Zhang Peng Red No. 3, 2007

First Art-Aspen Brings Internationals

August 6–Art Dealer  (and author) James Barron of Rome and New York brought Sol LeWitt fiberglass sculptures to Art-Aspen — the modernist to contemporary art fair  that had its debut run at Aspen Ice Garden Aug 6-8.

These LeWitts were first and last publicly sighted at Margo Leavin in Los Angeles, at an exhibit, Splotches and Gouaches, shown Dec. 2005-Jan. 2006. Barrons LeWitt display reminded some fair visitors of mountain ranges, while others saw big molars .

Sol Lewitt, "Splotch #19"

Sol Lewitt, "Splotch #19" 2005 Fiberglass 68 x 68 x 68 inches

So if LeWitt splotches will make a statement in the bright Aspen winter, its a connection that also goes to L.A. and Santa Fe. LeWitt had his last L.A. show at Leaven. He had his first L.A. show at Virginia Dwans Dwan Galleries in 1966. Dwan and LeWitt enjoyed a 40 year friendship. I was lucky one December to be with Dwan in her westside Manhattan living room, as she got up and standing next to her LeWitt, as tall as she is, recited a gorgeous piece of history.

LeWitt died April 2007 in Connecticut. Read what you will about geometry or poetic geomancy and invented sign vocabularies, LeWitt was singular and brilliant, with wall-wrapping eye dazzlers, green that sings a cappella, and instructions that came in plain black-and-white.  And gray. You can see a LeWitt wall drawing a long ways off for the carnival colors and line. But part of the making is the doing — and so, as a “founder” of Conceptual and Minimal art,  LeWitts art work was not the thing only but the instructions for how to “execute,” which could make you the artist 2 or 532 of Wall Drawing Number -. When I taught issues in contemporary art in Santa Fe I could go to the documents of contemporary art and find his theorems. He told Michael Kimmelman: “A life in art is an unimaginable and unpredictable experience.”
It seems from these late works that he was perhaps finding the peaks slippery.

(Barron the art dealer lives in Rome and New York, like LeWitt did. He once worked at Knoedler. He has written popular bestsellers and blogs.)

Zhang Pengs "Goldfish" at Eli Klein

Zhang Peng's "Goldfish" at Eli Klein

Eli Klein of New York and Beijing showed contemporary Chinese photography in Aspen, including Zhang Pengs eerie red-and-black dominated C prints in which a very small girl-doll bathes in a tub of crimson red liquid, brandishes a knife near beheaded goldfish near (on?!) a birthday cake. Then, is that her sitting amid a sheaf of arrows, a creature who like a Chinese Lady Kaede plays child shaman or childhood as the violent sacrifice that it appears. “The appearances of my figures drift between real people and dolls. While the image is aesthetic, I also want to reinforce the strong sense of distortion,”  the artist has said.

Meanwhile, color-saturated pictorialism remained alive and well in flower paintings by David Bates from Dallas where Dunn and Brown Contemporary also previewed the show with inky tall aspen groves from Helen Altman.

Nic Nicosia "Untitled #14" 2007

Nic Nicosia "Untitled #14" 2007. Archival Inkjet on Somerset Watercolor Paper 33"x48'

But its picture making — that interview that drawings and photographs are conducting with each other — that Nic Nicosia explores even as his nimble work keeps changing the shape of the inquiry. He is represented by longtime dealers Dunn and Brown Dallas as well as James Kelly in Santa Fe. With his inclusion this summer in the Julie Saul exhibiton, The Pencil of Nature, in Manhattans Chelsea, about where drawing and photograping are meetingm Nicosia has had much to say.
I am starting an unverified rumor about this but I wonder if Michael Rosenfeld Fine Art brought to Aspen work he had hosted at his New York space from “Surrealism in America,” including rarely seen Seymour Lipton sculptures and Pavel Tlelitchew paintings? I was riffling through that virtual exhibition really enjoying it. And Marilyn Minter, who was artist honoree of choice at the three-day ArtCrush fundraiser for Aspen Art Museum, is also somebody who is proving to be hot in the region, with collectors Michael and Jeanne Klein of Austin and Santa Fe having recently committed to give Crystal Swallow to the Blanton.

(Top photo: Zhang Peng Red No. 3, 2007 C-Print 49 5/8 x 118 1/8 inches h: 126 x w: 300 cm)

Write us your thoughts about this post. Play nice.
  1. Vilis Inde says:

    How many photographs of dolls do we really need? The next question is how many photographs of model architecture – to look real or semi-real do we need? Or how about the girl in the prom dress in the field or standing on an empty country highway? Nicosia looks like he’s trying to take photography to a new place. Were Peng’s photographs worthy of mention in this review? Nothing better?