Monday, November 28, 2005

Artist of the Week EXTRA (11/28/05)

Well, very much to my own surprise, I managed to finish a mile-long list of pre-flight chores a bit early and so decided to share the following as an "Artist of the Week EXTRA."

Full Disclaimer: I'm very pleased to acknowledge that Plus Ultra Gallery will be representing the following very talented young artist.

I discussed Chris Dorland's work without mentioning his name in a post a few weeks back, but now that we officially represent his work, I don't mind sharing his name, nor the virtual avalanche of accolades he's received recently: he's the cover artist of the Nov/Dec issue of ArtPapers, which is reinventing itself with a huge party in Miami; he's just been announced as the winner of -scope Miami's 2004 emerging artist grant (they're always a year later); and he was a 2005 recipient of the Rena Hort Mann Foundation Grant.

Canadian-born, but now Brooklyn-based, Chris Dorland was one of the featured artists at a party, hosted by the brilliant art world mover and shaker, that force of nature, otherwise known as Simon Watson. There in Simon's downtown loft hung these huge toxic-colored landscapes, at once futuristic and nostalgic, with a surface as carefully worked over as an excavation site and yet as exhilarating as any neo abstract expressionism, a mixed sensation brought about through a bold juxtaposition of exquisitely tight and evoactively loose passages. In other words, paint! in all it messy glory, serving an end both conceptual and emotional. I was an instant fan.

Chris Dorland, Century City, 2005, Oil on canvas, 48" x 48"

After a few studio visits, where I had the opportunity to discuss in more detail the sociological punch these canvases deliver, I was an even bigger fan. But don't take my word for it (clearly I'm biased). Here's how the editor in chief of Art Papers, Sylvie Fortin, describes Chris' work in her cover story:

Dorland was a painter with a project, I thought. His work was effectively re-articulating what painting can still do, and do best. If Dorland, like most painters of his generaion, is demonstrably well versed in the history of painting as medium and discourse, he was also proposing something different from many of his contemporaries. It reminded me of Deleuze's pronouncement about the cinema: Dorlands's painting was a form of thinking. This painter was thinking about painting, history, utopia, and social experimentation through painting. His work was charting a way for us to redefine our relationship with the 1960s. If Dorland accomplishes this reactivation of the 1960s through his choice of subject--1960s modernist architecture---this is only a small part of the story. His treament of this subject combines careful composition, reliance on the grid, loose brushstroke and acidic colors---and this is where it gets interesting....
Indeed. This is where it gets very interesting. Whereas I've always mourned the loss of Modernist utopian ideals, Chris accepts them as matter of fact. Not as tragic, just as what is. For me, the post-Modernist all-cynical-all-the-time critique was devastating, neutralizing..."what's the point, really?" For Chris, because he's younger, perhaps, and the world was always this way for him, my response seems a bit overblown, I'm sure. Sure, for the younger generation, the ideals represented by the World Fair type architecture are ancient history, and should be studied, but LOOK, we...humankind...are still here. Mulling about. Getting on with things. Turning those crumbling former beacons of a bold new future into something infinitely more useful than symbols: buildings we, living people, can actually use.

Chris Dorland, Untitled Pavilion (establishing shot), 2005, Oil on canvas, 48" x 48"

But more than just interesting sociologically, though, Chris' work rewards extended viewing. With wonderfully painterly passages and damned excellent drawing boldly overlapping, there's an invigoratingly emotional push-pull to them. Here's one in a private collection I simply must convince the owner to trade me:

Chris Dorland, Terminal Beach, 2005, 2005, Oil on linen, 16" x 16.5"

And one final image for the road:

Chris Dorland, Acid Yard, 2005, Acrylic on canvas, 40" x 40"

And (yes, yes, I'm a whore...Hey, it's in the job description...), we'll have a few of these in our room at the Aqua Art Fair. Along with some other amazing stop in.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

these images and those on the marc selwyn site look heavily indebted to neo rauch, alison fox, and jules de balincourt to name a few.................... and only rauch commands a full stage at this point.... maybe there is something else going on in their physical presence but as web images they look awfully close to many other artists

11/29/2005 12:18:00 AM  
Anonymous George said...

Anonymous, you're name dropping.
Can you be more specific about how you see the connections? Also, since you have connected them through Dorland, what does this say about the relationships between the other three, same gripe?

11/29/2005 09:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it looks too much like a neo rauch clone, totally competant, but in a way, the "approved" style of the day, like in the 50's everyone was doing abstract expressionism it was the house style or mode of working that a good many artists of the same generation were doing. nothing wrong with his work, it just fits into the current market approved style. i am sure in Miami there will be a market for this, but it will be everywhere, and the dealers are hoping to "hit" with it, for people looking for a cheaper version of the others who came before who are more expensive. sorry to be so cynical, but its the truth. good luck with it nontheless.

11/29/2005 10:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

george, i am drawing references to work that has been presented publically (rauch, fox and balincourt have all shown in ny over the past year) and by googling dorland it's easy to find selwyn's site... "when we were young" on selwyn site has the typical outline of form to create collage-like effect (frequenly used by rauch)

this AM also found wendy cooper's site - there "memory park", "untitled pavilion', and "runners" all seemed linked to rauch's work, loose handling in figure rendering, juxtaposition of figure to larger industrial/ architectural past, loose washy forms that stand in for space between figures but also function locally in paint's own formal terms. where rauch becomes of more interest is in how much more complex the compositions are, the collage element of his work forces him to find solutions for passages from very dissimilar elements and he frequently succeeds. dorland doesn't have these same juxstapositions and the work stands someplace between invented observation and .... generic representation with abstract elements (I ACKNOWLEDGE THAT IN PERSON THEY MAY BE MUCH MORE INTERESTING, THE SURFACE, SCALE, ETC.)

"memory dome" is an interesting image, patterning plus vantage

i agree with ed that "terminal beach" is kind of a wonderful painting, but it is uncannily close to alison fox in spring 2005 which has been critcally challenged for being "like painting that could have been made by dozens of painters at any point over the past 30 years"

both "century city" and first painting on "artist of the weekextra" look close to de balincourt, staging of the architecture and hyperattention to perspectival tricks

"american century" and "eclipse" interest me for avoiding the generic painting look (being of any hand) and i certainly will watch for this artist, but of all his images on the web at present, i don't see a particularly distinct voice

11/29/2005 11:14:00 AM  
Anonymous W.W. said...

oh wow! great pick for artist of the week! i would disagree that there is heavy borrowing from any of the aforementioned artists in these paintings. don't you think they're more informed by painters like diebenkorn, maybe even thiebaud in a weird way? also the history of architecture, and the social history of human interaction with architecture. i don't really see them as relying on style either (as would be indicated by a comparison to debalincourt or fox). for me, there's an underlying question about drawing iteself, about visual perspective as memory. i love george's comment - asking whether anonymous has the same gripe with the other artists - that's an excellent question. there is absolutely no common ground between neo rauch and alison fox, besides the medium and a few muddy areas, is there?

11/29/2005 11:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

regarding the connections between fox, balincourt and rauch.... i don't see much of a connection. i think dorland has some work that looks indebted to these others. not all of his work seems like rauch. it seems like other artists too. NOTE: i am not a particular fan of either balincourt or fox, but they have received enough public attention that they come to mind when looking a certain dorland's

finally the works from selwyn's site that have interesting possibilities refer to odd landscape perspective akin to wayne thiebaud's california landscapes

11/29/2005 11:28:00 AM  
Anonymous George said...

anonymous, FTR, I'm just a neutral observer, I don't know Chris or Ed

When you say "too much like a neo rauch clone" what do you mean? Are you talking about the subject? the painting style? the color?

Neo Rauch's work appears to me as more surrealist and historically rooted. If I had to characterize Dorlands subject I would place it's roots more in the sci-fi genera two generations or so further along.

I'm going to assume that you're viewing his loose painting style as what you described as the "approved" style of the moment. This may be, but historically painting has cycled through styles because it was what was in the air. I wouldn't equate the current "approved" style with Abstract Expressionism, primarily because it seems to be more of a byproduct of the works in question than the force driving them.

As for the color, well one might think of Neo Rauch but no one owns a color (except for maybe Yves Klein's IKB :-)

At that point I would stop. I don't think there is any basis to suggest his work is being consciously driven by concerns of the marketplace. To the contrary, he's young and still assimilating his influences and his work has an authenticity to it without a layer of cynicism.

Further, I've been reading this blog a for few months and just from Ed's reaction to artwork in general, (he's genuinely enthusiastic) I doubt any decision he made about Chris's work had much to do with the Miami art fair

11/29/2005 12:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Jason said...

Also please add: Daniel Richter and Peter Doig (in addition to Neo Rauch, etc.) -- there are many others, though not as famous.

The connection: Same palette (generally speaking that is ... I could go into detail, but I think it's obvious), same sort of 'painterly-ness', ambiguous figures doing ambiguous things in ambiguous landscapes that combine figurative elements with abstraction.

This is perhaps the biggest zeitgeist in painting (outside of Dana S. and friends), and is for me a guilty pleasure, I admit. These works don't make me think, but I sure like looking at them. Daniel Richter at least has some sort of edge to him, and most closely approaches engaging content. Sadly, these kind of paintings don't exactly challenge the commodity-fetishism status of contemporary painting. They're political bystanders and art-world-status-quo, part of the mainstream. They're horded by collectors, but not taken too seriously critically. I'm reminded of the time I ate too many donuts and got a tummy-ache. And yes, the world needs donuts, but don't eat too many or you'll get fat and nasty.

Sorry Ed, don't mean to pile it on here -- I'm sure you disagree with me anyway. I don't think there's anything inherently provacative about Dorland's work that should have generated such negative feedback -- other than the fact that you're pimping your own artist. Chris seems to be a very talented painter (although judgment should be reserved for in-person viewing), but, by the looks of the images, he's just not adding anything new (or challenging) to the dialog.

11/29/2005 12:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Alison said...

I think all this bitterness is misdirected. Anonymous, are you a frustrated artist with no career? Every style or medium has hundreds of variants out there. To criticize work by saying "it looks like..." is bogus.

And by the way, it's Ed's blog, so Ed can "pimp" his artists. Why not?

11/29/2005 12:36:00 PM  
Anonymous George said...

I was taken by the remark, "these kind of paintings don't exactly challenge the commodity-fetishism status of contemporary painting" I take this to mean that if one wants to make work which is successful, i.e. achieves commodity-fetishism status, one would make work which counters commodity-fetishism in order to become a commodity-fetish. Somewhere in here we eventually run into a language problem. Typically the local lingo, "commodity-fetishism" in this case, is really nothing more than a stylistic identifier, with a shelf life.

Frankly I think the artworld is currently saturated by rampant commodity-fetishism to a degree that is distorting our perspectives of how art functions in the culture. Or, maybe it's in sync and the culture is due for a cleansing. In either case, no influx of "smart art" that challenges commodity-fetishism will do anything but continue to be consumed by the culture. What I would expect to occur fairly soon would be a collapse in the art market, a thorough flush brought about by a weakening economy.

11/29/2005 01:11:00 PM  
Anonymous jason said...

george, thanks for being taken, but ...

if one wants to make work which is successful, i.e. achieves commodity-fetishism status,

I can think of many preferable definitions of success that would not include the term 'commodity-fetishism' -- which is much more than a stylistic identifier.

It's interesting that you would equate artistic success with achieving fetishistic status. However, I would like to differentiate between financial success and what might be called 'critical' success -- and I'm not talking about good reviews, or being liked by critics.

In either case, no influx of "smart art" that challenges commodity-fetishism will do anything but continue to be consumed by the culture.

Your exactly right, the so-called avant-guarde is always sucked back in to the machine. But isn't this exactly what art should be fighting against? Maybe it's going to fail in the end, but at least someone has to speak up for the other side.

Some words from Adorno to chew on:

"Taste is the ability to keep in balance the contradiction in art between the made and the apparent not-having-become; true works of art, however, never at one with taste, are those which push this contradiction to the extreme, and realize themselves in their resultant downfall."

"Whoever concretely enjoys artworks is a philistine; he is convicted by expressions like "a feast for the ears." Yet if the last traces of pleasure were extirpated, the question of what artworks are for would be an embarrassment. Actually, the more they are understood, the less they are enjoyed."

11/29/2005 02:04:00 PM  
Anonymous George said...

We are in an unique historical period where art (object.. etc) has been commodified to an extreme degree. I think the line between financial success and say 'critical' success is finely drawn. What I meant to imply was that the commodity machine will exploit any 'critical' success to its own ends and I'll bet an enterprising artist will do the same in order to keep working

By 'stylistic identifier' I am implying that the current discourse surrounding art, including the term 'commodity-fetishism' represents only a passing local truth, a taste, or a language which is used to corral the current production trends into a manageable form for consumption. As such one sees rolling waves of new generational 'smart art' each eclipsing the preceding by denigrating its importance and supplanting it with something new (different)

There is something more to art than all this gamesmanship. It is the stuff which draws people to see Van Gogh, a visceral connection with the observer.

11/29/2005 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Gusky said...

I'm too cynical to think that the zeitgeist or commodification arguments apply strongly where sales are obviously crucial (to wit in a gallery). And I don't think of artists being picked up as a gallerist's testament of their faith that ultimate perfection has been found.

I sympathize with the work's modest ambitions. It doesn't scream to be enshrined, it seems to quietly throb on a wall and wait for you to recognize it.

I sympathize with the "guilty pleasure" statement. These are fun to look at, at least in web reproductions. I'm seeing the covers of science fiction novels from the '50s and '60s, although I'd be at pains to specify which. They use fairly bad technique toward somewhat pleasing ends -- 'good bad painting,' in the same way (perhaps not the same measure) that Phillip K. Dick is a 'good bad sci-fi writer' (my fave).

Good luck to the kid, I say. I hope he gets a good run and Ed's gallery with him.

With few exceptions all of our work is destined for a future Antiques Roadshow episode. Maybe we should consider not being so serious all the time. Have a laugh and enjoy those juicy Gatorade greens.

11/29/2005 06:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Evan said...

It's kinda nice to see one of Ed's enthusiastic "artist of the week" postings generate so much attention. Given some of the responses, I'm surprised that when he recently announced the gallery's upcoming move to Chelsea, nobody wrote in to say he was a capitalistic pig. On the topic of styles and gatorade, I think anyone with a set of eyes will agree on the following: DeBalincourt has clear similarities to Chris Johanson. Daniel Richter's technique is totally indebted to Peter Doig. Wilhelm Sasnal is pure Luc Tuymans. Everyone knows that Tuymans owes his fair share to Gerhard Richter. Fox has her own debts to Dana Schutz. Shutz appears pretty original but take one look at the extremely under-recognized Judy Linhares and you will shit your pants. As for Mr. Rauch, he wouldn't exist at all if it wasn't for yellowed old pulp and soviet style socialist realism. So to sit around making those kind of comparisons generates such a banal level of criticism we might as well be wearing diapers and drooling all over ourselves

11/29/2005 09:29:00 PM  
Anonymous larry gagosian said...

Did someone say capitalistic pig? I can guarantee we're all radical leftists here (at least us gallery owners anyway).

Evan -- your post was so clever and informative that I simultaneously shit my pants and drooled all over myself. Seriously, I've got to get you on my payroll -- that is, if you aren't already, it's so hard to keep track anymore.

Off to bed for me, I've got an early day at the sweatshop tomorrow -- l.g.

11/29/2005 11:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Robert D. said...

So now Larry G. is weighing in too. Ed, your blog is pretty hot today.
As I sift through the comments I realize that the tone for this thread has, for better or for worse, been set by Mr. Anonymous. His critique of Dorland's work lies in his opinion that the work is lacking due to it's comparison to such and such artists. It is unfortuante that the dialog began with that as this is a short sighted position. Perhaps (s)he is bitter hunter MFA that spends too much time thinking about fellow grads de balincourt and fox. As it is we are reduced to a game of name dropping and finger pointing.

But here aresome brief thoughts on the pictures. I grew up in the sixties reading sci fi. I always loved the stories and book covers. From what I could tell, the artist is tapping into to the S.F tradition as a way of painting landscapes. Unlike Rauch, whose work is suffocatingly European (don't get me wrong I like it) these paintings seem to be about vastness and scale. Someone said the palette was derivative, but I just find it contemporary looking (when discussing old masters, do we ever refer to their color as derivative?) It's S.F. type architecture rendered in abrasive acidic colors. Etch-a-schetch meets Photoshop. And so the past collides with the future. Or present. Whatever. In any case, I thought some interesting ideas of time were being played with. It seems to me that to dissmiss the work's meaning as "mental sweets" is a rush to jugment based on the wrong feelings.

11/30/2005 02:48:00 AM  
Anonymous jen said...

Though I've not seen the work in person, I am very drawn to it. The sci-fi/1984 architecture and acid/antifreeze colors go hand in hand effectively. Yes, the art world does seem to have it's trends but it I think it stems from each generation being exposed to the same information and reacting similarly to it. (I know there are rip-off artists out there too) I find this work genuine especialy for a young artist. Most artists have a list a mile long of their influences-the trick is to not be completely derivative.

11/30/2005 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger la.dauphine said...

Congrats on the Scope emerging artist award! Our artist, Michael Scoggins was awarded it last year. And Art Papers is great (they're based in Atlanta) and getting on their cover is a feat. Sounds like lots of great news!

11/30/2005 11:15:00 AM  
Anonymous James Leonard said...


Do you have a show of Dorland's work scheduled for your new space? Can we expect an exhibition in 2006? I'd like to see his work in person, especially after reading all the hubbub above.

I'm a firm believer that all paintings are optical devices and web or print reproductions never function properly. Also, I agree with Evan's comments that a discussion of an artist's influences and lineage is hardly an experience of the work itself.

12/01/2005 12:26:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...


Yes, Chris has a solo exhibition coming up in Spring 2006.

Still too tired to weigh in on the more heavy points feel that it's OK for me to highlight the artists we work with so long as I say that up front though...after all, if I'm not passionate about our artists, what's the point?

12/01/2005 12:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

very interesting

1/02/2007 04:49:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home