Friday, January 28, 2011

Leslie Thornton Review in Today's New York Times

Well, this makes me feel much better about the grimy gray slush blanketing Manhattan. In today's New York Times:
Art in Review


I’m not sure if Leslie Thornton’s digital flat-screen diptyches completely qualify as art. But perhaps it’s not necessary. Ms. Thornton, an experimental filmmaker best known for her “Peggy and Fred in Hell” films, is having her first gallery solo; the pieces shown here — which she calls Binoculars — amount to amazing little revelations orchestrated at the intersection of art, science, nature and technology. Whatever you call them, they will stop you in your tracks.

The main ingredients are Ms. Thornton’s films of different creatures: brief, mostly close-up views of a black parrot, some zebras, a python, an orangutan, the eye of a Gabon viper and a swarm of ants. Each film is projected on a pair of small circular screens; hence the binoculars. On the left, we see the creatures as the camera originally saw them. On the right, the same sequence is digitally refracted as through a prism, splintered into a breathtakingly gorgeous abstract pattern that evokes a superfine kaleidoscope or rose window. And this pattern constantly moves — not because you shake it as you would an old-style kaleidoscope, but because the subject moves. It slithers, blinks, kicks up its heel, breathes. The slightest change reverberates visually through the abstract patterns.

It is sort of a gimmick and sort of not. The transformation, while purely technical, creates the illusion of seeing through to some underlying layer of natural beauty and order. Nature is devoid of ugliness, these works seem to say. As if to prove the point, the final work here is a film of a dead baby bird whose head is teeming with maggots, presented on its own, straight up, without the benefit of the digital prism.

Oh, and if you read it in the print version, there is this humongous photo of Leslie's "Parrot" piece...just humongous!

I'll seek clarification with Roberta some other day on which definition of art she uses (mine is a mix between Johns'
Take something, do something to it, then do something else to it....and Rauschenberg's This is a portrait of Iris Clert if I say so....but I realize other people have other working definitions.) As for today, any review that describes the work in the show as "amazing...breathtakingly gorgeous...will stop you in your tracks" is a keeper!

Labels: gallery artists' exhibitions, review


Blogger jami said...

I saw this piece at “SEVEN Miami 2010”, It was awesome! It meets my definition of art.

1/28/2011 09:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Terri said...

Very nice review -- congratulations!

(We'll leave the definiton of art discussion for another time.... lol!)

1/28/2011 10:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Manik Nakra said...

Mr Winkleman,
Thank you for your blog. I Check it often and hav learned a great deal about not only navigating the art market but also how to be a kind human being. I wanted to ask you if you could put up a post asking people for ideas on how to send support to those in Egypt. I am frustrated and lost in finding ways to send help. I make art that deals with my anxieties of coming from a hindu and muslim background in the western world. But I dont htink that art can change the world but It can inspire the poeple who will change the world. Putting stuff on facebook i dont know if that will help. But your blog gets a ton more hits than my facebook page. Do you have any ideas on how I can help? Please help.

Thank you dearly
Signed sincerely,

Manik Nakra

1/28/2011 01:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's funny how a few weeks back you were talking about the rarity of press coverage and how it is spread so thin among all of the deserving exhibitions. I think your exhibition was certainly deserving, so that's nice to see.

Honestly, it would have never crossed my mind to consider not qualifying Thornton's work as Art. However, because of the multidisciplinary aspect, I suppose it is also something more than art...which is fine, but it doesn't reduce or marginalize its actual standing as art.

Personally, I've always felt that anything which can engage or relate to something outside of the art realm even as it exists within art world conventions is more fascinating and relevant than something strictly qualified as "Art".

Regardless, it was a nice review, so Congratulations!

1/30/2011 12:45:00 AM  

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