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Dr. Lakra, Untitled / Sin tÍtulo (vea) (detail), 2007

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Made in Mexico
April 16-29, 2008

In this issue of Artkrush, we seize on the occasion of Mexico City's FEMACO art fair to explore contemporary trends in Mexican art, from the playful to the politically incendiary. We examine artistic practices spanning from the lucha libre-inspired performances and large serial installations of Carlos Amorales to Teresa Margolles' morbid reflections on death and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's innovative use of motion-sensitive surveillance and SMS messaging, and we spotlight José León Cerrillo's geometric silk screens and optical installations. Editor Paul Laster sits down with international art dealer Ramis Barquet to discuss his interest in Latin American art, as well as modernist and contemporary design, and for our media pick, we suggest an expansive Frida Kahlo catalogue celebrating the centennial of the artist's birth. Beyond Mexico, we look toward a solo exhibition of Barkley L. Hendricks' retro African-American portraits at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University and a survey of the faux fin-de-siècle photography of McDermott & McGough at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin.

Gehry Tapped for Serpentine
(Times, March 26)
Following in the footsteps of Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind, and Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry is the latest starchitect to be commissioned by the Serpentine Gallery to build a temporary structure in London's Hyde Park. His wood-and-glass amphitheater features five elevated pods intended to act as stage, dining, and viewing areas for visitors and performers. Gehry described his pavilion as "an urban street running from the park to the existing gallery." A separate opinion piece asked whether the structure would result in a "Bilbao effect" for London building.

Murakami Brings Shock Pop to Brooklyn
(New York Times, April 2)
The Brooklyn Museum rolled out the Superflat welcome mat of stars, vendors, and huge crowds for its retrospective of Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami. The show includes 90 works, a 20-minute video, and a fully operational Louis Vuitton pop-up boutique selling luxury bags festooned with Murakami's designs. The artist's conflation of high and low culture and commerce and fine art has raised comparisons to Andy Warhol and been met with mixed critical responses. One review called the show "repulsive," while another declared the new works "riveting." In a related story, Murakami's Oval Buddha, which was too large to fit in the exhibition, will be displayed in the 590 Sculpture Garden in Manhattan.

Nouvel Takes Pritzker Prize
(Architect's Newspaper, March 30)
French architect Jean Nouvel recently snagged the world's top architecture award. The $100,000 Pritzker Prize recognizes Nouvel's talents, as demonstrated by buildings such as the Lyon Opera House and the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art. In just the last year, Nouvel's firm has announced plans for a new Louvre in Abu Dhabi; a 23-story condominium dubbed the "Vision Machine" on New York's West Side Highway, as well as the Tour de Terre tower further uptown, next door to MoMA; a philharmonic hall for the Parc de la Villette in Paris; and a luxury condominium in Los Angeles. The architect also designed the bottle for Yves Saint Laurent's new L'Homme cologne. Meanwhile, Nouvel announced his first building in London.

Sonnabend Heirs Sell Colossal Collection
(New York Times, April 4)
The children of legendary art dealer Ileana Sonnabend recently sold a collection of paintings and sculptures worth $600 million, in what may be the largest private art sale in history. Experts close to the sale say that GPS Partners bought $400 million worth of the collection, including Jeff Koons' Rabbit, Cy Twombly's Blue Room, and Roy Lichtenstein's Eddie Diptych, on behalf of numerous clients. Gagosian Gallery is said to have purchased the remaining $200 million of work — comprised entirely of Andy Warhols — although all involved parties declined comment.

Art students mount renegade shows in MoMA'a restroom more »

SF animal-rights activists shut down video exhibition more »

Hamptons house is an adults-only playground more »

Architect Maya Lin plans eco-themed "last memorial" more »

Collector gives $35 million of art to Australian museum more »

Influential graf artist Blek le Rat makes his way to the US more »

Miami artist forced to remove image of Barack Obama from mural more »

Studio Museum in Harlem shows contemporary African art more »

Are there enough powerful women in British art? more »

Painter Mark Bradford echoes Hurricane Katrina plea on LA rooftop more »

Guggenheim's Las Vegas partnership set to close more »

Testing Tokyo's appetite for contemporary art more »

Warhol's NYC townhouse on the market for $6 million more »

Figurative artist Richard Dupont creates nude self-sculptures more »

Saatchi plans to show a new generation of YBAs more »

LACMA exhibition surveys contemporary Chicano art more »

Inside the Berlin Biennial more »

Up or down? Art market may be headed for a fall — or not more »

When home is also a gallery more »

Multimedia artist Liliane Lijn uses NASA gel to make cosmic art more »

Painter David Hockney donates his largest work to Tate more »

YBA Angus Fairhurst dies at 41 more »

Note: Some online publications require registration to access the articles. If you encounter a registration screen, try a shared username and password from BugMeNot.

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[ Mexican Contemporary Art ]


Miguel Calderón / Rafael Lozano-Hemmer / Carlos Amorales / Minerva Cuevas

When asked to share his thoughts on beauty for an episode of PBS's Art 21, Mexican-born artist Gabriel Orozco replied, "It's not that the thing is beautiful. It's the relationship you establish that makes the thing beautiful."

Orozco's formidable body of work ranges from sculpture and photography to installation and video, and is characterized by a winsomely madcap and thought-provoking lyricism. His distinctive aesthetic and that of kurimanzutto, the nomadic gallery he founded in 1999, have influenced Mexico's most noteworthy artists, a group that rarely settles on any one artistic medium.

Working between Mexico City and Amsterdam, Carlos Amorales uses lucha libre-style performances, installation, and painting to explore notions of good and evil. His 2007 installation Black Cloud covered Yvon Lambert New York's gallery walls and rafters in a near-biblical swarm of 25,000 paper moths. Veteran artist Daniel Guzmán takes a lo-fi approach to drawing, mixed media, painting, and video. Often compared to Raymond Pettibon, Guzmán recalls classic '70s comics with a restless cast of skulls, ghosts, and losers. Created in New York and Berlin, work by Columbia-educated upstart and e-flux cofounder Julieta Aranda examines the constructed nature of identity in sound installations, graffiti-style paintings, and photographs.

A true prankster, Gustavo Artigas creates intentionally discomfiting works that re-examine the social contract. His disastrous happenings violently upset normal protocol — a motorcycle crashes through a museum lobby, a man sets himself on fire, and look-alikes masquerade as the artist at an opening. Miguel Calderón — the painter of those masked four-wheelers in The Royal Tenenbaums — takes a similarly raucous approach to art-making, though tempered with a dose of low-brow silliness. Whether broadcasting a fake soccer match to unwitting crowds in Brazil, or producing a film about a psychic race-car driver, Calderón's art flares with the wit of a consummate trickster.

Installation artist Teresa Margolles confronts mortality, class, and bodily transformations. Her 1999 work Entierro/Burial memorializes a woman's miscarriage in a sealed concrete burial chamber, while 2002's Fin drove viewers out of the gallery space when the artist flooded it with a mixture of cement and water used to wash corpses. Taking a less morbid, but equally aggressive approach, art activist Minerva Cuevas founded Mejor Vida Corp (Better Life Company), which redresses social and financial injustices by making freely available discounted barcode stickers, subway passes, and prepaid envelopes that hack the system.

Using surveillance and complex algorithms, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer creates interactive, computer-driven artworks that ask us to re-examine our relationships with one another, technology, and public spaces. In his 2006 Homographies, fluorescent ceiling lights are motion-activated, allowing them to track viewers through the space. For 2003's site-specific Amodal Suspension, text messages were translated into flashes over a city skyline, then projected onto a museum facade, revealing the private to the public.

As Lozano-Hemmer's work elegantly demonstrates, the promise of these works is in their effort to authentically engage the audience — to, echoing Orozco, establish a relationship. And it's this openness that makes Mexican art as vibrant and insistent as ever.  - Jocelyn K. Glei

Many of these artists, as well as a wide range of Mexican and international artists, are exhibiting at the FEMACO contemporary art fair in Mexico City from April 23 to 27.

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Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
Now through July 13

  The majority of the 75 paintings in Barkley L. Hendricks' solo exhibition Birth of the Cool at the Nasher Museum of Art are life-sized portraits of urban African-Americans from the late '60s and '70s. Works such as 1978's Tequila and 1975's Blood (Donald Formey) glimpse back at the era's style and into the lives and attitudes of Hendricks' models. Fela: Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen portrays Nigerian megastar Fela Kuti, whose idolization is emphasized by a variegated, gold-leaf background and a halo above his head. Though depicted with the trappings of a religious icon, Kuti conspicuously grabs his crotch. Also included in the exhibition are Hendricks' lesser-known early works and his most recent paintings, small plein-air studies of the Jamaican landscape.  - Lauren O. Haynes

A catalogue is available for this traveling exhibition.

New York

Massimo Audiello
Now through April 26

  Italian artist Chiara Minchio's solo US debut presents a selection of elegant paintings that reveal nostalgia for the sleek forms of art-deco design and futurist art. The artist has created a series of abstract, geometric oils whose jewel-like facets of saturated color dissolve upon closer inspection into washed-out drips and stains. Her strongest paintings interlace abstraction with portraiture; in Frau mit Muster, the braiding together of a pensive female face and quilted patches of color suggests a fractured subjectivity. Although the 11 paintings can feel repetitive, at her best, Minchio revives the visual language of a previous episode of modernism to intriguing effect.  - Adam Eaker

Ouattara Watts
Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Galería Leyendecker
Now through April 30

  Since Jean-Michel Basquiat urged him to come to New York three decades ago, Ivory Coast artist Ouattara Watts has been making large-scale drawings and mixed-media paintings. On view at Galería Leyendecker on the Canary Islands, Spain, his latest solo outing is primarily composed of works on paper and includes the standout Blood Brother, where a leopard-like creature presides over three interstellar spheres. Evincing a modern nomadic sensibility, Watts' colorful, visually kinetic pieces draw from his far-flung travels, alluding to global politics, African iconography, religious symbols, and important historical dates, and frequently feature his signature polyglot scribbling. Though broad in reference, Watts' culturally disparate imagery works on an otherworldly, cosmological level as an ancient vision strewn with the residue of a fragmented, multinational existence.  - Cynthia M. Lugo

McDermott & McGough: An Experience of Amusing Chemistry: Photographs 1990-1890

Irish Museum of Modern Art
Now through April 27

  For their retrospective at Dublin's IMMA, collaborative American artists David McDermott and Peter McGough insist on a conceptually appropriate installation of 120 cyanotypes and palladium prints displayed on opulent fin-de-siècle wallpaper. Following other artists who draw no distinction between life and work, McDermott & McGough create images that document their lifestyle of mimicking Europe's Victorian gentry. Portrait of the Artists (with Top Hats), 1865 shows the duo in full historical regalia, while Idle Hours, 1884 and Children in Kindred Worship, 1907 showcase the period's exaltation of youth. Made in Ireland amid the political turmoil that ended with the Belfast Agreement in 1998, An Experience of Amusing Chemistry attempts to recapture the halcyon days of the late 19th century.  - Adda Birnir

A catalogue, published by Charta, will be available in September. McDermott & McGough's work is also on view at in New York at Cheim and Read through April 26 and Nicholas Robinson Gallery through May 17.

Annika von Hausswolff: Ich Bin Die Ecke Aller Räume

Magasin 3
Now through June 8

  Contemporary arts organization Magasin 3 owns nearly all of the 50 photographs, collages, and sculptures in its retrospective show of photographer Annika von Hausswolff — a sign of the Swedish institution's remarkable fervor for this native daughter's work. Dating from 1992 until today, the works on display are linked by careful staging and magical-realist narratives. The oldest piece is from Back to Nature, von Hausswolff's celebrated, feminist-inflected photo series from the '90s, in which naked women lie face down in natural settings. In later photographs, she successfully animates mundane objects such as nylon stockings, plastic bags, chairs, and radiators by presenting them as players in surreal games. A new large-scale installation featuring a large photograph of a curtain carries the suspense from the gallery walls to the floor.  - Elna Svenle

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[ José León Cerrillo ]

José León Cerrillo

Born in San Luís Potosí, Mexico, in 1976, José León Cerrillo earned his BFA from New York's School of Visual Arts in 1998 and his MFA from Columbia University in 2003, and was invited to show at the Prague Biennale in his final year of graduate studies. In Cerrillo's earlier work, he expanded and contested the field of painting by exploiting late-modernist gestures. In the 2003 installation Negociación (Alma Anémica, Sweet Aufhebung or Endless Something), the artist evokes Constantin Brâncusi's Endless Column, which his title already suggests, by stacking plaster-cast drinking cups in tall pillars. Those columns simultaneously veil and reveal a tall abstract canvas, upon which is mounted a shelf of small potted plants — a juxtaposition that archly equates high art with household decoration. Following shows in New York and Mexico City galleries, Cerrillo was included in P.S.1's 2005 Greater New York group survey and began exhibiting on the West Coast shortly thereafter.

In his 2007 solo show at OMR Gallery in Mexico City, Futuro anterior (Future perfect), Cerrillo displayed an impressive body of new work addressing Lacanian theory and the Bauhaus aesthetic. In de and perse and, a Pantone array of geometric patterns and writing printed on wood tiles deconstructs text into purely visual symbols. The artist disrupts popular considerations of printed works as industrial or automatic by arranging multiple silk screens into a collective piece with a curator's care and consideration. His freestanding installations, made up of metal frames, wood panels, double-sided mirrors, and Plexiglas, form semi-enclosed structures and wall dividers that effect a sense of containment and concealment. Transparencies covered in blocky abstractions draw attention to the patterns' negative space and the unattainable interior of two-dimensionality. Though staunchly flat and geometric, Cerrillo's work ultimately activates its viewers, placing them in center stage through a mise-en-scène approach that's both visually playful and a profound mediation of modernist aesthetics.  - Marlyne Sahakian

José León Cerrillo's work is on view at the FEMACO contemporary art fair in Mexico City from April 23 to 27, at Art Basel from June 4 to 8, and at São Paolo 's Galeria Nara Roesler in late 2008.

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[ Ramis Barquet ]


Mauricio Alejo / Laura Anderson Barbata / Betsabeé Romero / Victor Rodriguez

After two decades as a major player in the Latin American and international art scenes, art dealer Ramis Barquet is on top of his game. Besides his four eponymous galleries — one in the chic Garza Garcia neighborhood of Monterrey, Mexico; two in New York; and a private space in Mexico City — he also runs a stylish New York gallery and showroom, designed by Mexican starchitect Enrique Norten, offering vintage and contemporary furniture and design objects. Artkrush editor Paul Laster recently caught up with the jet-setting Barquet in NYC.
AK: How did you become involved in the art business?

RB: I was in the restaurant business, but I collected art. In 1986, I opened a small gallery with a few young Mexican artists in Monterrey, Mexico. Back then, the art scene was very provincial, with very few collectors. There was only one other gallery in Monterrey at that time.

AK: How has the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey (MARCO), which opened in 1991, affected the scene there?

RB: The opening of MARCO was a big turning point. The museum organized international shows that put Monterrey on the art-world map, which motivated artists and collectors and encouraged new dealers. I had four great years after it opened.

AK: Why did you decide to open a gallery in New York?

keep reading the interview »

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  Frida Kahlo: National Homage 1907-2007
Salomon Grimberg, James Oles, Carlos Fuentes, and Raquel Tibol
Editorial RM

Mexican modernist painter Frida Kahlo is one of the 20th century's most popular and recognizable artists. After surviving childhood polio, Kahlo nearly died in a streetcar crash at age 18, and her injuries would afterward shape her life and art. Kahlo was one of the first artists to focus on herself as the subject of her art, creating psychologically rich self-portraits that revealed her suffering as well as her strength. Inspired by religious ex-votos, Mexican folk art, and European surrealism, her poetic paintings and drawings continue to astonish viewers today. This beautifully designed monograph — published in conjunction with a 2007 exhibition at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City celebrating the centennial of Kahlo's birth — reproduces work the artist made between 1925, when she was bedridden and recovering from her accident, and 1954, the year of her death. A dynamic selection of portraits and still-lifes — many of which are reproduced here for the first time — are reflected upon, piece by piece, by a scholarly group of poets, art critics, historians, and researchers, bringing new insights to the life and work of the woman who inspired Fridamania.  - Paul Laster

Frida Kahlo, a traveling exhibition of Kahlo's work organized by the Walker Art Center and accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue, is on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art through May 18. Also of note, Merrell has published two new books about the artist: Frida Kahlo: The Still Lives and Frida Kahlo: Song of Herself, a previously unpublished interview about her creative process.

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Cover Art
Dr. Lakra
Untitled / Sin título (vea), 2007
Ink on vintage magazine page
11 3/4 x 10 in./ 30 x 25.5 cm
Courtesy the artist and kurimanzutto, Mexico City
All Rights Reserved

Paul Laster

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Sarah Kessler
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Andrew Maerkle
Mark Mangan
Bryony Roberts
Marlyne Sahakian
Peter Stepek
Sarah Stephenson

Adam Eaker
Jocelyn K. Glei
Lauren O. Haynes
Cynthia M. Lugo
Lauren McKee
Elna Svenle

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