Daily Archives: August 14, 2008

Girl on Bike

Katia Langenheim’s exhibition “From the Edge” at Famous When Dead is a departure from the usual street art exhibitions at the gallery. Langenheim’s colorful oil painting of sexy girls, cats and dogs are, at their best, fun expressions with a lot of power in the paint. At worst, the paintings are a mess of paint but there are only a few of those in the exhibition; it could be a lot worse, so much erotic art is tawdry.

Langenheim paints intimate images from her life; those are local cats, dogs, her pole-dancing housemate and other friends. The images are lively and playful like riding a bicycle in high heels. Langenheim paints with bold confident brush strokes and bright colors. The well-rounded bums of women; the joy, ecstasy and humor the erotic are on show in her paintings. All though there is a clear influence of the sex industry and pornographic in the high-heel shoes and the poses in Langenheim’s painting, the paintings are clearly different. There is a real lust for life and an enjoyment of subject, girl or cat, in her paintings.

Katia Langenheim was instantly recognizable at the opening of her exhibition in slinky black knitted dress and red hair. The opening was complete with specially labeled “Sexy Girl” bottles of wine to match the paintings.


First Recycled Art Materials

There is a lot of interest in the art world about sustainable art practice. I know this from the search engine terms that find my blog. On search engine terms that found my blog was “who was the first artist to use recycled” (materials)?

The question is not an easy one. It does need to be refined a little because due to the nature of art materials, some like bronze or gold are bound to be recycled. Architects have recycled building materials since ancient times. Supports for paintings are also frequently recycled with new paintings painted over the old one; I have even seen a Murillo painted on the face of a South American obsidian carved mirror. In this last example the South American carving was preserved as Murillo used the smooth mirror face as a support for his oil painting, recycling it by repainting. I will presume that the question implies that the use of recycled materials is apparent in the finished art.

Perhaps Medieval reliques with recycled Roman seals cut from semi precious stones would be the answer to the question except these are work of anonymous craftsmen. I will probably ignore a lot anonymous or obscure people who used recycled materials in art or crafts. And I have ignored non-Western artists.

So for the dead white male art history answer: I am tempted to say Duchamp, Picasso or Braque between 1912-14. Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel 1913 but I don’t know that the materials were recycled; in later readymades Duchamp purchased the objects from hardware shops. Nor do I know if any of Picasso or Braque’s materials used in their early Cubist collages of 1912-14 were definitely recycled. But it is very likely that one of these artists was the first. By 1917 the Dadaists had made collage and montage part of their artistic practice and by 1920 recycled materials in art were part of the media of art, or at least, anti-art.

There is no photo finish to consult to answer this type of questions. As Epicurus used to say: “Here are some answers, choose one.”


Axioms Spill

I almost saw it happen at Nick Waddell’s exhibition “Axioms” at The Projects on Johnston St. It is the closest I’ve been to the destruction of a work of art.

I saw the little two kids just outside the shop-front gallery; their mother was in the shop next door, when I entered the gallery. The two women in attendance at the gallery were talking in the office. I was in the backroom gallery when the partial destruction of Nick Waddell’s installation “Sorted 100’s and 1000’s” occurred. The 100’s and 1000’s cake decoration balls of colored sugar had been hand sorted by Nick Waddell’s friends and family into separate jars placed just above floor level in the gallery. Two of the jars had been tipped over and the contents mixed.

Waddell had used 100’s and 1000’s in other work in the exhibitions, most effectively in Spectrum 3D a light globe filled with the colored candy. The exhibition is mixed because Waddell can’t decide if he wants to be an amusing colorful post-minimalist like Felix Gonzalez-Torres, or a photographer with a Bill Henson filter, or a contemporary expressionist painter. There were even two collages amongst the mixture. I hope that in his next exhibition Waddell has decided on a direction for his art.


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