Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Review of Unsolicited in the Philadelphia Inquirer

Galleries: 'Outside of Time,' beautifully and mysteriously

November 25, 2012|By Edith Newhall, For The Inquirer

Not that Artforum magazine ever needed help with its design, but Francesca Pastine, a San Francisco artist who is having her first solo exhibition here, has made it even more visually absorbing by cutting shapes into issues of the famously thick and square glossy with an X-acto blade - an act she considers a kind of unsolicited collaboration with the magazine and the cover artists (Bridget Riley, Kara Walker, Glenn Ligon, and others). Pastine cuts at an angle, leaving the edges of pages, and any number of fleeting art-world trends, temptingly exposed. 

Francesca Pastine's "Artforum 45, Unsolicited Collaboration with Trisha Brown, Pour Series" (2012), at Pentimenti.
Francesca Pastine, Artforum 45, Pour Series, 2012


Pentimenti Gallery, 145 N. 2d St., 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays. or 215-625-9990. Through Dec. 15.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Here is another review in City Paper of my show Unsolicited:


We check out the opulent “This is Elsewhere” at Pentimenti Gallery.

...[w]hile not exactly landscape, Tileston’s work undeniably has a spatial, topographic element, and Christine Pfister, who runs Pentimenti, has cleverly paired it with a sister show — “Unsolicited,” Francesca Pastine’s X-Acto dissections of contemporary-art periodical Artforum
Artforum, if you’re not familiar, is kind of like the art-world Vogue, in that its editorial pages of writing and photo spreads are at least matched in number by tons of gorgeous, luxe-y advertisements in brilliant colors. Pastine’s “excavations” take advantage of the magazine’s square format and high-production-value colors: She fans out pages beyond the glossy’s border and razors away some colored layers of pages to reveal others underneath. The thick, cut-paper layers, stacked into topographic masses, are a clear complement to Tileston’s paintings. 
Pastine’s cutaways interact with the magazines’ cover images, which the artist considers a “unsolicited collaboration” between herself, the magazine and the artist featured on the cover. Unlike the found-book interventions of Ishmael Randall Weeks, these works don’t feel like a meditation on geography, architecture, colonization or political space. Rather, Pastine’s altered magazines feel like a fun diorama/valentine to the art world — an externally localized topographic fun-fair that pairs well with Tileston’s introverted universes. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


First Friday focus

City Paper's First Friday Hitlist

Francesca Pastine destroys icons beautifully.
Since 2008, she’s been slicing and dicing her friends’ ARTFORUM magazines with an X-Acto knife.
“I was intrigued by their square format, particularly when the bloated art market was reflected in their one-inch thickness,” she says in an artist’s statement. “Starting with the covers, I cut, bend, manipulate, pull and dig my way through them, revealing a visceral topography of art trends.”
Her exhibit “Unsolicited” features seven ARTFORUM dissections, made of screws, wood and Plexiglas. 
Like any good provocateur, Pastine seems to respect her subject even as she pokes fun at it. She even talks about her artwork like it’s a partnership of sorts — an “unsolicited collaboration with the magazine and the cover artist.” Through Dec. 15, opening Fri., Nov. 2, 6 p.m., 145 N. Second St., 215-625-9990,

Monday, November 12, 2012



Dissections and Excavations in Book Art


May 23 – July 6, 2013

Rebound: Dissections and Excavations in Book Art brings together the work of five mixed media artists from around the world who sculpt, scrape, bend and carve to create astonishing compositions using books as a point of departure. Curated by Karen Ann Myers, Assistant Director of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, this exhibition features works by Brian Dettmer (Atlanta), Long-Bin Chen (Taiwanese, now living in New York), Guy Laramee (Montreal), Francesa Pastine (San Francisco), and Doug Beube (New York). Each of these artists transforms various types of literature and/or printed “books” through sculptural intervention. Despite the individualistic and exclusive perspective of each artist, they have remarkable connections in the themes and ideas they respectively mourn and celebrate.
For generations, our society has been lamenting the loss of natural beauty and the earth’s resources to the rising tide of industrial and technological “progress” towards greater efficiency and luxury. With this progression of technology, the relevance of physical books in our culture is diminishing. The tangible, permanent information presented in books is quickly being replaced with digital media and the Internet, which exemplify fluidity and constant change. Books as a vessel for accessible and easily communicated knowledge have become somewhat antiquated. In our ever-evolving digital present, we see a variety of once cherished technologies losing their importance and luster at an increasingly rapid rate.
From the confusion and sense of loss that emerge out of this condition, these artists have created their own responses. Some, like Laramee and Chen, directly address the parallel between the disappearance of natural spaces and books as an outdated mode of expression; carving landscapes from the pages and bindings. Deep crevasses, hidden caves, and awe-inspiring phenomena and landscapes emerge from chiseled pages. Alternately, some artists, like Pastine and Dettmer, seek to bring the books into the future, by digitizing or technologizing them. Here, images are created that are reminiscent of topographical or weather maps, readings from seismographs, or cross-sections of the “bodies” of the books. These works are treated as surgeries or dissections, as scalpels and needles are used to carve away the books’ exteriors.
Brian Dettmer’s precise excavation of books page by page focuses on taking something that already exists and exposing alternate histories and memories, which reveal new relationships. Long-Bin Chen combines the cultures of the East and West through the mixture of sculpture and literature. Through this, we are prompted to examine the eternal vexation of communication and the social relationship we have with books. Guy Laramee’s work plays heavily on the idea of erosion in that knowledge could very well be an erosive process rather than an accumulation. In that light, he brings up the human fascination with the content of consciousness. In turn, he examines not “what” we think about, but “that” we think. Through the glossy publication Art Forum, Francesca Pastine reveals the visceral topography of art trends through an unsolicited collaboration with the magazine and the cover artist. Doug Beube explores the book itself, a seemingly antiquated technology that is still purposeful in a digital age. He accepts its limited capacity as its personality flaw, but moreover its elegance.
In the face of unsettling changes, these artists appeal to a sense of monumentality in their work. The references to nature, religion, science or cultural complexity allude to the idea that only concepts of the greatest importance stand the test of time. Despite the emphasis on the precariousness of human invention, these works do not display a completely bleak outlook on society’s changes. The variety of color, form and openness of composition among the works also celebrate the ingenuity of creating something new from something old. The artworks simultaneously celebrate and forewarn the viewers of the fine line between monuments and ruins.


Pentimenti Gallery in Old City has double the visual intensity throughout the month of November. On display right now is a two-person show by artists Francesca Pastine and Jackie Tileston that plays with colorful, fluid forms in both abstract painted manifestations and appropriated constructions made from physical art publications themselves.
Unsolicited Collaboration
Francesca Pastine, “Unsolicited Collaboration with Kara Walker, Artforum Excavation Series.”
Works by Pastine are immediately intriguing in that they are all (dis)assembled from used magazines. The artist utilizes X-acto knives to slice and reshape the recognizable objects of print publication from boxy pages to organic, dripping swaths of patterns. At a time when print is quickly fading into the background in favor of web-based publishing, these melting magazines make for an apt metaphor surrounding their own obsolescence. Furthermore, these books are not just any discarded Newsweek that Pastine found in her local dentist’s waiting room, they are her friend’s unwanted copies of Artforum. Morphing the very stuff of contemporary art and placing it squarely in a gallery is not just a nudge at paper production, but at the art world itself.
Artforum 45
Francesca Pastine, “Artforum 45.”
Cut paper allows for the inclusion of actual depth into these montages. The structures are more relief sculpture than collage, but they tug at the coattails of two-dimensional art as well, seeing as they are literally composed of flat images. Pastine plays with this element quite a bit, digging warped, rectangular pits into the cover of Artforum or layering the pages into bookmark-like blobs that peek out from inside the books. Particularly stunning is Pastine’s “Artforum 45,” which shows a group of white-clad bodies seemingly falling onto one of her contoured pools of color. The key word here is onto, and not into. The fact that the people rest atop the form instead of sink into it references its existence as a solid object and not just an amorphous puddle.