AUTUMN AND THE ARMORY:
NEW BEGINNINGS


SEPTEMBER 2021

This Fall’s Art Week — which was postponed from the spring  — represents an attempt to carry on with the way things used to be, of course with some adjustments. The New York Armory Show has become even more American as travel restrictions and complications knocked 55 European exhibitors into the fair’s new online-only component. Visitors to the sprawling new venue at the Javits Center in Manhattan had to wear masks, show proof of vaccination or have a recent negative coronavirus test..."the new normal". That being said, the Armory Show hopes to revive the in-person art show momentum and set this "new normal" in motion.
Although you can never replace seeing art in person, here are some of our favorite highlights.....seen via your handy screen.

AWOL ERIZKU

Originally exhibited as part of Erizku’s New Visions for Iris exhibition with the Public Art Fund, The Last Tears of the Deceased (featured here) sees Erizku’s distinctive visual language emerge from thoughtful, contemplative underpinnings into layered, colorful, and striking photographs. Awol highlights the paradoxes of how hybrid identities are treated within American society. His bold and vibrant images contain evocative juxtapositions and compositions with highly saturated colors that call to mind the improvisational expressiveness and poetic nuance of his adopted forefathers: David Hammons, Miles Davis, Kobe Bryant, Nas, and others.

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Through photography, sculpture, installation, and works on paper, Erizku’s major motifs include African masks, the bust of Nefertiti, and imagery related to the Black Panthers, nail salons, and rap music. The Ethiopian-born, Los Angeles–based artist attended Cooper Union before receiving his MFA from Yale. While Erizku has exhibited at a number of galleries in New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and Brussels, he is perhaps best known for his regal photographs of Beyoncé, which the star posted on Instagram in 2017 to announce her pregnancy. Erizku has riffed on Renaissance portraiture, Dutch still lifes, and Donald Judd’s Minimalist stacks; he gives these art historical icons a contemporary Afrocentric makeover.

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JAIME MUNOZ

Through his meticulous compositions, Los Angeles artist Jaime Muñoz addresses complexities of Mexican American identity, engaging with themes such as the commodification of labor, religion, industry, technology, colonialism, and migration. Muñoz's distinct aesthetic draws from broad inspirations ranging from his personal background working in construction and graphic design to examining Baroque art in Latin America. He’s inspired by concepts of “Blood Memory,” the relationship that ancestral ties have to the present day experience. He’s also inspired by the concept of “Toyoteria,” which is a working class shared experience through economic necessity around the R-series Toyota mini work trucks. A driving force in his technique is inspired by decorative aspects of commonplace everyday life and ordinary objects found in his community. 

The artist frequently uses automobiles as a stand-in for the human body, a move that problematizes the figurative tradition of painting, while also examining the relationship between the mechanical and physical world.

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In Munoz's Morning Commute, seen here, the artist is using acrylic, glitter, paper, and velvet flocking on wood panel to enhance his imagery. The decorative flourishes in his work, including glitter, applied paper, and impasto as well as the compositional density, are direct engagements with the decorative qualities in Baroque arts such as gold leafing and ornamental carving.

Jaime Muñoz was born in Los Angeles and received a B.A. in Fine Art from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2016. He currently lives and works in Pomona, CA. His work was featured in the scholarly initiative Pacific Standard Time and more recently, he was featured at Jeffery Deitch’s gallery for a show curated by Nina Chanel Abney titled “Punch LA”.

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JIRO TAKAMATSU

Shadow of Penholder is a striking early work from Jiro Takamatsu’s celebrated Shadow series of paintings and reliefs, which he initiated in 1963. In this quietly humorous example, the Japanese artist "projects" the ghostly, object-less shadows of a penholder and ornamental golfer onto a thick board. In traditional drawing, shadows are added to place an object within the illusory depth of the picture plane. Here however, Takamatsu flattens the work’s surface, throwing the object's implied presence into the viewer’s own space. Evocative of another time and space, this shadowy apparition gives the work the surreal appearance of having traveled through time. Reflecting on the beginnings of the ‘Shadow Series’, Takamatsu explained the paintings as a way of exploring his interest in the human experience of materiality. He wrote, “I found the existence of a freshly stretched white canvas in and of itself appealing…the most important [part of the shadow works] is two dimensionality, or the self-identification of ‘surface’ and its reality.”
 
Takamatsu was one of the most significant artists working in Japan during the 1960s and 1970s. He first achieved artistic notoriety as a member of ‘Hi Red Center’, in actions carried out in Tokyo between 1962 and 1964 that challenged the conventions of artistic practice by blurring the boundary between art and life. Takamatsu began to use the painted shadow during this formative period as a surreal and super-realistic device that captured the unsteady state of post-war Japan. Drawing from the spaces and objects around him, Takamatsu’s shadows fell on sculptural reconstructions of garden fences or the wall of a bar; they appeared on plaster figures and in the form of domestic objects; they were fragmented, overlapped, or warped by multiple light sources, and they invaded spaces as large-scale murals. Hovering between trompe l’oeil and conceptual artworks that reference the subject’s absence, the Shadow paintings remained a vital focus throughout the artist’s life.

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FAITH WILDING

As an avowed eco-feminist, Faith Wilding’s work addresses the deterioration of the natural world in her lifetime, specifically in South America and her native Paraguay. She depicts symmetrical dualities: up and down, in and out, open and closed - evoking mystical, personal, and esoteric narratives. The works express interconnectedness and spiritual exuberance, while exploring visionary iconology of the energy and force of growth.

Wilding’s practice emerged at the forefront of Feminist Art in Los Angeles during the late 1960s and 1970s. For the last 50 years, Wilding has lived as an activist and artist, with a fierce commitment to eco-feminism. Wilding was a co-initiator of the Feminist Art Programs alongside Miriam Shapiro and Judy Chicago. The Feminist Art Program produced Womanhouse, an art installation and performance space focusing on collaborative and feminist ideas. Fueled by the explosion of female-focused work and research, Womanhouse sought to move beyond the predominantly male-centric art history. Wilding’s work continues to interrogate societal narratives, challenging the status quo in art-making, life, and politics.

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Faith Wilding’s work has been exhibited extensively over the last five decades including the seminal survey WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, organized by Cornelia Butler, which traveled from the Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles) to the National Museum of Women (Washington DC), PS1 Contemporary Art Center (Long Island), and the Vancouver Art Gallery. Additionally, Wilding’s work has been exhibited at Reina Sofia Museum (Madrid); Centre for Contemporary Arts (Glasgow); Bronx Museum of Art (New York); The Whitney Museum of American Art (New York); the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles); The Drawing Center (New York); Documenta X (Kassel); and the Singapore Art Museum. Wilding was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2009 and has been the recipient of two individual media grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2014, she was awarded the prestigious Women’s Caucus for Art Lifetime Achievement Award. Wilding lives and works in Rhode Island.

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 IBRAHIM SAID

Ibrahim Said creates ceramic vessels that take on gravity-defying shapes, with top-heavy bodies supported by sinuous legs and tentacles coiled into mobius strips and geometric patterns that mimic the interlacing designs of Islamic art and architecture. Each piece is made complete with a fine glaze, often in a burnished black that recalls the black-topped pottery of the ancient Egyptian Naqada period (4000 – 3000 BCE). Such historic references are hardly a coincidence: at the core of the Egyptian American artist’s practice is a deep love and knowledge of his home country’s ceramic traditions.

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Ibrahim Said was born in 1976 in Fustat, an area in Cairo, Egypt that has etched its name in the history of the pottery industry since the Islamic conquest.  Ibrahim comes from a family of potters: his father became his first teacher and the rich cultural heritage of Egypt became his second. Ibrahim’s work is inspired by the ancient work of Egyptians - although his signature work embodies a lightness that comes from his silhouettes, small bases, and delicate finials. His carvings are derived from Islamic jug filter designs, which were both functional and aesthetic. The carved area in the neck of the jug filtered out impurities when water was collected in the Nile.  Ibrahim wanted to find a way to bring these ancient carvings back to life while somehow maintaining their history.

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 CARLA JAY HARRIS

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With an interest in documenting intellectual, emotional, and psychological environments, Carla Jay Harris’ recent body of work, a development of her ongoing Celestial Bodies series begun in 2018, was created in direct response to the pandemic and social unrest that have gripped the world. In this series of large-scale works on paper, Harris crafts an allegory for grief featuring a collection of archetypal characters on an emotional journey through a surreal landscape. Narrative plays a fundamental role in this series which explores human nature, specifically themes of power, helplessness, loss, death, and rebirth. Elements of classic storytelling, including monomyth, conflict, and resolution, are imbued throughout the sequence. By transporting the viewer into her unique perception, Harris aims to inspire them to ask their own questions about life, time, and mortality.

Born in Indianapolis, IN, but raised traveling the world as the child of a military officer, Carla Jay Harris’s social and artistic development was impacted tremendously by the geopolitical and natural environments she encountered. She fervently believes that physical and physiological space has a fundamental, lasting impact on personal identity. Harris’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at the California African American Museum, CA; the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, CA; and the Museum of Fine Arts Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada. She has been the beneficiary of several grants and fellowships, including the Hoyt Scholarship, Resnick Fellowship, and a grant from the Pasadena Art Alliance. Harris completed undergraduate coursework at the School of Visual Arts in New York, received her Bachelor’s degree with distinction from the University of Virginia, and her MFA from UCLA in 2015. She lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.

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ANNIE LAPIN

Annie Lapin’s paintings trick the eye with their abstract imitations of realism and representational images. Lapin is interested in functions of perception and memory work, as well as certain recognizable, established genres of historic painting. At a glance, her works look as though they have definite, narrative subjects—like landscapes or group portraiture—but upon looking again, reveal themselves to be flurries of abstract marks describing no specific object. She is known for a rich-hued palette and thick impasto. Since 2011, Lapin’s style has become more formal, with attention to abstracted marks and their placement. Lapin also has created several sculptural canvases, in which the cloth is mounted on its frame in a distorted, crumpled way.

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Annie Lapin was born in 1978 in Washington, D.C. and received her MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2007, her Post-Baccalaureate Certificate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2004, and her BA from Yale University in 2001. Lapin lives and works in Los Angeles. Lapin’s work is included in the permanent collections of the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA; Rubell Family Collection, Miami; Santa Barbara Museum, Santa Barbara, CA; Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC; and Zabludowicz Collection, London.

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PHYLLIS STEPHENS

Phyllis Stephens sews colorful, highly textured, and narratively rich quilts that often depict Black life and joy. The Atlanta-based artist draws on a well of inner feeling, memory, and stories she’s heard as she generates her scenes. Her process derives from the Black American tradition of making “story quilts,” which her own family has practiced for generations.

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Stephens has exhibited at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky, and at the National Museum of Ghana in Accra. Her vibrant practice has won her fans across the world. Notable collectors include Oprah Winfrey, Samuel L. and LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Denzel and Pauletta Washington, and the late Aretha Franklin. Stephens’s work is in multiple collections including the National Museum of Ghana and the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris.

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