Randy Wray


Painter said...

Randy Wray @
Black and White
636 West 28th Street

Ursula's Dad said...

is this the same Randy Wray that has shown at Eller?

The paintings used to be punk rock.

Hendrik said...

This is a dynamic show. Sculptures hanging from the ceiling and wall-mounted works that teeter into the sculpural field. Reeks of fertile death. Ghostly. Skulls, flowers, webs, crosses, and the American flag---adds up poignantly.
Spirituality and patriotism are under scrutiny here. See this and see the Aaron Johnson at Priska Juschka- his work goes into similar territory (and postPUNK (?))- his pistol shoot-out between some demon Jesus and the Holy Ghost is so relevant (and a riot). I saw both of these after seeing Mr. at L. Maupin, which, though serves up so much eye-candy, is quite forgetable in comparison.

zipthwung said...

"Skulls, flowers, webs, crosses, and the American flag"

Godd job shilling heindrik. A bit transparent but your sincerity seems real.

Whos doing this style best? Inquiring minds want to know.

Tres ironique et le dessins est au currant. Now peel me a grape.

arebours said...

offally pretty

surfkook said...

Aaron Johnson blows. It's worse than Erik Parker!

Aaron said...

i dont think erik parker is bad - even in a "blacklight poster" pop-ironic mentality - I mean, I'd rather look at a dumb Erik Parker than a dumb dry-candy sculpture with some sort of theoretical or historicly contextual punchline.

But Id rather look at the moon than the sun, too. Less retinal dammage.

Jokes on you like a reverse nutter butter.


surfkook said...

I'd rather look at a dumb Erik Parker than an Aaron Johnson

closeuup said...


saatchi & saatchi

mschool said...

Looks like Italo Scanga

zipthwung said...

Did anyone ever think kucio fontana was cool? Those must ahve been some HEADY times.

poppy said...

aaron, you aaron johnson?
in the game of erik parker vs. aaron johnson, why is one worse than the other? Any takers?

facialanomaly said...

This reminds me of highschool self portrait. Maybe looks better in person?

JpegCritic said...
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JpegCritic said...
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JpegCritic said...
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Anonymous said...

I think this would come up if you were to shed a little moonlight
on this thing

Aaron said...

art jokes

I had a dream someone had a skull and x-bones tie, which reminds me of this work. In the same way that a piano key tie might remind me to take my meds.

In the dream I had to pee so I found a corner to pee in and then it was class time so I realized my pee would stink up the place.

It was after a long weekend so I had forgotten what my classes were.

My shit doesn't stink but if it did I might poke it with a stick to find out why.

AaronJohnson said...

To clarify, the person posting as "Aaron" is NOT ME. Carry on.

Aaron said...

yeah, I'm aaron and Im posting as myself. I'm sorry for the confusion. The popularity of Aaron as a name peaked somewhere around 1970.

Aaron Johnson's new work looks good, working to wow us with the new school maximalism instead of the old school minimalism. Im on the side of maximalism, but i had professors who were into creating effects with an economy of means,so I can chill with the geometric abstraction if its warm out and I have a cold beer.

In a way this painting is minimal, and I wonder about that - because it doesn't seem refined, and yet it
reeks of art so of course it is.
That bugs me.

closeuup said...

The time has come for me
To break out of the shell
I have to shout
That I'm coming out

I'm coming out
I want the world to know
Got to let it show
I'm coming out
I want the world to know
I got to let it show

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

This Spanish guy wrote a painting and the French understood it, so did the Russians. I guess that's half what painting is about.
Looking like painting, or art, well that's probably different? Anyone understand that? Is it bad to look like art? I mean the models model the clothes and then you go into the store, and you buy the model adjusted to your size. That's fashion, and high fashion at that.
The shit I buy I think just gets slung over a hanger and whizzes around the room with a thousand others, via little pulleys, wire, motor, revolving sushi.

So what are some of the strategies for art to not look like itself, or not drawing attention to the fact that it is art, though not?
Is there a paradigm shift we can walk into, even get behind the counter of, even hold up 'politely', just by pointing the index finger?

Old Guy said...

This reminds me of retail display.
Put a new pair of shoes in front of it.

no-where-man said...

funny that you see the older work that way - "Punk Rock" - those would be the same paintings that got him called a political Artist by TO NY? I enjoy the direction he is moving - for me the most interesting part is the space in-between the paintings and scupltures it turns some really fertile ground, rich fertile classic ground.

You have to see these live to gain of understanding of this space.

Old Guy said...

Punk Rock, is that like Vivian Westwood?

Nomi said...

I wonder what it's like to come onto a site like this and read that someone thinks I "blow," that he or she would rather look at a dumb anybody (it sounds like) than anything I make.

Goes with the territory, huh? Yes, I guess so. I think it's lame, though.

Please, don't anybody misunderstand me. I don't mean to be a crossing guard. I don't want to be a crossing guard.

I just think it's possible to write critical thoughts -- even interesting insightful critical thoughts -- that you wouldn't be ashamed to say if the person were standing right in front of you listening. Possible, and more noble.

Old Guy said...

By the way, what is a scuplture?

surfkook said...

"Blow" is kind of harsh. The thing I like about this forum is the uninhibited honesty that is possible, even if Aaron Johnson is my best friend. One can never be totally honest face to face, you're always trying to spin something negative a little nicer, but in the end if you think it blows then what?

I like the colors?

Good effort??

Nobody cares about effort except your mom

TOMPAC said...

surfkook not only blows but is gutless. Aaron Johnson's show was marvelous and mindblowing, as is Erik Parker.

closeuup said...

"This reminds me of retail display.
Put a new pair of shoes in front of it."

I know you meant that as a put down, but think about it again. Isn't that what gives this piece credibility/vision? I think NWM compared this guy with Elliot Huntley back on that post.

surfkook said...

You don't have to get personal Tampax. I don't like a dudes work. So what. I can argue why, but at this point, I ask why?

batswap said...
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Aaron said...

I generally would rather lie in the warm sun than look at art - but once in a while I get a little peckish, so I have to take it indoors.

Art is a way of remembering - so it has a lot to do with american oral traditions - in that you repeat what you like and forget what you don't like. THis work has some obvious stylistic nods, which is fine but I'd rather look at the originals than deal with fragmented pastiche - makes me work too hard, and theres more to art than trying to think.

We don't have a negro problem....

punk grew out of mod in my mind. Before that everyone had leiderhosen and disturbing codpieces. After punk it was ripped jeans and thrift store chic. Funny how even the look of handmedowns can be manufactured and sold at chain stores. I guess Salvation Army is due for rebranding - maybe they could reiimagine nobliesse oblige.

Punk is usually thought of as a class deal (working in england, middle in the US), with the primary ethos being "do it yourself" because its better to have the real piece of shit (life, art) than a fake unless its a really good fake like a velveteen rabbit or something.

TOMPAC said...

surfkook- i believe your anonymity makes my comment quite impersonal.

my point is only that to say some artist blows without giving us either a shread of an arguement nor your identity seems slack-jawed and pathetic to me.

Nomi said...

Yeah, I've thought about this a lot. Not just since finding this blog, but since I was a teenager (two plus decades ago) first trying to read the critics I thought I was supposed to be reading.

Then I found Fairfield Porter. Not a GREAT critic, but a good one, and one who apparently had the freedom to write only about work that interested him. It was a revelation to discover that someone writing about art without the need to be an arbiter of our times, without the need to be some sort of god opening and closing the Door to the Cannon, could write compelling insightful thoughts about an artist with a kind of passion that makes one want to run out and look at the work.

It's not that he never wrote a negative word. This isn't a question of if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. It's a question, I think, of what the role of the critic is.

Obviously, you can argue that his role is to decree what's crap and what's not. But I think it's just as valid to argue that, particularly when it comes to contemporary work, it's as meaningful to write primarily about work that you feel is, if not great, at least a worthy attempt, that it's a waste to devote your energy and attention to someone whose work you don't respect and have no hope for.

Does this have anything to do with the comments we leave on this blog? Well, yes and no. We're not critics by profession. And a blog like this of course doesn't and shouldn't carry the responsibilities that a critical publication should.

And, sure, there's something to the idea of a place for "uninhibited honesty."

And I was maybe a little disingenuous when I said it's possible to write good criticism that you would be able to say to the artist face to face. I over simplified to make a point.

Like everyone here, I've walked out of hundreds of gallery shows in disgust and even anger railing to whoever was with about how badly something sucked. But I don't think it's hypocritical to temper those kinds or reactions when it comes to public commentary, especially anonymous public commentary. It's undignified, hurtful, cowardly, and what purpose does it really serve?

Condemnation by omission may seem gentle, but it's quite powerful.

(For the record, I do not condemn by omission anyone discussed in this thread. I find everyone mentioned well worth looking at.)

Nomi said...

Um, "canon," not "cannon."

Aaron said...

1) "it's as meaningful to write primarily about work that you feel is, if not great, at least a worthy attempt,

2) "that it's a waste to devote your energy and attention to someone whose work you don't respect and have no hope for.

Looking at bad art and reading bad criticism can be more (not allways) interesting than "the good".
I hope by writing to crush the soul of the artist and then to build them back up into an army of me.

Thats part of the thrift store mentality (home shopping network is a poor substitute) - that serendipity isnt the ideal, its what you make of it. Whereas if you go into a store and find exactly what you want, it takes the "fun" out of it. Or as they say "risk" or "difficulty".

There are a lot of art statments that use "flaneur" (baudillaire) as the ideal - you go with the flow like a window shopper.

I'm sure Horkheimer and Adorno were the sort that would rather not partake of Corndogs - their loss.

Im into transparent morality plays and go cart racing SOmeone has to be the butt of the joke, and it might as well be the suckers who make and buy art without knowing why they make it or why its good.

Know anyone like that?

Old Guy said...

A canon can be a cannon, depending who it’s pointing at.

Old Guy said...

Big deal so people disagree with me, forget their manners in the moment.
Boo Hoo.
On the other hand it’s kind of flattering for so many to signal how closely they’re following my remarks, not just on this thread or site but elsewhere.
Music to my ears.
Painter might well take more offence if writers only show up to dump on other writers, not even for what they’re writing here or elsewhere on the site, paying only the slightest attention to the work posted, though.
So, maybe some respect to the post, if not the commenters, is in order.
As for my remark about retail display and Wray – it’s not necessarily pejorative – contrasting this work with retail goods might be a good way of pointing out what’s wrong/right with it his taste in colors and textures – far more quickly than labored labels.

surfkook said...

Roberta Smith trashed Marc Handelman in the Times this spring. I loved reading that review. Made me laugh out loud.
Did I agree? yes and no and criticism can go both ways depending on how you want to view it and how generous you want to be to the artist.

I only brought up AJ because hendrick brought him up in the second comment and I have seen that work a few times and thought it was derivative of Eric Parker. If there was no Eric Parker, than maybe I would feel different. I guess in terms of originality I don't think it is interesting enough, despite how much crazy pattern, texture, and goop you put into it. Whatever. AJ, I don't think will be a major artist with this type of adolescent, cartoony stuff, even though his predecesors like Peter Saul are amazing.

no-where-man said...

and Pop(ular) Art in general, may we re-examine the statement

"contrasting this work with retail goods might be a good way of pointing out what’s wrong/right with it"

AaronJohnson said...

I tend to disregard most evaluations of paintings here on this blog because it seems too often the case that people are critiquing j-pegs rather than the actual paintings. Let us not forget that paintings are objects, not just images, and that the full experience of viewing a painting includes qualities of surface, texture, scale, space, and color, none of which are transmitted properly through j-pegs. At best through j-pegs we may get an idea of stylistic devices and subject matter, but we certainly cannot access the full content.

I am guessing from your comments, Surfkook, that you have not seen my current paintings in person. It sounds like your comments apply to the recent but not absolutely current tendencies in my paintings.

I'm a big fan of both Eric Parker and Peter Saul. They have been cited as precedents for my work, and I'm happy with that. Derivative? Here's a hypothesis: I believe that if you were to compare a Parker, a Saul, and a Johnson j-peg, the similarities may be more striking than the differences. However, if you were to hang a show of the 3 of us: the differences between my painting and the Parker would be more striking than the similarities, as would the differences between my painting and the Saul.

If any of you is a saavy curator who would like to test this hypothesis and hang that show, I'll be happy to participate.

I would love to turn the attention here back to the subject of this converstaion, Randy Wray, but I haven't seen the show yet, so I really can't comment. Look's potentially quite good from the j-pegs.

Old Guy said...

The issue of what constitutes fair conditions in regard to assessing a work is one I often fret over, am sometimes reminded that even being at the gallery will not be sufficient, that background knowledge, hanging context and other distractions are not fair either.
But in defense of j-pegs, I think where scale and materials are indicated in caption (as Black and White’s website does: for Offal 3 (2006) pictured here, we have http://www.blackandwhiteartgallery.com/wray4.html for instance.
(I won’t link that, since it would only be a one-way link, and you’ve just got the hassle of opening the comments box again after you close it and finding your place again)
So we get at least some idea of texture, and sometimes other technique. And again Black and White’s website also provides gallery views - http://www.blackandwhiteartgallery.com/works/wray/wray15.jpg - for instance, that give some idea of overall installation, relation between 2-D and 3-D works.
All this to say that j-pegs in themselves are not always the problem.
There are long-running debates about properly identifying a work according to context, in this regard, but let’s not go there.
Looking at this particular Wray and in the context of his show, what struck me was firstly the difference between his pictures where an object like bones or branch are just white, and in the sculptures where they are obviously things painted white (and there are intermediates to this – as in Offal 3). I can’t make up my mind which seems the stronger direction, but amongst the sculptural or more 3-D works, it did strike me that the larger the scale (as in Preacher’s Daughter, or the work that follows that in the Website presentation, that just seems to be titled Chapter and Verse (also the title of the show) look less precious and tasteful.
Then again who’s to say works can’t be about tastefulness or complacency? This point also arose for me in discussion over Ted Mineo’s stuff. At least Ted’s website goes for the full-screen reproduction and gives works optimum detail.
Way Ted!

Aaron said...

I got a pretty good idea of what NY was like from movies like Serpico, The Warriors, Mean Streets, Taxi Driver Arthur, After Hours, My Dinner With Andre, Trading Places and Splash. Not to mention Breakfast at Tiffanys and Caged Heat.

Who's to say I'm wrong?

"paintings are objects, not just images"

I'm pretty clued in to things like surface, texture and even color, even through a jpg.

THis is because I've seen a lot of art and Usually I like the jpg better, because a lot of people dont do much with their varnish or patina, as I like to hear people say. Age is a really good patina - it mythologizes by obscuring the day to day and by emphasizing the unusual occurences we call events.

This painting in particular doesn't look like it has a varnish - unless its matte, and then is that really important?

Still, there is spatial relation, which is important, but I allways discount that because I think a lot of it is just real estate.

Its Black and its White and its red all over what is it?

A dead skunk.

nat said...

Hey aaron J., I think we live in the age of mechanical, now digital reproduction. I myself live in the boondocks and rely on reproductions of one sort or another for getting my painting fix. Some stuff looks better on a screen or in a magazine than it does in person. Some painting is more image based and reproducible than others...at this point that is part of painting and part of the decision making process of painting-- how reproducible is your painting.
Some Ruscha looks great but they are images and readily produced and that's part of the painting...Some of his paintings look like crap in person, althought the image and the "idea" is still there.
Anyway, this "its just a jpeg" criticism is fine but that's part of art.
What's most easily reproducible is the image or design--what you could put in black and white. A decent reproduction will give you an sense of the facture or material qualities of a painting and if you've looked at enough reproductions you learn to read into photograph. But I've rarely made a major change in my opinion of an artist based on seeing a painting in person.
I mean, many Pollocks look better as an image. His technique sucks and his materials have degraded over time and unprimed canvas gets all grimy over the years.... Rothko on the other hand, looks great in reproduction and better in person.
Luckily this is a blog so I don't mind if I not making sense. I much prefer paintings as objects, for their materiality. But I still base most of my opinions on the reproducible image or design of a painting and am gratified when something looks even better in person.
This Randy Wray image, however, looks like a crappy chotchke and I doubt I'd change my opinion much if I saw it in person.

no-where-man said...

you seem to be missing the paintings and drawings .... go to the show and you will see my point.

zipthwung said...

the sculpture looks like it burlesques the craft esthetic of the small town (which I am not into) so Im into that. But by my academic standards they are not good. And by outsider art standards they are too self conscious or not self conscious enough.

Its more a matter of composition - I prefer a composed painting over a chaotic one because I think it takes more mental effort to compose a work well - call me a moralist.

SOuthern gothic is not one of my prefered genres.

batswap said...

Seeing as everyone is very touchy about what is said or not said, even though most of this is not even about the artist in question how about using some simple adjectives that point out the lacking aspect of this work or what people deem that to be.

such as

Dry (meaning lack of complexity in that there is no juxtaposition between this feeling and its difference (not its opposite)to create a tension between its dryness and other attributes)

myopic (meaning its insistence on hammering home what it deems its (well put) Southern Gothic content)

perhaps its the southern gothic that is annoying to viewers due to NYC based disimmulation views of those closer to the equaor in the US.

The works "informal" (Yves alain bois)qualities, specifically its base materialism, is not sufficient as a crutch to make up for what it lacks as a painting.

The informal generally tends to spill over into the composition, its meandering lyricism tends to NOT support the gestalt (yes I said it) of the work.

By this I would mean that there certainly seems to be some attempt to create a composition, the word offal certainly gives me an idea of what the artist is going towards, but then the base materialism and the lyricism seem fussy.

These ideas that are being explored are by now so outdated that I am not certain they can be explored without some additional data added to the mix.

That said I am very fond Randys painting, and being from the south myself, know there is a great deal to work out as concerns being southern and what causes an artist to flee that area. (I can only Imagine) but this position tends to lead me to read the work in a freudian sense, which is fine, but it reiterates the existence of the soul, in that there must is an implied soul in the translation from the maker (see Marcel Duchamp)
This does create a tension between the content and the intention, but it just comes out as (atleast to me) confused in many aspects, both formal and conceptual.

any thoughts?

hardpan said...

Small town Scrapbooking aesthetic.
Burlesque-ing it? Using it as leverage to be pseudo outsiderish? seems more likely to demonstrate a genuine love of kitsch (which totally doesn't interest me...)

My mother-in-law has a pair of fairy wings which have spider webs and dead bugs in them, but they are STILL FAIRY WINGS.

Aaron said...

Scrapbooking is pretty big I hear.

Provincial or myopic - isnt art supposed to preserve agrarian humanity from mechanistic depravity?

If so I'm against it.

Machines will save us all, if you give them a chance and discard this nostalgia for the gutter nonsense.
There's so much biomorphism is this work I had to take out my Holerith machine and tatoo another number on my forhead, just to make sure.

Degeneration and decay is for losers and fashion victims.

batswap said...

wow those sentiments are pretty right wing...

seymourpansick said...

aaron, i'll take a nice monet over a florsheim shoe display-case back-drop anytime.
what's of interest is that this isn't really representative of his other work, which is ...what's the art word..."edgy"....

P.S. Thank you No-Where-Man

zipthwung said...

More fussy than edgy. this is NY.

Thousand Points of Light said...
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Anonymous said...

It's naughty, it's edgy. It's hanging round the mountain in some post-punk post minimal ordered chaos when she comes. It's in the bones. It's under the paint. Formally it is not in the edgy. Scattered or slapped it is not. Tailored for a comfort zone? Sorry, I see a show of hands.

I haven't seen the show, so I can't really comment. The above is just a commingling of ideas, from the comments, [reading that little review by Harris], alongside my own pathetic attempt to make sense -- taking in looking at the dozen or so jpgs available on site.
If painter hadn't posted this I wouldn't have even done that, quite possibly. So really I've spent quite a bit of time with the work, one way or the other.
So Aaron before you bowl us over consider 'all things are possible'. And then we'll get along just fine.

surfkook said...

Aaron Johnson is correct in his response, except for that fact that I had the opportunity to see his work two different times at Marie Walsh Sharpe open studios, and then looked at the Pruska site, so actually my opinion comes from seeing them in person.

no-where-man said...

not sure what the thx. is for just droppin a line - at 57 comments this work has generated some of the most interesting dialogue i have read in a while on this site.

Anyone who's opinion comes from not seeing them in person, that does not understand there is more to understand is an insult to Fine Art as a concept.

zipthwung said...

If the work can't hold up as a jpeg, will it hold up in a collector's house surrounded by children's toys, dog vomit and exercise equipment?

Or does that matter anymore?

Nomi said...

Dog vomit? That should probably be cleaned up.

What about when things look better in a photo than in real life?

Embarrassing confession: Several months ago I bought a painting after falling in love with a picture of it online. (inexpensive student painting) Oh, my. It's hard to put into words how much better the photo was than the real thing. I can't even hang it. I wish I'd just made a nice print of the photo.

zipthwung said...

The maid is at a family function.

You'd better save the painting, it might be a masterpiece.

Roy De Forest
William T Wiley
Audrey Flack
Terry Winters
Faith Ringgold
Jesse Bercowetz
Matt Bua

These are some of the artists who's work will be destroyed in the bonfire.

nat said...

Hey nowhere, I've looked at thousands of images, most of them photographs, more lately digital images...but I guess I shouldn't have opinions about Michelangelo, the Mona Lisa, Fayoum portraits, Iranian miniatures, Greek sculpture, Turner, de Kooning, Cezanne, train graffiti, Rembrandt drawings, or most of the paintings posted on this blog...

I find the its "just a jpeg" criticism snobbish and precious. I'd like to see all the images reproduced as black and white engravings and we could all comment on the same digital reproduction of an engraving. We could call it engravingnyc.

I didn't see the Jonathan Lasker show but from images and video and various writings I have a sense of the scale and physicality of the paintings and how that creates an odd tension with detachment of the design. You can find jpegs of the exhibit of Lasker's postcard size sketches for paintings on the web also. All these bits add up to one's understanding of a painting whether or not it is seen in person.

I'm very old fashioned in my respect for the construction of a painting and paint handling but I still have no qualms about judging an image from a photograph or jpeg.

It would be wrong to judge Titian's color from a 1970's reproduction but a black and white photo taken in raking light would still show his paint handling.

Maybe it just takes a little imagination to see into a photograph or jpeg.

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Aaron said...

Heindrik panned Mr, at LM above - I went there after not liking the jpg, and I saw the painters at work and they were doing something I liked, which was make the outlines polychromatic like you might do with watercolor. But it didn't give me any more insight into the work. It did make me appreciate that real people were thinking and working, rather than automatons.

You could shield your work from all this like a sacred Hopi kachina dance. But even then you'd probably have some cultural anthropologist with an eidetic memory taking notes and writing a book.

The art world and VIP rooms around the world rely on this sort of "you have to be there" hokus-pokus to create mystery, and mystery is what is needed, because without mystery there would be no need for glossy expensive art magazines with theoretical texts with a breathless-academic-objective-everythingissointellectuallystimulating tone.

Paintings for wealthy people's walls and financial instruments for hedge funds.

You can't always GET a work by going to a show once or twice.

In order to really SEE a work it might take YEARS.

So summary judgements in jpg tribunals are allways suspect, good or bad. Except in my case.

Randy Ray, your work would go well in a Williamsburg condo - the ones on the park look great. One building has an air conditioned prefab shed out back for you to relax in because its not quite done yet.

"its illegal to get this high"

is the sloagan.

batswap said...

after seeing the show, I would say that some of the drawings look pretty good, and there may be a direction there. The paintings are the most obdurate things I have ever seen. How can you use paint like that, it naturally does something else. Maybe that is the point. I still think that the fact there was a good discussion around this work means there is something there, but not to sound bitter coz I really dont care but what is with artists showing twice a year, too many shows. Hats of to whoever said more is not more. Maybe that is the 21st century slogan. More is not more instead of less is more. I like it.
Also this thing about anonymous comments being weak...I could share my profile with everyone and that might make me a nice guy, but what makes anyone belive that a persons profile is really who they are?

no-where-man said...

you know from being a scenester.

psychicexplorer said...

excellent show!

Barnaby said...

it is.