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Tavi posted this trailer on Saturday and she's absolutely right. Something to make you smile every time you watch it.…


Miscellany for today

Recent things I've obsessed over include:

Lygia Pape, Livro do Tempo (Book of Time) 1961-63 Installation view, Magnetized Space, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, 2011. © Projeto Lygia Pape and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

Lygia Pape – her Livro do tempo, her Trio do embalo maluco … if you've not seen the Serpentine show, you really ought to. It closes February 19. I often wonder if artistic experimentation can ever be what it was in the first decades of this century. Video works, installations, happenings from the 60s still now have an awesome – and I use that word literally – quality to them, an aliveness, a rawness, a sense of fearless discovery that feels unattainable now. Seeing Lynda Benglis's work first in a Le Consortium catalogue, and then at the New Museum last year was mad exciting. More so than any other shows I'd seen for a long time. I really hate nostalgia, that cramped, stifling feeling of being stuck or wanting to be, so it isn't out of some longing for things to be as they were that I say this, but rather out of sheer astonishment that these works still retain this power over me. That it is still possible for them to astonish, to excite – to make me imagine I'm experiencing a similar curious searching and trying out while looking at these works as the artists did when they made them.

Lynda Benglis, Blatt, 1969. © Lynda Benglis. DACS, London/VAGA, New York 2009. Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York.

Benglis is here next week for the opening of her first solo show in London at Thomas Dane, on February 9. Something else not to miss. And then there's Yayoi Kusama at the Tate. A basic google image search for Kusama is enough to send you spinning. The dots are only the proverbial tip of the iceberg, a portal into this most intense of worlds.


Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirror Room - Phalli's Field (Floor Show) (1965)

Relentess, undaunted, open, unfazed by trend or money or the lack of it. Benglis was born in 1941. Kusama is in her 80s. And both are still making work that is fiercer and more out there than any student shows I've seen in ages. Like Patti Smith on stage, or Tina in 1971, or Björk. Here: 

Dasha Shishkin

Speaking with Dasha Shishkin for this month's Nylon was one of the greatest pleasures I had before Christmas. She was courteous and gracious and really funny. And it just made me want to dive headfirst into her work and follow her mad-crazy protagonists. We spoke about calendars and stickers and the thrill of marking important dates in some way, things to look forward to and to work toward. The piece is in print. But you can read it here too. And make sure to see her show, if you're in Ohio, at the DAC from March 3

Some Things Just Got to be True, 2011, mixed media on mylar, 228.6 x 320 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Zach Feuer Gallery, NY

Dasha Shishkin is a maker of surprising and explosive things. The Russian-born, Brooklyn-based artist weaves a world of sinuous lines, kaleidoscopic colors, and psychedelic imagery. From large-scale wall drawings produced in situ to tiny etchings, her work vacillates between figuration and abstraction.
Since completing her MFA at Columbia in 2006, Shishkin has shown her work extensively and is present in major collections, from MoMA and the Whitney in New York City to the Art Institute of Chicago. Currently preparing her first solo museum show, opening at the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati next month, she’s locked into her intuitive, organic working process.
“It becomes like an exquisite corpse game where someone else—the material—is suggesting something to me,” says Shiskin, of the trigger for her new work. Though grounded in figuration, she avoids any idea of narrative: suggestion and open-endedness are key.
The ideas at play in the making of Shishkin's work only become apparent to her once a show is hung. “Whatever is obsessing me is not only on the surface of my mind but also something subconsciously present and bothersome.” Shishkin's work has been compared to that of Matisse, Egon Schiele and Marcel Dzamaartists for whom considerations of form are always intrinsically weighted by intense human emotion. Equally though, her process brings to mind artists including Yayoi Kusama, for whom abstract form itself takes on a life of its own, one seeped in the artist’s inner turbulence. “Often a motif will keep reappearing, say a circle, and it becomes like an obsessive compulsive thing," she says. "It isn’t always a conscious decision to work with certain imagery, but more like something you have to get out of your system.”