The Easel

20th April 2021

The Swirl of History

The writer greatly admires Mehretu’s retrospective but what is he seeing? She has developed a distinct visual language, of city grid patterns – and more recently photos – overlaid with “ink-and-acrylic swirl storms”. These works, gorgeous, strikingly original and complex, achieve a “fusion of historic sweep and minute human drama [that] is stunning”. Mehretu, he states, is “the most exciting visual artist of our time”.

Yayoi Kusama’s Pumpkins and Polka Dots Have Officially Taken Over the New York Botanical Garden

Will this be New York’s most welcomed show of the year? Kusama’s work is immensely popular. Even so, her works will surely gain something extra from being shown in a springtime garden. It’s not a cerebral art event but, as a sensory experience, it could be right up there. As Kusama advises “Become one with eternity. Obliterate your personality. Become part of your environment.” A video is here.

Dawoud Bey on 6 photos that have pushed his work forward

The deluge of interviews, now that Bey’s retrospective is in New York, are mostly spoiled by inane questions. It’s more interesting when Bey talks about his favourite images.  Of one, “even the warm-brown backdrop … related to what I found interesting about Rembrandt. With these two I like their style and how they are performing coolness for the camera. I think the human community always wants to be in conversation with its own image.”

13th April 2021

Curator Laura Hoptman Reflects on Meeting Artist David Hammons and Organizing New Show at Drawing Center, the First Museum Exhibition Dedicated to His Body Prints

Despite being personally reticent and his work being enigmatic, Hammons is “America’s most important living artist”. The virtue of the linked piece is that it addresses a new show of his iconic body prints. An overview of his work argues that these body prints communicate a sense of black “vanishment”. Hammons has subsequently addressed “blackness” less directly – his art is still about black identity, but “blackness is both everywhere and nowhere”.