Tag Archives: chelsea


For its opening on Thursday the Friedman Benda Gallery has been turned into a place of worship. Or so it seems.

Korean artist Byung Hoon Choi shows his most monumental work till date. His basalt sculptures look like signs or symbols, rather than…benches. The already thin line between practical design and pure art of his earlier work (art furniture) seems to have been erased completely, in one stroke.

Choi achieves a delicate balance between opposites. The rough and the polished melt together. The sculptures’ sinuous forms could definitely refer to the basalt’s liquid form as lava thousands and thousands of years ago.

The benches are graphical, as if written by hand, in one brushstroke. It is not clear if the accompanying brush paintings are preliminary studies for the sculptures, but they clearly show the (calli)graphic intention of the sculptor.

Some sculptures are dark and primitive, while others are light and modern. The way the exhibition is lit up only enhances this duality: one room is a white box with overall bright light, two other rooms are kept darker and focus more on the sculptures with spotlights.

Throughout the rooms there’s a feeling of tension between minimal lightness and a more dramatic sense of boldness.

Already because of their unconventional shape, it must be fun to sit on these benches. But I think I’d rather sit on the grass and watch how these sculptures write their presence against the landscape.


IN ONE STROKE / Byung Hoon Choi – Friedman Benda Gallery, Chelsea New York City

OPENING Thursday February 27 – through March 29, 2014


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At its 21st Street location, the Gagosian Gallery is filled up completely by this single new piece by Richard Serra.

It shows the artist’s familiar style of undulating steel plates, like the permanent collection at the Guggenheim in Bilbao and Dia:Beacon in New York.

The curves of the plates allow them to stand freely. The first approach is to walk around it. The impact is of massive substance.

Like in all his monumental work, Serra is inviting the visitor to enter his sculptures. Two narrow corridors between two plates lead to three circular inner chambers. The changing angles of the walls seem to play tricks with one’s balance. The passageways alternately open up towards the sky or narrow down to a cavernous trap.

Walking around and through this sculpture, it feels like a never-ending journey, a loop of light and shadow. The continuum of Richard Serra’s exploration of space.



INSIDE OUT – Richard Serra at the Gagosian Gallery

522 West 21st Street, New York City, through January 25, 2014

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The Gagosian Gallery is not known for low-scale exhibitions. And seeing Richard Serra’s work inside a gallery makes you think how in the world they have managed to bring his huge sculptural works into the galleries.

These new works occupy the whole space and transform it into labyrinths. They are all centrally staged and define the space in different ways.

INTERVALS is composed of slabs of steel of different sizes, forming corridors to walk through. The variable height ensures an infinity of views and approaches.

GRIEF AND REASON stand in the middle of a room and are imposing masses. You walk around them like a grave, like a monument, like a rite.

7 PLATES, 6 ANGLES is a zigzagging line of again weatherproof steel. It dictates the way you walk through the hall. Every angle seems to hold a promise, around the corner.

The tall plates form sharp angles that draw the eye to an infinite point. They are inviting as a road that leads forward. But instead of leading somewhere, after a few steps, one finds himself trapped in a sharp corner. As enveloping the sculpture can be, at some point you have to turn back and take the road in the opposite direction, the only road that leads somewhere.

Richard Serra’s monumental work takes on a whole different perspective on the scale of the human body and the environment. Serra likes to engage the viewer/visitor and make him move and interact with the sculptures. As minimal his work can be, as deep the impression it makes.


Richard Serra at the Gagosian Gallery

555 west 24th street, New York City, through January 25, 2014



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No, it’s not a campaign for greener fuel.

It’s a temporary installation of the epoxy stone and bronze sheep of late artist François-Xavier Lalanne.

As rare as it is to see a flock of sheep in the city, as hard it’s becoming to find a gas pump.

Next on the list of disappearing fuel pumps is the Getty Station in Chelsea, Manhattan. Although…

The gas station is closed and the plot has to undergo a drastic change. Since the inauguration of the High Line, the neighborhood sees one development after the other sprouting up, like mushrooms in a Pennsylvania meadow. High end luxury apartments are pushing the smaller businesses out.

Before the Getty Station is going to turn into another real estate project, it will be the stage for several artistic manifestations, starting with these innocent looking sheep.

And although you will never again get the chance to fill’er up here, the station is going to be preserved inside the new construction.

In the meantime, let’s enjoy this idyllic sight, in all its absurd splendor.


Sheep Station will be on view through October 20, 2013

239 10th Avenue, NYC


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Give an artist a shovel and he might dig out a hole in your gallery floor. A couple of years back, Swiss artist Urs Fischer did it at the, then new, New Museum.This time around, American artist Doug Aitken dug deep at 303 Gallery in Chelsea.

From the moment you step in, there’s no way around it (but fortunately there is!). The visitor is irremediably drawn to the big gaping hole. That’s what holes are about: they’re always “in the middle” of something and claim all attention.

When approaching the rough edge of this indoor excavation, the curious eye is naturally expecting to discover the bottom. And maybe find something down there. But Doug Aitken is not giving anything away: the hole is filled with murky, milky water. Which turns the hole into a pool. The resemblance to mud pools in Yellowstone, for example, is obvious. Only here, the mud is not boiling.

The calm surface of the pool will eventually be disturbed, but not from within, not from below, not from the deepest of the earth. A first drop from above breaks the mirroring white surface into a simple, gentle ripple. And then another. And another. What at first seems to be impromptu pulse comes together in rhythmic sound, electronically amplified and echoed by the walls.

Saying that this pool of sound did not make me think of rain may sound strange. (Because it just did!) I would prefer to associate it with the dripping of stalactites. The sound of the echo and the calcium-like substance of the water appertain more to a cavernous environment. Which brings us back to our starting point: a hole in the ground.

The other pieces that are included in this exhibition appear to be of a completely different kind. Where the central pool could be described as indoor land art, these works are graphical and more than reminiscent of pop art. The materials (plexiglass, mirrors and neon) stand in blatant contrast with the natural feel of the pool. But the themes of nature, time and rhythm tie them all together. The corroded surface of SUNSET, the bubbling rusty water and the volcanic stones of ART, the shattered mirrors of MORE, the frequency of the neons in NOT ENOUGH “TIME” IN THE “DAY” and the obvious elapsed time in 100YRS. They’re all measures and manifestations of time.

When you plan a visit, make sure you go shortly after SUNRISE, so you have the place to yourself. Make ENOUGH TIME to enjoy the ART and walk around the pool MORE than once. In a 100YRS it will all be gone.


Doug Aitken

303 Gallery

Chelsea, New York City

till March 23


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