Friday, March 27, 2009

Martin Ramirez at Nielsen

Martin Ramirez (1895-1963) spent the last 15 years of his life confined in a California state hospital as a schizophrenic. But folks like The New York Times have come to consider him “one of the greatest artists of the 20th century” for the obsessive drawings he made there of trains and tunnels, caballeros and wild critters. They’re a cockeyed blend of Art Deco and de Chirico, energized by Ramirez’s signature stripes pulsing like neon lights on a theater marquee. Through May 2, Nielsen Gallery at 179 Newbury St. in Boston presents “Martin Ramirez: At the Center, In the Eye,” a rare local show of eight of his drawings. I've put together a slideshow of the artworks here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"Shôwa Sophistication" at MFA

From my review of “Shôwa Sophistication: Japan in the 1930s” at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts:
The paintings in "Shôwa Sophistication" at the Museum of Fine Arts are like the dreamiest travel posters you've ever seen. Produced in Japan during the 1930s, these images of pretty ladies and prettier countryside are so sweet, peaceful, and alluring that you can hardly imagine they were created while the nation was ramping up for war. The mystery of that disconnect energizes the already splendid art.

"Shôwa" was a name given to Emperor Hirohito by the ministers of Japan's imperial council when he acceded to the throne upon the death of his father, Emperor Taishô, in 1926. "Shô" can be translated from Japanese as clear, bright, or enlightened; "wa" can mean peace, harmony, and reconciliation. So Shôwa, the label for both the emperor and his reign, is sometimes translated as enlightened peace — or Japan bringing enlightened peace.

The name suits these 19 placid paintings, all of which were acquired by the MFA over the past five years.
Read the rest here.

"Shôwa Sophistication: Japan in the 1930s,” Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, Feb. 11 to Nov. 8, 2009.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"The Sight of Sound"

From my review of "The Sight of Sound" at Machines With Magnets:
"The Sight of Sound" is a group show which focuses on the impetus behind much locally-made art: music. Though many artists here make both art and music, and Providence has become renowned for its rock posters, music's influence on Providence art often isn't obvious. So you're left trying to tease out connections between, say, Brian Chippendale's relentless Lightning Bolt drum beats and his obsessive mark-making.

"The Sight of Sound," curated by Allison Cole and MWM honcho Lauren Holt, is about music as style. It's art — illustration, prints, letterpress, photos, video, sound, and sculpture by 22 artists — that adopts something of music's swagger.
Read the rest here.

"The Sight of Sound" at Machines with Magnets, 400 Main Street, Pawtucket, through March 27, 2009.

Pictured from top to bottom: Michael Bizon of Providence, Jyll Ethier-Mullen of Providence, Andrea Kang of Providence, Lauren Minco of Providence and Dave Kiersh of Arlington, Massachusetts.