A month of mythology in NYC - Art Collector

  Lehmann Maupin galley Installation view, 2015. Courtesy: Lehmann Maupin, New York

By Jessica Holburn

Lehmann Maupin’s first exhibition of works by Belgian artist Patrick Van Caeckenbergh is full of wonderment, combining fantastical, philosophical and scientific elements. Meticulously detailed graphite drawings on paper are ordered around the room in a clinical manner as if specimens to be studied, featuring vividly anthropomorphic trees, some even adorned with doorways. All 31 works lead the viewer around an installation at the centre of the room, Les Oubliettes – The Oblivions, comprising old glass bell jars from Belgium placed on an industrial shelving unit, empty vessels, suggesting both presence and absence, possibility and intangibility. Where the trees represent mystery and connectivity, the jars also invite us to consider their history.

Associate director of communications at Lehmann Maupin, Marta de Movellan, reports that collectors and critics alike have been responding very positively to the work. The staff are often asked if the works are photographs as the drawings look so realistic. Born in 1960, Van Caeckenbergh has been represented by Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp, since 1987, where he will also open his next solo back to back in September. His work has been featured in the Taipei Biennial in 2014 and at the Tate Gallery in 2005. Notable solo exhibitions include a 2012 retrospective at the M Museum in Leuven, as well as shows at La Maison Rouge in Paris, Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nîmes, and a survey show at the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht.


  Catinca Tabacaru Gallery Installation view, 2015. Courtesy: Catinca Tabacaru Gallery, New York

Continuing notions of the fantastical and the mythological, Catinca Tabacaru Gallery presents “Material Myth,” a group show featuring the work of Caroline Wells Chandler, Tracey Emin, Meg Lipke, Rachael Gorchov, Roxanne Jackson and Robin Kang. Each artist engages a relation between mythology and materiality through practices associated with Neo-Craftivism, defined as a reinvigoration of Betsy Greer’s term Craftivism: a single word designed to merge craft and social activism for the purpose of subversion and of giving form to the inaccessible.

Gallerist Catinca Tabacaru arrived back from a trip to Africa in time to comment on the show: "This group of artists is changing how what was once understood as craft – tapestry, crochet, papier-mâché, pottery, etc – is viewed within a contemporary art world. It's a shift started by artists like Tracey Emin, whose work offers a contextual anchor in this exhibition, and is being pushed forward by this younger generation of artists."

Emin is a household name being one of Britain’s most significant contemporary artists, known for her confessional neon signs and large scale appliqués that have been acquired by major museums across the globe including the Tate Gallery. In this show her work makes only a minor appearance with a small yet significant embroidered cotton piece titled It wouldn’t go, which does figure considering Emin is elsewhere represented in New York by Lehmann Maupin.

Wells Chandler has been making several appearances in group shows over the summer here in New York including Driscoll Babcock, only this time exhibiting crocheted cats that look somewhat tribal in their earthly tones and appearance with hilarious titles, Butt to Butt Pussy and Yellow Moly Pussy. The chocolate chip coated cookie selfies are also a real treat. Humour is certainly key to getting a grasp on Wells Chandler’s work, definitely appealing to the kinky and quirky tastes. Robin Kang’s gestural tapestries combine textiles with technology, using symbolism from ancient weaving traditions and digital marks from motherboard hardware. Kang’s work has most recently been acquired by Diamond-Newman Fine Arts, 2014, the Howard and Roberta Ahmanson Collection, CA, 2013; the Nancy Saliterman Collection, Miami, FL; Marilyn Flemming Collection, Denver, CO; Rodney T Adams Collection, San Francisco, CA; Brad Nicholson Collection, Kansas City, KS and the Kuhl Luke Collection, New York, NY. Both Wells Chandler and Kang have reportedly sold well to strong collections during this show.

Rachael Gorchov’s handmade paper mache clay works are suspended from the wall like convex bulbous growths or awkwardly delicate concave bowls. Meg Lipke’s totemic-like work suggest a ritualistic approach to art making, employing a traditional form of batik: beeswax, fabric dye and wire to construct her pieces. Roxanne Jackson’s paper mache serpentine forms in the front room are cartoonish and fetishistic, the ceramic and faux fur works equally so. Such works conjure up a plenitude of associations with popular culture today, our very own contemporary ceremony and mythology.


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