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Simon's Review: After getting a rough ride on some of the more recent challenges, Abdi created for the nature challenge a work that transcended everything he did before and after in this competition. It is not only his best work, but the best done by any competitor during the whole competition. As my mentor's visits to the studio were always scheduled shortly after the beginning of each challenge, I would in most cases see something that was still quite far from the finished works that the competitors would show to the judges. When I walked into the studio during the nature challenge, Abdi's work was already nearly finished and to my great relief he did not do anything to try to enhance it at the risk of destroying it's impact. For once he did not need to work frantically up to the last minute. It's technical brilliance is dazzling but it is the emotions it conveys that really make it a work of art. It also showed me how much Abdi had grown in the course of the competition. It was quite a step forward from the work that he had presented at the casting for the show depicting him in a spaceship together with President Barack Obama. It is the positive attitude, optimistic stance and humor of that work that had convinced me that Abdi needed to be on the show.
Simon's Review: "In the so-called Audi challenge, Miles spent most of his time sleeping huddled in a corner of the Audi showroom on Park Avenue. The work which he produced as a reaction to the over stimulation of the urban environment of the big apple is the best he has produced during the whole competition, even if it did not make him win this particular challenge. It is simultaneously sculptural and graphic. It's presence in the gallery was powerful and soothing at once. His great talent, his being technically resourceful, very articulate and blessed with a James Dean handsomeness should all prove great assets for his future career."
Simon's Review: "When the fourteen contestants started working for the first challenge in episode 1 none of them knew yet what made the judges tick. Abdi immediately started making a striking portrait of his competitor Ryan. It is a work with strong wall power thanks to it's bold fauve color range and size while at the same time showing more than just the rock star looks of Ryan. If I remember correctly it failed to impress the judges. When making my choice of my three top picks I was guided by which works I would not mind having as part of my own collection."
Bill's Review: "Miles death portrait of Nao recalls Warhol film strips and Christopher Wool's grainy photography. Like the James Dean truism, better to die young and leave a good looking corpse, it almost becomes a way to cheat death through art."
Bill's Review: "Abdi's IEDs acknowledge the ticking clock of our disenfranchised youth and contrasts the crisis with America's malformed ideas about the war on terror."
Bill's Review: "What gravity amidst the childhood rubble of fractured memories. Every sandbox is just an ashtray waiting to happen."
Bill's Review: "Interesting that Jeff Koons' ex-assistant recognizes the power of mirrors as material."
Jerry's Review: "When I first saw Peregrine’s work I barely noticed it. Over the weeks I realized that within her was this real artistic spirit. Slowly that spirit emerged. Just enough to get Peregrine to the finals. In her final fecund installation we finally saw Peregrine’s circus-mind running wild with pink pile-up sculptures of butterflies and zebras and moonbeam. She gave us frames of wax on fire; melting heads under glass. While her work still echoed nineties 'Scatter Art,' she made three-dimensional fairy tales, showed tremendous range in her color and intelligence with materials. Her picture of twin dead fawns made China, Jeannie, guest judge David LaChapelle and even Peregrine herself cry. This picture has real internal content and external energy. I think I knew all along that Peregrine is not an artist who is about winning or losing. That is why it is okay that she did not win. She and her work are about living a life in art. I adore that."
Jerry's Review: "Miles used his iPhone to take pictures of a street person off a White Castle surveillance monitor in a divey part of town. Two days later, he learned the man froze to death on a nearby park bench. In a true in-search-of-the-miraculous meets detective story, Miles zeroed-in on this one nothing-picture, enlarging it, enlarging images of the enlargements, and so on, until he reached a sort of irreducible point of no optical return. It was like seeing someone disappear before my eyes. I loved watching an artist follow an idea to an almost horrifying point of reductive absurdity. Most artists would turn away at the last moment. Miles’s willingness to start with life, filter it through psychology, break those things up through photography and technology, and arrive at some sort of ontological doorstep was truly admirable."
Jeanne's Take: "[Peregrine]'s most successful work was found in a final side room- a large photo of the twin fawns. Peregrine spent the bulk of her show money having this work professionally photographed. Make no mistake, she directed it! Offered up as a side show
in a fair, it mentally took center stage. While she came into the competition as a draftsperson, it was with her sculpture and this photo that she gained new strength."
Jeanne's Review: "Abdi's sculptures won him the competition. Luminous being, giant seraph athletes fallen to earth ... writing now makes me think of Wim Wenders contemporary clad angels in 'Wings of Desire,' both of which display their own bit of 'street.' There are plenty of figurative sculptors in vogue right now- and will anticipate Abdi's show at the Brooklyn Museum. Last decade we celebrated the post
human, but now we have the statuesque (see Public Art Fund, too.) Abdi's paintings also showed him pushing his painting practice, using an inverted color scheme for one of his self-portraits, for example."