Call it mojo, juju or simply a vibe, but every place has it’s own special feeling. A place’s energy seeps into every aspect of the culture. It echoes in the hearts of natives and rubs off on every visitor. A story this week from Ukraine has us thinking about the value of place as it relates to art. The Culture Ministry in Kiev called for a global boycott of Russian art museums that are currently showing hundreds of works of art from Crimea. The art was taken from Crimea following that region’s recent contested departure from Ukraine. There are now opposing laws in place in Ukraine and Russia confusing the issue of who owns Crimean art. This story reminded us that place isn’t only about borders. It’s also about history, and identity, both of which art conveys. With this troubling story in mind, here are some current abstract art exhibitions that explore various ways art responds to, and is affected by, a sense of place.
Temporary installation, currently on view, end date unknown
For this site-specific installation, French conceptual artist Daniel Buren translated the architecture of the Fondation Louis Vuitton by transforming the iconic “glass sails” of the building, covering their 2,600 individual glass panes with colored filters. The work expresses both the personality of the place and Louis Vuitton’s longstanding commitment to contemporary art.
On view through 5 August 2016
British abstract painter Jeremy Annear has long been inspired by the natural surroundings of St. Ives, an idyllic British fishing port town where he lives and works. This exhibition presents a luminous new body of work by Annear, one that expands his abstract visual language to interpret the light, the landscape and the architecture of a truly magical place.
Jeremy Annear - Echo Space
On view through 6 August 2016
On a recent trip to the South Island of New Zealand, American-born Australian artist Melinda Schawel was admiring the stunning protective webs woven by nursery spiders, which give the odd appearance that the plants they cling to are wearing mittens. She also took note of the immense, webbed canopies that sprouted up in the treetops of Tasmania after recent floods, as spiders struggled to survive high off the ground. This exhibition presents a body of abstract ink and pencil works Schawel created that speak to the uncanny aesthetic of those sprawling, elegant, protective forms.
Melinda Schawel - Refugee
On view through 28 August 2016
The Australian artist Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori began painting in her 80s. First exhibited in 2005, her vibrant, colorful, monumentally sized paintings fluctuate between abstraction and landscape, expressing the culture and landscape of her homeland, Bentinck Island in Northern Australia. This retrospective exhibition follows Gabori’s recent death in 2015.
Sally Gabori - Land of All
Lastly we want to draw attention to two new site-specific installations that were unveiled last week in the US, on opposite coasts. Both deal abstractly with the issue of place. In Los Angeles, Teresa Margolles installed her concrete installation La Sombra, meaning shade or shadow, in Echo Park near downtown. It incorporates debris collected from the exact places where 100 local homicide victims died. And on New York’s Governors Island, Rachel Whiteread installed her new sculptural installation Cabin. The concrete semblance of a pioneer cabin captures its surroundings’ history while also conveying the stark urbanity that has replaced this once primitive place.
Teresa Margolles - La Sombra
Featured Image: Daniel Buren - Observatory of Light