It’s currently Art Week here in Cape Town, so today’s post from my guest editor, Piko, is very fitting. Piko takes us on an art tour through Chelsea and highlights some incredible galleries and artists. I hope today’s post will inspire you… to get out and discover some of our very own galleries and local artists!
New York City is one of the art capitals of the world. Aside from renowned museums such as the Metropolitan, Guggenheim, Whitney and the MoMA, there are 600 private galleries in the city. Just one neighbourhood, Chelsea, is home to 300 of these, conveniently clustered along the Highline Park – Chelsea’s green artery. In the space of a few blocks you can see work by several top international artists, such as Louise Bourgeois’ compelling sculptures at Cheim & Reid (I was spellbound by her ‘Arch of Hysteria’), and Takashi Murakami’s loud and vibrant pieces at the Gagosian.
Louise Bourgeois at Cheim & Reid
Unlike the big museums, the commercial galleries allow you to interact more intimately with the work, and sometimes even meet an artist or two. Recently I got to chat to one such artist, Ian Sklarsky.
Ian Sklarsky is a multi-talented creative whose work I fell in love with when I first came across it at a friend’s home in Cape Town. When he recently had a solo exhibit at the Krause Gallery here in New York I knew I had to finally track him down. Based in Brooklyn, he works across a spectrum of media – drawing, painting, sculpture and large murals – all using the method of blind contour drawing – a technique requiring the artist to map out his subject without looking at the paper. The results are whimsical works that are abstract but full of life. Ian was kind enough to give me some insight into how he works.
What attracted you to this method as opposed to other approaches?
It truly is a moment of Zen when you practice blind contour. You have to cancel out everything that is going on and concentrate on a single line traveling so fast you have no clue where it will end up… It’s a game of chance and skill that is always entertaining to me. It sometimes makes me nervous when someone or something magnificent approaches me – but when I look at it as just another object to draw – I constantly push my boundary.
You also create sculptures based on your blind contour drawings. What process do you use?
I use a 3D pen with ABS plastic. It’s pretty basic and looks like a futuristic glue gun and packs a pretty mean punch. I start by tracing the drawing with the plastic – which pops off the paper into my first structure… Then I build off of that to create the 3D element adding pieces here and there completing the sculpture.
I imagine it must take a lot of patience and calm to create your work. How long does it take? For example your large mural at Omar’s?
Larger works always challenge me. My original size for art is a 5″x7″ piece because of my method. I need to have my hand and wrist at a certain point to pivot the line, without my hand on the surface I float my hand and it becomes rather abstract… More to my liking, but less to the mass. The thought process usually takes a few days and the execution part depends on the size – With the Omar mural it was about 2 weeks because they were doing construction when I was working in there. Sometimes my stuff is just scanned into a computer and printed on a high scale printer and then adhered to walls or sides. It’s always an amazing feeling watching something like that just go up and be free floating into the world of art and interpretation.
If you love Ian’s art as much as I do, please go his blog where you can view more examples of his incredible work and perhaps even commission a piece for yourself, or as a unique gift. I did!
Markus Baenzinger at Edward Thorp Gallery
Eva Hild at Nancy Margolis Gallery