Saturday, August 12, 2000


Leonard Baskin
Leonard Baskin is widely considered one of the preeminent figures of 20th century American Art. Creatively active for over five decades as a sculptor, printmaker, painter, illustrator, critic, book publisher, and educator, Baskin represents a consistent, powerful, and important voice for humankind both visually and intellectually. The art of Leonard Baskin has received many awards and honors. Baskin's work is included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, The Nation Museum of American Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The Seattle Art Museum, and the Vatican Museum. Davidson Galleries maintains a large and varied inventory of works by Baskin, including prints, paintings and sculpture dating from the 1950's to the 1990's.

Lucien Freud
Grandson of famous psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud, Lucian was Berlin in 1922. The Jewish Freud family left Germany in the 1930s and moved to London in order to escape the looming presence of the Nazis. After a brief service in the Navy, Freud became an artist and studied under Cedric Morris. Another strong influence in his artwork was Ingres, as Freud used to copy the works of the painter. Lucians early work contained Surrealist elements, however his later works tended to favor a more realistic approach to nude portraits.

Kiki Smith
Kiki Smith's art, ranging over a diverse array of creative (often craft-oriented) media and continuously shifting between the conceptual and literal, formal and idiomatic, scientific and spiritual, political and personal, as well as clinically precise and abstractly metaphorical in her attitudes and expressions, has remained dedicated throughout the eighties and into this decade to an unßinching, tireless, and obsessively demanding investigation of a singular yet vast territory of human experience: the body. At times a forum for the mystical, the metaphysical, the psychological, the personally introspective, and the broadly multi-interpretational, it at other times suggests an ideological and aesthetic arena, or battlefield, of conßicting social, political, and cultural agendas. Shamanist, rationalist, psychologist, biologist, anatomist, humanist, activist, critic, and connoisseur, Smith has far from neared any consolidation, conformity, completion, repetition, or depletion in her description and discourse of the meta-body. Quite to the contrary in fact, Smith continues to provide even greater definition and expansive resonance to the individual and collective implications inherent in her subject. As society is increasingly forced to finally face those ultimately inescapable issues of health, gender, sexuality, and self that she's been tackling all along, the art world has come to understand more deeply, and embrace more completely, the particular enigma, esthesia, and ecstasy of Smith's art.

Chloe Piene
Chloe Piene is known for her intense and powerful work. Since the late 1990s she has been making charcoal drawings of naked figures on paper and vellum, based on images of herself, other people, and, occasionally, animals.
Chloe Piene is part of a generation of young artists investigating new representations of radical otherness. Instead of emphasizing a familiar, modern loss of the self, Piene provokes the viewer to cut loose from any possible illusionary state of mind. In this way, she succeeds in a subtle engagement in the plight of both victim and hero, viewer and protagonist.

Jenny Saville
In a society often obsessed with physical appearance, Jenny Saville has created a niche for overweight women in contemporary visual culture. Known primarily for her large-scale paintings of obese women, Saville has recently broken into the contemporary art world with the help of gallery owner and art collector Charles Saatchi. Rising quickly to great critical and public recognition in part through Saatchi’s patronage, Saville has been heralded for creating conceptual art through the use of a classical standard -- the figure painting.

Elizabeth Peyton
Her work is characterized by elongated, slender figures with androgynous features which at times resemble fashion illustration. Her work is most often executed in oil paint, applied with washy glazes that are sometimes allowed or encouraged to drip. Several other works in color pencil have also found notoriety and recent work has included etchings. The idealization and stylization of known celebrities has led some critics to characterize her work as derivative of or in the tradition of Andy Warhol with a Romantic overtone. The artist has cited influence by David Hockney.

Zak Smith

Zak Smith's stylized portraits and acidic abstractions intimately capture stillness in an ever-encroaching world. His works demonstrates and deconstructed neo-punk aesthetic conversant in comic book-style drawing, vivid psychedelic coloration, experimental photographic processes, and traditional draftsmanship. Using his friends and his immediate environment as subjects, Smith renders scenes of youthful ambivalence amid a surplus of surrounding diversions and possessions.

Marlene Dumas
Often described as an 'intellectual expressionist', Marlene Dumas blurs the boundaries between painting and drawing. Bold lines and shapes mix seamlessly with ephemeral washes and thick gestural brushwork. By simplifying and distorting her subjects, Marlene Dumas creates intimacy through alienation. Her subjects' assertive stares suggest that her paintings aren't actually about them, but the viewer's own reaction to their perverse circumstance. With deceptive casualness, Marlene Dumas exposes the monstrous capacity belied by 'civilised' human nature.

Wangechi Mutu
Mutu’s figures are equally repulsive and attractive. From corruption and violence, Mutu creates a glamorous beauty. Her figures are empowered by their survivalist adaptation to atrocity, immunised and ‘improved’ by horror and victimisation. Their exaggerated features are appropriated from lifestyle magazines and constructed from festive materials such as fairy dust and fun fur. Mutu uses materials which refer to African identity and political strife: dazzling black glitter symbolises western desire which simultaneously alludes to the illegal diamond trade and its terrible consequences. Her work embodies a notion of identity crisis, where origin and ownership of cultural signifiers becomes an unsettling and dubious terrain.

Kara Walker
Walker has been making enormous, even room-sized, installations using the silhouette format in cut paper for several years now. The silhouette, popular in the 19th and 18th century as women’s art, is employed today as a narrative device by Kara Walker to give a jolt of graphic recognition to a subject matter which would often be too gruesome to tell in any other format. By distilling the images to stark black, gray and white silhouettes, Walker lulls her viewers into the murky waters of the history of African-Americans on this continent before the full scope of her subject matter is realized. Once in that swamp there is no turning back and Walker navigates with an assured hand and an ability to remain buoyant in the face of all adversity.

Amy Cutler
In her finely crafted, highly detailed drawings, Amy Cutler creates surrealistic worlds where girls roost in trees like birds and women have tea kettles for heads. Floating in the midst of crisp, white paper, Cutler's scenes resemble children's illustrations that hark back to the Brothers Grimm. While these drawings are not meant to be literal translations of stories, they do speak to the tradition of storytelling that forms a part of childhood. In exploring these ideas Cutler has developed her own personal symbolism and her fantasies unfold with a recklessness that is both easy and inscrutable.

Marcel Dzama
His delicate line drawings are filled in with a subtle palette of reds, greys and pale browns the latter made from concentrated root beer used like paint. At first they seem like pages from an Art Deco childrens book until the very (post)modern violence in the images begins to make itself known. There is nothing twee here. The Canadian artist explains nothing in his work. There is no clear narrative though often characters resurface and repeat themselves or die off throughout the prolific images. We repeatedly notice people dressed in tree costumes; large bears; little girls with scout-like uniforms and guns. Together the work tells some obtuse tale of war, revolution and reprisal. Like a fairy-tale Goya.

Ernesto Caivano
Caivano supplies a C.S. Lewis-like narrative, paralleling the visual text. It goes something like this: In a distant, heavily wooded dimension, lovers are separated for a thousand years. As the centuries pass each slowly realizes different potentials of the mind and spirit: he becomes a knight, intimately in tune with the natural world. She becomes a spaceship—reason and its achievements incarnate. These two halves of a neo-Platonic world soul communicate through birds known as philapores, which Caivano says means “love of pores.” He also remarks they cannot fly but are able to pass through dense matter. Inscribed on their feathers is critical information and coding, which passes between the lovers with much difficulty and effort. The salvation of the natural and spiritual environment is at stake.

This parable can be read as a somewhat geek-ish fantasy, but it also seems to describe the branching bifurcations of an artist’s life and work: why and how the art means—and how it may transform the self. Caivano follows a current trend in which visual artists use some kind of backstory in conjunction with paintings or drawings. But with this artist, transitions between the two different types of information are especially complex and intense, re-enacting the lovers’ yearning. Ultimately, Caivano’s remarkable achievement is to evoke and sustain imaginative, cognitive, and emotional infinities.

Min Kim
The finely made paint-and-ink work of the Korean-born artist Min Kim amounts to a kind of child's vision of Eden. Ms. Kim's formal skill and ingenuity, particularly in her use of cut paper, are impressive: precise, economical, but with imaginative flourishes. Her application of cartoon-style sweetness to an adult-style morality tale is a device common in art of the moment, and can easily produce results that are arch, sappy or slight. She makes it work through an illusion of ingenuousness, by presenting a condition of innocence more or less straight: threatened from without, unblemished from within; that's all.


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