Jun 132024
 

Aaron Zulpo has captured the beauty and quiet of the desert in his enchanting paintings for California Deserts at 1969 Gallery.

From the gallery-

Following his relocation to California, Zulpo’s interest in landscape painting has expanded and become a pivotal aspect of his studio practice. This change has inspired a new series of sensitively observed landscape paintings of the American West. He begins his work in plein air during exploratory hikes through rugged desert terrain. Zulpo’s connection to the land imbues his paintings with a sense of reverence.

In California Deserts, the artist presents a series of recent paintings whose subjects range from the canyons of the Santa Ana Mountains, to the peaks of Mount San Jacinto, to the boulders and century-old Yuccas of Joshua Tree National Park. Zulpo captures the changing atmospheric and lighting conditions of the desert sky, as exemplified in works such as Quail Mountain Dust Storm and Joshua Tree with a Red Sky, bathed in golden, peach, and auburn tones that evoke the allure of the desert at sunset. Other paintings, such as Looking at Maze Loop from Quail Springs, highlight the uniquely expressive quality of cloudforms, which appear, at times, to mirror the craggy rocks below.

Drawing inspiration from early twentieth-century landscape painters, such as Rockwell Kent and the Canadian Group of Seven, Zulpo presents a serious and sustained engagement with the natural world. At the same time, he brings a twenty-first century environmental consciousness to the landscape tradition, calling attention to the inherent virtue and beauty of wild spaces and the need to preserve them.

In 2017, Aaron Zulpo and Johnny DeFeo co-founded The Guild of Adventure Painters. This non-profit organization aims to keep nature at the forefront of the arts by offering residency programs, community building initiatives, exhibitions and public events. Since its inception, The Guild of Adventure Painters has been dedicated to inspiring artists to immerse themselves in the outdoors, cultivating a deeper connection with nature and playing a vital role in its preservation.

This exhibition closes 6/15/24.

Jun 132024
 

For the exhibition  Ming Smith: On the Road at Nicola Vassell, a variety of work from the artist’s impressive career is on display throughout the space.

From the gallery-

Nicola Vassell is pleased to present Ming Smith: On the Road, a selection of photographs from the artist’s archive that encapsulates the arc of her exploratory impulses as she sought and probed new subject matter and formal innovation from 1970 through 1993. Encompassing never-before-seen vintage and contemporary prints of images captured during her travels around the world, On the Road embodies the spirit of adventure and curiosity that advanced Smith’s singular entry into, and scrutiny of, the provinces of urban existence, nature’s quietude, family intimacy, popular culture, military life, and jazz milieus.

In the 1970s in New York, Smith’s practice was propelled by inquiry—both through her immersion in the Kamoinge Workshop and her preoccupation with the ideas of prominent twentieth-century American and European photographers. Cultivating her own radical sensibility in early experiments, she alluded to the virtuosity of Brassaï, Roy DeCarava, Diane Arbus, and Robert Frank. These artists set a tempo upon which Smith developed her own dexterity in portraiture, landscape, and street photography—highly attuned to the textures, geometries, and thrums pulsing through every spectrum of life. She recognized the haunting allure of an oil-slicked roadside and the liquid lightning of brass instruments in musicians’ animated hands.

Smith listens through her camera, sensitive to the harmony and dissonance that enliven her subjects and surroundings. At times, it is easy to forget that she works in a static medium, since each photograph transports its viewer into the energetic nucleus of the moment she captures. Through paint application, double exposure, and low shutter speed, Smith pushes photography’s form to the point of its brim and break. Like harnessing a memory, Smith underlines the evanescent—at once vivid and obscure.

This exhibition closes 6/15/24.

Jun 132024
 

Lucas Arruda’s paintings for Assum Preto at David Zwirner capture moments in time that beckon you to look closer. On his Instagram is a photo of Agnes Varda with a quote that reads “If we opened people up, we’d find landscapes”. Standing in front of these paintings allows the viewer to contemplate Arruda’s inner landscapes as well as their own.

From the gallery-

“Assum Preto” continues Arruda’s investigations into the painted medium and its ability to serve as an evocative and transcendental conduit for the unveiling of light, memory, and emotion. The exhibition is titled after a species of blackbird native to eastern Brazil—whose mundane birdsong, according to local tradition, is said to transform into a beautiful melody if the bird’s eyesight has been shaded. As the artist explains: “It’s as if, when the bird has everything in sight, and is full of information and distractions, it can’t organize itself. Only when it’s no longer surrounded by images, can it organize everything in its head. In a certain way, I think this has to do with light.… For me, light is related to remembering.” In the works on view, light takes on a multitude of forms, surfacing in various physical, ideographical, and affective manifestations.

The exhibition is primarily composed of new paintings from Arruda’s established body of seascapes, junglescapes, and abstract monochromes; together, these works bring about a complex understanding of landscape as a product of a state of mind rather than a depiction of reality. The works on view are notable for their fogged colors—exploring subtle but intricate variations within a single hue—that range from dense reds to ethereal and almost intangible veils of white. For the monochromes, Arruda adds layer upon layer of pigment to pre-dyed raw canvas in an attempt to replicate its tinted hue in paint, methodically returning to each work for weeks or even months on end until the composition slowly builds into a hazy and ever-shifting wall of light.



The seascapes and junglescapes, on the other hand, are made on prepared surfaces using a reductive process whereby the impression of light is attained through the subtraction of pigment. Devoid of specific reference points, Arruda’s seascapes are all grounded only by their thin horizon lines. Above and below this border, charged atmospheric conditions engage further dichotomies between sky and earth, the nebulous and the solid, the psychic and the visual. The jungles, by contrast, dwell in verticality; their genesis lies in the artist’s formative memories of the verdant foliage outside his bedroom window. For Arruda, the quasi-mythical scenery of the Brazilian rainforest coaxes out tensions between reality and human imagination. Towering and impenetrable, yet containing a sense of the infinite that surpasses its physical bounds, in Arruda’s work the jungle becomes a site of power and enlightenment as much as it is a harbinger of darkness and uncertainty—a place where one can be lost to the world and find themselves again.

As curator Lilian Tone writes: “[Arruda’s] paintings suggest a tenuous, fugitive, and mediated relation to nature as that which informs an aesthetic language. As viewers, we tend to make sense of the slightest mark within an open field, to immediately perceive a horizontal line as a horizon line, to create clouds from a change in direction of brushstrokes, and to perceive ground from a thick impasto. Arruda makes paintings we experience as at once beyond abstraction and yet before representation.”



In “Assum Preto”, Arruda debuts a group of small-scale, semi-abstract paintings that are constructed from a lexicon of symbolist motifs, marking a new turn in the artist’s practice while also harking back to the planar and architectonic forms that characterize his early oeuvre. In these works, he takes visual cues from the geometries and rich colorscapes found in the Brazilian modernist paintings of José Pancetti (1902–1958), Alfredo Volpi (1896–1988), and Amadeo Luciano Lorenzato (1900–1995). Arruda handles his brush lightly but with intense control, creating clouds and thickets of markings that delicately carve through the painted surface of the canvas in a manner recalling the textures and physicality of intaglio printmaking processes. Potent and open-ended, the symbols and motifs that populate these compositions—darkly brewing storms, empty canoes, and strings of outdoor lights—visualize the themes that permeate Arruda’s body of paintings, including the artist’s own dreams, experiences, and intuitions, through the lens of the sacred and the surreal. The images shift in and out of focus, as if hovering at the precipice of memory itself.

Additionally featured is an example of Arruda’s site-specific light installations. These works comprise a pair of vertically balanced rectangles rendered directly on the gallery wall—the top one created through a light projection and the bottom one physically applied with paint—thus translating the genre of landscape into its most elemental form.

This exhibition closes 6/15/24.

Jun 122024
 

Jerome Lagarrigue has created an impressive series of paintings for Shoreline, his current exhibition at Fridman Gallery. The work allows the viewer to imagine these brief moments in the lives of his subjects.

From the gallery-

An accomplished portraitist recognized for powerful interpretations of his subjects’ interior, psychological spaces, Lagarrigue centers his new body of work on observations of coastal life in the Caribbean. This geographical restriction and the seemingly mundane activities depicted in the paintings allow the artist and his viewers to focus on incremental, subtle changes in light and color. The scenes unfold slowly – fishermen looking out onto expanses of water and sky, grocers tending to their inland shops, people going about their everyday life.

​Belying this seeming placidity is a drama of the elements. Depending on weather conditions, the coastal space undergoes extreme transformations from dawn to dusk, from sunshine to an approaching storm. Lagarrigue is keenly perceptive of the electric hues that occur naturally here, as if the subjects of his paintings are lit from behind. The sky turns fluorescent green before the hurricane. A boat is split in half – a deep mauve in the shadow of a fisherman, it turns bright pink in the sun piercing through the dark clouds.

Stark juxtapositions of colors and surfaces – unevenly lit facades, different shapes and shades of sky, water and vegetation – offer a myriad possibilities for bridging figuration and abstraction. A pink wall against a gray sky is reminiscent of Rothko’s sfumato bands of color, except that here they exist in real life, right in front of the painter’s eyes. This is a play without beginning or end, a play of light and shadow on the borderline of perception.

​Hidden in the paintings’ undertones are the unspoken stories of the citizens of these coasts, many of whom trace their heritage to the West Coast of Africa. It is the coastal population who have to adapt to new living conditions due to their direct exposure to extreme weather increasingly caused by climate change. Lagarrigue’s landscapes convey a subtle tension – the bountiful, beautiful shoreline is there, within reach, yet impossible to grasp; it’s a restricted space suggested by the paintings.

This exhibition closes 6/15/24.

Jun 122024
 

For James Isherwood’s paintings for Thaw at Seizan Gallery he has created strange and beautiful worlds with features both foreign and recognizable. According to the artist the work “examines the context of architecture, landscape, subconscious imagery, psychedelic alternate realities, time, memory and place”.

From the gallery-

Writing in Flash Art in 2020, critic Pier Luigi Sacco characterizes Isherwood as a “master of deception.” Buildings and structures are presiding features in Isherwood’s works. They become architectural protagonists through which Isherwood invents alternate realities, inviting the viewer into visual paradoxes in hyper-saturated palettes.

These structures that populate Isherwood’s paintings, alluding to David Hockney’s pools, are always presented absent of people. Sacco writes, “Despite their obvious allusion to stereotypical built forms, they are clearly not inhabited — or possibly even inhabitable.” This absence of human presence enables the viewer to inhabit the structure in a waking-dream space, transported through a cosmos of the imagination. This space has the capability to offer a duality of feeling: playful yet dangerous, otherworldly yet recognizable. Isherwood’s color palette, likewise, engages this duality, evoking everything from a drifting snowbank or a night sky to a chemical burn or a black hole.

While Isherwood begins his process by referencing visual material—often images of particular buildings—his rendering of this material lands the viewer on another astral plane entirely. His method is highly technical, while retaining an improvisational and serendipitous aspect. His technique utilizes washes and often hundreds of layers, also adding renderings that show the hand of a skilled draftsman. At the same time, his compositions allude to Magritte and other Surrealists through his playful, trickster choices.

This exhibition represents a strong passage, following a highly inventive period in the pandemic lockdown, into a newly deepened visual vernacular of Isherwood’s own invention.

This exhibition is on view until 6/15/24.

Jun 122024
 

Lubaina Himid’s solo exhibition Street Sellers at Greene Naftali is filled with gorgeous paintings, but there is so much more to the work. Through the experience of sounding out the phonetic signs and reading what’s written behind them, the viewer is given a chance to go beyond the surface for a glimpse of the inner worlds of her subjects. It’s like receiving a beautifully wrapped gift and realizing it was only a prelude to the wonders inside.

From the gallery-

Himid’s latest cycle of paintings affirms the dignity of work through depictions of vendors who ply their wares, elegantly dressed and equipped with the tools of their particular trade. The figures emerge from a rich blend of temporalities and points of reference: from the hawkers that remain street-level fixtures of urban life, to popular prints of merchants and peddlers dating back to 17th-century London as rare documents of the working class. The genre of the full-length portrait—linked to aristocrats and monarchs—is also recast with new protagonists, shown on a grand scale and fully at one with their respective métiers. Asserting the centrality of Black subjects to art historical arenas long denied them, Himid frees herself to invent what the archive lacks: “I paint it into existence.”

Each canvas is paired with a work on paper ingeniously printed to mimic a cardboard sign, embellished with painted motifs and phonetic letters that induce the viewer to read aloud—uttering the sales pitch to lend the exhibition an informal soundtrack. The prints are double-sided, with the backs revealing the sellers’ true thoughts that go unsaid. Often romantic or wistful, those inner monologues betray their attachment to the goods they carry, which Himid renders with lapidary attention to an egg’s speckled surface, the weave of chair caning, the ribbed interior of a cowrie shell. Objects here are charged like talismans—vectors of connection that are meant to change hands.

That intimacy extends to Himid’s paintings on domestic objects: from portrait heads on discarded dresser drawers to miniature vignettes on found crockery. Opening a drawer is an everyday revelation, an airing out of hidden depths, and Himid has described it as an ideal container for “lost or forgotten lives”—a compartment to hold the “memories of people whose names no one had bothered to write down.” China plates and platters are likewise tied to acts of routine encounter, which Himid overpaints with subtle disruptions to their polite decorum. One thrifted ceramic sports a tongue, another a single molar—the first pieces of a planned New York Dinner Service the artist will source locally over time, then emblazon with every part of the human body as seen from inside. Faintly troubling yet also convivial in their nods to communal space and shared endeavor, the works extend Himid’s career-long project of “interrogating narratives about the desire to belong.”

This exhibition closes 6/15/24.

Jun 072024
 


Kurimanzutto is currently showing two bodies of work from Argentinian artist Marta Minujín’s remarkable and varied career. The brightly colored soft sculptures are captivating but the darker pieces provide an intriguing balance.

From the press release-

“Easel painting is dead,” Marta Minujín explained in 1966, “Today man can no longer be satisfied with a static painting hanging on a wall. Life is too dynamic.” This pronouncement on painting’s demise centers a “death v. life” dialectic that propelled Minujín’s artistic experiments throughout the tumultuous 1960s. Her pursuit of a radically dynamic and temporal art that could, in her own words, “register changes that take place minute by minute” turned Minujín into a trailblazer of happenings, performances, participatory environments, and mass media art in her home country of Argentina as well as in France and the U.S.

Such a pioneering trajectory was first set into motion by two bodies of work created before 1965: Minujín’s soft sculptures, known as “Los eróticos en Technicolor [The Erotics in Technicolor]” and her chthonic paintings and assemblages in an informalist style. Together these discrete chapters of her oeuvre form a tensely intertwined conceptual dyad ruled by opposite forces, Eros and Thanatos, respectively. Their common ground—what they evoke as a site registering changes—was the body. Both series generated radically anthropomorphic artworks while implicating the body of the artist, the viewer, and the body politic, too.

For the first time since 1963, when Minujín’s informalist assemblages shared her Paris studio with “Los eróticos”, these two series of work have been brought exclusively together, allowing for their dialogue on the vulnerabilities and joys of the embodied condition to unfold. They speak of crises that go well beyond painting’s purported expiration—houselessness, chronic disease, ailing democracy, and the sexual revolution, among others—and that, though proper to the 1960s, resonate with present circumstances. Yet, by virtue of their Janus-faced nature, Minujin’s early works also suggest the possibilities of community, healing, and jubilant defiance before such upheavals and predicaments.

This exhibition closes 6/8/24.

Jun 072024
 

It was great to see new work by Keya Tama and his partner Isolina Minjeong at Court Tree Collective in Industry City. I last saw Tama’s work in Los Angeles in 2019. The woven and ceramic pieces they have created for Defender are charming and reflect their personal backgrounds. The couple have also kept the prices low to encourage younger collectors.

From the gallery-

Court Tree Collective proudly presents “Defender”, a duo exhibition by Isolina Minjeong and Keya Tama. These two young artists work by blending the old with the new and by infusing their cultural heritage into their creations. This new body of work breathes fresh life into traditional art forms. Their work is a vibrant reflection of their identity and experiences, enriching the viewer with diverse perspectives and narratives. The title “Defender” is for upholding traditions in a modern world. The exhibition features folklore history through ceramics, paintings, and tapestries. Combining traditional art forms, while incorporating elements of pop culture brings to light the protection of the past. Exacting the moment of when history becomes relevant in both the past and future.

Playing off each other’s strengths has unified the work as something special. Not only as two artists in pursuit of creating together, but in working in the present to bring a unique perspective on art history.

“Defender” is an exhibition of their collaborative language. Through tapestries, paintings, muralism, and ceramic sculptures, Keya and Isolina protect each other’s hearts. This is their first duo exhibition in New York.

This exhibition closes 6/8/24.

 

Jun 072024
 

For Kazuyuki Takezaki’s exhibition Before Spring at 47 Canal, he presents distinctive versions of the landscape around his home in Marugame,  Japan.

The press release provides more detail-

…His current painting practice is deeply informed by the landscape around Marugame, with its plains ringed by low mountains in the distance. Often employing a grayish, chalky palette highlighted by blushes of orange shading into purple or white, he paints studies of plant life or mountain ridges as quickly rendered silhouettes that evoke miniature frescoes. In another body of work, he attaches canvas to a board and then sets out in his van to find a spot in the countryside, where he records his impressions in situ using oil stick. Comparing this practice to old men playing board games outdoors, he often spends several days on these “Board/Table” pieces, trying to keep up with the atmospheric conditions as they change hour by hour and day by day.

Both the canvases and the “Board/Table” pieces retain an element of the windowness of the earlier works in allowing for a coexistence of transparency and opacity. “At dusk, I often see the town horizontally divided into upper and lower halves by transparent and opaque color,”
Takezaki writes. Sometimes the sky looks like “solid gouache” while the town and trees are shot through with light, while at other times it’s the sky that takes on “a deeply transparent color” against the dark shadow of the town. The bands of color that occasionally bisect the small canvases at odd places, suggesting a horizon line but also arbitrary erasures, allude to this effect. They also come, Takezaki says, from a desire to work with multiple images at the same time. In a sense his works replicate the visual noise that accumulates on the surface of a window—replicate the agency of the window itself in simultaneously framing and interfering with the view.

But there is also a subtext to the works that pushes them beyond the tradition of the landscape-ranging from literati ink scrolls to amateur Sunday paintings and everything in between—into something that feels urgent and timely. According to Takezaki, the land around Marugame is dying. He can see it clearly in the sprawl being constructed in the plains, which drives away animal life, and the effects of fertilizer and other chemicals on the vegetation. The immediacy he strives for in his paintings—the way he tries to take everything all in at once, including the particles in the air and the brilliant light that illuminates the trees at dusk—is also an act of bearing witness to nature as a liminal zone between the worlds of the living and the dead. Communicating a profound yet fleeting sense of place, Takezaki’s windows onto this constantly shifting environment are also reflections on time, memory, and the porous overlaps between subject and object.

This exhibition closes 6/8/24.

Jun 072024
 

“1 on 1 (2 Face a Covert Bully)”, 2024, Oil, acrylic, and graphite on linen

“Larva Stage (Exposed to Linger)”, 2024, Oil, acrylic, and graphite on linen

“Larva Stage (Exposed to Linger)”, 2024, Oil, acrylic, and graphite on linen (detail)

“Routine Maintenance (Your Mouth Comes Second)”, 2024, Oil, acrylic, and graphite on linen

“Cute Ones, Abducted”, 2024, Oil, acrylic, and graphite on linen

“Cute Ones, Abducted”, 2024, Oil, acrylic, and graphite on linen (detail)

Stefanie Heinze’s paintings at Petzel for MORTAR (the cute ones shouldn’t go unnoticed) have a lot of layers- both in paint and detail. What they mean may depend on your own interpretation. The poem below by Sophie Robinson or this interview with herself may provide some clues.

From the press release-

SWEET SWEET AGENCY by Sophie Robinson

the candy here is hard & filled & there is nothing i love more
than to be treasured. if nobody’s watching i just do nothing: lie down
don’t hardly breathe, keep my face in careful stillness not to crease
its cute forgettability. the world is full of edible munchkins & it is my life’s work
to work out how to stay creamy on the inside, how not to sour myself
up with little nips of this or that or otherwise cut holes in myself thru which
to be seen. i must learn to love what i cannot know: the wide bleached anus
on a porn blog, the insane demands of toddlers, the desire for moderation or
slimness of affection, the reasons lovers leave, the trash my cat brings back,
the crack of footsteps in the woods at night, why the killer kills.
i learn it all the hard way but fwiw
i would never snap the rabbit’s neck again
i would rewind i would keep it every time

Following the artist’s relocation from Berlin to New York this past year, Heinze’s newest suite of works investigates systems of knowledge and truth, challenging received notions of representation.

Heinze considers mortar as a site of genesis, the container of beginnings, from which raw materials are processed. Mortar can be the sound of aggression, bombardment, a foil or a threat. Mortar and pestle, a receptable for grinding ingredients, a cup for holding and crushing hard, like the grinding of teeth, or the moment infatuation becomes obsession, when yearning turns from tender to brutal. The paste which binds building blocks together, holding and distributing weight, sometimes decorative, composed of cement, water and sand. Paint is mortar, the built environment is mortar, the grind is mortar, decisions are sealed in mortar, and so is the longing for something even better and bigger and harder.

Heinze starts with small-scale drawings and collages, which are translated to large-scale tracings, undergoing several transformations as her canvases take shape. Rendering her surfaces over several months, layers of line and color are suspended in scenes at once frozen and in motion. Heinze works with a sense of suspicion, disputing the power of images. Her depictions are at times plush, like her floating, 🥹-bodied cherubs, or sharp and dense, like her reckless, airborne cinder blocks. Heinze’s pictures lend expanded, fragmented associations to her subjects, both stony and swaddled, heavy and buoyant. Heinze’s works negotiate categorization, neither pure figuration nor abstraction. Language hits a limit here, reaching for the means to describe–an enzyme, a digestif–where words fail. Heinze strives for a more empirical vocabulary, generating fields of sensation.

Interested in divination practices, ranging from tarot reading to online “spiritualist” influencing, the artist creates images motivated by imagined futures, drawing on both medieval and New Age “Youtubian” utopias. Influenced by the theory of the third hand in painting, the experience of transcendence which overtakes the artist at that critical point of flow state absorption, Heinze leans into this tradition of mysticism. Heinze allows the pieces to reveal themselves over time, creating kinetic, shifting pictures that trip expectation. Heinze builds tender worlds, in which instinct and environment coalesce in new impossibilities.

This exhibition closes 6/8/24.