August can be a hard month for art lovers. This is traditionally the month that galleries like to take off, close their doors for a while and generally start to prepare for the fall. Every city is the same but no more so than NYC. It feels like the whole of Chelsea has collectively packed their bags and headed for the Hamptons, but even in this sea of ‘see you in September” notifications was a must see show at Pace Gallery. Split between two spaces; Tara Donovan and teamLab offered two very startling viewing experiences that both juxtaposed and complimented one another.
We started with the Japanese artist collective teamLab. The collective is made up of artists, designers, engineers, animators and so on. Their installation consisted of various monitors and screens displaying short looped animations. They were meant to act as slow kinetic paintings. TeamLab appropriates traditional Japanese subjects and techniques but gives them a modern twist. Virtual ink danced across the surface,trees slowly blossomed, abstract waves swelled and disappeared, birds took flight and a waterfall perpetually rained. The rooms were very dark and the light of the screens bathed the room in a cool and detached glow.
The works give off a definite futuristic vibe and would not be out of place in the office of some notorious sci-fi villian when Hollywood comes calling. At their best; they were mesmerizing exercises in colour and motion and at their worst veered into the dangerous territory of cheesy decoration. The future is now, but like most futures; there’s still a few kinks to work out.
Just up the street from teamLab’s experiment with the near future were two monumental sculptures by New York based artist Tara Donovan. Donovan works with everyday materials in exciting and unexpected ways. Her sculptures seem to grow from a single element into organic forms that both mimic and negate nature in equal measures.
She has a wonderful sense of texture. From afar, her work looks soft and inviting but as you approach you slowly make out the sharp corners and stiff materials. The transformation she achieves, makes you want to embrace it even more. Each piece is installed specifically in the space it will inhabit. In this way the work can change and adapt to its surroundings. She also doesn’t like to title her work. She feels naming them would manipulate the viewing experience too much and would rather have the viewer draw their own associations.
The summer is slowly drawing to a close but as Pace has proven; some shows are worth leaving the beach for.