assume vivid astro focusArt in America, by Glenn Adamson
THERE ARE ARTISTS, THERE ARE ARTISTS’ collectives, and there is assume vivid astro focus. This entity (project? practice? platform? Its ontological status is purposely unclear) marks its twentieth anniversary this year, having been founded in New York City by Brazilian artist Eli Sudbrack. From the first, avaf was a radically open-ended endeavor. Even the name came by chance. “Astro” was occasioned by a case of mistaken identity in a secondhand clothing store; Sudbrack later discovered there was a makeup artist in the city by that name, who did in fact resemble him somewhat. He picked out the other words from “The LP Show,” a 2001 exhibition of more than 2,500 record covers curated by critic Carlo McCormick at Exit Art. Sudbrack collaged “Astro” with parts of the band name Ultra Vivid Scene and the title of Throbbing Gristle’s album Assume Power Focus.
assume vivid astro focusThe New York Times, Roberta Smith
Assume Vivid Astro Focus
It’s been seven years since the duo known as Assume Vivid Astro Focus has had a show in New York. But this exuberant comeback effort, “Hairy What? Hairy How?” at Tibor de Nagy, is also a solo debut. Its four large semiabstract paintings and a painted table — all lavishly fringed with wool yarn and surrounded by numerous smaller unfringed pieces — are the work of the Brazilian artist Eli Sudbrack, one half of Assume Vivid Astro Focus. He formed it in New York in 2001 with Christophe Hamaide-Pierson, a French artist. These days the pair functions as much independently as together, but always under the collective’s name. This confuses, yet makes sense: Both sensibilities are rooted in the hallucinatory, multi-style, multimedia environments they concocted all over the globe for nearly two decades.
The extravagant fringe expands the paintings, flowing from all four sides to the floor, conjuring craft, fashion, dance, ritual objects and over-the-top interior decoration. The yarn always matches the infectious palette of the percolating compositions — a mix of Walt Disney, Magic Realism and South American abstraction that somehow glows with freshness. The shapes can be solid colors or graduated, fading to white as if on the silver (or computer) screen. The transitions of color and shape cause sudden pockets of space and cloudlike levitation. Elsewhere body parts are more than implied. The show recalls the sensory overload of Assume Vivid Astro Focus environments past. Compressed into this jewel-box space, the works read as a whole, especially through the gallery’s all-glass front.