I CAN SEE YOU - Introduction by Peter Frank Art Critic and Writer
by Peter Frank
At a time when most of the visual stimuli we receive come to us behind featureless plasma screens, the actuality of physically fabricated artwork has become a precious experience, at once exotic and necessary.
Even advertisements, composed of alluring imagery and reassuring information, become that much more persuasive when delivered as palpable material, whether pages in print magazines, posters on walls, banners flapping in the wind, or even projections on the sides of (very real) buildings. With her painting background, Judith Kindler appreciates the urgency that physicality gives imagery, and she has set out to explore the place where the picture becomes substance and its sway over us becomes substantial.
In this, Kindler follows – in her own fashion – a tradition of “re-materiality” limned a hundred years ago by Dada artists cutting up and reassembling the popular publications of their day, and fifty years ago by Nouveaux Réalistes and other assemblagists compiling the detritus of a con- sumer culture – not least its advertising – into errant, strange, but familiar structures. In partic- ular, artists working in Europe such as Raymond Hains, Jacques Villeglé, Mimmo Rotella, and Wolf Vostell heightened the visceral excitement of urban walls’ stuttering messages and sensu- ous textures by isolating broad swaths of posters and handbills and presenting such seemingly random excerpts as art.
Superficially resembling the expansive collages of these ”déchiristes,” the work in Kindler’s “I Can See You” series in fact reverses the process and meaning of such dé-collage (Vostell’s term). Kindler engages imagery she has produced herself, conducting photo-shoots with models the re- sults of which become her ground material. She weathers and slathers her collage-paintings into objects romantically beset with a juicy decay – the appeal of the coarsened recognized in Japanese aesthetics as sabi no wabi. But the imagery Kindler has painstakingly formulated does not disappear into the grit but gains immediacy from it. The women who posed for this project may not be present, but photos of them are, and their presentness becomes present-tense when enmeshed in Kin- dler’s painterly enhancement.
In the hands of a woman, such imagery – which exploits women doubly, as images and as consumers – takes on critical resonance, one only amplified by the kind of entirely self-generative process Judith Kindler employs. The neo-Pop gloss of “I Can See You” may be seductive, but its edge bites.
- PETER FRANK is a New York-born, Los Angeles-based art critic and curator. Associate Editor of Fabrik magazine and art critic for the Huffington Post, Frank has served as Editor of THEmagazine Los Angeles and Visions Art Quarterly, and as art critic for the LA Weekly, Village Voice and SoHo Weekly News. He has organized exhibitions for Documenta in Kassel, the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, and New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, among other venues, and served as Senior Curator at the Riverside Art Museum in California. He has written extensively for books and periodicals around the world.