Saturday, May 22, 2010

warm swell

"We had intended if it were a pleasant day to go to the country it was a very beautiful day and we carried out our intention # 47”
Pencil, watercolor, gouache, cut-and-pasted paper on handmade paper

22" x 30"
© Cyrilla Mozenter

I have been trying to get current with art on exhibit in New York. Last Thursday I visited three very different venues. My first stop was at the Drawing Center to see Live & Die Like a Lion?, the late drawings of Leon Golub. I have always admired Golub’s work. As a political provocateur, Golub somehow managed to articulate the brutalities of war and power with masterful and luxurious paint. His paintings can lure you in and bludgeon you in one fell stroke. Seeing the politically charged artist so overtly concerned with his late-in-life virility left me bereft.

My next stop was the 2010 Whitney Biennial. Though I have ardently studied previous catalogues this was my first opportunity to see the Biennial live and in person. With the exception The Bruce High Quality Foundation, Charles Ray, Nina Berman, Theaster Gates, and Kate Gilmore, I was again disappointed. However, the show is dense and I am still processing it. I plan to return and reassess.

I had one final stop and that was at Adam Baumgold Gallery to see Warm Snow by artist Cyrilla Mozenter. It was unseasonably warm and humid that day and I felt tired, crabby and grimy. However, when I entered the diminutive yet elegant gallery, the temperature seemed to drop twenty degrees.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I know Mozenter personally. She was my MFA Thesis advisor. I admire both the artist and her work. Because I prefer to write about work that I like, I feel no loss of objectivity here. In fact, it’s harder to write about the work of someone you know.

Mozenter has been working for some time with industrial felt, hand-stitched and molded together to create two and three-dimensional works. The material recalls Joseph Beuys’ use of felt and his invoked mythology. Certainly mythology is present here. Yet there is a less Teutonic side to Mozenter’s mythology that I can only describe as enchantment. At the same time, a series of felt vessels suggest both the Holy Grail and a fancy ice cream dish. This show includes her recent series Polar Bear Pass VI. Throughout many cultures the bear inhabits a fabled station, particular and varied. Here there is the sense of great strength, warmth, and protection.

A number of works on paper are also included in Warm Snow. I have always been drawn to artists that appear to possess a secret language. Two works suggest that this might be the case with Mozenter.  We had Intended..., pictured above, is faintly inscribed with the words: bear, boat, mitten, cave, boot and castle. I don’t need to know why these words are here, but they are satisfying. Another work, Slow Wide Turn, suggests cautionary instructions that cross one’s mind when approaching a turn on either a snowy road, or indeed, in life.

Warm Snow will remain on view at Adam Baumgold, 40 E. 75th Street, through June 26, 2010.

No comments:

Post a Comment