The Uncomfortable Art of Seongmin Yoo

Seongmin Yoo, “It’s a New World,” 2021, 30 x 40 inches, collage on canvas

In Seongmin Yoo’s collage the artist makes an appearance in the form of a fragmentary self-portrait. She is sleeping—perhaps dreaming the scene—in a weird spotted egg that opens to a broadly brushed landscape. Then again, maybe the “egg” is actually a head that just fell off the bizarre pink frog-lady who is in turn overseen by a spotted green male.

Adding to the dreamlike strangeness of the scene is a pink mylar balloon, a shining orb that hovers innocently over the potential violence of the scenario. According to Seongmin, the…


at the Stanek Gallery, Philadelphia

Martin Campos painting “Montana”
Martin Campos, “Montana,” 2020, oil on canvas, 36 x 36 inches

In Martin Campos’ painting fragmentary figures overlap and coalesce into an environment conjured from paint. Both engaging and frustrating the image seems provisional, suspended somewhere between the artist’s conflicting urges to create and destroy. Campos apparently knows the human figure well and could render it convincingly and completely if he wished to, but that is not what interests him. Instead, Campos disrupts his figures to serve his own expressive purposes:

“I love the tension of maintaining the semblance of a recognizable image with the expressive move, where I am…


Walasse Ting: Photo by Nico Delaive

During the many hours that Debra Burchett-Lere, Excutive Director of the Sam Francis Foundation, has spent studying the Sam Francis Papers she has made some discoveries. Among them is the trove of letters that artist Walasse Ting (1929–2010) sent to Sam during their long friendship. Realizing that this correspondence was special, Debra suggested to me in 2016 that I should spend some time at the Getty Research Institute looking them over. …


A review of at Pamela Walsh Gallery in Palo Alto, California.

Nathan Oliveira, “Imi #3,” 1989, watercolor, 19 x 23 inches

“We had a joke at Yaddo,” recalls artist Imi Hwangbo, “that you don’t want to go to studio and find a note from the muse: ” Hwangbo, now a professor at the Lamar Dodd School of Art in Athens, Georgia, knows from personal experience how crucial the presence of a muse in an artist’s studio can be. In 1989, while a graduate student in sculpture at Stanford University, Hwangbo served as model and muse for Nathan Oliveira (1928–2010) a versatile artist…


The headstone of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat
The grave of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, The Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

June 26, 2020

Dear Jean-Michel,

Sorry to disturb your rest. Although your work offers instructions on how to repel ghosts, I am seeking yours out to provide some news and updates.

Since you left this world in 1988 there have been some developments that I think you would want to know about. I’m not sure if you are in Heaven or Hell—your life had its transgressions—but in either event I hope this reaches you wherever you are in eternity.

First, the good news. Earlier this year one of your paintings sold for more than $100 million dollars in a private…


at the Stanek Gallery, Philadelphia

“The Connoisseur” by Norman Rockwell: cover of the January 13, 1962 Saturday Evening Post

Can you remember the days when abstract art was widely misunderstood, ridiculed, and even feared by most Americans? I can.

While visiting a museum in college I once watched an irate mother drag her kids away from a Robert Motherwell painting, shrieking: “Get away from that piece of garbage!” And who hasn’t attended a gallery opening at which some self-proclaimed expert stationed himself/herself in front of a brushy abstraction, drink in hand, declaring: “My kid could do that!”

Yes, for decades after Life Magazine called Jackson Pollock “Jack the Dripper,” abstract…


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Hunter S. Thompson

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If you want to freak out painter Scott Jones, here is what you need to do. Just wait for Scott in front of one of his canvases at an opening — sipping chardonnay or craft beer or whatever — and when heads your way just ask him: “Can you tell me more about this piece of yours?” You may find yourself waiting through an inordinately long pause and a noticeable bit of fidgeting with the label on his beer. What he’s doing…


After “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe” (The Luncheon on the Grass) by Manet

Brenda Goodman, “Unfinished Memory,” 40" x 48" oil on wood, 2019
Brenda Goodman, “Unfinished Memory,” 40" x 48" oil on wood, 2019

Brenda Goodman’s new show in Los Angeles is really two shows. The central space of The Landing Gallery—where the artist, her partner Linda Dunne and art dealer Gerard O’Brien chatted at a table left from opening night while I viewed Goodman’s paintings—holds the core of the exhibition. There is a selection of large oil on wood abstractions from 2019 interspersed with some recent small and medium-sized pieces. If I had seen only the fresh and ambitious works presented in this vaulted space, I would have left the gallery moved and impressed.


Trump/banana meme
Digital meme based on Jon McNaughton’s 2019 “The Masterpiece” combined with Maurizio Cattellan’s Banana

You likely already know the full story of the Art Basel banana by now. Kudos is sadly due to trickster Maurizio Cattelan for creating an attention getting Instagrammable metaphor/meme that raked in a nice pile of cash. Good job telling us that everything is a sham while still profiting from the rigged system Maurizio!

Cattelan’s $120k banana reinforces an honest art student’s worst fear; that the market and social millieu that he/she wants to enter is too rotten to even make muffins with. Then again, only the idealistic ones see it that way. …

John Seed

John Seed is the author of “Disrupted Realism.” He has written for the HuffingtonPost, Hyperallergic, Arts of Asia & other fine publications. johnseed@gmail.com

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