Affairs and Ceremonies: The New Work of Kristine Moran...

Exhibition Review by Randy Gladman Sometimes you can’t explain why you love an artist’s work.  Most people never have to actually do this but because I am a sometime art critic and represent myself as something of an informed and more-than-casual viewer, it’s not uncommon that I get pressed to answer why I think this is good and that is anything but.  Usually I can concoct convincing answers.  I studied contemporary art criticism, after all, and have an impressive degree stuffed in a box somewhere in my basement.  I get to publish my ideas about art online and even in ink every now and then.  Add in my generally opinionated and outspoken personality, some facility with art babble, and a desire to convince people to appreciate the things I value, and I can usually craft a logical argument that at least attempts to encourage, persuade, and cajole a sympathetic opinion about a painting, photo, or installation.  Some people are perhaps convinced though I suspect many think I’m full of hot air. When it comes to the work of Kristine Moran, I find myself at a total loss of effective words to explain why I think it is so totally awesome.  This might be why this ostensible review of Affairs and Ceremonies, her wonderful current exhibit of new works at Daniel Faria Gallery in Toronto, is turning out to be so much more about myself rather than about her fresh, innovative, and gorgeous paintings. I mean, I could write about how this Brooklyn artist graduated with her MFA from Hunter College in New York City in 2008 and has since had a series of annual solo exhibitions at exciting young galleries like Mr. Faria’s.  Or I could try to delineate how she never sits still aesthetically and takes viewers into totally new realms with each subsequent body of thoughtful and painstakingly considered work.  I could even try to provide a formal dissertation on her brilliantly controlled yet somehow simultaneously loose and adventurous brushstrokes, colour palettes, and abstract compositions.  But none of those efforts would effectively answer the question of why I believe her work is so imperative, tenacious, and epochal.  These words wouldn’t reveal the motivation behind my desire to live my life in the presence of her emotionally engaging and dominating canvases.   And they certainly wouldn’t sufficiently convince you of the majesty missing from your life if you have never seen these things in person. So I’m not even going to try to tell you that this show is the most adventurous exhibit of paintings in Toronto all year.  I won’t waste any of your precious time advising you that this is one of those rare moments sophisticated collectors watch for where a young artist rises from “promising” and “emerging” to “relevant”, “mature”, and “arrived”.  And I definitely promise not to write an article gushing about why I love Kristine Moran’s new work. I just can’t do it.   Kristine Moran:  Affairs and Ceremonies November 13, 2014 – January 10, 2015 Daniel Faria Gallery 188 St. Helens Avenue Toronto, ON www.kristinemoran.com www.danielfariagallery.com www.akrylic.com...

The Cycle: A Brief Guide to Collecting Art...

An Original Rant by Randy Gladman for Akrylic.com Seek out a young artist whose work you love.  Find her work online, in a gallery, discussed in magazines, or sprayed on walls in alleyways.  Identify with the intelligence of the work, not just the aesthetics; remember that only new ideas that rattle your brain are relevant and worthy.  Ensure the artist is a stranger rather than a friend.  Engage the machine that supports her career.  Visit her gallery.  Absorb her website.  Understand her artist statement.  Read publications about her work.  Go to her exhibition openings.  Admire from afar.  Stay aloof.  Wax eloquently and enthusiastically about her brilliance and importance.  Post on social media your certainty that she should be her country’s representative at the next Venice Biennale.  Rail at the ignorance of dealers and curators when her work isn’t included in Miami during Art Basel week.  Rant about how she is more significant than certain superstar artists with comparable output. Speak to her dealer.  Commission an artwork.  Offer direction on scope but don’t require specific content or aesthetic; respect creative freedom and integrity.  Agree to spend more than you should; make it hurt.  Give her the time to fabricate effectively.  Worry about the purchase you just made as you pay the large deposit but don’t share this emotion with anyone but your therapist.   Feel impatient while waiting for it to be completed.  Regret the commission for a few nights.  Get over it.  Brag that you’ve commissioned an important artist to make a piece for your collection.  Recommend art world friends write about this artist.  Love the commissioned piece when it is delivered, even if you don’t like it.  Facebook, Tumblr, Tweet, Blog, Instagram it; use hashtags.  Display it prominently in your home.  Don’t tell visitors...

Collecting That Matters: The Art Collection of Alison and Alan Schwartz Jul12

Collecting That Matters: The Art Collection of Alison and Alan Schwartz...

By Randy Gladman for C Magazine Sheltered from public view and largely unknown, private collections of international contemporary art exist in a nearly invisible secret world. The artworks they contain may have been exhibited at galleries when they were new but they soon disappear from public view, popping up only occasionally at auction or on temporary loan to museums. Traded infrequently over the years, these pieces exist out of view until, ideally, they eventually find their way to public institutions where they are once again revealed, often many decades after they were last exhibited. Great collections are rare by any standards and exceedingly hard to find. Of these, a few are accessible to the public. A Canadian example was the recently closed Ydessa Hendeles Foundation, which hosted the public during limited hours on weekends and by appointment at its downtown Toronto building, having gained international recognition for the quality of its curating as well as its collecting. In the United States, the Rubell Family Collection and the Margulies Collection, both in Miami, are examples of private collections that have carefully crafted their public profiles and function as pseudo-museums. But most private collections exist only behind closed doors for the enjoyment of the collectors and their closest friends. Except for a privileged few, access to these collections is hard to come by, and information about their owners and contents is sparse . The Toronto collection of Alison and Alan Schwartz is one of the few examples of truly top-quality international contemporary art assembled in a private space in Canada. With works by luminaries such as Anselm Kiefer, Glenn Ligon, Cindy Sherman, Mark Bradford, Rodney Graham, Sigmar Polke, Giuseppe Penone, and Bill Viola, to name but a few selections, a more sophisticated and thoughtfully assembled collection is...

Just Before the Dawn: The Work of Matt Bahen...

Catalogue Essay by Randy Gladman for LE Gallery A vast promise of better times ahead sweeps through the paintings of Matt Bahen.  Earthy and grounded, his allegorical landscape scenes whisper of turning points in history.  These are the moments when all is finally quiet on the northern front as periods of unseen chaos finally fade into the past.  In these moody, contemplative and lonely works, battlefields hesitantly begin to give way to forces of growth; animals return to destruction-scarred locations, now neglected by their departed human lords, bringing with them natural balance, hazy potential, and new peace.   The footprints of evil, so recently impressed into the frozen muck of cold, empty and miserable winters, loosen and melt away.  What is left is a ruined yet clean slate, the chance for new shoots to root, deliverance.  Metaphors for the redemptive force of nature, these sensitive paintings reflect the difficult road this artist has traveled and his intimate experience with the power of healing. Raised in Schomberg, Ontario, a small suburb of a large suburb, Bahen headed south to Toronto after high school to work towards a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD).  Without significant family resources to provide financial sustenance, side work as a construction labourer was necessary to cover the multitude of expenses he faced as a student.  An illness towards the end of his first year and lasting through the summer months resulted in a serious cash shortfall as his second year of school arrived.  Though he managed to come up with enough to pay for tuition and art supplies, Bahen had nothing left for rent, but chose to forge ahead and spent much of the next year living out of a dufflebag, sleeping wherever he...

Video Art in the Digital Era...

By Randy Gladman The glorious invention of digital editing software and plasma flat screen monitors in the 1990s injected new life into Video Art, a previously anemic and fringe visual culture format that had always struggled to compete with Painting, Photography, and Film, its more alluring cousins. Though a few artists working with clunky, low-res televisions and analog recording technologies managed to contribute memorable masterpieces to the canon of contemporary art (Peter Campus and Nam June Paik are the obvious examples), these works belie the fact that early Video Art was challenging for viewers even when the most ‘advanced’ technologies were exploited. Prone to tape deterioration caused by mechanical friction, difficult to calibrate across environments, limited by awkward cabling and mounting structures, and subject to the basic constraints of simplistic image capture and weak audio fidelity, Video Art languished as the foster-child of the fine arts, largely ignored by major museums and provided shelter mostly by visionary yet funding-challenged new media galleries. Like Harry Potter living under Vernon and Petunia Dursley’s stairwell, this medium was skinny, self-confidence challenged, visually impaired, and underappreciated, ignorant of the magical power it would soon learn to wield. The medium’s Hogwarts moment roughly coincided with the turn of the century and the arrival and mass-commercialization of high-definition flat screen televisions. Corresponding developments in digital editing software like After Effects and the Adobe Creative Suite programs unleashed new video editing, animation and visual effects powers previously accessible only to corporate, big-budget, Hollywood-style production studios. All of a sudden it became possible for artists working alone in their studios with non-existent budgets to render broadcast-quality Video Art. The only limitations were the bounds of the artists’ imaginations. The revolution would be televised after all. Jeremy Blake is widely recognized as one...

Why We Collect: The Unique Bond

By Randy Gladman A vast array of analytical essays exists in the blogosphere that seeks to explain why we collect art. Like trying to understand why we fall in love, the gamut of explanations is at once highly diverse yet difficult to nail down. The need for decorative embellishment, the expected investment value, the putting on of sophisticated airs, the desire for direct participation in culture… These certainly affect acquisition decisions and add fuel to the art market fire but they do not explain the emotional, cerebral pleasure collectors receive from their art trophies. Ask anyone who truly values the pieces they have acquired and they will describe a deep love and connection with these objects quite unlike any relationship with other inanimate things they own. What is the source of this bond? A decade or so ago, I gradually came to the realization that, much to my disappointment and stunned shock, I was not the artistic talent I had previously believed myself to be. Though I had the temperament, passion and desire, it turned out I had none of the vision, dedication, originality nor persistence prerequisite for a life as an artist. The realization shattered my heretofore self-identity — one I had worn like a wetsuit since my earliest teen years — and set me off on various tangents that eventually led to my current satisfactory, pleasant and lucrative life, happy yet lacking the gushing creative outlet I had once dreamed possible and naively believed to be inevitable. As a teen, I was surrounded by highly talented kids; guitarists, artists, singers, dancers, basketball players, ski racers, championship horseback riders. A couple decades on, nearly all of these people have matured into their current slots in societal production; land developers, accountants, lawyers, doctors, moms, teachers, shrinks and saleswomen. Early expectations and ambitious desires became the standard casualties of economic demands, family pressures, and general reality. In contemporary culture, there is likely no more common story. It is one of the most pathetic if benign truths so many of us share; adolescent ideals making way for adult needs and responsibilities. How many boxes of relics of early creativity collect dust in how many garages, filled with promise but lacking follow through and commitment? Some of our acquaintances from earlier lives escaped the numbing, grinding coil and, against all odds, managed to stay true to their earlier creative paths and found gainful employment as creative producers. Most of these people are still required to tailor their output to a market economy and toil on the commercial side of creative endeavor. In a very few cases, however, these individuals have achieved startling successes in the fine arts. Those of us caught in the grid, whose burning diamonds turned out to be chunks of coal, watch from afar, trapped in the wide ranks of normalcy, as the few real artists in our social universes blaze disjunctive paths at Escher-like angles to our own well-tread horizons. I’ve watched with covetous amazement as a lucky few artists from my own local community (young rising stars like Kristine Moran, Jason Gringler, Daniel Borins and Jennifer Marman) have resisted the gravitational forces of logical economic reality and thrust through the otherwise impossible barriers to the professional art ranks to achieve successful orbit in the international market. Though inflected with sweet jealousy and watery spite, our encouragement and support for talent and artistry generally squirts forth in the form of ticket purchases, hashtagged Tweets, gossipy interest, and other forms of disconnected admiration from afar. But collecting contemporary artworks is one of the important ways in which the rest of us can participate directly in these beautiful lives. It is immediate and personal. While buying a ticket to a film or performance offers only the most detached and fleeting participation with the creative object of admiration, acquiring art offers a material, lengthy and visceral relationship. Rather than providing an...

Hydroponic Hot House: The Singapore Biennale 2011...

By Randy Gladman Arriving a few days ago in this wealthy city-state at the southern tip of the Malaysian peninsula in order to attend the third Singapore Biennale, I wondered what type of contemporary arts could thrive in a city whose well-earned reputation is one of fabricated perfection and paternal government control. Could unvarnished intellectual explorations into political and economic realities of modern life flower in an environment of unchallenged censorship and consciously affected good behavior? Singapore is a truly impressive place, utterly unlike any other metropolises in south-east Asia, and exhibiting uncanny similarities to a well-ordered Nordic urban environment. All of the cars driving the impeccably tidy and well-organised streets appear to be less than five years old and the brands displayed reflect a very wealthy economy. The many new glass towers and architecturally daring institutional buildings boast an impressive design bravado, particularly the new triple-towered Marina Bay Sands with its capping bridge structure that resembles a massive Noah’s Ark, had that biblical superhero intended his craft to be a sleekly modern gambling vessel tricked out with a 150m infinity pool. The city’s planners clearly studied their urban planning textbooks with the utmost attention before implementing a balanced system of transportation networks and public spaces. The whole built situation is startlingly harmonious, a total reboot of the contemporary urban environment. Version 2.0 of the modern city. Even its Chinatown is orderly and clean. But in its perfection, Singapore is missing something massive, and everyone I spoke to, both locals and visitors, discuss it frequently. While tipping the scale towards comfort and safety, the city has misplaced its edge, creativity and serendipity. In five days I have not seen a single police car nor a uniformed officer and, amazingly for a city of five...

How Street Art is Taking its Seat at the Table of High Culture...

By Randy Gladman The website of the Southeastern Centre for Contemporary Art (SECCA) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, recently posted a six-minute long time-lapse video of the production of an onsite mural painted by the artist Dalek (James Marshall) and his team of assistants. Created for the exhibition North Carolina New Contemporary, Dalek’s vibrant and kaleidoscopic abstraction of video-game aesthetics slowly assembles in front of the camera lens to the beat of a jazzy soundtrack. As I watched the video this past Saturday night, with a touch of cabin-fever inspired by the Hoth-like Toronto winter outside my window, I thought about how great it is to see a deserving and brilliant Street Artist given time, space and resources by a museum, particularly one as charmingly off the beaten path as the SECCA. Here is more evidence, I realized, of the ongoing ascendance of the most important art movement of the new century. The term “street art” has shifted in a positive direction over the past 10 years. This metamorphosis has been even more pronounced since the practical adoption of Shepard Fairey’s “Hope” posters by Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008. Street art was once considered a societal infection that plagued beleaguered urban densities, but the mature examples of this visual art form have now invaded even the most holy contemporary museums and been championed by a new generation of collectors, curators and cultural commentators. Though many fine art periodicals have willfully or ignorantly displayed disappointing obliviousness to the importance of these young practitioners, an army of well-funded crossover magazines and websites have elevated these artists among audiences far hipper, more connected and massive than those the traditional art media enterprises can muster or interest. Possibly the current best documentary Oscar nomination of Banksy’s mind-twisting film Exit Through The Gift Shop will shake and awaken the upper levels of the art establishment from its slumber. The pieces created by street artists like Banksy, Barry McGee (Twist), and Os Gemeos (twins Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo), are not yet viewed as “blue chip”. This is because their collectors and strongest admirers are still exploring the outer reaches of their youth; the oldest of these supporters are generally still developing their successful professional careers and nurturing financial resources that are not quite ready to be deployed toward the serious aid of high culture. Just like all those before it, however, this generation, my generation, is on the march, driving tastes, and growing into influence. We are far more interested in the contemporary pop street artists whose points of references we share than in the current retinue of darlings promoted by the mega-galleries whose works are surely brilliant but not popularly compelling. By the end of this decade, our financial might will come to prominence, it will be our turn. When it comes to the visual arts, it will be street art in its gallery form that we will elevate. We have already begun to do so, but this effort is still nascent. As the great street artists and their artworks enter public consciousness, it is imperative to note the direction of the movement. The museums and the market have come to street art, not the other way around. There is no sell-out here, no compromise. Though random, monikered, cowardly critics may claim otherwise and hurl accusations from the shadows of the blogosphere, these street artists have not “gone mainstream”. At least not the better ones. Instead, mainstream went Main Street. Just as cool new vocabularies and manners of speech ferment and ripen in rough urban quarters before they are appropriated and widely adopted by the middle-classes, the works of Shepard Fairey, C215 (Christian Guémy), Stephen Powers (ESPO), and a whole loosely affiliated brotherhood of artists are being soaked up from above. Any metamorphoses that occur do so within the DNA of the consuming masses rather than within the bloodlines of the creators. Even a...

The Three Ring Miami Art Circus...

By Randy Gladman I’ve resisted attending the annual art carnival that is Art Basel Miami Beach since my last excursion in 2003. From that trip, during the convention’s second iteration, all I remember is a blur of expensive cars, beautiful women at exclusive parties in boutique South Beach hotels, and an ocean of vodka. (Some figments also remain of a moment when I posed as film director Wes Anderson in order to successfully Jedi mind-trick my way past security into the Visionaire party at the Raleigh Hotel; but that’s a story for another blog posting.) What I don’t remember from that first trip was what I went there for in the first place: the art. The problem with these kinds of art super events, such as the Armory show in New York and Frieze in London, is that you are bombarded with a tsunami of art, all at once, and none of it is contextualised. Whereas the biennial-type events in cities such as Venice, São Paulo and Istanbul and are curated and seek to provide a cohesive and critical social commentary, art fairs (and the dozen-odd simultaneous outrigger fairs that attend them, such as NADA, Scope, Seven and Pulse) make no conscious, intellectual effort; they don’t even pretend to. Instead, they are flea markets for millionaires and billionaires. This is where buyers and sellers of this most expensive of commodities come together to transact; it doesn’t leave much nectar for critics and curators like me to be nourished. But by the end of the second day of this year’s Art Basel Miami, I realized I was wrong; there actually is a lot more to this event than just an art superstore writ large. Though this Dionysian art extravorgasm is still squarely targeted at that...

Interview with Gallerist Cristin Tierney...

By Randy Gladman Some management gurus say there is no better time to start a new business than in the belly of a recessionary dip. While cautionary conservatism and fearful retreat seem to characterize conventional behavior during bad days, the contrarian view is that economic slowdowns are exactly the right times to gear up for upcoming growth cycles. With world markets bloodied like losing Ultimate Fighters, there are fantastic deals available in almost all categories, from real-estate to service contracts. Auctions abound with equipment and furniture available for cents on the dollar. Highly qualified yet unemployed business leaders, many of whom are flirting with desperation, are prospecting and available for hire. And with many investors still nursing third degree burns from stock market volatility, new ventures can leverage personal relationships to tap pools of financial resources usually destined for securities. Cristin Tierney sees opportunity in current adverse conditions. On October 28, 2010, she opened her first gallery in a ground floor space in the ultra-important Chelsea art neighborhood of New York City. After two years of watching influential galleries close and art works remain unsold, she now perceives a thawing in the art market and believes it to be the beginning of the next bull-run. Tierney is not a naïve outsider. Prior to opening her gallery at 546 West 29th Street, she worked as an advisor for a number of high net worth private collectors and institutions throughout the United States. She holds a Masters degree from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts and is half a dissertation away from her Ph.D. in Art History. She has taught at Christie’s Education in New York City and knows most of what can possibly be known about Modern and Contemporary artists and art market values....

The Artists Who Wield Ideas Like Burning Torches

By Randy Gladman Contemporary culture is at its best when it is fresh and stuffed with wide-ranging and original ideas. Many of the most interesting contributors to the current arts have a fierce facility with extreme variety. While many of us get trapped in whirlpools where our bright ideas get replayed until they grow dull, great artists move from idea to idea, their notions adjusting in interesting ways at each pivot point. Sometimes the changes they push are vertical in that the artist dives deeper and deeper into a concept, unveiling ever-richer interpretations and aesthetics or carrying hot ideas across boundaries into new mediums. Just as valuable are the artists who move laterally, with each project totally different from the previous in both conceptual point and material production. Two artists whose finest works are currently touring the world strike me for their ability to constantly refine and reinvent their vision. Roger Waters, the former co-frontman of Pink Floyd, has reincarnated his masterpiece, The Wall, to celebrate its 30th anniversary. At its initial release in 1980, this simultaneous double-album and feature film combo rocked audiences in both audio and visual ways. Weaving together music, spoken word, and psychedelic animation, The Wall told a heartbreaking story of alienation and self-imposed isolation in a revolutionary non-linear manner. Now Waters is back with an epic-scale, live, theatrical version of The Wall. This touring mega-imaginarium is on an adventure through many of the best stadiums in the world, including fourteen nights at London’s O2 Arena in 2011. Complete with a rock orchestra, a crashing airplane, a flying pig, a giant inflatable schoolmaster, mind-warping digital projections, choirs drawn from local schools in the vicinity of the stadiums visited, and a massive wall that is built brick by brick before being destroyed at the concert’s climax, this manifestation of an all-time classic piece of culture is blazingly new in its production. Though I was disappointed that the rumors that David Gilmour was going to join Waters on stage proved false, I was thrilled with the show’s faithful, note-for-note reproduction of the original soundtrack and impressed that Waters’ new stage version has fully modernized the telling of the tale by injecting it with updated imagery, technology and energy. Like a Broadway performance jacked on both steroids and LSD simultaneously, this live variety show left no doubt in my mind about the continued relevance of Roger Waters as a cultural visionary. While Waters drills down ever deeper into a timeless tale, German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans leaps across surfaces through a bewildering variety of content. Jumping from subject to subject and exploring a vast assortment of genres and photographic media, Tillmans brandishes a sharp, multifaceted, diamond-like eye in his ongoing attempt to see the entire world in new ways. I was initially drawn to his early visual documentation of youth social movements, but I’ve continued to track his career as it has careened through photographic explorations of portraiture, still-life, sky and astronomical subjects, aerials, fashion, political activism, gender identity, and club culture. He is one of few artists who have been successful in experimenting with camera-free photography and his abstractions grab my attention with their purist, luxurious approach to color. Tillmans, who was the first photographer and the first non-Brit to win the prestigious Turner Prize (2000), brought his investigation of the world through photography to London’s Serpentine Gallery this past summer. His work is currently on display at Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery (through December 12, 2010) and at Galerie Daniel Buchholz in Berlin (through December 11, 2010). He is also included in an excellent survey of contemporary British art in Nottingham Contemporary’s “British Art Show 7: In the Days of the Comet” (through January 9, 2011). The most important contributors to contemporary creativity are those, like Waters and Tillmans, who experiment in many directions at once and weave disparate modes of thinking and viewing into high quality quilted...

Inquisition of Conrad Black...

By Randy Gladman Mexican beer company Dos Equis recently ran a wonderful advertising campaign, presenting “The Most Interesting Man in the World”. In these radio and television spots, a dignified, slightly accented, well-dressed, rough yet sophisticated man is described in impossibly exciting detail. “The police often question him, just because they find him interesting. His blood smells like cologne. His personality is so magnetic he is unable to carry credit cards. Even his enemies list him as their emergency contact number. He never says something tastes like chicken, not even chicken. People hang on his every word, even the prepositions. He can speak French, in Russian. He is the most interesting man in the world.” A cursory glance at the life of Conrad Black could lead one to believe that he was one inspiration for the complex character in these clever advertisements. One of the last true Renaissance men, Montreal-born Conrad Black, aka Baron Black of Crossharbour, has experienced high highs and low lows throughout his illustrious life. As head of Hollinger International, the company that published hundreds of newspapers worldwide including The Daily Telegraph (UK), Jerusalem Post, and Chicago Sun Times, Black held the post of third largest newspaper magnate in the world. Through his ownership of various holding companies, he was involved in many industries including the manufacture of farm equipment, mining, and broadcasting. Perhaps his most lasting creative effort to date was the development of Canada’s daily National Post, a newspaper he launched in 1998. For most of his life, Black lived a life of luxury and was rated in 2003 as one of the 250 wealthiest people in Britain, where he was raised to the peerage by Queen Elizabeth II who knighted him with a membership in the British House...

Rewind: Dalek

By Randy Gladman Dalek’s first solo exhibition in Canada introduced Toronto audiences to a Brooklyn-based member of a large underground urban art movement that is attracting attention in New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo. While the group is still effectively unnamed, the members of this loose affiliation—Shepard Fairey, KAWS, Twist (Barry McGee), Phil Frost, Evan Hecox, Ryan McGinness and others—have exhibited together on many occasions, including in the recent “Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art and Street Culture” exhibition at Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center. Dalek, whose real name is James Marshall, is a prominent member. His work, even spray-painted on the sides of buildings, is reminiscent of both historical and contemporary Japanese art. The artist once worked in the studio of Takashi Murakami, and the Pop master’s “Superflat” aesthetic is clearly evident in Dalek’s pieces. Like ancient Japanese scroll paintings, his works always move from right to left, and their humour and quirky violence are comparable to that found in Japanime. Every piece Dalek paints tells a tale about a character he calls a Space Monkey. Often there is more than one of these creatures in the picture plane, each one focused on carrying out some demented, obscure mission. They execute their destructive tasks with glee as they fly through two-dimensional, Super Mario Bros.-like spaces. The glory of Dalek is in the attention he pays to the details. Every punk-rock song sounds the same to someone who dislikes punk, but to a true punk fan the small differences are the sites of the purest creativity. Like a snowflake, every Dalek piece is one of a kind, its essence contained in the minor variations on the theme. Each work seems machine-made in its plastic perfection; only upon very close inspection do traces of the artist’s hand in...

Matt Bahen at Moore Gallery...

By Randy Gladman One of the strange and disappointing characteristics of the Toronto art scene is the way our local and national art critics have a knack of missing important exhibitions. In 2004, Artcore/Fabrice Marcolini, hosted a museum quality posthumous exhibition of the work of Joseph Beuys, marking the twentieth anniversary of that legendary German conceptual artist’s Difesa della Natura project. While New York City-based Artforum.com offered a glowing “Critic’s Pick” review, the Toronto contingent of critics more or less totally neglected to cover this exhibition of works by one of the most important (if challenging) artists of the twentieth century. One of the only reviews was NOW Magazine’s blathering piece that may have caught the show but missed the point entirely. This article wished more explanatory information would have been provided (and lamely suggested viewers spend a night in advance doing library research) yet neglected to mention that an excellent catalogue providing an intelligent backgrounder on the artist and the series of works was published for the show. The astigmatism of Toronto art criticism-at-large was revealed again recently when Matt Bahen’s “Run with the Hunted” exhibition of paintings at Moore Gallery was all but ignored in our local press. Though I am writing this blog posting on April 27 and it is still possible that press-delayed publications like Canadian Art will offer reviews, the fact that the dailies and weeklies seem not to have noticed this show says so much more about their critical abilities than it does about the show itself. Those who saw it will consider this exhibition one of the best painting shows of the year. Bahen paints like no one else in Toronto. He modernizes classical impasto handling and earthy palettes by interpreting the catastrophes of twenty first-century societal...

Viet Art Forum Interview...

The important Vietnamese contemporary art blog Viet Art Forum, based in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), interviewed Randy Gladman via email in March 2009.  Viet Art Forum seeks to educate Vietnamese artists on how to promote their careers internationally. PHỎNG VẤN: An Interview with Art Critic and Curator Randy Gladman, by Marc Djandji As I mentioned before, one of my projects for VietArt Forum this year is to conduct interviews with local and international artists as well as other key players in the arts scene.  Randy Gladman is an art curator, critic and consultant based in Toronto, Canada. 1. How and why did you become a curator/critic? I have always had an interest in visual art. I was always very creative when I was growing up and have had exhibitions of my own paintings. But I realized I understood art much better than I could make it myself. I did a Master’s degree in art history at New York University. I started working with contemporary artists at a company called Mixed Greens around that time and began writing about contemporary art for many magazines. I have been working as an advisor to artists and collectors as well as publishing articles and curating exhibitions ever since. 2. How did you learn your trade? I learned my trade at MixedGreens.com back in the early 2000s when it was more of an artist management company than the art gallery it is today. I managed 6 artists, much the same way an agent/manager works with authors or actors. We curated many exhibitions in our space and around the United States and that taught me the skills of curating. I began doing independent projects in 2003. I learned to write about art by having opinions and expressing them in...