Episode 541: Peter Wachtler

March 5, 2016 · Print This Article

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This week Dana Bassett and Duncan MacKenzie catch up with Peter Wachtler at Chicago’s Renaissance Society just after their 100th anniversary.

We “borrowed” this from Art Space which “borrowed” it from the Liverpool Biennial… probably it is updated on the Renassance Society website.


Born: 1979
Hometown: Hanover, Germany

Lives and Works: Brussels, Belgium and Berlin, Germany

Education: Fine Art Studies, Bauhaus-University Weimar with Prof. Fritz Rahmann, 2004
Kent Institute of Art and Design, Canterbury / England

While it might seem foreign or unfamiliar, underwater life, bourgeois domesticity, or the world of Peter Wächtler’s animated cartoons are simply habitats, each one coming with a set of behaviors, life-forms, movements, objects, images, and relationships. What is a disaster in one is a miracle in another and nothing more than routine in another. Dislocating them or mixing them together short-circuits their logic. To a butler—like the character that so frequently appears in Wächtler’s work—acts of intimacy, hospitality, corruption, lust, kindness, desperation, generosity, jealousy, hypocrisy, or delinquency are all the same in the end—it’s all just administration. Or,in an animated cartoon, deadpan humor can be laced with depression and pathos, and used to tell stories of heart-broken rats or hobos.
Peter Wächtler’s recent solo exhibitions include dépendance, Brussels, Kunstverein Hildesheim, Ludlow 38, New York, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Galerie Lars Friedrich, Berlin, Etablissement d’en Face, Brussels. His work has been included in group exhibitions atLyon Biennale, Wiels Centre d’Art Contemporain, Brussels, Witte de With, and Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam.
Courtesy of Liverpool Biennial

The Ren posted the audio of his reading here…

Also this episode has a strange easter egg.


Peter Wa?chtler, IV, 2016 Bronze;471/2×181/2×131/4in
Courtesy of the artist and Lars Friedrich, Berlin Photo: Tom Van Eynde


Peter Wa?chtler, Laundry 4, 2016
Watercolor and pencil on paper; 72 x 108 1/2 inches Courtesy of the artist and Lars Friedrich, Berlin Photo: Tom Van Eynde


Peter Wa?chtler, Secrets of a Trumpet, installation view, 2016 Courtesy of the artist and the Renaissance Society
Photo: Tom Van Eynde


Peter Wa?chtler, Teddy Boy 1 (l) and Teddy Boy 2 (r), 2016 Watercolor and pencil on plywood; 34 1/2 x 35 x 22 1/2 in each

Courtesy of the artist; Lars Friedrich, Berlin (l); and de?pendance, Brussels (r)

Photo: Tom Van Eynde

Episode 431: Takeshi Murata and Robert Beatty

December 2, 2013 · Print This Article

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This week: San Francisco checks in with a great interview. Bad at Sports contributors Brian Andrews and Patricia Maloney sat down with artist Takeshi Murata and sound designer Robert Beatty on November 9, 2013, at Ratio 3, in San Francisco, to discuss Murata’s most recent digitally animated video, OM Rider(2013). OM Rider follows two animated creatures: a wizened old man that Andrews describes as “half the Curious George Man in the Yellow Suit, half like the butler from Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and a hipster wolf, which rides a moped through a barren landscape and performs other aimless tasks. The video begins with the creature playing a synthesizer that gives the video its title. Om Rider contains Murata’s characteristic absurd humor and aesthetic, which mixes highly attuned lighting and composition with more retro modeling and minimalist, almost antiseptic spaces.

Takeshi Murata was born in 1974 in Chicago. In 1997, he graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, where he studied film, video, and animation. He currently lives and works in Saugerties, New York. Murata has exhibited at the New Museum, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Italy; Sikemma Jenkins & Co., New York; Gladstone Gallery, New York; and Salon 94, New York. Murata’s work is featured in the collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art, Athens; and The Smithsonian Museum of American Art.

FYI, AP will post an excerpted text version of this interview on Dec. 3, and the link for that conversation should be:


And here is a related review Brian wrote for his previous show: http://www.artpractical.com/review/get_your_ass_to_mars_andrews/


Episode 344: Kota Ezawa

April 2, 2012 · Print This Article

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This week: San Francisco brings another great guest to the table! Kota Ezawa, video archaeologist.

Ezawa’s work has been shown in solo exhibitions at the Hayward Gallery in London, Artpace in San Antonio, The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Murray Guy Gallery in New York and Haines Gallery in San Francisco. He participated in exhibitions at Museum of Modern Art in New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, SF MOMA, Andy Warhol Museum and Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. His animations were included in the 2005 Shanghai Biennale and will be presented in the upcoming Sao Paulo Biennial. He received a Tiffany Foundation Award in 2003 and the SECA Art Award in 2006. Ezawa is Assistant Professor of Media Arts at the California College of the Arts.


Comic Art and Fine Art: Connecting the Dots

Art Institute of ChicagoApril 12, 2012
6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Ave
Free with museum admission, students free with ID
A Panel Of Leading Comic Experts:

Neal Adams, Ivan Brunetti, Geofrey Darrow and J.J. Sedelmaier discuss the history and future of this popular and populist art form. Moderated by Richard Holland.

Presented with the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo.

Explore the connection between Comic Art and Fine Art. This mini-tour includes a $2 off coupon to the Roy Lichtenstein exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago when you show your C2E2 badge.

The Reappearance of Humans: An Interview with Steve Seeley

February 8, 2012 · Print This Article

"untitled (faker bear)," acrylic on panel, 8" x 10", 2009

This Friday, Steve Seeley’s painting show opens at Rotofugi (who not too long ago moved to Lincoln Park, so check the website for their new address if you’re unsure). Seeley’s figurative work often features the juxtaposition of human bodies and animal limbs, or heads. Sometimes alien parts make an appearance as well. He integrates old and new surfaces, incorporating the nostalgia of his childhood into a present assemblage. I grew more and more interested in something we didn’t talk about, namely the idea of the hero and how it charts through these visual, narrative landscapes. Seeley’s icons adopt the iconography of saints and superheros with all of the mystical proportions childhood bears with them. To re-erect and reexamine the Gods of childhood in effort, perhaps, to examine those ancient power structures. In Seeley’s case, they often become hybrid.

Caroline Picard: I’m really interested in the way you combine natural elements with mythical ones: for instance, the way your work often offers a kind of misty (and almost traditional-painterly) background with a vibrant superhero, or animal, alien or hybrid in the foreground. It kind of reminds me of old cartoons; in the Smurfs, for instance, you could tell the background was fixed to one surface, and moving figure(s) interacted on a clear gel over top. How did you come upon this strategy in your own work? 

"untitled (zone fighter w/ bear and bird)," acrylic on archival print, 14" x 19", 2009

Steve Seeley: The backgrounds for me are definitely an homage to animation cels. I’m a child of the 80s and I grew up on cartoons; He-man, Thundercats, Thundarr, and the like, so that sort of nostalgic animation occupies a huge section of my creative mind.  I started the “delicate matter” body of work in 2004 with the backgrounds being multi-layered and muted, almost ghost like, paintings, and at some point maybe three years ago, I transitioned to printed matter. I have always integrated things I collect into my work, I guess in a way bowing to my inner nerd. Thus the action figure-y, comic book-y and taxidermy look and feel. I also happen to collect antique chromolithographs. Mainly landscapes. So it was only natural for me to eventually  incorporate/appropriate these into the work. The process involves buying a lithograph, scanning it in, messing around with it, and printing it out to paint on. By printing them out (opposed to painting directly on the print) I can control overall scale, color, direction and halftone size. And after all the other elements are painted, I get that stark dichotomy with the digital print and the paint, given that animated feel I grew up on.

CP: Your use of the bear, the deer, and the wolf feels very iconic, somehow, especially in those places where give your figures gold-plate halos. Can you talk about how your engage the animal world? Is the ram-figure any different from superman’s figure? 

SS: Again, a great deal of my work ideas come from a nostalgia. The animals are a nod to growing up in the sticks of Wisconsin. I use animals that I used to see everyday (the deer and specific birds) as well as the animals my brothers and I feared when we played in the woods (the bear and wolves). I grew up in the super small town of Ringle which happened to be home to one of the largest wild dog packs in the state of Wisconsin. So I incorporate any number of dogs that I saw or that may have survived to be part of the wild pack (sorry chihuahua and pugs, I love ya but I you wouldn’t have made it).

As for the difference between man and animal, there isn’t a huge difference for me. In the “delicate matter” series, the story so far is that man has left earth for outer space because he becomes enamored with something he can’t comprehend, something that is entirely different from what he knows. He leaves earth on bad terms with the animals and while he is gone animals become what they were destined to be, a transformation per se, into heavy metal loving, super power using, pop culture loving creatures. When man gets to space he finds it to be less than he had hoped, and he tries to come back but the animals refuse. So man is stuck in space while animals take he’s place back on earth, essentially filling his old shoes, and becoming the new “man.”

There were a few years when I only painted animals (except in the “segue” paintings) but currently man has started to reappear. But only under the guise of a superhero since generally that means your true identity is hidden. Oh yeah and celebrities have always remained on earth, which is why the animals often chill with Miley Cyrus and let Sasha Grey ride around on their backs.

"untitled (saint bear with birds)," acrylic on and gold leaf on paper, 14" x 18", 2010

CP: At the same time, your figures are basically anatomically correct, and feature studied detail. Then of course there are places and points where you interrupt our expectations, creating a hole inside a bear’s chest for instance. Or giving a human torso a wolf head: how do these interruptions come about?

SS: The holes (along with the halos) are meant to lightly symbolize a religion, rather literally. The holes become an extreme stigmata of sorts. I am not necessarily a religious person but I am fascinated by what religion does to societies. It causes rifts and causes people to take sides, which can result in conflict… which is something for years I didn’t have in my paintings. Everything and everyone peacefully coexisted. It was thru adding the religious aspect that I was able to split the world I had created.

The head swapping was a way for me to even more-so humanize the animals. Initially all the human body, animal headed figures in my paintings were referred to as “saints”, figures that were idolized by the other animals and which usually also adorned halos. But once Saint Sasha Grey and Saint Cringer (from He-man) got introduced, I began to play with the animal headed figures as not only religious icons but also celebrity icons. For my upcoming show at Rotofugi there are 25 animal/alien/monster headed human figures all imagined as boxers or wrestlers.  My intention is to make them a whole new breed of celebrity within the world they exist, at the same time causing additional rifts. Sport is such an easy way for people (or animals in this case) to turn on one another and choose sides.

see more of Seeley’s work by going here.

"untitled (batman with dog)" acrylic and pencil on paper, 7" x 9", 2010

Oscar Award Winning Full Length Film “Logorama” Online

May 24, 2010 · Print This Article

As soon as Logorama won the 2010 Academy Award for Best Short Film, Animated multiple attempts were made to publicize it online in it’s entirety. Each one was quickly brought down with DMCA requests in short order. Now it seems either enough time has passed and no one cares or composer Marc Altshuler has clearance where others didnt but for the time being Logorama is availiable online in it’s full 16 minute length on his Vimeo account, so enjoy.

If you haven’t heard of Logorama it is basically the film Quentin Tarantino & Roland Emmerich would co-direct in the nightmares of a Trademark Attorney. A crude, violent, self aware, disaster  film that relishes using any and every Corporate Brand possible to make farce. Enjoy while it lasts.

In Mini News: The 2010 Turner Prize short list has been announced almost all of the artists nominated who are suposed to be “promoting public discussion of new developments in contemporary British art” are oddly just a few years shy of the 49 year old age cutoff? Weird choices this year it seems. Time to start the Culture World’s Office Pools.