Nothing pulls you into a gallery like a six-foot chicken giving you the side eye, nor keeps you in front of a work longer than giving you something to do, even if it’s just reading text. With these two strategies Karl Haendel introduces Masses and Mainstream, not with a curatorial hang that pulls you into the center of a space and lets you wander, but by arresting the viewer at the entrance. There is a compulsion to use the works there as a lens through which to see and interpret the rest of the exhibition. How Do I Sell More Art pairs with Chicken within direct line of sight from the door and the two are impossible to ignore, melding into a single piece: A framed text piece operates like a word-bubble in such close proximity to the terrifying and terrified giant chicken, in graphite on cut paper stuck to the wall from the floor up.
Born in New York in 1976, Karl Haendel currently lives and works in Los Angeles. He is known for creating meticulous, photorealistic pencil drawings, most of which are based on appropriated photographs. Haendel often works on a large scale, removing the images from their original context and playing with our relationship to familiar images, signs and signifiers.
Haendel’s work is in public collections in the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Guggenheim Museum, New York.
This will be the gallery’s second exhibition of these artists and the first time the two will be exhibited together. The exhibition showcases the relation between the works of the artists which are based on the process of making drawings.
Since the rise of appropriation in American art of the 1980s, the strategy has become so commonplace as to evade continued examination as a unique vein of artistic practice. At the same time, recurrent intellectual property battles around appropriative gestures in contemporary art have threatened its viability, giving rise to College Art Association’s important report published in February 2015, the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts. This three-part essay on the work of Karl Haendel, an LA-based artist best known for his arrangements of meticulously rendered drawings of found photographic imagery, connects three moments in his early career related to issues of artistic and cultural heritage and power. The first two episodes directly involve knights. Taking Haendel’s work as a point of departure and considering the digital turn, the essay as a whole examines how the operations, effects, and reception of appropriation have changed in recent decades and discovers what may be the strategy’s longest-lasting politics of signification. “Episode One” considered Haendel’s early project of reconstructing works by the minimalist sculptor Anne Truitt, including Knight’s Heritage (1963). This second text examines Haendel’s confrontation with another artist of an older generation, the early postmodernist Robert Longo.
Karl Haendel’s exhibition posits the practice of yoga as an alternative to accelerationism. Citing the anxiety around self-optimization, Haendel presents lifestyle- and body-enhancement products marketed to reinforce the need for self-betterment to question the ways these objects aid or inhibit our sense of self-worth and identity.
Since the rise of appropriation in American art of the 1980s, the strategy has become so commonplace as to evade continued examination as a unique vein of artistic practice. At the same time, recurrent intellectual property battles around appropriative gestures in contemporary art have threatened its viability, giving rise to CAA’s important report published in February 2015, the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts. This three-part essay on the work of Karl Haendel, an LA-based artist best known for his arrangements of meticulously rendered drawings of found photographic imagery, connects three moments in his early career related to issues of artistic and cultural heritage and power. The first two episodes directly involve knights. Taking Haendel’s work as a point of departure and considering the digital turn, the essay examines how the operations, effects, and reception of appropriation have changed in recent decades and discovers what may be the strategy’s longest-lasting politics of signification.
Los Angeles-based artist Karl Haendel, born in 1976, is part of
a generational cohort that breathed new life into 1980s appropriationist
strategies in various mediums. His Photo-Realist
draftsmanship recalls the technique of fellow Californian Andrea
Bowers, while his eye-catching installations evince a showmanship
shared by artists like Kelley Walker. Unlike Bowers, however,
whose labor-intensive drawings pay faithful homage to her source
images (of political protest and leftist movements), Haendel
portrays a more ambivalent attitude toward his hand-drawn reproductions
of mass-media and personal images. “Organic Bedfellow,
Feral Othello,” Haendel’s first solo show at Mitchell-Innes &
Nash, focused on human resistance to “devolution,” per the press
materials. But the works on their own evoked a richer set of
associations toward Haendel’s subjects—modernism, intimacy and
technology—than the exhibition’s rhetorical and visual scaffolding
Looking at images in Karl Haendel's exhibition Weeks in Wet Sheets, one might imagine stepping into a virtual space -- give the basic shapes cut out of cardboard that fill up the walls, the works' bright monochrome backgrounds and, not least, the impressive definition of Haendel's large-scale, photo-realist black-and-white pencil drawings-- but it's not like that. In reality you feel cardboard crumpling underneath your feet, see uneven pencil hatching within the works and notice cut edges of paper. The installtion is still awe-inspiring in its immersiveness, but while producing disjunctions between varying economies of speed, value and attention.
The exhibit, Organic Bedfellow, Feral Othello, features the photorealistic graphic drawings of Los Angeles-based artist Karl Haendel. But the show is as much about the art as it is about the immersive installation space. Black-and-white checked patterns bisect the gallery floor and the artist's still-life drawings of primates balancing on geometric stacks and couples contorting in yoga poses are propped on polygonal stands with hand-drawn QR codes. The codes link to YouTube videos that chronicle suchs physical transformation as weight-loss journey or gender transition. The exhibit is on show at Mitchell-Innes & Nash's Chelsea gallery until Dec. 5.
Is our evolution our devolution? Or better yet – is our devolution our evolution? According to Karl Haendel, it’s both these things, as we can witness too by exploring his latest exhibition entitled Organic Bedfellow, Feral Othello, to be hosted by New York’s Mitchell-Innes & Nash. Through large, masterfully executed drawings set within a monochromatic installation, the Los Angeles-based artist takes humanity back to its roots, in order to better understand its development through time, keeping in touch with the present at the same time.
Unpacking the exhibition's title gives clues to deeper meanings. Without the "un" there are boxes, bends, cocks and wind. The use of "un" features letters of the same shape, bent in opposite directions, signs for the yin/yang, push/pull--dialectal relationships within the exhibition. Haendel creates a narrative that weaves through the disparate groupings and can be read in any sequence. While the exact nature of the narrative remains ambiguous, it is sifted through the lens of astrology, yoga poses and the interconnectedness of mind and body. The result is an evocative and challenging installation, comprised of individual elements whose meaning when seen in relation to each other is simultaneously finite and open-ended.
Karl Haendel engages the long process of language building. His exacting drawings are the idioms that he deploys to assemble his syntactical, room-filling installations and architectural display conceits. The result is a gathering of hand-drawn images that when selectively juxtaposed with each other form a visual analogy that is similar to literary enterprises. For example, clusters of varied graphite-wrought images suggest humorous self-deprecating free verse or complex prose punctuated with neologisms, metaphors and popular signs. More simply, Haendel uses his drawings as words and punctuation, referring to each drawing in his visual vocabulary as a 'concept/image/word'.
A recent exhibition at Susanne Vielmetter, through a narror corridor flanked by two identical portraits of J.Edgar Hoover. Between the Hoovers (whose heads have been erased) is a spare wooden tabletop furnished with four copies of a small black book called Shame, a compilation of anonymous confessions culled from Internet chat-boards. Ranging in subject matter from pedophilia to rape fantasies to suicide plans, Shame reads as an oddly meditative expose. Installed throughout are the large-scale graphite works on paper for which Haendel is best known. Presently scenarios such as American football players on the Monday- night field and giant military jackets, Haendel's delicate and studied brand of photorealism combines the precision of a Robert Bechtel with the mystery of a Vija Celmins.
Criticism, as they say, is autobiography, and I can freely admit that I may Karl Haendel’s soon-to-close show at Harris Lieberman moving because I'm close to the demographic it addresses. The video installation is about men in their 30s; I'm 32. Haendel, for his part, was born in 1976, and "Questions for My Father," as the work is called, feels personal, a kind of oblique interrogation of what that particular moment in one's life means and feels like.
"Questions for My Father" evolved from a series of large graphite word-drawings of the same title that Mr. Haendel, working in an anonymous commercial-art style, directed at his own father. Here he extends the fromula to friends with questions of their own, creating a kind of abstract documentary that expands in the viewer's mind. The work continues the resonating image-caption hybrid introduced by Conceptual Art.
The Lever House is a glass box, and glass boxes don't really do very well with two-dimensional art. There's an obvious reason: no walls to hang work on. Other artists who have had exhibitions here have build walls at predicable locations inside the lobby, but I thought that that would feel too stale and normallized. I wanted the space to activate my work, but I also had to keep in mind that these are drawings; the medium itself has conditions that must be met.
Karl Haendel makes monochromatic graphic drawings and istallations based on preexisting photographic images from family albums, front-page political news, and rock iconography. He renders his ghostly, meticulously crafted graphite drawings with radical shifts in scale and then installs them salon-style so that they constantly refer to one another.
Private thoughts and public images are rendered starkly in black and white in Karl Haendel's first New York solo appearance. Three photographs and forty-six labor-intensive, mostly large-scale drawings, depicting everything from Kenneth Noland-esque concentric circles to headlines clipped from the New York Times to iconic photojournalistic images, were arrayed around the gallery walls in a way that verged at times on the ludic (as with one work consisting of the repeated phrase BUSH, PLEASE BUY RUBBERS) and at times on the melancholy (as with elegiac renderings of moments from Haendel's '70s childhood) but that, due to the artist's pixel-perfect style, felt wryly restrained. Indeed, the works evinced a staggering fidelity to their source images, which the artist, with the help of assistants, often uses projections to produce.
In his first New York solo, the young Los Angeles artist Karl Haendel makes good on his promising group show appearances. He gives free rein to his keen understanding of graphic power, visual scale and the play between mechanical and handmade reproduction. He also makes clear how public and private experiences are inseparable.