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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Travel: Singapore

It was great to see Art Stage Singapore for a second time this year and spend some time visiting the various exhibitions during Art Week. This trip would have not been possible without the generous hospitality of my hosts, collectors Ryan Su and Adrian Chan. (The Ryan Foundation)

Had a chance to spend a whole day at the wonderful National Gallery Singapore and explore their diverse and extensive collection. Also got a tour of the Asian Civilizations Museum and the fantastic print workshop of STPI

During my stay I also met with some cutting edge authors, such at Christine Chia and photo journalist Aik Beng Chia 

It was a pleasure to visit some engaging gallery shows at the:

Gillman Barracks 

ArtPorters Singapore

ShanghART Singapore

Yavuz Gallery

NTU CCA Singapore

Pearl Lam Galleries

OTA Fine Art

Chan and Hori Contemporary

I also had time to visit some exciting studios and was so inspired to speak with the artists about their work:

Robert Zhao Renhui

Kanchana S. Gupta

Khairullah Rahim

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Travel: Vietnam

This February I had the chance to visit Ho Chi Minh City and Vung Tao. I had a great time exploring the coastal town with my brother for a few days, who has lived there since 2015. 

This was my second trip to Ho Chi Minh City and so enjoyed meeting some new artists and several friends. It was a special treat to visit the Factory Arts Centre and get a tour of Tuan Andrew Nguyen’s new installation and film “Empty Forest.” See some of  their links here:

Tuan Andrew Nguyen

Dinh Q Le

Phan Quang

Phi Long Le

Nguyen Du

Nguyen Quoc Chanh

The day culminated with a long scooter ride with Dinh Q. Le, who will be opening a stunning show of new woven photographs that were completed this year at the STPI Residency and opens on March 16, 2018, on our way to a wonderful end of year celebration at MOT+++ hosted by the founder Tran Thanh Ha. It was lovely to meet her again and enjoy an evening of great food and great people.

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Travel: Frieze London

The Frieze week is an amazing time to be London! The fall weather, along with all the new shows ignites an amazing energy across the cith. This year the fair was really at high level, including new work by Jeff Koons, among many others. A special section devoted to feminism of 70’s and its relevance to current day issues of sexuality in western culture. The segment was titled “Sex Work” and included a solo show by the late Birgit Jürgensen, one of my graduate school professors and mentor, presented by Galerie Winter.

I was also able to meet up with several childhood friends and visit a number of studios in London: Anna Freeman Bentley, Nikolai Ishchuk and Hannah Brown.

Notable shows I was able to visit outside of the Frieze fair were Juliana Cerqueira Leite at TJ Bouting and Nick Goss at Josh Lilly

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Jake Ziemann

My first encounter with Ziemann’s work was in the first group show for the launch of HILDE gallery in Mid-City, Los Angeles this winter. His odd ceramic shapes, counterbalances and seeming found building materials intrigued me. I often find myself attracted to objects that are part fabricated, part appropriated, engages with themes that are characteristic of the Zeitgeist. His amorphous hand built ceramic shapes seem to suggest characters….So much so that it feels like if were one to leave the room, they might change into figures in your absence. 

As complete assemblages they seem to teeter between abstract narratives and absurd commentary. The vibrant colors of the painted surfaces of the hand sculpted forms are reminiscent of melting lava, as though a violent act had produced something beautiful. Ziemann sees his work as metaphors for the labor it takes to develop relationships with friends, lovers, and the world around me—a way to formally investigate notions of intimacy, codependency, and vulnerability. Each of these objects played with the notion of counterbalance, some more obviously than others. That idea extends to the materials in how he works with construction material in his base elements, which are contrasted with the sensual, beautiful ceramic objects. 

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Thomas Linder

It was a pleasure to meet Thomas Linder and for him to allow me a brief glimpse of how he works in the studio. Thomas had a recent show at Ibid Gallery in Los Angeles titled “Primary Grid.” Thomas Linder’s artistic process as a sculptor utilizes wood and fiberglass to create paintings and modular sculptures that interact with natural light. The lightness and beauty of the sculpture is how the translucent material is activated by the light to both reflect and project rainbow like planes of color. For Linder, this approach is similar to painting; Wood frames are built, fabric is stretched, and pigmented resin is painted, sprayed, and/or poured. 

The less three-dimensional works use wood strip frames to create cavities for him to pour pigmented resin into. These hand-built, irregular grids loosely reference stained glass windows in how they allow the available light to pass through them. One possible reading is that geometry has been abandoned in favor of a playful, joyful interpretation of abstraction. Linder’s recent work also explores the imagery of his past in the Midwest, which included growing up around greenhouses and experimenting with LED light installations, with materials and colors of Southern California. His oeuvre is heavily influenced by the light and space movement, which blossomed in Los Angeles in the 1970s, but is a departure with its conscious reference to the human hand by how he treats the material. There is a rawness to his objects that clearly implies human imperfection and manual labor. 

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