Friday, May 30, 2008

The skies this evening...

Meanwhile, the painting takes some more life

Gas prices breaking pumps - literally

The rate of increase in gas prices is so high that counters inside mechanical gas pumps are wearing out trying to keep up.
No, that was not a punch line designed for irony. It is true. From the Times:

While gasoline is still dispensed at no more than 10 gallons a minute, higher prices mean the mechanical equipment must spin faster to keep up, leading to more problems. When gas was a dollar a gallon, the penny wheel went to a dollar in one minute. But, anything that goes four times faster is going to wear out quicker. This time, prices have risen so high so quickly that the manufacturers of the replacement parts have been unable to keep.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


The Chelsea based Robert Miller Gallery has a simple, neat show. The show asks one to simply look at lines, shadows, curves, surfaces and other geometric forms in an artistic light. Geometry used as a language and subject by contemporary artists is relatively new and this collection is a good representation of the possibilities. Some of the works were purely minimalist whilst others bordered on being contrived. Most were somewhere in between. The show is on till the end of July.

Joel Shapiro works on iterations of rectangular volumes

Keith Sonnier uses neon light to describe volume in space

Kjell Varvin combines objects in space with two dimensional drawings

Kenneth Snelson uses aluminum and steel held in tension by cables

John Duff uses steel and plaster to work dimensionality

Another one of Joel Shapiro's works

John Pai welds well to depict volumes

John Pai's works: Installation view
Al Held uses drawing to meld surface and space

Paul Miller a.k.a DJ Spooky works in the intersection between digital and textual worlds

Nils Folke Anderson created nine large scale polystyrene inter-locking squares that was riveting to look at. This piece logically tied the show and was displayed over at the gallery entrance. I noticed many people on the street stopping to look at this structure and intrigued by the resulting geometric vision, stepping into the gallery space.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


We know we are plumbing the future when researchers have successfully managed to train a couple of monkeys to feed themselves with a robotic arm. On a serious note, such research bodes well for people with spinal cord injuries who could use similarly designed brain-powered prosthetic limbs to successfully perform simple tasks like feeding themselves.

Nature journal link here.


You can now be Facebook friends with Grandpa Wen (or the crying Prime Minister). Why does a country try so hard at being cool? Maybe an easy way to dust the flak off the Tibet brouhaha and sweep the stage clean for the Olympics.

Work in progress...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Indian art alert at Chelsea

Even though Indians have recently been blamed for causing the global food crisis by insular insinuations that they are eating too much (see Sepia Mutiny's Food Price Kerfuffle for an analysis debunking the claim), they have not yet been blamed for producing too much contemporary art. Judging by recent glut of Indian artworks doing the rounds in Chelsea, I must say that if the artworld prices suddenly changed tomorrow (for better or for worse), Indians might get blamed for that too.

I happened to visit a couple of galleries (Stux Gallery and the newly opened Lio Malca gallery) showing works by Asian (primarily Indian artists) and it was delightful.
Again, I am linking to the press releases on the gallery website rather than describe the art.

The Stux gallery had a showing of Contemporary artists from India, Pakistan and Middle East. The portrait by Reena Kallat (first image below) made from painted rubberstamps and the inkjet prints of Prema Murthy are the best of this show.

The collage artist Baba Anand was showing at Lio Malca (G’dS and Demig’ds). The art had a very kitschy feel (done with a mixture of collage and photographs) – I did not like it, but I can see people getting into this kind of tacky, glossy stuff. The artist seems to be alternately making fun of the Bollywood film machine and a motley assortment of Indian gods and goddesses.

Lalla Essaydi (Oil on canvas)

Negar Ahkami (Acrylic on panel)
Prema Murthy (Inkjet on paper)

Jaishri Abichandani (Acrylic on canvas)
Rajul Mehta (mixed media on canvas)
Images from Baba Anand exhibition at Lio Malca

Monday, May 26, 2008

In Flanders Fields - John McCrae, 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

After the touchdown

Phoenix Mars mission image galleries here...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

'You can't make this up' department

While Harpers this month profiled penis thievery in Nigeria and the culture bound depersonalization syndrome that might cause a person to actually believe that the organ in question has disappeared, this news item (from reddit) about a cat turning into a woman in Nigeria and a mob attacking her smacks of similar mind/culture dichotomies.



After about twenty years, she went back to the city where it
started and boarded one of those city buses, a red, red
one, kind of like the one they had traveled in a
lot during the whimsical, wintry nights;
hopeful, yet fearful of when the
cocoon might give; she then
happens to chance on a
young man two seats
upfront with that
selfsame slouch,
yet distant.
On a
whim, she
almost reaches
to shout out that
her torturer has now
gone and would not come
again to haunt her any more
and he could come back and stay
with her and live his life full; as if he
were just reborn to her anew; the red bus
stops abruptly and the man catches himself from
falling; turns back involuntarily and catches a very frail
old lady staring at him. Her searching gaze faltering yet again.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday linkages

Do you believe in the inherent goodness of human nature and believe that violence and going to war is always counterproductive or do you believe that humans tends to get nasty and brutish devoid of contractual relationships and going to war is a device that repairs broken contracts? A book by Nicholson Baker believes ardently in the former and is getting a lot attention since he argues that the 'justest' war of them all – World War II - was un-necessary. Analysis here.

A neocon who thinks – though that might seem like an anomaly, this essay by Robert Kagan (a long one) has an interesting point of view: In a post cold war era, it is prudent to note that re-alignment of power does not seem to have been directed to the detriment of America but at the two large powers: China and Russia. In Asia and the Pacific, Japan, Australia, and even South Korea and the nations of Southeast Asia have all engaged in “hedging” against a rising China. This has led them to seek closer relations with Washington, especially in the case of Japan and Australia. India has also drawn closer to the United States and is clearly engaged in balancing against China.
The following is telling: Some have suggested that failure in Iraq would mean the end of predominance and unipolarity. But a superpower can lose a war — in Vietnam or in Iraq — without ceasing to be a superpower if the fundamental international conditions continue to support its predominance. So long as the United States remains at the center of the international economy and the predominant military power, so long as the American public continues to support American predominance as it has consistently for six decades, and so long as potential challengers inspire more fear than sympathy among their neighbors, the structure of the international system should remain as the Chinese describe it: one superpower and many great powers.

Philip Weisss on why married men stray (especially after the state of New York is seeing a ‘straying incident’ every couple of months, this is true - Eliot Spitzer, his successor David Paterson and most recently Vito Fossella). Is sexual straying a personality disorder inherent in men or is it a biological manifestation outside of a man’s control?

Texas (could not) hold 'em (all)

You have to love the verdict. Of course, the aggrieved can appeal.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Chelsea jaunt

I had the good fortune to be in Chelsea for a little bit yesterday and ran into some good and some not so good shows. I visited Jonathan Levine, Mike Weiss and Gladstone galleries. Rather than write impenetrable prose about the art and the artists, I decided to link to the press releases that explain the show:

A couple of quick words though:
Tim Biskup at Jonathan Levine: Multiple studies on a single subject done in figurative/cubist style. He also had a miniature book with an intimate collection of essays and short meaningless poems to go with the show. From reading the little book, he seems like a person who cares about the artworld and its future. Good show.
Christian Vincent at Mike Weiss: Great show, almost a junior Neo Rauch. I could attribute multiple meanings to the painted anthropomorphic forms. I also had an inclination to just stand there and try and understand what he was trying to tell us - alas, I did not have the time and the paintings decided not to give up their secrets easily - really enjoyed this one.
Anish Kapoor at Gladstone Gallery: Characteristic Anish Kapoor - large works, often spanning several rooms - seems more like an explorations of material than form – not too clear what he was trying to tell us other than inferences that one might make between monumentality and translated awe. I happened to run into a giant red breast-like sculpture made of resin and paint in one of the back rooms - of course, it was also a source of curiosity to many of the men around - OK show.

Tim Biskup at Jonathan Levine (cel vinyl acrylic on wood)

Christian Vincent at Mike Weiss (oil on linen or canvas)

Anish Kapoor at Gladstone Gallery (resin, fiberglass and paint)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Recession? What Recession?

Takashi Murakami’s ejaculating My Lonesome Cowboy commanded $15 million at Sotheby's last week while Christie's announced that they managed to rack up the world auction record for selling artwork by any living artist ($33 million for painting the benefits supervisor below). Not to mention, Francis Bacon’s Triptych 1976, brought in $77 million. The exuberant art auction mood was summed up by Barbara Gladstone, of the eponymous gallery, who remarked after the Sotheby's auction, “Recession? What Recession?"

Lucian Freud, 'Benefits Supervisor Resting', Oil on canvas, 59" X 66", 1995

The Collagen is aging

My wife and I are followers of the chronicles of Indiana Jones and look forward to the new installment with hope. Of course, we constantly wonder if Mr. Ford is up to the task of keeping up with expectations during scenes featuring action sequences characteristic of Jones movies after all these years. The New Yorker captured the spirit with this cartoon and I decided to plagiarize.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

While on a recent flight

Flying economy class (as usual) - a poem

The father who insists on sitting by the window,
staring blankly to the bleak outside,
running into accidental reflections,
whilst his only child, their little daughter,
bawls at being transferred to the middle row.
His wife pensive,
wondering if they have one child or two.

The family of four, insulated,
man on the laptop (headphones),
woman with the i-Pod, (eyes closed)
a three year old, lost, questions unanswered,
a six month old baby, blocked; pacifier does its dirty deed.
Their grandmother sits across the aisle, closed;
advanced Alzheimer's.

Then we have the obliging old couple (baby boomer?)
responding to a request
to give up their seats and move upfront.
Apparently the pilots discovered,
this plane was rear heavy.
I did not believe them for some reason,
but you can't make those suspicions public, any more.

The young couple four seats away,
furtively steal their urgent kisses
amidst heavy breathing, cheap coke cups, paper napkins
and obese vacationers praying for summer.
I fervently hope they make it
long after
their initial, physical rush.

We had a seat at the very end,
one of those that you cannot recline,
it was all right, minor discomforts – no match for
the free understanding and introductions,
as we collectively head off to hopeful vacations,
cursive beginnings, slipshod divorces and some fruitless seething.