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John Perreault’s popular blog, Artopia, has a recent posting that brings together a disparate variety of themes. Braided into Perreault’s personal ruminations is reference to “Icons of the Desert: Early Aboriginal Paintings from Papunya”, the aboriginal art show at Grey Gallery (NYU), the “Mandala” show at the Rubin Museum, as well as a discussion of images also on display at the Rubin, “The Red Book of C.G. Jung” (newly released in English.)

On my way to New York to see both the NYU and Rubin shows, I will have more to write about both of these exhibitions when I return. Perreault’s posting is chock full of issues that are worth delving into in more detail, particularly given how boldly Perreault ventures into some controversial (sacrosanct?) territory. So more on this when I return this weekend.


Installation at Violet Ray Gallery

One of the old lions of the art world, Gillian Jagger, got a high five from John Perreault’s Artopia this week. She IS amazing.

Can an artist be too original, too ambitious? Gillian Jagger, in my book, is truly an original, one of the most original artists I have ever come across. Her work is bigger than life in its homage to both beasts and geology, and her use of space. The problem is that she is difficult to classify: critics, curators and collectors want examples of categories, not precedent-breaking, back-breaking, space-claiming, raw sculptures.

Jagger makes casts of what appear to be heavily trafficked pastures, the mud around wilderness watering holes and the unsung trails of migrating herds. And these great chunks of plaster and latex are deployed within specific exhibition sites to exploit the drama and the grandeur of her themes.

You think at first you are looking at the crackled bed of a dried up lake or a marble quarry gone berserk, but then you see the hoof prints, at least in the present work… Many years ago, when visiting Africa, Jagger witnessed thundering herds in the wild. The image and the awe stuck with her, finally finding expression in these new works, under the title “In Between.”

When Jagger uses plaster, you don’t think of George Segal, you think of Nature. When she installs her gigantic flat (!) sculptures – whether as floor pieces, wall pieces, or something in between – she takes your breath away. Now, retired from teaching, she glories in her maturity. She is neither a Minimalist, anti-form artist, or Earth Artist. She is sui generis.

“I believe that the way of perceiving that I have developed living in nature leads to a shared sense of wholeness, to a sense of in-commonness of our mutual interconnected survival.”

–Gillian Jagger

“Her responses to found life begin with a visceral awareness of the urgency of its vulnerability or death and include a passionately attentive listening that has a visceral or meditative component. This listening to the other’s call precludes self-absorption and narcissism, which dissolves defenses against one’s own anxiety about vulnerability and death that help produce the mentality of compartmentalization.”

–Michael Brenson