Dec 052020
 

Not My Burden, 2019

From a Tropical Space, 2019

From a Tropical Space (detail)

Analogous Colors, 2020

The Aftermath, 2020

For Titus Kaphar’s first exhibition at Gagosian Gallery in NYC, From A Tropical Space, he has created moving scenes of loss, with children cut out of the paintings. While the cutouts and vivid colors are the first things that get noticed, on a longer look you can see that the women in these paintings are not just missing children, but often pieces of their own bodies are affected. Arms, a hand fading away or turning blue, a leg with only one sock and shoe- these women are losing more than what has been cut away from them, they are losing parts of themselves.

From the press release-

A painter, sculptor, filmmaker, and installation artist, Kaphar reexamines American history by deconstructing existing representations and styles through his own formal innovations. His practice seeks to dislodge history from its status as “past” in order to understand its continuing impact on the present. Using materials including tar, glass, and rusted nails—together with highly refined oil painting—and employing techniques such as cutting, shredding, stitching, binding, and erasing, he reworks canonical art historical codes and conventions. And by uncovering the conceptual and narrative underpinnings of certain source images, he explores the manipulation of cultural and personal identity as a central thematic concern while inventing new narratives.

While much of Kaphar’s work begins with an exhaustive study of pre-twentieth-century master painting techniques, From a Tropical Space sees him wield these various methods to create an emotionally saturated visual landscape that is entirely contemporary. Just as artists, through time, have translated the fraught and mercurial sociopolitical contexts in which they operate into new and often radical aesthetic modes, so do the pervasive social and cultural anxieties of the world in which we find ourselves resonate throughout Kaphar’s new work.

In From a Tropical Space, Kaphar presents a haunting narrative of Black motherhood wherein collective fear and trauma crescendo in the disappearance of children, literalized through the physical excision of their images from the canvases themselves. The absence of each juvenile figure—whether seated in a stroller or held in a woman’s arms—reveals only the blank gallery wall beneath. The intense coloration of the suburban environments in which the figures are set only heightens a pervasive tension—these are images for uncertain times. Included in the exhibition is Analogous Colors (2020). Demonstrating further the broader resonance of Kaphar’s recent work, the painting was featured on the cover of the June 15 issue of Time magazine, which included a report on the protests sparked by George Floyd’s killing at the hands of Minneapolis police.

This exhibition closes 12/19/20.

Dec 052020
 

Shirley (Spa Boutique2go), 2018

Lean, 2018

Charles, 2016

Miles and Jojo, 2015

Jireh, 2013

Currently at the New Museum is Jordan Casteel: Within Reach, the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in New York City. It includes paintings from her series Visible Man (2013–14) and Nights in Harlem (2017), and recent portraits of her students at Rutgers University-Newark.

From the museum’s information page-

In her large-scale oil paintings, Casteel has developed a distinctive figurative language permeated by the presence of her subjects, who are typically captured in larger-than-life depictions that teem with domestic details and psychological insights.

Portraying people from communities in which the artist lives and works—including former classmates at Yale, where she earned an MFA; street vendors and neighbors near her home in Harlem; and her own students at Rutgers University-Newark in New Jersey—Casteel insists upon the ordinary, offering scenes with both the informality of a snapshot and the frontality of an official portrait. In these richly colorful works, Casteel draws upon ongoing conversations on portraiture that encompass race, gender, and subjectivity, connecting her practice to the legacy of artists like Alice Neel, Faith Ringgold, and Bob Thompson, among others. Casteel’s studies in anthropology and sociology also inform her works, which can often be read as a reflection on the presentation of the self in everyday life and as an investigation of the relationships that tie together intimacy and distance, familiarity and otherness.

Casteel’s subjects, who are frequently black men looking directly at the viewer, are self-possessed and casually posed, but, as they stare in the distance, they also seem to ponder questions about masculinity and class, belonging and displacement. In the exchange of gazes between the sitters, the artist, and the viewers, her paintings blur impulses and aspirations to compose a nuanced portrait of daily life in the US.

From her earliest series, Visible Man, Casteel has challenged conventional depictions of blackness while simultaneously reconfiguring stereotypes and expectations around femininity and desire. In Jiréh (2013), a student from the Yale School of Drama appears unclothed and in repose at home, gazing tranquilly at the viewer from a patterned couch. More than on any sense of erotic tension, the painting rests on a sense of empathy and quietness. In later works, Casteel’s encounters with her subjects are animated by a different sense of place: in Nights in Harlem, Casteel shifts her attention outside, to men and women who populate the streets of her neighborhood. Posed in their environments, these figures reflect the communal spaces and social relationships they inhabit.

Along with her depictions of life in Harlem, Casteel also explores scenarios in which anonymity and individuality seem to coexist. In her cropped “subway paintings”—one of which lends its title to the exhibition—she zooms in on the everyday gestures she observes on New York City trains. Even against the anonymous weight of strangers clasping cell phones and huddling near doorways, the body still remains legible, its identity concealed but its inner life nevertheless present. In these, as in many of her works, Casteel captures the sensory experience of life in the city, while conjuring the complex emotional landscape of her sitters.

This exhibition closes 1/3/21.

 

Nov 262020
 

This year because of the pandemic, Photoville’s 2020 version is entirely outside. It is in all five boroughs of New York City, but the majority of the exhibits are located in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

It closes this weekend (9/29/20) and is a wonderful way to get some fresh air and see some excellent work.

Pictured above is work by anonymous art collective Mz. Icar featuring Erin Patrice O’Brien (VALUE: In terms of Iconography), George Nobechi (Here. Still.), and Francesca Magnani (People of the Ferry 2020. Connection at a Time of Social Distancing). 

For more information on these works and to check out samples from the other installations check out Photoville’s website.

Sep 202019
 

Jeffrey Gibson, “PEOPLE LIKE US”, 2019

Jeffrey Gibson

2019’s Whitney Biennial presents an interesting selection of work, by a mostly young and diverse group of artists. The works included in the show are consistently good, and often intriguing, but this time around nothing is particularly outrageous or polarizing- a contrast to many of the previous iterations.

Not that there wasn’t any drama surrounding the show. This time around, however, the controversy was not with an artwork but with former Whitney executive board member Warren B. Kanders and his ownership of Safariland, a tear-gas canister maker. He has since resigned after protests and threats of withdrawal from several of the artists included in the show. Artist collective Forensic Architecture’s film, Triple Chaser, on view in the exhibition, investigates Safariland and Kanders.

Below are a few highlights from the exhibition.

Janiva Ellis ” Uh Oh, Look Who Got Wet”, 2019

Daniel Lind-Ramos, “Centinelas (Sentinels)”, 2013

Section of Nicole Eisenman’s, “Procession”, 2019

This exhibition closes 9/22/19.

 

Mar 242018
 

Gordon Parks, “Untitled”, Alabama (1956)

Gordon Parks was an incredible photographer whose influence continues to be felt in photography today. He had a long creative career that also expanded beyond photography to include writing several books, composing music, and directing films- the most famous being Shaft.

The Gordon Parks Foundation recently hosted the exhibition ELEMENT, which focused on several of the photographs that inspired Kendrick Lamar’s video from his album DAMN, seen below. The photo pictured above can be seen as part of the exhibition of Gordon Parks’ work I Am You Part 2 at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York. It is from his series Segregation Story for Life magazine which focused on the daily lives of three black families in Alabama in 1956.

The photo below is a still from Kendrick Lamar’s Element. The video was directed by Jonas Lindstroem and The Little Homies (Kendrick Lamar and Dave Free).

 

To see more of Parks’ work and the work he has influenced, The Gordon Parks Foundation’s website is a good resource for upcoming exhibitions around the world.

Jan 092018
 

Cloud Maintenance, 2017

The Ties That Bind, 2017

Currently at Metro Pictures, Jim Shaw’s current mixed media exhibition is full of works that are interesting, engaging and fun.

From the press release

Rendered in exquisite detail, Shaw’s virtuosic work combines his analysis of the political, social and spiritual histories of the United States with contemplative reflections of his own psyche. For more than three decades he has examined art history, comic books, subcultural undergrounds and consumer products—to name only a few of his wide-ranging fields of interest—to articulate a distinct visual language that charts the country’s ever-shifting sociopolitical landscape.

The paintings in this exhibition incorporate symbols and characters of the past to comment on our fraught present. Using imagery drawn from Old Testament stories, pagan myths and satirical cartoons, Shaw relies on his encyclopedic knowledge to visualize our common vernacular. His layered symbology reads like an exaggerated mirror of our hyper-mediated, “post-truth” reality.

This show closes 1/9/18.

At Pace Gallery’s 25th Street location is Elizabeth Murray: Painting in The ’80s, a collection of sixteen unique colorful canvases the artist created during this period.

From the press release-

Elizabeth Murray: Painting in the ‘80s presents formal and narrative content that continues to influence the techniques and subject matter of contemporary painting. Murray arrived in New York in 1967 during the heyday of Minimalism and the rise of Conceptualism, and amid prevailing assertions of painting’s demise. As she recollected, “The mood was that painting was out, that hip people, people who were avant, weren’t involved in painting. That was unnerving, but then I didn’t give a damn.” Fully committed to painting, Murray broke new ground depicting personal, poetic and at times feminist narratives on complex multidimensional shaped canvases. Murray’s compositions from the 1980s suggest large-scale breaking cups, tumbling wineglasses, tilting tables, windows, rooms, attenuated human forms, letters, symbols and abstract shapes constructed through positive and negative, real and imagined space. As Roberta Smith has written, “She has put the vocabulary of twentieth-century abstraction to new and different uses, tracing in irresistible formal terms a psychological narrative that is not explicitly feminine but that women, thanks to society’s relentless conditioning, know best and most completely.”

This show closes 1/13/18.

For Jorge Pardo’s first painting show at Petzel Gallery, he combines his painted self portraits with a sculptural element. Candid snapshots of the artist are “blown-up, engraved, laser-cut, hand-painted and back-lit with LEDs, to produce, in some cases, vast ornamental objects”. The beautiful large works have the added effect of changing slightly depending on where you stand in the gallery as the light shines through the wood.

This show closes 1/13/18.

 

 

May 062017
 

                                                                                             Drizzle (Wangechi Mutu) 2010

                                                                                                  Redhead, 2015

Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty at Brooklyn Museum is absolutely stunning and a must see if you are in New York. The four decades of her work shown in the retrospective offer a chance to see the artist’s progression in style and technique, as well as content.

The exhibit starts with early black and white photos Minter took of her mother, smoking in bed, applying makeup or just staring into a mirror, with a hint of a former glamour that has now faded. It becomes immediately clear that Minter’s interest in exploring standards of beauty were present early on.  Moving through the exhibit you follow her evolution into her current work. From her early Photorealist paintings, to suggestive paintings of food, and then moving gradually to work that more explicitly uses sexual imagery, including a series of pubic hair paintings for Playboy that were mostly rejected. In that same section her slow motion videos of thick liquids being licked up and spit out on a glass pane by a red lipped mouth, walk the line between fascinating and repulsive.  Her large scale photo-realistic enamel on metal paintings that make up a large part of the retrospective are a particular standout with their lush colors.  The exhibition ends with the video, Smash, 2014, in which ominous music plays as a closeup of feet in high heeled silver sandals and red painted toenails breaks glass and splashes silvery liquid in slow motion. It is mesmerizing.

This interview with Minter is interesting and shows the work in the retrospective (from when it was shown at the Orange County Museum of Art)-

This exhibition closes 5/7/17.

 

Feb 182017
 

                                                                                        Rest During The Flight Into Egypt, 2016

                                                                                           The Alpine Retreat, 2016

Many of Adrian Ghenie’s oil paintings take up their own wall in Pace Gallery and it is hard not to be drawn in by the bold colors and the blend of figuration and abstraction. The exhibition also includes some of his smaller collage pieces, which help to show Ghenie’s process for creating this work, and three of his self portraits.

From the press release-

Born in 1977 in Baia Mare, Romania, Adrian Ghenie was formally trained as a representational painter. He adopted conceptual tendencies from Dada that he synthesizes with his rigorous technical abilities, displaying both a Baroque mastery of chiaroscuro and a gestural handling of paint indebted to Abstract Expressionism. In 2008, Ghenie’s paintings began to explore themes of history, memory, and the former Communist regime of his native Romania, not through biographical reflection but rather through a direct address of the legacies of historical figures. The imagery in his paintings is largely derived from historical sources incorporated into dreamlike or cinematic vignettes in which figures appear in haunting interiors.

This show closes 2/18.

Feb 182017
 

For Cory Arcangel and Olia Lialina’s exhibition at The Kitchen, Asymmetrical Response, the early days of the internet come to life in various artworks. The carpet is made of a diamond plate pattern that used to be a common background on 1990s websites and the wallpaper uses patterns from early Yahoo templates. One of the most interesting pieces is Lialina’s Give me time/This page is no more, a slide projection of former popular hosting site Geocities’ members home pages that promise a site they will create or come back to in the future. It’s hard not to look at these pages and wonder how soon what we are seeing now on the web will seem as antiquated as these images.

From the press release-

In military parlance, the terms asymmetrical and symmetrical are employed to refer to political provocations and diplomatic démarches, escalation and tension, and power dynamics of the highest order. Not specific to war, these terms also refer more generally to a set of relations that define our connections to power.

On the eve of Y2K, Russian­-born Olia Lialina—who is among the best-known participants in the 1990s net.art scene—first met American artist Cory Arcangel. Ever since, the artists have been deep in dialogue about the social and cultural impact of the Internet’s historical shift from a tool for military communication to an “information superhighway” promising open and equal exchange, and, finally, the increasingly asymmetric “content delivery system” we experience today.

This show closes 2/18/17.

Jan 282017
 

This is the last weekend to see Kerry James Marshall:Mastery at Met Breuer in New York, definitely one of the best exhibitions I saw in 2016.

Here is Met Breuer’s overview of the exhibition-

This major monographic exhibition is the largest museum retrospective to date of the work of American artist Kerry James Marshall (born 1955). Encompassing nearly 80 works—including 72 paintings—that span the artist’s remarkable 35-year career, it reveals Marshall’s practice to be one that synthesizes a wide range of pictorial traditions to counter stereotypical representations of black people in society and reassert the place of the black figure within the canon of Western painting.

Born before the passage of the Civil Rights Act in Birmingham, Alabama, and witness to the Watts rebellion in 1965, Marshall has long been an inspired and imaginative chronicler of the African American experience. He is known for his large-scale narrative history paintings featuring black figures—defiant assertions of blackness in a medium in which African Americans have long been invisible—and his exploration of art history covers a broad temporal swath stretching from the Renaissance to 20th-century American abstraction. Marshall critically examines and reworks the Western canon through its most archetypal forms: the historical tableau, landscape and genre painting, and portraiture. His work also touches upon vernacular forms such as the muralist tradition and the comic book in order to address and correct, in his words, the “vacuum in the image bank” and to make the invisible visible.

The exhibition runs concurrently with Kerry James Marshall Selects, a room curated by Marshall, of work from the Met collection “ranging from the Northern Renaissance to French post-Impressionism, and from African masks to American photography of the 1950s and ‘60s, underscoring the global and historical nature of the influences that are predominant in his practice”. This is a wonderful addition that adds another layer of perspective to the work.

Taking up two floors of the building, and with work that is often filled with detailed imagery, make sure to leave enough time to take it all in.

For more information on the artist, this New York Times article discusses the retrospective, the artist’s history, and includes quotes from an interview the author had with Marshall in his studio.

This exhibition closes on 1/29/17. If you are in Los Angeles, or visiting, it will open at MOCA Grand Avenue on March 12, 2017.

 

 

 

(Image courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Photo by Nathan Keay)