Feb 212020
 

Currently at Blain Southern gallery’s New York location is  Mircea Suciu’s Universal Fatigue.

From the press release-

Part of the Cluj School, Mircea Suciu (b. 1978, Baia Mare, Romania) is regarded as one of Romania’s leading artists. During his formative years he witnessed the country’s tumultuous transition after the only violent overthrow of a communist government in the 1989 revolutions. Describing himself as an image creator rather than a traditional painter, Suciu mines and references art history and contemporary imagery, reducing down the elements and adding colour coded symbolism. He has ‘his own complex way of making things in which painting, photography, drawing and print all cooperate while playing their individual parts’ 1

Inspired by his former studies on the restoration of Baroque paintings, Suciu has developed a process he calls ‘monoprinting’. A photographic image is split into a grid of A4 surfaces, each one printed onto an acetate sheet onto which a layer of acrylic paint is applied. The paint acts as a ‘glue’ that adheres to directly to the canvas and once dry, the acetate sheet is peeled off. The result is a transference of the printed image with associated faults and imperfections which Suciu then ‘restores’ by re-painting with oil and acrylic paint. Sometimes, as with works in the Disintegration series, he overlays the image multiple times using various colours until he creates a surface that is barely recognisable from the original. As a final stage the whole image is repainted. This multi-layered process creates compositions of reinvented images which allude to history, memory and eventual dissolution of all things.

‘A characteristic of my work is frailty, not regarding the subject but the relationship between the surfaces that constitute the ensemble of the whole picture.’ – Mircea Suciu

This exhibition closes 2/21/20.

 

Feb 202020
 

Mary Jane, 2008

Untitled, 2015

 

1975 (8), 2013

Painting for My Dad, 2011

The “Fitz”, 2015

Black Widow, 2007

Leni Riefenstahl, 2010

Artist Noah Davis’s superb paintings are currently on view at David Zwirner gallery’s two 19th Street locations in New York until 2/22. Although his career was brief, he died in 2015, what he accomplished in his life is admirable.

From the press release

Davis’s body of work encompasses, on the one hand, his lush, sensual, figurative paintings and, on the other, an ambitious institutional project called The Underground Museum, a black-owned-and-operated art space dedicated to the exhibition of museum-quality art in a culturally underserved African American and Latinx neighborhood in Los Angeles. The works on view will highlight both parts of Davis’s oeuvre, featuring more than twenty of his most enduring paintings, as well as models of previous exhibitions curated by Davis at The Underground Museum. The exhibition also includes a “back room,” modeled on the working offices at The Underground Museum, featuring more paintings by Davis, as well as BLKNWS by Davis’s brother Kahlil Joseph; a sculpture by Karon Davis, the artist’s widow; and Shelby George furniture, designed by Davis’s mother Faith Childs-Davis.

Helen Molesworth notes:

Noah Davis (b. Seattle, 1983; d. Ojai, California, 2015) was a figurative painter and cofounder of The Underground Museum (UM) in Los Angeles. Despite his untimely death at the age of thirty-two, Davis’s paintings are a crucial part of the rise of figurative and representational painting in the first two decades of the twenty-first century.

Loneliness and tenderness suffuse his rigorously composed paintings, as do traces of his abiding interest in artists such as Marlene Dumas, Kerry James Marshall, Fairfield Porter, and Luc Tuymans. Davis’s pictures can be slightly deceptive; they are modest in scale yet emotionally ambitious. Using a notably dry paint application and a moody palette of blues, purples, and greens, his work falls into two loose categories: There are scenes from everyday life, such as a portrait of his young son, a soldier returning from war, or a housing project designed by famed modernist architect Paul Williams. And there are paintings that traffic in magical realism, surreal images that depict the world both seen and unseen, where the presence of ancestors, ghosts, and fantasy are everywhere apparent.

Generous, curious, and energetic, Davis founded, along with his wife, the sculptor Karon Davis, The Underground Museum, an artist- and family-run space for art and culture in Los Angeles. The UM began modestly—Noah and Karon worked to join three storefronts in the city’s Arlington Heights neighborhood. Davis’s dream was to exhibit “museum-quality” art in a working-class black and Latino neighborhood. In the early days of The UM, Davis was unable to secure museum loans, so he organized exhibitions of his work alongside that of his friends and family, and word of mouth spread about Davis’s unique curatorial gestures.

In 2014 Davis began organizing exhibitions using works selected from The Museum of Contemporary Art’s collection as his starting point. In the aftermath of Davis’s passing, the team of family and friends he gathered continued his work at The UM, transforming it into one of the liveliest and most important gathering places in Los Angeles for artists, filmmakers, musicians, writers, and activists.

If you are in Los Angeles, The Underground Museum is definitely worth a visit, and if you cannot make it to this exhibition in NYC- a portion of it moves there this March.

Also, Kahlil Joseph’s “BLKNWS” will be shown the Brooklyn Academy of Music in NYC from 3/23-6/21/20.

Feb 132020
 

For its inaugural exhibition at its Chelsea New York location, Mucciaccia Gallery is showing the work of Yayoi Kusama. The show includes sculptures, her signature infinity polka dot paintings, and several of her works on paper.

This exhibition closes 2/15/20.

Feb 132020
 

Otis Quaicoe, Black Feathers, 2019

Chloe Wise, Stuck between a hard rock and a café, 2019

Laura Sanders, Victorine, By Herself, 2019

Nona Garcia, After Elaine Navas, 2019

Robin F. Williams, Siri Defends Her Honor, 2019

Currently at Marianne Boesky Gallery in Chelsea is Xenia: Crossroads in Portrait Painting, an outstanding collection of paintings by 17 artists and spanning both of the gallery’s locations.

From the press release

Marianne Boesky Gallery is pleased to present Xenia: Crossroads in Portrait Painting, an exhibition that explores the resurgence of portraiture as an incisive platform through which to consider the nature and meaning of identity. As our globalized society becomes increasingly marked by emigration, resettlement, and technological interconnectedness, so too have notions of the self become exponentially fractured and complex. Through the work of seventeen artists, Xenia: Crossroads in Portrait Painting captures the ways in which artists are leveraging the power of the portrait to express these intricacies, exposing the relationship between identity, place, and shifting social norms.

Xenia: Crossroads in Portrait Painting will feature new and recent works by a wide range of artists, including Polina Barskaya, Amoako Boafo, Cristina Canale, Somaya Critchlow, Ndidi Emefiele, Maria Farrar, Nona Garcia, Cindy Ji Hye Kim, Doron Langberg, Otis Quaicoe, Laura Sanders, Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum, Rodel Tapaya, Salman Toor, Hannah van Bart, Robin F. Williams, and Chloe Wise. The group of artists were born and currently live across five continents and over twenty countries, many having relocated by choice or necessity.

Across their vivid and insightful portraits, the individual is depicted as both of singular and communal experience, and as reflecting multiple signifiers of acceptance, displacement, environment, consumerism, and cultural references. In instances, the figure is amputated, aggregated, and multi-acculturated; it is shown within empty expanses and amongst other bodies and objects. Yet despite the spectrum of perspectives and the various formal and conceptual approaches, the artists’ visions are united by a central sense of humanity.

This connection is also encapsulated in the exhibition title, which takes its name from the ancient Greek concept of “xenia” or “guest-friendship”. This notion is mentioned in Teju Cole and Fazal Sheiekh’s 2019 book, Human Archipelago, and refers to the extension of generosity to visitors from afar. Together, the artists’ work speaks to the multicity of factors that shape identity—thus highlighting that “otherness” is purely notional. And at the same time, the act of painting another being can be seen as an act of xenia itself.

“Throughout art history, portraits have served as indicators of social values and personal circumstances. The incredible reemergence of the genre speaks to its ongoing power to reflect our perceptions of ourselves and the world we occupy. I find particularly fascinating the depth and diversity of approaches contemporary artists are taking to portraiture, and the way that their work so aptly encapsulates the complexity of identifying who you are and where you’re from today. Xenia offers a sampling of some of the most exciting voices reshaping portraiture within contemporary practice and speaks to art’s incredible ability to connect with social and political dialogues,” said Marianne Boesky.

This exhibition closes 2/15/20.

Jan 302020
 

It’s the last week to see Swoon: Cicada at Jeffrey Deitch’s New York location. This exhibition of Caledonia Dance Curry (aka Swoon)’s work includes a sculptural installation, drawings, and a stop motion film.

From the gallery’s website-

Cicada marks a new development in Swoon’s practice. A celebration of rebirth and transformation, the exhibition at 76 Grand Street features recent films, drawings, and installations in which her personal story becomes more central.

Moving away from her street pasted portraits that encouraged the viewer to imagine a background story, Swoon now creates narratives that draw from her personal history as well as classical mythologies. She is also inspired by the handcrafted quality of silent era and 20th-century folkloric films. In her stop-motion animations, fragments of the subconscious coalesce into subliminal images. Open-ended stories unfold and weave recurring motifs such as birth, divination, trauma, and healing.

Swoon’s stop-motion films emphasize the body’s ability to serve as a vessel carrying memories and traditions. A house, a ship, and human figures split and open to liberate a cast of imaginative and mythological creatures trapped inside. The central figure is the “Tarantula Mother,” a half-human, half-spider allegory that evokes traumatic memories from childhood. Swoon’s response to parts of her family history – and the legacy of her parents’ addiction and substance abuse – has recurred throughout her work. These components inflict a strong element of realism to the films, grounding the otherwise- whimsical atmospheres of Cicada.

In Swoon’s work, the sea often constitutes the physical and metaphorical ground for possible encounters. In Cicada, underwater scenarios become a psychological space for introspection and subconscious explorations. Surrounded by new sculptures and her portrait series, Cicada allows viewers to immerse themselves into Swoon’s world, creating a vivid experience embedded in the present moment.

Swoon’s inner circle of friends is the subject of a new series of drawings included in the exhibition. The intimacy of these portraits recalls the romantic and humane spirit of her earlier street pasted works. A tableaux vivant of performers will accompany the exhibition on the opening night, renewing her interest in the counter culture of collectives and carnivals. Whether presented without permission or realized in a traditional gallery or institutional space, Swoon’s work connects with viewers on an emotional level.

The sculptural work is incredibly intricate and its amazing watching it come to life in the film.

This exhibition closes 2/1/20.

 

Jan 162020
 

Drink More, 1964 by Ushio Shinohara (left piece) and Untitled, 1980s by Nobuaki Kojima (sculpture on right)

Souvenir, 1964, by Jasper Johns

Shadow of a Hanger, 1971 by Jiro Takamatsu

Japan is America at Fergus McCaffrey gallery in Chelsea “explores the complex artistic networks that informed avant-garde art in Japan and America between 1952 and 1985. Starting with the well-documented emergence of “American-Style Painting” that ran parallel to the Americanization of Japan in the 1950s, Japan Is America endeavors to illustrate the path and conditions from Japanese surrender in 1945 to that country’s putative cultural take-over of the United States some forty years later”.

Artists in the show include: Yuji Agematsu, Ruth Asawa, James Lee Byars, John Cage, Joe Goode, Sam Francis, Marcia Hafif, Noriyuki Haraguchi, Tatsuo Ikeda, Shigeo Ishii, Ishiuchi Miyako, Jasper Johns, Alison Knowles, Nobuaki Kojima, Tomio Miki, Sadamasa Motonaga, Hiroshi Nakamura, Natsuyuki Nakanishi, Senga Nengudi, Yoko Ono, Ken Price, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Ushio Shinohara, Fujiko Shiraga, Kazuo Shiraga, Jiro Takamatsu, Anne Truitt, and Toshio Yoshida.

This exhibition closes 1/18/20.

Jan 162020
 

Sexy Robot_Floating, 2019 by Hajime Sorayama

Tokyo Pop Underground curated by Tokyo gallerist Shinji Nanzuka and currently at Jeffrey Deitch gallery in Los Angeles “explores the complex history of Japanese contemporary art from the 1960s to the present through the works of seventeen artists who emerged from pop and underground culture”.

From the press release-

Shinji Nanzuka explains that “originally in Japan, most of what is referred to as art are practical items, developed together and in integration with popular culture.” He cites examples from calligraphy to folding screens, paintings on sliding paper doors, lacquerware, netsuke, and the Ukiyo-e prints that served as posters and commercial portraits. He also mentions art historian Naoyuki Kinoshita’s study of intricately realistic handicrafts such as iki-ningyou, life-like dolls that were made for exhibitory performances. Nanzuka’s mission in this exhibition is to present contemporary artistic commentaries on this Japanese artistic heritage.

Deviating from the mainstream current of “art for art’s sake” when he opened his Tokyo gallery in 2005, Nanzuka decided to focus on artists whose works at the time were not considered to be art. Artists like Keiichi Tanaami, Harumi Yamaguchi, and Hajime Sorayama, whose works are now celebrated in the international art world, were looked down upon as producers of commercial and popular art. Nanzuka saw them as prime exponents of the idiosyncratic nature of Japan’s culture and history.

Another reason that Tanaami, Yamaguchi, Sorayama, and Toshio Saeki did not receive recognition until recently is the radical intensity of their practice. The expressions of sex and violence in their work are statements of anti-authority and anti-uniformity. The aggressive portraits of women painted by Harumi Yamaguchi show her engagement with the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s. Sorayama’s sexualized robots predict a dystopian future.

There are strong links between the underground Japanese culture from which many of these artists emerged and the American graffiti and skateboard subcultures that were embraced by Japanese youth. Haroshi, one of the younger artists in the show, constructs his works entirely from wood sliced from skateboards donated by friends and professional skateboarders to compose a collective portrait of his enlarged, international community.

The artists in Tokyo Pop Underground reflect the strains in contemporary Japanese culture as it rebuilt itself after the ruins of war and confronts numerous natural disasters. Their work reflects what Nanzuka describes as “the crazy cross-cultural exchange” between the West, the East, and the Far East, shaping a new international artistic language.

This exhibition closes 1/18/20.

Jan 102020
 

sweater man, 2017

Sand and Ice, 2017-19

Currently at Klowden Mann is Alexandra Wiesenfeld’s exhibition They found ritual and order but couldn’t see the real (year 3008), her fifth solo exhibition at the gallery.

From the press release-

The show features a series of large-scale oil paintings on canvas in which Wiesenfeld imagines a heightened future Earth–long after the climate has tipped–with few humans and very little evidence remaining of our time dominating the planet.  The works are non-narrative: abstracted landscapes formed in vivid colors, offering the state of mind and eye of a future on the other side of our current strategy of dominance at all costs, and its consequences…

Wiesenfeld’s new works are visual representations of a time past the context of the structures humanity has built, and the vast resources we have mined and violence we have justified to sustain them. In her statement, Wiesenfeld writes, “Painting these invented landscapes is as much about climate grief, escapism into a sci-fi world as an act of devotion to the beauty of the natural world, even if no longer viable for us. They are about the human need for myth-making when facing landscape alone.”

Wiesenfeld forms the paintings through layers of color without a referent; made from imagination and impulse, there are often many stories of imagery and tone under the final painting.  Several of the paintings include grids of colored dots that disappear and reappear on the surface, under and over forms that feel like rocks, flesh, plant life we have never seen. The dots often appear as a partially-formed system of analysis–visual schematics through which to understand land that is no longer familiar…

This show closes 1/11/20.

Jan 092020
 

Blum & Poe in Los Angeles is currently showing two very different exhibitions. In the main gallery is a selected survey of work by Harvey Quaytman spanning three decades.

From the press release-

Harvey Quaytman (b. 1937, Rockaway, NY; d. 2002, New York, NY) came of age in the downtown art scene of 1960s New York, living and working in SoHo studios first on Grand Street and later at 231 Bowery, where he would remain through the late ’90s. Long considered an artist’s artist, the painter enjoyed a close-knit and vibrant artistic and social milieu, over the years sharing studio addresses with Brice Marden, Ron Gorchov, and James Rosenquist, among others. Quaytman’s emerging career as a young painter began in the heyday of Ab Ex with a marked allegiance to Gorky and de Kooning. This approach was slowly shed as the decade unfolded, as his work began to lean towards sculpture—compositions with curvilinear shaped canvases and rectilinear U-shaped bases that inhabited a newfound objecthood. This was followed by a forty-year engagement with geometric abstraction, his approach to painting in contradistinction to the prevailing trends of the era—first with Pop Art and later Neo Expressionism. Despite painting being declared “dead” by Minimalist and Conceptual artists of the time, Quaytman maintained a commitment to the medium and to his vision throughout, helping to shape an alternate trajectory for American painting.

The artist’s work in the ‘70s developed into shield-like forms that balance on curved platforms, conjuring a motion that would result in a critic calling them “rocking rectangles”—the body of work later known simply as “rocker” paintings. These eccentrically shaped works were hand-crafted (he would steam and bend the wooden stretchers himself), and inherently related to movement—inspired by Islamic calligraphy, rocking chairs, and the flight patterns of airplanes and birds. His experiments with shape continued in the late ‘70s, and through the manipulation of geometric intersections and overlapping forms that all the while imply motion, a unique group of paintings resembling anchors or pendulums emerged. In the 1980s, Quaytman began his cruciform paintings, investigations of the cross shape not as emblem but as two meeting vectors; Constructivist, perpendicular geometric compositions that focused on the reduced palette of black, white, red, rusted iron, and metallic gold. While these paintings represented a stark departure from his previous work, Quaytman continued to pursue visual movement as he conjured an interplay of symmetry and asymmetry.

Many of the works become even more intriguing up close.  His use of different materials to achieve varying tones and textures makes them come alive.

The press release discusses a bit about his process in creating them-

As his paintings evolved in form and shape, variously touching upon Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, Process Art, and Constructivism, Quaytman simultaneously developed a rigorous practice of experimentation with pigment. He was interested in the history, alchemy, and chromatic effects of color, seeking out unique tonalities at specialty stores at home and abroad, becoming a master of color and texture. He skillfully poured paint, spreading Rhoplex over canvas with broad wallpaper brushes after dusting it with pure pigment that settled in thick, unpredictable strata. He later flecked canvas with glass or iron filings and used additives such as marble dust in paint he always mixed himself. On this subject, he said: “It is very important to me to be reminded that I am not an alchemist but a man engaged in coded, layered conversation with my fellow man on what I hope to be (on another) level than words or music.”

On the second floor are Matt Johnson’s delightful sculptures whose familiar materials seem to defy gravity as they balance on each other in the compositions.

From the press release

In an ever-expanding practice in search of the peculiar and the sublime, Johnson elevates the mundane to the exceptional. With a new body of work in carved and polychromed wood sculpture, Johnson depicts configurations of raw industrial materials from cinder block, brick, rebar, to traffic cones—permutations of information composed according to gravity, balance, and primitive instinct. A crude horse, a procession of block figures, cantilevered props, and fragile towers make reference to the concept of knowledge with small gestures—a lighter, a match book, a lightbulb, an atlas, and a monograph on Matisse. The doweled joints of glue and/or epoxy between bricks, blocks, and bars exist here not to defy gravity but to freeze balance and preserve delicate moments of experimental groupings. Like a still life, these works are organized information, like subatomic particles, atoms and elements, molecules and compounds, glued by gravity, and magnetic polarity, surfing in a sea of electrical conductivity.

Both of these exhibitions close 1/11/20.