I get excited walking the streets of the Chelsea art district. The connection to the area has become important to my development as an artist. When I go to the galleries I never look ahead to plan where I’m going…not because I won’t take the time to do it…I just crave the element of surprise when I walk into a gallery and am struck by something unexpected. I love that first impact when I see a work of art that makes me gasp. True, this doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does it makes me so excited to be an artist. I usually can’t wait to get back to my studio to infuse my own work with some of that excitement.
This November’s shows were not as exciting as last month’s overall, but it did have it’s element-of-surprise-moments for me. First off, Pace Gallery on 25th Street showed the work of Raqib Shaw, a London-based artist whose work “Paradise Lost” took up the entire wall of the gallery. When I first walked into the space all I saw from the door was a guard and white walls. However, when I turned the corner there on the wall that ran the entire length of the gallery was a single painting done in twelve sections. It took my breath away. According to the press release, Shaw begins by outlining the composition with gold stained glass paint. He uses porcupine quills to apply enamel paint it and oil paints to model the images. Then he applies precious and semi-precious stones to the composition. It was an astounding work that had me standing in front of it for fifteen minutes. This exhibit continued in two other locations in Chelsea.
The other surprise for me was in Galerie Lelong on 26th Street. The artist Jaume Plensa’s instillation of stainless steel sculptures made from letters of nine international languages created an exciting environment of floating orbs with human figures riding them. These figures where suspended from the ceiling of the gallery in a circular configuration casting these incredible shadows over the floor. I was able to walk through this instillation making me part of it. I just loved it.
Seeking out artwork that excites me is what has me going to the galleries. To see an artist reach a level of excellence is something we should all celebrate. To witness this fills me with ideas on how to push past my own ordinary instincts, sort of giving myself permission to reach beyond my own expectations. How else does art evolve?