Visual Art

"Stylized Sculpture: Contemporary Japanese Fashion from the Kyoto Costume Institute"

Ravishing, ingenious frocks prove fashion is art
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REVIEW Years after Europunk deconstructionists copped a few tears, ties, and folds from Comme des Garçons' Rei Kawakubo and A-list fashionista Carolyn Bessette Kennedy championed the cutting austerity of Yohji Yamamoto, it's safe to say that the once-coupled Japanese designers and their slight predecessor Issey Miyake have been firmly ensconced as pillars of avant-garde fashion. But that doesn't mean their work — and that of Kawakubo acolytes Junya Watanabe and Tao Kurihara — is ready to be filed away without another look. Read more »

Boxing day

A trio of views on three of Cornell's many-splendored cubes
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"You Should Stop Editing"

Ditching the posturing for intricate intensity
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REVIEW I should stop editing? Well, an unedited issue of the Guardian has sprung to my wild or tired mind more than once, whether it be rated X or composed entirely of photocopied press releases. In the case of Ema Harris-Sintamarian's show at Jack Fischer Gallery, the phrase "You Should Stop Editing" might function as a creative credo — one that allows the artist to range freely within works and between mediums. To put it bluntly, what the exhibit lacks in posturing, it more than makes up for in intricate intensity. Read more »

"American Dirge"

Ryan Coffey's mystic '60s
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REVIEW I confess: despite having a disproportionate appetite for '60s leftovers — from the children of Coca-Cola and Marx to the Mamas and the Papas, I eat it all up — I've felt my enthusiasm flagging in the past couple of weeks. Is it Summer of Love indolence? Brightblack ballyhoo? Regardless, what a stirring relief to come upon "American Dirge," a solo show at Tartine Bakery spotlighting the charmed collages of local up-and-comer Ryan Coffey. Read more »

How soon is now?

At SF Camerawork, your monitor is the light that never goes out
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REVIEW Sixteen minutes with Lars Laumann? Well, I didn't say no, and discovered that his video Morrissey Foretelling the Death of Diana is as uncanny as its title is ludicrous. This present-day conspiratorial artifact makes a Smiths devotee feel like Jim Garrison during a virgin viewing of the Zapruder film. Read more »

Slow art movement

Olafur Eliasson makes reduced speed sexy
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PREVIEW If you didn't experience The Weather Project, Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson's 2003 installation in London's Tate Modern, chances are you've seen images of it in any number of nonart publications or photo blogs. The piece — a dramatic emulation of an amber sun's atmosphere, created with such simple elements as a bank of lights and a mirrored ceiling — reportedly attracted two million visitors, many of them repeat customers, who sprawled on the public floor, pondered their reflections on the ceiling, and basked in the glow. Read more »

"Rembrandt to Thiebaud: A Decade of Collecting Works on Paper"

Constant plasticity comes to the fore
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REVIEW Dada artist Kurt Schwitters maintained that formal elements were second only to an art object's ability to remain in flux — in spite of the static qualities inherent in his own work. No completed artwork could ever be fully finished but rather was kept open for future reinvention. In the current exhibition at the Legion of Honor, "Rembrandt to Thiebaud: A Decade of Collecting Works on Paper," which includes an approximately 5-by-7-inch collage by Schwitters, this constant plasticity of the art object seems to have come to the fore. Read more »

Close up

Filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami crafts moving stills
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REVIEW "One single picture could be the mother of cinema," one of our leading auteurs has observed. Apichatpong Weerasethakul would have said saint, Jean-Luc Godard death, and Quentin Tarantino motherfucker, but only renowned Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami could glimpse in a lone image the maternal nurturing of reel life. Read more »

Code unknown

"Dark Matters: Artists See the Impossible" pictures black ops, hidden cops, and shadow streams of puzzling information
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The CIA maintains a number of "black sites" around the world where suspected terrorists are "disappeared." You can get a recipe for Irish Eyes Chicken Pot Pie or instructions on how to commit suicide on the Internet. Thousands of starlings spontaneously converge in a suburb in Rome where Benito Mussolini once planned on holding an exhibition celebrating Fascism. I love having dreams. There are more than 130 revolving restaurants around the world.

These are all interesting tidbits. But what do they mean? Read more »

Black and white and color

Shots seen round the Bay Area and beyond by 10 sharp-eyed photographers
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One of the most exciting aspects of being a newspaper editor is recognizing a wave of activity that isn't connected to government mind control or onslaughts of corporate-sponsored and mass-marketed art. This kind of spontaneous mass energy is happening via photography in San Francisco right now. August is known as a slow month, but the city's galleries are alive with contemporary photos. Read more »