Nobuyoshi Araki at Anton Kern Gallery
This past Sat Morning after previewing the huge hodge-podge of
leftovers photo, print and design stuff that has become the Sat @ Phillips Auction.. Strangely enough famed Broadway Playwright Edward Albee was there early, with paddle in hand as well. I walked over to see the Araki Nobuyoshi show at Anton Kern.
It was early.. Like 10:30am which I guess is
way too early for gallerina time! So I was all alone, it was super quiet, so quiet, I could easily eavesdrop hear & see Mr. Kern very clearly on the phone.
"Hi Vince.. It's Anton Kern, I was wondering if you'll have time to come see our Nobuyoshi Araki Show, as you probably know it was featured in yesterday's New York Times...please give me a call if you have any questions. Thanks, Happy Holidays!"
First off, one friendly MAO suggestion to gallery owners.. either close the office door, talk softer, lookout for nosey bloggers, try to actually engage your visitors, or put some music on in the background!
But I digress.. So.. It was interesting to hear a gallery owner
begging, selling his soul lobbying for a show review. I guess with too so many shows in Chelsea as the ever thought provoking Ed Winkleman wrote and hotly debated yesterday. Even one proud MAN blogger lost his cool,cookies "Christmas Spirit" in a debate with one anonymous coward, gallerina, heckler commenter! OK, so, it's a major hurtle to get a show reviewed..fine. But then I was thinking why doesn't someone just start a business where gallery owners pay a fee, and have a nice positive fluffy review written.. oh.. wait.. Artforum has already filled that business model. I guess Gagosian (a-la "Mike Kelley's "Day is Over-Done") has already proved the theory that there's a positive correlation between the amount of money spent on advertising in art magazines and the probability of a show getting a prominent and always positive review. Enough said on that!
Araki.. So.. Like we've never had a show of colorful pictures of over sexed flowers and naked tortured girls before...? Now that's something Vince should run over to see and write up ASAP!! Can you say...totally forgettable, been there done by everyone, they All Rook-A-Rike? NO? Is this really an important show deserving of that now precious, valuable, scarce all-mighty critic review?
Well.. Maybe. While I found the work (mostly diptychs of one pouty faced tide-up girl, and a painted flower) a bit contrived, tacky and sometimes laughable. It does give the
NYC American Art world in-site as to what's successful in Japan and how it's been over run by the American art aesthetic. To his credit, the work does show transition and growth.
Last night I looked back through two old books, Tokyo Love - Spring Fever Nan Goldin and Nobuyoshi Araki ,1994, and Promiscuous Flowers - The photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe and Nobuyoshi Araki, 2001. In these projects Araki's work looks simple, flat, almost amateurish when in direct comparison to these 2
NYC American masters. Was this a Japanese vs American art aesthetic? I think so. But his latest work, he's achieved complexity and depth the previous photo's lacked, but now it all looks very 1990's American!
It's clear Araki has been heavily influenced by American art photography, maybe too much. I found these new hyper colorized painted flowers on their own, an interesting twist on the typical pretty flower image. They almost appear bleeding, liquid and raw. A show of these alone might have been more interesting to an American eye. Whether this show is deserving of yet another critic review.. I guess that's up to Vince, and the ad sales department of Artforum! But I do think it shows an interesting transition of a Japanese photographer trying (and probably failing) to appeal to the new
NYC American contemporary art photography aesthetic.