TWINKLE

TWINKLE

Curated by John Silvis

April 13 – May 18

Opening Reception: April 13, from 6-8 pm

87 Franklin Street #2

New York, NY 10013

Barney Savage Gallery is pleased to introduce TWINKLE, curated by John Silvis, which features multi-media artworks by IP Wai Lung (Hong Kong), KC Crow Maddux (U.S.A), Leonard Suryajaya (Indonesia/U.S) and Natasha Tontey (Indonesia/U.S), who embody mediated identities that transcend static constructs of gender and sexuality.

The depiction of the self or personal narrative has been a rich topic for visual artists since the Enlightenment. Beginning in the eighteenth century, the artist’s identity is often framed within mythological or a biblical metaphor, whereas the contemporary dialogue includes extensive self-examination using the artist’s own body as a signifier. In particular, the mediums of photography and video give artists direct tools to vividly portray the mind and life of the creator, as seen in the oeuvres of notable artists such as Leigh Bowery, Pipilotti Rist, and Lucas Samaras.

Twinkle presents the work of four emerging artists whose installations are punctuated by an autobiographical video work or stills that creates a context for supporting images that include photography, wall paper, mobile billboards and cut out silhouettes. Ip Wai Lung is a Hong Kong based multi-media artist whose first show will include a video made in Cambodia and recent photographic self-portraits printed on mobile billboards. His work emphasizes the loneliness and displacement of a post-passport generation, an identity of cultural blending that allows for diversity but does not fit into the expectations of the family. The figures he photographs are often in confusing settings or covered in rubber body suits, which are both beautiful and haunting. The video Qingdao Lotus Pond, 2018 speaks to the complexities of Chinese culture, as it hovers between communism and capitalism, idealism and restriction. The passive-aggressive relationship to gender and sexuality is a layered part of the conversation that he hopes to engage. 

Brooklyn-based trans artist KC Crow Maddux has always used his body as the image source. Reflecting specifically on what it means to live in a trans body, the work in Twinkle is from his recent series TransFigured Diction/a body puzzled, 2019 which combines transparencies and three dimensional cut out panels with painted forms on the wall. These captivating assemblages invite the viewer to consider the physical body suspended from its expected interpretation. The shapes Maddux has chosen allude to the body— toes, arms, ribs, guts, breasts, and eyes. According to the artist, these shapes, which are bold, clean, and brightly colored, are frames that offer an intimate human element to the literal body-language surrounding the photographs. The frames appear totemic and meld disconnected body parts into one, creating a playful contrast to the images of the body. 

Many of Leonard Suryajaya’s investigations are rooted in the particularity of his upbringing as an Indonesian citizen of Chinese descent, as a Buddhist educated in Christian schools in a Muslim-majority country, and as someone who departed from his family and his culture’s definitions of love and family.  He explores these tensions in everyday interaction, and his work captures potential disruptions stirred by queer relationships. Suryajaya’s photographs and videos cumulatively establish narratives that document family histories, play out fantasies, test group dynamics, or use the format of the interview to turn his sitters’ gaze back upon his role as artist and facilitator. His elaborately staged photographs are bursting with competing patterns and colors that create often absurd but affectionate tableaux featuring his immediate family and/or partner, which point to more universal stories of exile, religion, citizenship, duty, and belonging.

Natasha Tontey is young artist from Yogyakarta, Indonesia who is known for her boundary pushing performances and cryptic, slightly irreverent animation films. The Manifesto of Tactile and Fanciful Tactics on how to build a Speculative Future through 1.0 list of an alternative and plausible cosmic solution, 2018 is a poignant text written in the style of public service announcement that suggests an alternative progressive culture that does not rely on binary norms or prescriptive religions. The Almanak, 2018 is a glitchy digital animation based on actual prophesies Tontey receives from a psychic that clearly reflect the given social norms, from becoming someone’s wife and bearing children before turning thirty, to stereotyping behaviors based on appearance. Using a pseudo science-fiction narrative and taking inspiration from xenofeminism, Tontey’s most ambitious video work to date explores reality by drawing together past, present, and future into one narrative.

Working in Chicago, New York, Indonesia and Hong Kong, the artists Ip, Maddux, Suryajaya and Tontey express their ideas about the self within the parameters specific to their divergent cultural contexts. They express their visions thoughtfully and courageously in how each of them inhabit their work and navigate the complexities of queer identity. Their poignant works poetically engage the viewer in a personal dialogue about gender norms, sexuality and religion in a polarized world.

Shanghai

Shanghai delivered so much more than I expected! My first day I spent going to galleries:

Capsule Shanghai

ShanghART

Bank Gallery

166 ArtSpace

Antenna Space

Edouard Malingue

It was incredible to see how much the city had grown and changed in the seven years since my last visit. The scale of the architecture is so grand and modern; it was particularly exciting to see many new private art institutions like the Long Museum and Forsun Foundation

The city feels like it has doubled in size!

The Westbund Art Fair and the ART021 were both very different from each other, but fantastic in different ways. It was great to see the way the way that the Westbund Arts district has grown quite a bit and encompasses so many institutions and galleries. The Westbund fair featured a higher than usual percentage of international galleries than previous editions and I particularly like seeing the mix of programs from all around the world.

ART021 provided access to more emerging artists and galleries, I was happy to see a few familiar galleries from LA participating: Ghebaly Gallery and Shulamit Nazarian as well as several European galleries, such as Galerie Nächst St. Stephan. (Vienna)

In addition to the many gallery shows going on around the city, the opening of the Shanghai Bienniale happened at the end of the week. Shown in the expansive Power Station of Art building along the river, it was an incredibly diverse show centered loosely on the theme of Yubu, a mystic Chinese dance step. The four curators did an interesting job of giving each artist plenty of room to exhibit in this expansive space.

Uudam Tran Nguyen

Cristina Lucas

Arin Rungjang

Christoph Draeger and Heidrun Holzfeind

Zhang Xuzhan

Some other artists of interest:

Wang Haiyang

Alison Katz

Ding Yi

Jin Sha

Singapore

It was a beautiful third to visit Singapore and it almost feels like a second home at this point. The quality of the exhibitions and the institutions is really impressive and I enjoyed all the museum visits immensely. I was so pleased to be a part of the NTU CCA Five Year celebration as well, which featured a wonderful, funny performance by Ming Wong to honor director Ute Meta Bauer.

On this trip I wanted to focus on getting to know some younger artists and visit their studios. The welcome I received by the artists and my friends who hosted me meant a lot. Two new artists I met are extremely ambitious with their work and both address different aspects of Singapore’s past but from two very different vantage points. Sean Cham is a gifted photographer, installation and emerging social activist, in his approach to exploring abandoned structures in Singapore’s history that poignantly expose the way architecture and governments shape our lives. His profound and exceptionally designed book “Yesteryears” is published by Math Paper Press. One of the best art books I have seen in recent years.

Hilmi Johandi gives us an entry point into Singapore’s cultural history through the former amusement park venues that provided entertainment for middle class families. He was recognized as the most promising young artist by receiving the Young Talent Award last year.

His installation at SAM shows an incredible maturity, both in his painting and the way that he installed his objects in the space.

Sean Cham

Hilmi Johandi

Ho Tzu Nyen

Kanchana Gupta

Khairullah Rahim

Books Actually

Daniel Hui

Aditya Novali

Ming Wong

Ho Chi Minh City

I just love the energy and flow of the scooter traffic every time I arrive in Ho Chi Minh City! The city feels alive with creativity and the new programs that are popping up are truly exciting. I had the opportunity on this trip to visit the newest and very impressive addition of the A Farm Residency in the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City. I gave a brief presentation of my work as an art advisor and curator and got to take a look at the beautiful and large studio spaces. The property includes a living space for each resident and a gorgeous communal kitchen. There are six spots available each quarter.

The studio visits I went on were truly inspiring and felt like I want to keep researching particularly the new young talent, as well as travel up to Hanoi on my next trip. What impressed me the most is way that successful, established artist Dinh Q Le and a group of collectors are mentoring and providing incredible opportunities for emerging artists in the region.

Pham Tanh Toan

Xeen Pham

Do Ha Hoai

Dinh Q Le

Nguyễn Văn Đủ

Wu Tsi Chung

Mot +++

A Farm Art Residency

Bangkok Art Biennale 2018

This year the Bangkok Art Biennale launched what felt like a new era of art appreciation in Thailand. Featuring 75 artists from 30 countries and presented across 20 venues throughout the city, it truly did bring art to the people of Bangkok. The thought and care it took to negotiate the presence of contemporary art in three iconic temple campuses was truly admirable and as a viewer extremely moving.

Curated by Dr. Apinan Poshyananda, Chief Executive and Artistic Director, the Biennale featured some fantastic work by international artists, but I was pleased to discover some exceptional Thai artists for the first time. I was also really impressed with the BAB team that organized a beautiful VIP tour around the city and the temples. They also gave us direct access to the artists which was wonderful. The bulk of the show was presented at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center

My week ended with an engaging studio visit with one of my favorite artists Jakkai Siributr.

In addition to the extensive Biennale, an exceptional young Thai artist Korakrit Arunanondchai curated an exceptional international video platform showing at several locations around Bangkok called Ghost2561.

Sornchai Phongsa

Huang Yong Ping

Nino Sarabutra

Art Labor

AES+F

Imhathai Suwatthanasilp

Ho Tzu Nyen

Muslimah Collective

Gauri Gill

Jakkai Siributr

Mark Justiniani

Sherman Ong

Yuan Goang Ming

Yogyakarta

This was my second trip to Yogyakarta, Indonesia and it was really a joy to visit a second time. I love the vibe of the city and had the most generous hosts, artists Jimmy Ong and Mulyana Mogus.

I was also accompanied by a young artist Meliantha Muliawan, who is very knowledgeable about the local art scene.

The studios in Yogyakarta range from live/work spaces, to large custom built properties, and everything in between. One aspect of the art scene that is so refreshing compared to other large art cities is the artists emphasis on community. It is such a pleasure to also see the diversity in the work and the unique visions each artist is developing.

There are numerous collectives, notable one such as Ace House, MES56 and a new one discovered that is a group of roughly sixty artists from Bali, who are living and working in Yogyakarta.

Krack!” studio: Malcom Smith, Rudi and Prihat Moko (Moki)

Ace House: Uji Hahan and Gintani N.A. Swastika

MES56

Life Patch Collective (Digital Collective)

Iwan Effendi

Wimo Ambala Bayang

Agan Harahap

Abdi Setiawan

Muhammed Akbar

Natasha Toney @natashatoney

FX Harsono

Lir Space: @lirspace

Mira Asriningtyas (curator) @dreamiy

Dito Yuwono @ditoyuwono

Fraziska Fennert

Augus Putu Suyadnya

Handiwirman Saputra

Pesta Boneka

This October I had the privilege of attending the six edition of the Pesta Boneka, International Puppet Festival Biennale. Created in 2008 by the Papermoon Puppet Theater, it brings together puppeteers and performance artists from around the world in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The acts are presented both in traditional theaters, as well as local villages. The beautiful and energetic setting of Yogyakarta is a perfect backdrop for this to happen.

The culmination, and arguably the highlight of the festival was a trip to Desa Kopek, which is a tiny village about 15 km south of Yogyakarta, in which the whole village gathers to join in the festivities. Each of the puppeteer groups cooked a dish from their home country for the village and we all got to taste an eclectic palette of food. The best part was to witness the random mingling of many cultures and life experiences that happened there.

Because of the magnificent fundraising done by the Papermoon Puppet Theater, all performances were free to the public and it was great to see so many children and their families come out for the shows. I was approaching the festival from the perspective of performance art and certainly could be classified as such. Although the level overall was high, I was particularly impressed with the following performers:

Tom Lee and Lisa Gonzales (USA)

Peter Balkwill and Papermoon Theater (Canada/Indonesia)

Flying Balloon Puppets and Gwen Knox (Indonesia/Australia)

Tiny Feat (Singapore)

Kohey Kawamura (Japan)

Mochinosa (Japan)

Marta Sieczak (Poland)(Animation)

I will be at the next one two years from now! Don’t miss it, such a rare experience.

Chen Dongfan “The Song of Dragon and Flowers”

It was a pleasure to discover Chen Dongfan’s newest work called “The Song of Dragon and Flowers,” created for the Department of Transportation’s seasonal street program that creates temporary art-filled spaces for pedestrians.

According to Chen, the portrait combines the past and the present of Doyers Street, which is located in Chinatown, New York. His vision was to capture the stories of this street. This public, powerful work is a reminder that in a time of division and global tensions, heartfelt art speaks to all cultures and tears down the walls that divide. 

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Travel: Liechtenstein

Upon the invitation of my artist friends of many years (who's counting!?) Martin Walch and Barbara Geyer, I had the opportunity to spend a few incredible days in beautiful Liechtenstein prior to Art Basel. One of the evenings we attended an opening at the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein by the late German artist Thomas Lehnerer. It was an especially interesting exhibition given his unique aesthetic, that incorporates archeology, anthropology and religion with contemporary drawing and sculpture. It was a completely new discovery for me. I also toured the the HILTI Foundation, curated and directed by Dr. Uwe Wieczorek. Both buildings were designed by the architecture firm Morger + Dettli and really sets an incredible tone for viewing art. 

The second night I had the chance to speak about my work as a curator at the Kunstschule Liechtenstein, a progressive independent art school that provides art classes at high level for a variety of ages. It was nice to be immersed in a great community. 

Travel: Vienna, Austria

This year I was able to spend some extended in my birth city. My parents were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and organized a party in the church they got married in. I also enjoyed spending three days taking a group of students from The Kings College around galleries, studios and museums in Vienna. There were many standout shows, but I particularly enjoyed seeing the Rachel Whiteread mid-career retrospective at the Belvedere/21. Haus and the 100th anniversary of Egon Schiele exhibition at the Leopold Museum. Being there were large crowds everywhere I went, it was not possible to photography as many images of the museums and individual works as I would have liked. Vienna's museums across the board are so well researched and curated, it was an extraordinary experience to immerse myself in the museum exhibitions. 

One of the highlights of the trip was visiting galleries in downtown Vienna with the students. We had a particularly unique and special encounters with one Vienna's most important art dealers Christine König. After a brief tour of the gallery, Christine and I got talking about the art world and life in Vienna. She spontaneously invited all of us to join her for lunch at a French cafe down the block and we gladly accepted. In addition to telling us some personal anecdotes, she also shared her passion for being a gallerist and building her own private collection. It was candid, inspiring and profound. Such a treat to spend time with a visionary art dealer and it reminded me of the many times I have experienced the beauty of the Austrian friendships and generous hospitality. 

Travel: Traunreut, Bavaria

The drive through upper Austria and on to Munich, Germany, was a beautiful experience! Following a visit to the BMW World and Museum in Munich, I had the privilege of driving through the Bavarian countryside to visit the Das Maximum. Das Maximum was created by Heiner Friedrich a few years ago, here is a brief quote about him from the website (I should add quite understated given his many important projects): "Friedrich, known internationally as an intermediary between artists and museums and as a co-founder of such important foundations as the Dia Art Foundation, now also enables the repeated and intensive encounter with contemporary art in Traunreut." It was a great pleasure to be guided through the collection with curators Dr. Birgit Löffler and Ksenija Protic. The foundations features key works by Walter De Maria, Dan Flavin, Andy Warhol, Imi Knoebel, just to name a few. It is truly a wonderful and engaging collection to visit and there are numerous other art options in the region as well: Herrenchiemsee Schloss and the Polling Dreamhouse.

This year Heiner Friedrich celebrated his eightieth birthday at Das Maximum. A book featuring a series of interviews with Corinna Thierolf "Ich will nichts über mich sagen. Es geht um die Kunst" (Shirmer/Mosel) was published around that time as well. A beautiful portrait of one of the key collectors of the second half of the twentieth century

In Honor of Marcia Hafif

I was saddened by the news of Marcia Hafif's passing this April. I had the chance to interview her for Parnass Kunstmagazine in the spring of 2017. It was such a delightful day as we talked about her practice of fifty years, as well as various aspects of her life. It was an honor to spend quality time with Marcia in her Laguna Beach studio. She described herself as tri-coastal, which I could very well relate to. 

On my next trip to LA I decided to also record some video with her and she was very happy for me to come back with filmmaker Jeffrey Johnson and speak more the work. Marcia was an artist who was always thinking, observing, processing the world around her. 

Up until the end of her career, Hafif continued working. “I’m still painting,” she told ARTnews in 2015. But she added that she wasn’t done being critical of painting, either: “I’m just not painting a subject, other than the painting itself.”
— Alex Greenberger, ARTnews
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