December 4, 2014
Eugene Newmann: Selections: Then and Now

THE Magazine
December 2014
Hannah Noel

In his late sixties, Eugene Newman readily began baring his concern with the aging body. Almost all of his work refers to a body or bodies, but over the years his interest in the figure as an object of desire developed into an investigation of the body’s varied dispositions. His early works were inspired by reclining nudes, which evolved into yogic bodies, and most recently into bodies near death. This current chapter distinctly swaps the female subject for the male as Newmann explores the most iconic dying body from art history—Christ. His recent exhibition at David Richard Gallery, Selections: Then and Now, includes over twenty paintings from the past thirty-five years that blur the line between portraiture and everything else. The figure is fairly consistently buried by layers of paint, barely recognizable as a malformed thing upon the surface, and despite the latent threat of a body emerging amid the dominating ochers, blues, and reds, most of his work is, for all cataloguing purposes, abstract with only a handful of actual gesture drawings.

Newmann was a bit young for the Abstract Expressionist movement, and his contemporaries were those prominent abstract painters living in New Mexico in the seventies—namely Sam Scott and Frank Ettenberg. David Hill, who co-founded Collected Works Bookstore, started buying their (at the time) less conventional paintings, and many of the early works at David Richard Gallery are on loan from Hill’s personal collection, namely the Small Bodies series, inspired by classical reclining nudes. Small Bodies #1 is decidedly graphic and out of place amid the more gestural works in the show but also stands as a threshold for Newmann’s architectural elements that randomly hold space elsewhere in his work, reminding us that all these amorphous bodies still need a place to lie down.

Newmann’s preoccupation with the yogic body is evinced in Chakra’s On Fire (2003), not just in title but also in the stretching form whose limbs are literally on fire. From 2013, Not Quite Out of the Woods Just Yet 1 announces a lack of safety while inferring an eventual clearing, its title teetering metaphorically between dark and light. In Sanskrit, “nirvana” literally means “out of the woods,” and in keeping with Newmann’s interest in Eastern ideas this thirty-by-forty-inch horizontal suggests a humorous approach to old age in which Newmann unabashedly claims he is still whacking through the thicket, expecting to reach nirvana eventually. The painting itself tells a similar narrative. A profile bust in bone-white strangely and crookedly floats like a drowned sculpture haphazardly lodged in green, brown, black, and white brush marks—a brush that butts up against a luminous pale blue world. The earthly meets the heavenly as Newmann gruffly elaborates on this transitory corporeality.

Falling, Falling, Fallen 3 (2008) references Christ’s deposition from the cross, although it takes a hint from the artist to see the comparison. The limp body of Jesus partly or fully propped up as he is taken down from the cross makes the same rectangular bulge as the iconographic sap-green mass in Newmann’s account. Beneath the nonrepresentational image is the half-dead body, framed by crimson areas that take on bodily connotations. These complementary colors alone are so notable in Renaissance religious paintings that Falling, Falling, Fallen 3 suddenly embodies a well-grounded exposition of a ripe mortality.

Newmann conceals the body by literally abstracting the human form and coaxing it elsewhere so that it is often recognizable only as some kind of ghostly landscape. In the New Mexico PBS series ¡Colores!, which features Newmann, he recalls how in the sixties and seventies artists were asked to take sides on the issue of abstraction. They had to mount their flag and stay there. Today’s freedom to cross pollinate aesthetic traditions leaves an artist with a very flexible narrative—but a narrative nonetheless. As Newmann continues to bum around in the woods with the rest of us, his delineations seem to probe at this problem of subjectivity. Selections: Then and Now is thus a selectionof self-portraits groping for the other side.

—Hannah Hoel

Download:   Eugene Newmann: Selections: Then and Now

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January 17, 2017
Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah, 01/17/2017

The University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will host the art exhibition Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts, Jan. 20-March 3.

Artnauts, an art collective formed 20 years ago by George Rivera, professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, consists of 300 global artists who serve as goodwill ambassadors, acknowledging and supporting victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions across five continents. Five faculty members from the U’s Department of Art and Art History are members of the collective, Sandy Brunvand, Beth Krensky, V. Kim Martinez, Brian Snapp and Xi Zhang.

Globalocation derives from “Globalocational Art” — a concept used by the Artnauts to refer to their exhibitions in international venues. It is the mission of the Artnauts to take art to places of contention, and this anniversary exhibition is a sample of places where they have been and themes they have addressed.

“The Artnauts could not exist without the commitment of the artists in the collective to a common vision of the transformative power of art,” said Rivera. “The Artnauts make their contribution with art that hopefully generates a dialogue with an international community on subjects that are sometimes difficult to raise.”

Krensky, associate department chair of the Art and Art History Department, had the opportunity to travel with Rivera in Chile as part of an Artnauts project, working with mothers who were searching for their children who had mysteriously disappeared during a time of political unrest.

“When I travelled to Chile in 1998, George and I spent an afternoon with the Mothers of the Disappeared, and the meeting changed my life,” said Krensky. “It was from that moment on that I placed a picture of them on my desk to look at every day. I was so moved by what they each had lost — a son, a brother, a father — and yet what remained for them was a deep, deep well of love. They were fierce warriors and stood up to the government to demand the whereabouts and information of the people who had disappeared, but they lived within profound love.”

The 20th anniversary exhibition at the Marriott Library is a retrospective of the traveling works the Artnauts have toured around the globe. The exhibition will be located on level three of the library. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Jan 20, 4-6 p.m. Rivera will speak at 4 p.m.

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