Welcoming Allyson Boli to the Abigail Ogilvy Team!

We're excited to introduce our new Assistant Director, Allyson Boli. A graduate in Art History and Business from University of Vermont, Ally has spent the past two years working in development at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, with a focus on museum events (yes, she met Tom Brady at the Met Gala this year!). Art History has always been Ally's passion, enhanced by the semester she spent abroad in Florence giving tours in the Duomo, and two summers at a gallery in Nantucket, MA. She first got involved in museums as an education intern at the Met, and then transitioned full-time into their development team. 

A Massachusetts native, Ally is excited to be back in her home state, discovering Boston and getting to know its arts community. She is looking forward to working more closely with artists and their work, and helping clients find the perfect pieces for their collection.

Outside of the gallery, Ally loves cooking (Italian is her specialty) and playing with her chocolate lab named Miley (but not after Miley Cyrus). These are a few of her favorite things:

Contemporary Artist: Kehinde Wiley
Artist from Art History: Helen Frankenthaler
Museum: The Whitney in New York City
Movie: Woman in Gold
City to Travel To: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Band: Alabama Shakes
Current TV Addiction: Game of Thrones
Instagram on her feed: @campingwithdogs

Installation Art with Kate Holcomb Hale

Kate Holcomb Hale's installation work is an exploration of edges and the physical, biological, and psychological activity that takes place along them. Her recent series Where the Edges Meet? examines the moment one’s identity shifts as a result of loss or trauma. This series also includes her most recent work And Neither Are We. Hale, a Buffalo native, received her MFA from Maine College of Art in 2007. Her pieces are created out of charcoal, paper, acrylic paint and vinyl. We sat down with her to ask her about the practice, process, and inspiration behind her installations. 

Hale installing And Neither Are We in The Garden

Hale installing And Neither Are We in The Garden

Why did you choose to explore edges?

I explore edges because edges signify transition.  The edge of a sheet of paper is typically where a drawing or painting ends.  Rather than being an ending point for my work, the edge of the paper becomes a point of expansion in my art making practice. It is at this point (the edge) that the work transitions from the wall into space becoming more sculptural.  What is typically 2D become 3D.  Paint and charcoal applied to the walls, ceiling and floor interact and draw attention to the edges of the paper.

How does a 3-D work come together – do you design around the space in which you will exhibit? Or do you adjust to fit the space?

While each installation is initially composed in my studio, I am able to transfer my pieces to other locations.  They shift slightly as they adjust to each new space and the architecture of that space.  I used to fixate on replicating exactly what I had created in the studio.  Eventually I decided to embrace each new environment with its quirks allowing the work to adapt and conform to its architecture. I just had an installation in the National Prize Show at Cambridge Art Association and the wall I installed on wasn't as tall as the piece.  We brain-stormed about how to construct a wall or a support for the shape that was supposed to extend to the ceiling. In the end, I resolved the installation by wrapping the shape over the top of the half-wall and letting it adhere to the other side of the wall (a sneak peek of the installation before you rounded the corner).  The installation definitely changed but it was specific to that unique space and moment in time.  I'm increasing becoming more comfortable with each install resulting in a slightly different iteration of the original work.  

How did you choose which medium to work with?

Installation view of Hale's And Neither Are We in The Garden

Installation view of Hale's And Neither Are We in The Garden

I have consistently worked with paper and charcoal for quite some time.  I like the expressiveness of the mark making I can achieve with charcoal on paper.  I enjoying creating marks, erasing those marks and working back into the new forms that emerge from this additive/reductive process.  I love the dark blacks I can achieve with charcoal and how they work in contrast to the clean white of the paper.  I also use heavy paper with a lot of texture.  Once I tear into the paper the tears are thick and beautiful adding another layer to the work.

As for using vinyl in my installations that came about after a gallery asked me not paint on their walls.  Up until that point all my work included paint applied directly on the walls.  I was daunted by the prospect of coming up with a new method but then a friend suggested decal vinyl. I found that I love how the vinyl adheres to the walls and still reads as paint.  I paint on transparent vinyl so that my brushstrokes remain visible as I don't want the color to look manufactured.  In some of my works the vinyl also takes on a sculptural quality when I allow it to curl off the wall.  I've witnessed viewers lean in closer to take a second look at the paint and realize it's vinyl.  I enjoy that moment of suspension when the viewer is unsure of exactly what they are looking at. 

How long do you typically spend on a piece? 

I usually spend 2-3 months creating an installation.  I begin with a large-scale charcoal drawing which takes some time to compose.  Once the drawing is complete I begin to cut into and tear away at the edges of the paper.   I move the drawing off the wall and begin to "sculpt" the paper in space.  Once I'm satisfied with its form and placement, I add charcoal and paint to expand the work beyond the paper.  Finally, I consider the lighting as the shadows add another dimension to the work.  

Hands Held Loosely Closely Charcoal, paper, acrylic paint 110 x 70 x 55 in. September 2016

Hands Held Loosely Closely
Charcoal, paper, acrylic paint
110 x 70 x 55 in.
September 2016

Who inspires you?

I see my installations as rejecting traditional boundaries of drawing and painting.  I'm moving my drawings off the wall in an attempt to engage space and merge material with architecture.  As a result I am inspired by painters, sculptors and installation artists.  Such artists include Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Motherwell, Lee Bontecou, Eva Hesse, Sarah Sze, Judy Pfaff, Amy Sillman, Mona Hatoum, Doris Salcedo, Annette Messenger and Anne Truitt.

What two artists would you like to be compared to and why?

I'd like people to say my work is in dialogue with the paintings of Helen Frankenthaler.  I admire the attention Frankenthaler gives the edge of the canvas and her use of negative space.  These are elements I'm also considering when I'm creating my installations.  I'd love for people to see my work in dialogue with the work of Judy Pfaff because of her use of space and color.  While her works are larger in scale and more complex, I am inspired by her installations as they push me to think bigger and explore new materials.  

 

 

Artist Spotlight: Lavaughan Jenkins

“Two days ago, Philip Guston was in my dream,” Lavaughan Jenkins says, sitting in his studio surrounded by hollow-eyed figures and faceless paintings. What at first looks like sculpture are Jenkins' three-dimensional paintings, in various states of completion: thick, multicolored brush strokes smeared and built up to form an army of men that vaguely resemble the artist. They seem to be watching, listening intently to his words. “He said: ‘The first duty of an artist is to be free.’ That’s what I remembered from the dream. The more I thought about it, it went back to the borders. So I eliminated them. There would be no edges, there’s no side that tells you to stop.”

Despite his recent departure from the two-dimensional realm, Lavaughan Jenkins considers himself to be a painter, through and through. This is not something he foresaw or pursued growing up, but rather an inevitability revealed to him in his early twenties, while he was pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in literature. A professor recommended him for MassArt’s BFA program, where he was accepted without even applying. From then, Jenkins cultivated a long relationship with painting—one that he challenges and redefines with each piece.

Painting in the Third Dimension

Ubiquitous in all of Jenkins' work is the generous application of paint, with texture that charts every path his brush takes along the canvas. The thicker he painted, the more fascinated he became with how three-dimensionally he could build his paintings. Knowing that a transition was imminent, he spent several weeks studying in a ceramics studio, working with clay and testing how painterly gestures and mark-making would translate to the three dimensional realm. He then applied those techniques to oil paint—lots of it.

Works in progress

Works in progress

Jenkins begins each piece with a skeleton of wire and molding paste, and then applies four or five dense layers of oil paint to flesh them out. He employs techniques of Hudson River School painters and Jackson Pollock, focusing on light and color, mapping a journey for the eye takes across the surface. He takes emphasis away from the form, and uses traditional methods like glazing to build layer after layer of dense, vibrant brush strokes.

When Jenkins moved from making busts to standing figures, he was able to expand his technique. He could extend and modify each stroke, preserving a balance in mark-making that traditional paintings carry. He distorts the figures using paint, playing with light and value to create the optical illusions of two-dimensional paintings.

The consequence of working with such a magnitude of oil paint is in its pacing—each piece takes so long to dry between layers, it is impossible to work on one continuously. Thus, Jenkins works on multiple pieces simultaneously, sometimes he making several variations of the same figure, exploring the different directions each choice in his process takes him.

The Onlookers

One of the most striking aspects of Jenkins’ portraits and figures are their large, cartoonish eyes. In work that is all about observation and remembrance, they are the most essential feature.

These images trace back to Goya and Guston. Jenkins feels particularly drawn to the crowds and onlookers of Goya’s black paintings, observing the spectacle at the forefront of each scene. Their dark, vacuous eyes reflect the grim emotional content of the work. For Jenkins, the true grotesqueness of “Saturn Devouring His Son” is not in gory image of the child’s torn body, but in Saturn’s savage eyes. Jenkins feels the same intensity in Guston’s hooded characters with slits for eyes. This simple image speaks volumes about the turmoil Guston witnessed in the South and California during his lifetime, and reminds Jenkins of the emotional weight a single stroke can have.

In 2014, Jenkins read Man Walks into a Room, award-winning author Nicole Krauss’s first novel. He was drawn particularly to “memory doctor” characters in Man Walks into a Room: they observe others’ memories and retell them so they wouldn’t be forgotten. Jenkins sees his work as a form of retelling his past experiences. He is drawn to the idea of wanting to recover things lost, a driving force for the protagonist of Krauss’ novel.

Combining his literary inspiration with his artistic influences, Jenkins paints, in the peripheries of every recent painting, self-portraits with round, empty eyes set in expressive faces. Invoking theater and Romantic landscapes, they sit in the foreground of each piece, giving the image a sense of depth as well as a stage. They are the narrators, the storytellers, the “memory doctors” observing and reacting to his recollections as people from his life play parts in his work.

What they all have in common is a bundle of white at their midriffs, swallowing their forearms. Jenkins identifies these as the A-shirts that were worn like a uniform in his hometown in Florida. It acts as a historical reminder of where he is from, a piece of his past that remains in his present and will follow him into the future. They are an important aspect of his identity, and therefore integral to the identities of these figures that observe and analyze his memories.

The Perfect Model

Jenkins plans to continue these three-dimensional paintings for some time, but has not abandoned the second dimension altogether. When he does return to paper and canvas, he will do so with more insight into his medium, informed by his explorations in the third dimension. For his next project, he intends to pose these figures and paint them in the second dimension.

“I have the perfect model now,” Jenkins says, surveying the assembly of three-dimensional paintings awaiting instruction. “They have a whole life of their own now.”

The figures gaze back in silent agreement.

Lavaughan Jenkins in his Roxbury studio

Lavaughan Jenkins in his Roxbury studio

 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017: Puloma Ghosh

The Whitney Biennial

The Whitney | Courtesy of The Whitney

The Whitney | Courtesy of The Whitney

The seventy-eighth installment of the Whitney Biennial has finally arrived at the museums new location in the Meatpacking District in New York City. The exhibition includes sixty-three participating artists which together provide a complete gamut of mediums ranging from painting, installation, performance, film, video game design, sculpture and much more. The participants were carefully selected by the Biennial’s co-curators, Christopher Lew and Mia Locks.

 The Whitney Biennial put a stamp on this moment in history and invites its viewers to be a part of it. Sixty-three artists display their interpretation and mood on inequality, social structure, political climate and racial violence. The exhibition challenges and pushes viewers to create a relevant dialog to these times. Questions of self-identity come to mind while walking through the exhibition. Standing in a room packed full of concept driven works among such a cultural diverse group of people makes you ask yourself; What part do I play in all this? It’s easy to feel alienated from artwork. That little grey piece of tape separating you from the work. Allowing yourself to feel like it doesn’t represent you or the state you live in is a simple way to push the artists concept aside. Participation is important while viewing the Whitney Biennial.

 

 Dana Schutz Elevator, 2017. Photo by Henri Neuendorf.

 Dana Schutz Elevator, 2017. Photo by Henri Neuendorf.

After arriving and getting your ticket scanned, you are directed into a large-scale elevator with as many people that can fit. When the doors open to the fifth floor, you are greeted with a Dana Schutz painting approximately as large as the elevator you are stepping out of. The painting depicts a group of people and large insects packed in an elevator. It was truly comical and an unexpected surprise to be experiencing something that you and everyone around you is suddenly relating to.

 

The initial walk through is exciting, creating an overwhelming feeling of not having enough eyes. Robotics, installations, films hidden around several corners, interactive pieces and of course, paintings. Knowing nearly all these works deserve time and attention is overwhelming. It became clear that galleries with particularly heavy content were often complimented by galleries that relieve you of possible heart ache or anxiety.

Asad Raza. Root Sequence, Mother Tongue, 2017. Photo by Henri Neuendorf.

Asad Raza. Root Sequence, Mother Tongue, 2017. Photo by Henri Neuendorf.

Jordan Wolfson’s virtual-reality installation Real Violence has been reported to be shocking and horrifying. The VR piece displays a person getting brutally beaten with a baseball bat in broad daylight on a city street. I personally chose to forgo this piece, but I understand why it is followed by Asad Raza’s Root Sequence, Mother Tongue.

One room I found particularly compelling was on the sixth floor. Deana Lawson and Henry Taylor work together to bring us one of the most cohesive rooms in the Biennial. Large-scale paintings by Henry Taylor depict black history, life, and injustice. Taylor’s paintings are complimented by Lawson’s staged photographs. Her subjects and context extend pieces reminiscent of family photographs. This room brought a little bit of clarity to my question; What part do I play in all this? Lawson and Taylor built a bridge, inviting their viewers who may not have experienced such injustice and hardship to relate and sympathize with people who have.

Photo courtesy of Matthew Carasella

Photo courtesy of Matthew Carasella

Curators Christopher Lew and Mia Locks made a choice to only include living artists. The lack of purely aesthetic art is telling of the 2017 biennial. Living in the height of historical turmoil, these artists have utilized their platform. They have sought to connect people through their work by addressing the real issues this country is facing today. That in itself left me feeling optimistic about the future of art.

 

Thursday, April 27, 2017: Renee Cullivan