Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Oil: Post OPEC

(Drivebycuriosity) - It seems we are witnessing the dawn of OPEC. The cartell formed in the 1960s and came to power in the 1970s. In 1973 the organization cut oil production drastically (oil embargo  wikipedia) in order to punish the US and Western Europe's for their support of Israel`s Yom Kippur War against an alliance of Arabian states. Then the oil price quadrupled and jumped to $60 which caused the infamous oil crisis ( Oil stayed expensive until the early 1980s which caused sharp recessions and a decade of economic stagnation and a dormant stock market.

In the early 1980s the table turned again. Non-OPEC nations countries outproduced OPEC again and despite repeated cuts by OPEC the oil price fell back into a range between $10 and $20 where it stayed until 2002 (seekingalpha). This allowed a decade of a prospering economy and a rally on the stock market during the Dow Jones climbed from 1,000 to 10,000.

In the years that followed 2002 OPEC got their strength back and kept it till last summer. A series of wars, conflicts and sanctions with, in and against Iraq, Syria, Lybia, Iran and Russia reduced oil supply from these important producers which allowed the rest of OPEC to keep oil scarce and expensive. Hedge funds and other speculators set huge bets that geopolitical conflicts will lead to a severe disruption of the oil supply. And Goldman Sachs & other banks hyped the peak oil theory, which claimed that global oil supply had already peaked and that we were experiencing shrinking oil production and rising energy  costs. As a result the oil price jumped from around $20 in 2002 to a peak of $148 in 2008 and stuck in the range $110-120 from 2009 till summer 2014. It is not surprising that we got a sharp recession and an economic development which resembled the 1970s.

The situation began to change dramatically in summer 2014. Suddenly the market recognizes that OPEC is losing power. There are at least 3 developments responsible for that:

1. Oil production from war countries like Iraq, Lybia & Syria is coming back. These big producers are flooding the global oil market again.

2. Oil demand is curbed by technological progress which leads to more efficient cars and other machines (demand destruction bloomberg).

3. Rising oil production outside the OPEC. The US supply is rising sharply thanks to fracking and horizontal drilling.

Today OPEC has just 40% of the global market and their market share is melting. Saudi Arabia and other OPEC leaders, who had fought for high oil prices in the years 2008-2013, remain now passive and accept sharp falling oil prices. OPEC claims that they want to fight US producers with prices below $60 in the hope that American oil wells will become unprofitabel and these competitors will leave the market.

                                          A New Decade Of Cheap Oil

If this is the strategy of OPEC - they will fail. The costs for alternative oil exploration (fracking and horizontal drilling) is falling and producers are becoming more efficient. This will lead to further declining oil prices and the rise of oil production outside the OPEC will continue. OPEC´s market share will shrink in the coming years making the organization mediocre again as it was in prospering 1990s and before 1972. Maybe OPEC will fall apart.

Here some quotes:

"U.S. producers battling OPEC for market share may increase output further from the highest rate in more than three decades as costs decline almost as fast as oil prices, says Goldman Sachs (bloomberg). The oil price slump is driving producers to move drill rigs to lower-cost fields, according to the report."

"Data from the state of North Dakota says the average cost per barrel in America’s top oil-producing state is only $42 — to make a 10% return for rig owners. In McKenzie County, which boasts 72 of the state’s 188 oil rigs, the average production cost is just $30, the state says. Another 27 rigs are around $29." (marketwatch)

I reckon that the US oil producers will soon be accompanied by oil producers from China and other countries."In June 2013, the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) released a world shale oil and gas reserve assessment that showed 32 countries outside the United States have substantial reserves locked up in 137 different formations - units that can be exploited using Bakken-like technology....The EIA placed China third behind Russia and the U.S. in tight shale oil reserves - with 32 billion barrels considered technically recoverable." (bismarck).

And there is another danger for OPEC: Alternative energy. The efficiency of solar panels is rising, reducing the costs of solar energy. In some years cheap solar electricity will compete against oil. According to the Washington Post some home owners in California use already electricity gained from solar panels on their roofs to fuel their electric cars (washingtonpost).

Maybe Saudi Arabia and other OPEC leaders have a long term planning horizon. Maybe they are planning for decades. Then they might be aware that solar energy could destroy their market in some years. In this case it would make sense for them to sell oil now for a still good price. Maybe the recent passivity (decison to not cut oil production) is not just an attack against US tracking, it might be also a preemptive strike against solar energy or just capitulation.

Welcome cheap oil!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Contemporary Art: Best Of New York`s Gallery Shows 2014

(Drivebycuriosity) - I enjoy contemporary art and I like to visit New York´s ubiquitous art galleries. It is so much fun to discover different styles and ideas. This year I saw so many new and interesting works and was impressed by the varity of concepts, styles and techniques. Here are my favorites from the gallery shows 2014:

In autumn I indulged into a pop up exhbition on Manhattan`s Lower East Side with works by Conor Harrington hosted by the Lazarides Gallery in London. The Irish artist, who is based in London, works simultaneously for galleries and as a street artist (artsy). I am fascinated by the sheer power of his baroque compositions and the blend of photorealism with surrealism. From above you can see  "The Unveiling" (Oil and spray paint on linen, 190 cm X 260 cm);
"Samsons Nostalgia Trap"
&"Small Town With A Global Punch".

I was also impressed by a show @ Hauser & Wirth. The prestigious international gallery, with home in Zürich (Switzerland hauser), presented works by Sterling Ruby, who is based in Los Angeles.  I am fascinated by his huge wall filling paintings which remind me of cinemascope movies.

Above this paragraph you can see piece from another pop up exhibition on Manhattan`s Lower East Side. The show was called "Love saved never everything" and displayed works by Logan Hicks. The New York-based stencil artist also works for galleries and as a street artist (workhorse). According to the website of PMM Art Project Hicks used underwater photography as inspiration and focused on the drifting and the weightlessness (pmmart). The paintings are called "Deep Sleep", "Treading Water" & "Drop".

I collected the pics above this paragraph at a group show called "Summer Collective Part II " @ Bertrand Delacroix Gallery in Manhattan`s classy district Chelsea (bdgny). The decaying car in the garden is called  "L`Ìnvitation" (oil on canvas) by the French artist Frederic Deprun. The sitting lady was created by Ayline Olukman and the tortured man in the wall was sculptured by Matteo Pugliese.

The gallery Capricious 88 on Lower East Side ( becapricious) showed sculptures by the Swedish artist Casja von Zeibel. The exhibition was called: “Pony Tails: To Live Play Move and Clash As She Will”  - strange white female figures. Some performed acrobatic sex - a kind of frozen Kama Sutra - others were masturbating, contemplating & posing.


 I discovered these beauties @ Mark Miller Gallery´s show "Beasticon II" (markmiller).  David Hochbaum, the artist, calls his work "Consumption" (Pigment print on Kozo paper). Who is consuming whom?

This couple participated in the "Madness" exhibition @  Lodge Gallery (thelodge )

The ambitious Gagosian Gallery, an empire in the world of art trading (gagosian), showed @ their Chelsea branch "Miracle Paintings", a sortiment of works by Dan Colen. For this post I chose  "Ride of the Valkyres" (oil on canvas) - maybe a trtibute to Richard Wagner or to the movie "Apocalypse Now". Maybe to both.

                                                                     Evolution Of Art

There is a lot of competition in contempary art - as everywhere. Artists are forced to walk new ways and use new techniques & materials. An example for the evolution of art are the works by the Korean artist Chun Kwang Young (sometimes written: Kwang Young Chun) which were exhibited @ Hasted Kraeutler (hasted). Below you can see why the media call him "contemporary master of paper".

The art work above - which I photographed form different distances - is called "Aggregation 08-JL019 Red, 2008". The artist used "Polystyrene triangles wrapped in traditional Korean mulberry paper (hanji)" ( 52 x 76 3/4 inches).

Below you can admire other pieces from this outstanding exhibition:

Other artists use pixel techniques, where images are edited on the pixel level (wikipedia). Below you can admire a painting by Gavin Rain, called "New Liz 1”,  (2014, acrylic on canvas). I found this work @ UNIX Gallery (unix). I shot the pictures also from different distances to show the technique that Rain had used.

Below another work in this style: "Untitled, Swimming Pool XV" by William Betts (Acrylic on canvas, 16 x 24 inches = 41 x 61 cm) @ gallery Margaret Thatcher Projects (thatcher).

Anyway, artists who go traditional ways also produced amazing works:

Above I present a painting which was part of the David Mellen exhibition, "The Loss of So Many":  @ BOSI Contemporary (bosi). This work has the name "The Offing", Pigment and varnish on linen.

Below follow the paintings "Ohne" and "Pursuit".

David Mellen also created works which are a combination of painting & sculpture. Below you can see: "Into the throats of birds", wood, metal, varnish and pigment.

I also enjoyed this marriage of baroque style with a modern raster technique. This is "Coffee Time" (mixed media) by the Turkish painter Ardan Özmenoglu which I found @  Chelsea´s art boutiques Bertrand Delacroix Gallery.

Some artists use cameras to create their amazing effects.  Above you can see "Grossinger’s Resort #2" by Alison Nguyen (Archival Pigment Print mounted on gator board). This was part of the show "Unconscious Lens" @ BOSI Contemporary  (bosi).

Others work even with wood:

Marianne Boesky Gallery had a show with works by Roxy Paine called: "Denuded Lens" (marianneboesky). The artist used wood, metal and other material to replicate objects of daily life. I admire that Paine shaped his sculptures very delicately and detailed.

                                       A Glance Into An Alternative Universe?

There are still artists who create amazing impressions with traditional methods. One of the highlights of the gallery year 2014 was a show of works by Neo Rauch @ the Chelsea branch of David Zwirner (davidzwirner). Here is my blog post about my visit (driveby).

The German is one of the rising stars in the art world. According to Wikipedia his "paintings mine the intersection of his personal history with the politics of industrial alienation. His work reflects the influence of socialist realism, and owes a debt to Surrealists Giorgio de Chirico and René Magritte" (wikipedia). Each of his paintings seems to tell a story with a riddle in it.

Above you can see "Der blaue Fisch" (The Blue Fish). Why does a woman climb out of the fish´s stommage?  Did she get saved like the biblican "Jonah"?

This one is called "Heillichtung" (Healing Glade?). The image seems to deal with a sick or wounded man. Are the men who surround the patient scientists who debate about a possible cure? Is he still alive?

"Über den Dächern" ("Above the Roofs") could show some ritual. Are they dancing?

The painting "Marina" above this paragraph looks like a glance into an alternative universe. Are these men scavenging some sealife? Does the half-naked woman behind belong to them or to the sea lifeforms?

"Hüter der Nacht" ("Guardians of the Night") is also  strange and puzzling. What does the woman with the yellow piranha-like gloves aim to achieve? Does she want to heal or to attack the man who lies in the bed? Why is the man in the background beating the drum?

I found more optical riddles @ Envoy Enterprises, one of the ubiquituos tiny Lower East Side galleries (envoy).

They had a show with works by Micki Pellerano called "Monoliths". The graphite drawings  (graphite on paper) remind me a bit of early science fiction movies from the defunct soviet union.

Here another riddle: Fitzroy Gallery (fitzroy) displayed Cassandra MacLeod`s: "Untited" (silkscreen and spray paint on canvas).

Do you want it even more strange and weird? Muriel Guépin Gallery (muriel) showed something by
Numen / For Use (this is the name of the artist! called: Light Membrane, The artist used"
spy mirror (glass), CCF-lamps, inverters / harmonica, transmission wheels and belts, ply-wood, tubes! Sounds like a space laboratory.

Muriel Guépin also had works by Joanie Lemercier ( joanielemercier). According to the gallery "a rice paper pattern is fixed to a monitor and rear-illuminated. As LCD light traces the triangle mesh, the mosaic comes alive and develops depth and motion. Soon the valleys and peaks of a rugged landscape emerge and, as if viewed through monochromatic, low- resolution camera eyes, we get to orbit an alien world".

Other artists dealt with the wonders around us.

The gallery Artifact (artifact) showed Giorgio Tardonato`s fabulous space paintings. Can I get a flight there?

Some of the wonders are even closer. Last summer the imperial Gagosian Gallery showed works by the Austrian artist Rudolf Stingel, who painted the majesty of the Alpen (Alps). Both paintings are untitled, they speak for themselves.

I found more impressive photo-realistic paintings @Mark Miller Gallery, part of their show "Behind the Curtain" (markmiller):

I am fascinated by the drawing "Swing Set" (Charcoal and white chaulk on Paper) by James Adelman, which I first confused with a photography. Behind this link you can see more works by the excellent Brookyn based artist (understanding)

This summer Gagosian also had something very special: Paintings by Anselm Kiefer (wikipedia). The German artist is one of my favorites because his usually large-sized paintings create unique visions of our world & history which the use of nonorthodox materials. Here you can see an excerpt (met).

                                                       Erotical Sistine Chapel 

The Galleries had a lot of - more or less - erotical pictures of course

This work is called "Spirit Girls " by Kristen Schiele found @ Lu Magnus (lumagnus).

Above is are collection of pictures taken @ Dacia Gallery (dacia), site 109 (Jonathan Viner  vinerstudio) and DCKT Contemporary (Sophie Crumb sophie). I enoyed the different techniques and the influences of baroque and other classical epochs. And one image reminds me a bit of the sistine chapel and the work of the pre raphaelites.

The gallery Sargent`s Daugthers had an exhibition with works by Brad Jones called "Dyptichs" (sargents). Brad Jones is an ongoing collaboration between painter Brandi Twilley and his nude model Jennifer Rubell. This lead to a series of paintings  with different stages of alteration, a kind of metamorphosis, where the artist played with the shape of his model (you can see here more driveby).

Some artists are influenced by science fiction. I found the 2 paintings below @ "Two Trees" (twotreesny),  a center for art galleries in Dumbo, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. I believe these phantastic entities belong to the gallery Stephen Romano and their exhibition "Abudantia Cornia Copiae" (shishigami). They look like weapons in a nightmarish alternativ world war.

The fine Brooklyn art center also has fine abstracts as the 2 examples below show:

Back to Manhattan: Mark Miller Gallery (markmiller) pleased my art taste buds with Ed Grant`s, "Racoon", Code manipulated image, ink sublimation on aluminum.

At Mark Miller  I also discovered the works by Tun Myaing, one of the marvelous photo-realists (tunmyaing).

Part of the fun @ art shows are the other visitors. There are so many cool people to see. I collected the pics below at different receptions in Chelsea and on the Lower East Side: