The Jonathan Levine Gallery is one of my favorite places in New York. Recently I did a 3-part profile on Jonathan Levine in conjunction with the fifth anniversary of his Chelsea gallery and his 15th anniversary as a curator (punk rock NYC!!!) His roster of artists includes Ron English, Shepard Fairey, Dan Witz, Camille Rose-Garcia, Andy Keho, Blek le Rat and many more. Drop by if you find yourself on the west side. Otherwise, head over to Juxtapoz and read all about it.
Takashi Murakami received his PhD from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts in a traditional form of Japanese painting called Nihonga, but after becoming fascinated with Japanese and American pop-culture he began creating “poku” art. Poku references a blend of pop and otaku (creepily obsessive fandom) rooted in anime, manga, comics and fashion. His work could be regarded as kitsch—life-sized pornographic anime sculptures, embellished cartoonish “Superflat” paintings and vapid overpriced smiley-face daisies—but for all the overtly ridiculous and even uninspired Murakami, his catalogue also includes insightful work that demonstrates the paradox of Japanese culture—insular but susceptible, xenophobic but fascinated with the West. Through pastiche, Murakami examines the pathologies of Japanese society—idol-making, over-consumption and the tendency to internalize emotion or either escape via fantasy (such as costume-play). And as a sometimes self-declared okatu who works with Louis Vuitton on bags and rugs and founded the Hiropon Factory (where assistants make his paintings, an objective similar to that of Warhol’s), Murakami is an active participant in the culture he critiques. “In Japan there is no high and there is no low [art]. It’s all flat,” Murakami told Interview Magazine in March 2001. And although his popularity waxes and wanes in his home country, he is consistently regarded elsewhere. His resume includes a list of prestigious shows, among them the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the Brooklyn Museum, MOMA and MOCA.
My recent Juxtapoz reviews:
Francine Spiegel‘s grotesque take on the pop anti-heroine (and a feral food fight) at the Grand Street Deitch space:
Revisiting the Pattern & Decoration movement with Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt at Chelsea’s Pavel Zoubok Gallery:
A new, handmade book on the wall art of Meena women in the Indian state of Rajasthan:
Some of this stuff is old, but I thought I’d mention it. Here’s what’s on my radar:
Several months ago Reuters photographer Finbarr O’Reilly published a collection of astounding photos of daily life and conflict in the Congo.
In February Adbusters announced a design campaign calling for one world flag. Here are the 38 finalists.
You owe it to yourself and your (hopefully) continued status as an informed citizen and voter to check out Greg Haberny’s “Dirty Little Things” at New York’s Leo Kesting gallery (till Sept. 27). It’s the meatpacking district’s very own reality check. It’s funny, ridiculous, clever and poignant—a particularly grand respite from this recession-era fashion week. And take your time. The place is full of tiny, easily overlooked gems that are priced to own. Also, ask questions when the meaning behind the madness isn’t readily apparent—otherwise, how will you know that the number 3,014 spray-painted on the United States and Saudi flags symbolizes the revised 9/11 death toll? Consider supporting this show your patriotic duty—like planting a victory garden, but less taxing.
More photos at Juxtapoz.