Saturday, June 24, 2017

Art Review: From Cuba, a Stolen Myth

By Holland Cotter
“La Cena” (“The Supper”), from 1991, which depicts a version of the Christian “Last Supper,” replaces the Jesus figure with the princess Sikán. Credit Michael Nagle for The New York Times
NEW YORK---Late last week, the Trump administration announced that it would be re-abnormalizing the relationship between the United States and Cuba. A few days earlier, El Museo del Barrio in Manhattan opened “NKame: A Retrospective of Cuban Printmaker Belkis Ayón,” reminding us exactly how much we have to gain from a free exchange of cultural energy with our island neighbor. Most of the narratives are derived from the Afro-Cuban religion called Abakuá, which came to the island in the 18th century with slaves arriving from what is now Nigeria and Cameroon. Their religion struck deep roots and is still practiced there. (“NKame” means “greeting” or “praise” in the Abakuá language.) [More]

Scottish National Gallery opens "Beyond Caravaggio"

Gerrit Van Honthorst (1592–1656), Christ before the High Priest, about 1617. Oil on canvas, 272 x 183 cm. The National Gallery, London. Bought, 1922 © The National Gallery, London.
EDINBURGH---The revolution in painting sparked by one of the world’s most celebrated (and notorious) artists is the subject of the major summer exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh this year. Beyond Caravaggio brings a group of four important paintings by the bad boy of seventeenth-century Italian art to Scotland for the first time, and explores the extraordinary impact of his work across Europe, both during his lifetime and in the decades following his premature death. Organised in partnership with the National Gallery in London and the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin, this is the first exhibition devoted to this theme ever to be mounted in Britain. [More]

Film Review: At least the surreal religious allegory The Ornithologist is pretty to look at

By Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
"The Ornithologist" directed by João Pedro Rodrigues; Strand Releasing; Opens June 23, IFC Center and Film Society of Lincoln Center, New York City
A nude swimmer, hunky like an underwear model, slits the surface of a pond at dawn. He slips a canoe into a river, only to be caught in rapids and rescued by two Chinese hikers lost on a Christian pilgrimage along the Way Of St. James, who string him from a tree in rope bondage and threaten to castrate him. He goes skinny-dipping with a deaf, goat-teat-sucking shepherd named Jesus. He is shot by topless huntresses in a forest clearing. And like the jokes goes, “What do you call this act?” “The Ornithologist.” In João Pedro Rodrigues' obscurantist and presumably very personal narrative, which bears disconcerting similarities to a grating American indie called The Catechism Cataclysm, he is also an allegorical stand-in for the Catholic patron saint of lost things, St. Anthony, who was also born Fernando. [More]

Friday, June 23, 2017

Collector Lynn Nottage, is a playwright whose walls do talk

Show Us Your Walls
By William L. Hamilton
The playwright Lynn Nottage, at home in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. The large painting above her is by Norman Lewis, who was a good friend of her father’s. Two works by Romare Bearden are at far left. Credit All Rights Reserved, Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York; All Rights Reserved, Hal Woodruff/Licensed by VAGA, New York; Stephanie Diani for The New York Times
NEW YORK---Staring at the wall might seem like the worst thing that could happen to a writer. But for the playwright Lynn Nottage, the walls of the Brooklyn house where she lives with her husband, Tony Gerber, their two children and her father are her muse. They are also a who’s who of 20th-century African-American art, with a floor-to-ceiling display that includes Norman Lewis and Romare Bearden. The collection continues into the 21st century with Helen Evans Ramsaran and others. Her walls are her windows on the world. “You collect it because it holds some form of mystery, and you bring it home, and you begin a conversation with it,” she said of each object. “‘Why am I so drawn to you? What is it that you’re trying to tell me?’” [More]