Exhibition of recent drawings, collage and video during the month of November, 2015 at Saguão Espaço Experimental, in Viseu, Portugal (with single drawing exhibited at the “satellite” space at Carmo ’81).
Steven Barich’s art practice employs themes and/or rules to directly guide the outcome of the image/object—such that can be described with the words: irrational, negative mass, impossible structure, broken-into-one. The forms manifest in drawing, collage, video and sculpture, commonly presented side-by-side in a single exhibition. The particular artworks in this exhibition are exercises exploring some of these themes, in the revitalization of a studio practice that lay dormant in recent years.
Barich is an American-born artist now living in Portugal in the rural landscape of the Dão valley. He received a MFA from Mills College (2001; USA) and a BFA from the California College of the Arts (1997; USA). Exhibitions include solo shows at Branch Gallery (USA), Rowan Morrison Gallery (USA) and The Compound Gallery (USA), as well as group exhibitions at Southern Exposure (USA), The Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (USA), the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen (NL), TENT Center for Contemporary Art (NL) and Curators without Borders (D).
And these are the fruits of boredom, just think. Candle its work for nothing’s lost in a long day Labor where the leaf leaved off handsome
– Julien Poirier, from the poemBaies Roses
(a) Mind Piece was originally titled A Thing Is A Hole In A Thing It Is Not (after Carl Andre), but as the process of drawing and being involved in the exhibition Working Conditions @ Southern Exposure unfolded, a certain piece-of-mind was reached within that same process, and it seemed altogether more relevant to re-title the work after it was completed.
The below Gallery contains some images from during the process. Below that is a statement related to the process, and a video related to the project itself, Working Conditions.
A Thing Is A Hole In A Thing It Is Not (after Carl Andre) is a visual metaphor for the conditions and limitations of a particular artistic process: a desire to begin at one point and carefully, consciously and with patience arrive at the end point (completion)…an underlying, self-imposed challenge by the artist. Barich’s on-site drawing gradually reveals his image making method from start to finish, structured specifically to unfold during the entire length of the exhibition. The drawing begins with a fragmented shape that is an interpretation of the group conditions of working in an open gallery environment—a situation unlike the artist’s developed studio practice. From this starting point, Barich works to absorb the initial condition, to bring it into order by overlaying a perfect circle of mosaic patterning as feedback to the exhibition environment.
Through sculpture and highly detailed large-scale drawings, Steven Barich depicts visual patterns, codes and text born of our contemporary digital age, and set within and among forms appreciated for their naturalistic authenticity, their spiritual references or aesthetic purity. Ranging from abstraction to anonymous silhouettes, drawings often depict pixel-mosaic-filled stone forms on paper. In addition the wall sculpture incorporates geometric patterns, symbols and coded writing from both analog or virtual sources.
…a traveler’s fictional account of place—space and time—of digital worlds and dreams….
This body of work was produced between 2005–06 (Rotterdam, NL and California, USA). A major selection of this work was exhibited at 21 Grand Gallery in Oakland, California in 2006.
From The Constant Traveler…
“And after that, the viewer will vanish into the view.” – Alan Watts
The aim of this body of artwork is to create windows and doorways, namely frames, onto abstracted and other-worldly panoramas. Viewing the artworks in this series demands a competence in navigating or orienteering through the fictional “scenery,” much like cognitive mapping or mental mapping. Links are also made to the psychology of perception, particularly to fixed-point perspective, virtual environments (both in reference to digital worlds and dreams) and viewer positioning. The images suggest scenery and movements by way of an abstract geometry of outlines and a flattening of perspective, and that time-space-motion is compressed into a single moment, where the landscape or interior is also to be “read” up and down, as opposed to always front to back.
At the periphery exist portraits, small mirrors as keys to unlock the relationship between viewer and landscape/interior—emotional relationships to distance, separation and the individuals progress through the journey…
The images contain a certain spatial disjuncture. They are constellations composed of mnemonic and personal associations. Within the process of mental mapping, a wandering through the mind-scape, the image of a space becomes explicitly individual and experiential rather than social or conventional. Distances are relative and flexible; scale corresponds not to actual size but to the importance of the place to the subject—a monochrome vision of a mechanically produced, meditative Paradise.
These are recent, chimeric artworks on paper. The dimensions of the work vary from small and intimate to grand in scale, as within my set of rules I create the small paintings to draw the viewer in, while the large scale paintings envelope the viewer, absorbing the viewer’s view.
Taking into account the reality of flatness on the paper’s plane, I am using certain techniques to infer layers, perspective and dimension. By combining rules of perspective drawing, multiple layers of different tonal black paint and applied glazes to the painting image, a drawing/painting emerges through a method of construction not unlike building a sculptural form. With this feeling towards the work, that I am building imagery as if I would build a sculpture or stage set, I aim to give the work a status of object, as much as a status of pure image.
Throughout the city WANTED posters have appeared in the search for a young artist named S.R. Kucharski. This artist is wanted for all types of trespasses: visual terrorism, image propaganda, bribing curators and gallery owners to further his career, as well as for inviting passersby to enter their own imagined description of what this artist has done. It is also requested that any sightings of this artist be reported to a listed toll-free number. The posters ask what one person could be truly wanted for, and also ask the public to participate and conspire to catch one single individual.
This project dares to ask, “What makes an artist (or any individual) famous?” Is it his trespasses against what is considered Art, and therefore expected of from art makers? Is it being “criminal” against the art establishment, against society? If you are a graffiti artist, for example, are you trespassing with illegal image making activities (society), or are you trespassing for making unaccepted imagery (ideas of non-art)? Is being famous dependent on someone else, in this case the idea of arts administrators pushing the artist into public consciousness, or is just simply enough to plaster images of a person and an idea into the public for mass consumption, aggressively forcing a popularity upon the artist?
The project sets up contradictions, as well as dilemmas: in the case of S.R. Kucharski, he is both wanted in a negative way for disturbing the arts establishment and precisely for this disturbance, because he is causing trouble (or the idea of it), and everyone likes a good show. People like a bad boy, now and then. He is concurrently wanted for serious crimes and then the most ridiculous things, for example: visual terrorism and forgetfulness combined. And, what is visual terrorism? Could it be printing a poster, and of himself of all things, and then posting this image all over one city in the name of art? This project also touches on our interpretations of an individual simply by his appearance: in the case of S.R. Kucharski, his picture relates more to a mug shot or police file than to a press photo. If someone fits a visual profile for criminality, would you have the ability to not consider him dangerous? Do you passively walk-on-by this warning in poster form, or do you aggressively involve yourself within the capture?
Open Issues is a zine dedicated to fostering discussions with artists, about art/culture/society, recorded within one hours time. It is a collection of conversations, partially based on the artist’s work, but also on themes, with an idea to put all the interviews together, showing the different voices, but maybe also showing that they share some same perspective, and that these methods and creative processes are things I think are important to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, as well as important to all artists in relation to contemporary art practice. The zine is called Open Issues, because that is how I feel about these conversations—the voices of these artists aren’t giving you any sort of answer or solutions, only showing you that there are some out there…
Open Issues number three: March-April 2006
Themes: The interior (exhibition) space used to address the exterior (social/physical) space, or vice versa; identifying and utilizing aesthetics of the exhibition space versus aestheticising the exhibition space (including “space within space” or complete denial of the exhibition space); identifying a Berlin-Rotterdam connection: how outsiders can apply a certain awareness to the contemporary issues and/or activate themselves through a place, a city.
Artists: Maarten Janssen, Lucas Lenglet, Susanne Kriemann, Bettina Carl, Christine Rusche, Jack Segbars Download Open Issues number three in PDF format.
Open Issues number two: April-May 2005
Themes: Giving it away for free—art and ideas as public property; the Mobile, Transnational and Interstellar Artist; the wish for longevity (and for one’s own work).
Artists: Harmen de Hoop, Maziar Afrassiabi, Jetske de Boer, Marc Bijl, Arend Roelink, Nicoline van Harskamp Download Open Issues number two in PDF format.
Open Issues number one: April-May 2004
Themes: Artist Duos or Teams, the Group in Art, redifining terms of the new in art practice.
Artists: Libia Pérez de Siles de Castro and Ólafur Árni Ólafsson, Bik van der Pol, Jan Adriaans, InnBetween, Wietse Eeken, Jennifer Stillwell and Amanda Ross-Ho Download Open Issues number one in PDF format.
Signature of the City for Cut for Purpose, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Feb.–Apr. 2006, Rotterdam, NL.
SIGNATURE OF THE CITY
by S.R. Kucharski
March – April 2006, Straatgalerie, Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam, Netherlands
One overlooked public project in Rotterdam is the Walk of Fame that extends from the Maritiem Museum to the Golden Tulip Hotel near the Erasmusbrug. This section of street contains a varied assortment of signatures in concrete from famous actors, musicians, artists and others (and their hand/foot prints) who have visited the city of Rotterdam and/or performed here. This “act” of recording the presence of the artist by recording their signature and embedding it in the ground is one small method of embedding importance into the relationship between Rotterdam as a city and the visual/music arts. Looked at from a reverse angle, the artists themselves become part of the city through the presence of their signature, retaining a bit of “ownership” to the city itself.
The signature of the artist, itself, has been a subject of great debate within the Twentieth Century, as the idea of the individual genius artist has given way to collaboration/group actions/anonymity, as well as mistrust in the “art star.” In this debate over the importance of the act of the signature (the defining mark…), the artist’s signature not only determines the completion of a work of art, it can also determine the works validity (i.e., is this a real Rembrandt or not?). The artist’s signature has also at times become a “living” signature, denoting a genius associated with the hand that produces the signature (i.e., Picasso signing napkins at restaurants in order to pay the tab…truth or fiction?). These issues related to the artist’s signature are all part of a post-modern debate over originality and identity, but at the heart of the debate is the relationship between artist and artwork, which proceeds the relationship of the art to the exhibition space, and the further relationship of the exhibition space to viewer. The signature, the act of signing, denotes the moment in which the art, artist, exhibition space and viewer begin upon a path of experience. The artist’s signature continues to provide a certain proof and security. At the most basic level, the signature shows “this is mine, I made this.” And, within other walks of life, the signature is what seals the contract.
It S.R. Kucharski’ intent to utilize this situation of signing/creating and placing/removing to create a “contract” between the new Straatgalerij and the Rotterdam public, to make a recording in both signature and image of the metropolitan character of a city. Under the intentions behind the initiation of the Straatgalerij (to create a new art-space that is attempting to reduce the separation between gallery/public space and inside/outside art-manifestations), the project being proposed titled Signature of the City will become a reflection of the people of the city of Rotterdam (and beyond…), as well as presenting the question: who owns this place/space, the artist, the viewer, the museum, and if the act of signing the “work of art” denotes ownership, can this place, the Straatgalerij, be a collaboration by all for all?
The action of signing and cutting-away in Signature of the City also shows an alternative aspect to the solidity of an exhibition space: making holes, giving it away for free, not keeping the viewer at a distance. The simple act of a signature becomes the first act of exchange for the Straatgalerij and the people of the city, facilitated by S.R. Kucharski in a site-specific interaction with the public within the gallery space over the duration of the exhibit Cut For Purpose.