Fair  September 9, 2022  Kathleen Cullen

Standouts at Armory’s Focus 2022: “Landscape Undone”

Courtesy of the artist and Volume Gallery.

Tanya Aguiñiga, Extraño 15, 2021. Ice-dyed cotton rope, synthetic hair, flax.

The Armory Show's Focus presentation, entitled Landscape Undone and curated by Carla Acevedo-Yates, treats the idea of landscape as a more inclusive hemispheric concept framed by her focus on the intertwined geographies, sociopolitical conditions, and environment of the peoples of North, Central, and South America. Curious, I asked Acevedo-Yates about the gallery selection and participating artists and the complexity of the geographic, physical, and psychological issues of her task. 
She says she hoped that this selection of artists would broaden the way we think about landscape and the narratives of nationalism, progress and modernity, and the counter-culture messages being presented these days. She explains that the audience has always been there for such work, citing MOMA and the MCA. The Institutions have been doing it for a while to address the audience and their status as a reflection on their communities.
The Focus part of the Armory Show 2022 is a reflection of the galleries devoted to those communities. Acevedo-Yates extended a personal invite to the galleries she loves (and there were some unsolicited applications as well). Certainly, there is a greater representation of diversity in this Armory section than in past years.
Here are some of the noteworthy installations in the Focus section of this year’s Fair: 
Naomi Rincón Gallardo and Lucía Valdes at PROXYCO Gallery, New York
Naomi Rincón Gallardo’s installation at the Mexican Pavillion in Venice was mesmerizing and it should be more of the same here. Dealing with Mesoamerican themes, her mythical fabulations are transdisciplinary fabrications that address counter-world cultures in a neocolonial setting. They involve craft, performance and absurdity, feminism, and queer theory. The videos and objects used the performance deal with the history of women.

Zorawar Sidhu. Courtesy of Hutchinson Modern.

Priscilla Monge, Pisarra, 1999. Chalk on black chalkboard.

Priscilla Monge at Hutchinson Modern & Contemporary, New York
Costa Rican artist Priscilla Monge is one of the better-known female artists from Central America and she has participated in the Global Feminism show at the Brooklyn Museum. It has not been fully acknowledged how important her drawings are in both their criticism of the patriarchy and its structures and their exploration of the overlap between private and public spaces. Subversive, her drawings in combination with photographs explore a feminist critique of ‘the natural’ and the power of the narrative in communication.
José Castiella and Keita Miyazaki at Rosenfeld, London

Rosenfeld presents two artists, José Castiella and Keita Miyazaki. Artist Miyazaki witnessed the Japanese Tsunami of 2011 and the ecological devastation that followed in its wake. At that time, a great part of the country’s industrial society was swept away. Miyazaki is coming from a deeply felt position on global warming and the destruction it can reek on the environment. His welded sculptures warn of ecological disaster. Also being shown by Rosenfeld are the Boschian compostisions of Castiella.

Courtesy of Mrs.

Nickola Pottinger, a nuh all, 2022. Paper Pulps, Stone, Bristles, Seafoam, and Pigments.

Nickola Pottinger at Mrs., Maspeth

Jamaican West Indies artist Nickola Pottinger produces wall reliefs combining ceramic and paper pulp with organic material such as hair pigments and oil. You may remember her hybrid sculpture from the past New Museum Triennial 2022. What I love most about her work is the way the forms morph from various angles.
Hugo McCloud at Sean Kelly, New York and Los Angeles
Hugo McCloud’s early work was abstract and brought the subject of his biracial experiences and working-class roots to the forefront. With his use of materials such as roofing metal and tar, he addressed the economics of labor. McCloud often speaks of 'building' his works rather than painting them, a word choice that intentionally aligns his practice more with manual labor than fine art. This new work addresses themes of migration, borders, hope, loss, and all the various conditions endemic to the COVID-19 crisis. His awareness of the contradictions implicit in his involvement with the art world, while economic inequality becomes more pronounced both globally and in the United States, greatly informs his practice as an artist.

Photography by Melissa Chaves. Courtesy of Instituto de visión.

Aurora Pellizzi, Choco Concha, 2020. Naturally-dyed wool (pomegranate rinds, Aztec marigold & Brazilwood) latch-hooked and woven into agave fiber structure.

Aurora Pellizzi, at Instituto de Visión, Bogotá, and Revolver Galería, Lima

Aurora Pellizzi comes from Mexico and was interested in textiles as a sign system. After a residency in Fez with women weavers, she learned to use the hand-dyed color-saturated yarns to convey a very powerful message in which she would explore the female body in relation to knowledge. Pellizzi recognized the ambiguities of looking at women in society. Fiber arts offered a bridge to image-making without boundaries. In this selection of works, we have a preponderance of lozenge motifs representing vulva or contraction or childbirth. The power of such images lies in her straightforward representation of female sexuality—a new physical anthropology.

Jorge Tacla at Cristin Tierney Gallery, New York

Jorge Tacla is a Chilean-born artist who has worked with a number of different media. This showing of his work in Focus is concurrent with his solo show at the gallery in lower Manhattan curated by Christian Viveros-Fauné. Whereas he once took landscapes as cultural signifiers and sites leveled by uprising and warfare, he is presently turning his attention to fast-paced scenes of civil unrest in Africa, America, Chile, Lebanon, and Mexico. He focuses on the social rupture of the present world and its special dynamics.

Adriana Bustos at Nora Fisch Gallery, Buenos Aires

Adriana Bustos is from Argentina and resides in Buenos Aires. Her work deals with the prevailing social or political narratives as they appear in non-linear interpretations of history. Her presentation at the Armory will consist of drawings within circles and describe everything from colonial history to women who have influenced social development and medicine.  Bustos draws her figures from the pre-colonized bestiaries of indigenous folklore and knits together a whole network of references so as to produce a new narrative. Most appealing are her celestial maps of constellations as they appeared on the first night of the Christian era.  The names of stars are replaced with words referencing the subject matter of the work and personal reflection. Her works are meditative and they point the way to an alternative patriarchal narrative. She closes her eyes and dreams about what we can reclaim for ourselves from history.

Courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery.


By David Antonio Cruz, in 2021. Oil, wax pencil and latex on wood panel.

Tanya Aguiñiga at Volume Gallery, Chicago

Tanya Aguiñiga is a Los Angeles-based artist, designer, and craftsperson originally from Tijuana. She sees craft as a performative medium and has collaborated with various border groups in activism and community-based public art. Her work is currently on view in the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery exhibition, This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World. There is a beautiful formal quality to her work, which also plays with double entendres and language, all related to her experience with indigenous communities and speaking to the history of craft. There is also a powerful resistance to the limitations of craft. Please have a look at the artist’s website to see the broad range of themes, places, and spaces Aguiñiga has addressed.

David Antonio Cruz at Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago

David Antonio Cruz is a painter who uses a pileup technique of groupings—either people (usually young) or tree branches—with poetic titles such as becausethat’swhereiwantotbe,alonewiththeonlythingthatilove to explore issues of queerness, race, community, and love.

Bonus: Ebony G. Patterson at Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago

Though not featured in Focus but rather in Platform, curated by Tobias Ostrander, Ebony G. Patterson’s work is worth an extra stop. Fiber is a cultural bridge without boundaries. Patterson is a Jamaican-born artist currently residing in Kingston Jamaica and Chicago and will be featured in the forthcoming MCA show, Forecast Form: Art in the Caribbean Diaspora, 1990s—Today. Patterson is known for her splendid tapestries and installations created out of various materials such as glitter, sequins, and all types of embellishments. However, what looks bright on the surface points to a darker un-whole truth underneath. The power of Patterson’s images defies rational explanation with their piles of references, changing interpretations, and images.

About the Author

Kathleen Cullen

Kathleen Cullen is a former gallerist, independent curator, and writer for CultureCatch.com. She was also the former head of sales for Art & Object. Cullen’s role as a director-curator permits her to maintain an independent spirit, presenting new artists “on the edge” by feeling the “pulse” of the emerging art market. It is this inalienable eye that posits her as a harbinger of new artistic expression.

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