David Altmejd Talks from His Studio During the Quarantine, and Art News of the Week 21 – 27 September 2020

David Altmejd. Photo: Courtesy of David Kordansky.
David Altmejd. Photo: Courtesy of David Kordansky.

Vincent Namatjira has become the first Indigenous artist to win Australia’s Archibald Prize for portraiture. The exhibition entitled “Philip Guston Now” is a retrospective of Philip Guston that has been postponed for three years because of concerns about how the work will be received. Artist David Altmejd talks about how he stays sane for long periods in the studio during the quarantine.

Vincent Namatjira becomes first indigenous winner of the Archibald Prize

September 25, 2020 – Via ARTNews

Image: Vincent Namatjira, Stand Strong for Who You Are, acrylic on linen. AGNSW
Vincent Namatjira, Stand Strong for Who You Are, acrylic on linen. Photo: AGNSW/MIM STIRLING.

The Archibald Prize was established in 1921, it is one of Australia’s highest-profile art awards and this year gives $100,000 to the winner. Vincent Namatjira has become the first Indigenous artist to win Australia’s Archibald Prize for portraiture. He received the prize for a painting of a portrait of retired Australian footballer Adam Goodes, and the portrait has been called “Stand Strong for Who You Are”.

Bruce Mclean is the curator of Australian indigenous art at QAGOMA and describes Namatjira as “one of the leading lights of the emerging generation of artists from remote central Australia”. The works of the award finalists will be shown at the New South Wales Art Gallery until January 10, and the exhibition will tour New South Wales and Victoria next year.

Vincent Namatjira is an Australian Aboriginal artist born on 14 June 1983. He lives in Indulkana in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara in South Australia. He is known to be the great-grandson of Arrente’s watercolor artist Albert Namatjira. His work has already been nominated several times for the Archibald Prize, and he won the Ramsay Art Prize in 2019.

“When I saw the 2019 documentary (The Final Quarter) about Adam’s final season of AFL football my guts were churning as I relived Adam’s experiences with relentless racism on and off the field. As I watched, memories of my own experiences were stirred up and I knew I wanted to reach out and reconnect with Adam. We share some similar stories and experiences—of disconnection from culture, language and country, and the constant pressures of being an Aboriginal man in this country” Namatjira said in a statement.

Philip Guston’s major retrospective is postponed

September 25, 2020 – Via arnet news

Philip Guston, Scared Stiff (1970)
Philip Guston, Scared Stiff (1970). Photo: Courtesy of the estate and Hauser & Wirth.

The exhibition entitled “Philip Guston Now” is a retrospective of Philip Guston (1913 – 1980). He was a Canadian-American painter and printmaker from the New York School, an art movement that included many abstract expressionists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.

The exhibition was announced in June 2019 and has been planned for some time. But it has been postponed for three years because of concerns about how the work will be received, due to growing racial tensions and ongoing protests in the United States and the rest of the world.

It was originally scheduled to open on June 7, 2020, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and then travel to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, and finally to the Tate Modern in London. But the exhibition has been delayed until July 2021 due to prolonged museum closures. And now the curators plan to completely rethink the show before it reopens in 2024.

The four museums said in a joint statement posted on the National Gallery website on Monday: “The racial justice movement that started in the US and spread to countries around the world, in addition to challenges of a global health crisis, have led us to pause. We feel it is necessary to reframe our programming and, in this case, step back, and bring in additional perspectives and voices to shape how we present Guston’s work to our public. That process will take time.”

Guston helped lead the transition from abstract expressionism to neo-expressionism in painting in the late 1960s. He made this transition away from so-called “pure abstraction” and toward more elemental representations of personal objects and symbols. His best-known paintings are those within the existentialist and lugubrious genre, using a limited palette and produced after 1968.

“Because they are an important part of Guston’s oeuvre, we sought to find a way to include them while being mindful of the context that would be required for viewers to better understand why Guston made them. As issues of race and social justice have become increasingly part of public dialogue over the last several months, it became apparent we needed to rethink our interpretation of these works” said a joint email from seven representatives of the four museums.

David Altmejd Talks from His Studio During the Quarantine

September 25, 2020 – Via artnet news

David Altmejd, Joy. Photo courtesy Xavier Hufkens
David Altmejd, Joy. Photo: Courtesy Xavier Hufkens.

Artist David Altmejd talked with Artnet News about how he stays sane for long periods in the studio. David Altmejd is a Canadian sculptor born in 1974 who lives and works in New York City. Altmejd is known for making detailed sculptures that often blur the distinction between interior and exterior, working in a very personal and original style on surfaces and structures making use of figurative representation and abstraction.

Many artists remain very busy during the quarantine and David Altmejd has been walled up in his studio in Long Island City, Queens, putting the finishing touches to the works for an exhibition at the gallery Xavier Hufkens in Brussels, which opened earlier this month.

His work has appeared in major exhibitions at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Belgium, Brussels (2016), Mudam Luxembourg, Musée d’art moderne Grand- Duc Jean, Luxembourg (2015 – 2016), Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris (2015), the Centre d’Etudes d’Art de la Fondation Brant (2011), the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (2010) between others.

Last August it was known that he would exhibit at the David Kordansky Gallery in Los Angeles, which soon after made an online show of his new works. The first Altmejd exhibition in the gallery’s physical space is scheduled for May 2021. In the days leading up to the opening of the show in Brussels, Altmejd sent Artnet News some thoughts on how he keeps sane during the long periods he spends in his studio:

What are the most indispensable items in your studio and why?

Quartz, [an] open mind, pencil/paper, space to cry.

What is the studio task on your agenda tomorrow that you are most looking forward to?

I just finished a piece, so cleaning up and emptying the space for fresh new start.

What kind of atmosphere do you prefer when you work? Do you listen to music or podcasts, or do you prefer silence? Why?

I listen to Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now audiobook on repeat. It’s my bible. It’s not so much about the content, but the fact that it opens up a space in consciousness, outside of time, and so most of what happens in the studio comes from this space (or non-space) rather than from me.

When I work late at night, I try to open up a scary zone, an ominous space, where spirits awake and where intensity grows exponentially. It feels like something so immense is about to happen, like the end of the world, death, or a complete transformation of consciousness. At that moment, I stop working because I’m too scared. This unreachable sweet spot is God.

What trait do you most admire in a work of art? What trait do you most despise?

When I’m mesmerized and I don’t know why. It means that there’s something in the work that comes from beyond the mind. Or rather, when a work of art is not made up completely of mind-stuff, so it leaves openings and the other side, which can not be described, and can be felt. And I don’t despise anything in art.

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