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LOVELIKETHEUNIVERSE

Justin H. Long

Sinisa Kukec_Launch Thy Dreadnought of Consciousness_Love Like The Universe_Spinello Projects 2013

Sinisa Kukec, Launch Thy Dreadnought of Consciousness, 2013. Wood, Epoxy, and Tempera, 80"x40". Courtesy of Spinello Projects.

Sinisa Kukec
LOVELIKETHEUNIVERSE
Spinello Projects
February 14-April 6, 2013

Resin is the name of the game and Sinisa Kukec is not afraid of it. Of the two levels at Spinello Projects, the ground floor is the darker realm, consisting of spinning mirrors splattered with ejaculative-esque droplets and cozied around “Less Whoring More Loving” a Hugo Montoya-inspired, gorilla fur-covered love seat. (Miami is a hub for the adult film industry and perhaps this is the depressive core to which we are being led, or simply our own narcissism?) A neon squiggle in a glass cube reeks of nostalgia, as does “Unlike real magic… and the illusion of disappearance… The arrival of a clown exercise a beneficial influence upon the health of ones own magic to create the illusion of being…,” a tall monolith of glittery orbs drooling over an antique speaker system playing vinyls of Iggy, Ozzy, and Richard Strauss’ Also Spake Zaruthustra. The abundance of mirror and shine draw the viewer into a state of wonder, where they are abandoned, wondering where to go from there.

Upstairs the mood changes significantly with a new take at critiquing minimalism. A wall-mounted color field diptych, mirroring its colors at the intersection of a shape Ellsworth Kelly may have never used shadows a pour painting trapped forever in a state of process. The pour painting shares a large dimple with another duo of stretched raw linen that remain the most minimalist yet. These dimples are described as Gravity Wells—sinkholes of ideas in which the universe expands upwards to escape them. Could these wells be the next step that the minimalists were looking for before Thomas Lawson’s Last Exit: Painting deemed them all extinct? Regardless, the pieces on the second floor step their way through the history of post-war painting and prove resin can be a beautiful supplement to oil. The divide between the first and second floor is a must—the art upstairs works as an acceptable series while the naughty seedbed of romantic, nostalgic sensationalism can run amuck down below.

Sinisa Kukec_Installation_Love Like The Universe_Spinello Projects 2013

Installation view of LOVELIKETHEUNIVERSE. Photo courtesy Spinello Projects.

Kukec is a romantic, spilling references and inspiration from every corner, but he lacks the ability to consolidate them into a cohesive thought. Opening the door to a dialogue between the likes of Morris Louis and Luciano Fontana is a wonderful consideration, but may have been more relevant 30 years ago. The Minimals aren’t really cranking them out these days. That said, perhaps we are seeing the beginning of a nouveau-neo-minimalist trend. With its slick surfaces, symbolism, and classic-art tropes a plenty, LOVELIKETHEUNIVERSE reads a bit all over the place. The exhibition looks like art, although the confusion from the fun house below detracts from what could have been a solid show. Through the glitz and glamor of it all, a stronger unification of concept would have taken us further into the breadth of the universe.

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  • Richard Haden

    “…he lacks the ability to consolidate them into a cohesive thought”? Well OK. When I read that kind of phrase, as a critique, I immediately think that the use of the word, “cohesive” as a surrogate for “Coherent” which in philosophical jargon refers to “Coherence Theory”. So, maybe Justin is referring here to that branch of philosophy that took over the art world back in the 60’s—that wonderful movement that we all know as Conceptual art–leaving minimalism behind.

    However, despite that great attempt to move away from the commercial object orientedness of the art world, conceptual art has its limits too, especially when its theories are more or less used to critique art that otherwise is meant to be more experienced and less thought about… I am immediately on the edge of my seat thinking that this article, is too, also stuck in the past as a misplaced critique. For what is the use of the phrase “Cohesive” if not as a stand in for that part of analytical philosophy / epistemology that was and still is so influential today and yesterday to the likes of artist like Joseph Kosuth…who made the assertion that real art is tautological (Art After Philosophy, Kosuth, 1969). In other words art is for arts sake–anything outside of the tautology of the loop is not relevant to art (Yet this is different that art for arts sake in that Kantian sense…another story) So, as the truth makers go, “Coherence theorist” propose, all that we know coheres with the best beliefs or the best set theories of knowing, the larger the better, yet this is not related to “Correspondence Theory”–for that way of knowing corresponds to reality–on ideas that correspond to things felt, seen or what ever. –where as tautologies don’t stick to reality but work in hermeneutical cycles, which means reality has little to do with concepts, at least as art is concerned —which are in themselves no more than tautologies too. And as we all know context means everything in art today.

    Anyway, I think it is a mistake to look at Sinisa Kukec’s work in an analytic context for I think the key to Sinisa’s work lies in its wantonness to escape the romantic alienation of yesterdays romantic (who spends way to much time in the studio, thus depriving him or herself of a social practice…or any real chance at a relational thing) So in Sinisa’s case, I see the direction or multi-direction as more of an attribute…and so to not speak of the downstairs as but a dark and not coherent nor a cohesive connection to the top floor seems to miss the point…because I think it is irrelevant draw a distinction between the two floors… for the relevance is not a neo-geo / minimalist trend toward nostalgia but instead a cohesive body of work that wants to stand resolute as differentiated in more the kindred spirit of what a schizophrenic might show up to make… for we all live in this overly commercialized world, overly bombarded by stimulus in a hyper-consumer society….So in other words we are not just a self looking for center anymore we are many selves looking for being many. We are a body experiencing in more ways that one…And this is more interesting to me as what artist may become as well the literal translation of the Poets words are a much welcome part to Sinisa’s work. For Sinisa’s work, I think is growing towards that better place where, the presence of the artist as well as the work is more dematerialized towards an ontological affectiveness that welcomes its conceptual musing too.

    • Skip Van Cel

      Thank you, Richard.

      • Amanda Sanfilippo

        what is your opinion?

    • Amanda Sanfilippo

      Richard, respectfully thank you for your research. But why would you suggest that work is not possible/appropriate to be viewed in an “analytic context”? What other context would there be? It seems that what you suggest as a more appropriate context is something that is purely retinal? In addition is it useful to employ an argument of capitalist bombardment as an excuse for a perceived lack?

      • Richard Haden

        Amanda, I don’t mean to imply that art, in a general way, can not be viewed in an analytical context but I am saying that art, that is based on the directness of phenomenological experience–or art that is more or less grounded in direct perception, no matter if it is retinal, sonic, olfactory, temporal, or what ever, loses its directness when contemplated rationally, first.

        What the fuck–I will be back in a minute….
        And just as I was writing this comment, I hear a loud crash outside… it turns out, someone was in a police chase, in a stolen truck, then crashed in front of our studio… (drug deal gone bad) then about two dozen cops start chasing the guy around the neighborhood. Just as the Cops seemed to be about to leave, I did one thorough search throughout our building… then I found the guy hiding in an upstairs space… beleive me this just happen… and it’s a bit strange that when this all happened I was trying to write a comment, back at Amanda, describing the difference between an analytical approach and an ontological approach to art…

        Well as it turned out this evening… I employed both strategies. I first felt the situation… looked for blood, looked for crap turned over, then I analyzed the situation…then I found the guy tucked away in a dark place up in a storage area of out studio. So in a way maybe this is my answer to your question Amanda—–much art is experienced first then thought about second… just like a unique situation… the situation is first felt and experienced directly then contemplated directly after that.

        In conclusion,

        To counter the analytical approach, which applies to conceptual art is an approach weighted ontologically in “being”… which of course includes all sorts of art from the ritual involved in cave paintings to the instrumental use of activism to interventions (or various versions of social practice that also depend on maintaining a studio practice), Also, I include within this counter to the analytical the relational arts, from the Situationist, to Nicolas Bourriaud taking up the ambient aspect of the situationist to Clare Bishop’s antagonistic instrumentalized notion of the antagonism of social practice… anyway–to me–thinking follows the a priori of being first… as well the analytic leads to reproducing that which becomes experience.

        And no doubt I will edit this comment later for I am still feeling the rush of the previous situation.

        • Amanda Sanfilippo

          Thanks Richard. Amazing experience you had! So you posit that a phenomenological – experienced approach is more appropriate here than an analytical – conceptual approach to Sinisa’s show. But if that was the case, would not the work construct more of an environmental situation, such as a work by MIke Nelson, Thomas Hirschhorn Allan Kaprow? Maybe useful is Dewey’s “Art as Experience”, though I find it problematic when thinking of these later practices…

          • Richard Haden

            Good afternoon Amanda, All quiet here at the compound.

            Yes to prioritizing experience over the analytic, at least for this exhibition… but the analytic soon follows. As for me, when I first visited Sinisa Kukec’s show there was an immediacy based on the overwhelming visual nature of the bottom floor, which is where I started. The first room is pained green which is filled even more with electric green fluorescent light. Which sort of fulfills that environmental reference to which you allude (then later I learned it has to do with the aphorism: “Colorless Green Love Sleeps furiously”, which by the way is taken from Noam Chomsky’s phrase, “Colorless green Ideas sleep furiously”, which is where the analytic interpretation kicks in to leave the the physical silent. Of course Chomsky’s phrase, was not intended as an aphorism, but instead draws attention to the difference between correct grammar and nonsensical semantics, which is the beauty of the work–Isha takes advantage of the contemplative nonsensical nature of the phrase by punning it into a meaningful muse where it is reified into the visual by Sinisa.

            A similar approach can be taken with the work, “Unlike Real Majic…” that employs sound, a sonic ambiance to the room.

  • Maria

    Yeah, what Richard said.

    • Amanda Sanfilippo

      Maria, what part exactly do you agree with?

  • Amanda Sanfilippo

    Getting back to the work, something we missed: dealing with the issue of nostalgia all together which was addressed briefly in the article but not entirely explored, and might be the crux of this discomfort with the work. Nostalgia in the neon materials, nostalgia in the modernist and minimalist experiments, with a list of A-lister’s from art history. Bruce Nauman, Morris Lewis, Lucio Fontana, Frank Stella, Anish Kapoor even, we’ve already touched on a few. A deliberate fashioning towards these kinds of forms. We have not dealt with the implication of nostalgia and potentially the worst criticism to be delivered to an artist today, that of their work being “derivative”. I am not saying this work is derivative necessarily, though if it is not, it must be something else. What that something else might be has been the subject of hours of conversation for those who are willing to think about it for more than 5 minutes. And what those of us who are willing to think about it for that long might come up with a few singular issues which are unresolved with some of the works: overt capitalism, (which I amicably accused the artist of during our crit visit, whom I respect), the indulgent use of materials such as glitter and resign with hedonistic/excessive application and the implications of that kind of application as not being interesting/vapid, and the refusal to address that some of the works might not have a stance on either of these issues or communicate at all. This is not critical work, it is earnest work. Yet in its earnestness there is something sinister which knows better.

    • Richard Haden

      Yep Amanda, I would like to comment to that question concerning nostalgia … tomorrow or after some one else takes a jab at it.

      • Amanda Sanfilippo

        Looking forward Thanks Richard

        • Richard Haden

          Hi Amanda,
          How about before I comment on any investigation regarding nostalgia, you indulge me for a few moments while I first try to figure out what you mean by nostalgia or what sense of nostalgia we are examining here… for nostalgia has several meanings or several contexts, depending on the historical situation—especially, if we are looking at “nostalgia” in the greater historical-philosophical sense, as “tropes of nostalgia”—and if nostalgia is a trope or something not fixed then might we discover it problematic to excavate using nostalgia as a tool to dig–in Sinisa’s recent work…

          • Eddie Arroyo

            Richard I am curious to understand this discomfort with the word “Nostalgia” in the context of how its being utilized in Miami. There are a number of artists practicing this concept although it would be perceived more in as documentarian or archival in its presentation. You revered to it as a trope which I would assume your use would be in the literal sense as a motif or a cliché? Please correct me if I am wrong in this assumption.

          • Eddie Arroyo

            I was reading Amanda’s thread in reference to nostalgia and art history. How its being appropriated into Sinsa’s work, how these tropes seem to mirror a Miami aesthetic/ vernacular in reference to what you stated in what has evolved/ devolved to “Kitsch”, “Sampling”, and “Camp”. What I find interesting is Amanda’s final statement, “earnestness there is something sinister which knows better.” Something which I myself have contemplated for sometime now based on my own observations. Recently I had concluded that perhaps there is this tendency for artists in Miami to ask the public to have a leap of faith of sorts in regard to this type of work. Yes there is something sinister with such a request because it has all the indications that it may very well be a trope and subsequently a con of sorts. However that has always been the nature of the city, to be sincere in its insincerity. I find it may be at the heart of your discomfort in reference to this use of the word nostalgia.

  • Eddie Arroyo

    Richard I am curious to understand this discomfort with the word “Nostalgia” in the context of how its being utilized in Miami. There are a number of artists practicing this concept although it would be perceived more in as documentarian or archival in its presentation. You revered to it as a trope which I would assume your use would be in the literal sense as a motif or a cliché. Please correct me if I am wrong in this assumption.

    • First, off the top of my head, I think there are at least a few ways to look at nostalgia. But before I elaborate on that, I suggest that, for me, the discomforting use of the term nostalgic, comes from its too general use, which often seems to be no more than for the sake of being nostalgic for nostalgia sake–using the term loosely as though it cancels out more specific terms that play off older ideas, things, etc. Take for instance, “Camp” or the intentional use of “Kitsch” or even “Sampling” as three visual, conceptual or literary devices. Both Camp, Kitsch, and Sampling are similar to nostalgia, in that they access the past, but are terms that have more specific use. For example Camp makes use of something older but uses it in a contemporary way, such as, lets say old clothing styles that are brought back to clash with current style. Sampling in Music allows a DJ to mashup sounds from various sources or genres from various periods to make a new fresh mix. Where as the intentional use of Kitsch, can play off a history of outsider influences mixed with the contemporary…

      Back later

      • Eddie Arroyo

        I was reading Amanda’s thread in reference to nostalgia in reference to art history and how its being appropriated into Sinsa’s work. How these tropes seem to mirror a Miami aesthetic/ vernacular in reference to what you stated in what has evolved/ devolved to “Kitsch”, “Sampling”, and “Camp”. What I find interesting is Amanda’s final statement, “earnestness there is something sinister which knows better.” Something which I myself have contemplated for sometime now based on my own observations. Recently I had concluded that perhaps there is this tendency for artists in Miami to ask the public to have a leap of faith of sorts in regard to this type of work. Yes there is something sinister with such a request because it has all the indications that it may very well be a trope and subsequently a con of sorts. However that has always been the nature of the city, to be sincere in its insincerity. I find it may be at the heart of your discomfort in reference to this use of the word nostalgia.