Kay Rosen Head Over Heels

Kay Rosen, Head Over Heels, 2016 Latex paint on wall, 16×16 feet

I’ve gushed before. And Kay Rosen has me swooning, again, in my review of her solo exhibition, H Is for House, for The Brooklyn Rail (June, 2017).

My title, Head Over Heels, references the wall painting in the atrium of The Aldrich and pretty much sums up my ArtSeen review (rave); but a piece I can’t stop thinking about is Pivot.

Kay Rosen Pivot

Kay Rosen, Pivot, 2015, Acrylic gouache on paper, 22 ½ x 15 inches

In Pivot (2015), the two parallel lines act out the word and its meaning—and, in a sense, becomes anthropomorphic. Back to back, the letterforms stand upright on Ts for legs and Ps for heads, facing away from one another.

I read between these lines, and an idea begins to form.

That V in PIVOT is a pelvis.

This brings to mind a recent review (rag) I’d read about a different female artist, in another text-based medium, the memoir, being derided for using the body—her body—as subject matter. Usually, I find the “navel-gazing” critique to be more revealing of the critic than the artist, a telling affirmation of the systemic discrimination of female creation.

Here, where a V can be a pelvis–rendered as gender neutral but nonetheless home of the navel, the origin story of us all–I am encouraged to continue championing the notion that the body, one’s own female body especially, is a worthy subject for art to be expressed in whatever form, visual, written et al.

This kind of thinking is to be expected in a house built by Kay Rosen. For over 40 years, Kay has explored, as a trained linguist and now a 2017 Guggenheim Fellow, the visual potential of language—particularly letterforms—to be the building blocks of art that challenge contemporary culture’s perception of words.

Richard Klein, Exhibitions Director for The Aldrich, connects Rosen’s work to a 16th century French humanist and engraver, Geofroy Tory, who put forward the idea in Champ Fluery that capital Roman letterforms are based upon proportions of the human body.

In a world where the very letterforms, themselves, are inspired by the human form, sneering at artists using the body–her body, a body, any body–becomes baseless.

“Artists use language in so many different ways,” Kay says to me during our interview for the Rail. “But I can’t think of any two people that use language the same way.” She pauses. “Can you?”

No. And may they inspire a broadened view of how we see art of the body–and review it.

Kay Rosen’s H Is for House is currently showing at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum through September 4, 2017.

Amy Deneson Sabina, Gorgiality, Erez Sabag Bust

Those golden freckles! “Sabina” in Gorgiality 1 of 1 by Erez Sabag

GORGIALITY has me seeing stars. The exhibition extravaganza by fashion photographer, Erez Sabag, is lighting up The Robert Miller Gallery now through June 3, 2017.

I’m gushing about spring rainbows and real pots of gold, benefiting the Look Good Feel Better Foundation, in Bust.

Here, I’ll simply squee and suggest that if you’re near Chelsea, you might want to stop by and let yourself be dazzled. The collaboration between Erez and makeup artist, Georgina Billington, and creative director, David Warren is spectacular.

Erez! @gorgiality Bravo, brother @erezsabag #GORGIALITY 💋

A post shared by Amy (@amydeneson) on

On set, Erez coined the word “gorgiality” to express the beauty he sees in individuality. “Real beauty,” he says, “is an intangible quality that defies definition, boundaries, and standards and which ultimately asks people to be themselves.”

GORGIALITY’s limited edition catalogue and selected prints (along with scarves!) are also available online. All proceeds from this exhibition benefit the Look Good Feel Better Foundation, an organization that has helped cancer survivors cope with the impact of treatment on their appearance since 1989.

That’s Gorgiality.

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