Exposition Art Blog: April 2019

Hassan Sharif - Conceptual Art

Hassan Sharif (1 January 1951 – 18 September 2016) was an Emirati artist who lived and worked in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. His work is represented in major public collections, such as the Guggenheim New York, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Centre Pompidou, Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art, Tate Modern, and Sharjah Art Foundation.
From the early ‘80s, Sharif began creating assemblages from cheap, mass-produced materials or items sourced from the UAE’s markets. With these heaps – often large in scale – Sharif was handing back as artwork the surplus of a recently and rapidly-industrialised UAE. Similarly, "as illustrations of meaningless [sic], taking Duchampian philosophy to heart, they were crafted from commonplace materials, cut, bound or tied together with rope or wire, and thus stripped of their original function." His subsequent assemblages have incorporated coir, rope, copper wire, readymade domestic products, a crutch, newspapers dipped in glue and papier-mache.The process of bundling these objects together – ‘weaving’, as Sharif calls it – has had extraordinary influence on his broader practice, both in the repetitive gesture of tying to the rudimentary handmade nature of the process. "It’s important for me that art is easy, and technically anyone can do it. In that sense, my work is skill-less. I mean, you don't need special skills to make work that becomes art. I don't want the sculptures to appear to result from virtuosity. I'm not trying to make magic of some kind that would impress an audience as to how the work is created. There are no secrets.""Despite the fact that my works are based on a sequential, industrial mode of creativity, they also demolish the sequential autonomy of an industrial product. I inject my works with a realism that exposes this socio-political economic monster, allowing people a chance to recognise the danger of over indulgence in this form of negative consumption."Wikipedia 

Michael Gross - Israeli Painter, Sculptor and Conceptual Artist

Michael Gross ( 1920 – 2004) was an Israeli painter, sculptor and conceptual artist.Michael Gross was born in Tiberias in the British-administered Palestine in 1920. He grew up in the farming village of Migdal. In 1939-1940, he left to study at the Teachers’ Training College in Jerusalem. In 1939, while he was away, his father was murdered by Arabs, and the family farm and home were destroyed. This event impacted on his work as an artist.From 1943 to 1945, he studied architecture at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. From 1951 to 1954, he studied art at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He returned to Israel in 1954 and settled in the artists’ village of Ein Hod.
"After making drawings and paintings of plants, landscapes, and buildings over many years, I decided to try abstraction. This change opened up a new world for me to explore how I could express my feelings—at times, joy, at other moments, sorrow, as well as pain and fear—more directly. This gave me far greater power and the freedom to experiment continually.The painters who have influenced me most are Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Richard Diebenkorn, whom I consider the pre-eminent artists of abstract expressionism. I have tried to emulate them in my own small way.My choice of paints has varied. Earlier in my career, I used oil predominantly and, more recently, acrylic. For the last several years, I have moved towards much brighter colors in more open space, and to significantly larger canvases. Most of the works in this exhibition use at least two canvases together to create the final work.Over time, my color palette has evolved. Before the paintings in the American University Museum exhibition, I spent a number of years focusing on making paintings that were predominantly monochromatic (black, yellow, red, etc.) with subtle inclusion of other colors onto the surface, as well as from underneath.I use yellow in many shades as well as orange, green, and blue, with brown as an accent, making connections between the larger yellow sections. There are many extended narrow lines in black as well as other colors that weave the work together. I work rapidly, pacing the studio to look at the painting up close, and then from a distance. I often rotate the canvas so I can see where there is imbalance, flinging paint to create lines and movement. This new focus has produced very large paintings that are filled with color, carefully constructed so that every mark attains its rightful place in equilibrium."Michael Gross ( michaelgrossart.com )

Nancy Holt - Sun Tunnels

Nancy Holt (April 5, 1938 – February 8, 2014) was an American artist most known for her public sculpture, installation art and land art. Throughout her career, Holt also produced works in other media, including film and photography, and wrote books and articles about art. Holt is associated with earthworks or land art. Land art emerged in the 1960s, coinciding with a growing ecology movement in the United States, which asked people to become more aware of the negative impact they can have on the natural environment. Land art changed the way people thought of art; it took art out of the gallery or museum and into the natural landscape, the product of which were huge works engaging elements of the environment. Unlike much of the commercialized art during this time period, land art could not be bought or sold on the art market. Thus, it shifted the perspective of how people all over the world viewed art.Land art was typically created in remote, uninhabited regions of the country, particularly the Southwest. Some attribute this popular location for land art to artists’ need to escape the turmoil in the United States during the 1960s and 70s by turning to the open, uncorrupted land of the West. Holt believed this artistic movement came about in the United States due to the vastness of the American landscape. As a result of earthworks not being easily accessible to the public, documentation in photographs, videos, drawings became imperative to their being seen.Wikipedia

 Sun Tunnels

 "Holt's most recognized artwork, Sun Tunnels (1973–1976), is a large-scale installation in Utah's Great Basin Desert, a four-hour drive from the UMFA. It consists of four large concrete cylinders, arranged on the desert floor in a cross pattern, that align with the sunrise and sunset on the summer and winter solstices. In addition to this perfect solar framing, each of the cylinders is pierced with smaller holes representing the stars of four constellations: Draco, Perseus, Columba, and Capricorn. Holt's design allows for an ever-changing play of light and shadow upon the surfaces of her work. The four concrete tubes act as viewfinders framing precise images which, in Holt's words, "bring the vast space of the desert back to human scale." (umfa.utah.edu)

James Lee Byars - Installations and Conceptual Art

James Lee Byars (born April 10, 1932 in Detroit, Michigan – died May 23, 1997 in Cairo, Egypt)was an American conceptual artist and performance artist specializing in installations and sculptures, as well as a self-considered mystic. He was best known for his use of personal esoteric motifs, and his creative persona that has been described as 'half dandified trickster and half minimalist seer'.
Byars' works are often noted as constantly incorporating specific personal themes and motifs, leaning towards the esoteric while simultaneously being ritualistic and materialistic: Robert Clark, writing for The Guardian on the occasion of a Milton Keynes exhibition of his work, described it as 'impenetrably yet intriguingly hermetic'.Most in particular was gold as a material, which served as an elemental identifier. As well as this, works of his demonstrate a fascination with the symbolism of numbers: Clark quotes in the same exhibition, referring to a specific piece of his, writing that he 'imbued the number 100 with symbolic significance, having made a symmetrical arrangement of 100 white marbles and draping 100 nude volunteers in a collective red garment'.A common theme in his works is perfection (especially upon the word 'Perfect'), which he extended into a personal journey that led to his ambiguously celebratory exploration of shapes, numbers and precious materials. A MoMA text explaining his oeuvre, in the context of his piece The Table of Perfect, noted that while it "looks pristine, it—like any other object—can only ever exist as a sign of perfection and can never embody the total concept."Wikipedia