Sunday, April 13, 2008

Alison Watt - Phantom

ART London

Alison Watt: Phantom
The Sunley Room at the National Gallery
Trafalgar Square
12 March - 22 June 2008
Admission free.

by Sarah Pasetto

The National Gallery is always bustling with visitors, especially as a Saturday afternoon approaches closing time. The tourists and art lovers hurry from painting to painting, seeking to soak in every last “must-see”, every last detail before being chased out of the lofty rooms. I strode through the crowd, twisting and turning past the remaining eager viewers, past Renaissance and Baroque drama hung against blood-red damask, to enter Alison Watt’s “Phantom” exhibition. Here, the atmosphere was radically different. This was no home for loud whispers, bulky backpacks, harnessed chaos. The only noise in the show’s antechamber was hinted at, by one of the painter’s sources of inspiration: Francisco de Zurbaran’s Saint Francis, robed in rough monk’s cloth, quietly howling in mystical piety.

The exhibition displays a number of vast canvases, each depicting folds of white fabric in close-up. However, far from being clinical or aseptic, they convey a sensation of softness, as does Proserpina in her Bernini incarnation. Human presence is suggested, not only through the inevitable parallel with a slowly-tousled intimacy, but also through the interplay of cloth and negative space. The black gaps mirror parts of the human anatomy - a languidly parted mouth, a narrowed eye, a private cleft. The lighting is suffused, and the walls a cool blue-grey, making the atmosphere as rarefied as the first lights of dawn, and creating the impression that the visitor has been allowed into most intimate chambers. Ultimately, it is an irresistible aura of sensuality that emanates from the collection - overpowering precisely because it consists, like the most refined and mature form of seduction, of intriguing, tantalising, allusion.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Taverna Kyklades

Taverna Kyklades
33-07 Ditmars Blvd (between 33rd and 35th Streets)
Queen, New York
Subway: N, W to Astoria, Ditmars Blvd

by Val Bitici

As a restaurant family, the Bitici clan has an innate appreciation for all things food related: cooking, eating, 17th century Dutch still life paintings (ok, so I threw that one in there), etc. When I have plans to eat out with my dad, I know that a delightful gourmet experience awaits me. But when he calls me and tells me that he’s picking me up with his car, I know to expect an extra special treat. I particularly enjoy our epicurean expeditions outside the (too often ego-centric) island of Manhattan. For this reason I am always happy when he suggests that we go to Astoria for Greek food.

A crowd of hungry people and an intense smell of fresh food always greet me as I enter Taverna Kyklades. The charm of this bustling restaurant is not attributed to its location or décor, but instead to the straightforward and tasty dishes that are prepared in its kitchen. While quite extensive, the menu consists of simple options that are for the most part grilled. My dad always taught me that the simplest foods, such as grilled chicken, meat or fish, are the most difficult to prepare properly. Anyone can slap a chicken breast onto a grill and watch it sizzle. But only the true professionals can marinate, season and grill it to meet and even surpass the expectations of unsuspecting eaters. The grill-men at Taverna Kyklades have this art down to a science. My favorite items on the menu include the grilled sardines, grilled chicken kebab, grilled peppers, lemon potatoes, beets and tzatziki. My advice is to go with a group of friends and try them all… and then some. I promise you will not leave unsatisfied.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Found Geometries

New York

by Victor Timofeev

I started taking the long way home, walking an extra ten blocks to get to the express rather than riding the local and started paying more attention to my environment. So many amazing sights await if you just pay attention and look up. A seemingly, unprecedented barrage of new condominium construction is creating new sights, new geometries that are as exciting as they are frightening.