There is not a single right angle in the studio that Math Bass keeps in Los Angeles’s historic Filipino town. This architectural quirk might occasionally prove frustrating, but it creates a fitting locale for Bass’s art, which slinks between hard geometry and the curves of the body. Her practice takes several forms, occasionally in conjunction: paintings, sculptures, and performances in which the human element shifts in and out of both the space and the viewer’s mind.
I met David Salle in the crowded lobby of the Joule Hotel on Main Street in downtown Dallas. He was in town for the opening of Debris, a large show of his paintings and ceramics on view through August 23, 2015, at the Dallas Contemporary. David Salle: New Paintings, is on view at Skarstedt Chelsea from April 30 – June 27, 2015. This conversation took place upstairs in a quiet suite. There, for over an hour, he spoke with humor and fine acuity about a painter’s influences, the continuum of aging, and discovering Frank O’Hara on a rotating rack in Wichita, Kansas.
Read the interview at The Brooklyn Rail.
Several years ago, while walking home from a Little Caesars in southwest Miami, I came across a headless chicken, drained of its blood and abandoned in the middle of the street. I later learned that the bird was sacrificed in a Santeria ritual (its placement in the intersection was a suburban approximation of the crossroads: the portal between worlds). The encounter provided further evidence of something I learned the moment I moved to the country’s largest Caribbean city—and kept learning until I left. The tropics will reveal themselves to you, but without warning or explanation.
This was on my mind last month when I visited another Caribbean capital, New Orleans, to make sense of another street scene. Four years in the making, EN MAS’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean, an exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Center, presents Carnival—dance, music, costuming; all of the inhaled and exhaled culture of the Caribbean and its leaky diaspora—in the context of contemporary art.
“It’s a heavily diluted broth the human body soaks in for leisure,” says Nicolas Lobo of muriatic acid, a common swimming pool cleaner that he will use to scar the concrete walls of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) for “Leisure Pit,” an exhibition opening April 16. “But if it were any more concentrated, it would dissolve that human body instantly.” This is not the first time the Miami-based artist has made art using a household chemical. Over the years he has used homemade napalm, clouds of Robitussin sprayed from a fire extinguisher, bootleg perfume, and expired energy drinks with purported aphrodisiac qualities. This is a man who once made soy sauce out of his own hair.
Sometimes art-fair weeks have an echo-chamber reverb—the same canapés, the same Instagrams, the same Damien Hirst spin paintings. But if you’re lucky, the stars align and bequeath you unique experiences. On Friday, at 10:30, the morning after the opening of the Dallas Art Fair, which is the centerpiece of Dallas Art Week, Christie’s gave me the keys to a 2015 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse—at 255 mph, the fastest car on the road, and at $2.5 million, just about the most expensive. At 11:30, I was in the home of Dallas collector Marguerite Steed Hoffman, watching as she delicately turned the pages of a medieval illuminated manuscript while standing next to one of Gerhard Richter’s candle paintings. And at 12:30, I ate a plate of fried alligator. Dallas made this all seem normal.
On the morning of November 2, 1979, a gold BMW pulled up behind a blue truck stopped at a stoplight in Porte de Clignancourt, in northern Paris. After a moment, a tarp covering the back of the truck opened to reveal four men with rifles. They opened fire in unison, blasting holes into the windshield. The man driving the BMW was hit fifteen times; the woman in the passenger seat was blinded and crippled by the attack. Her pet poodle died, too. And that was the end of Jacques Mesrine, France’s public enemy number one.
In a few hours, a conference room on the fourth floor of Mexico City’s Hilton Reforma will swing open and the third day of the Material Art Fair will commence. But it’s five a.m., and I’m on the sixth floor, in the heated indoor pool, with about five near-naked and naked artists and a bottle of mescal bobbing in the shallow end. None of us has a room here. Lenin said you can’t trust artists because they can navigate all levels of society. In this case, that means all floors of the Hilton.
The evening began yesterday at a Mariachi bar. I proceeded to a store selling giant micheladas that had the mouthfeel of a Papa John’s pizza in a cup. Then I went to a grimy rave. Then to the end-of-the-world wealth of a penthouse party in Polanco where the free sushi meant that at least two people were doing blow off of chopsticks, and where, in line for a marble bathroom indecorously coated in piss, I met a Spanish developer named Iggy who was building an entire village with Herzog & de Meuron, the Swiss architecture firm, on a stretch of virgin Mexican coast. After that, I picked up more mescal and sat on the desolate, please-abduct-me corner of a Centro Histórico street, pulling from the same bottle now bobbing in the Hilton pool’s shallow end.
Read the rest at The Paris Review (Published May, 2014)