“Durchbruch”, and Troy Simmons‘ Brutalism Series, explores the destructive relationship man has on nature. The artist stretches the viewer’s imagination in his visual translation of how nature is depicted as an independent entity – a revolutionary force.

Simmons describes his work as an exploration of incompatible binary relationships. He continues to challenge himself by creating unique pieces that expose the stable coexistence of opposites.

Inspired by nature’s persistence to co-exist despite the impact we impose, Simmons’ work is a contemporary re-incarnation of the Arte Povera genre. He uses concrete, color fields and organic forms to express his position on the harmonious existence of different entities.

Troy Simmons was born in Texas and currently lives and works in Miami, FL.

David Ebony’s Top 10 New York Gallery Shows for May


1. Cildo Meireles at Galerie Lelong, through June 27. 
This marks the first U.S. solo show in a decade for Brazilian conceptualist maestro Cildo Meireles. On view are a number of recent sculptures and installations, shown here for the first time, plus re-workings of several classic Meireles pieces, which lend the show the feel of a mini-retrospective.

The Rio de Janeiro-based artist uses a specialized metaphorical visual language to tackle a broad range of social and political issues in his work. In Aquarium (2015), for instance, he comments on the fact that while Brazil contains approximately 12 percent of the world’s fresh water, there is a dire water shortage in the country’s largest city, São Paolo. This sculpture consists of two glass vessels on a white-painted wood shelf. One container is filled with water, and the other with gold, an allusion to the vast amount of water used in the country’s mining industries.

The tour de force here is Amerikkka (1991/2013), a large-scale interactive installation featuring two expansive rectangular panels, one suspended over the floor at a slight angle, and covered with 40,000 golden bullets of various sizes. The lower panel is a platform covered with white-painted wooden eggs which allude to the apocryphal story whereby Christopher Columbus, in an effort to explain his global adventure, balanced an egg at the edge of a table by flattening its tip.

In a rather subversive gesture, Meireles invites visitors to walk on the platform without shoes. Moving around the unforgiving, lumpy surface is hard on the feet, but the effort is highly recommended. It intensifies the experience of looking up at the threatening canopy of bullets just overhead.


Installation view. Mary Corse, 2015.
Photo: Courtesy Lehmann Maupin.

2. Mary Corse at Lehmann Maupin, through June 13. 
As one of the few women associated with the ultra-macho Light & Space movement in Southern California in the 1960s, Mary Corse has honed a refined form of expression that sets her work apart. At first, her endeavor appears to be a rarified type of minimalist painting, most often using a reductive palette of white and grays, and spare compositions of vertical bands. She uses acrylic paint mixed with microspheres—tiny reflective glass beads often used for the white line dividers of highways. The light from the reflective surfaces intensifies as one moves around these elegant canvases.

This riveting show of recent works is extraordinary in its use of color. The first gallery features compositions with bands of blue and white, while others highlight works with red, yellow and black. These are commanding pieces by a veteran artist in top form.


Lisa Yuskavage, Sari, 2015.
Photo: Courtesy David Zwirner Gallery.

3. Lisa Yuskavage at David Zwirner, through June 13. 
In her best exhibition in years, Lisa Yuskavage continues to employ the refined painting technique and the exaggerated sexploitation imagery with which she established her career. In these new and ambitious paintings, Yuskavage claims a unique approach to narrative that is more complex and thought-provoking than before. There are the familiar, big-breasted female nudes, and also a quirky cast of well-endowed male nudes in the mix.

In evidence here is a fresh, nuanced vision that seems poignant and vital. In works like Sari (2015), Yuskavage offers a rather graceful study of a topless young woman holding a steaming cup of tea. There is an idyllic serenity to the image. By contrast, The Neighbors (2014) conveys a scandalous tale of suburban intrigue by featuring a nude male and female couple ostensibly having had a tryst alongside a tall, white picket fence. Paintings such as Hippies (2013) and Mardi Gras Honeymoon (2015) suggest that each of Yuskavage’s hedonistic flesh-pot fantasies encompasses a cautionary tale. Beyond the moral issues, the work proposes an even greater psychological as well as practical dilemma. Once the orgy is over, and the giddy high has subsided, is there any place that might be called “home”?


Torbjørn Rødland, Red Pump, (2015). Photo: Courtesy Algus Greenspon.

4. Torbjørn Rødland at Algus Greenspon, through June 20.
The orgiastic images by Norwegian-born, Los Angeles-based photo artist Torbjørn Rødland convey a very specific and eccentric world view. His range is broad, including figure studies, still lifes and slice-of-life craziness that sometimes seems cacophonous and disjointed. This excellent show of 10 recent works, titled, “Corpus Dubium,” shows there can be cohesiveness to his vision.

The exhibition’s title in Latin means “Body Doubt” or Dubious Body,” and it kicks off with Drunken Man (2015), a large photo showing an overweight, shirtless bloke drenched in red wine. This modern day Bacchus sets the tone for the nine other works on view. The Mirror(2015) features a back-lit nude woman taking a selfie. Some of the images, such as Red Pump (2015), showing a red high heel lodged in the waistband of a man’s pants, have the slickness of fashion shoots. But the quirky eroticism of this piece, and others in the show, is rather far removed from conventional commercial photography.


Installation view. Michael Heizer “Altars,” 2015.
Photo: Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.

5. Michael Heizer at Gagosian Gallery, through July 2.
This exhibition of monumental works by Michael Heizer makes a strong case for the legendary status of this reclusive artist, who lives and works in the Nevada desert. For decades, he has been preoccupied with creating The City, a vast earth work covering over a mile-long stretch of land with berms and architectonic structures that resemble the ruins of some long-lost civilization. Few people have ever seen this piece in person, due to its remote location. So it’s a rare opportunity to experience Heizer’s art by means of this exceptional New York gallery show—his first at Gagosian.

“Michael Heizer: Altars” is an awesome spectacle featuring a number of massive “hanging boulder” sculptures, such as Asteroid (c. 2000), a 12-ton cinnamon-hued ore rock ensconced in a specially designed  wall alcove, and the even mightier, 18-ton hunk of granite, titled, Potato Chip(2015). Carefully arranged on tiered steel platforms throughout the gallery spaces are the “Altars,” shaped metal objects, up to 40 by 40 feet, that were inspired by the forms of pictographs, like those of ancient desert rock carvings. A special treat in the show is a room filled with several large, shaped canvases, early paintings, from the 1960s, with spare compositions that demonstrate Heizer’s minimalist roots, and hint at his later architectural inclinations and ambitions.


Al Held, Particular Paradise 5 (1999).
Photo: Courtesy Van Doren Waxter.

6. Al Held at Van Doren Waxter, through July 2.
Al Held’s complex architectural vision has the look of computer graphics and sci-fi imagery, which play out in his richly colored abstract paintings. Yet, the Brooklyn-born artist, who died in Camerata, Italy, in 2005, at age 76, never employed computer programs for his work. Instead, his intricate and refined compositions are largely based on spaces found in Renaissance art, with which he surrounded himself in the environs of Umbria, Italy, where he lived and worked since the 1980s.

“Al Held: Particular Paradox” highlights a rare late series of large watercolors painted in Italy from 1999 and 2000. The works appear as paintings on canvas, since Held mounted the pliable, handmade paper over the sides of wood panels, like stretcher frames. The painted sides of each piece are integral to the overall composition.

Some of the works on view can be counted among Held’s best efforts.Particular Paradox 5 (1999) seems to describe the interior of a futuristic structure, with a network of beams situated beneath a domed ceiling of blue and purple rectangles. Particular Paradox 30 (2000) is a fine example of Held’s incorporation of the fourth dimension in his work. Here, various configurations of geometric forms seem to hover in space; contradictory perspectives and spatial relationships require the element of time to absorb the entire image, which needs to be scanned rather than viewed straight on.


Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Ultrasuede Wave (2015).
Photo: Courtesy Marianne Boesky Gallery.

7. Jessica Jackson Hutchins, at Marianne Boesky Gallery, through June 6.
In this show of recent works, titled, “Jessica Jackson Hutchins: I Do Choose,” the Chicago-born artist creates a haunting tableau of sculptures and reliefs that seems to reference domestic interiors. Reconstituted or sometimes imploded elements—overstuffed chairs piled up with funky ceramic vessels, found furniture slathered with paint, and battered found objects and mutilated canvases—might seem to constitute a nightmarish vision. But Hutchins’s work may be considered more as an apocalyptic reverie, full of tongue-in-cheek humor.

Wall-hung pieces like Third Eye, featuring a broken folding chair attached to an anarchically painted abstract canvas, is certainly striking, but maybe owes too great a debt to Robert Rauschenberg‘s “Combines.” Hutchins is at her best in pieces like Ultrasuede Wave(2015), in which a large glazed ceramic object sits atop a beige sofa painted here and there with rough markings in blue and white, hinting at the aquatic theme referenced in the title. In some way, this memorable work suggests a couch potato’s daydream of an afternoon at the beach.     


Tiffany Chung, Operation Lam So’n 719 in 1971 (2015).
Photo: Courtesy Tyler Rollins Fine Art

8. Tiffany Chung at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, through June 26.
The beauty of Tiffany Chung’s exhibition is in the details. “Finding One’s Shadow in the Ruins and Rubble” contains dozens of small works, more in the order of archival fragments, interconnecting three major themes centered on the long-term effects of natural and man-made disasters: the devastating 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan; the battlefields of the Vietnam War; and the ongoing war in Syria. The Vietnam War-related works have special significance for the artist, whose father was a pilot for the South Vietnamese Air Force during the war.

Chung’s interests in cartography are evident in each of the meticulous, map-like drawings designating locations of specific historical events and their aftermath, including disused and ruined airstrips throughout South Vietnam, and sites of devastation in and around Kobe, Japan, where the artist worked for some years. The series focused on Syria features a group of light boxes placed on the floor, which contain images of the ruins of Homs, a once-vital urban center.

Coinciding with this show, Chung presents a new series of works in the current Venice Biennale, as part of curator Okwui Enwezor’s exhibition “All the World’s Futures,” on view through November 22.


Hope Gangloff, Dark Horse (Tim Traynor), 2015. Photo: Courtesy Susan Inglett Galler

9. Hope Gangloff at Susan Inglett, through June 6.  
In the midst of the overwhelming preponderance these days of photo-based paintings, New York artist Hope Gangloff has the audacity to paint from life. Through her colorful, highly stylized brand of image-making, with influences ranging from Egon Schiele to Alice Neel and Sylvia Sleigh, the large-scale portraitist manages to capture some convincing and lively personalities.

Among the highlights of this show of recent works is Yelena, featuring a standing figure in a colorful dress and boots, set against at searing background of interlocking Matissean patterns. And Dark Horse (Tim Traynor)(2015), a similarly compelling image, shows the bearded drummer for the Brooklyn-based band Workout as he pounds away at his kit.


Installation view. Simon Hantaï, 2015.
Photo: Courtesy Mnuchin Gallery

10. Simon Hantaï at Mnuchin Gallery, through June 26. 
“Pliage: The First Decade,” is a stunning show of large-scale abstract paintings of the 1960s by the late Hungarian-born French artist Simon Hantaï. The artist had a major influence on the Support/Surfaces group of the French avant-garde. Inspired by Jackson Pollock, Hantaï had an early ambition to reinvent painting. He developed a number of novel techniques, many of which are evident in the resplendent works currently on view.

Hantaï experimented with “pliage” or a folding method, in which he knotted and crumbled the unstretched canvases on the floor before painting. Afterward, the unfurled and stretched canvas revealed elaborate and chance patterns of fragmented shapes in vivid colors, suggesting light and movement.

Among the five series of works represented in this show, “Panses” are centralized compositions with richly textured surfaces. Some of them, such as M.M. 2 (1964), recall multifaceted gems. In the more familiar monochrome “Études,” white forms of unpainted negative space recall leaf shapes. Most striking of all are works from the “Mariales” series, including Mariale M.C. 7 (1962), in which the dense and intense textures resemble those of geological formations or the surface crazing of glazed ceramics.

David Ebony is contributing editor of Art in America and a longtime contributor to artnet.

All the Frieze Week Happenings You Need to Know


Frieze New York,Photo via Frize Art fair

So, Frieze week is upon us. When did it all of the sudden become May and hot outside?

Just like Armory week and Art Basel in Miami, there will be a flurry of not-to-miss events and satellite fairs. To help prevent headaches and too cramped calendars, we’ve got the lowdown for the best parties and events to get excited about.

Monday, May 11
Performa Visionaries Event
Curator Roya Sachs is organizing this one-night only performance “Void” on May 11 as part of Performa’s Visionaries program. Dancers from the New York City Ballet Sean Suozzi and Claire Kretzschmar will perform choreography by Tory Schumacher in an interactive art installation by artist Jordan Backhus.
Live Stream HQ, Brooklyn, New York. 8pm. Invitation Only.

Tuesday, May 12
Pierre Huyghe at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The French conceptual artist will debut his site-specific installation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s rooftop space. Judging from his outstanding show at LACMA last year, there will most probably be a queue to see the installation—but it will definitely be worth it. (See Is Pierre Huyghe the World’s Most Opaque Popular Artist? Ben Davis Sizes Up His LACMA Show).
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ticketed.

Stefano Tonchi and Ian Schrager Fête Edition New York and W Mag
The glossy mag will celebrate their Art Issue and the unveiling of Ian Schrager’s New York Edition hotel at the new space with a cocktail event including entertainment by Q-Tip. If it’s as wild as the duo’s Miami event (ice rink and bowling included) this surely will be one for the books.
Edition Hotel, New York. 10pm. Invitation Only.

Wednesday, May 13
Collective Design
The equivalent of Design Miami but in New York, Collective Design (in its third year running) is another one-stop place for all your wackiest design dreams.
Skylight Clarkson Sq, New York. Open to public.

The massive contemporary art fair’s VIP preview day starts on Wednesday (see See What Top Dealers Are Bringing to Frieze New York). Get ready to make this list your new best friend (see 10 Tips To Make Art Fairs More Fun)
Randall’s Island. Invitation only for preview, ticketed event.

This lesser-known satellite fair comes back to New York for its fourth reiteration. You’ll find under the radar galleries such as Transmitter, C24 gallery, and Alter Space showing emerging to mid-career artists.
548 Center, Chelsea. Ticketed.

Whitewall Magazine Cocktails
Fashion and art magazine Whitewall will host a cocktail party for the launch of their new art fair guide app, Whitewaller, with special guests Daniel Arsham, Hank Willis Thomas, Zoe Buckman, and Helen Toomer.
Edition Hotel, New York. Invitation Only.

ArtList x ArtBinder Party
Newcomers to the art-tech scene but no strangers to throwing raucous parties, ArtList teams up with iPad art organizing app, ArtBinder, to host a bash to celebrate their three month anniversary (see Online Sales Platform Offers Artists a Cut).
Happy Ending. 10pm. Invitation Only.

Thursday, May 14
The emerging art fair will have its opening day on Thursday. Look forward to seeing both new and familiar artists at this satellite fair. Special projects in this year’s program include a poker tournament and a dog show.
Basketball City, 299 South Street, New York. Open to Public.

Art Miami New York
Organized by the team behind Art Miami, Art Southampton, Aqua, and Art Silicon Valley, this modern and contemporary art fair will come to New York for the first time. Its roster boasts 100 galleries showing 1,200 artists from 50 countries.
Pier 94, New York. Invitation only for preview, ticketed event.

Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960–1971
The opening reception for “Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960–1971″ at the MoMA will take place on Thursday to celebrate the museum’s upcoming solo exhibit of the 80-year-old artist.
Museum of Modern Art, New York. 7–9pm. Invitation Only.

Friday, May 15
The contemporary African art fair comes to New York for the first time. The nascent fair’s list of exhibitors include A Palazzo Gallery, David Krut Projects, and Afronova.
Pioneer Works, Brooklyn. Ticketed.

Drifting Daylight
Creative Time and the Central Park Conservancy will unveil its large-scale interactive and performance project at the end of the hectic week. Artists such as Spencer Finch, Alicia Framis, and Ragnar Kjartansson were commissioned by the conservancy to mark their 35th year preserving New York’s largest green area (see The Next Big Creative Time Project Will Land in Central Park).
Central Park’s North End, New York. 12–6pm. Open to Public.

Artnet Asks: Troy Simmons

Nature and Brutalism influence the tactile works of Troy Simmons, who appropriates tools and materials commonly used in construction projects. His mixed-media pieces are subjected to deconstructive processes in the artist’s attempt to grapple with the relationship between uninhibited nature and urban order. Simmons will be exhibiting next at Art Paris with JanKossen Contemporary.


When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Childhood explorations, through the woods of East Texas, exposed me to the unique characteristics of a plant called Berchemia Scandens. It wraps itself around nearby objects, while trying to reach sunlight, strangling its host to the point of destruction. The plant is usually chopped and destroyed to control its widespread growth. After bringing a few cut pieces back to my home in Houston, my mind was filled with thoughts of this plant growing free and uncontrolled in an urban environment. The juxtaposition of concrete, metal, and wood, harmonizing while competing for space, pushed me to become an artist.

Do you have a motto for yourself or your artistic process?
I’m not sure if I’d considered this my motto, but a hammer is my paintbrush and Home Depot is my art supply store. To be more specific, I repurpose construction products to execute my ideas.

I work with a wide variety of materials and tools: chisels, lasers, levels, upholstery tools, auto paint, acrylics, resin, and aluminum, to name a few. I enjoy learning and experimenting with different materials, stretching the limits of their intended use.

Describe your creative process. What kinds of patterns, routines, or rituals do you have?
I approach each piece like a construction project. I create sketches, 3D renderings, and detail drawings before physically starting a piece. The framing and structural parts of my work have to be precisely engineered. After laying the concrete, I begin the process of deconstruction. Sometimes, I’ll drop the piece, allowing the characteristics of concrete to freely take over. I then use hammers, chisels, and drills to sculpt the concrete into the desired form. I’m a night dweller, so most of my ideas usually come while most are sleeping. Midnight is the peak of my creative day, constructing frames and mixing concrete. I usually listen to a musician by the name of Pantha Du Prince while I work.

Do you ever experience artist’s block? What do you do to overcome it?
Fortunately, I have not truly experienced artist’s block so far. Most of my pieces take from two to six months to complete. So, I usually have more of a problem deciding which ideas I want to bring to life. To overcome this, I try to create pieces that fit a specific space or location I’ve seen or visited in the past.

If you could own any artwork, what would it be and why?
If space was no issue, I would love to own the Yugoslav World War II monument located in Tjentiste, Bosnia. I love the precise, yet free-formed characteristics of the piece.

If you could have dinner with any three artists, living or dead, who would you choose?
I’m most influenced by architects (artists) from the Brutalism movement of the 1950s and 1960s. I spent time exploring southern Germany and toured a church called Feldbergkirche (Feldberg Church) by architect Rainer Disse. That was my first experience with postwar modern Brutalism. I was intrigued by the large geometric shapes, created entirely with board-formed concrete. The hard, straight lines of the structure, surrounded by the Black Forest seemed paradoxical but harmonious. I’d also love to sit down with Charles-Édouard Jeanneret,Richard Neutra, and the Croatian sculptor Vojin Bakić.

If you weren’t an artist, what do you think you would be doing?
Although nature was the driving force behind my art, it also guided me into the environmental science field. I worked as a lab technician for a water treatment company for three years before giving in to a more creative line of work. Not truly understanding the art world or what it had to offer, I pursued a degree in architecture. I worked as an architectural designer for a residential design/build firm in Oklahoma City until the economy crashed in 2008. These fields of work were just catalysts to help feed my creativity, so it’s hard to imagine my life without art.

How do you decide what to title your works?
Most of my titles are drawn from the inspiration behind the piece. My surroundings and experiences influence the naming of each piece. Everything from a weed growing through a crack in the sidewalk to the people in the isles of the local grocery store, all play a part in the inspiration and title of my work.


Troy Simmons basa sus obras en Naturaleza y brutalismo. Para ello se apropia de herramientas y materiales de uso común en los proyectos de construcción. Sus piezas de técnica mixta son sometidas a procesos deconstructivas en el intento del artista que lidiar con la relación entre la naturaleza desinhibida y orden urbano. Simmons estará presente junto a Art París con JanKossen Contemporáneo.

Tras la entrevista realizada por Artnet hemos podido conocer más en profundidad al artista.

¿Cuándo supiste que querías ser un artista?

Exploraciones de la niñez, a través de los bosques del este de Texas, me expusieron a las características únicas de una planta llamada Berchemia Scandens. Se envuelve alrededor de los objetos cercanos, mientras trataba de llegar a la luz del sol, que estrangula su huésped hasta el punto de la destrucción. La planta está generalmente picado y destruyó para controlar su crecimiento generalizado. Después de traer un par de piezas cortadas de vuelta a mi casa en Houston, mi mente estaba llena de pensamientos de esta planta que crece libre y sin control en un entorno urbano. La yuxtaposición de hormigón, metal y madera, armonizando mientras compiten por el espacio, me empujó a convertirse en un artista.

¿Tienes un lema para usted o su proceso artístico?

No estoy seguro de si me hubiera considerado esta mi lema, sino un martillo es mi pincel y Home Depot es mi tienda de arte. Para ser más específicos, que reutilizar los productos de construcción para la ejecución de mis ideas.

Yo trabajo con una amplia variedad de materiales y herramientas: cinceles, rayos láser, niveles, herramientas de tapicería, pintura de automóviles, acrílicos, resina y aluminio, por nombrar algunos. Disfruto aprendiendo y experimentando con diferentes materiales, que se extiende de los límites de su uso previsto.

Describa su proceso creativo. ¿Qué tipo de patrones, rutinas o rituales tienes?

Me acerco a cada pieza como un proyecto de construcción. Puedo crear bocetos, renders 3D y planos de detalle antes de comenzar físicamente una pieza. El encuadre y partes estructurales de mi trabajo tiene que ser diseñado con precisión. Después de poner el concreto, empiezo el proceso de deconstrucción. A veces, voy a soltar la pieza, permitiendo que las características del hormigón para tomar libremente sobre. Luego utilizo martillos, cinceles y taladros para esculpir el hormigón en la forma deseada. Soy un habitante de la noche, así que la mayoría de mis ideas suelen venir mientras que la mayoría están durmiendo. Medianoche es el pico de mi día creativo, la construcción de marcos y mezcla de concreto. Yo suelo escuchar a un músico con el nombre de Pantha Du Prince mientras trabajo. 

¿Alguna vez se experimenta bloque del artista? ¿Qué hacer para superarlo?

Afortunadamente, no he experimentado verdaderamente bloque del artista hasta el momento. La mayoría de mis piezas toman de dos a seis meses. Así que, por lo general tienen más de un problema de decidir qué ideas Quiero traer a la vida. Para superar esto, trato de crear piezas que encajan un espacio o lugar que he visto o visitado en el pasado específico.

¿Si pudieras poseer cualquier obra de arte, ¿cuál sería y por qué?

Si el espacio no fue ningún problema, me encantaría poseer el Yugoslava monumento de la Segunda Guerra Mundial se encuentra en Tjentište, Bosnia. Me encantan las características precisas, sin embargo gratuitas formado de la pieza.

¿Si pudieras cenar con cualquiera de los tres artistas, vivos o muertos, a quién elegirías?

Estoy más influenciado por los arquitectos (artistas) del movimiento brutalismo de los años 1950 y 1960. Pasé tiempo a explorar el sur de Alemania y recorrí una iglesia llamada Feldbergkirche (Iglesia Feldberg) por el arquitecto Rainer Disse. Esa fue mi primera experiencia con brutalismo moderna de posguerra. Yo estaba intrigado por las grandes formas geométricas, creados enteramente con hormigón tablero-formado. Las líneas duras, rectas de la estructura, rodeada por el Bosque Negro parecía paradójico, pero armonioso. También me encantaría sentarme con Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, Richard Neutra, y el escultor croata Vojin Bakić. 

Si no fueras un artista, ¿qué crees que estarías haciendo?

Aunque la naturaleza fue la fuerza impulsora detrás de mi arte, sino que también me guió en el campo de las ciencias ambientales. He trabajado como técnico de laboratorio para una empresa de tratamiento de agua durante tres años antes de ceder a una línea más creativa de la obra. No realmente entender el mundo del arte o lo que tenía que ofrecer, seguí una licenciatura en arquitectura. Trabajé como diseñador arquitectónico para una empresa de diseño / construcción residencial en la ciudad de Oklahoma hasta que la economía se estrelló en 2008. Estos campos de trabajo eran sólo catalizadores para ayudar a alimentar a mi creatividad, por lo que es difícil de imaginar mi vida sin el arte. 

¿Cómo se decide qué título de tus obras?

La mayoría de mis títulos se han extraído de la inspiración detrás de la pieza. Mi entorno y experiencias influyen en la nomenclatura de cada pieza. Todo, desde una mala hierba que crece a través de una grieta en la acera a las personas en las islas de la tienda de comestibles, todos juegan un papel en la inspiración y el título de mi trabajo.

Jasmin Kossenjans on Being Passionate About the Art She Sells


Jasmin Kossenjans, gallery owner, JanKossen Contemporary

Gallery owner Jasmin Kossenjans is a storyteller with a love for unique and passionate art production. Her gallery, JanKossen Contemporary, recently exhibited at Art Paris and is currently hosting a solo show (May 7–June 6) for artist Troy Simmons. This summer, the gallery will take part in Art Southampton, as well as launch its new Fresh! initiative featuring new and emerging artists.


Troy Simmons, installation view, Durchbruch (2014). Courtesy of JanKossen Contemporary.

How did Jan Kossen Contemporary start?
I started all this about 10 years ago, but in an off-space, more as a consultant. I speak Cantonese fluently, so I used to bring collector groups to China and visit the artists in their studios. That’s more or less where the seed was planted. The artists wanted to show with a gallery they could trust, but they couldn’t find one. It’s a problem over there and in the Middle East, especially Pakistan, because the whole idea of what a gallery is and what a gallery does is a new concept. I started my gallery in 2009, and began showing artists who could not show at home, since there was not a large audience.

How do you choose which artists to represent?
I never sell art that I don’t love, or that I wouldn’t have in my own personal collection. The way I select artists is not only by their production process and originality, but by their passion. Otherwise how do you expect me to be passionate? I know there is staying power if the artist is passionate. I don’t care how good an artwork is—I want them to care about their work and I want to hear the story behind what they are creating. I’m a storyteller. I like hearing people’s stories and knowing the background information. I also don’t do photography because I like unique artwork. I don’t like editions. I like the artists who get their hands dirty, who think about the composition and the materials.

Have you ever been sorry to see a work go?
There was this one particular situation—actually I was crying. I had the piece hanging in my living room. It was worth about $50,000 on the marketplace, and my husband said the artist would probably like me to sell it. But I really wanted to keep it. The work is by Korean artist Suh Jeong Min, and it has to do with spiritual Buddhism. It is blessed by a monk, and when it’s in a home it blesses the family. In the end, I turned down people who wanted to buy it because I thought they were buying it for the wrong reasons. They were asking the wrong questions, you know about percentages and price increases in the past year. In the end, I sent it to a woman I interviewed a few times. She genuinely appreciated the art. I feel like I’m losing my children when I sell a work of art because I have a relationship with both the artwork and the artist


Suh Jeong Min, Lines of Travel XXII (2014). Courtesy of JanKossen Contemporary.

Have you always known this is what you’ve wanted to do?
No, it’s not really a job promoted to students at the university level. If I could turn back the clock though, something else I wouldn’t have minded doing is restoring art. But I’m too old to do that now. I was actually kind of lost at one point. I speak five languages and I’m good at business, but I get bored extremely easily. I was in the hotel business for a while, and then I decided to do freelance at a translating agency. Through that, I worked at a lot of art fairs, and at Cologne, which is when I fell in love with the whole thing. I love the village atmosphere, and I always try to introduce myself to my neighbors. You see some of those people more than your real family. They’re my second family.

How was your first art fair experience?
It was probably the first and last time in my life when I sold at an opening. I was in Istanbul, and I kid you not, it wasn’t even 10 minutes and someone walked in and bought five artworks. But it never happened again! It was a motivating experience that I look back on very fondly.

What hobbies do you have outside the art world?
I love coming back home to Basel. I live in an area where I can walk out and be in the fields in two minutes. I like nature. I’m very happy to just be in New York when I need to be, and then I escape back to my sanctuary. I like homey stuff, like cooking, because I travel so much. I have Art Paris coming up, then Art Basel in June, Hamptons probably in July, maybe Istanbul in November. The Delta people know my name. When you start recognizing flight personnel, you know you travel a lot. I need my roots, since I was brought up without them. I was born in Hong Kong, but I’m German. I lived in Singapore, Sydney, and now Switzerland. I’m trying really hard to avoid living in New York.

What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
I surprise myself with how quickly I can recover from a bad experience, such as investing in the wrong art fairs. In the face of disappointment, I have the ability to make sure other people can keep their motivation up. I also have to be a cheerleader for the artist and keep my emotions in check. The gallery business is an extreme sport. You need nerves of steel, and, at the end of the day, you have to be your own cheerleader. I had one year where I did one too many art fairs and I learned not to trust everything that I hear, especially from art organizers. I learned it the hard way that you need to have a strategy. Even if something seems very attractive to take part in, if it’s not part of my strategy, I won’t do it.

Jasmin Kossenjans es una galerista apasionada del arte. Su galería, JanKossen Contemporary, recientemente exhibida en Art Paris y que además, actualmente acoge una exposición individual (7 mayo a 6 junio) del artista Troy Simmons. No solo eso, este verano, la galería participará en Art Southampton,  y además contara con el lanzamiento de FRESH! Una iniciativa que ofrece oportunidad a artistas emergentes.

JanKossen Contemporary  comenzó hace 10 años. Particularmente ella trabajaba como consultora para la galería. Gracias a que habla cantonés con fluidez, pudo traer grupos de colectores a China y visitar a los artistas en sus estudios. “Eso es más o menos donde se plantó la semilla” dice la galerista. Ella se dio cuenta de que  los artistas querían mostrar el valor de sus obras a través de una galería y eso bajo su punto de vista es un problema muy habitual en  Oriente Medio, especialmente Pakistán, porque la idea de lo que una galería es y lo que hace una galería es un nuevo concepto. Por esa razón, Kossenjans abrió su  galería en 2009, para dar una oportunidad a aquellos artistas que no pueden demostrar su arte ya que no abarcan un gran público.

La filosofía de esta galería se basa principalmente en sus gustos personales. La selección de las obras no se apoya únicamente en el artista, el proceso de producción y la originalidad, sino también le da una gran importancia a  la pasión intrínseca del artista. Lo que nos llevaría a pensar, ¿Qué se refiere con pasión? “Cuando hay pasión hay poder de permanencia, no me importa lo buena que puede llegar a ser la obra, lo que realmente aprecio es la forma de creación, como han llegado a lograrlo y sobre todo la historia que hay detrás de ella.” Dice Jasmin. Lo más importante es la historia y el trasfondo de cada obra. 

No solo eso, además la galerista tiene una relación muy estrecha con las obras y los artistas. En una ocasión, sintió mucho lo que supondría la venta de uno de sus obras favoritas ya que tenía un gran significado para ella.  Se trataba de una obra del artista coreano Jeong Min Suh que tenía que ver con el budismo espiritual. Establece relaciones tan estrechas y personales que cuando tiene que vender uno de sus cuadros es como si estuviera perdiendo lo que más quiere.

¿Siempre has sabido que esto es lo que has querido hacer? “no, en realidad nunca lo he tenido claro”. Durante su vida ha ido probando distintos campos ya que gracias a los cinco idiomas que habla y a su habilidad para los negocios ha tenido la oportunidad de poder experimentar en distintos ámbitos, que por supuesto, le han ido abriendo puertas. Además, es una persona con aficiones peculiares, le gusta la naturaleza y cuando puede trata de ir al campo que lo tiene a pocos minutos de su casa en Basilea. Para ella es su santuario. Desde siempre ha viajado mucho, dentro de poco tiene que asistir a  Art Paris, en Junio Art Basel, Los Hamptons probablemente en julio, tal vez Estambul en noviembre. Por eso ella necesita sus raíces, su hogar, aquello que le haga desconectar. “Nací en Hong Kong, pero  soy alemana. He vivido en Singapur, Sydney, y ahora Suiza. Y ahora mismo estoy  tratando de evitar vivir en Nueva York” asegura la galerista.

¿Cómo fue tu primera experiencia de la feria de arte? “Probablemente fue la primera y última vez en mi vida en que he vendido en una abertura”. La galerista estaba exponiendo las obras en Estambul  y a los diez minutos de abrir  entro una persona y compro cinco obras de arte de golpe. Según Jasmin eso nunca volvió a suceder. Para ella fue una experiencia motivadora que siempre recordara.

 Tras estas anchas y profundas pinceladas sobre la galerista Jasmin KossenJans, es importante mencionar que no solo nos explica su filosofía de vida y su forma de llevar su negocio sino también comparte sus  fortalezas y debilidades.  “Me sorprendo a mí misma con la rapidez con que puedo recuperarse de una mala experiencia, como la inversión en las ferias de arte equivocadas. En la cara de decepción, tengo la capacidad de hacer que otras personas pueden mantener su motivación para arriba. También tengo que ser una animadora para el artista y mantener mis emociones bajo control. El negocio de la galería es un deporte extremo. Usted necesita nervios de acero, y, al final del día, usted tiene que ser su propio animador. Yo tenía un año cuando lo hice demasiadas ferias de arte y he aprendido a no confiar en todo lo que he oído, en especial de los organizadores de arte. Lo aprendí de la manera difícil que es necesario tener una estrategia. Incluso si algo parece muy atractivo para tomar parte en, si no es parte de mi estrategia, no voy a hacerlo.”

Dieter Balzer Knows His Color Blocking

While looking at Dieter Balzer’s meticulous, overlapping stripes and bold checkers, I couldn’t help but think of the on-trend fashion equivalent — the mix-matched patterns and loud color blocking that have been everywhere this past summer. And now, so it seems, they’ve found their way to the walls of Gallery Sonja Roesch, where the Midtown space’s current exhibition features the Berlin artist’s newest works.

From either vantage point, both the fashion and the art are appealing for many of the same reasons — the use of bright, vibrant colors, of blue against green against purple against orange, are cheery and attention-grabbing. Meanwhile, the different patterns are unexpected but have an innate logic and surprising order, even when the bars and squares that make up these sculptures overlap.

Dieter, of course, isn’t copying some in-vogue style; the Sonja Gallery favorite been making reductive art like this for years, filling up the walls and floors here and in Europe with his colorful, linear sculptures. He has an exact system, too, creating his curiously named works (“Mesa,” “Flic Flac,” “Xeos,” “Manga”) based on a modular system of architecture and color. In this sense, every piece of adhesive foil-covered MDF has a place and a color and relates to other elements of the sculpture in a very specific way, making for works that are balanced despite their seeming disorder. Within all that spontaneity of color and pattern, there is a sense of logic, that Dieter is pulling the strings.

“Xeos (12/1)” by Dieter Balzer

While fashions may come and go, and color blocking will inevitably ebb and be replaced by something else entirely, Dieter may have the edge in the end. There is a timelessness to the artist’s objects, which elegantly cut through the white space. His clean, bright sculptures can hold up.

Published Thursday, September 20, 2012 Houston Press

“Dieter Balzer: Solo Show” September 2015 at JanKossen Gallery 529W 20th street http://www.jankossen.com



…of the Venice Biennale

The Biennale is 120 years old and if it still has value as an exhibition then it is in the fact that it delivers, on an influential stage, successive and often conflicting perspectives on contemporary artistic practice and its relevance to the world in which we live. You might not agree with Enwezor’s vision of art and its utopian role in today’s world—I certainly don’t—but there is no denying the world today faces deep divisions and crises and an uncertain future. How those forces impact artists is worth exploring, I agree.

Venice Bienale 2015

Venice Bienale 2015