Mandala, a Sanskrit word of Hindu origin, most often refers to a symmetrical detailed pattern representing the universe and the unconscious self. In some religions it serves as an aid in meditation or to establish a sacred space as well.
For Japanese artist Mario Tauchi, who illustrated 108 black-and-white versions of Mandalas for Trolley Book’s “Mario Mandala.” the motif plays a slightly different role. Using the format of a traditional coloring book, Tauchi bends the traditional mandala into a more organic, jellyfish-like form to be filled in with color. The excruciatingly detailed illustrations take on different feels with each added color making for a rewarding, if not trance-inducing, experience.
Perforated pages allow the user to tear out colored works (perhaps to denote their own sacred spaces).
Growing up in the suburban land of big-box retail (which increasingly seems to infiltrate our cities too), I was no stranger to the wanton excess that lined the shelves of stores like Meijer, Target, Costco and Walmart. As the mediocrity of these spaces and the mind-numbing effects of consumerism come to define our American landscape, it seems important for artists to encourage active debate on the matter.
In the aftermath of 9/11, when our president brazenly equated shopping with patriotism, Brian Ulrich began his photographic project Copia. The ongoing series, as Ulrich notes in his statement, examines “the economic, cultural, social and political implications of commercialism and the roles we play in self-destruction, over-consumption and as targets of marketing and advertising.” The project is defined by several evolving chapters: Retail, Thrift, Backrooms and a forthcoming examination into the world of luxury goods.
Brian passed on some recent images from the Retail series (clockwise from top left): Chicago, IL 2005 (Xmas); Chicago, IL 2006 (Bluetooth); Kenosha, WI 2006 (Jello); and New York, NY 2005 (Candy Store). His work is included in the exhibit “Worlds Away: New Suburban Landscapes,” currently at the Walker Art Center, and later this year at the Carnegie Museum of Art.
Wangechi Mutu’s new show “Little Touched” at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects is so complete and polished that it feels more like walking into a museum than a gallery. Originally from Kenya, Mutu’s work focuses on the constant exploration and discovery of identity as a woman, immigrant and African in New York City. Known for her lyric collages like “A’gave you” (pictured right), this show consists of new drawings, installations, collages and sculptures, all beautiful and extreme.
Small mountains arranged on the floor with clusters of framed works lining the walls fills the main room while a playful homage to Joseph Beuys featuring a plaster rabbit wearing a toupee and felt on the walls occupies another. Mutu also hung balls made of plastic bags—oftentimes made by children in Africa to use as soccer balls—from the ceiling in yet another room.
Well worth a visit, the exhibit stays up through 3 May 2008.
Following the long run of Japanese Pop Art power player TAKASHI MURAKAMI’s retrospective “© Murakami,” show in Los Angeles, the massive retrospective picked up and relocated to the BROOKLYN MUSEUM where the exhibit’s star-studded opening charity gala was held last nite. Adding a bit of tongue-in-cheek irony to this stop was the inclusion of a mini-exhibition of fake Murakami Louis Vuitton merchandise to playfully contrast the onsite LV boutique (which, once again, kicked none of its profits back to the museum) selling very real and very expensive merchandise to the housewives of New York City.
In this post-Postmodern world of branding collaborations as high culture, one would be hard pressed to find a more bankable teaming than UK art star DAMIEN HIRST, necrotic Pop Art master ANDY WARHOL, and American denim stalwarts LEVIS, a fact clearly evidenced by the turnout for Saturday nite’s collection debut at Santa Monica’s FRED SEGAL. The brand brought new life to their Warhol license by double collabing with modern Pop master Hirst, whose diamond skull and color dot motifs dominated the largely monochrome collection, often mingling with and overlaying Warhol’s vintage graphics on an array of T-shirts, denim (including the unfortunate pair of rhinestone-studded men’s jeans), and accessories. The high (or was it low?) point of the collection was Hirst’s custom-made spin art jeans available for a reported $80K per pair that sent the faithful into palpable envy frenzy. The admittedly beautiful hardcover catalog accompanying the event was worth the haul out to the beach and is available at the installation for a limited time.
French street art provocateur BLEK LE RAT inaugurated modern street art messiah SHEPARD FAIREY’s newly relocated (and visually stunning) SUBLIMINAL PROJECTS gallery in Echo Park this weekend with his first American solo show, “Art is not Peace but War.” A groundbreaking graffiti writer in the 1980s & 90s, Blek is best known as one of the earliest pioneers of stencil art and his simple monochromatic iconography heavily influenced the street artists from the Bristol scene, most notable of which is the current art star du jour and cash register tickler, Sir Banksy, who adopted not only Blek’s stylistic M.O., but his rat mascot as well. Looking at Blek’s simple, understated imagery, which remains largely unchanged since his early days on the walls of Paris, it’s not hard to see the immediate appeal of the stencil as a graphic tool for street bombing situations and Banksy’s adoption of the once rarified method exploded its popularity within a matter of years spawning a legion of young imitators and monied collectors. With pieces selling briskly at prices ranging from $9,000–$40,000 for original spraypaint on canvas works and a queue of young punters, hipsters, and would-be street art stars wrapping around the block for the better part of the opening nite, it’s clear that the medium’s appeal shows no signs of waning.