Awakening at BAM
For those who plan on attending the September 22 performance, purchase a ticket for a pre-show artist’s talk about Awakening—moderated by NPR’s Brooke Gladstone, the panel will feature Julian Laverdiere, co-creator of the Tribute in Light, Dianne Berkun, artistic director of the BYC and Iranian novelist Porochista Khakpour, author of Sons and Other Flammable Objects, along with David Harrington.
Awakening, A Musical Meditation on the Anniversary of 9/11
Photos: Zoran Orlic
Maripol with her work
Of the 104 lots, nine were live-auction items, and the charming auctioneer rhapsodized, to the best of his ability, about each—working particular magic with a series by Brett Ratner, “We’re all guilty here: Rush Hour, X Men, special edition DVD sets with the Wolverine claw…”—though for the most part, only his gavel could be heard above the roar of the crowd. A particular hush did fall when lot 7, by Patrick Demarchelier, came up. What was Demarchelier’s favorite lot? “I like this one,” he said with a smile in his gloriously thick French accent, gesturing at his enormous installation of hundreds of snaps of his most iconic images. And the audience agreed—it blew the other lots out of the water, selling for $37,000.
From top: Patrick Demarchelier; Demarchelier's installation on display at Philips de Pury & Company
Gaga’s lot, a GL10 covered in spikes and appearing to “print” gold chains, failed to break the $2,000 mark. Perhaps her Little Monsters would have bid more had she made an appearance. Though a male latecomer outfitted in a purple spandex bodysuit (that left little to the imagination) and a bedazzled helmet with visor did draw some Gaga whispers. And after her VMA performance as her male alter ego Jo Calderone, perhaps this latest incarnation wasn’t so out of the question.
Photos: Tracey Wilson
How long ago did you start working on “Character Gestures?”
They [OHWOW gallery’s Al Moran and Aaron Bondaroff] wanted to do something in LA even before they had their space there. We began talking about it in Miami last October, so I guess it’s been almost a year since.
Let’s talk about the term graffiti art. With a rise in its embrace by museums and representation in galleries, is that a term you associate your work with?
Obviously it’s a term that’s familiar to the public. It has so much to do with popular culture. My work isn’t much about pop culture.
Growing up as an artist in the 1980s, that term was used mostly in a derogatory way. For me it was attached to a lot of confusion and struggle. It’s not a comfortable association for me. We never referred to ourselves as graffiti artists. It was a very underground culture and we referred to ourselves as writers or painters. And I think that remained with me.
I basically have a vision and a voice as an artist who lives in a city and travels around the world. And with these experiences that I accumulate, I basically tell a story with my paintings. I let the story reflect my livelihood. My experiences. I let these works express my life.
So what part of your life are we learning about in this show?
The works are very much inspired by a city atmosphere. The title of the exhibition signifies how there are so the many characters that I take on while painting. How I become a pedestrian walking by, observing, taking away, leaving a mark—all of that theater is involved in my everyday thinking about painting.
Parlá’s “Miming the Mediterranean”
Some of the titles in the show suggest inspiration beyond the city walls.
Yes, for example the painting entitled “Miming the Mediterranean,” which is a vision of what I was feeling when I was looking through the water into the sun in the South of France. I tried to memorize the colors and movement and expressed it through that work.
Another work, “Cyclones’ Capsule,” came from a memory of a jungle in Colombia. So I was working with the thoughts of the movement of the trees, the color in the depth of the jungle. That painting began on the day that I found out Cy Twombly passed, so it was also an homage to him.
Was Twombly an influence on you as you were developing as an artist?
I discovered Cy Twombly's work in 1990 when I was at Savannah College [of Art and Design]. I got into an argument with my professor over how much text I was using in my work. It was a heated moment, so I walked out and ended up in a small gallery at the library that was exhibiting a body of photographs by Robert Rauschenberg . One of the images was a shot taken by Rauschenberg of Cy Twombly's studio. In the studio were his black and white script based chalkboard paintings. I armed myself with this information, and went back to continue my argument with my painting professor. I asked, why did you not tell me about Twombly? Why did you try to put me down rather than teach me? My work continued to use the calligraphic gesture.
A view of the exhibition
This show definitely carries the calligraphic gestures you’re known for, but there’s a definite departure from your previous works, no?
The show has a lot of different aspects now that it didn’t have before. While I was never interested in people labeling my work urban or street or graffiti, I can say that this show is the biggest jump from that—not only in the work, but mentally and spiritually as well.
Let’s talk about the pieces entitled “Painter’s Rags.”
For years I’ve been working with painter’s rags. You get these huge boxes of cut-up fabrics. Scraps. You use them to wipe the edges or absorb color, things like that. So I’ve been using these for ages. I was using tons of them for this show. You work quickly with them, and since these paintings are very large, it gets very physical. The rags get torn and beat up in the process.
When I would clean up the studio, I would just stack the rags, and then I started looking at these stacks that had accumulated and saw how beautiful they were. One of the bundles really started to look more sculptural, so I began to photograph it and place it in different ways. It occurred to me that this stack reflected some of the ideas of sculpture that I had seen in other artists’ works, particularly Louise Bourgeois’ dangling bodies. Of course these were more abstract, but seeing them hanging in three dimension somehow captures the soul of the making of the artwork.
Why did you choose to suspend them?
I tried a few different ways, but on a clean box, for instance, it looked dead. It looked like it wasn’t showing its full potential. All of the individual pieces that are dangling looked very relaxed—like the way I feel after an exhibition.
Parlá’s "Painter's Rags, Character Gestures 2"
Are these your first sculptural works?
These are the first I’ve presented. I’ve done some experimentation before, but this is the first time I’ve felt comfortable showing things this three-dimensional.
Yet some of the paintings are sort of three-dimensional. Wall and canvas sort of converge in a very sculptural way.
It’s funny because a few of the people that have previewed this show have commented on that, too. I think when you make the conscious decision to push the envelope in your work, you go beyond what you’re used to doing.
The title work in the show is actually the one I struggled with the most. It’s a painting with so many layers, you feel as though you can put your hand in the piece and pull something else out of it. There’s so much volume.
Tell us about the installation in OHWOW’s central space.
The gallery is very wide, and from the beginning I knew I wanted to do something to change the space itself. I wanted to create something three-dimensional, so I created three fragmented sidewalk pieces. They look very realistic, like I went and dug them up.
I made the pieces here in LA, and I worked with a cement contractor who taught me how to lay down cement for a sidewalk. Each one is titled after a location in three different cities—Bangkok, LA and the Bronx—and there are specific marks engraved into the sidewalks, which help you to understand why it’s titled under a certain location.
How much do you think about the viewer’s experience?
I think that the viewer is the person that finishes your work. There’s not a specific message in mind, but I guess what I want is for the person to relate to the painting in their own way, for them to have a reflection to a special place, a special memory, a special moment.
José Parlá’s “Character Gestures” runs at OHWOW in Los Angeles through October 22.
Installation image: Mark Quetgles (Courtesy of OHWOW). Artwork: courtesy of José Parlá
A new market in Brooklyn’s Fulton Mall pairs local entrepreneurs with long-term retail space—in the form of salvaged shipping containers. These colorful Lego-like cans house everything from art galleries and eateries to boutiques and even an internet radio station.
Shopping at Dekalb Market
The nontraditional approach to retailing has led to some unconventional shopping: 3rd Ward, an artist collective based in Bushwick, showcases its products in the windows of its container, allowing shoppers view them only from outside; to purchase an item, simply text the seller. Merchandise is shipped directly without ever stepping foot into a retail space.
“We looked for vendors that would offer unique products and services, as well as ones that would reflect and complement the community where Dekalb Market is located,” says Eldon Scott, president of Urban Space, the developer behind the market. Unlike many of the pop-up flea markets, Dekalb Market is open seven days a week, serving the local community and allowing its businesses to establish more permanent homes.
A food vendor at the market
This Sunday, Dekalb Market will celebrate Fashion Week starting at 3 p.m. with fashion shows and events.
Visit dekalbmarket.com for more details.
Two works from "Reliquary." From left: "Torso"; "Spine and Bones."
Highline Stages, 441 W. 14th St. NYC
That was certainly artist Luis Gispert’s reaction when he discovered the latter on a trip to Miami about two years ago. Gispert, who works in multiple mediums, had originally embarked on a photographic project to shoot sublime landscapes and superimpose them into the windows in his images of specialty vehicles. The 39 year-old had already hunted down custom tractor trailers, military airplanes and customized cars in his endeavors when he found this Murakami number.
“I was just fascinated with this car so I took a picture of it and started to talk to the owner. And I brought up Takashi Murakami and he had no idea who he was, nor did he seem to care,” recalls Gispert. “He was interested in ‘Louis, Louis, Louis.’” Realizing he had stumbled upon a subculture of car—and home and clothing—decorating, he changed tack, setting out to find as many similar examples as possible.
The result is “Decepcion,” opening at the Mary Boone Gallery on Fifth Avenue on September 8th. The show includes images of these logo-bedazzled cars, landscapes viewed through their front windows; women and men who have crafted entire outfits out of ostensibly fake designer textiles, like a DJ who made a jacket and pants of plasticized MCM material, and even a room covered in Versace’s signature medusa motif.
Gispert’s travels took him from coast-to-coast and brought him encounters with both everyday folks and those whose professions he dared not enquire about. There was the mailman who took his late 80's Mercedes and did a DYI Gucci job on everything from its seats to its dashboard and the man whose lime green Cadillac sported an equally blinding shade of green mixed with Stephen Sprouse’s graffitied Louis Vuitton print.
“There’s this class anxiety where they understand that these brands index some kind of wealth, higher class. Now they’re appropriating that. They’re not trying to copy high fashion, they are creating their own things,” explains the Buschwick-based Gispert, who studied film and sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago and got a masters in sculpture from Yale University before moving to New York. “These cars become their fantasy vehicles, spaces they’re creating because they have pretty normal, average lives.”
Well, most of them do. Less so the Florida-based drug dealer whom Gispert surmises was a big deal in the 80s. His mansion, “looked like a set from ‘Scarface,’” says the artist, who focused his lens on the guy’s bedroom, which boasted a round bed covered in a Versace duvet and pillows, a fountain in the back, mirrors on the ceilings, a hot tub and color-coded walls stenciled with Versace’s signature Grecian pattern.
What would possess a person to trick out their bedroom like this is something Gispert prefers to leave to the imagination of his viewers. “Decepcion” (Spanish for disappointment or disillusionment) is his first solely photographic exhibit—he normally combines film, sculpture and photography into a fictional narrative—and as such, he preferred not to have the photos, with their colorful, slightly surreal quality, appear as a commentary on the objects and people captured therein.
“The subject was so hot, I needed to cool it off. I wanted the landscape to appear in the car to make it kind of hyper-real,” says Gispert. “I didn’t want it to have an exploitative, documentarian kind of thing.”
Photos: Courtesy of Luis Gispert and Mary Boone Gallery
The Living Room
His longevity in the industry can perhaps be credited to his charm, but can definitely be credited to his ability to create environments that seem to defy trends—rooms that exist in an expertly curated wonderland, the perfect mix of old and new. It’s quite an extension of Couturier himself, who is an avid collector of many things, including old master paintings, and “of course, things that I cannot quite afford,” but who is also always looking ahead. “I love the new contemporary furniture, Arad, Zekely, Van DerStraeten, Loehrman,” he says. “I am enthralled by what is produced with the help of new technologies. Have you seen the furniture shown by Kreo in Paris?”
Couturier took us inside one of his latest projects, a Parisian apartment for a longstanding American client. “It is a great luxury, this apartment. I don’t think he is in it more than two or three weeks a year,” says Couturier. “So it had to have something non-formal, playful.” Even amidst 18th-century antiques and 17th-century tapestries, the space feels surprisingly comfortable. Even with all of the formality, there is little pretense. “[The client] feels at home in every single room of the house because he collects everything. We had to make sense of his collections,” says Couturier. “He creates his own kind of polite nest. That obviously made everything feel more lived in.”
Click through for a tour of the Robert Couturier-designed Parisian apartment.
Photo: courtesy Robert Couturier
Dark, intense, sometimes even savage, longtime W contributor Steven Klein’s photographs are indelible images in the over-landscaped arena of celebrity and fashion portraiture. “USAnatomy,” a new exhibition of his work curated by Chico Lowndes at the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture in Sao Paulo, kicked off last night with a blowout party for Brazilian society. The show includes 30 rarely seen Polaroids (shown here)—including a few studies taken during his epic 60-page Brad and Angelina cover shoot from the July 2005 issue of W—opened today to the public as part of the annual IGUATEMI photo series, and will run through August 28.
Case study #13 image no. 16, 2005
Justin Timberlake, 2001
All photos © Steven Klein
Modernist designer and architect S. Russell Groves—who cut his teeth with both Richard Meier and Peter Marino and has created spaces for corporate clients like Tiffany and Co. and Armani as well as residences for Frederic Fekkai and Derek Lam—shares a private Palo Alto residence he worked on for two longstanding clients over two years.
Stairway of a Palo Alto home Groves designed
“They have an amazing art collection and love contemporary furniture and a modern aesthetic, but also have this tendency to buy these traditional homes,” says Groves. “We didn’t want to destroy any of the essence of the house, we wanted to update it and refresh it and make it much more current and contemporary.” The 6, 000 square foot space reflects Groves’ aesthetic: “Simultaneously sybaritic and meticulous; restrained luxury,” while hits of artwork speak to the clients’ creative sensibilities.
Click through for a tour of the S. Russell Groves-designed Palo Alto home.
Photos courtesy of S. Russell Groves