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Monday, November 20, 2006

Eric Sall reviewed in artUS

Eric Sall review in artUS
Eric Sall's atm show is reviewed in the Oct/Nov 2006 issue of artUS. Click here to see it bigger and read it.

The reviewer, Nadja Sayej, has an interesting article/interview with Tino Sehgal in the same issue.

8 comments:

bruce said...

I read Nadja's other writing (that Martin linked to) and it is obvious, at least to me, why she is trashing Eric's work. I am very skeptical of the motivations behind the work I see in galleries and perhaps even more so of "successful" artists showing in New York. I am also turned off by a lot of work that falls under the category of new abstraction. But that isn’t really any different then other categories. I won’t list the reasons why I dislike different types of paintings, sculptures, or anything that people call art, because the list is to long to even entertain – I would become bored.

I will consider why someone might be turned off to new abstract painting. People are more comfortable with abstract painting then ever before. All the people that sort of liked art, except for that scary theory part, have finally gotten the memo. Abstract painting is not scary theory any more, no, it is only that painting over there on the wall - look it’s nice, don’t you like it? Yes. And that is bad. People should be scared of abstract painting because it is complicated. And there are scary theories so if we want to be sophisticated art people then we simply must not stand for abstraction of any kind unless it is a name that is formerly verified by someone having to do with these theories. And we should say all new abstraction is meaningless because it doesn’t feel the need to abide by the rules or even pay attention to us critics, “hey listen to me, why are you leaving?”

Alright, maybe I am going too far. But this article bothered me in a way that I usually reserve for visual art only. There are a lot of bad paintings in galleries, selling for a lot of money, but that is not specific to new abstraction. Eric’s paintings are certainly not bad, meaningless, or soulless. Eric’s paintings are some of the few paintings I think of as great. I could analyze every part of them; look through all my art history and theory books, try to justify them, and still come up with nothing that approaches how great they truly are. I think Nadja took a stand against the wrong person. I think critics need to really step back and think about whether they are really looking at the artwork in front of them, or if they are already writing in their heads, moving towards their own agenda, proving their theories to be correct. I think Nadja should think about her own meaningless abstraction and possibly start her own soul searching.

bruce said...

sry for the long post dudes

Eric said...

Thanks for posting the review Martin, it is the first time I've read it, and thanks for the comments Bruce. For the record, I was born in South Dakota, not North Dakota as Nadja stated, and yes, there is a difference.

martin said...

isn't nadja sayef a current grad student at hunter? i think maybe.

more people around here, interesting in writing, should consider submitting to magazines like that, or to that saatchi site her articles are on.

vc said...

Art criticism can be useful beyond the author's intentions. Sayej's criticism of Eric Sall's work articulates some important qualities that might be the very reason to like his paintings. An intoxication with prismatic, multiple colors, a kind of placed thingness (Sall's gravity bound ground plane), a wide wide variety of marks (thin washes and cake-icing slabs), a courting with pop culture cartoon imagery, which is never explicit, only a feeling, and, perhaps most importantly, this forced disjunction, seeming about to spin out of control or to collapse, along with a brazen playfulness, a denial of modernist program (She mentiones Malevich, but we could also cite Buren).
But that's not all that can be said about Sall's work. The above words sound like a generic description of a great deal of 80s-90s critically-intended abstraction (I'm thinking of David Reed or 90s Shirley Kaneda or even 1980s Richter), but Sall isn't re-hashing them: all you have to do it look. But it does seem as if he is taking that mode of abstraction's-language-estranged as a baseline, and building on that. So for that reason the work is somehow familiar, even if highly skilled and inventive.

I don't quite understand Bruce's position re: scary theory and abstraction's relationship to it. It sounds like he is criticizing two poles: both easily likable painting AND the intellectual's outrage at being rendered irrelevant by nice abstraction, and if that's the case then bravo.

Whether he was sincere or sarcastic, he is absolutely right that abstraction should be scary and complicated, i.e., the most exciting work gnaws at our ideas of what a painting should be. The hard part is to keep gnawing 10, 50, 300 years later.

As for "Nadja's own meaningless abstraction," after a quick google, sure it's suave, but so is Sall. She has committed (?) to a certain territory, a certain language, and perhaps she interprets a lack of committment in Sall's work, and reads it as a cynical market play.

Art criticism is always a power play.

bruce said...

VC, very good. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.(sincere)

Anonymous said...

Paul Valery said:
"The eyes are organs of asking."

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