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Eleanor Anderson, Hello Yellow, Industrial felt, hand and machine embroidery, beading, knitting, and weaving, 63 x 41", 2024

July 13, 2024 By Alex Vlasov

I love the sunshine on the wall, the green leaves against the blue sky, and feeling the hot wind on my face. I sat outside, enjoying the warm bites of summer. Behind those neat, monotonous buildings of America, the morning sky spangled and I squinted my eyes against the light. The noise of sirens appeared briefly in my ears, but the experience of it remained on my mind for a while. Perhaps it is just me who is thinking about music and art all the time in the culture of shopping malls. But there is something about the experience that comes out of our perception. Art does not happen out of nowhere, just as beauty does not happen out of nowhere either. The experience of art and beauty that Eleanor Anderson originates with her show Irregular Around the Margins at Abattoir Gallery in Cleveland, comes from the inventiveness of formal structures that will remain on the viewer’s mind forever.

Norman Rockwell, The Young Lady with the Shiner, Oil on canvas, 34 x 30", 1953

July 5, 2024 By Alex Vlasov

I guess there is nothing wrong with being a parent, but meanings do not stick to works of art. This claritas of “enough is enough” came to me a couple of weeks ago when I went to see the Whitney Biennial. As I staggered around multiple floors of the Whitney among the melee of tourists, I thanked the gods of art that I am not a part of this pilgrimage which functions in loco parentis. Once you are inside the institution, everything is regulated and explained. This cacophony, believe it or not, is dreary and no fun. Who wants to read paragraphs of boring didactics that explain everything: what an art piece is about, what it is against, what you should eat, and even when you should pee. The conspiracy to explain and poke the viewer’s nose into a specific edu-speak promises only a dystopian future.  

Christopher Wool: See Stop Run, 101 Greenwich St. New York. Installation view

May 24, 2024 By Alex Vlasov

I thought about Wool’s show sitting on a bench in the park. I thought about how I could connect the artist’s work to art history, describe the majority of works in the show, then go on with scholarly speculations, cite a bouillabaisse of smart French philosophers with their long intellectual quotes, and even give him a critique. But this multihued mist is what everybody else does these days. This paradigm, with its politesse, is like junk mail. I don’t know about yours, but my mailbox is full of this junk. Right here in the US of A, art criticism in Artforum or Hyperallergic is hegemonic, and I would only delude you if I say that they know something about art and its raison d'être. Art, unlike art criticism, cannot exist as a template format. Because it tells us something new each time we encounter it. So, I am sorry if you are looking for a description of objects in the show, what they reminded me of, or a quote from Jacques Derrida. No offense, but I am not a schlimazel who writes for Art in America. SEE the show for yourself, STOP to think about the Wool’s oeuvre, and RUN the fuck out of Manhattan because it is not the ‘70s in New York, and good art is rare to find. 

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Daniel Graham Loxton. Portrait by Salem Hilal

March 11, 2024 Painter's Tape

I first met Daniel Graham Loxton about two years ago in Cleveland. Seeing his work and chatting with him was a blast. All the time after, we stayed connected online. Periodically talking about Jonathan Lasker, Peter Acheson, painting, and Loxton’s work or mine. His words often have an aphoristic quality, his vocabulary is rich, and he is always in search of something deeper than a practical response. Alluring stories and descriptions of Loxton amass like brushstrokes on his picture planes. Loxton’s remarkable candor opens up a range of topics essential to painting, such as love or beauty. I can’t wait to see Dan and his work in person again. 

-Alex Vlasov

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John W. Carlson, Interior, Ink on paper, 20 x 30", 2016 Courtesy of SHED Projects

February 29, 2024 By Alex Vlasov

Like it or not, SHED Projects, which opened its doors to the Cleveland art scene less than a year ago, is the most notable art space in town. I find it difficult to keep in mind that a one-night event with a single painting is still possible in the contemporary culture of consumption. Recent world events sting me, and it is hard to believe in the magical power of art. On a Saturday evening, a single painting of John W. Carlson at SHED Projects was like a beautiful cloud that just happened to be there. It appeared for a moment, and then it disappeared. 

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Joseph Beuys, I Like America and America Likes Me, 1974 © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, Germany

February 23, 2024 By Alex Vlasov

My goal here is to point out the problem. The fetishized character of bureaucracy in today’s artworld is something that needs to be addressed. Otherwise, all those little schmoozes at the openings will cover up the facts, and art will remain nothing more than decorative fodder. Or visual Muzak, if you might, in Joseph Kosuth’s words. But I do not need to quote anyone or use a few scholarly footnotes in Chicago Style that make me look smart in the eyes of a magazine editor who publishes standardized articles in slick ink. I write for my friends and colleagues in the field to have a discourse.

Photo by Alex Vlasov

February 12, 2024 By Alex Vlasov

This story begins when I got sober, packed my bags, and left New York. I almost knew nothing about art history or painting upon entering art school. I reveled in the bravura moments of stretching canvas and mixing paint. My education in Painting was paramount. I belonged to something for the first time in my life. Nothing was more exciting than talking about color, form, mark, space, noise, Abstraction. We read Kosuth, Sillman, Plato, Schjeldahl, Graw, Sontag, Danto, Barthes, hooks, Derrida. We went to coffee shops and talked about morphologies, centripetal and centrifugal grids, plane images, atemporality, varnishes, rabbit skin glue, and GAC 200. 

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Catherine Lentini, Night Vision II, Acrylic on canvas, 30 x 44", 2023

February 5, 2024 By Alex Vlasov

To connect Catherine Lentini’s paintings with the figures of the Op Art movement (Julian Stanczak, Richard Anuszkiewicz, et al.) or people related to the so-called “Systemic” painting (Frank Stella, Al Held, Ellsworth Kelly, et al.) might be too provincial. For someone, I imagine, that could be a paradigm shift. Of course, the connection is there, but Lentini’s work has its foundations that correlate to the development of Abstraction. And that has nothing to do with the famous boys club from the 60s. Lentini’s oeuvre deals with something more than formal concerns. Like in the cases of Robert Delauney or Paul Klee, the artist’s goal is in vision itself. “What you see is what you see,” Stella famously proclaimed. In Lentini’s work, the question is how you see what you see. The enigma of visibility is what the artist is after. 

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