The Black Model at the Crux of Western Culture: Sweeping Exhibition at Musée d’Orsay by Sam Abelow

The “Black Models” show at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris reveals the Western neglect of the archetypal feminine, which accounts for racial and gender subjugation and ultimately a disregard for the planet itself. In this view of the show, we poignantly discover a cultural progression, but also a dire need for further understanding today.

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From Paris: Musée d’Orsay (Van Gogh, Gauguin and European Schizoid Art) by Sam Abelow

The Symbolist painters, circa 1888 - 1920, were a definitive break from the state-sanctioned academy painting of French establishment. It can be useful to understand the artistic desire which promoted such developments as a progression of aesthetics, as well as a push towards new moral and social ideas. Not only today’s artists, but the progressiveness of our present culture, at least in part, reaches back to their pursuits.

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From Paris: l'Orangerie & The Louvre by Sam Abelow

Artists’ are driven by an immortality fantasy. Also, they are poetic types who feel the contents of life-psyche deeply. They need a subject, many of the Europeans chose “woman,” for she is at the center of their psyche; her unending pull both profound fodder for inspiration, sparking their instincts, stimulating the artist towards production.

Also, this obsession with the woman is a form of masochistic self-torture to tease themselves unending, turning an interest into a fascination, and finally into an addiction. (As one painting will not do, and one lover neither; all the complications of this muse relationship come with it!) On the contrary, it has been a form of liberation (hence, the “libertine”) to feel their erotic nature.

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Juicy Color Hits In Marc Horowitz’s High-Flying Act by Sam Abelow

Marc Horowitz’s newest paintings are all variations on the same composition: stark backgrounds resonate like a crisp sky, as chunky stick figures pulse like balloons. As in Rothko’s chapel, or Rembrandt's self-portraits, Horowitz repeats and alters the same idea in a series. And, as Rothko reduced his palette to shades of black, focusing on rectangular forms, and Rembrandt to shades of brown, focusing on the self-portrait, Horowitz’s latest interest can be compared to these exalted masters: his works, as packed with juicy color as ever before, have discarded earlier structures and devices (inkjet prints which allowed for complex puns on rendered horses, landscapes, etc.) in favor of an undeniably primal composition.

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NYC Art Roundup: Contemporary Figuration at Its Finest by Sam Abelow

Dana Schutz’s acclaimed show “Imagine me and You” exalts figurative painting ever-again, with a power and humor especially her own. The epic canvases are slogged and dashed with heavy amounts of paint, the safflower oil of which she uses as medium giving off a tangible odor. The onslaught of these powerful sights and smells, are a sort of pleasure especially modern in their strangeness.

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Hilma af Klint at the Guggenheim After Dark: Mystical Endeavors in Art by Sam Abelow

From October 2018 through April 2019 the Guggenheim Museum in New York City is exhibiting the monumental works of artist and mystic Hilma af Klint. The solo exhibition, “Paintings from the Future,” has on display astoundingly mystical, large format paintings, as well as exquisite works on paper. One notable gallery room —  which has become a must-Instagram for those in the art world — includes a dozen epic works that scale ten feet high.

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Spencer Sweeney's Liberated Masterworks at Gagosian by Sam Abelow

This December the Gagosian gallery, located on Park Ave. and 75th Street in New York City, presented about a half dozen of Spencer Sweeney’s latest works. The figurative painter, who is also a DJ and club owner, has been a legend of the Downtown scene for two decades. Sweeney’s latest works exemplify his approach to life and art, now as ever before, as free, spontaneous and full of vibrant energy.  

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The Persephone Series of Paintings by Sam Abelow

n the original Greek myth, Persephone begins as the maiden of eternal springtime, the youthful and naive “mother’s daughter.” Then she is abducted, taken to the underworld by Hades. There, Persephone wallows, and her mother, Demeter longs after her. Demeter demands her daughter back, and Hades agrees, but slyly offers Persephone a seed of the pomegranate first.

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Vividly Painting the Inner World: Review of Haley Josephs by Sam Abelow

On a hot and humid, early September evening in Park Slope, Brooklyn, Haley Josephs displayed eight unusual paintings at the Gallery 315. The bubbly artist, dressed in a long, blue silk kimono and matching clogs, welcomed attendees.

As I took in the “Finger in the Hive” show, it became increasingly apparent that the artist had painted herself in various guises. The impressive oil paintings featured a diverse set of female characters, many of which were adolescent or children, often set amongst a cinematic sunset, the colors bursting with an internal fire.

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SEED Exhibition: Feminine Psyche and Mysticism in Art by Sam Abelow

It has been very joyous for me to discover a community of artists and enthusiasts exploring the matters of the psyche through art. SEED, a group show curated by Yvonne Force Villareal, focuses on themes of the feminine as mystery and the importance of the mystical mind. It does so with expressive excellence, in the form of paintings, sculptures and mixed media works.

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Demoiselles d’Instagram: Exploration of the Feminine in Society and Art by Sam Abelow

The “D’Madsoille de Instagram” series, presented by Tibor de Nagy, offers an opportunity to delve into these matters and contemplate what it means to consume and therefore support the production of objectifying, sexualized images today.

Whether it has been men’s reductive treatment of women, the courtesans of history, or Instagram models using their sexualized bodies as a basis for a career, an inner relationship to the archetypal feminine that is limited and ruled by libido is at the core.

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Painting Process: Archetypal Ideas in a Personal Art by Sam Abelow

Paintings are essentially about communication — that is, of an idea, an emotion, either ambiguous or direct, purposeful. After completing the work in October 2017, the painting was rolled-up and set aside. It wasn’t until Johannes Böckmann, a German theological student contacted me wishing to collect several works. Among those he was drawn to was the “Pastoral Scene.” When I asked him what the painting meant to him, the way in which he understood the symbolic content, touching down to the archetypal core, was astounding. His reaction reconnected me with the painting.

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Paul Gauguin: Desire and Immortality by Sam Abelow

Paul Gauguin, a painter of the 1890’s, achieved an immortality through his art. Much of his drive to create was a compulsion in which he sacrificed his well-being to achieve. Yet, the contents of his imagination and intellect live on in the cultural canon of Western art, and his aesthetics propagated a new vision of art, influencing the likes of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. The psychological power behind such a drive will be explored in this essay, along with much more.

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An Artist’s Case for the Moderation of Technology by Sam Abelow

The excessive technological stimulation causes many of us to ignore the Life which exists in slow and open moments when we are able to absorb each other and the world around us. Recognition of the downtempo pace of a pre-technological existence is a needed counterbalance.

Flashy screens, moving images, endless songs to stream and infinite news stories are all alluring. Widely accessible content, from comedy to calamity, becomes addictive to our minds which are designed for curiosity. Please, in the days after reading this pay attention to your own habits.

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