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Amy Sillman: Amy Sillman is a New York-based artist. Her most recent exhibition, "I am curious (yellow)," appeared at Brent Sikkema, New York, last spring.

1 VIKINGS It seems paganism, marauding, and discovering America help develop fabulous imaginations. Hans Christian Andersen did some of the earliest performance pieces I know about: Traveling throughout Scandinavia with a large pair of scissors, he cut paper while narrating his tales, unfolding intricate silhouettes of characters as he went. The early twentieth-century Swedish mystic Hilma af Klint, way ahead of the curve, painted monumental geometries, arabesques, swans, and dice, all in a trance state. And then there's the current crop of fabulously imaginative Viking painters. Swedes Sigrid Sandstrom and Mamma Andersson and Denmark-based Tal R are my favorites.

2 LEONORA CARRINGTON Wiccan freakout! A debutante-turned-staunch feminist, the surrealist painter and writer Leonora Carrington was born in England and has lived in Mexico City for the past fifty years. It's rare to see her work in the US, but Susan Aberth, an expert on the octogenarian artist, has shown me her personal stash of foreign publications. Carrington's early work features uncanny personages and equine beings in Bosch-like spaces. In newer work, crones and beasts commingle in tangled, brooding caverns, cooking up some kind of Kabbalistic magic.

3 KAYROCK SCREENPRINTING, INC. This hive of silkscreen activity is the real Williamsburg bridge--between art and rock 'n' roll. Adorable proprietors Kayrock and Wolfy have invented an ethical day job, overthrowing the status quo in art/rock design with good old DIY attitude and exacting production values. When I did a T-shirt with them last spring, they rolled each one into a neat package wrapped with an elaborate label. This is also the spawning ground for the way underground band Roxy Pain, who have been playing quiet private sets for a decade.

4 SYMBIOPSYCHOTAXIPLASM: TAKE ONE William Greaves is best known as the director of award-winning documentaries on African-American history. In 1968 he made this screwball verite film-within-a-film-about-a-film (more hilarious than anything from the Dogma gang), in which we witness the shooting of a couple's breakup scene in Central Park. Off camera, as the production itself falls apart, Greaves improvises more and more desperately, and the crew finally mutinies. Stay tuned for Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take Two; Greaves's website notes that Steve Buscemi has signed on to codirect a sequel.

5 NICOLE EISENMAN Half of the new drawing shows I've seen lately hearken back to Eisenman's mid-'90s work (where punk meets Ashcan). I'm not sure if kids are copying her or picking up her vibe through mazes of influence. Her ambient early installations ran the gamut from obscene jokes scrawled on gallery walls to WPA-size murals of quasi-official female empowerment. Now she's working in upstate New York on large oil paintings peopled with dark and comic local characters. Recently I saw her painting of four glum teenagers skulking by the local lake, frightening in its perfect conjuration of ill intent. Sometimes I think Nicole invented hoodlumism.

6 GAVIN R. RUSSOM AND DELIA R. GONZALEZ Costumed like a carnival magician and his beautiful associate, artists Russom and Gonzalez evoke the '60s in all its tripped-out, homespun splendor. They do magic shows, perform woodland dances in black leotards, and play electronic music on handmade analog synthesizers. Deadpan variety-act showmanship meets avant-garde escapism; that it all seems transmitted through a color television tube (that climactic '60s signal) makes it all the more surreal.

7 KERRY JAMES MARSHALL Here's a painter who constantly ups the ante on what a painter might do. Over the past few years, Marshall has shown animated video installations, pencil studies of fake flowers, giant rubber stamps that print out Black Power slogans, and a monumental woodblock print, among other things. Last time I visited his studio, he was knitting little outfits for black GI Joe dolls, studies for his epic comic book and a future feature film.

8 MARFA As we sped through the ever-flattening West Texas desert at midnight, I sheepishly admitted to my fellow pilgrim Rachel Harrison, to her horror, that I didn't even like shiny geometric objects. But when we arrived at Donald Judd's sprawling Gesamtkunstwerk and spent the day confronting art without curator/middleman/market/didactics, my mind was blown. NB: It's a thousand times better if you request to see Judd's own house, which contains his early and astonishing red pieces.

9 BAD PAINTING REDUX The 1978 "'Bad' Painting" show at New York's New Museum celebrated good badness. Now there's a veritable cornucopia of painting that forefronts the gleeful, deluxe, and embarrassing imagination. Among the new wave, I really adore Dana Schutz, Trenton Doyle Hancock, and Erica Svec. But I especially salute bad-lands veterans like Charles Garabedian and Judith Linhares. Last time I was in LA, Garabedian wowed me with his LA Louver show, which featured huge, punch4drunk landscapes with implausible populations and globby, free-range animals gamboling on the hills.

10 MAURICE MERLEAU-PONTY I've always loved the fact that the word "apprehension" means both perception and dread. And I love a description I once heard of the act of painting as walking in a thick fog near a cliff, in Merleau-Ponty's writings on art, particularly those on Cezanne, these ambiguities and doubts become an epistemological model. With all the painterly painting on the scene nowadays, a philosophy that posits "feeling" and "thinking" as one big inseparable mess is right on the mark.
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Title Annotation:Top Ten
Publication:Artforum International
Article Type:Column
Date:Nov 1, 2003
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