May 302020
 

Nina Chanel Abney’s In the Land Without Feelings (2017) from her 2017 exhibition Safe House at Mary Boone Gallery in collaboration with Jack Shainman Gallery.

From the press release-

Safe House is so termed for being a place of refuge. It is also a phrase used more colloquially as a space where one escapes the dangers affiliated with the law. With these eight single-panel paintings, Abney invites us into a place of reprieve, showing us people partaking in everyday activities. Abney’s scenarios offer sincere portrayals that counter how black life is represented in the mainstream media. The decision intentionally explores black joy as a means of resistance.

A deeply accomplished artist associated with innovating history painting, Abney took a multipart strategy to reclaim a space for creativity for this exhibition. To begin, she sourced graphics from posters dating from the 1960s that addressed aspects of safety for occupation, home, and leisure, abstracted these, and made them grounds for large-scale compositions. Then, against this backdrop Abney painted figures, objects, and letters to articulate the complex dynamics of contemporary urban life. She unequivocally is in pursuit of a depiction of commonplace activities and things. With each intuitively developed composition, each element such as the figures is often obfuscated by another element such as text, which in turn is challenged by a direction, such as an arrow. The imagery is reminiscent of sign painting, and each move made by Abney necessitates another. This chain of forms turns each element over to a type of writing, which opens a narrative and its reception to many readings. The abstracted source material (safety posters), combined with the abounding narratives from the detailed scenes, returns us to the title of the exhibition. The phrase prompts us to ask directly or obliquely: What caution and care are these narratives invoking and advocating? What danger might not be readily apparent to the viewer here?

May 292020
 

Pictured above is David Hockney’s Rubber Ring Floating in a Swimming Pool (1971), from his excellent exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2018.

From the show’s wall caption-

Hockney was impressed with how a photograph he had taken of a red pool toy floating in the water in Cadaqués, Spain looked nearly abstract, “like a Max Ernst,” he said. “I thought, it’s marvelous, I could just paint it.” He pointed out later that while the picture may look completely abstract at first glance, once the viewer reads its title, the work changes completely.

The Met has a lot of great online programming due to the closures for COVID-19, including virtual tours of iconic spaces in the museum and their current exhibitions; talks, performances, and concerts; over 500 free books; art instructions; six seasons of The Artist Project- short videos from contemporary artists discussing art that inspires them; coloring pages; a full length feature documentary film on Gerhard Richter (he has an exhibition currently at The Met Breuer) and more.

 

 

May 172020
 

Jamie Isenstein’s Onions (Mario to Clown Mouse), 2015, from her exhibition Para Drama at Andrew Kreps Gallery in New York in 2015.

From the press release

… And on the wall are a series of photographs of masks wearing masks. By putting on masks the support masks become anthropomorphized into faces so that these inanimate objects come alive. At the same time, the layering of these masks emphasizes their emptiness. Behind the illusions there is nothing. Absurdly, the more masks the masks wear, the deeper the layering of nothingness becomes. Onions, 2015, is a sculpture of many masks layered over the hollow head of a mascot costume. The title of the work refers to a monologue in the Henrik Ibsen play Peer Gynt in which Peer peels away the layers of an onion as he examines the various roles he has played in his life. Eventually he comes to realize there is nothing substantial at the core.

 

May 052020
 

Alex Kanevsky’s Nurses With Wine, 2019 from his painting exhibition Liberation and Disorientation at Hollis Taggart gallery in NYC.

Apr 062020
 

For Doug Wheeler’s fourth solo exhibition at David Zwirner’s NYC location, he created the immersive light installation 49 Nord 6 Est 68 Ven 12 FL (2011–2012), shown above.

This exhibition opened on 1/24/20 but was closed due to the Coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic.

Mar 132020
 

 

Currently at Nancy Hoffman Gallery in New York is Purdy Eaton’s delightful painting exhibition Eat and Live. Eat and Die.

From the press release-

Eaton’s upcoming exhibition is a nod to Bruce Nauman’s One Hundred Live and Die. Eat and Live, Eat and Die; the essence of all life: plants, animals, humans, kings, queens, and cockroaches are all bound to this ethos. This, like Nauman’s other phrases, Feel and Live, Feel and Die, is simultaneously fatalistic and equalizing.  The chaos of politics, climate volatility, and random violence is rightfully fear inducing and overwhelming, yet there is something hopeful and meditative about the reality you eat you live, you eat you die.  There will always be a tomorrow no matter how dystopic.

Eaton’s darkly humorous oil paintings riff on this dichotomy. As climate change and divisive politics tear at our foundations, we are placated by funny cat videos and TikTok memes. Play and Live, Play and Die. We can see the big picture, but sometimes it is just too depressing and overwhelming, and we want to enjoy that gorgeous sunset even if it is made of toxins.

In a series about state birds, Eaton examines the warped reality that many of the state birds are no longer able to inhabit the states they were legislated to represent. The California quail, California’s state bird for nearly a century, is leaving the state as their range is becoming too warm for them to stay. In Eaton’s depiction, the quail appear in front of a lovely sunset, but on further inspection, they might actually be escaping the latest wildfire. In another painting, Paul Bunyan rises in the foreground, while an American loon flies in another direction. The juxtaposition of this iconic strongman roadside attraction—symbolic of the American celebration of “man taming the wilderness”—-with a bird that can no longer live in Minnesota, hints that it might be time to reexamine our origin stories. In another painting from the series, a Northern Flicker with bright yellow plumage rises from a background of rockets in Huntsville, Alabama. As the location of early launches, these relics of NASA’s glory years are now tourist attractions. Space is no longer the purview of science and human progress—it has become the escape hatch, the place to go when we need a Plan B.

Eaton also spins Nauman’s duality to remind us that despite the apocalyptic visions we read about daily, it is not all bad for all creatures. Fireflies, for instance, are flourishing. The Canada Goose, once on the verge of extinction, has become so common as to be a nuisance. With these color-rich and storied paintings, Eaton is asking us to realize that this is our moment to be alive, before we all die, and that the flowers are indeed quite beautiful.

This exhibition closes 3/14/20.

Mar 062020
 

Currently at Galerie Lelong & Co. is Krzysztof Wodiczko: A House Divided…, a projection installation work that explores the diverse political issues in the United States. For this project Wodiczko projects videos of various people from New York’s Staten Island discussing their political views. Their bodies appear superimposed on two large statues of Abraham Lincoln, which face each other in the room.

From the press release-

The exhibition’s title refers to the phrase “A house divided against itself cannot stand” from Abraham Lincoln’s 1858 speech during an unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate, which quoted a passage from the Bible, Matthew (12:22-28). Lincoln borrowed a familiar phrase in order to garner support for the contentious proposition of unifying a rapidly expanding nation teetering on the brink of war. Wodiczko repurposes the statement in a contemporary setting to highlight the partisan contention. In 2019, Wodiczko conducted research of suburban social landscapes in the Tri-State area before choosing Staten Island, a New York City borough that is racially and ethnically diverse yet a simultaneously politically divided geography: north as liberal-leaning and south as conservative-leaning. “Speaking to each other, they explain and exchange their positions and disagreements while expressing their mutual wish for careful and respectful listening to the opposite side,” says Wodiczko.

This exhibition closes 3/7/20 but the artist’s most recent site-specific projection, Monument, is showing in Madison Square Park (starting at dusk) through May 10th.

For Monument, Wodiczko projects “the likenesses and spoken narratives of resettled refugees—who have originated from different parts of the world—onto the Park’s 1881 monument to Admiral David Glasgow Farragut. A looping video projection will bring the monument to life with stories of displacement that illuminate how war, conflict, and political fallout impact individuals globally, encouraging visitors to consider how the history of conflict is memorialized.”

 

Mar 062020
 

Spoons, 1979.

For Sandy Skoglund’s exhibition Winter, at Ryan Lee gallery in New York, she has partially recreated the environment she used to created the title piece. Many of her photographs are created by building new worlds-this is a chance to immerse yourself in one of them.

The exhibition also includes a collection of her work from the late ’70s to 2005, including Radioactive Cats from 1980 (pictured below).

From the press release-

Skoglund describes Winter as “a study in perseverance and persistence, an artificial landscape celebrating the beautiful and frightening qualities of the coldest season.” In the photographic image, a man, woman, and child punctuate an icy blue scene. They are inside of an iceberg, perhaps, surrounded by its craggy walls. Standing pensive with hands in the pockets of their winter coats, only the child, a red-headed girl, looks out toward the viewer. The trio is joined in this fantastical setting by a cluster of three snowflake-emblazoned owls and a female figure that seems to have frozen mid-slumber. The imagery evolved from Skoglund’s interest in similarity and difference among snowflakes. Her fascination with the appearance of correspondence versus the reality of difference extends from earlier investigations of the liminal territory between the natural and the artificial, or order and chaos. Through her constructed imagery, Skoglund explores the space between what the human eye and the camera can see.

Since the late 1970s, Skoglund has been celebrated for her panoramic installations—entire environments that she meticulously designs, constructs, and then re-visualizes photographically. Skoglund likens Winter to “a very slow shutter speed on a camera. Time stands still but also inches forward.” Relentlessly inventive, Skoglund challenges herself to experiment with new creative technologies, always in search of the medium best suited for her message. For Winter, which was part of a larger project on the four seasons, years of experimenting with various forms of clay modeling and 3D-printing led to the ultimate inclusion of digitally-cut metal snowflakes bearing ultraviolet cured ink, and the computer-sculpted figure and owls.

Radioactive Cats, 1980. (image courtesy of Ryan Lee )

This exhibition closes 3/7/20.

 

 

Feb 272020
 

Currently at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. gallery in New York is on the lower frequencies I speak 4U (alquimia sagrada), a solo exhibition of work by william cordova.

From the press release-

For the artist’s fourth solo exhibition at the gallery, cordova has developed a multi-media installation seeking to explore “the juxtaposition of past structures to more contemporary structures that illuminate the ephemeral nature of our existence, as beings who create material culture as a means of documentation and memory.”

The exhibition incorporates large-scale drawing collages, photography, and sculpture into an environment that reflects on abstract forms rooted in sacred geometries, while also drawing from historical moments and monuments of resistance. Two large scale sculptures, untitled (RMLZ), and untitled (palenque), reference both Brutalist and pre-Columbian architecture, specifically the temple-Citadel sites at Sacsayhuaman and Ollantaytambo. Incorporating the architectural motifs found at these sites, such as zigzags and grids, cordova’s sculptures thread an ephemeral repository, meditating on the concepts of image encoding from biological, natural, galactic, and cultural sources. The sculptures disrupt the formal structure of the gallery, creating alternative perceptions of space and time.

In his series rumi maki, william cordova takes on an ethnographic approach in addressing shared symbolism found in textile data encoding and architectural design. Named after the ancient Andean martial arts, rumi maki consists of multi-colored collages on paper, constructed from vivid layers of recycled paint chips. The arrangement of colors and patterns carry latent meanings, dependent on geography, culture, and the readings of celestial bodies. As cosmological maps, the collages synthesize the sacred geometries of architecture with the visual narratives of historical civilizations. Its form also recalls pioneering early video installation artist Beryl Korot, and her contributions to the 1970s video journal Radical Software.

ogun (el siglo de silencio) sees the artist return to large-scale collage on paper after several years focused on site-specific installations and smaller-scaled work. This work introduces viewers to a new series titled el quinto suyo (the fifth suyo), collages culled from reclaimed paint chip samples and recycled cardboard pigmented with old discarded oil stick paint. Literary references permeate cordova’s collages; texts such as El Siglo de Las Luces by Alejo Carpentier, El Monte by Lydia Cabrera and Decimas by Nicomedes Santa Cruz point to his ongoing interest in the distribution of power, spirituality, and labyrinths of perception.

In the back gallery is an exhibition of paintings (pictured below) by Josephine Halvorson, titled On The Ground.

From the press release-

On The Ground, also the title of her essay in Art In America (June/July 2018), continues Halvorson’s exploration of the ground—as a motif, material, and metaphor. Each painting registers an area of ground through Halvorson’s close observation and pictorial description, while its accompanying surround incorporates crushed rocks and debris from the site of the painting’s making. Together, they realize a faithful translation of place and time. The work in this exhibition was made in the Berkshire mountains, the Mojave Desert, and Matanzas, Cuba.

These hybrid paintings are made with gouache, site material, dry pigment, and printmaking. They expand Halvorson’s on-site practice of transcribing direct experience by hand. While her previous work in oil allowed her encounter with an object to congeal over the course of a day, Halvorson has turned to gouache, a fast drying and graphic medium, which, like handwriting, records her observations in real time. Her paint application is indelible and fresco-like, transferring color from the brush into the absorbent ground of the panel.

Touching down at various points of interest—a piece of plastic, a blade of grass—Halvorson’s notational marks establish a correspondence between environment, painting, and viewer. Like a map, they depict the literal scape of the ground while offering an escape from mimesis. The reality of proximity breaks down as one gets lost in the archeology of a single stride. Gravel becomes galactic. The surround acts as a legend or key, a space for evidence and tools of calibration. A ruler, coins, or color chart orient the onlooker in terms of scale and perception, and the site material indexes the painting to its original locale. These are paintings of verification and memorialization. They ask how we make sense of what we see, how we express that witnessing, and how an account of experience is made concrete.

Both of these exhibitions close 2/29/20.