Directional Works: Nicole Cherubini’s Althean

Nicole Cherubini‘s Althean, from 2015, is a work of monumentality whose spiritual arcs transcend the histories of sculpture and civilization. I had to look up the word “Althean” and I discovered that it is the adjective form of “Althea”, a Greek name believed to have been derived from an ancient deity, or perhaps a reference to the Grateful Dead song. The meaning is likely a reference to the Greek pottery of the ancients and the sacred traditions that operated within the manufacturing of Greek architecture and sculpture.

Nicole Cherubini, Althean, 2015, Photo by George Magalios

The striking crystalline blue glaze employed in the majority of the sculpture by Ms. Cherubini is perhaps another allusion to ancient Greece with its sea-like blue-green hues. What makes the work monumental is not its size (It measures approximately six feet in height and never gets wider than 18 inches by my estimate). The monumentality the viewer is presented with in Althean arises from the verticality of the form and the sense of the sacred surrounding its objects and their positioning within the composition.

What makes Althein resonant is its composition of disparate items joined in block form to create a tower or sculptural base upon which sits an amphorae-like ceramic work with a curious tray-like ceramic backing. At the foot of the column and directly in front of it is a plain un-glazed vase serving as a rich and subtle visual counter-balance to the decadent opulence of the dripping blue krackling surface that adorns and attacks the majority of the sculpture above.

The column elements vary in material from MDF to earthenware and fiber board.

Nicole Cherubini, Althean, 2015, Photo by George Magalios

I can imagine the work existing as some form of totem in a fantastical jungle populated by ancient wealthy women living in Boca Raton or Los Angeles, marking their territory after the apocalypse with the quasi luxurious and mystical artifact 1,000 years into the future.

The ostentatious, if not downright lurid, flow of blue glaze dripping and forming goops along many of the blocks and crudely painted on the vessel alludes to some sort of painterly aspiration on Ms. Cherubini’s behalf and serves as a reminder that Greek sculpture and architecture was once painted in brilliant colors.

Part of the “Regarding George Ohr: Contemporary Ceramics in the Spirit of the Mad Potter” exhibition at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, Althean is the stand-out work that defies the casual forays into kitsch, schlock and concentrated ugliness many contemporary ceramic artists are afflicted with.

Ms. Cherubini’s sculpture is a work of allegorical philosophy through ceramics, one that addresses the ancient pottery of the Greeks and the totemic “Endless Column” of Constantin Brancusi in one breath of playful and studied genius.

Althean is a memorable and arresting work that takes ceramics to its conceptual limits while honoring the various divergent traditions of sculpture’s mindcraft.

This mindcraft emerges from the flow of the basics of handicraft present in its purest and most provocative displays in a work of sumptuous sculptural eroticism.

Emerge This

An Analysis of the 2017 Rudin Prize for Emerging Photographers at the Norton Museum

The Norton Museum of Art is exhibiting the finalists for the Rudin Prize for Emerging Photographers. “Emerging” is one of those art world words that is essentially a euphemism that translate as: Not quite big time enough to be considered a blue chip art star and yet an achiever of a modest semi-established exhibition and sales record perhaps worthy of a small provincial museum exhibition…. A terrible term to be sure, the concept of “emerging” as it is employed in the Rudin Prize show is both condescending to the artists shown and insulting to those thinkers and artists, established or not, who value the phenomenon of evolution, process, maturation, and discovery… It is one of those linguistic markers art critics and curators employ to write the strange and mysterious cartography of contemporary art. It may be time to steal this troubled little word back… Continue Reading

Charlize Theron and Her Icy Hot Glamour in Atomic Blonde

It’s not the fashions that make the actress. It’s the actress that makes the fashions. Charlize Theron is the undisputed ice queen of Hollywood Cinema and her fashion sensibilities (and those of her stylists) are on glorious display in her latest film, Atomic Blonde. The movie is a delicious viewing experience for lovers of glamour, sex appeal (the old-school version that leaves plenty to the imagination, not the pornographic obvious kind) and the sight of a beautiful woman wearing beautiful outfits while playing an emotionally-transfixing secret agent with a propensity for vodka on the rocks, French female spies, and ass-kicking. Continue Reading

2017 Venice Biennale Journal: Day 1

I decide to immediately head out and brave through my stomach virus. I stopped at a tiny bakery and ordered food to sustain me. My order was prosecco, focaccia with olives and sopressata, and a scoop of hazelnut gelato, all fantastic.

Venice is all mazes and alleys, no cars, no bikes. It is easy to get lost in this amazing city. Having lost my iphone I was resorting to old-school navigation, asking for directions in my limited Italian and writing things down. Immediately I recall the fun of getting lost and not caring about time. This is a very special phenomenon in Venice. You cannot be in a hurry and you must enjoy the trip, no matter how brief, as much as the mission or destination. It reminded me of my first time here ten years ago. Old sensations, thoughts, and ideas re-emerged from that trip in October of 2007. I was reminded of how much I love the light, the colors, and the textures of the buildings. I was reminded of how nice the Italians are to all the local tourists. I was reminded of fast-paced and stressed American life is by comparison to life in Venice. Continue Reading

An Email To David, My Trump-Voting Friend

by
George Magalios

Note: This email was written in response to a link (https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/uncategorized/french-government-to-track-everyone-everywhere/) sent by my friend David. 

Hi David, Great seeing you and Silvia Friday. I really enjoyed it. 

Thanks for this article. I say thank you because the article inspired me to think about you and my other friends who voted for Trump and who continue to be swept up in the false bravado and cynicism of so-called Conservative beliefs. 

Let me start by addressing the article you sent. I usually just delete links from you and my other friends when I realize they are going to garbage websites that try to stoke the worst values in people. I dismiss them like I dismiss misguided beliefs of people I love. But this time I felt compelled to write you a proper reply and to convey my truest emotions and thoughts. I hope you will take this reply as a genuine act of respect and friendship.  Continue Reading