Oct 222019
 

Alex Prager’s exhibition at Lehmann Maupin’s 22nd Street location combines sculpture and still photography with her new film Play The Wind. The photographs in the show recreate scenes from the film, but are not from the film itself.  There are also photos of scenes that could have been from the film, but are not. These allow the viewer to consider alternate narratives to the story they have just seen. The photos also offer an opportunity to see many of the details from the film seen only briefly while watching.

Running for eight minutes, Play the Wind is a journey into a bizarre version of Los Angeles. It’s seen mainly through the window of a car, the way many Los Angeles residents often see it. Places seem familiar, as do many of the large cast of extras who inhabit this world, even if you are not personally familiar with the city.

The cab driver, played by Dimitri Chamblas (dean of the Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance at CalArts), drives through situations that seem both surreal and possible at the same time, like many things that happen in LA. At one point the cab driver, drives past an accident on the highway and sees a car vertical between two other cars with children in a school bus leaning out of the windows to observe. He passes alongside and moves on. It’s just another moment in a chaotic Los Angeles day. When he locks eyes with a woman played by actress Riley Keough, the film changes to her perspective and it all becomes even more dreamlike.

From the press release

…She anchors her characteristically elaborate fictional scenes within the real Los Angeles, shooting for the first time in many years primarily on location rather than in the studio—a decision that harkens back to when Prager began her career over a decade ago. Though the images contain large constructed set pieces and are populated with carefully cast extras (numbering up to 300), the presence of the Los Angeles streets infuses an element of urban lifeblood that is palpable in the work. Prager’s perception of Los Angeles is one of the artifice and drama befitting Hollywood, with real world chaos that overflows into sci-fi dystopia and post-apocalyptic dread. She toys with these visions of the city disseminated on film, TV, and within the popular imagination, which inform our characterization of a place as much as our own memories.

Technically important to the making of this film was Prager’s collaboration with a team to produce set designs and props that would add a layer of artifice and duplicity to her real-world locations. The interference of these traditional illusionary effects upon the actual Los Angeles streets and locations Prager shot on creates an unnerving sensation, hinting at the reality that might exist just outside of our perception. All of these elements are recast in the series of photographs, which appear in different configurations or on various scales that further destabilize any linear narrative. Drawing on the concept of a distorted memory, Prager has found ways to incorporate objects seen in the photographs and film into the gallery as sculpture, with the intent to further dislodge our understanding of place and time and bring us deeper into her highly constructed world.

Connoisseurs of Prager’s work will likely spot the references to her past series, such as the noir themed Compulsion (2012), or the archetypical ingénue of The Big Valley (2008). This self-referencing becomes yet another layering device, mixing Prager’s career-spanning themes and the greater art historical genres from which they are drawn to create work both entirely new, yet seemingly familiar. Prager’s incorporation of her past into her present work serves as a reminder that while the past may not be returned to, it does remain with us, appearing in surprising, sometimes unsettling ways.

This exhibition closes 10/26/19.

Oct 182019
 

“Crescent (Timekeeper)”

“Crescent (Timekeeper)”

“Crescent (Timekeeper)” Detail

Sarah Sze’s exhibition at Tanya Bonakdar’s gallery in New York is stunning. There is so much to look at, to appreciate. There are so many pieces to all of the work, and yet it never feels overwhelming. It makes you want to keep looking.

It’s also immersive. The windows on the outside of the gallery are covered in her work, as is the staircase alcove. The video projections in the main room travel all around the room, surrounding you with visuals and sound. Upstairs the floors of the gallery have paint splattered on them, accompanying the works on the walls.

Detail of the above work

In a room on the first floor is a “studio space” where you can gain insight into Sze’s process and how she makes these elaborate works.

From the press release-

Sze’s latest body of work frays “the seam between the real and the image” (Smith). Through complex constellations of objects and a proliferation of images, Sze expands upon the never- ending stream of visual narratives that we negotiate daily, from magazines and newspapers, television and iPhones, to cyberspace and outer space. The works evoke the generative and recursive process of image-making in a world where consumption and production are more interdependent, where the beginning of one idea is the ending of another—and where sculpture gives rise to images, and images to sculpture.

In this new exhibition, Sze expands her work by embedding her nuanced sculptural language into the material surfaces of painting and into the digital realm through the interplay of cloth, ink, wood, paper, metal, paint, found objects, light, sound and structural supports—collapsing distinctions between two, three and four dimensions. This body of work fundamentally alters our sense of time, place, and memory by transforming our experiences of the physical world around us. Both objects and images, Sze says, are “ultimately reminders of our own ephemerality”.

This exhibition closes 10/19/19.

 

 

Oct 172019
 

From Ishiuchi Miyako’s “Scars” series (1991-)

Images from the “ひろしま/ hiroshima” series, 2007-present

Ishiuchi Miyako’s exhibition occupies both floors of Fergus McCaffrey’s Chelsea gallery space and includes over 70 photographs from five series made over four decades, including many early and never-before-seen works.

On the first floor are the artist’s somber black and white photos of the buildings of her hometown of Yokosuka. Yokosuka was also the home of a US Naval Base, established in 1945.  In another room is work from her Scars series, for which she photographed the damage left behind by injury, illness, and trauma. These portraits focus not on the people but on the imprints on their bodies. Despite that, they don’t feel impersonal or voyeuristic. There is a tenderness to these images.

Photographs of objects dominate the rest of the exhibition. There are a series of images of her mother’s possessions, taken before she passed away. She also photographed Frida Kahlo’s belongings, including a pair of her shoes that were different sizes- accommodating the physical issues Kahlo had after her bout with polio as a child.

The photos of items donated to the Hiroshima Peace Museum, for the ひろしま/ hiroshima series, are especially moving. The articles of clothing worn by residents of Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped on the city are worn and damaged. It’s hard not to think of what happened to the people who owned them.

Each series of photographs is unique, but tying them together is the idea of capturing what gets left behind. It can be a city or a scar or a person’s possessions after they die, but they have an effect. Ishiuchi’s photos record that effect in an impressive and thought provoking way.

This exhibition closes 10/18/19.

 

Oct 032019
 

“Lake Annecy”, 2019 and “Sailboat”, 2019

Lake Annecy, 2019 detail

Currently at Miles McEnery’s gallery locations in Chelsea are two engaging painting exhibitions.

Guy Yanai’s paintings, at the 21st Street location, are created with strips of oil paint and are fascinating to walk up close to, observing the details, and then to pull back from to see as a whole. He also chose a bright yellow for the walls of the gallery to be painted, which brings out the colors of the paintings even further.

From the press release

Guy Yanai strips his subjects down to geometric necessity and builds them back up again in oil paint, establishing a tension on his canvases between the spatially flat and the physically multidimensional. A combination of diagrammatic delineation of form and vivid color, Yanai’s paintings are an optical delight.

Yanai accomplishes this willful distillation of his subjects by painting obsessively in tight chromatic strips. While from afar the individual brushstrokes fade into the larger landscape, up close one can notice the stops and starts of each metered stroke. This synthesis speaks to Yanai’s desire for his works “to have such tension that if you take out one brushstroke, the painting will collapse.” The smoothness and uniformity of his taut oil bands offer a linear precision that can only be accomplished by the most disciplined draftsman.

While Yanai harkens back to modernist masters such as Matisse and Cézanne, his compositions are pixelated in a manner that is fundamentally contemporary. The collection of short and disconnected brushstrokes merge in the viewer’s eye to create a fully realized image. Yanai’s paintings experiment with the digital in contemporary art. “As beholden to the virtual imagery of the internet as to the history of modernism,” Ara H. Merjian writes in his essay, Élan Vital, “Yanai’s work proves beguilingly complex despite – or rather, precisely in – its congenial simplicity.”

Often revisiting the same subject, he paints from memory – of a place, of a moment, of a feeling. Just as recollections brighten and fade in the mind over time, Yanai recalls his own inspirations and recreates them in different ways as they evolve. What results is a proliferation of works that demonstrate Yanai’s rich meditation on his experiences. Whether an open window or an ocean view, Yanai’s nostalgic passion has a lasting impact on its viewer.

At their 22nd Street location are Brian Alfred’s colorful graphic paintings of places in New York City.

“W. 4th St.”, 2018-2019

“Central Park at Dusk”, 2019

From the press release-

Alfred navigates these complex themes using an approach characterized by sharp lines and blocked colors. Tightly-cropped compositions manipulate the viewer’s perception of space, conflating overlapping buildings, signage, and other urban elements. These vibrant, city-shaped configurations capture ephemeral moments: the view through the gap between two skyscrapers, the contour of a passing storefront from a car window, and a downward glance into a subway entrance. While they might not last long, these unique fields of vision are fundamental parts of the experience of the city.

Both of these exhibitions close 10/5/19.

Oct 032019
 

Jim Krewson’s “tribute to a vanishing subculture”, A Requiem for Paul Lynde, currently in the Viewing Room in the back of Marlborough Gallery’s downtown location, “questions the loss and amnesia of marginal identity in a new age of equality, instant access, Instagram influencers and celebrity, from homosexuality to homogenization in 20 short years.”

The airbrushed wedding dress spins with images that include Lynde himself, as well as Lady Elaine Fairchild from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and the Madame puppet, a Wayland Flowers creation. Flowers’ puppet had her own sitcom in 1982 and also took over Paul Lynde’s center square on Hollywood Squares. Sadly Flowers, an openly gay entertainer, passed away in 1988 at the age of 48 from AIDS related Kaposi’s sarcoma.

If you love of a certain time period of pop culture and Paul Lynde than it will be hard not to embrace this project. But it’s also interesting as a meditation on the state of gay pop culture in the past, the place it is in today, and the question of where it may go in the future now that it is has such a strong, but less subversive place, within mainstream media.

In the main viewing space of Marlborough Gallery is Joe Zucker’s multi-panel 100-Foot-Long-Piece created from 1968 to 1969.

From the press release

This masterwork, exhibited here with a large body of related archival material, comprises a blueprint for Zucker’s long and diverse practice. It plants a flag for the artist’s ongoing inventiveness, irony, and eclecticism.

With the creation of this work, Zucker presents the viewer with a puzzle-like, encyclopedic visual vocabulary, anticipating subsequent pictorial and conceptual approaches such as New Image, Neo-Expressionism, Appropriation, Neo Geo, as well as more recent process- based abstraction, with a self-referential, wry regard for the embedded, associative meaning of his imagery and materials.

100-Foot-Long Piece is a linear aggregate in which gestural abstraction rubs elbows with hard edged grids, silk-screened passages, sculptural reliefs, and a host of other styles and forms. One is mindful of both physical and critical tropes of progressive art history from the physicality of the frieze to a qualitative timeline tracing the contributions of Modernism.

Both shows close 10/5/19.

Feb 162019
 

This month there are a lot of excellent exhibitions on view in Chelsea.

At David Zwirner is God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin, a group show curated by writer Hilton Als. The works are varied and include portraits by Richard Avedon (shown above), a friend of Baldwin’s who also attended De Witt Clinton High School with him, as well work by Njideka Akunyili Crosby (seen below), Kara Walker, James Welling, Beuford Delaney, Glenn Ligon and many more.

Nyado: The Thing Around Her Neck, 2011 by Njideka Akunyili Crosby

At Marianne Boesky Gallery is Pure, Very, New, Paul Stephen Benjamin’s first solo exhibition in New York. The exhibition includes paintings, photographs, sculpture, and single and multi-channel video installations, as well as a new site-specific black light installation in the internal passageway between the two spaces.

From the press release

Benjamin’s practice is rooted in a vigorous meditation on blackness, considering: “What is the color black?” “What does black sound like?” “Is it an adjective, a verb, an essence, or all of these components mixed to create a nuanced whole?” For his large-scale monochromatic paintings, Benjamin thickly coats the canvas in varying shades of black, producing a sensation of boundless depth. This is further accentuated by Benjamin’s application of the particular tonality’s name within the field of color—the words appearing to float and dissipate within the richness of the paint itself. The development of these paintings followed an ordinary visit to a hardware store, where Benjamin was confronted with the many permutations of commercial black paint. Shades of black came with emotive titles like “Totally Black,” “New Black,” and “Pure Black,” among numerous others. For Benjamin, this sparked a multi-layered investigation of the color and whether it could be distilled or understood differently within the context of a painting or the color itself.

 … Benjamin’s practice also extends into a conceptual investigation of sound, and how “black” can be conveyed and experienced aurally. In these works, he often uses single and multi-channel video installations to loop portions of particular historic and cultural footage to isolate fragments of collective memories or internalized narratives. With Black is the Color (2015), which will be included in the exhibition, Benjamin arranges a towering cluster of antiquated televisions, forming a glowing grid that endlessly repeats a segment of Nina Simone’s 1959 performance of “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair.” Here, Benjamin appropriates only the words “Black is the Color,” creating an abstraction of the song that reveals the contradictions and parallels between the notion of black being the color and it being a color. Moving fluidly from sound installation to painting to photography and sculpture, Benjamin’s practice is driven by the idea that blackness, whether explored as a matter of conceptual inquiry or identity, cannot be captured in a single action, emotion, or language.

Black Is The Color 2015 by Paul Stephen Benjamin

At Yancey Richardson is Blue Sweep, an exhibition of Andrew Moore’s beautiful photographs, taken in Alabama and Mississippi over the course of three years.

Carmen, Saunders Hall, AL 2015 by Andrew Moore

At Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery is Oliver Jeffers’ charming painting exhibition For All We Know. If his work looks familiar it may be because Jeffers is also the author of several critically acclaimed picture books.

From the press release

This series of paintings illuminate a dream-like nocturnal world populated by astronauts, deep-sea divers, sinking ships, floating pianos, and burning matches. Omnipresent throughout are the night sky and the ocean – the two great and unknown frontiers – glittered with the imaginary lines that create constellations, serving in this case as a mysterious key to unlock our world.

Expanding on years of observation, from the history of his upbringing in Belfast, to contemporary New York City, Jeffers’ evokes the precarious state of our home and its inhabitants. Inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s seminal book Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, he presents pianos as dubious flotation devices and our planet presented as a cumbersome motor vehicle, overheating as we argue over what to play on the radio. From researching astronaut’s descriptions of looking at Earth from the distance of the Moon, Jeffers noticed certain recognizable patterns to the way in which he discussed the politics of his hometown from a vantage point of across the Atlantic Ocean. In finding that few people outside of Northern Ireland knew or cared of the intricate conflict there, a great waste of time was revealed: a divided population identical to each other in every way save for the flags they flew and the stories they told. Tragically, each side’s identity are still firmly rooted to the existence of the other, and therefore locked into a spiral of repeated patterns.

 

At both of Jack Shainman’s locations are a series of impressive paintings by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.

Black Allegiance to the Cunning, 2018 by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

 

For a new kind of exhibition experience, Asad Raza has organized the group show Life to Come, at Metro Pictures which “brings together works that meditate on the creation of new worlds and new models for living.” There are no labels or listings for the works included in the show. Instead there is a guided tour by hosts who take you around the various works to help you draw connections between the objects. Adding to the uniqueness of the experience, at one point the host pauses while talking and partially in motion, recreating a work by artist Tino Sehgal, and at another they show you that they have changed their eye color, a work by Rirkrit Tiravanija.

From the press release

Experiencing these works together incites intellectual, physical, and spiritual understandings of what it means to make an entirely new world, one in which reality is made from fiction. Raza asserts that “by re-immersing ourselves in the strangeness and fecundity of attempts to create worlds that have gone before, our imagination of a world beyond the present may be renewed.” The uncertainty about what new paradigm awaits us is unsettling in the wake of the modernist 20th century, but it links us to previous generations who experienced radical reinventions of biological and social life.

Philippe Parreno, La pierre qui parle (The Speaking Stone), 2018.

 

Selection of work by Camille Henrot (floral arrangements inspired by books)

All of these exhibitions close 2/16/19.

 

 

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.

 

 

Oct 202017
 

If you are heading to Chelsea this weekend, stop in to these galleries which have excellent shows closing 10/21/17.

At Jack Shainman’s 24th Street space are Leslie Wayne’s rich and colorful sculptural paintings for her exhibition Free Experience.

From the press release-

In Free Experience, I have returned to the figure-ground relationship as a way of exploring the range of possibilities for the representation of an illusion in as many different ways as possible, from trompe l’oeil to verisimilitude, while still remaining undeniably within the confines of a traditional painting. These paintings are a collision of abstraction and representation, of illusion and three-dimensional form. They are defined not so much by the shape of the objects they represent, but by the perceptual slippage between object and illusion. They are, like all my work, somewhere between sculpture and painting, and perhaps in Krauss’s view would simply be considered painting in the expanded field.

Looking at art is a free experience. It costs you nothing. But it should also be an experience that is free from encumbrances, one that inspires you to see the world as if for the very first time. But perception is a tricky thing. It is never without personal history. How do we see, what do we think we see? And what makes the experience of looking at a work of art so compelling? The answer lies outside of language, in that transformational moment between looking and seeing, between information and knowledge. In that moment before the need to translate the experience into language moves from the id to the ego. Seeing is indeed forgetting the name of the thing one sees.

 

Upstairs at David Zwirner’s 20th Street location, is the gallery’s first exhibition of the work of Ruth Asawa (pictured below). It includes many of her famous wire sculptures as well as works on paper, paintings, and vintage photos of her and her work taken by Imogen Cunningham.