KATSU and Caroline Larsen

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July 31 – September 1, 2018

359 Canal Street, NYC

The Hole is proud to announce a solo exhibition of paintings by Caroline Larsen in an off-site location. Part of ONCANAL a major art initiative of 20+ storefronts on Canal Street in New York, this exhibition was specially designed to transform an old empty shop at the corner of Wooster and Canal. Transforming the slatboard retail walls into a flower-festooned installation, Caroline exhibits ceramic vases full of flowers and thick oil paintings on the fake flower covered walls. In oil paintings that experiment with icing-thick and even woven paint application, she explores flowers and plants, car crashes and mountain ranges as her subjects.

Dispensing paint through a pastry tube with varying nibs, Larsen is able to line, layer and weave colors together, sometimes blending them within the same extrusion. This technique can produce a variety of effects, from 8-bitish pointillism in the weaves to a sort of jewel-like sculptural relief in the plants. Two new pieces feature electric bouquets jammed into psychedelic backgrounds; an overabundance of color, form, texture.

In fact all her works are extremely dense, the car crashes an impermeable thicket of paint, the floral works an airtight jungle. The succulents and fruits share the waxy impermeable exteriors of their referents in real life, the car fires understandably unapproachable. But perhaps it is their very tactility that makes them so enticing: it is hard to see thick oil paint and not want to eat it, or is that just me? It’s hard to smell thick oil paintings and not be jazzed, this is the material we painters love, and lots of it!

Their craftiness and kitchiness adds a layer of complication; the technique feels so lovingly homespun, so why did the artist spin a scene of fiery destruction for us? Is a car fire to be equated somehow with a floral bouquet? Over-articulated edges and hypersaturated colors make the paintings of flowers hectic, psychedelic. The mountains are so crazy colored they look on fire with sunset, a postcard injected with saccharine, is that beautiful or beautified? As with the exhibition by KATSU of drone flowers next door, the viewer is asked to question their own notions of beauty and fabrication, real flowers and fake.

Caroline Larsen was born in Canada and studied at the University of Waterloo there, the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and got her MFA with honors at Pratt in 2015. She has exhibited widely in Canada with solo exhibitions at General Hardware, Greece at Dio Horia, Tel Aviv and recently a solo show of fruits and foliage at Wave Hill Public Gardens in the Bronx. Many people encountered her work in the 2016 Spring Break Art Show while I saw it first in the house of painter Anders Oinonen and Suzy Oliveira in Toronto.


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July 31 – September 1, 2018

361 Canal Street, NYC

The Hole is proud to announce a second solo exhibition of drone flowers by new media artist KATSU. Behind this nom de guerre the artist has written a lot of illegal graffiti and shared a lot of subversive computer work; this is his second exhibition of these drone flower works under the name. With “Memory Foam” his last solo show at The Hole January 2018, he continued themes introduced in his 2015 show “Remember the Future” about technology’s promise and its sad compromise. Using drone paintings, wallpaper, AI criminal portraits and a VR piece, KATSU looked deeper at how machine learning is outstripping emotional intelligence.

Debuted in January and remixed here with new video, these “drone flowers” are paintings made by a drone carrying a can of spray paint. KATSU pioneered this technique and featured its use in the 2015 show; here the drone has been programmed to autonomously execute repeated marks on each of the 200+ paintings, whereas previously the flight and spray was controlled by the artist’s hand remotely. As with his 2015 smiley face drone paintings, he chose flowers as a nod to the hippie culture that is an often-overlooked aspect of Silicon Valley tech culture.

In the artist’s words: “There’s a relationship to tulip mania [famous Dutch tulip market crash in the 1600s] and crypto currency, but the flowers are primarily about being ‘below the API’ and our automated future. These paintings are post-human works; they discuss authorship and the removal of humankind from the equation of life.”

This innovation of having the drone spray a preprogrammed protocol is a big step forward; however, in a new video being released here KATSU demonstrates that not only has he managed a simple flower, he can now program the drone to spray perfectly on a wall any drawing or text he can invent. Here the drone draws for us a beautiful sketch of Donald Trump getting fucked in the head. The second video in this exhibition is also new and shows some of his machine drawing programs; he executes his signature KATSU tag in a 3D expanding arrangement.

KATSU is a new media artist who graduated from Parsons and works in Brooklyn. He has had a major impact in the graffiti and hacker communities in the past decade, blending technology with artistic impulses and humour. His work has been featured in group shows at Fondation Cartier in Paris, and Eyebeam in Brooklyn, NY, as well as in media outlets Wired, Artnet, VICE and CNN.

Email raymond@theholenyc.com for more information.