By PAUL LASTER, Jun. 2017
Displaying a wide range of artistic disciplines, the National Academy Museum & School’s 6th annual “Creative Mischief” exhibition is a great place to discover artists—both established practitioners and new talents. Featuring more than 100 works by National Academicians, faculty, alumni, and selected student artists, the show reflects the recent history of the 190-year-old cultural institution.
Tackling such contemporary concerns as spirituality, myth, nature and artifice, geometry and the body, illusion and form, symbolism, urban dreams, and play, “Creative Mischief” takes over the full exhibition space of the museum, which is housed in one of the few remaining Beaux-Arts mansions open to the public on Fifth Avenue, and in the Sonia Gechtoff Gallery at the National Academy School.
National Academicians Roberto Juarez, Richard Kalina and Leslie Wayne present persuasive abstractions—with Juarez offering a large painting of colorful organic forms, Kalina investigating geometric patterns with his collaged and painted canvas, and Wayne captures the oval shape of a lingam—a sacred stone of the Hindu religion—with watercolor on handmade paper.
Realism is convincingly handled by Eric March, who paints an eerie Ghost House; Lotus Do, who creates a giant silk moth with paint and wood; and Anthony Panzera, who draws a succession of life-size female nudes, embraced by suspended drapery, with blood-colored chalk on a 5-by-33 foot ground that’s presented as a gigantic scroll.
Surrealism, meanwhile, looms large in Gary Stephan’s Clock, which is cobbled together with painted cheesecloth stretched over plastic food containers; Borinquen Gallo’s found automobile rims poetically joined with ornate architectural elements; Kakeru Asai’s bits of leaf-like painted paper that becomes Fragments of Ocean; and Monika Camillucci’s Tree of Good and Evil, which slyly transforms an upright bone into a lunging snake.
And politics, which are on everybody’s minds these days, come into play with Touba Alipour’s neon map of America that reads “Closed for Renovation” and Michelle Bratsafolis, We The People, which floats Cyanotype portraits of diverse citizens on strips of sheer silk organza hung in a group from the ceiling, while Ed Smith’s bronze beggar touches upon age-old social concerns.
Other highlights in the show, which was curated by the Italian artist Maurizio Pellegrin, Dean of the National Academy School, include Eri Honda’s dreamlike installation of objects floating on clouds with a video animation; Francis Nguyen’s depiction of The Last Supper taking place on a subway train; Nadia Martinez’s hanging net composed from hundreds of technological resistors and crystals; and Yuko Uchida’s Identity Tree, whose leaves consist of black and white hand-sewn fabric hands.
Scroll through to see more works from “Creative Mischief” below. WM
Paul Laster is a writer, editor, curator, artist and lecturer. He’s a contributing editor at ArtAsiaPacific and Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art and writer for Time Out New York, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, Galerie Magazine, Sculpture, Art & Object, Cultured, Architectural Digest, Garage, Surface, Ocula, Observer, ArtPulse, Conceptual Fine Arts and Glasstire. He was the founding editor of Artkrush, started The Daily Beast’s art section, and was art editor of Russell Simmons’ OneWorld Magazine, as well as a curator at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, now MoMA PS1.
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