COMPANY Launches The Collector Series
By Jedediah Charles for COMPANY
(July 28, 2011) Last night I tagged along with a friend to the launch party for The Collector Series held at the COMPANY exhibition space in the Flatiron district which was filled with superb paintings by San Francisco’s KateEric, Ian Davis, and Storm Tharp fresh from the last Whitney Biennial.
The Collector Series, as explained to me by their lovely hostess, is to be “regularly scheduled monthly panel discussions for emerging art collectors to meet and discover talented emerging artists moderated by art educators and curators." Apparently, the setting will be relaxed and drinks will definitely be served because there was no shortage last night which I can vouch for.
Bushwick-based Jason Varone's “video-painting” combines video and painting with appropriated news footage and electronic data, removing any distinctions or boundaries between them.
His “video-paintings” underline the impermanence and constant bombardment of transmitted information to a society that is fixated on alternately obsessing over or ignoring electronic messages.
Federico Solmi also of Bushwick is the most well-known of the group. He recently showed at the Venice Biennale, The Armory Show, and SITE Santa Fe Biennial and earned a Guggenheim Fellowship. His videos are fictional narratives created inn traditional animation from his own drawings, paintings and sometimes video game graphics.
Four of Solmi’s videos were shown on a giant flat screen in a continuous loop and thus you could get a complete view of his world. And what a world it is: “ The universe that I like to represent is the exaltation of a present that is crumbling apart. The protagonists of my videos are always catapulted into the middle of an undecipherable reality.
Typically they are all lost characters; confused inhabitants of a world in which are desperately seeking their role and forced to live inside a mad and hostile society without rules.” Porn-addicted popes, evil Brad Pitt, and heroic Italian adult movie stars. The viewers I polled were split between calling Solmi a disturbed misogynist or a cultural visionary. Your call.
Yorgo Alexopoluos is a Manhattan-based artist whose approach is visibly informed by techniques fine-tuned early in his career as a visual effects artist for the film motion graphics industry. His digital artworks explore transcendental sensibilities and often blend Western and Eastern philosophical themes.
Yorgo's work proposes and constantly reinvents a visual vocabulary influenced by astronomical images, religious iconography, scientific diagrams, and mythological symbolism. His work displayed a technical polish that didn’t overwhelm the artistic beauty and it washed over you with a visual calmness. Many guests were transfixed.
The fourth artist exhibiting and performing at the COMPANY event was Elektra KB – a vegan-feminist-situationist of Ukranian-Colombian descent. Tucked away in a back room, she created an unsettling environment complete with a video and multi-track dialogue on repeat. The piece draws from The Theocratic Republic Of Gaia, which Elektra defines as an alternate way of perceiving the true world, in which the population gets brainwashed and forgets what reality is.
This work calls to attention the new "religion" of media and consumerism. In the room, Elektra assumed the character of The White Papess, ruler of Gaia. She lay still in bed with her eyes closed while guests entered the room to paid homage. I definitely felt like a cult member in the confines of that stark white room, especially with the uneasy soundtrack and slumbering painted papess. Definitely an artist to watch for in the future.
All in all one of the more thought–provoking and interesting video art exhibitions I’ve encountered. And the drinks didn’t hurt either. I was told the next Collector Series event will be in early fall and limited to only 40 invitees instead of the 125+ around me last night. I recommend trying to be one of those 40.