apexart :: 222 - 2001 exhibition
"222"-2002
Anton Kern Gallery and Sara Meltzer Gallery

222-Summer Program: two gallerists are invited to act as curators, each selecting two artists that they do not represent and who have not had meaningful exposure in New York for one two week show, accompanied by an apexart brochure.

Anton Kern
organized Stardust with the work of
Eli Sudbrack and Kalaman
June 21 - July 10, 2002
Opening Reception on Friday, June 21, 6-8 pm

Sara Meltzer
organized Second Glance with the work of
Laura Carton and Jonathan Grassi
July 16 - 31, 2002
Opening Reception on Tuesday, July 16, 6-8 pm

download pdf of exhibition brochure

download pdf of press release

 

 

 

Stardust

Installation views of Stardust.

Let's celebrate memories and dreams by embracing the mundane and pop elements of our lives. Stardust is a mix of Yellow Submarine with Saturday Night Fever. Assume Vivid Astro Focus and Kalaman are not afraid to defend the beauty of commodities. They produce, explore, exploit, sell and expose their works in many manners. They are pro-product and optimistically accept personal attachment to corporate culture. The Beatles, Adidas, soccer, cartoons and Atari can still inflict a starry-eyed unconditional innocence. Both artists employ pseudonyms, but for different reasons: Robert Lutz uses Kalaman as a brand name for his art; Eli Sudbrack founded Assume Vivid Astro Focus as a communal life style. Both strategies stem from advertising and the belief that their attitude should be shared.

Kalaman leverages the brand equity of Germany by appropriating Adidas iconography, as well as more banal standardized industrial products including pencils, t-shirts and ladders. Through irony, he creates work revealing the pride and sentiment of German products and their relationship to their precise production and highly considered craftsmanship: "Made in Germany" or in this case: "Made by Kalaman". Without apology "he" is a company, an idea factory.

Another point of entry is in his critique of criticism. Playing on politically correct language he has employed children to produce pieces (Guaranteed Child Labor) and created works such as a mousetrap with the word "unfair". Other work takes a less sarcastic view. The ladder series (First Step, Stairway to Heaven and I am so high) relates to the innocent aspiration of becoming famous. Industrial ladders are covered with mirrored tiles, capitalizing on our obvious desire for stardom. Reflective tiles also cover three-dimensional bubble script sculptures. Decontextualized glittering words like happiness and dope float into ones mind like disco balls hypnotizing the dance floor.

Assume Vivid Astro Focus is a dynamic project, which operates as a collective force. Audience members can take part in the project on the premises or at home via postcards, stickers, etc. At its core, it is art as fan club. AVAF has developed a universe and philosophy flowered with psychedelic protagonists influenced by memories of childhood and wonder. It is a world of fantasy and dreams, where happiness replaces despair and skeptical irony.

Even though AVAF embraces similar ideas as Kalaman regarding consumerism and pop culture, the approach is more ethereal and dreamy. Manipulating "commercial art" references such as Peter Max and Milton Glaser, AVAF creates a disclosed world of personal introspection. Rediscovery and uncritical innocence conjure up a romantic déjà-vu. Using 60's inspired mural installations where fluorescent imagery and cartoony decals float on graphic backgrounds, whirls of memories emerge from this kaleidoscope of illustrations.

Stardust is a state of being; it draws on our fading memory and allows it to be present. Through the process of mining memories held by the public, they become personal and meaningful. Without preconception, both artists celebrate the popular culture of "glam-rock", slang and an accumulation of seemingly shallow experience. It is about letting go, having fun, celebration and bliss.

Fernanda Arruda, Director, Anton Kern Gallery

Artists:
Kalaman (b. Germany, 1966; lives in Cologne)
Assume Vivid Astro Focus aka Eli Sudbrack (b. Brazil, 1968; lives in New York)

 

Second Glance

Installation views of Second Glance.

Imagery is often not what it seems at first glance. The eye and the mind work together to make assumptions in hopes of providing a logical, basic understanding of what is presented. However, this is only the first step. Imagery cannot be taken at face value. We are inundated by visual stimuli to a point beyond recognition or absorption, and the images themselves can no longer be seen as a representation of truth. Photography automatically explores this occurrence, as its processes involve various forms of manipulation.

The photographs of Laura Carton and Jonathan Grassi play with initial perceptions. They share a necessity for reexamination. Both artists present seemingly normal, perhaps even clichéd scenes: Carton's range of interiors devoid of figures; Grassi's interactions of people in bare spaces. However, each artist creates a dynamic opposition between the cursory and informed viewings of their work.

The importance of Laura Carton's works lies not in what is present, but what is missing. She has taken Internet pornography and digitally erased the figures. Images that appear to be travel snapshots or postcards take on a secondary layer of meaning. They exist at the brink of action and allude to the fact that something erotic and/or illicit has happened in this location. The viewer can't help but imagine it. A calm, almost overlooked dining room or bedroom scene instantly becomes a staged scenario. The absence of figures invites the viewer to place himself in these settings, an indulgence that seems simultaneously intriguing and disarming.

Jonathan Grassi photographs fabricated realities. The scenes are unsettlingly familiar, yet foreign in their alienating subject matter. He portrays adolescents on the brink of adulthood and places them into "plots" that are left for the viewer to resolve. What results is a series of ambiguous and suspenseful moments. A dramatic use of color and light, and the inclusion of often disturbing and violent details heighten the intensity of his images. His construct of image versus idea tensely but poetically estranges his characters as well as his audience. There is a psychological distance between the viewers and the subjects. As the perspective becomes more intimate the characters become more anonymous. Grassi's visual language is derived from popular culture, which serves as society's contemporary mythology.

Laura Carton and Jonathan Grassi's photographs appear as documents, but both mask fiction under the presumption of truth. The complex rituals of visual appreciation are used against us, as we must somehow involve ourselves in and displace ourselves from this work. They are, in effect, crime scenes: the viewer is an incriminated voyeur and an inevitable detective.

Adam Frank, Assistant Director, Sara Meltzer Gallery

Artists:
Laura Carton attended the International Center of Photography and is currently participating in the Whitney Independent Study Program. She has been included in exhibitions at the Aldrich Museum and Artists Space, among others.
Jonathan Grassi received his B.A. from Parsons this year, and was included in MoMA's Life of the City exhibition. Both artists are based in New York.

 

 

Press Release:

Kalaman Ladder, 2002 Eli Sudbrack Wallpaper, 2002

Stardust

Stardust attempts to examine art as a helpful healing device. In order to achieve an exact and tangible effect of remedy and encouragement, both Eli Sudbrack and Kalaman suggest art as a positive therapeutic alternative. Robert Lutz uses the artist name Kalaman as a branding plan for his work. His production includes various kinds of multiples, like t-shirts, pencil, rulers, jackets, etc. Ironically, Kalaman deals with the idea of art as a product. Eli Sudbrack, aka Assume Vivid Astro Focus, has developed a universe and philosophy flowered with psychedelic protagonists influenced by childhood and memories. As Sudbrack, the artist operates collectively, allowing audience members to take part in the projects on the premisis or at home via postcards and stickers. With a trace of beauty these projects are a satisfying experience. A criticism of highly intricate political events, they demonstrate that art still works as a mechanism for fun, humor and self-enlightenment.

 

Laura Carton Untitled #7, 2002
Jonathan Grassi Untitled from the Immunology Series, 2002

Second Glance

Second Imagery is often not what it seems at first glance. The eye and the mind work together to make assumptions and groupings so as to provide a logical, basic understanding. However, this is only the first step. Imagery cannot be taken at face value. We are inundated by visual stimuli to a point beyond recognition or absorption, and the images themselves can no longer be seen as a representation of truth. Photography automatically explores this occurrence, as its processes involve various forms of manipulation. The photographs of both Laura Carton and Jonathan Grassi play with initial perceptions. They share a necessity for reexamination.The importance of Laura Carton's works lies not in what is present, but what is missing. She has taken Internet pornography and digitally erased the figures. Thus, these images that appear to be travel snapshots or postcards take on a secondary layer of meaning. They exist at the brink of action, with the knowledge that something erotic and/or illicit has happened in this location. Grassi photographs staged scenarios that are unsettlingly familiar, yet foreign in their alienating subject matter. His work focuses on the psychology of distance, between the viewer and the work, the figures in the work, and the mental space created in his scenes. A cinematic use of color and light, and the inclusion of often disgusting and violent details heighten the intensity of his images.