JORDAN RAMSEY ISMAIEL
A calm self-confrontation allows artist Jordan Ramsey Ismaiel to wonder at their own paintings, “Who can I be for myself? How much support can I get from a relationship with me?” They see the work as a mirror reflecting possibility — a way of imagining subsistent selfhood. From the outside of this triangulation, the work might seem to reify the evergreen queer themes of self-plurality or the binary, or even notions of doubled life — twins, clones, doppelgängers. But it isn’t similitude or arrogance that drives the artist’s process, but a perennial pursuit of self-love and self-care, without the customary deprecation of a comedic apology.
The poses for his figures are mostly developed from memories with friends and family, recasting themself in the position of the loved one. Ismaiel begins by making photomontages using Photoshop — staging two selves in quick digitally-painted plans for landscapes or splashy patterned backgrounds of flowers blooming and blossoming. From high noon to half moon, Ismaiel’s landscapes are vast expanses in dreamy Technicolor — perhaps informed by their time spent in the Great Plains of Iowa and Nebraska. In effect, the portraits feel soft but powerful, like a much-needed warm hug.
“And the track plays again and again” (2021).
“Wasteland Love” (2021).
“These little bits of paradise” (2021).
“Let’s stop here for some time” (2021).
“Hold your breath while we walk through this corn maze” (2021).
“When the curtains close on this tragic act” (2020).
SWEATER AND PANTS BY INSERCH, JACKET BY LEVI’S. …
Oscar yi Hou
A show of new paintings by Oscar yi Hou is on view at the Brooklyn Museum for nearly a year through mid-September of 2023. East of the Sun, West of the Moon, the exhibition’s title, refers to a poem by the artist that riffs on the feeling of in-betweenness and the innumerable stereotypes of East Asian people in Western cultural imagination. In yi Hou’s brushy, expressive portraits, the artist costumes himself and friends as a spectrum of characters — from Bruce Lee’s role of Kato on the 1960s television show The Green Hornet and anime Dragon Ball’s Son Goku to Old Hollywood “geisha-girls” and Spaghetti Western cowboys. He then builds painterly frameworks around his figures, centering them against a spare architectural scene. The compositions, reminiscent of symbolic quincunxes and coronas around saints, are then embellished with an intersectional mix of floating icons and symbols (including references to Japanese and Chinese artworks from the Brooklyn Museum’s collection.) These marginalia feature creatures like butterflies and cranes, sometimes swooping to overlap Chinese calligraphy or graffiti tags, motifs like Internet symbols and Taoist taijitu, stars from flags or sheriff’s badges. The illuminations contextualize their sitters as much as they obfuscate them, pointing to the rich complexity of the painter’s relationship with each subject and the ways in which constructed, long-standing identities may be adopted and rebuffed.
The show developed from a detailed 3000-word proposal yi Hou wrote, gathering many of his ideas from previous exhibitions and emphasizing the importance of pairing text with image, a central touchstone in understanding the re-appropriation at play in his work. …
Artist Linus Borgo is no stranger to periods of incubated change — over a decade ago he was involved in an electrical accident, resulting in the amputation of his left forearm and hand. In the hospital, he remembers the feeling of being a mere body, passed from one doctor to the next. Now, years later, he paints from his home and studio in Brooklyn, dissolving and reconstituting memories into potent compositions. These heightened visions and flashbacks exist somewhere between the corporeal and metaphysical, between dream and nightmare.
The painter credits his dance background and artists of the Italian Renaissance as having paved much of the territory on which he treads. “There’s a lot of choreography in paintings of the Renaissance,” he laughs, “and all those muscular bodies painted in the Sistine Chapel — many people were there to have a religious experience, I was just turned on.” Using thickly lain oil paint, Borgo extends the humanist traditions of Renaissance painting with an elegant attention to form and by grounding the work in his own personal experience.
“Sometimes I worry I am making trauma porn,” Borgo confesses. Memory is reductive; in our minds it flows, without bearing the broad monotony of time and place, charged by the lingering effects of elation and suffering that militate even our smallest experiences. As many of Borgo’s paintings are laden with the anguish and upheaval he once felt, they also might empower the viewer, reassuring them that the passing of time, no matter how slow it may feel, will inevitably change all circumstances. …
Larry Stanton: The Artist who focused on Life as the Aids Crisis took hold of his Community
The Acne Studios Collaboration that aims to celebrate Stanton's Vibrant Legacy.
The memory of the artist Larry Stanton lives on through his gestural drawings, most notably his candid portraits of young men. Their boyish charm — emblematic of his own — is frozen in time, leaving minds to wonder what might have been had he not died at the tender age of 37 from AIDS related complications. In the five years before his death, he made some 500 drawings, providing a glimpse of New York City’s gay men in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In their fleshy flatness, his portraits are hopeful and romantic, focused on the vitality of the moment he made them.
Stanton was born in 1947 on a rural farm in Delhi, New York, and he moved to Manhattan when he was only 18 years old. During his life, he was championed by artists and writers such as David Hockney, Ellsworth Kelly, Henry Geldzahler, and William Burroughs, but he had very few public exhibitions and sold only seven paintings before his untimely passing. He spent much of his time in the Greenwich Village, always keeping a small sketchbook to jot down ideas and draw strangers he met at his favorite coffee shop. A collector of people and his memories of them, his studio there became a hub for artistic types and their admirers — the space full of canvases, photographs, art books, and stuffed animals that had been torn apart by his cat. By night, Stanton’s hook-ups became the subjects for many of his signature portraits on paper, with corresponding phone numbers often scribbled onto the other side. …
Acne Studios x Larry Stanton opening and after-party
A trip to the Acne Studios store event celebrating the artist Larry Stanton and then an after-party at the Chelsea Hotel with a performance by Mykki Blanco.
Tom of Finland Foundation after party at The Top of The Standard @ Boom
A celebration of Tom of Finland’s latest exhibition at David Kordansky Gallery in New York City — hosted by Durk Dehner and Susanne Bartsch
An intimate dinner with Durk Dehner of the Tom of Finland Foundation at The Standard Grill
Celebrating the latest show at David Kordansky Gallery in NYC
Games are often used as metaphors for life. Whether recreation or competition, they condition players to enjoy the buzz and endure the struggle, to brave the painful upset of loss and savor the short-lived exhilaration of winning. Captivated by this rise and fall, Brooklyn-based artist Luke O’Halloran is interested in the sport and symbols of risk, chance, and possibility. From infinitely spinning slot machines to flurries of playing cards thrown into the air, his work often freezes fleeting moments in a blur of movement. But there are quieter examples too. Featured here, O’Halloran’s pencil-drawn portraits show scenes of friends building houses of cards, each filled with a sense of mounting tension that signifies the fragility of life.
“It is impossible to pose them, and I don’t interrupt or ask for a pause,” O’Halloran explains. He doesn’t stage the scenes either. Instead, he spreads a deck of cards out on a table and lets the sitter begin building while he snaps reference photos. In these tableaux, the subjects seem suspended in trance-like superposition, imagining a range of possibilities as they delicately select placements. Focus and finesse are key, and commitment to each moment must be unwavering, or the cards will fall. Once translated into drawings, the resulting portraits are gracefully understated. Each balances an economy of careful lines with tight details scrupulously inscribed through spare hatch marks, exacting the defining features and gestures of each participant with a pared-down complexity.
“Liz & Kenny building a house of cards” (2022). …
While their spectral iridescence is reminiscent of gasoline splashed on pavement or the psychedelic images made by infrared cameras, Caitlin Cherry’s recent paintings are actually inspired by a phenomenon of glitching LCD screens. A few years ago, Cherry noticed that when looking from the side, at a slant, the colors on her laptop screen would begin to invert, a process better known to photographers as solarization. Depending on the adjusted level of color distortion, a figure with brown skin appearing a shade of deep orangey bronze might flip, changing to the hue most its opposite on the color wheel, an alienoid blue. Translating pixels into paint, Cherry experimented with imitating this inversion, developing the signature kaleidoscopic style that characterizes her portraits of Black women, many of them luminaries like Cardi B. and Dominique Jackson. The effect is a visual dissonance, the chaotic layering of multiple disagreeing lenses, offering an expressionistic line up of pop culture provocateurs who have helped redefine femininity and the limits of self-transformation. “Black women have never sat comfortably in an idea of what female-ness is,” the Richmond-based artist asserts, “Even if they don’t realize, they are playing by a set of queer politics.”
Cherry often pulls her source material from the latest movies, TV, music videos, award shows, and social media. “I’m frantically archiving because the pace of culture has sped up,” she laughs, “the overturn is quicker than it used to be.” She is interested in the noise of niche celebrity culture — fleeting, marginal fame, people becoming commodities, perpetual social performance — how tech trends seem to be establishing a broad landscape of new role models, resulting in a less streamlined sense of normal or natural. …
Tom of Finland Art & Culture Festival 2022 in Los Angeles
ELLSWORTH KELLY POSTCARDS
In the heart of England is Corby, an old steel town, which painter Ryan Driscoll calls “the epitome of the color gray.” Since childhood, Driscoll was forced into the dutiful British pleasure of reading Shakespeare, and despite his dyslexia, fell in love with the stories. Occasional trips to the National Gallery in London inspired his tendency toward the mythological melodrama and old-school flare of the museum’s massive allegorical oil paintings, and when at home, he grew up watching old Hollywood films. “I’ve probably seen Cleopatra about ten times through,” he admits. Modeling for his own paintings, Driscoll has become something of a performer, assuming a range of characters — monsters, witches, warriors, queens, fairies, deities. It’s fantasy through a queer lens, somehow sweet but also dry, outrageous and campy at the same time as it’s gentle and unrelentingly romantic. Cindy Sherman meets William Blake, Michael Powell meets Max Ernst, Bronzino meets Joseph Campbell — Driscoll offers his own spin on traditional iterations of the hero and villain, becoming a shape-shifter for an assembly of elegantly surreal dramatizations.
Mostly working in oil and watercolor, Driscoll is largely self-taught, his pseudo-Mannerist style highly informed by observation. “No one else uses the technique I use, and they probably shouldn’t,” he laughs. “I’ve got a feeling it’s not economically or logistically sound.” Only a few of his friends are artists, and he feels mostly on the outside of the current vogue of figurative painting in the art world. He spends most of his time painting and sees social media as a way to get eyes on his work. …