Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Contemporary Art: Rodney Graham @ 303 Gallery New York

(Drivebycuriosity) - Contemporary art is full of surprises. During a recent visit of Manhattan`s art district Chelsea I discovered the art work by Rodney Graham, who was unknown to me. The Canadian artist is known for his "ultra-real works that verge on slapstick" (theguardian). If we believe "The Guardian" Graham is "a product of Vancouver’s then-thriving photo-conceptual scene, making large, backlit, staged tableaux that often referenced classical paintings even as they resembled ultra-real documentary photographs".

Gallery 303 displays some of his recent light boxes and paintings (through February 23 2019  303gallery). The people above are inspecting "Tattooed Man on Balcony" (2018, Two painted aluminum lightboxes with transmounted chromogenic transparencies).

Above you can see "Vacuuming the Gallery, 1949" (2018, Four painted aluminum lightboxes with transmounted chromogenic transparencies; 119 5/8 x 71 5/8 x 7 inches (303.8 x 181.9 x 17.8 cm) each; 119 5/8 x 294 1/2 x 7 inches (303.8 x 748 x 17.8 cm) overall. Edition of 3.

Graham got inspired by " a photograph of New York gallerist Samuel Kootz smoking a pipe in his own gallery during a Picasso exhibition in 1949. On the walls in this image are a series of Graham's own abstract paintings, part of a series of variations based on a single watercolor by Alexander Rodchenko (Abstract Composition, 1941) (pressrelease).

Above the "Remorseful Hunter" (2019, Painted aluminum lightbox with transmounted chromogenic transparency; 89 5/8 x 69 5/8 x 7 inches (227.8 x 176.9 x 17.8 cm) Edition of 5.

I really like the squirrel.

Above "Central Questions of Philosophy" (2018; Two painted aluminum lightboxes with transmounted chromogenic transparencies).

Above Graham`s painting "Untitled" (2019, Oil and sand on canvas; 83 3/4 x 100 1/4 inches (212.6 x 254.6 cm) framed

To be continued

Monday, February 18, 2019

Contemporary Art: Relative Equilibrium & More @ Kravets Wehby New York

(Drivebycuriosity) - I like to visit art galleries and discover new art works. At gallery Kravets Wehby in Manhattan´s classy Chelsea district I spotted some interesting paintings (kravetswehby).

Above you can see  "Relative Equilibrium" by Stan Narten (2019, oil on linen).

Above "Glitter afresh forever" by Sidney Chastain Chapman (2019, acrylic on canvas) followed by "Athena" by Allison Zuckerman ( 2019, acrylic and archival CMYK ink on canvas).

Above "La costa de enfrente" by Manuel Esnoz (2019, oil, glitter and metallic paint on linen).

To be continued

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Movies: Cold War

(Drivebycuriosity) - It`s Oscar season again. The Polish movie "Cold War" collected 3 Oscar nominations: Best Foreign Language film, Pawel Pawlikowski for Best Director, and Lucasz Zal for Best Cinematography (imdb).

I think the film would deserve these awards. It has an interesting plot and it is a feast for the eyes, even though it is shot in black and white. The story runs from1949 through the mid 1960s when there was a sharp conflict between the communist East and the free West. The movie focuses on a Polish musical director who fells in love with a young singer. The plot starts in communist Poland and moves later to other countries (this is a spoiler free blog).

"Cold War" is about love, romance & obsession, but the film is also a historical document. We learn a bit about the political system in Soviet occupied Poland and the ideological pressures the people there had to cope with - a system Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren  & Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez want to import to the  US. The audience also gets an impression about the sharp contrast between the suppressed & bleak live in the communist system, which was evolving into a gigantic prison, and the freedom people in the West experienced. The title "Cold War" captures these differences perfectly.

I was impressed how the makers reincarnated the looks of the early 50s and how they turned the wintry, dark and poor sights of 1950s Poland into beautiful & esthetical shots.

Go and watch it!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Contemporary Art: Photographic Compositions & Abstracts @ Gallery Artifact New York

(Drivebycuriosity) - I like contemporary art.  Therefore I am often visiting art galleries in my neighborhood, New York`s Lower East Side. Gallery Artifact  (84 Orchard Street artifact) belongs to my favorite places, because the art trader has frequently changing art shows which are usually amazing.

Some days ago I spotted another interesting show. Above you can see some photographic compositions by the Swedish artist Charlotte Hedberg.

Above some abstract paintings by the Norwegian Artist Gro Folkan. Let the pictures speak for themselves.

To be continued.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Economics: Why China Will Overtake USA Sooner Than Many Think

(Drivebycuriosity) - Today we got disappointing news from the US economic front. US retails dropped in 1.2% from November to December and the year-over-year growth rate slowed to 2.3  (chart below calculatedrisk).

Retail sales are an important part of the consumer spending, the engine of the economy. So today´s numbers signal a slowdown of the already modest economic growth in the USA. Today´s numbers deliver are a sharp contrast to China´s economic numbers. China`s retail sales grew 8.2% in December, faster than in November (plus 8.1% economics).

So, an important part of China´s economy is growing much faster - about 4-times - than the US counterpart. China`s economy will overtake the US very fast.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Contemporary Art: Sleepover & More @ Thierry Goldberg Gallery New York

(Drivebycuriosity) - New York`s fast gentrifying Lower East Side became a magnet for the bridge-and-tunnel crowd and an infamous party & nightlife center. But the neighborhood is also a mecca of art with dozens of respectable art galleries. Thierry Goldberg on Norfolk Street belongs to the most interesting galleries on LES.

This week I saw there again an interesting group exhibition - called "Snow Day" (thierrygoldberg). Above you can see my favorite: Marcela Florido's "Retiro" (2018 Oil on canvas, 60 x 58 inches). The artist  (b. 1988, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Accroding to the press release "Florido uses her work to confront traditions in painting, and investigate where they come from and what histories they communicate. She employs figuration to challenge artistic traditions of her native Brazil, where figuration in art is not widely accepted; women’s bodies, in particular, are often seen as taboo, especially for a woman artist to portray.  Combined with her use of bright colors and unbalanced compositions". Anyway, I love this painting, the painted girl looks fresh & alluring like a tropical fruit.

Above you can see 2 images by Isaac Mann:  "The Dinner Party" followed by "The Sleepover" (both 2018, Oil on canvas). I guess these pictures speak for themselves.

To be continued

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Economics: A Dirge For Opec

(Drivebycuriosity) - It seems Opec has a big problem. The cartel is struggling to hike the oil price to former hights, at least back to the $80s where it was last summer. So, they curbed their production, but with not much success so far, the price of oil (Brent Crude) is still in the low 60s as the chart below shows.

source )

Opec has to fight against two trends, two headwinds. In the US, the by far biggest user of oil, the demand for gasoline is shrinking, at least per capita (chart below). Americans seem to be less obsessed with cars & driving and cars are getting more fuel efficient over the time. This trend could accelerate because electric care are getting more popular. 

And there is another trend which could destroy the power of Opec. The US oil production is rising, thanks to fracking (chart below).

Falling - or least subdued - demand for oil and climbing US production could end Opec`s regime soon.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Economics: Lessons From The Earnings Season

(Drivebycuriosity) - The earnings season is coming to an end. Most companies of the S&P 500 (about 60%) have reported their earnings & revenue numbers from the fourth quarter 2018. Their earnings rose on average 16.2% from the same period last year and 71% beat the earnings expectations of the analysts ( abcnews  factset). The earnings growth is much faster than the growth of the whole economy, between 2 and 3%.

The numbers show that the analysts are too pessimistic. Apparently they underestimate the fact that corporations are getting more efficient & more productive over time - thanks to learning processes and the technological progress. Companies are learning organisms because they are managed by humans who are continuously improving themselves and their companies. During the recession 2008 companies had restructured and reduced costs significantly in order to survive. Now they are more fit & more efficient than before.

Company earnings are also boosted by automation.  Since the early 18th century (the first industrial revolution) the technological process has been enabling companies to produce more goods & services with the same amount of employees. More and better machines (robots) are doing the work of people which translates into lower costs, higher profit margins and climbing earnings.

It seems that this process is accelerating again and we are at the begin of new industrial revolution. We are experiencing a rapid advance of information technology, meaning combinations of computers, smartphones, Internet and other digital systems. Software - which is increasingly Internet connected and uses more and more the cloud (access to huge external data centers) - organizes the whole business: Creating new products, inducing machines to run more efficient, finding cheap suppliers, manage customer relations and so on. Car producers and many other manufacturers are increasingly using robots and similar machines to reduce their costs. Companies are also beginning to use 3D-printers to become more cost efficient and flexible.

Company profits are also boosted by the rise of the emerging markets. China, India & Co. create additional markets. Therefore companies can produce more which translates into shrinking average production costs (economies of scale). Emerging markets also deliver cheap supplies (most computers, tablets & smartphones are manufactured there) which reduces the production costs further.

I believe that the learning process will continue and will translate into a long term trend of rising company earnings, the engine of the bull market for stocks.


Friday, February 8, 2019

Movies: Serenity

(Drivebycuriosity) -  Matthew McConaughey is known for playing challenging characters (True Detective),  Anne Hathaway blends intellect with beauty. It seemed to be a good idea to combine both in a mystery-thriller. The result is the movie "Serenity", which is now running in some US cinema theaters (imdb). Unfortunately, it didn´t work out, the film is a flop, tanked by negative reviews.

I had fun watching the flick. I think "Serenity" is not as bad as Rotten Tomatoes tells us. Matthew McConaughey incarnates a fishing boat captain located on a remote tropical island who earns his living by catching tuna & swordfish and transporting paying guests. Suddenly a new customer appears, someone from his past, and makes a huge offer. The plot becomes more and more mysterious and develops into a kind of absurd theater, but makes sense in the final, sort of (this is a spoiler free blog).

McConaughey reminded me of Humphrey Bogart, a man who seems to live only from rum & sex, Anne Hathaway was apparently modeled after Kim Basinger in LA Confidential , but the duo does not convince and the sex scenes were subdued, apparently tame enough for American adolescents, the main clientele. Anyway the plot is funny, surprising & entertaining. I enjoyed the views of the tropical island, the fish & the ocean, and there was a wonderful thunderstorm in the night. "Serenity" is not great cinema, but something to warm up on a dark & chilly winter day.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

New York City: Chinatown Celebrates The Year Of The Pig

(Drivebycuriosity) - The Chinese are celebrating their Lunar New Year and the beginning of the Year Of The Pig. My wife and I went to New York`s Chinatown and joined the celebrating crowd and I used the occasion to take some photos. I display my favorite pics here.

It seems that the crowd hat a lot of fun - we too.

Yes, the Chinese love fireworks.

There were lots of colorful flags.

The streets were covered with confetti shot from the myriads of confetti canons.

The event attracted a lot of onlookers of course

Happy New Year Chinatown!