Thursday, October 1, 2015

Enrique Chagoya - Caníbales Daguerrotípicos

Enrique Chagoya - Caníbales Daguerrotípicos, 2015.
Inkjet on RC photo paper, 6.5 x 95 in. Edition of 12

In his 2015 print edition Caníbales Daguerrotípicos, Enrique Chagoya’s “reverse Modernism” gives birth to a series of scenes halfway between dream and art historical legend. The print is structured like a pre-Columbian codex, reading right to left with each section paginated by traditional Mayan numbers; but instead of printing on the Amate bark paper often used for his codices, here Chagoya’s imagery is filtered through the reflective, grisaille, silver-grained look of a 19th-century daguerreotype and printed on heavyweight, glossy RC photo paper.

Detail from Enrique Chagoya - Caníbales Daguerrotípicos, 2015. Chagoya's "reverse Modernism" dresses a photograph of Pablo Picasso and his wife in African masks; behind them stands a vintage Hervé advertisement with text detourned by the artist; above their umbrella soars a plane-shaped coffin from West Ghana.

Caníbales Daguerrotípicos hinges on a dreamlike collage technique pioneered by the Surrealists, but can ultimately be read as an inversion of 20th-century Modernism, a strategy for which the artist has coined the term “reverse Modernism.” Artists identified with both Surrealist and Modernist movements were enthusiastic in their affection for art from Africa and indigeneous American cultures, extending their appreciation for the “noble savage” to bold, even shameless appropriation – what Chagoya deftly terms “cannibalization” — of formal aspects of these civilization’s artworks. Picasso’s paintings mimicking African masks are the most well-known example, which Chagoya links here to a broader Modernist tendency spanning various creative disciplines: from Henry Moore’s imitation of Aztec sculptures of the god Chac-Mool in his sculptures of seated figures to Frank Lloyd Wright’s use of Mayan architectural motifs in his designs for well-known Los Angeles landmarks. Caníbales Daguerrotípicos reverses the flow of these influences, channeling an alternate history wherein culture is produced by “primitive” civilizations’ domination and appropriation of Western techniques and imagery.

Detail from Enrique Chagoya - Caníbales Daguerrotípicos, 2015. At left, a famed Eduard S. Curtis photograph is interrupted by an Apple iPad billboard and a small running figure from Cartier-Bresson; at right, a Piet Mondrian-inspired dress by Yves St Laurent adorns a sculpture of Coatlique, the Aztec goddess of life and death, topped with an Aztec skull of the dead.

Caníbales Daguerrotípicos also cannibalizes the work of various photographers who made a career of depicting indigeneous peoples, such as Eduard S. Curtis’s images of Native Americans and Irving Penn’s pictures of Aborigines in Papua New Guinea. With a sense of humor and a keen understanding of the often one-sided historical exchange between Western art traditions and the “noble savage,” Caníbales Daguerrotípicos’ dreamscape turns the feeding frenzy of Modernism on its head as photographs by Curtis, Penn, Cartier-Bresson and Agustin Casasola are all subject to Chagoya’s playful yet deliberate appropriation. Chagoya says he identifies with a definition of surrealist humor once given by Andre Breton in a radio interview – “Humor is the triumph of pleasure over pain under the worst conditions for pleasure” – noting its parallels with the gallows humor common in Mexico, and paraphrases a quote from Breton identifying surrealism not as a category of art but instead as a fundamental aspect of existence.

Detail from Enrique Chagoya - Caníbales Daguerrotípicos, 2015. Thanks to "reverse Modernism," a Mexican street scene by Agustin Casasola is newly populated by Surrealist leader Andre Breton and filmmaker Jean Cocteau.

Given that the cast of Caníbales Daguerrotípicos features several pre-eminent Surrealist artists and writers, it is fitting that the print should take the form of a dreamscape. Patricia Hickson has written of the artist’s codices that “these nuanced, imaginary adventures with a social conscience could only exist in the space of a dream,” recalling Chagoya’s paraphrasing of a pre-Columbian religious precept: “life is a dream,” he says; “when you die, you wake up.” The temperature of information is cooler in this work than in Chagoya’s previous codices, making it even more dreamlike; its muted palette gives the impression of a black-and-white vision unearthed from the depths of the subconscious, or a hand-tinted antique photograph from a mysterious bygone era. 

Detail from Enrique Chagoya - Caníbales Daguerrotípicos, 2015; a Henry Moore sculpture wears the head of Aztec god Chac-Mool.

In Andre Breton’s first Manifesto of Surrealism, the foundation of the movement is identified as “the omnipotence of dreams” and its fundamental goal as “the resolution of those two seemingly contradictory states, dream and reality,” in a perpetual coexistence. Breton’s own history combines elements of dream and reality, especially after having been retold and embellished over the years. Intrigued by Mexico and its rich vein of mythopoetic tradition, Surrealism’s founder famously visited the country in 1938 as an ambassador of the burgeoning art movement. The story goes that Breton, having arrived in Mexico but lacking the ability to explain himself in Castillian, provided a local carpenter with a drawing in linear perspective of a table he wished to commission. The carpenter dutifully returned two weeks later with a table built exactly to the literal specifications of the drawing – that is, ignoring the perspective completely, with one side dramatically shorter and more narrow than the other. According to legend, Breton threw up his hands, sighed “I have nothing to teach these people,” and promptly packed his bags to return to Paris.

Yet in Breton’s Perspective cavalière, a more plausible story comes to light. Breton writes: “Benjamin Péret told me that, in Mexico, a carpenter —surely improvised—received the charge of making a bedroom like one in a photograph included in a catalogue. The man managed to create the bed, the table and the chairs exactly as they looked in perspective. Why not pause placidly in the elusive mirrored wardrobe?” In the end, no one can say with certainty that this encounter with the carpenter ever really happened; it might be nothing more than a parable drawn from Breton’s imagination.

Detail from Enrique Chagoya - Caníbales Daguerrotípicos, 2015; models in YSL Piet Mondrian Pop Art dresses also sport heads from Mexican wrestler Blue Demon and Irving Penn photos of Papua New Guinea, and a Mayan head meets the dandified body of Jean Cocteau.

In Caníbales Daguerrotípicos, Chagoya pauses time itself in that “elusive mirrored wardrobe” of Surrealist dream logic; the impossible or anachronistic situations depicted in his imagery call into question the supposed infallibility of a linear historical narrative, revealing instead the kaleidoscopic, contradictory nature of our understanding of reality. Whether by inviting Aboriginal masks to disrupt and subvert a 1960s advertisement for Piet Mondrian-themed Pop Art dresses by Yves Saint Laurent; dressing performance artist Joseph Beuys in Native American warrior garb; or returning Breton (with contemporaries Marcel Duchamp, Luis Bunuel, and Jean Cocteau) to the streets of Mexico City for another chance to unlock the mysteries of Mexican surrealism, Caníbales Daguerrotípicos reminds us that history’s heroes and their exploits are merely characters in an ongoing fantasy – one that is ours to dream, and ours to decipher. 

Detail from Enrique Chagoya - Caníbales Daguerrotípicos, 2015; at left, Frank Lloyd Wright considers a contemporary monument to native peoples in Mexico City; at right, Joseph Beuys tries on the Native American headdress and breastplate of an Eduard S. Curtis portrait subject.

More art by Enrique Chagoya from Magnolia Editions

Monday, September 14, 2015

Contemporary Chinese Artists at Magnolia

Yu Youhan - Abstract circle 85-6, 2015. Jacquard tapestry with hand painting, 89 x 108 in. Edition of 3
Co-published with the artist and Ren Space, Shanghai

Through the courtesy of a partnership with Shanghai’s Ren Space Gallery, over the last year Magnolia Editions has had the privilege to publish new print and tapestry editions by several major figures in the Chinese art world, including Yu Youhan, Zhang Peili, and Ding Yi.

Zhang Peili - Arrest Warrant no. 3, 2015. Archival pigment print with acrylic on Rives BFK, 22 x 30 in. Edition of 3
Co-published with the artist and Ren Space, Shanghai

For full details including images and a new interview with Zhang Peili, please check out this press release on Magnolia's website:

More artwork by Zhang Peili from Magnolia Editions

More artwork by Ding Yi from Magnolia Editions

More artwork by Yu Youhan from Magnolia Editions

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

New Editions: Guillermo Galindo

Guillermo Galindo - Caravana a Color / Color Caravan, 2015
Archival pigmented inkjet with acrylic, 44 x 30 in.

Magnolia is pleased to announce the publication of new works by innovative and genre-defying composer, performer, visual and sound artist Guillermo Galindo. This series represents an ongoing collaboration with photographer Richard Misrach, directly incorporating artifacts found at the border between the United States and Mexico by both artists.

The prints will be exhibited for the first time in an upcoming show at the San Jose Museum of Art, "Border Cantos: Richard Misrach | Guillermo Galindo," opening in early 2016.

Guillermo Galindo - Caravan Flag, 2015
Acrylic on beacon flag used by humanitarian aid group Water Stations. 30 x 47 in.

Galindo’s Flag series are printed directly onto a group of faded, weathered flags from the border. Donated to the project by the humanitarian citizen organization Water Stations, these discarded flags were once used to indicate the presence of water tanks placed in the Calexico desert. Their placement in the desert is a selfless endeavor – an anonymous effort to aid those in need, with no reward sought in return; as a result, their frayed surfaces are imbued with a poignancy and a humanistic warmth.

Guillermo Galindo - American Dream Flag / Bandera del Sueño Americano, 2015
Archival on beacon flag used by humanitarian aid group Water Stations. 30 x 47 in.

On the other hand, the deadly dangers of crossing the border are evident in ominously empty boxes of bullets, reproduced at an enlarged scale in Galindo's Ammo Boxes prints, and in Color Caravan’s background: a photograph taken at the border by Misrach of a swath of desert littered with spent shell casings. In Caravan, a parade of tiny figures marches across this field; are they the ghosts of those lost in the gunfight, or a party of indomitable spirits, determined to press on?

Guillermo Galindo - Ammo Box Landscape/ Paisaje en Caja de Munición, 2015
Archival pigmented inkjet print, 33 x 40 in.

The surface of each image is traversed by one of Galindo’s signature musical scores, printed in a variety of unique systems of notation that recall the graphic scores of John Cage, Cornelius Cardew, and Karlheinz Stockhausen.

Guillermo Galindo - Bandera de Voces / Voices Flag, 2015
Acrylic on beacon flag used by humanitarian aid group Water Stations. 22 x 47 in.

These systems of musical notation cause each print to vibrate at its own distinctive visual frequency: where Bandera de Voces / Voices Flag is crisply printed with straightforward, rebus-like instructions for a performance, Rastreo de Sarape / Sarape Tracking Flag’s abstractions of line and color approach the playful improvisations of a Joan Miro painting.

Guillermo Galindo - Rastreo de Sarape / Sarape Tracking Flag, 2015
Acrylic on beacon flag used by humanitarian aid group Water Stations, 33 x 40 in.

Galindo’s practice often incorporates playable instruments he has fabricated from objects found at the border. Here, too, he uses the rhythms and patterns of music — as filtered through various inventive modes of visual representation – to elegantly summon a living history from that which has been discarded and forgotten.

Guillermo Galindo - Agujerado, 2015
Archival pigmented inkjet print, 30 x 44 in.

Galindo and Misrach's upcoming "Border Cantos" exhibition at SJMA is described by the museum as "a cross-disciplinary exploration of the U.S.-Mexico border." In addition to several of the flags and works on paper shown here, it will also include monumental landscape photography by Misrach and hand-crafted musical instruments created by Galindo.

After premiering in San Jose, the exhibition will travel to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas with additional venues pending.

More work by Guillermo Galindo from Magnolia Editions

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Fundraiser for Nepal: prints by Richard Wagener

Richard Wagener - Durbar Square, Patan, 2011
woodcut - 35 x 22.25 in. (paper: 41.5 x 30 in.) Edition of 24

On April 25th, 2015, only a few weeks ago, Nepal was hit by a devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 8,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

California printmaker and book artist Richard Wagener has published two woodcut editions with Magnolia – Durbar Square, Patan and Kathmandu Alley (both 2011) – depicting scenes from his visits to Nepal.

In the wake of the recent tragedy, Wagener and Magnolia Editions will now donate 75% of all sales of these two prints to the nonprofit Direct Relief, currently working in Nepal to provide access to doctors and other much-needed assistance to refugees and survivors of the quake.

Richard Wagener - Kathmandu Alley, 2011
woodcut - 34.75 x 21 in. (paper: 41.5 x 30 in.) Edition of 28

Marked by dramatic passages of rich, deep blacks and Wagener's gently modulating, highly textural line work, these woodcuts draw you in quietly, summoning the meditative atmosphere of areas in Kathmandu which unfortunately may never look the same as when Wagener captured them only a few years before.

Wagener’s striking large-scale editions were hand printed on a Takach etching press in traditional black relief ink; the surfaces of the plywood block matrices were incised by a combination of computer-guided laser etching and hand carving by the artist.

For pricing and availability, please contact Magnolia Editions today – and thank you for helping us to support the people of Nepal!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

'Magnifying Magnolia and Mildred,' April 19th in Richmond

Mildred Howard - The Other Side of the Coin, 2014
Pigmented inkjet and acrylic on Awagami Japanese paper, 30 x 22 in. Edition varié of 10

On Sunday April 19th, 2015, join Magnolia director Donald Farnsworth and artist Mildred Howard from 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm at the Richmond Art Center for a special conversation: "Magnifying Magnolia and Mildred."

Presented as Howard's terrific exhibition "Spirit and Matter" hangs in the gallery, this discussion will touch on the ideas and techniques that Howard and Farnsworth have drawn upon in developing print editions like Howard's 2014 The Other Side of the Coin series.

Even poker-faced San Francisco Chronicle critic Kenneth Baker was moved by the powerful and elegantly curated body of work on view at Richmond Art Center.

In today's review of "Spirit and Matter," Baker muses: "Racial politics and Dadaist feminism filtered through modern art legend in a key of worldly-wise humor — who but Howard could do that?"

Thoughtful and urgently topical, Baker's review of Howard's show is well worth reading in full.

Also keep an eye open for Howard's new permanent installation at SF General Hospital's Urgent Care Center, a monumental, layered landscape printed on glass through the wizardry of Magnolia Editions and the glass experts at Lenehan Architectural Glass (pictures below courtesy of Dorothy Lenehan):

A new permanent installation by Mildred Howard at San Francisco General Hospital, printed at Magnolia Editions; photo courtesy of Lenehan Architectural Glass.

A new permanent installation by Mildred Howard at San Francisco General Hospital, printed at Magnolia Editions; photo courtesy of Lenehan Architectural Glass.

A new permanent installation by Mildred Howard at San Francisco General Hospital, printed at Magnolia Editions; photo courtesy of Lenehan Architectural Glass.

A new permanent installation by Mildred Howard at San Francisco General Hospital, printed at Magnolia Editions; photo courtesy of Lenehan Architectural Glass.

A new permanent installation by Mildred Howard at San Francisco General Hospital, printed at Magnolia Editions; photo courtesy of Lenehan Architectural Glass.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

New Editions: Don Ed Hardy

Don Ed Hardy - Turner, 2014
woodcut with acrylic. Image: 37 x 27 in. Paper: 44 x 30 in. Edition of 33

Don Ed Hardy's new editions Cosmo and Turner practically crackle and spill off the page with energy and movement. In both prints Hardy finds a harmonious balance between the deep blacks of a woodcut relief print and airy, painterly washes of acrylic color.

"The dragon and the tiger are traditionally the natural primary symbols of Heaven and Earth, yin and yang," Hardy says. The artist has a lifelong interest in such imagery: as a pre-teen in the early 1950s, he would savor souvenir artworks sent back by his father from Japan. In the early 1960s, Hardy's studies of Taoist and Buddhist texts became the cornerstone of a wide-ranging artistic practice that has since brought him international renown in the worlds of tattooing and fine art.

Turner, named for one of Hardy's heroes, the painter J.M.W. Turner, "is based on a thumbnail sketch I did of an ancient sculptural detail in India four years ago," he explained by email earlier this year. "I had never used a contrapposto pose in any of the hundreds of tigers I’ve done over the years in various mediums. The flaming pearl represents wisdom and truth in Buddhist tradition."

Don Ed Hardy - Cosmo, 2014
woodcut with acrylic. Image: 37 x 27 in. Paper: 44 x 30 in. Edition of 33

The dragon, Cosmo, is named "for a very exuberant puppy who we got recently; as I was completing the piece, I realized the image exuded the manic energy and excitement of the dog." While the dragon is painted in a more traditionally Japanese style, he writes, "the rocks surrounding the tiger are based on Korean folk art paintings and serve to balance the circular vortex energy in the waves around the dragon. Likewise, I wanted a different, 'calmer' color scheme around the tiger: flatter, quieter."

Hardy painted the designs for Cosmo and Turner using black sumi ink; his paintings were transferred to a wood block matrix by a combination of laser and hand cutting and printed in black relief ink on an etching press. Hardy's hand-painted acrylic washes were then scanned, registered, and printed in UV-cured acrylic ink under the artist's supervision. Cosmo and Turner were printed by Nicholas Price and Tallulah Terryll at Magnolia Editions in Oakland, California in an edition of 33.

While their symbolism runs deep, the immediate, appealing energy of these prints is more physical than cerebral: their intensity is easily felt, regardless of one's knowledge of Eastern traditions. Hardy's compositions seek the essence of heaven and earth, and as Shakespeare says in Hamlet, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in our philosophy."

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

"Collaborating with Bruce Conner" at SJICA, Thursday Feb. 26

Bruce Conner - ANGEL WALL, CANYON DE CHELLEY, 2003/1976
Archival pigmented inkjet on Rives BFK white
17.75 x 23.5 in. Edition of 10

This Thursday evening in San Jose, Magnolia director Donald Farnsworth and Arion Press director Andrew Hoyem will participate in a public discussion of the brilliant and iconoclastic Bruce Conner, moderated by Conner Family Trust director Bob Conway.

The discussion, "Collaborating with Bruce Conner," will take place from 7 pm - 9 pm at the San Jose Institute for Contemporary Art. Tickets are $5 for ICA members, $10 for Non-members and free for students.

Conner at Magnolia Editions in the early 2000s.

SJICA describes the concurrent show, "Bruce Conner: Somebody Else’s Prints" as follows:
A fixture in the San Francisco Beat-era art scene in the 1950s 
and 1960s, Conner was renowned for his groundbreaking work
 in assemblage, painting, sculpture, printmaking, and experimental film. The Wichita, Kansas native never worked with
 one medium for long, and infamously shifted personas, often attributing his artwork to celebrities, such as actor and friend Dennis Hopper, and fake personas alike.

Printmaking is one medium that spans Conner's entire career. "Bruce Conner: Somebody Else’s Prints" will feature around 100 works, from the first etchings and lithographs the artist made while still a young student in Kansas in 1944 to his last prints made at Magnolia Editions, Oakland, California, in 2003.

All of his important series of prints will be featured: the work with Tamarind Lithography Workshop in the mid-1960s; a selection from his disorienting series of maze-like lithographs; and all three volumes of “The Dennis Hopper One Man Show,” a series of etchings based on engraving collages.

In addition, the exhibition will feature rare ephemera from the archives of the Conner Family Trust. For example, photographic slides (strikingly similar to the black and white lithographs that he started making in the 1960s) that Conner used when he was part of a group that performed experimental light shows for bands like Big Brother and the Holding Company and the Grateful Dead.

For more information, please visit the SJICA website. We hope to see you there!

Conner in 1954.