Art Reviews: Why You Should Avoid Going to Galleries After a Day at The Museum
By August 8th, 2012 

I was gallery hopping in Chicago and missed CADD’s Design District weekend. However, an artist friend and I made it out to several shows Aug 4th. Maybe too many.

First off, a word of advice: don’t go gallery hopping after you have been to museums. The bar was set exceptionally high by the work of Omer Fast at the Dallas Museum of Art. Despite my well-honed reluctance to watch video art, Fast’s piece, 5,000 Feet is Best was downright excellent. Three brief stories unfold as a military drone pilot discusses his god-like role, triggering an intense psychological paradox of absolution and confession through evasive narrative.

(left) Maurizio Cattelan, Untitled (2009). (right) Nobuo Sekine, “Phase of Nothingness – Cloth and Stone,” 1970/1994

Pensive and considerate, after this film I took a lap around “Variations on a Theme” featuring works from the DMA’s permanent collection before heading over to see three pieces by Nobuo Sekine. Made in the late 60’s and early 70’s as part of the Mono-ha movement, the works have a profound simplicity. Each piece offers an active surprise conveying complexly and balanced tension; the works are completely alive while pretending a formal stillness. The strength of these works decries the exploits of modern art jokers (such as Maurizio Cattelan, Richard Prince, Koons, and Hirst). Cattelan, in particular, comes to mind. The DMA and Menil have recently purchased a piece by the Italian artist that bears a striking similarity to Sekine’s work here. But whereas Cattelan’s broom holding up the canvas is intended as tongue-in-cheek critique, when considered against Nobuo’s stone weight dangling from a rope, cinching an echoing bulbous form out of a canvas, Cattelan feels a little too irreverent of his audience or legacy, its criticism decidedly shallow. Nobuo’s work has the ability to embrace nature, art, and the human condition without breaking a sweat. Mono-ha…

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