The Global Within: Indian Art at the YBCA [Review]

The Matter Within | Saturday, October 15, 2011 – Sunday, January 29, 2011 | YBCA | San Francisco

Whether you’re conscious of it or not, when you go to an exhibition dedicated to India, you expect to encounter pieces that address certain cliches. Maybe not Bollywood or beggars, but at least the IT industry. Thankfully, “The Matter Within” stayed away from “branding” the country (unlike, for example, the YBCA‘s “Brazilian” exhibition “When Lives Become Form” that happened a few years back). The exhibition is international in outlook, taking on such themes as the legacy of colonialism, nationalism, homophobia, and exclusion. One could easily imagine that framework applied to exhibitions dedicated to a variety of regions, from Africa to Latin America to the former Eastern bloc. Maybe some works chosen for those imagined exhibitions would even turn out to be similar to those in “The Matter Within.” Whether this would be the case for a show centered exclusively on a “First World” country, such as the U.S., is a thought-provoking question–but that’s another story.

Sudarshan Shetty, No Title (from "this too shall pass"), gold leaf on fiberglass, mild steel, coin box, etched brass, 2010 — credit: Anil Rane

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ARTSEEKR Events November 22 – December 5, 2011

Left Coast Leaning, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, December 1-3, 8pm This annual performing arts festival supports diverse forms of expression. The centerpiece of this year’s edition is perhaps a multimedia work by Alexandro Segade, which “takes place in a dreamlike, sci-fi L.A. cityscape where gay marriage is state-mandated and those who don’t conform are hunted down.” Also on the bill: slam poetry (Rafael Casal), tap dancing (Jason Samuels Smith), and dance performances that explore “the sexualized black body in the realm of the spectacle” (Anna Martine Whitehead) and “the awkwardness of human beauty and the struggles of intimate negotiation” (tEEth).

Alexandro Segade, Replicant VS Separatist, Pictured: Colin Martin and Justin Streichman. Credit: Scott Groller

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Masters of Venice & Ralph Eugene Meatyard [Review]

Masters of Venice | Saturday, October 29, 2011 to Sunday, February 12, 2012 | Ralph Eugene Meatyard | Saturday, October 8, 2011 – Sunday, February 26, 2012 | de Young Museum | San Francisco 

Unlike the Picasso, Warhol, or Impressionism exhibitions that the de Young has presented in recent years, “Masters of Venice” is not very big–only about 50 pieces. But those pieces are extremely famous. One even wonders how the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna let them travel over the ocean, since most of them will soon be 500 years old. Saint Sebastian by Mantegna, Danae by Titian, Susanna and the Elders by Tintoretto, The Three Philosophers by Giorgione–are you kidding me? All of those works stand at the origins of painting as we know it. The Renaissance, after all, was the period when oil painting technique was first mastered, and art became aligned more with the aristocracy than the church.

Jacopo Robusti, called Tintoretto. Susanna and the Elders. ca. 1555-1556. Oil on canvas. Gemäldegalerie of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Image provided by the de Young Museum.

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Art Top 5: Exhibitions Opening November 2011

Francesca Woodman, SFMOMA, November 5, 2011 – February 20, 2012

One of the strengths of the SFMOMA is its photography program. This season the museum will host an exhibition of photographs by Francesca Woodman, which will be the first major show of her work in the United States (it will later travel to the Guggenheim). Woodman died in 1981, at the age of just 22, but she left behind a huge body of work, amounting to more than 800 pieces. She created highly enigmatic and haunting images, in which the body (often her own) is placed in evocative settings.

Francesca Woodman, Self-portrait talking to Vince, Providence, Rhode Island, 1975–78; gelatin silver print; 5 1/8 x 5 1/16 in. (13 x 12.9 cm); courtesy George and Betty Woodman; © George and Betty Woodman. Photo provided by SFMOMA.

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Art Top 5: Fall 2011 Photography Exhibitions

We hereby present our new column–the Art Top 5. Every month we will publish a list of exhibitions or art events in the SF Bay Area that we find the most interesting. Our first column will be dedicated to photography, since this fall is going to be rich with good photo exhibits.

More American Photographs, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, October 4 – December 17, 2011

The CCA Wattis seems hell-bent on exploring America’s psyche. In the recent past it staged a series of shows focusing on particular states (“Americana: 50 States, 50 Months, 50 Exhibitions”) as well as exhibits dedicated to American literary classics such as Moby Dick and Huckleberry Finn. “More American Photographs” is a no less ambitious undertaking: the CCA Wattis asked twelve contemporary artists to follow the footsteps of Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and others who documented rural poverty as part of the Farm Security Administration’s Depression-era photography program. The “lineup” of those who were chosen to picture the precariousness of 21st-century American life varies wildly: from Martha Rosler, whose name is associated with razor-sharp social critique, to Larry Clark, who is famous for his sleazy photos of youngsters on the loose. The contributors’ list is indeed a “who’s who” of contemporary US photography, featuring also Catherine Opie, Stephen Shore, Katy Grannan, and Alec Soth. I am particularly interested in what the latter came up with, knowing his gift for spotting madness in seemingly insignificant stuff. A number of works by the FSA photographers will also be presented.

Catherine Opie, Bravo, 2011. 15 x 20 inches. Inkjet print. Courtesy the artist and Regen Projects, Los Angeles

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