New art, New York: continued

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Valerie Hegarty

current contemporary New York art and practice: Valerie Hegarty

For the last five years, Valerie Hegarty has been creating works in order to trash them - meticulously crafted replicas of iconic American paintings and period furnishings are warped, shredded, burnt or otherwise defaced in a quest for new and unexpected narratives.

The crevasse running through a landscape of a canyon (left), is an apt visual pun as well as a reminder of nature's destructive potential.

Other pieces hint at human brutality; works originally intended to promote patriotic reflection are charred or bullet-riddled, forced to bear the weight of alternative American histories.

This fascinatingly literal deconstruction of 18th and 19th century imagery is made possible - and relevant - given its inherent reluctance to confront, much less depict, disturbing social realities. However, more recent pieces featuring 20th century artists such as Rothko are on far shakier discursive ground, feeling more like attention-seeking gesture than a coherent re-evaluation of context.

New York art now: Valerie Hegarty
images © Valerie Hegarty
 

Graham Anderson

Graham Anderson

Born in 1981, Graham Anderson's early painting was preoccupied with visual dichotomies, usually achieved through the pairing of flat, motif-like imagery with more resolved areas of paint, or thickly textured, barely identifiable objects alongside delicate brushwork.

Recently, this interest has developed into a playful manipulation of genre and form in which his work is made to perform simultaneous roles.

The apparently pure abstraction of Untitled, 2008 (below, left), is, in fact, a pared down rendering of a cartoon cat, its pricked up pink ears the most easily discernible of the disembodied characteristics.

The cat in question makes further appearances in other works, a leitmotif through which to explore disjunctures between the abstract and the figurative, surface and illusion, testing our assumptions regarding painterly style and purpose.

Graham Anderson, New York painting
images © Graham Anderson
 

Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung

New York artists: Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung

Politically motivated art doesn't often equate with fun, but Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung's ribald, Pythonesque animations provide silly-though-serious comedy aplenty.

Converting imagery scavenged from the internet into hyper-coloured animation, Tin-Kin Hung's frenetic short movies provide bizarre satirical twists on factual or semi-fictional relationships between familiar political figures, corporations, and mass media.

In G.O.D. We Trust (2009) risks irking just about every religious group anywhere by casting President Obama as deities ranging from Jesus Christ to Mohammad, Krishna and Buddha. (G.O.D is a stand-in for 'Global Obama Domination', and the movie nominally examines the global and domestic challenges facing the Obama administration).

Wilder still was Residential Erection, Tin-Kin Hung's take on the 2008 US Presidential race featuring a multi-headed Hillary Clinton, Obama suckling the breast of a deific Oprah Winfrey, and John McCain as cheerleader. All get off relatively lightly compared to Condoleeza Rice, who emerges from Karl Rove's butt as a turd, ascends to the heavens and gives birth to a world-destroying bomb.

Of course, highly specifc satires like the above suffer from short shelf-life, but Tin-Kin Hung's treatments of other issues remain intensely current.

Gas Zappers, for example, is an animated online game in which the polar bear hero finds itself urgently needing to save its home due to global warming.

Along with various celebrity companions, the bear proceeds to battle waves before they flood Venice, race Hummers on a bicycle, and confront various other ecologically unsound enemies with the aid of renewable energy defences.

Here, as in his other works, Tin-Kin Hung sets out to challenge and illuminate through fun-filled, though pointed, satire.

images © Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung
 

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