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Bright, Saturated Color Cloaks Houseplants and Flowers in Kaleidoscopic Photographs

“Calla Lily Leaf” Images © Lindsey Rickert

In Otherworldly BotanicalsLindsey Rickert blankets sword ferns, a sprig of eucalyptus, dahlias, and other florals in a wash of vivid, candy-colored light. The Portland-based photographer is known for her portraiture and commercial projects that rely on bright, saturated tones, an approach she brings to the blossoms. Created entirely in-camera, the series frames the flowers at their peaks and is shot with studio lights covered in gel paper.

Spurred by lockdown and the inability to photograph people, the series began with the dewy Four O’Clock plant. “These beautiful flowers bloom in late afternoon and lose all their petals by the following morning… As the weeks carried on more subjects began presenting themselves as they came out of their winter dormancy, and the series was born,” Rickert says.

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A Painter of Organized Chaos

Caetano de Almeida, “Up close” (2020), acrylic on canvas, 59 1/8 x 47 1/4 inches

Two different memories came to mind while I was looking at the brightly colored abstract paintings and beguiling works on paper in the exhibition Caetano de Almeida, at Van Doren Waxter (March 25–May 15, 2021), which, according to the gallery, is de Almeida’s first New York exhibition in almost five years. The first memory was of a podcast hosted by Charlotte Burns in 2017. Her guest was the artist, critic, and curator Robert Storr. In discussing his feelings about the terms globalism, cosmopolitanism, and internationalism, Storr stated: 

Modernisms started in different places at different times but many of them started in Brazil and the United States, roughly at the same time around 1913.

The other memory was of a conversation I had with the painter Leda Catunda, while I was researching her work for a two-person museum show in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Both Catunda and de Almeida are Brazilian artists of the same generation (born in 1961 and 1964, respectively), living in São Paulo, which is the site of the second-oldest art biennial after the Venice Biennale. 

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Everyday Objects Are Sliced and Re-Assembled into Distorted Sculptures by Fabian Oefner

“Heisenberg Object V – Cortez” (2021), leather, foam, and resin, 30 x 18 x 15 centimeters. All images © Fabian Oefner, shared with permission

In Heisenberg ObjectsFabian Oefner (previously) translates quantum mechanic’s uncertainty principle into a sculptural series of segmented objects. The Connecticut-based artist uses resin to solidify the everyday items, which include sneakers, a Leica M6, a tape recorder, a Seiko clock, and flight recorder, before slicing them into countless individual pieces. He then aggregates those fragmented parts into dissected sculptures that resemble the original object through a distorted view of the inner and outer mechanisms.

Drawing its name from German physicist Werner Heisenberg, the series is rooted in the basics of the uncertainty principle, which states that no two particles can be measured accurately at exactly the same time. “You can either determine one parameter and ignore the other or vice versa, but you can never know everything at once,” the artist writes about Heisenberg’s idea. The two opposing views—i.e. the inner and outer layers of the common items—converge in Oefner’s sculptures and visualize the principle through skewed perceptions. “As an observer, you are never able to observe the object as a whole and its inner workings simultaneously. The more accurately we see one view, the less clearly we see the other,” he says.

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Brenna Youngblood Revises the Language of Abstraction

Brenna Youngblood, “No More Drama” (2021), mixed media on canvas 72 x 59.75 x 6.5 inches (image courtesy the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California, photo by Robert Wedemeyer)

LOS ANGELES — A black and white sweater, a hoarder’s worth of buttons, slip-on shoes, a brittle “No Parking” sign. These found materials interrupt the abstracted surfaces of Brenna Youngblood’s paintings in ways that would probably make Piet Mondrian yelp. Mondrian believed abstraction could only tap into the universal harmonies of life if it shunned the crudeness of reality in favor of simplified forms. His view, utopic and myopic at the same time, left its mark on 20th-century styles and movements, from Color Field painting to Minimalism. In her new solo show at Roberts Projects, the LIGHT and the DARK, Youngblood reassembles and revises the language of abstraction, embedding the traces of everyday living — discarded items, personal mementos — onto canvas and boards. Their inclusion, layered over periwinkle transparent washes and puckering impasto, plunge the viewer into a landscape where memories crash against the formalities of abstraction.

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Should You Worry About the Environmental Impact of Your NFTs?

Joanie Lemercier’s “Polyblock – Platonic solids” NFT on Nifty GatewayJOANIE LEMERCIER

Joanie Lemercier, a French artist whose work is deeply tied to climate activism, has been working on steadily decreasing his carbon footprint by 10 percent each year. In an effort to lessen his reliance on international festivals and the planes that inevitably took him to them, he recently began to explore NFTs — non-fungible tokens based on blockchain technology — as a way to exhibit and sell art while staying at home. 

But he was concerned, as many artists are, with the environmental cost of blockchains and cryptocurrency. After some quick calculations, he went ahead with it, and his NFT work quickly sold out. Then, he began a hunt to track down more accurate numbers about the carbon footprint of this hugely successful transaction, which sold more than $16,000 worth of art in a single day. Ethereum alone is responsible for 96,200,000 tons of CO2 since its inception; this is equivalent to the combined annual carbon emissions of the 84 least carbon intensive countries around the globe. But how much of that can NFTs be blamed for?

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She Was a Trailblazing Modernist Painter and a Close Friend of Betty Parsons. So Why Don’t More People Know Dusti Bongé?

Dusti Bongé, Self Portrait—The Balcony (1943). Collection of the Mississippi Museum of Art.

Dusti Bongé (1903–1993) was an actress, a debutante, Mississippi’s first Modern artist, and famed gallerist Betty Parsons’s close friend. Yet for many, her name remains wholly unfamiliar. 

Now, “Piercing the Inner Wall: The Art of Dusti Bongé,” a retrospective at the Mississippi Museum of Art, is hoping to change that. The exhibition, which includes some 65 paintings, 29 works on paper, and three sculptures, offers an in-depth look at the experimental and kaleidoscopic career of this little-known artist, and charts how her early Cubist-inspired works grew into captivating Surrealist visions and elegant abstractions. 

A new biography by curator J. Richard Gruber (Dusti Bongé, Art and Life: Biloxi, New Orleans, New York) also accompanies the exhibition. (The show was organized by the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, where it first opened in 2019).

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May Stevens, Ardent Feminist And Founding Guerrilla Girls Member, Insisted That All Painting Is Political

May Stevens: Soho Women Artists, 1977-78, acrylic on canvas, 78 by 144 inches.© MAY STEVENS. COLLECTION NATIONAL MUSEUM OF WOMEN IN THE ARTS, WASHINGTON, DC.. IMAGE COURTESY ESTATE OF MAY STEVENS AND RYAN LEE GALLERY, NEW YORK.

In 1967 May Stevens began work on her “Big Daddy” series, a group of paintings made after failed attempts to educate her working-class, politically conservative father, whom she saw as a pro-war, racist, and misogynistic bigot. She suspected that he aired his intolerant views only in the privacy of his own home. But the artist had more personal reasons to resent her father: when her younger brother died of pneumonia at 15, he was unsupportive of his grieving wife, who was later committed to a state mental hospital. This gave Stevens the basis to use her father as a symbol of the American patriarchy, and exemplifies her lifelong commitment to melding the personal with the political.

The “Big Daddy” paintings, which she continued to produce through 1976, are flat, with blue backgrounds, and depict a disgusting white man with a phallic-shaped head amid American flags and military and police uniforms (a nod to his support of the Vietnam war). When Big Daddy Paper Doll (1970), a painting showing her male protagonist with all his outfits, was on view at Ryan Lee in 2017 and visible from the High Line, Holland Cotter of the New York Times called it “the most interesting, no-nonsense piece of political art I’ve seen in Chelsea this year.”

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