attracted me to the game."

"I believe that art is the only activity where man shows himself to be a true individual and is capable of going beyond the animal state because art is an outlet towards regions which are not drawn by time or space. To live is to believe."

Posted by Dennis at 3:27 PM | Comments (0)

March 8, 2019

Burgeoning: Last Day


Tomorrow is the last day to see my solo show "Burgeoning"
at (Galerie) Richard, 121 Orchard Street, LES, NYC.

Posted by Dennis at 4:39 PM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2019

What are we seeing?

I'm delighted to read John Mendelsohn's review of my show at Galerie Richard in ArtCritical. Precise, distinct and insightful. I'm especially pleased since David Cohen is the publisher and editor of ArtCritical, and the host of Review Panel. I consider Review Panel to be the best venue of live art criticism in New York City, bar none. In these events, one can hear writers think on their feet and the event is quite open with Cohen involving the audience in the give and take of opinion. Close readers of this blog will find many notes that I have taken at Review Panel events over the past several years.

I'm burgeoning... with gratitude.

Building Up and Breaking Down: Dennis Hollingsworth at Galerie Richard by John Mendelsohn

"What are we seeing?" That is the fundamental question that always seems to bedevil us when we look at risk-taking art. We are asked not simply to experience a work but to intuit a whole constellation of intentions: aesthetic, ideological, and poetic. In the case of Dennis Hollingsworth, we have our work cut out for us, in spades. That is not to say that the effort to know his work is a slog - far from it. In these paintings are delights and conundrums, both brain-twisting and eye-popping.

There is an antic, psychedelic spirit at work in the eighteen pieces which comprise this exhibition. Hollingsworth arrives at the derangement of the senses via multifarious stimuli - stylized organic ornamentation, phrases spelled out in large letters, intense patterns, and paint, marbleized and in thick, dripping impasto. These and other motifs are layered in compositions that seem joyful and fraught in equal measure.

The works - primarily paintings, along with two wall pieces, and a sculptural vitrine - share a dimensional quality, both in their construction and their surface treatment. This projective thrust is central to Hollingsworth's project, a baroque celebration of painting's capacity to impinge upon our space and our consciousness.

Among the most intriguing of the pieces are the constructed paintings, including So That We Could See (2018), a white convex form, like the sectioned canopy of an umbrella, covered with the words of the title, and thick skeins of paint. The effect is a praise song for vision itself. The same spirit animates Dazzling Treasures (2018), which has ten circular panels, each like a separate screen or a unit of an insect's compound eye, displaying blossoms, webs, drips of paint, and words, including STARS, SUN and WE.

Looking Back to Look Forward (2019), is quite a production, a kind of theater set of paintings within a painting. Easier to apprehend than to describe, this work begins with an abstract shield-like form, in front of which projects an array of ovoids with thick or flowing paint. Ensconced above the main forms is a miniature version of the painting, like the artist's original thought presiding over the completed work. The painting's elements are attached to a wood scaffolding that is curiously neutral and functional in a work whose elements are otherwise so thoroughly active.

Perhaps the best way to read the built support is to see it in terms of the modernist grid that informs many of the works in the exhibitions. The painting's title reminds us that Hollingsworth is scanning the history of the past century's painting, picking up signals from stars, both nearer and more distant: Matisse in the leaf and flower forms, Pollock in the use of paint as its own living corpus, Ryman in the appeal to conceptual rigor, and Lawrence Weiner in the cryptic language.

But beyond any received wisdom, these paintings possess an
essential originality and weirdness, in the best sense. They seem to allude to an intense awareness, where touch and vision are at play together. In Deep Body (2018) the crenelated black oval, filled with shivering lines and dark forms, reads like a tantric embodiment of this state of inner harmony. In this heightened condition, building up and breaking down appear as equally desirable. In We Are... Secrets (2018), a field of red and yellow lines has been eaten away, leaving a star-like neural network, behind which is a band of letters, the partially visible title.

The painting Square Cube (2019), is a high-style vamp, with an array of the artist's favored elements of leaves, words, and elongated asterisks mostly covered by engulfing waves of red, studded with extruded paint that resembles spiny sea urchins. This painting, although recent, seems to hark back to some of the earlier works in the exhibition, displayed in the back gallery - such as Minerva's Serpents (2015) and Limitlessness and Strange Desire (2015) - with their extravagant, totalizing approach to a continuous field that is continually being interrupted.

There are two possible hints of the direction that Hollingworth's recent work might open up. The sculptural wall reliefs, Laocoön (2018) and Second Order Revelation (2018), both make manifest the wood support hidden in other works, here functioning like a cross upon which is screwed the living body of looping lines of canvas. A second path is displayed in the painting CMB (2018), which suggests a via negativa, a way of knowing that rejects the material certainty of Hollingsworth's mostly emphatic works. Here we see what seems to be a truncated mandorla, an almond shape that recurs in religious art, composed of wisps and phantom residues of paint on raw canvas, apparently the result of multiple off-printings of an empty sperm-like form. It is as if a tender, existential recognition has unexpectedly made itself known.

Posted by Dennis at 12:23 PM | Comments (0)

Dennis Hollingsworth: Pushing paint and painting

I'm honored to be the subject of a review at Sharon Butler's Two Coats of Paint blog, written by fellow artist Riad Miah. Read the whole piece, follow the link to see the article, complete with the accompanying images of paintings in my solo show at (Galerie) Richard, 121 Orchard Street, LES, NYC, up until March 9th, 2019.

Contributed by Riad Miah / Dennis Hollingsworth's exhibition "Burgeoning," the artist's first solo show at Gallery Richard on the Lower East Side, comprises conventional paintings from as early as 2014 and newer ones that move decisively into three dimensions. Without adding solvents, Hollingsworth massages paint from the tube to a creamy consistency and then applies it with custom-made tools. It is squeegeed, dragged, flung, and sculpted. The paint coalesces into forms that look like spores, starbursts, and other organic entities. He uses stencils to create leaf-like shapes, stripe patterns, and letters that sometimes become words. The paint is so thick that some canvases - for instance, Minerva's Serpents and Limitlessness and Strange Design - employ supports and structures to accommodate the paint, and thus suggest low-relief sculpture. The newer pieces bring to mind other artists whose work also investigates the structure and support, including Molly Zuckerman-Hartung, Elizabeth Murray, Ron Gorchov, James Hyde, Rosy Keyser, and Fabian Marcaccio.

According to the press release, in the 1990s Hollingsworth was deeply engaged in the "painting is dead" conversation, which today seems every bit as overwrought as it generally was. Nevertheless, Hollingsworth still takes his mission to be figuring out what painting is and what it can be, searching by way of images, object, and text. A good example is Tear It Wide Open. The painting is shaped like a cartoon rendering of a head with ears that jut out at the left and right sides of the picture, reminiscent of Homer Simpson, Charlie Brown, or Tin-Tin. The painted passages resemble an aerial highway, and the piece incorporates an eye exuding feathers simulated from canvas. Perhaps Hollingsworth is suggesting that the painting is capable of flight or vision.

His new work involves letters and text, sometimes intelligible and sometimes not. In a fairly clear nod to Mel Bochner's paintings, Hollingsworth's textual pieces allude to the process of creating art but also contradict the materiality of painting. He also goes a step farther, literally stretching language. In So That We Can See, the surface of the painting is pushed out of the two-dimensional plane of the canvas, distorting words and phrases nearly to the point of incomprehensibility. The net effect is that the work's verbal and visual components compete with one another, barring the emergence of a clear hierarchy and affording the work a kind of unstable dynamism. This is adventurous art, and far from dead.

About the Author: Artist and educator Riad Miah was born in Trinidad and Tobago and now lives and works in New York City. He has exhibited with Lesley Heller Workspace, Rooster Gallery, and Sperone Westwater Gallery, among others.

Posted by Dennis at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)