June 12, 2018

Trading Studio Visits: Loren Munk

Had a great time visiting Loren Munk at his studio in Cobble Hill today! I had the impulse to record the conversation but all the better to have let it flow as naturally and bountifully as it did. (The problem of catching butterflies is that you kill the creatures you so admire.) The conversation: Where are we / where are we going? Art history / our histories / NYC/LA art stories & fairy tales. Influences / who he/we have influenced. Courage under fire. Material tech. Internet tech (YouTube spontaneous combustion & the viability of Instagram)... The images: a panorama in 3parts / Loren's living room wall spanning past (the trencadís frame, 2003) and present / 2 closeups. Hours flew by, and we merely scratched the surface. @lorenmunk #painting #arthistory #nycartist

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A few notes:
Loren Munk (his website, a must-see).

Loren has created an online persona by the stage name James Kalm whose production is over 11 years in the making and over 140 videos of the New York art scene deep. There is no one like him. There are thousands of young artists from all around the world, who, for generations now have relied on his eye witness documentation of art making in NYC for an education that cannot be found anywhere else.

I'm beginning to think of him like those storied folk ethnographers that had documented lost music and languages, creating archives that no one had valued until they were nearly lost. Or better yet, think of James Kalm as a Bill Cunningham of the New York art scene. Both captured butterflies and archived them... but... what if you found out that Cunningham never stopped making hats and even had expanded his scope?*

And finally, here is an important note to underscore, Loren Munk has produced a deep body of painting of his own -in his own painterly language that commands its own authority- that is simultaneously organically integrated with his art historical documentation. Call it another variety of conceptual art grounded in fleshy paint. No small feat, that.

A few days after seeing Loren's studio, he visited mine and our conversation went deeper and farther still. Such a shame not to have recorded it, but pinning butterflies is a brutal act. Picking a few shards from memory, I can testify that we had drilled deeper into the prime question(s) that drove me into visiting him in the first place: where are we in art history and where are we going?

We both agreed that a pat answer would be foolish but the character of our conversation compelled a sense that we could together paint a preparatory sketch: 1) That we are, in this point in history, lost in a hall of mirrors (an era of fake news, an interminable internecine civil war everywhere you look, a noumenon nowhere to be found much less an existence thereof suspected) and 2) That if there was a seed, a faint outline of a succeeding 21st century, it would lie in the direction of solving the riddle of the 20th.. and perhaps that could be something like the task of orienting oneself after you find yourself lost in a wilderness. Orientation by any means necessary, in other words. A needle rubbed into magnetism, floated in water... Time of day and where the sun is in the sky... Salient features of the surrounding landscape... Tracing the path of the ecliptic...

Oh, we went deep.

And after hours of a conversation that didn't want to end, Loren whipped out a camera and asked me if I minded a quick interview to share with his vast YouTube community.

Well, why not?

At least we got to pin at least one butterfly into the album:

Note*: Incidentally, but yet also as a simple matter of fact, both Cunningham and Munk do get around the boroughs solely by bicycle to do their work.

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June 2, 2018


Oil on Canvas over Wire and Wood


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Hatching Plans


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June 1, 2018

Lay back, rest a little...


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Instagram Reviews

Jordan Wolfson @davidzwirner First approach: something like the 2001 Space Odyssey monolith. $ shot. Soft wall padding surround. Extravagant space allocation = theatre = retail floor area = $. Have a seat. HAL: "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that." TMI. Banality raises the amplitude of barbarity. Youtube splices. Wholesale animation. Retail transgression. He drinks his own urine, and yet it never enters the mouth. At least the hair had some physics, but that was it. Is the crocodile from Izod? Where can we buy a t-shirt?

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Marlene Dumas @davidzwirner This is the only one I would buy (if this was even possible). Collectors have loved her paintings much more than the critics have over the years. Humanity will always hanker for figuration. Lucky for her that criticism had lost its power. My eyes glaze as I try to read the press release. The Ovid story... well, then. Rooms of long narrow canvases interspersed with her characteristic small hand-held squarish format. Liquid painting. Hands off the steering wheel.... in a rain storm... eyes off the road. Watercolor's wheelhouse. Splash more thinner to do the same in oil. Vaporous. Culled specters. The sexiness of the bitten kiss.

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Frank Auerbach @timothytaylorgallery When I read in the press release "...Whilst Auerbach's paintings might appear sudden and reactive..." I initially and mistakenly read "sullen". There, that's better. I can imagine with the authority of a fleshy painter that Auerbach's paint must have seemed much more vibrant when he was making them than now that they have dried. Still, I adore his work. Only if I could travel back in time and secretly add some stand oil to his palette. The gallery itself is a marvel: a simulated brownstone -or so I could like to imagine- inserted into Chelsea's industrial scale. A pocket delight.

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Dan Graham @greenenaftali , Chelsea. "A New Look at TV and a Funhouse" First thought after reading the title: Paul McCarthy. First thought after seeing "Dancing Circles": Chanel. (Check out the details, luxe life). First thought after walking into the second room and seeing @Shinohara's Pyramid": I.M.Pei's Louvre. First thought after turning the corner to see "Model for a Pavillion Influenced by Moon Gates": Louis Kahn's Exeter Library + Larry Bell. First thought upon encountering "A New Look at TV and a Funhouse": 1. Resist the invitation to lounge. 2. YouTube, already. 3. Suburban Reflux. 4. Apparently according to D.G., the 21st century is a recursive 20th. First thought after reading the press release and related materials: Paul McCarthy. Last thought upon exiting: the urban/suburban model reified, no off ramps on this conceptual freeway.

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Mernet Larsen @jamescohangallery "Situation Rooms" Old friend Bart Exposito would like these paintings, and if he didn't, I'd drill down like a bulldog to find out why not. One overall image and the rest details... I assume most of you would have seen the show already. But look at the details! Pencil before during and after everywhere, not even a mechanically sharpened one either, maybe gnawed. Scribbled notes and second guessed nervous lines. Mercenary paint no-fucks-given tromp-l'œil action mediated with fist, frisket and tape. And then something collaged once in a blue moon, why fuss with the brush? M.C.Escher, Magritte, Pez dispensers and Minecraft before Minecraft existed. Faculty meetings turn into nuclear strike decisions frozen for all eternity.

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8 raking angle edges from Al Held, "Paris to New York, 1952-1959" @cheimread did Held know about Gutai action happening simultaneously in Japan? Sticky fingered Al Held, scavenging 100 lb sacks of pigment from his MoMA job. I wonder what they looked like when freshly done, what happened during the intervening years (shrink, smash, linseed burn, wrinkle, tear, smush) and whether that matters after all. What strain on the support! Canvas and stretcher groan and tremble. Soldiers on the endless march, forced slouch, load bearing bone weary laces broken.

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Jean Dubuffet @pacegallery 25tg Street Chelsea "Théâtres de mémoire". Two animated gifs taken in the back gallery, one overall and the other of details. Two quotes about revolution (YES) that spurs me to wonder now... how to revolt on all this (yes, this too, else we have learned nothing from our teacher)... and ALL the revolutions up to this moment. At first, a natural delight witnessing JD's infectious caprice. Then, in creeps the police action coordinated between the forces of glue and the forces of edge/support. Smell the hemming in. Closer inspection: you can see the pin holes in the corners of some of the paper sheaves. Others cut freehand with shears. I imagine what the preproduction must have looked like: a frenzy on the walls, painting on paper scattered on the floor. All to be arrested on a rectilinear canvas, wild mustangs in a corral. I trust that if he had lived past 84, he would have eventually freed these horses too.

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Terry Winters "12twelvepaintings" @matthewmarksgallery , 24th St., Chelsea. Is it indifferent chance, the wink of a curator or an act of G-d that positioned an informative slurry of concrete before a Terry Winters painting? I document, you decide. 12 months of the year, 12 apostles, one less than the baker might give. Winters follows nature assiduously but his loaded brush (drunken Kung Fu master?) overdetermines her. It's like the paint in his hands is unwilling to go where his mind takes him... makes me think of the way batik employs resistance. It's as if Winters' paint doesn't want to go on the canvas (a gun to the head of the brush?). There's a mad deep respect for Winters among the artists I've talked to here in NYC but many don't seem to know why. Well then...why not?

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