Another Multi Opening Night in Chelsea

January 17, 2011

Thursday, Jan. 13, was another big night in Chelsea. We chose Foley, Bold Hype and Sputnik.

Bold Hype had another group show. I went to see Brett Allen’s work in particular and stayed because of Douglas Hoffman.

Last time, Allen showed charmingly surrealist oil paintings focused on beautifully meticulous animals (as in “Won’t Touch Ground”) in absurdly surreal poses. This show, Allen chose to show pieces that looked like quickly executed sketches. Regrettably, not nearly as interesting.

Douglas Hoffman will probably be horrified that I think his complex paintings are beautiful. He’s trying so hard to be provocative, giving his work names like “Louden Noxious” or “Toxic Dirt Shovel Dirby” (his spelling) or “Ape Shit”. So he’s going for a particular audience and maybe missing the point that his work might appeal to more sophisticated tastes. I love his color sense and interplay of shape and want to see more of what he refers to as personal paintings.

We know Foley Gallery as one of the finest photo galleries in Chelsea, with an occasional foray into works on paper (such as pulp novel covers), always showing interesting work. We were surprised to find paintings by Brian Ormond. This collection is meticulous and shockingly detailed, even though totally abstract. Ormond must have used brushes with a single hair and a pallette using shades of grey and white.

How to describe them? The paintings look like threads stretched and draped to create fabric. Are these paintings successful? That depends on whether you’re satisfied saying “how did he do that?”, otherwise the paintings are overly intellectual and cold. A gallery owner friend would call them corporate, too impersonal to want at home.

Sputnik Gallery also did a group show, with a few pieces from each of their photographers. An eclectic show, it reminded me why I so liked Andrey Chezhin. More importantly, Amy Kouznetsova, the gallery director, told us about their next show.

This will be focused on Boris Smelov, who is not well known in western circles, having died in 1998. She let us rummage through a book of his photoes, published by the Hermitage. We were astonished, stunned, flabbergasted. Smelov was one of the greats, possibly the greatest. Can’t wait for show. Not going to tell you more – do your homework and then join us enjoying the originals.


One comment

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