Hudson Square Properties through its Lobby Art Program recognizes the dynamic talent defining Hudson Square today. Four newly renovated lobbies have opened at 75 Varick, 160 Varick, 225 Varick and 155 Avenue of the Americas featuring the work of young internationally recognized artists. The exhibits, which will change annually, reflect the diverse concerns seen in today’s most current art, while also engaging viewers through color and form.
In contrast, the lobby art program at 375 Hudson Street focuses on mid-career artists, who are represented in prominent New York galleries. These exhibitions rotate every six months. Programming has grown to include panel discussions of the work on view and are open to the public free of charge. Panelists include art critics, museum and gallery professionals and writers.
The lobbies are open to the public Monday to Friday from 8 am to 6 pm.
75 Varick Street: Petra Cortright
Petra Cortright is a California-based artist working in video, painting, and digital media. Her intricate paintings use digital software to blend figurative and abstract elements and are printed on a variety of materials—most frequently linen, paper, and aluminum. Each of Cortright’s paintings begin with a digital file the artist refers to as a “mother file,” consisting of hundreds of Photoshop layers, composed by sampling found images and simulated digital brushstrokes. The layers are then edited, manipulated and transferred to a substrate through industrial printing processes. Her work, such as 1998 MTV Music Awards_baby doll dress “fs5x aircraft” at 75 Varick, are often titled to reflect file names and extensions, as well as search terms used to source found imagery.
160 Varick Street: Serge Attukwei Clottey and Moffat Takadiwa
Using his body as an object, Ghanaian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey creates performances and works with international media – as well as plastic yellow “gallons” (jerrycans) – to speak out about politics, religion, sex and tradition. Born in Ghana in 1985, Serge Attukwei Clottey exhibited internationally before he was able to show his work at home. His performances, with fellow members of the collective GoLokal, create a narrative around the process of collecting plastic “gallons” (jerrycans used in Ghana to transport and store water). The cans will be cut up and used to make masks, form canvases, or as basic building blocks for his installations, such as the wall hanging Generation Bond, installed at 160 Varick. In Ghanaian society, collecting water cans is a task traditionally assigned to women. The artist and GoLokal (all male) focus on challenging constrictive societal assumptions and hope to encourage broader dialog.
Moffat Takadiwa, born in Karoi, Zimbabwe (1983) lives and works in Harare. An artist of the post-independence generation, Takadiwa has exhibited extensively in major institutions locally and internationally. His three-dimensional constructions focus on language and the role it plays in determining a national or cultural identity. The piece on view at 160 Varick, Superhighway of Coloniality, is made up of computer keys creating a hanging tapestry, kept together with fishing wire. Takadiwa believes the story of Zimbabwe was “written with these very keys” a condemnation of imperialist British rule. The tapestry is at once an aesthetic object and cultural text.
225 Varick Street: Kour Pour
Kour Pour’s time in his father’s carpet shop and his interest in popular culture have been synthesized into an ongoing series of carpet paintings, a series which Pour began during his last year at the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. Each were based on a rug or carpet the artist researched from exhibition and auction catalogues. The pieces generated intense collector interest and he continues creating the series while he explores other means. In recent years, he has also produced a series of paintings employing the use of paper pulp, which the artist began working with out of his interest in origami, and the lesser-known paper craft form tsugigami. Pour began making his own paper and mixing the pulp with pigments. After some experimentation, he came around to the idea of using the pigmented pulp in lieu of paint, sculpting the pulp onto panels covered with linen. The painting at 225 Varick, Oh So Delicate, made from heavily layered pulp and applied in gestural swaths, interestingly references Japanese Geological Survey maps, which Pour noticed for their similarities to western abstract expressionist paintings of the 1960’s.
155 Avenue of the Americas: Oscar Murillo
Oscar Murillo is a contemporary Colombian painter and installation artist. Working in a wide-ranging practice incorporating diverse media and techniques, he investigates the cross-cultural ties of a globalized economy. Noted for his use of text, recycled materials, and random fragments, he frequently leaves his canvases to be slowly covered in debris, a process the artist has likened to aging cheese. Born in La Paila, Colombia in 1986, Murillo moved to London, England when he was 10. He graduated from the Royal College of Art in London and joined the David Zwirner gallery a year later in 2013. For his first major solo show in New York (2014), he transformed the gallery space into a fully functional chocolate factory, mimicking the factories in his native Colombia where generations of families had worked together. He is currently developing a long-term global project, titled Frequencies, working with school children around the world, effectively creating one large, internationally scattered work. Murillo lives and works in London.
375 Hudson Street: Barnaby Furnas, Robert Swain and Robert Kushner
Barnaby Furnas’s monumental abstract paintings may resemble giant brush strokes or wall-sized spills, but their origins lie in figurative depictions of biblical scenes. Born in Philadelphia and raised a Quaker, Furnas made his first Flood painting in 2005 as part of a commission for the Lever House on Park Avenue. For that project, titled Apocalypse, he envisioned the end times, with demons descending upon and dismembering the damned — people left behind after the Rapture. The accompanying canvas depicts the aftermath, a world awash in blood, rendered in strong red horizontal swaths that obscure a hazy blue sky and sun. He has since become as well-known for his Flood paintings dominated by washes of red as for his figurative work.
For his installation at 375 Hudson, Furnas has created works (all 2019) that respond to the architectural space with dynamic angles and “frothy” areas of paint squirts and splatters to rival the veined marble walls and dramatic patterned floor. These works represent a break from his previous Flood paintings in that most do not retain a hint of sky and sun. Furnas has fully embraced them as abstractions, taking pleasure in the medium of paint itself. More notably, and to his own surprise, he has also embraced colors in addition to his familiar reds, adding viridian, yellow, magenta, and silver to his palette.
For artist Robert Swain, color has been the primary focus of his painting practice for more than 50 years. It is both the content of his paintings and a relentless problem to be solved. Swain is currently one of the leading standard bearers of color research worldwide; starting in the late 1960s, he began to conceive his own singular color system. The pillars of his system are hue (a pure color), value (lightness/darkness of a color), and saturation (the intensity of the pure color). The color system Swain envisioned decades ago consisted of 30 distinct yet interrelated colors organized in incremental steps around a circle with no beginning or endpoint. He then ran each of those colors across a kind of Cartesian coordinate system of up to 33 incremental steps in value in one direction and 9 degrees in saturation in the other, yielding an exhaustive color library of 4,896 distinct hues, each calibrated by eye and mixed by hand, an extraordinary feat to contemplate. The paintings on view, created specifically for this gallery, are utterly immersive in scale and present us with pure sensation, transitioning from the pristinely visual into the viscerally emotional. After five decades, Swain is focused now more than ever on the distinct sensations produced when unique colors are paired, rather than appearing individually. With each color emitting its own distinct spectral energy and emotional content, colors that are grouped yield vastly more complex and nuanced sensations than they would on their own. Color is experiential, and by witnessing it through Robert Swain’s unique lens and temperament, we truly understand its limitlessness, approaching the sublime. Color is life.
Robert Kushner’s work has been exhibited extensively in the United States, Europe and Japan since 1975 when one of his paintings was included in the Whitney Biennial. When Kushner was in his twenties, he worked as a carpet restorer, and the palette and logic of fabric, of warp and weft, has remained at the core of his practice. This is true at the level of structure, not just aesthetics. His paintings are majestic, in their regal color, glorious floral depictions, and sheer size. Extraordinarily full, they burst with color and animation, like the gardens that do so much to inspire him. He paints his flowers directly from life using techniques to harness organic “chance operations” beloved of past avant garde artists, creating images that seem almost to sprout from the canvas in the same slightly random way that they would from an actual garden bed. His work balances these organic forms with more regimented structural ones. Though the works included in the show were very different, all are organized according to a principle of rigorous division. Blocks of color or metallic leaf demarcate them into zones, creating a push-pull of space, or as Kushner puts it, “a series of passages.” By making, and then breaking up, the pattern with the linear forms of flowers or plants, these forms seem to float atop the background.