"Alexander Gray Associates is pleased to announce representation of Kay Rosen (b.1943), with the Gallery’s first exhibition of her work opening February 2018. Rosen’s practice is distinguished by her use of language as raw visual material. After studying linguistics, Spanish, and French, Rosen transitioned away from academia and established herself as a visual artist in 1968, maintaining text as the foundation of her work. For four decades, her formal and humorous interventions into written language has been defined through painted wall installations, drawings, collages, paintings, prints, and videos.
Rosen’s work is characterized by her adaptation of simple words or phrases, typically in generic sans serif typography, rendered in dense, unmodulated color. Her works are graphic, and appear commercially manufactured, however each work is meticulously hand-made, with a brush or pencil; she paints or draws the discrete objects herself, and employs a sign painter to produce her large-scale architectural interventions.
Guided by the structure of words, she describes the elements of text “as objects, architecture, or sculptures,” and the forms that comprise individual letters as “body parts.” Critic Roberta Smith has referred to her as a "writer’s sculptor.” The artist has noted that her use of language is not descriptive, but rather performative. As she explains, words “enact or become the thing they represent, or some aspect of the thing,” thus becoming image.
Through her transformation of phrase into form, she removes the geographic or national locus of language often creating a universally-legible mode of communication. Her choice of color is informed by a desire to distinguish certain elements of a text, enforce concealed meaning, or evoke a mood. Through visual arrangement or rearrangement, she presents the viewer with problems to solve, messages to decode, ideas to translate. Her approach has anticipated contemporary communications in today’s image world, when political positioning and change is activated through short-form messaging, phonetic abbreviations, and acronyms.
Throughout her career, Rosen has invited political content into her work, often drawing from the contemporary political context. Her choice of succinct and accessible vernacular may be compared to political slogans, though her work is intentionally more transgressive. As curator Cornelia Butler points out, Rosen “became intrigued with the investigation of the cultural possibilities for language through the subversion of its basic structure, form, and appearance.” In order to prompt the viewer to analyze the follies of life from a new perspective, she interjects humor, which she explains “takes the form of silly humor, ha-ha humor, or ah-ha humor that occurs when one sees something in a fresh way.” Ultimately, through her sustained investigations into, and manipulation of, language as a medium, she has determined her role to be “primarily cognitive, discovering a message that’s concealed in a bit of text.”
Kay Rosen’s work is currently on view in the permanent collections of Art Institute of Chicago, IL and Indianapolis Museum of Art and as part of Incomplete History of Protest: Selections From The Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY. Her work will be featured in upcoming exhibitions at Musée d'art moderne et contemporain (MAMCO), Geneva; This Brush For Hire, Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and as part of Front International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, curated by Michelle Grabner and Jens Hoffman. Rosen’s work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions and installations at Aldrich Contemporary Museum Ridgefield, CT (2017); Contemporary Art Museum Houston, Houston, TX, and Grazer Kunstverein (2016), a collaboration with Matt Keegan; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia (2014); Aspen Art Museum (2012); Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA (2011–13); Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, CA (2013); Art Institute of Chicago (2011); Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Dunedin, New Zealand (2004); University Art Museum, University of California Santa Barbara (2004); The Drawing Center, New York City (2002); M.I.T. List Visual Art Center, MA (1997); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL (1994); Indianapolis Museum of Art, IN (1994); Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, The Netherlands (1990); and New Museum of Contemporary Art, NY (1984). The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, CA in conjunction with Otis College of Art Design in Los Angeles, CA organized a two-venue mid-career survey exhibition of Rosen’s work entitled Kay Rosen: Li[f]eli[k]e (1998–99). Rosen has also been included in many group shows internationally including Tang Museum of Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY (2014); Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Germany (2013); Museum of Modern Art, NY (1996, 2012); Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein (2012); Honolulu Museum of Art, HI (2012); Christchurch Public Art Gallery, New Zealand (2011, 2012 ongoing); the inaugural exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA (2008); Prospect.1, New Orleans, LA (2008); Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), North Adams, MA (1999, 2001); and Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C. (1991). Rosen was included in the Whitney Biennial 2000 and the 1991 Whitney Biennial as part of Group Material’s “AIDS Timeline.”
Rosen is currently a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, awarded in 2017. She has received three National Endowment for the Arts, Visual Arts Grants to date (1987, 1989, 1995), an Anonymous Was a Woman Grant (1995), the SJ Weiler Fund Award (2014), and the Artist Award for a Distinguished Body of Work from the College Art Association (2014). Rosen taught at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago for 24 years. Her work is included in the permanent collections of Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, CA; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; Indianapolis Museum of Art; Rebaudengo Collection, Turin, Italy; Collection Lambert, Avignon, France; and the Israel Museum, Jerulsalem."
Bristol, UK: Blowpop Records, 1999
30.48 x 30.48 cm.
Edition of [approx.] 100
Banksy was reportedly friends with the owner of the the short-lived Bristol record label Blowpop Records and designed and executed this cover free of charge. The disk is a 12" single by the Capoeira Twins (Ian Stratford, Tim Hancock) and features the songs 4X3 and Truth Will Out.
A plain white cardboard sleeve features a spray-painted stencil depicting a matador shaking a cape at a muscle car with bull horns mounted to its roof. With fewer than 100 copies known to have been created, the disc is valued at around $4000 US.
Robert Grayson See Dick, Run
New York City: Self-published, 1991
 pp., 2.5 x 8.5"
Edition size unknown
A phallus-shaped artists' book containing seventy sexual aphorisms, such as "The thing about being a virgin is that every little prick hurts" and "Life sucks, and it does not always cover its teeth."
"The king of aphorisms is back. Robert Grayson, who self-published two limited-edition books of aphorisms ("From Left to Right," which sold for $5,000 per copy and "I'm Fabulous, You're OK," priced at a mere $250) has just written "See Dick, Run." While the 33-year-old New York-based Grayson has lowered the price of his latest effort to a mere $19.95, he's pushed the edge of the envelope in another way: The book is shaped like a part of the male anatomy.
Sample aphorisms from the new book: "Lust is modern man's noblest emotion," "Love may find you, but you can lose it in a crowd," and "If you look for love in all the wrong places, you will lie about where you finally found it."
Says Grayson, who is scouring New York for a place that will shrink-wrap the sure-to-be-controversial work, "If the issue of the whole book is my sex life, then I think my dates should be tax-deductible.""
Dave Dyment Somewhere in the 20th Century
Toronto, Canada: Self-published, 20145
100 pp., 21 x 25 cm., hardcover
Edition of 5 signed and numbered copies
An artist's book as DVD easter egg, Somewhere in the 20th Century features a hundred film stills - one for every year of the 1900s. These are essentially outtakes from the film Timeline, which covers a much broader period (20,000 years) and includes over 1000 clips (300 of them sequential). None of the source films or television shows in the book appear in the film.
Timeline first exhibited as part of Earl Miller's curatorial project at Nuit Blanche 2011. It has subsequently shown at Nocturne in Halifax, at the Doris McCarthy Gallery in Scarborough, as part of the Montreal Biennale, and last summer at the IMAX Ontario Cinesphere for In/Future, curated by Rui Pimenta & Layne Hinton. Each time it is exhibited it is expanded to include films released in the interim. It is now approaching 90 minutes, or feature-film length.
This week it is screening nightly as part of the 25th anniversary celebrations for the King’s Film Society (KFS) in Annapolis Royal, New Brunswick, culminating in an outdoor presentation on the 17th.
The event is co-sponsored by ARTsPLACE and ARCAC. For more information, click here.
The Vancouver Art Book Fair—Canada's first and longest-running international art book fair (which is itself still in its infancy, at six years) — returns to the Vancouver Art Gallery next weekend.
Opening with the Member’s Preview and open Reception on October 13th, the fair runs from 12pm to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday, is free and open to the public and showcases the work of over 100 publishers and artists through exhibitor booths, hourly talks, performances and artists' projects.
Featured presenters include Paul John of Endless Editions (New York), Trevor Powers and Annie Sollinger of Papersafe (Jamaica Plain/Easthampton), Alicia Nauta of Alicia Nauta's Klassic Kool Shoppe (Toronto), Sylvain Bilodeau of Architecturama (Montreal), Michael Cook of Pythagoras Records (Vancouver), Nerijus Smola of KG Press (Kaunas, Lithuania), León Muñoz Santini of Gato Negro Ediciones (Mexico City), Daphne Taranto of Brownbook (Dubai), Björn Engberg of Moon Space Books (Stockholm) and more.
VABF will also present Artists’ Books Week from October 10 to October 15, 2017, which is an open platform for artists, curators, collectives, institutions, artist-run centres and others to host events that celebrate art publishing.
Vancouver Art Book Fair
2-236 E Pender Street
Vancouver Art Gallery Annex
750 Hornby St. October 14 and 15, 2016
For more information, visit the fair's website, here.
Jonathan Monk & Ariel Schlesinger Bits & Pieces Put Together to Present A Semblance of A Whole (twice G.O.)
Mexico City, Mexico: Sala de Arte Público Siqeuiros, 2017
28 x 44 cm.
Edition size unknown
A double-sided take-away poster from a project we stumbled upon in Mexico last month by Jonathan Monk and Ariel Schlesinger (whose solo exhibition included a great work involving bubble makers and fire).
"For this, their fifth collaboration, artists Jonathan Monk (United Kingdom, 1969) and Ariel Schlesinger (Israel, 1980) present the piece Bits & Pieces Put Together to Present A Semblance of A Whole (twice G.O.) at the Façade Project of the Sala de Arte Público Siqeuiros. For this occasion, the artists have chosen to recapture a moment of contemporary art history where two art centers, Berlin (where Monk lives) and México City (where Schlesinger lives), converged through an early and iconic piece by Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco. Made in 1995, when Orozco was in the DAAD artistic residency in Berlin, Until You Find Another Yellow Schwalbe consisted of a poetic act of urban coincidences where the Mexican artist parked his yellow Schwalbe motorcycle besides every other identical motorcycle he encountered during his quotidian trips within the city. He then photographed the two doubles one beside the other, an act that resulted in a series of forty photographs and an exhibition. For the installation at the Façade Project, Monk and Schlesinger retake this episode created by Orozco in Berlin by staging a site-specific version created for the Mexican present day context, a remake of the original. In their version Monk and Schlesinger have parked a yellow Schwalbe in front of a mirror, eliminating the physical double (and the act of searching and finding) with a reflection. The title the artists have given to their collaboration is a direct appropriation of a text piece of American artist Lawrence Weiner, thus making by this a mashup, a collage, of two different previous artworks.
Based on the premise that in art it is almost impossible to be original, or that in any case it would be futile to have originality as a goal, Monk has appropriated, reconsidered, altered or produced sequels of works from artists like Bruce Nauman, Douglas Huebler, Ed Ruscha, Sol LeWitt, and Jeff Koons among others. As if it was a cover, a reinterpretation of a song by another band, Monk changes some details of the original pieces adapting them to present times and spaces and makes his subjectivity explicit as the new interpreter. Schlesinger sees these new versions of other artists’ works as conversations from which he retakes previously discussed ideas and expresses them differently or develops them further."
Philip Corner The Identical Lunch
Barton, USA: Nova Broadcast Press, 1973
46 pp., 22.4 x 15.3 cm., softcover
Edition of 1000 copies
In the late sixties, Philip Corner noticed his friend Alison Knowles ate the same lunch every day: “a tuna fish sandwich on wheat toast with butter and lettuce, no mayo, and a cup of soup or glass of buttermilk", leading the artist to turn her dining habits into a performance. She did this by inviting friends to join her at a local diner, to experience the same lunch as her, and to write about their experiences.
In 1971, Nova Broadcast Press released Knowles' account of the shared lunches as Journal of the Identical Lunch. The next title in the series (which had previously included books by William S Burroughs, Wolf Vostell and Dick Higgins - Knowles' husband at the time) is Corner's own take on the lunch, using Knowles' original piece as a 'score'.
It would be the last in the Nova Broadcast series.