Cathy Breslaw's Installation

Cathy Breslaw's Installation
Cathy Breslaw's Installation:Dreamscape

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Two Artists Responding to the Pandemic: Cathy Breslaw and Susan Osborn

article by Cathy Breslaw
link to entire exhibition including 95 artists:

Two Artists Respond to the Pandemic: Cathy Breslaw and Susan Osborn

Most artists work in relative isolation. Our collective art practices and the creative process demand it. It goes against the human urge to congregate and socialize. Still, we persevere as the “call to create” stubbornly nudges us. We then deliberately make space – intellectually, emotionally and physically – we move forward quietly, with intention and faith in the process.

Never have we been more aware of isolation than time spent in this Corona Virus pandemic environment. It is not our choice, but as artists we are familiar and in some ways ahead of the game over our fellow citizens by our familiarity with the loneliness of self -containment.  

 In early March, I received an email from Kristine Schomaker, fellow artist and writer/blogger announcing that she was organizing a collaboration offering artists to participate in a project Call and Response, with a group of artists’ “pairs”. Ninety-five artists responded and I was paired with Susan Osborn, a San Diego artist. This project was to be a way for artists to mitigate our feelings of isolation and to more importantly visually express what we are experiencing during this highly distressing time.

The task began with me to create an artwork and for Susan to respond. This “back and forth” was to continue with a time limit of April 1st. Limited to 24 hours, we were to create an artwork and email it back to our partner. During the process we each made 7 artworks for a total of 14 total pieces.

Susan and I had never met and had not been familiar with each other’s work.  In a way we were thrown together in friendship and faith, to trust in the process and to see what happened. In conversing about it after the fact, neither one of us knew what to expect and both of us were happy to be in contact with another artist during this difficult and scary time. We both also noted the comfort of the structure of “having to respond” in a visual way to one another on a daily basis. In a way it was like watching a silent film, ‘watching’ with only part of our senses in attempts to converse about what we were feeling and then ‘answer’ each other.

With only visual responses to depend on, we were forced to rely upon observing and studying very closely the language of the other – the emotion and energy, materials and compositions of each of our art pieces. Titling each art work gave each of us clues.

As an artist who makes work that is mostly abstract, it was challenging for me to create because I was conscious of whether the work could be relatively easily understood by Susan so that she could respond during our short 24 hour turn around time.

 #1(Latent Waves)Breslaw                                                                             #2(Latent Waves#2)Osborn


Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Artist Tishan Hsu Embodies Technology - Exhibition at Hammer Museum Los Angeles

Tishan Hsu: Liquid CircuitsHammer Museum,  Los AngelesThrough April 19th, 2020 Article by Cathy Breslaw


 Tishan Hsu, Cell, 1987. Acrylic, compound, oil, alkyd, vinyl, aluminum on wood. 96 x 192 x 4 inches (244 x 488 x 10 cm). Collection of Ralph Wernicke / Hubertushoehe art + architecture, Berlin and Zürich. 

Tishan Hsu’s art practice was built around the question of how technology effects us as human beings. As technology evolves so too would be our relationship to it.  In the 1980’s when most of the works in this exhibition were created, Tsu used the traditional media of  painting and sculpture rather than  more direct referential objects like TVs to convey his ideas. The 1980’s were the beginning of the transition from analog to digital, a paradigm shift that would manifest itself in many ways, and Hsu created works that connected with this change and with our continual morphing identities. 

Hsu used sheets of plywood with rounded corners along with compounds and paint to create his sculptural paintings. The minimal abstract images with scratched surfaces refer to screens or iphone shaped objects with a ‘skin’ stretched over emerging shapes emanating from the surface and the edges of the wood and these sculptural paintings appear to float off the wall. A room of small preliminary drawings portray some of the ideas expressed in his sculptures. Also in this exhibition, are a few silkscreen with ink and acrylic on canvas works that make more direct reference to the human body as in Cellular Automata 2 (1989) – a grid-like pattern upon which body orifices, tongue and eye are portrayed.

Tsu’s background in architecture and work as a word processor come to bear in his work which uses the shape and size of computer screens or TV monitors, a powerful medium of how we experience the world. His sculptures like Autopsy (1988) and Vertical Ooze (1987) use a landscape of ceramic tiles and painted wood to create multi-layered modular units that may refer to a utilitarian use and to the building blocks of technology in general.

Hsu recognizes the technological, synthetic and artificial while simultaneously bringing the human body central to the work. His distinct visual language brings awareness of how we become embodied in our experience of the ever-evolving technological world and is an intriguing documentation of how it has developed since the 1980s.

The exhibition is organized by Sculpture Center, New York and curated by Sohrab Mohebbi, Curator.
The Hammer exhibition is organized by Aram Moshayedi, Robert Soros Curator, with Nicholas Barlow, Curatorial Assistant. The exhibition is on view through April 19th, 2020.

 Tishan Hsu, Liquid Circuit, 1987. Acrylic, compound, alkyd, oil, aluminum on wood. 90 x 143 x 9 inches (229 x 363 x 23 cm). Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis. 

 Tishan Hsu, Autopsy, 1988. Ceramic tile, compound, chrome. 55 x 49 x 94 inches (140 x 124 x 239 cm). Collection of Karin and Peter Haas, Zurich. 

 Tishan Hsu, Vertical Ooze, 1987. Ceramic tile, urethane, compound, acrylic, oil on wood. 49.5 x 48 x 61.5 inches (126 x 122 x 156 cm). Centre Pompidou, Paris. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Getty Center Exhibits Lithographs, Etchings and Woodcuts by German artist Kathe Kollwitz

The Getty Research Institute
The Getty Center, Los Angeles
Kathe Kollwitz: Prints, Process, Politics
Through March 29, 2020

Written by Cathy Breslaw

Käthe Kollwitz (German, 1867–1945), Charge, between 1902 and 1903sheet 5 of Peasants’ War. Etching, drypoint, aquatint, lift ground, and soft ground with the imprint of two fabrics and Ziegler’s transfer paper, printed in black ink on copperplate paper, and reworked with white pigment and black washstate III of XIII. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2016.PR.34) Partial Gift of Dr. Richard A. Simms. © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York

Kathy Kollwitz’s 5 decades of art-making took place in her homeland, Germany during turbulent societal change and the devastation of two world wars. Her works document the poverty, injustice and loss she and her fellow Germans experienced during these years – including the loss of one of her sons. Though she began as a painter, Kollwitz found that etchings, woodcuts and lithographs better portrayed her ideas, thoughts and emotions to a more easily accessible and broader audience. 

The works in this exhibition are derived from the Dr. Richard Sims Collection donated to the Getty Research Center. These prints include ‘preparatory sheets’ which are preliminary drawings that reveal Kollwitz’s artistic process and experimentation with materials, composition and manipulation of subject matter. It gives insight into the artist’s creative process both from her thoughts and the actual drawings. Overall, Kollwitz’s works are evocative and express intense emotion whether it is through the pose or poses of the subjects, facial expressions or sometimes oversized and expressive hands.

In Peasants’ War(1908), one of her print cycles produced over six years (resulting in seven prints),  Kollwitz reveals the effects of social injustice and revolution in a tragic period of German history. These drawings, trials in lithography and etching and working proofs convey the artist’s conscientious planning and creation of the prints.

Kollwitz’s focus on both technique and subject simultaneously are demonstrated in her work In Memorium Karl Liebknecht(1920). Liebknecht, the leader of the German Communist Party was arrested and killed and was joined by 100,000 mourners at the gravesite. Having witnessed the burial, Kollwitz was inspired – and moving through creating an etching, a lithograph and then finally to a woodcut, which she believed best expressed her intent.

Kollwitz remains as one of Europe’s most important artists and this exhibition is an opportunity for U.S. audiences to  view these works rarely seen in our country. This exhibition was curated by Louis Marchesano. The Audrey and William H. Helfand Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings and Photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Christina Aube, Exhibitions Coordinator at the Getty Research Institute, and Naoko Takahatake, Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Getty Research Institute.

Käthe Kollwitz (German, 1867–1945), In Memoriam Karl Liebknecht, between early August and Christmas 1920, woodcut, printed in black ink on japan paper, state V of VI. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2016.PR.34). Partial Gift of Dr. Richard A. Simms © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Snapchat and Artist Christian Marclay Collaborate - Five New Installations at Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Christian Marclay: Sound Stories
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Through October 14th

Written by Cathy Breslaw

Christian Marclay, The Organ(detail) 2018, installation photograph, Christian Marclay x Snap:Sound Stories at Le Centre d'art La Malmaison, Cannes, copyright 2019, photo Benoit Florencon

 For 35 years, artist Christian Marclay has examined the intersection between sound and image in his multidisciplinary work using performance, sculpture and video. Marclay’s new exhibition Sound Stories is the result of a collaboration with engineers at Snapchat, the multi-media messaging app that receives 3 ½ billion snaps per day. Drawing on sounds and images of everyday life, Marclay experimented with hundreds of thousands of publicly posted videos to create 5 immersive audio-visual installations, two of which are interactive, responding to visitor sounds and movements in the gallery spaces. A team of Snapchat engineers created algorithms using the posted videos, giving Marclay the “raw material” to de-construct and re-contextualize the recorded media.

Marclay made this statement: “Sound is too often ignored and purely incidental on most uploaded videos, image dominates, so I wanted to shift the focus on the sound. Sampling from millions of Snapchats was like having the largest ever collection of LPs to work with. Like a deejay, I started remixing these sounds.”  These comments capture the spirit of the exhibition and it is interesting to note that Marclay does not use social media which makes his collaboration with Snapchat even more intriguing. 

In All Together, Marclay used more than 400 snaps to create a composition that plays across 10 smartphones. The small screens with internal speakers are arranged at eye-level in a semi-circular wood structure and present an intimate space of synchronized sounds and images looped seamlessly from everyday moments publicly shared on the app.

Sound Tracks is a soundscape installation composed of eerie, unfamiliar noises generated by tablets whose sound is amplified through overhead circular speakers that also portray video images. Using Snapchat’s feature of “Turtle Mode”, the images are slowed down emphasizing static everyday activities.

The two screens in Tinsel Loop play a composition created by Marclay in 2005 by using an algorithm that searched sounds of millions of Snaps to match each note of the melody. The compositions are performed by fragments of Snapchat videos that match the pitch of each note, and, as the tune repeats itself a new series of fragments are used, each completely different.

The Organ is an interactive work where visitors are invited to play a keyboard in the center of the room. Working with engineers, Marclay developed an algorithm that locates sounds that correspond to musical notes. Each organ key triggers sets of snaps that closely match the note played, while a large visual screen displays a variety of people and situations.

Talk to Me/Sing to Me is an installation where visitors are invited to speak or sing into 42 smartphones suspended from the ceiling and placed at eye levels and spread throughout the gallery room. When a visitor speaks or sings into a phone, an algorithm uses speech detection and signal processing technology, the phones analyze voices in the room and respond by mimicking them.

While all 5 installations are fascinating in how they were produced, visitors will find the two interactive installations fun and engaging and especially worth the visit.

Christian Marclay and Andrew Lin, Director of Engineering, Snap Inc. in front of All Together(detail),2018 part of Christian Marclay: Sound Stories, copyright 2019 photo copyright Stephane Sby Balmy

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Paintings That Capture Light: California Artist Mary Corse at Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Mary Corse: A Survey in Light
Through November 11th

Article by Cathy Breslaw

Mary Corse    Untitled (White Light Series)1966     fluorescent light, plexiglass, and acrylic on wood        Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, NY gift, Michael Strauss  2016       photograph Mary Corse

Some art slaps you in the face with its boldness, shocking content or sheer massive size.  Not so for the work of Mary Corse whose first solo museum exhibition A Survey of Light is on view at Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Art viewers who typically pull out their phone cameras to capture images or themselves with the art need not waste their time in this activity. Corse’s art is about the direct ‘experience’ and cameras will only get in the way.

Corse has dedicated over 5 decades to her art practice to the focused study of light as both subject and material, as well as delving into the physical and metaphysical properties of light as energy and perception. In the 1960’s Corse’s technical experimentations of shaped monochrome canvases like Untitled (Octogonal Blue) 1964 and sculpture of acrylic on wood and plexiglass Untitled (Two Triangular Columns) 1965, are examples of her early work that reflect the influence of minimalism going on during in those years. Her work is also often associated with the West Coast Light and Space Movement.

During the 1960’s Corse engineered her first light box paintings, as painted white canvases transitioned into radiant fluorescent light.  She later developed a series of argon light boxes that were wireless and suspended from the ceiling using Tesla coils and high frequency generators that can transit an electromagnetic field through a wall. And, in order to create these works, Corse took physics classes and had to pass a proficiency test to acquire certain capacitors and wires for these pieces.

Corse’s White Light series came from her discovery of the tiny glass microspheres embedded in road paint  which she continues to use to create these light responsive works. Reflecting and refracting light, these tiny beads allow the viewer to notice and experience changes in the surface light of these paintings while moving across  in front of them, and viewing them from varying angles and distances. Subtle grid patterns and vertical/horizontal bands form the underlying composition within which the viewer notices changing patterns of shimmering light and the feeling of energy emanating from them.

Corse has pushed light’s formal and perceptual possibilities, while working in increasingly larger sized canvases, and sometimes incorporating black . There appears to be an inner glow and luminosity to these white monochrome paintings as well as an intriguing interactive quality as viewers participate in the experience by moving around the large and airy spaces of the gallery rooms.  There are no singular vantage points from which to observe these paintings, making it an active and highly subjective and fun experience of discovery.

Installation photograph, Mary Corse: A Survey in Light, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, July 28 - November 11 2019,  art Mary Corse,  photo Museum Associates/LACMA

Installation photograph, Mary Corse: A Survey in Light, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, July 28 - November 11 2019,  art Mary Corse,  photo Museum Associates/LACMA

Installation photograph, Mary Corse: A Survey in Light, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, July 28 - November 11 2019,  art Mary Corse,  photo Museum Associates/LACMA

Mary Corse   Untitled(White Inner Band), 2003   glass microspheres and acrylic on canvas,  96" x 240"   Private Collection, Mary Corse    photograph by Flying Studio

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Chinese Contemporary Artists Talk Culture Using Materials - Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The Allure of Matter: Material Art From China

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Through January 5, 2020

Article by Cathy Breslaw
Song Dong, Water Records, 2010 Video Projection, (copyright) Song Dong,
Photo courtesy of Pace Gallery
For over 25 years artist Liang Shaoji  has used live silkworms to spin silk onto various objects and states “I am a silkworm”.  Highlighting the interconnectedness between humans, animals and nature with silk is rooted in the Chinese psyche and with legends that connect silk-making with the creation of Chinese civilization. In the exhibition The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China, twenty-one artists spanning four decades experiment with unconventional materials which serve as symbols of meaning for their work. For these artists, the material is the message and operates as a conduit to clues about Chinese contemporary culture.

Since the 1980’s, Chinese contemporary artists have used an array of materials:  black cola ash, cigarettes, human hair, cement, wood, thread, used clothing, plastics, paper, porcelain, gunpowder, nails, silk, and more. Common to all these artists is the rejection of established art forms and traditional materials, and the drive to invent new artistic languages. Thirty-five artworks using these materials take the form of painting, sculpture, installation and performance.

Many of the artists included in this show are well known in the Chinese contemporary art world, but not in the U.S. Artist Ai Weiwei, probably the most well known to Americans, includes his Tables at Right Angles(1998) where he employed a team of craftsmen using 16th century woodworking techniques to join two tables from the Qing Dynasty(1644-1911) without glue or nails, placing them at right angles, reconfiguring them, and depriving them of their original functionality. Weiwei questions the cultural value of antiques and artworks in contemporary society.

Fascinated by its destructive and political implications, Cai Guo-Qiang experimented with gunpowder and developed a method to control and contain explosions to create gunpowder paintings.

Gu Dexin, who began experimenting with plastics while working in a plastics factory, created an installation (Untitled,1989), including plastics melted to abstract compositions, while also arranging used clothing and materials.

Gu Wenda’s United Nations: American Code (2018-19) uses human hair from all over the world to create his installation taking the form of a “house”, with the wish to create harmony by mixing cultures. This work, commissioned by the participating museums for this exhibition, is an ongoing project inspired by the politics and histories of various countries.

Jin Shan’s Mistaken (2015), created a sculpture of wood and plastic, the top being a bust of a heroic Communist worker which appears to melt away in fine strings and the body is made of wooden slats derived from old demolished houses. Shan shares the relics of the Cultural Revolution imagery with the memory of China’s nostalgic and fragmented past.

Lin Tianmiao’s Day-Dreamer (2000), uses white cotton threads, fabric and digital photography to create a colorless self portrait suspended from the ceiling. Having been taught to wind thread into skeins, she appropriates this domestic practice into her work since the 1990s.

Liu Jianhua’s work Blank Paper (2009-12) mimics two sheets of paper hanging on the walls but is actually made of fine porcelain, using pure white clay, unglazed, and fully exposed to the viewer in its fragility suggesting they fill the “empty spaces” with their thoughts. Adjacent to this piece is an installation of 8000 black porcelain flames(Black Flame 2016-17) suggesting a rapidly growing fire flickering across the gallery floor.

As part of her Wonderland Series, Ma Qiusha created Black Square (2016), a “painting” made of cement, nylon stockings, plywood, iron and resin. In a mosaic-like pattern, Qiusha creates a kind of tapestry and pattern both in fabric and stone in shades and sheens of black, alluding to generations of women who easily discarded nylons.

Song Dong’s Traceless Stele (2016), a sculpture of metal stele and a heating device invites viewers to write their own messages on the stone using brushes and water which ultimately disappear. Historically Steles were used as memorials in China for centuries, featuring carved inscriptions to relay information about people or events commemorated. Dong’s interest in the Daoist idea of impermanence using water’s translucency and formlessness is featured, as viewer’s brush-writings disappear quickly. His adjacent video Water Records (2010) plays simultaneously displaying how brushstrokes disappear as the artist completes each drawing with water.

Jin Wang’s The Dream of China: Dragon Robes (1997) made of pvc plastic and fishing line are based on the Chinese Imperial robes and theatrical costumes of generations ago, and bear encoded symbols of five-clawed dragons representing the imperial house and other symbols. Wang has replaced robes of rich silks, gold thread, and brocades with suspended translucent white plastic robes – each with memories or shadows of the original garments.

Xu Bing’s several drawings, collages, scroll and installation uses tobacco as material and subject, exploring the history and production of cigarettes, global trade and its impact on Chinese culture. Emphasizing the U.S. – China connection, Xu uses raw tobacco leaves, cigarettes, cigarette packaging and other marketing materials documenting the global economy  and Chinese art history. 1st Class (1999-2011) is an installation consuming an entire large gallery room floor in the shape and color patterns of a tiger rug – all made of thousands of actual cigarettes, systematically arranged and glued into a “rug”. There is a pervading scent of cigarette tobacco as viewers circle the room to view this work.

Zhang Huan’s Seeds (2007) is a painting on canvas created from incense ash, charcoal, and resin. Huan has worked with ash since visiting the Longhua Temple in Shanghai, where he saw ash from burned joss sticks or incense used in ritual prayers. He sees the ash as connected to the spiritual process and the” hopes, dreams and blessings” of those who visited the temple. Studio assistants helped sort the ash by shade and coarseness before Huan applied it to the canvas.

Chen Zhen, He Xiangyu, Hu Xiaoyuan, Peng Yu, Sui Jianguo, Yin Xiuzhen, Zhan Wang, and Zhu Jinshi are the balance of artists whose works are included in this show. The Allure of Matte: Material Art From China is the first exhibition of its size and scope documenting Chinese contemporary art on the west coast. The artists use a myriad of meaningful materials to discuss the complex history and current themes that document life for people in contemporary China.