“There is a whole world of people not being represented in images. I’m not about idealizing. I’m trying to find the character and talk about humans and our imperfections.”
Stefan Gesek is influenced by the Ashcan painters of the early 20th century. His interest lies in portraying the raw everyday life of people on the streets. Each character begins with a line drawing. Whether it becomes a six-foot cutout or a ceramic head, his line activates these characters and is reminiscent of the poignant lines in George Grosz and Otto Dix.
In this exhibit “Draw The Line” you will walk through a world of people Stefan has created, sometimes humorous, sometimes thoughtful. These six foot characters cut in MDF stand around the floor, while the ceramic heads drop from the ceiling and ‘The "XXOOS" Notes” he drew for his wife Peggy every morning, show the process behind the figures and how his mind is creating and navigating between different scales and mediums.
“You have to put yourself in a situation where you’re surprised. It’s a very deliberate thing.”
This is exactly what Gesek does with the materials he works with, studying its nature and capitalizing on it. The glazes he uses for his ceramic heads have the quality of the Horses from the Tang dynasty unearthed after hundreds of years. “You have a pretty good idea as to what your glazes will look like but when you fire your work up to 2300 degrees’ things change. When you open the kiln door you are always presented with something unexpected, that you’re going to have to live with. Glaze and clay are live organic mediums, and you have to try and work with it to understand it enough, to send it in the direction you want it to go.” Stefan’s approach to art is to remove the ego.
“Each piece begins with a quick life sketch, it’s a note to self. Something about a person, the way they walk, or the age lines around the mouth, or the shape of an arm. Back in the studio I do 20 or more interpretive brush and ink studies. Thru this process I’m trying to remove the representational line and find the gesture and emotion. I exhaust the inspiration and put everything away. Days later when I return to the project the work is fresh and I am always surprised by what I find.”
Gesek's work is powerfully intuitive, developed over years of practice. His portraits and figures are an unconscious reflection of his thoughts and emotion, in turn the work becomes a reflection of humanity because we all share the same experience -- life. In a small Venice Beach bungalow, surrounded by his work, Stefan lives with Peggy, their two Bullmastiffs, ‘the girls’, an old feral cat and a rabbit named Nadine. Everywhere you sit or stand you are greeted by the work. Four portraits on ceramic platters share your shower in the morning and when you sit down for a cup of tea, you are faced with the portrait of Siobhan or Mr. Greenglass.
FEBRUARY 23 - MARCH 25 2017
MANUAL DIGITAL features the works of eight national artists who have developed new visual languages by embracing digital tools in their primarily analog work. The works in this show are part of TheNew Aesthetic, coined by James Bridle and this exhibition presents artwork that is defined by or influenced by computer technology’s increasing role in daily life. The technologically informed practices of these artists reveal new potential meeting points about the time and space in which we equally reside. While the intersections of art & technology have garnered attention in the growing and varied genre known as new media, the practice of many contemporary artists relies on technology in ways that are more subtle to the eye and accessible to a wider public audience Curated by artist, art consultant and independent curator Beth Waldman and presented by Levy Art + Architecture. “Manual Digital” will be on exhibit at Space151 from February 23rd, through March 25th, 2017. Join us for a celebratory opening reception Thursday, February 23rd from 6-8pm and a closing reception Saturday, March 25th 6-9pm.
Jenny Day, Tucson, AZ. Day’s work uses satellite images from United States Superfund Sites combined with photographs shot while driving along major freeways from Los Angeles, California to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The end result depicts painted landscapes mediated by multiple layers of technology, a fragmented space; the work examines human demand and the effects of environmental degradation on an understanding of place.
Victoria Mara Heilweil & Phil Spitler, San Francisco, CA. Collaborators Heilweil and Spitler utilized a mixture of software tools and digital fabrication techniques to create their illuminated seating arrangement. The fluid elegance of the forms and gradual color shifts from the interior lighting transform the physical experience of the two sculpted benches. The seating is both form and function.
Ted Lawson, New York City, NY. Brooklyn based Ted Lawson combines digital technology with highly crafted traditional sculpting methods to seamlessly produce conceptual abstract and figurative objects questioning the essence of truth that underlies our human existence.
Oleg Lobykin, Palo Alto, CA. Lobykin’s current series of fiberglass and marble sculptures take his longer term explorations in dualities and inevitable coexistence a step further by re-imagining the arising of life from the molecular level as something new begins to emerge from an almost chaotic "Cellular Soup". Using industrial tools which reference man-made marks and primitive scrapings, these recent organic elements allude to the technological constructions occurring in his own backyard that are altering the way we experience and relate to the world.
Jamie Martinez, New York City, NY. Jamie Martinez’s reconstructed oil paintings explore the role that technology plays in how art is perceived, translated and presented with Triangulism, a unique process involving the cutting up of images into triangulated segments to express their essential form and true nature.
Neil Murphy, Burlingame, CA. Merging his love of nature and science, Hawaiian born Murphy’s works on paper embrace digital explorations and acrylic wash and ink paintings. He combines them into unexpected imagery of abstract landscapes and reinterpretations of brain networks and neurotransmitters. His work starts with hand drawn illustrations, developed through field research, that cascade cascade naturally into tropical colors and delicate line work that speak to our inner and outer workings.
Beth Davila Waldman, Mill Valley, CA. Waldman’s paintings are constructed through a raw subtractive process of digital photography printed on canvas and an equally raw painterly approach. Using her own architectural photography from travels through the US and abroad, her work embraces the texture and a delicate linear quality from her digital process and merges them seamlessly with equal weight and a painterly approach.
Konstantin Zlatev, San Francisco, CA. Using step-by-step algorithm in order to avoid the subjective judgment of the input of the author, architect and artist Zlatev transforms iconic images from Greek philosophers to historical political figures, digitally constructed landscapes to zoomorphic abstractions.
Mushi and Alex Nichols met on the streets of San Francisco, through a single Japanese sentence written in Alex's journal. Mushi walked by and recognized the hiragana characters and stopped. An entire collaboration began from a single sentence.
わたしはとてもはずかしかったのでかおがあかくなりました。I was totally embarrassed and so my face turned red.It’s grammatically complex and the vocabulary of the day was ‘hazukashi’ from an Aida Mitsuo poem. “When I hold my brush I am terribly embarrassed.” His poem is on the wall of a museum in Tokyo. In a a small room thirty poems hang inked on rice paper, a tall Japanese man is moving slowly through the room, we are the only ones in the room and a strange sound causes me to turn toward him. His face is wet, he is not speaking and what I heard had escaped his mouth. He bows. We know that every mark is a beginners mark, even after years of practice. We are always beginning.
That’s how Mushi and Alex feel every time we drag a giant white box out onto a street in San Francisco and even more in a foreign country where we cant speak the language. We do it anyway. This great white box is the The Portable Studio and it started as a project about human communication on the streets of San Francisco. Clarion alley was the first location and as the portable studio took off like a kite in the winds funneling down the alley off 17th street in the mission district, a drunk man wove through the alley looking for a place to take a piss, and our box looked like the place of choice.
The inspiration for the Portable Studio was the Porta Potty--after losing a studio in SF to a new tech company along with 80 other artists, I thought, “if a toilet can be anywhere on a street in SF why not a studio!”
The thing about the Portable Studio is that it started as study of human communication. Placing two people in the box with two objects. We were two artists working like anthropologists, looking at how people would interact in this isolated white space with only two objects, with only each other. Two rules: no talking and no touching, people were nervous, really nervous, ‘What should we do in the box?” “Anything, there are only two rules.” “but maybe we have nothing to do” “Just play.”
At Pier 96 the sounds were deafening and we were given strict instructions to watch out for the bulldozers and heavy machinery. “You can get decapitated in seconds if you step in the wrong direction, you need to be looking 360 degrees at all times.!” ‘OK” So how do we invite people off the street into the box. We’ve learned a lot. Rarely will a total stranger step in. We need a go-between, somebody in each community who is trusted. If they step in others will follow.
In Berlin on the Templehof airport strip the box had to be physically held down. People tell us stories of their neighborhoods. Murals painted and then painted over. Buildings coming up, people burned off their lands. Whats happening in SF is also happening in different countries for different reasons. People trying to make homes and losing homes.
Our background is in photography, painting, film. Through photographs and films we catch this active language between people. This is not body language it is about space about that critical space between us, and that is why we call it critical contact art.
R A W
SPACE 151 and Levy Art + Architecture present:
R A W
An exhibition featuring the work of artists Katie Chin, Jeffrey Nemeroff, and Melissa Shanley that explores the natural, abstract and unrefined.
Through diverse mediums, the trio share a common fascination for the tactile and organic expression of seemingly accidental textures and forms.
Katie Chin's 2 and 3-dimensional work is made with melted optical fibers and beeswax, using communication technologies as a medium because of their tactile, organic qualities. Jeffrey Nemeroff incorporates fabric and string into his paintings, on which a composition is often pulled out of chaos. Photographer Melissa Shanley examines the wear, warping, damage and restoration of surfaces standing in service for hundreds of years.
By addressing the essence of material, viewers are welcome to consider a meditative perspective.
OCTOBER 12-28 2016
Temporal Static is about "Vision is Motion/Motion is Vision”.
The theme of the body of work shown is the interplay of dynamic structures and pure energy, vibration between lines and colors, relationships between organic and dissolution of forms and structures. I want them to detect motion across their visual field. I want them to feel.
Whether drawing people, still life or abstract pieces, the work here is about capturing energy, hence the name ‘Temporal Static’. Just for a brief moment, we can feel and see the unseen.
The work shown is a combination of paper cutouts, collages, mixed media, and oil pastel. Most of the works have been produced between 2013-2016. Working with Sara Haag at Levy Art + Architecture, I created and developed the work for this exhibition for the past two months.
The exhibition also examines scale from the individual form to groups of a larger narrative. The goal here being to connect with people by having them be able to view the work at different sizes, and thereby pulling different meanings and feelings from the works.