Sundaram Tagore Hong Kong launches the fall season with a joint exhibition by Israeli-American painter and sculptor Nathan Slate Joseph and American sound installation artist Taylor Kuffner. Joseph is noted for his large, beautifully colored dimensional steel paintings; Kuffner creates original musical compositions using Balinese gamelans and robotic technology. This is his first exhibition in Hong Kong.
NATHAN SLATE JOSEPH, who has been an integral part of the New York School of Art for more than forty years, blurs the boundaries between painting and sculpture. Well known for his raw, tactile works that allude to issues of globalization, immigration and climate change, Joseph welds recycled steel plates into intricate, dimensional arrangements.
Joseph begins his creative process by collecting discarded steel shards. After staining them with raw pigment and acid, he exposes them to outside weather conditions. In the process, the steel acquires a unique, rich patina and varied textures. Joseph then cuts the steel plates into various shapes with an acetylene torch and then spot-welds them together.
The rich, saturated colors of Joseph’s work reference his international roots. Born in Israel to an Austrian father and a mother whose family originated in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, he settled in New York City in the early 1960s. Much like contemporaries Frank Stella, Carl Andre and John Chamberlain, Joseph began his career by experimenting with scrap metal and other found objects. A shift toward his dramatic color palette was inspired by a visit to Mexico in the 1970s and consolidated Joseph’s contribution to the junk art movement.
Nathan Slate Joseph has collaborated with the renowned architect Adam Tihany on multiple projects, and his work is installed at Jean Georges at the Trump International Hotel, New York; Inagiku at the Waldorf-Astoria, New York; and the Dan Eilat Hotel, Eilat, Israel. He was awarded an Art in Architecture Award from the American Institute of Architects in 2003 for his work on the Harlem Patchwork Building. Notable private collectors include artist John Chamberlain, singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, and chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. His paintings have been acquired by the Art in Embassies Program, Washington, DC, for United States embassies in Cyprus, Mexico and Turkey. His work was most recently acquired by the Zimmerli Museum in New Jersey.
TAYLOR KUFFNER studied ancient Balinese music while living in Indonesia. He creates site-specific installations comprising an orchestra of handcrafted percussion instruments derived from the traditional Balinese gamelan with robotic technology. Kuffner, who is deeply immersed in Balinese culture, both preserves and reinterprets traditional gamelan music.
Each installation and musical composition Kuffner creates is unique and largely determined by the layout of the site. Prior to designing an installation or writing any music, Kuffner studies the location and immerses himself in the physical space. Often for several hours at a time, and with a gong in his hands, he takes into consideration the way the sound travels through the space and how it reverberates from different angles and directions.
The organic quality of Kuffner’s sound installations is a reflection of his approach to his artistic practice. On a visit to Indonesia, Kuffner decided to enroll at the Institut Seni Indonesia Yogyakarta and ended up settling in the village of Sewon, Bantul. There he embraced the tradition of both the gamelan and village life. After returning to the United States he was granted an artist-in-residency with the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots in Brooklyn where he developed the concept of merging robotic technology and Balinese percussion instruments.
Kuffner’s works have been installed worldwide, including two recent exhibitions in New York City curated by Alanna Heiss, former director of the renowned P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center. He has received grants and sponsorship from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and The Trust for Mutual Understanding, New York; the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Baltimore, Maryland; and the Indonesian Foreign Ministry.