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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Tony Tasset and Darryll Schiff: Fine Art and the Passage of Time

            The Abstract Expressionist canvas is an affirmation of the ego.  It reads subjective free will, yet Pop-Art exemplifies both industry and an “ordered world.”  This frame work helps explain why Tony Tasset’s spill paintings have such a profound affect on an educated art viewer.  Tasset’s work appeals to intellectuals as well as a wider audience of viewers who can respond to familiar things recontextualized.  By large, Tasset’s work is something all people respond to.          
"Convergence" Jackson Pollock (Abstract Expressionism Movement)
"Campbell's Soupcans" Andy Warhol (Pop Art Movement)
  If you do not have an art background, I can explain to you why these colorful kitchen disasters are so important conceptually. Many are familiar with the work of Jackson Pollock, though not all people realize he could be credited for a drastic change in art direction that led artists to become preoccupied with the space and objects of our everyday lives.  Pop Art focuses largely on the everyday life and was brought on in the 1950s-1970s inspired by popular culture and mass media.  Tasset’s work is the lovechild of these two drastically different art movements.
"Mr. Miracle" Tony Tasset

One could say the individual gesture and autograph of Abstract Expressionism moved on to the commodity of mass media, as opposed to the individual.  Again, this is why Tasset’s spill paintings are such an extraordinary appropriation.  Pop Art is meant to act as something everyone can recognize, it is not intended to be perplexing.  It is art everyone has had an experience with.  Pop focuses largely on the idea that we are not makers of things, we are buyers of things, yet the fabrication process Tasset achieves to create believable resin replicas of the spilled condiments and cleaning products is astonishing.  Tasset uses the appropriated imagery property of Pop Art by applying the empty bottles of the substances he replicates. 

On the left is detail on Tony Tasset's "Deluxe French." The right shows Andy Warhol's "Brillo Boxes"

Typically, Abstract Expressionism is a “hot art” being that it is emotional, expressive, improvisational and spontaneous, which Tasset’s paintings evoke, however the substances made to be spilled in Tasset’s “spill paintings” are carefully calculated to look believable in consistency, color, thickness and translucent or opaque properties. These qualities fall more in line with “cool art” traits relating to Pop Art where the hand of the artist is not meant to be seen.  In fact, the first time I viewed Tasset’s paintings at Kavi Gupta Gallery I did not realize the liquids were fabricated and not in fact actual spilled chocolate sauce, wine, mustard, Lysol and lysterine being poured and dried on canvas board.      
"Night and Day" Tony Tasset
With traditional Pop Art, the end result is an art piece that intentionally looks to be mass-produced.  Again, this is where Tasset’s paintings differ, looking far too spontaneous and expressive to be replicated.  There are few artists who make work as exciting and thought provoking in this manner, in a sense Tasset can be compared to post-minimal artist Eva Hesse, known for blurring the lines between properties of Minimalist art work and it’s complete opposite.  The spill paintings are much like her textured cube “Accession II which holds properties thought to be minimal.  Hesse’s work is both process art and a cube, but it is decorative and complex. Hesse’s “Accession II” is not flat surfaced nor sleek like Donald Judd's cube, which is the signature look for Minimalist works of art. Again with Hesse’s piece “Hang Up” she initiates conversation from the viewer, is the piece sculptural, or a painting?     
"Untitled" Donald Judd (Minimalist Movement)

"Accession II" Eva Hesse (Post-mimalist Movement)

Tasset’s spill painting is always challenging the viewer in this manner.  A very simple truth about Pop Art is how it should be representational, where Abstract Expressionism, as suggested in its name, is abstract.  Pop will always reference something else, the aspect of culture the spill paintings represent is of course Pop Art’s predecessor, Abstract Expressionism.  Being, an art historian, this work excites me, but even without this prior knowledge other viewers can respond to the beautiful color choices and fantastic textures of these paintings.  These pieces are the perfect size to let the medium spill and melt into gorgeous puddles of seductive color. 
"Untitled" Jackson Pollock

"Deluxe French" Tony Tasset

The true magnetic quality of Tasset’s body of work is the impressive amount of diversity.  Tasset is an inspiring contemporary multimedia artist, with a variety of mediums and styles focused under unwavering artistic direction.  Another body of work that speaks volumes to me on a more sentimental level are his spectacular hyper realistic sculptural works made to look like melting snowmen, rotting jack-o-lanterns and drying mud pies.   
"Mud Pie" Tony Tasset
These faux nature play creations preserve the ephemeral, seasonal man-made traditions.  The pieces generate memories and conjure emotion in the viewer as they recall the sadness a child feels when their new friend is reduced to a pile of snow, or Halloween night is a week old memory and they’ll have to wait another year to carve a silly face into a pumpkin.  Tasset recreates the familiar, not unlike Jeff Koons with his balloon animal sculptures, thought I prefer Tasset’s creations that evoke nature’s cycle of life and death reflected in seasonal activities. 
"Snowman with Scarf" Tony Tasset
The power this work holds is the ability to make the viewer nostalgic through the alluring qualities of ephemeral art.  It is art we have all had an experience with, it is playful with grim undertones as it captures a fleeting moment near the expiration date of a perishable play object we have given life to with our own hands and imagination. 

Above are two images of Tony Tasset's "Smashed Pumpkin" the first a full image, the second detail.

"Evanescence" ©Darryll Schiff All Rights Reserved

Like Tasset, Darryll Schiff’s photographic body of work conveys the beauty reflected by the impermanent and ephemeral qualities of life.  The camera is well-equipped to capture fleeting moments, yet the medium is used more uniquely than a simple snapshot.  The style in which Schiff expertly seizes his various photographic subjects is always done so in a way that explicitly captivates the essence of a passage in time, like a sophisticated time lapse that only a professional artist of his caliber could hope to achieve. 
"In Vista" ©Darryll Schiff All Rights Reserved
"To Heaven" ©Darryll Schiff All Rights Reserved 
His signature style includes an emotionally charged essence that comes through with each of his photographs that speak for all of humanity in this modern age.  Schiff’s color palette is never short of amazing as it lures the viewer in to contemplate not only how his work is made, but the deeper meaning behind it.  The painterly movement and flow is deliberate to convey the romantic notions of a contemporary artist exploring the digital world through a digital medium.  

"Goo" Tony Tasset

"Apt. Moments" ©Darryll Schiff All Rights Reserved 

Both Tony Tasset and Darryll have expansive bodies of work that cover a variety of subjects and styles.  It is their ability to generate emotion through their art that makes their work so gravitating in each drastically different series.  

- Lauren Ike

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