Don Voisine’s Restless Shapes

Don Voisine, “Center Square” (2021), oil on wood panel, 12 x 12 inches

Don Voisine is an exquisitely refined, planar geometric painter. He works in oil and acrylic on wood panels that range from 12-inch squares to horizontal rectangles measuring 53 by 80 inches, which is about the largest he can physically move on his own. Within the limits of his scale, which tends toward the intimate, and his reductive, hard-edged geometric vocabulary — I don’t recall ever seeing a curved form in the years that I have been following and writing about his work — he has explored difference and similarity in a way that brings to mind the music of Philip Glass and Terry Riley. Geometric forms that are opaque and transparent, distinct and nuanced, cold and hot, brushed and smooth populate his sensuously restrained paintings. Within these parameters, he has broadened his possibilities incrementally, like a climber scaling a steep mountain with no obvious or visible passage. 

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What Abstraction Can Face Up To

Installation view of Return to Color: Ha Chong-Hyun at Tina Kim Gallery (image by Dario Lasagni)

Ha Chong-Hyun (b. 1935) is one of the central figures in the Dansaekhwa movement, along with Lee Ufan (b. 1936), Park Seo-Bo (B. 1931), and Yun Hyong-keun (1928–2007). The term, which means “monochromatic painting,” is applied to a group of abstract painters who emerged in Korea in the early 1970s, around the time that Park Chung-hee, the third president of South Korea, declared martial law in 1972, virtually ensuring his lifelong dictatorship. His repression of political rivals and denial of personal freedoms only started to end with his assassination in 1979 by Kim Jae Kyu, his lifelong friend and trusted member of his small inner circle. 

For this generation, which had already lived through World War II, Korea’s struggle with Japan for independence, the Korean War, and the division of the country into separate entities, Park’s repressive regime seemed like the ultimate betrayal.

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An Artist Standing Outside an Either/Or World

L. Brandon Krall, “MU” (1990), oil on canvas, 26 x 28 inches

L. Brandon Krall is a painter, an object maker, and a writer interested in systems, language, and Marcel Duchamp. This combination might make it difficult for viewers to wrap their heads around her work. What makes her defiance of categories interesting, and even challenging, is that she has created at least two singular bodies of work in different mediums. On the face of things, these bodies — language-based, geometric abstract paintings and sculptural objects that refer directly to works by Duchamp and Man Ray — seem to oppose each other. Whereas Krall’s paintings often have palpable surfaces (she applies thick paint with a spatula), Duchamp withdrew his hand from his work, rejected opticality, and is widely recognized as the principal figure to have brought about the “death of originality.” 

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Nature Resurges to Overtake Abandoned Architecture in a New Book of Photos by Jonk

CimetiŠre de voitures, SuŠde car graveyard, Sweden

From dilapidated power plants, abandoned medical facilities, and amusement parks left in rusted ruin, the compelling scenes that French photographer Jonathan Jimenez, aka Jonk (previously), captures are evidence of nature’s endurance and power to reclaim spaces transformed by people. Now compiled in a new book titled Naturalia II, 221 images shot across 17 countries frame the thriving vegetation that crawls across chipped concrete and architecture in unruly masses.

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The Story Behind One of the Oldest Art Glass Studios in the US

Judson Studios, “Face of Christ” (trial piece for “The Resurrection Window,” detail) (2015), fused and leaded glass, 63 x 48 inches (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic unless otherwise noted)

LOS ANGELES — Judson Studios, founded 124 years ago, is the oldest family-run art glass studio in the country. Itbegan working with stained glass, a medium whose technique has remained essentially unchanged since the Middle Ages, at a time when Los Angeles was establishing itself as a truly modern metropolis. It continued to design hand-crafted, labor-intensive glassworks throughout the 20th century, applying the centuries-old process to a range of styles and aesthetics, from Beaux-Arts to Arts & Crafts, and Mid-Century Modern. More recently,Judson Studios has pioneered the new technical practice of fusing glass, and collaborated with artists to create artworks that push the boundaries of the medium.

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Digital Renderings Collage 3D Objects into Futuristic Self-Portraits by Artist Omar Aqil

Image © Omar Aqil

Lahore, Pakistan-based artist Omar Aqil (previously) digitally assembles technology, 3D objects, and textured masses into figurative collages for his series Self-Portraits 2050. The futuristic characters all sport a pair of glasses but are otherwise distinct, sometimes conveyed through sleek geometric shapes stacked into facial features and others sprouting whimsical florals and various organic elements. Experimentation and play are at the heart of this new series—which Aqil refers to as “profile pictures”—and his practice overall, resulting in an eclectic collection of self-portraits rooted in the current digital era.

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Ceramic Mosaics Mend Cracked Sidewalks, Potholes, and Buildings in Vibrant Interventions by Ememem

Mycosis on the Môle de Sète © Ememem

Throughout his home city of Lyon, Ememem is known as “the pavement surgeon.” The artist repairs gouged sidewalks and splintered facades with colorful mosaics that he describes as “a poem that everybody can read.” Intricate geometric motifs laid with pristine tiles hug the cracks and create “a memory notebook of the city. It reveals what happened, the life in these public places,” he tells Colossal. “Here cobblestones have been picked up and thrown. There a truck from the vegetable market tore off a piece of asphalt…”

Ememem’s first mosaic dates back 10 years when he found himself in a damaged alley in Lyon. At that time, he already was working in ceramic and translated that practice to revitalizing the outdoor area. Since 2016, he’s been consistently filling potholes and other divots throughout France. “It’s a succession of a lot of places and reflections, experiments I did before.

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Discarded Technology and Branded Trash Are Stacked into Dystopian Structures in Alvaro Naddeo’s Paintings

Left: “Ghosts,” watercolor on paper, 12 x 24 inches. Right: “Yes, Please,” watercolor on paper, 12 x 24 inches

Behind each one of Alvaro Naddeo’s watercolor paintings is an imagined character who’s built a rickety shopping cart structure or gathered waste materials for a tiny, mobile dwelling. “I believe they are strong people, resilient, and survivalists,” the Brazilian artist tells Colossal. “They use creativity to overcome obstacles and adapt to any situation they are put in. So in a way, both of them, characters and discarded objects, are proof that there’s value in everything if you know where to look for it.”

Evoking an alternative universe in a state of ruin, Naddeo (previously) renders ramshackle structures and vehicles—which only span a few inches—made primarily of outdated technology, rusted carts and frames, and a plethora of branded materials: a Marlboro sign props up an upper level, a Coca-Cola panel offers protection from the elements, and logoed posters and stickers cover almost every surface. By fashioning these relics anew, the artist speaks to consumerism and the waste it generates, a concern that dovetails with a focus on income and wealth inequalities. He explains:

The gap between rich and poor continues to incessantly grow and it seems like nothing can’t stop it. That’s the harsh and important message of my work, but this message comes wrapped in a nice and warm blanket of nostalgia and the beauty of the composition. This warmth makes up for the harshness of the subject matter.

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Meh, Frieze Is Back

Cindy Ji Hye Kim, “The Face and Its Name” (2021), graphite, charcoal, pastel, ink, acrylic, and oil on silk with shaped artist’s stretcher, at Francois Ghebaly’s booth.

A group of gallerists toasted the end of the first day of Frieze New Yorkby pouring champagne into their empty Perrier cans (“We couldn’t bring cups,” one explained.) After a long pandemic hiatus, the fair’s New York edition is back, pared down to 60 exhibitors instead of the usual 150 or so, to ensure social distancing. It’s also being held at the Shed, the mammoth multidisciplinary arts center in Hudson Yards, Manhattan, instead of the fair’s usual haunt, the nightmare-to-access but lovingly quirky Randall’s Island.

After some jockeying, our very own staff writers, Hakim Bishara and Valentina Di Liscia, managed to snag passes for opening day of this year’s show — a feat in and of itself, given the fair’s super-limited capacity. Scroll below for their on-the-ground reports.

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Assembled Sculptures by Artist Willie Cole Cluster High Heels into Expressive Masks

“Fly Girl” (2016), shoes, wire, and screws on a metal stand, 65.5 x 15.5 x 15.5 inches. Photo by Joerg Lohse

Artist Willie Cole juxtaposes readymade footwear and African tradition in his series of sculptural masks. The figurative assemblages stack women’s heels into clusters that are expressive and distinctly unique, an effect Cole derives from the shoes’ material, color, and pattern rather than a preconceived plan or sketch. Depicting exaggerated toothy grins, pointed brows, and outstretched tongues, the sculptures span more than a decade of the artist’s career and influence a new collaboration with Comme des Garçons that’s comprised of headpieces made with black pumps.

Each piece is layered with cultural and societal markers, including those that comment on mass consumerism, fashion trends, and notions of femininity. This context is situated in time and place, which Cole describes as “a subtle catalyst for perception. I have discovered that high heels purchased in New York are very different than high heels purchased in Georgia,” he says. Cole explains:

I guess you could call the high heel both an anxious object and a readymade aid. ‘Anxious’ because as a symbol, it is fully loaded with history and a story all its own even as just a shoe. ‘Readymade aid’ because that history adds so much to your interpretation and/or reaction to these pieces. As for fashion, these pieces speak about the abundance of discarded high heels in the world as well as the various styles and trends.

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