You might think we be exhausted of contemporary art by now, after the Armory Show and Whitney Biennial and the beaucoup amazing museum exhibitions currently on view in New York. And you would be wrong. Instead, we’re pleased to present a portfolio of six contemporary artists working around the world, courtesy of Flaunt magazine. Issue #107 explores the images and issues surrounding the sculpture of Diana Al-Hadid, performance art by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, outsider art by Jim Shaw, and more. Follow along in our slideshow of art featured in the issue, and meet the six artists after the jump.
Diana Al-Hadid (left): “Her sculptures resemble monuments seen while traveling by dream to far away destinations. ‘Self Melt’ (2008), for example, could be a Tower of Pisa turned upside down, inside out and melted in a microwave. An earlier series of pipe-organ-cum-shrines evoke mutated church basements where hunchbacks and phantoms roam and take turns bashing out haunting arias. It seems at times the organs could shuffle away on their own. ‘People tell me that [my work] could come to life,’ says Al-Hadid. ‘Or that it died.’” — Maxwell Williams
Yinka Shonibare (right): “Shonibare is a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. What’s ironic about this whole process is that Shonibare, who grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, spends a lot of time making works manifestly criticizing that very establishment. Shonibare’s life is rife with contradiction. Vast incongruities show up in his most celebrated works, a series of headless, life-size figures in Victorian dress. The materials of the opulent garments are bright, multi-hued, Dutch wax fabrics, long associated with West African identity, that were actually developed in Indonesia, manufactured by the Dutch (who unsuccessfully tried to sell the fabric in Indonesia) and exported to West Africa by the British, where they then became stereotypically African. ‘We see those fabrics as African, but they’ve got a complex origin,’ says Shonibare. ‘I’m very interested in the fallacy of authenticity.’” — Maxwell Williams
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (left): “Gonzalez-Foerster shows up and mimes her way through a Spanish guitar solo before giving a soliloquy on Martin Scorsese’s After Hours, one of two Kafkaesque films that inspired the evening (the other was Orson Welles’s interpretation of The Trial). The film irritated her, she explains, but 20 years later, she can’t get it out of her head. In her hyperliterate work — whether installation or film, or a mixture of the two — time and space are the media. She doesn’t set out to prove something; she’s more like a scientist building an experiment. The hypothesis behind K.62: ‘What if the time you spent going to the theater was, in fact, more important than the performance itself?’” — Heather Corcoran
Jim Shaw (right): “Jim Shaw works in Glendale amongst machine shops and mechanics garages, not too far from a large number of car dealerships. His studio is non-descript among them except that it is filled full of piles and piles of projects, assorted paintings and papers, severed movie prop Satan heads and all sorts of ephemera. He has always worked this way, deploying a number of styles, as likely to do a painstaking super-realistic drawing as he is to do a sculpture of a Ganesha with his own head perched atop.
He talks up his upbringing in Michigan, the house he recently purchased there, and his sympathies with the plight of Detroit. A flashpoint of all these topics is his description of a series of theatrical backdrops that he did years back and felt obliged to show, the ‘left behind’ paintings. He wears his Michigan history and talks of the decline of unions and the plight of American industry. All of this, according to Shaw, is closely connected to the popular culture that America produces, its emphasis on religion, even America’s taste for the apocalypse. ‘Americans are obsessed with the Book of Revelation.’” — Ed Schad
Tracey Emin (left): “It’s apparent: Emin’s current work reflects the difficulty of aging. Yet Emin, 46, takes it on with Achillean determination: ‘[The curator] knows that I’ve been suffering and fighting with my work over the last few years, and he said to me, ‘Why don’t you concentrate on the bleakness because that’s what you’re really good at.” Her recent show [at Lehmann Maupin in New York] is about, in a word, sadness and failure. One of the more demonstrative pieces, for example — one of her new, large scale embroidered blankets — is a sketchy scene of a man atop a woman in missionary position. The woman is saying, ‘Is this a joke.’ It’s almost pitiful. Based on a dream or not, pieces like this one suggest a simple change in direction for Emin’s work — a trend towards mortality and facing one’s self in the morning.” — Maxwell Williams
Assume Astro Vivid Focus (right): “Eli Sudbrack and Christophe Hamaide Pierson, who claim they are currently a duo (it’s all either mysterious or purposefully convoluted), are spirited, smart people who make very pretty and sensorially suggestive objects and environments. There is an air of cultivated, multi-chromatic hedonism permeating their works — lots of rhythms and colorful pulses. Sexuality, decadence, and curiosity have been gastro-reduced into puffy, morphing cartoon-jolly hallucinations. A recent show of theirs in Oslo had visitors sliding down a multi-story green tongue, which emerged from a giant vagina dentata in between two towering, inflatable psychedelic legs.” — Drury Brennan
Images and excerpts courtesy of Flaunt, which has captured timeless images that reflect fashion, the arts and lifestyle culture in its 11 years in print.