Stephen Dedalus, the narrator of James Joyce’s Ulysses, is a recurring subject for Romanian painter Victor Man. Rendered young and effeminate, he peers out of Man’s nocturnal, deep green canvases with apprehensive intensity. “History,” Dedalus said in Ulysses, “is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.”
Midday Wednesday, a team of synchronized skywriters will encircle the Bay Area’s airspace with what, to most viewers, will appear a random string of rapidly fading digits. A select few, however, will recognize it as pi: 3.14159, and so forth a thousand places.
San Francisco’s gallery scene leaps headlong into the Fall season this weekend – we count upwards of twenty five openings, by conservative measure. We see you’re swooning already, so we put together a more manageable itinerary: Just four promising exhibitions, ranging from the big (Hosfelt inaugurates its new 8,900 square foot space) to the truly intimate.
Naoya Hatakeyama produces austere, almost impossibly beautiful photographs of landscapes that have been touched by human industry: Remote snow capped mountains studded with observation decks, massive limestone quarries, colossal heaps of slag (a mineral mining byproduct). In these stark works, well over one hundred of which are now on view at SFMOMA, marking the artist’s first solo exhibition in the U.S., Hatakeyama manages to coolly capture those moments of humbling, fall-to-your-knees awe that mother nature is known to produce. Gasps could be heard throughout the galleries.
Sound tends to take a backseat to the visual in gallery exhibitions. This weekend, however, two high-profile shows turn to the sonic, as Jacqueline Kiyomi Gordon transforms Eli Ridgway gallery through a series of “audible confrontations” and Tyson Vogel, of folk rock duo Two Gallants, opens house after a month-long residency at Ever Gold. Listen up.
This week, a number of promising exhibitions meander, to varying degrees, away from the conceptual gravitas that often accompanies contemporary art. Barcelona-based Max Rippon and Oakland couple (and resident Facebook muralists) Jet Martinez and Kelly Ording reflect on the textures of urban environments and organic life. Re-appropriationist sculptor Charles Linder promises “electric pork,” whatever that may entail. And there’s more.
Man Ray | Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism begins with two sepia-tone photographs – one of Miller, beautiful though sullen, the other of Ray, positioned to look in her direction with cocked eyebrow and fervent gaze. The photographs are not compositionally interesting; their purpose seems more documentary, like yearbook or wallet photos. Right away it becomes clear that this exhibition is only nominally about surrealist art. At heart, it is a love story, one of confinement and release, simultaneous explosion and stasis – perfectly surrealist.
Anyone who’s taken a contemporary art history course in the past thirty years has probably seen a sampling of Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills – they have become as much a fixture in the artistic canon as Manet’s Olympia. For the first time ever, all sixty-nine of them are in California. They compose roughly half of a critically acclaimed Sherman retrospective that has just arrived from New York at SFMOMA. People are seriously excited. Half of them have no idea what they are in for.
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