Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Armory 2008-- the Anti-Whitney Biennial

As much as the Whitney Biennial has been promoted as being devoid of all reference to narrative painting and certainly color, the Armory Show was anything but. Pigments from across the color spectrum devoured the viewer at every turn. Take Assume Vivid Astro Focus at Deitch Projects. This wall must have registered at 180 decibels. Sure, it gave me a splitting headache, (even without audio) but at the same time, holy hell, THANK GOD FOR HIM. No, really. Bless his little soul for a little bit of, "Wow! Lookie there! Pretty!" thrown my way. As of late, I've been feeling that various dealers and curators have been conspiring to lock my loins into a chastity belt and throw away the key, denying my fix for pleasure of any sort. Sure, the economy is in the shitter, and we're in a 100 year war with no end, but, "Hell no," A.V.A.F. screams! "Time to party!" But this isn't really a celebratory reference of the hippie era. This is more like the end of days party. Might as well go out with a bang.

A.V.A.F.'s piece takes elements of design and digital pscyhedelia and spits it back in the viewer's face with contemptuous laughter. We either shall continue to dwell on the darkness and despair, or try to liven it up every so often for sanity's sake. The viewer is sucked into this world of madness, spinning out of control. It will use you up and leave you a shell of your former self. This was visual candy at its finest, on the strongest of illegal substances.

Next up, the majestic return of one, Ms. Inka Essenhigh. It's been a while since I've seen her work-- 2002 to be precise. My last forray to 303 Gallery was to see her eponymous exhibit. That was supposedly the "return of painting." How so much has changed in the past few years, I'd like for someone to explain to me. The only paint I'm seeing as of late is on PVC pipe. Essenhigh's loops and continued exploration into the surreal really intrigued me. I loved seeing the sensuous anemonae-like tree forms swaying in and out in their underwater jungle. At any moment, I fully expected Nemo's father to arrive with his search party.

In yet another example of color saturation, Glenn Rubsamen had a wall devoted to his cell phone towers that appear to be on first glance palm trees. Again, it's Southern California at its most decadent candy coated shallowness. The gradient skies seem to float amongst the bird nests attached to these manmade structures that are so foreign to the natural make up of the land. These are great references to Pop art at its finest. Seeing how corporate America continues to market to us an ever greater need for 24-7 communication, we are forced to disguise these very technologies in our communities. Sticking out like a sore thumb amidst an arrid landscape, the works are interesting in how they capture the nature of communication now. Regretably, it all comes down to 0's and 1's, but a sunset, dusk, or sunrise will always capture a moment that cannot be quanitified in a digital readout.

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