+ Liliana Porter, Jay DeFeo, Rina Banerjee, Julie W. Chang, Jean Conner, John O’Reilly
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Issue no. 37
26 March - 23 April 2022
Opening Reception: Saturday March 26, 3-5 pm
Birgit Jensen, KANALUA VIII, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 27 1/2 x 24 1/8 inches
Birgit Jensen is interested in the connection between artifice and truth and the role of mediation in our pursuit of perfection. In service of that exploration, she’s created a group of atmospheric landscape paintings, carefully constructed to suggest they might be photographic.
Birgit Jensen, PASTURE, 2021, acrylic on linen, 78 3/4 x 66 7/8 inches
The depictions refer to Insel Hombroich, a 52-acre parkland wrestled from a swamp. The landscape is notable for its lush, over-grown wildness; though in fact, the course of waterways have been manipulated, ponds and hillocks have been fabricated, and the trees and vegetation were planted and are cultivated by a team of highly-skilled horticulturalists. Bernhard Korte, its visionary creator said, “Insel Hombroich is intended to look as if it weren’t.” It’s been purposefully constructed to create a romanticized aura of “Nature.”
Birgit Jensen, PASTURE, 2021(detail), acrylic on linen, 78 3/4 x 66 7/8 inches
In spite of their photographic appearance, Jensen’s paintings are not representations of images of the place, but impressions she’s stitched together to convey the mood the setting instills. Both the landscape architect and painter have as their goal the creation of something perfect. An ideal that’s “truer” than reality.
Birgit Jensen, FOG VII, 2022, acrylic on linen, 66 7/8 x 55 1/8 inches
Once, not so very long ago, photographs were indicators of veracity. Remember the phrase “photographic evidence?" While the ease with which images can be electronically manipulated has eroded the presumption of “photographic truth,” we’ve become increasingly accustomed to — and dependent upon — understanding the world through a screen. More and more of our experiences are virtual, constructed or designed.
Birgit Jensen, FOG IV, 2021, acrylic on linen, 66 7/8 x 55 1/8 inches
In this case, we experience nature that isn’t actually natural, but is constructed by a designer, then depicted by an artist who looked at photographs, and from them, created images, not of the site, but that “feel” like the place. At the same time, those paintings look like photographs, suggesting the image is accurate, or “real.” Instead of exploring the relationship between artifice and truth, perhaps it is more accurate to say that Jensen is illustrating the truth within the artificial.

Birgit Jensen was born in Würzburg, Germany in 1957 and studied at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin. Recent solo museum exhibitions include Kunstverein Leverkusen Schloss Morsbroich, Leverkusen, Germany; Atelier Schloss Jägerhof, Düsseldorf; Pictura, Dordrecht, Netherlands; Museum Ratingen, Germany; Kunstverein Villa Wessel, Iserlohn, Germany; Kunstverein Linz am Rhein, Germany; Kunstverein Duisberg, Germany; Kunstmuseum Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany. Jensen lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Judith Belzer, All That Is Solid #27, 2021, oil on canvas, 56 x 56 inches
In her debut exhibition at the gallery, Judith Belzer presents her newest series of paintings developed over the past 3 years. The unusual protagonists in this body of work are rocks, ranging in size from diminutive to massive and hovering in precarious relationship to each other, to the ambiguous spaces they inhabit, and to the viewer.
Judith Belzer, All That Is Solid #28, 2021, oil on canvas, 56 x 56 inches
Top-heavy and improbably balanced, the risky equilibrium of these boulders threatens imminent collapse, and the perspective is disturbingly uncertain. Do they tower above us? Or are they crashing below us? The atmospheric hues at times veer towards the synthetic, implicating our human ingenuity in the hazards of this terrain.
Judith Belzer, All That is Solid #23, 2021, oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches
The series is titled “All That Is Solid” – a reference to Karl Marx’s infamous quote from The Communist Manifesto:
All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.
Judith Belzer, All That Is Solid #19, 2020, oil on canvas, 30 x 30 inches
The unreliability of the ground beneath our feet is the epiphany one has upon experiencing an earthquake for the first time. Now this feeling of instability has become the most banal aspect of daily life, as we navigate the social, political, environmental, and health upheavals of the last several years.
Judith Belzer, All That is Solid #4, 2019, oil on canvas, 72 x 108 inches
These paintings encapsulate the terrible beauty of the sublime. Early in the series, the boulders appear to be the jagged product of violent cataclysm, jammed and jostled together like the figures in an epic history painting. As the series evolves, the rocks become more singular, monumental, and ancient, as though rolled smooth by the slow advance of glaciers or burnished by the tumble of constantly moving water. They lean into each other, interlocked, supporting each other, mutually interdependent.
Judith Belzer, All That is Solid #24, 2021, oil on canvas, 84 x 96 inches
Eventually, in the most recent works, they lose all connection to the ground and begin to separate from each other; they seem to be floating, or falling. Surprisingly, one senses at this point a kind of lightness and relief, rather than sheer terror and impending doom, as though we are witnessing a slow-motion surrender, letting go of the burden and weight of it all.
Judith Belzer, All That is Solid #22, 2021, oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches
Judith Belzer, who was born and raised in a suburb of Chicago, now divides her time between Berkeley, California and a small farm in rural Connecticut. She received a degree in English from Barnard College and studied at the New York Studio School. She is a visiting lecturer in the Department of Visual Art and Environmental Studies at Harvard University.
New Publication: Liliana Porter – Other Situations
Other Situations presents a nonlinear survey of Liliana Porter's work from 1973 to 2018, documenting the exhibition presented at the SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia in 2017 and at El Museo del Barrio in New York in 2018. It also includes documentation from her play, Them, which was specially commissioned for the exhibition and performed in New York at The Kitchen.

Click here to purchase a copy.
An Artwork Explained
Jay DeFeo, Seven Pillars of Wisdom No. 8, 1989, charcoal, wax pencil and acrylic on paper, 29 x 23 inches
ⓒ The Jay DeFeo Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Wisdom hath builded her house; she hath hewn out her seven pillars.
— Proverbs 9:1
The sculptor Ron Nagle gave Jay DeFeo one of his works — a small, pink cup — for her 60th birthday, on March 31, 1989. DeFeo drew the sculpture repeatedly, then turned one sketch upside down and using the upended drawing as her model, transformed the shape into a column floating in space, slightly curved at the bottom, sharp at the top.

In the course of that summer — knowing that she was dying of lung cancer — DeFeo made eleven drawings in the Seven Pillars of Wisdom series, some with a light figure on a black ground, others just the opposite. Yin and Yang. DeFeo scholars have noted that at the same time, she was reading T.E. Lawrence's autobiography, called Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and she watched the film "Lawrence of Arabia," about his involvement in the Arab Revolt and his personal identity struggles.

However, the allusion DeFeo’s title makes to the Old Testament may provide more important clues to the meaning of these works. In Biblical numerology, the number seven signifies order and completion. One interpretation of Proverbs 9:1 is that a wise person cleans up their affairs and completes their endeavors. But the number seven is also associated with the relationship between intelligence/reason and the non-material/spiritual. So Proverbs 9:1 could also refer to a spiritual journey.

The shape enunciated in DeFeo’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom series is akin to a compass needle — a direction-finding pointer. It’s also that of a cairn — a marker on a path — or a monument. Jay DeFeo died on November 11, 1989.
Museum Exhibitions
Rina Banerjee."Take me, take me, take me…to the Palace of Love", 2003 (detail) plastic, antique Anglo-Indian Bombay dark wood chair, steel and copper framework, floral picks, foam balls, cowrie shells, quilting pins, colored moss, antique stone globe, glass, synthetic fabric, shells, fake birds, 226 x 161 x 161 inches
What Is Left Unspoken, Love
High Museum of Art
March 25 - August 14, 2022

Featuring the work of Rina Banerjee along with more than 35 international, multi-generational artists, this exhibition examines different ways that one of the most powerful forces of life — love — is understood, expressed or perhaps left unspoken.

Click here for more information.
Julie W. Chang, Vibrant Matter, 2022, installation view
Julie W. Chang: Vibrant Matter
Christian Petersen Art Museum, Iowa State University
on view through July 22, 2022

This survey exhibition spanning the last ten years reveals how Julie W. Chang constructs layered patterns derived from both ancient and modern cultural icons to explore how identities are fabricated and how (mis)understandings of both self and other might be resisted, subverted, and reimagined.

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Jean Conner, PAINTING WITH FRINGE, 1964, mixed media collage, 16 3/8 x 11 inches
Recent Acquisitions from the BAMPFA Collection
Featuring John O'Reilly and Jean Conner
on view through April 24, 2022

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive presents a group of recent acquisitions that expand the global art historical canon through the art of lesser known makers and marginalized groups. On view are nearly two dozen artworks, most by womxn and queer artists hailing from around the world. Stemming from the belief that form is politics, an ethos of activism infuses each artist’s multidisciplinary practice across photography, ceramics, textiles, painting, collage, film, and sculpture.

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Art @ Home
Stefan Kürten
Max Gimblett
Driss Ouadahi, Diane Arbus, and Cornelius Völker
Andrew Schoultz and Bruce Conner
Birgit Jensen
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