Feb 012024
 

Black and part Black Birds in America: (Grackle, Cardinal & Rose-breasted Grosbeak), 2020, by Kerry James Marshall, was part of the group exhibition 20/20 at David Zwirner gallery in NYC in December of 2020. The painting is part of a series that explores black identity, his love of birding, and by the history and work of John James Audubon.

Below is an excerpt from a New York Times article about the work and its Audubon connection-

“There’s a disconnect between the house that’s built and the birds,” Mr. Marshall said of the crow and grackle. “It’s not designed for them, you know?” The scene considers, he said, “the pecking order.”

The series itself has been brewing in Mr. Marshall’s mind for eight or nine years, he said, and he began painting the works just before transmissions of the coronavirus accelerated in the United States in March.

A casual bird enthusiast who has been fascinated by Audubon’s draughtsmanship since he was a child, Mr. Marshall has long put Black protagonists at the center of his complex, richly layered compositions. “Many Mansions” (1994), one of his large-scale depictions of housing projects, features three Black men gardening — and, not incidentally, there are two bluebirds holding up a banner, too. The pointed inclusion of Black figures is part of what he has called a “counter-archive” to the familiar, white-centered story of Western art.

For the new series, the images hinge on Audubon’s own racial heritage: Many people believe he was, as Mr. Marshall’s title suggests, “part Black” — born in what is now Haiti, as Jean Rabin, to a white, plantation-owning father and a Creole chambermaid who may have been of racially-mixed descent. But, the theory goes, he was able to pass as white.

Apr 252023
 

It’s the last week to see the Gerhard Richter exhibition at David Zwirner. The show includes a group of Richter’s last paintings from 2016-17, two of which are pictured above, as well as a new glass sculpture and recent works on paper.

From the press release-

Celebrated worldwide as one of the most important artists of his generation, with a career spanning from the 1960s to the present, Richter has pursued a diverse and influential practice characterized by a decades-long commitment to painting and its formal and conceptual possibilities. The artist has consistently probed the relationship between painting and photography, engaging a variety of styles and innovative techniques in a complex repositioning of genres. In Richter’s work, dual modes of representation and abstraction fundamentally question the way in which we relate to images.

The exhibition will bring together a significant group of Richter’s last oil paintings, made in 2016–2017, a number of which will be shown in New York for the first time. Richter stopped making oil paintings in 2017, and the final work on canvas he made will be on view in the exhibition. Part of the artist’s Abstrakte Bilder (Abstract Paintings) series—a cornerstone of his practice since the 1970s—the works on view exemplify Richter’s investigations into chance occurrences and the painted medium’s historical and material properties. With their highly worked and intricately stratified surfaces, the last paintings foreground the sheer physical presence of paint and color, enacting a mode of composition that is aleatory yet deliberately planned.

Centrally featured will be 3 Scheiben (3 Panes) (2023), a new glass sculpture that continues Richter’s exploration of human perception and the built environment. Comprising three sequential rectangular panes of transparent yet reflective glass—each one positioned upright and measuring almost ten feet in height—the installation invites viewers to look at, through, and beyond its surface, revealing the inherently subjective and situational nature of perceived reality. Richter has consistently created glass and mirrored works since 1967, often presenting them alongside his paintings and drawings and placing them in the larger context of their surrounding architecture. Crucially, while sculptural, these free-standing glass works are also positioned as a literal reflection on painting and image-making; they respond to the art-historical notion of the painting as both a mirror and a window, while also acting as a powerful corollary to the blurred effect of Richter’s photo paintings, which the artist began experimenting with in the 1960s. As critic Hal Foster notes, “The felt analogy between a composed painting and a contemplative viewer is so fundamental that we are not aware of it until it is interfered with. And this is precisely what the glass pieces do: our reflection, in the sense of our mirrored image, disrupts our reflection, in the sense of our contemplation.”1

An expansive suite of new works on paper from 2021–2022—some made with ink and others with graphite and colored pencil—will also be on view. Richter’s drawings constitute a significant element of his practice, allowing him to explore another aspect of the role of the artist’s hand in the creation of a dynamic and abstract pictorial narrative. Many of these works feature passages of cloudy graphite rubbings juxtaposed with equally hazy semi-erased portions. The artist embeds a sparse network of crisscrossing arcs and lines amongst this backdrop, forming an enigmatic topography that seems to map out the very possibilities of image-making itself. Other drawings on view are composed of abstract monochrome washes of ink and graphite, taking on a decisively painterly appearance; as Richter describes, these works on paper chart out a parallel but complementary path to his painted oeuvre, much like that of “a poem and a novel by the same author.”2

Also on view will be mood, a group of inkjet prints that relate to a recent series of colored ink drawings by Richter, both of which debuted at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel in 2022. Part of the artist’s extensive career-long experiments with the iterative translation and interplay of mediums, these vibrant prints are almost indistinguishable from their ink counterparts, revealing Richter’s continued fascination with the possibilities of image reproduction.

This exhibition closes 4/29/23.

Apr 122023
 

There are only a few days left to see Franz West’s large, fun sculptures, Echolalia, at David Zwirner in NYC.

From the press release-

Executed in 2010, only a few years before the artist’s death, Echolalia consists of seven colorful, larger-than-life sculptures that seem to stand slightly off-balance, interspersed with three cushioned divans. The work’s title—which refers to the repetition of words and sounds made by young children when learning to talk—was inspired by the artist’s son, who at the time of its creation was three years old and brought his own, distinct perspective to his father’s oversized works.

Not exhibited publicly in more than ten years, the work represents the apotheosis of West’s commitment to sculpture as social space, integrating the viewer within an immersive, total environment. Conceptually, the installation manifests the intersection of many of West’s ongoing interests—most notably, the playfulness of sculpture, the participation of the viewer, and the importance of language.

A voracious reader throughout his lifetime, West was constantly and consistently incorporating various philosophical, psychoanalytical, and historical lines of thinking in his work, as though language itself was another material one could work with.

When Echolalia debuted in Rome in 2010, West published excerpts from the readings that came to influence the work, which included writings from figures across eras and disciplines, including Jacques Lacan, William Shakespeare, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Mike Davis, Jean-Paul Sartre, Max Weber, and over a dozen others.

West’s sculptures and installations often invite the public’s interaction, engaging his viewers in order to subvert traditional exhibition models. In the mid-1970s, he began creating his so-called Passstücke, or Adaptives, a number of which are on view in a concurrent exhibition of West’s work at our Paris gallery.

These roughly hewn, abstracted sculptural forms were intended to be handled by the viewer in a manner of his or her choosing, thereby “adapting” the works to their own physical being and context.

Extending this interest, in Echolalia, the individual sculptures are seemingly weightless and on wheels, meaning the exhibitor can hypothetically rearrange these elements, interacting with the sculpture and evidencing the artist’s longstanding fascination with spatial manipulation and play.

This exhibition closes 4/15/23.

Aug 012021
 

Act Up, 1992

 

Arse Injected Death Syndrome,1993

Currently at David Zwirner’s New York locations are works by British artist Derek Jarman. They are part of the gallery’s series of curated solo exhibitions More Life  which includes artists whose lives were cut short by HIV/AIDS related complications during the first twenty years of the epidemic.

From the gallery’s website-

Jarman trained as a painter from 1963 to 1967 and continued to paint throughout his life, latterly in a studio at his cottage in Dungeness, England. In his paintings, words and abstract colors, rather than overt imagery, convey the artist’s personal and physical experience with AIDS. Hovering between abstraction and language, he subverts the means through which the media and the government address and represent people living with AIDS and the virus. These works linger in the experience of a body failing, and a body being failed by larger systemic bias, inaction, and homophobia.

Drawn from Jarman’s Slogan paintings (1992–1993), the works on view feature scrawled phrases such as “Arse Injected Death Syndrome” and “AIDS Isle” across expressionist canvases. Selected works from this series were included in Jarman’s landmark solo exhibition QUEER at Manchester City Art Galleries in 1992. Commenting on the massive exhibition banners hung from the museum’s facade, Jarman called them “a world first for civic gay pride.”

Also on view is Jarman’s incredibly moving film Blue.

From the gallery website-

Premiered at the Venice Biennale in June 1993, Blue was made after an AIDS-related infection rendered Jarman temporarily blind. Afterwards, as a result of lesions discovered on his eyes, the artist suffered a condition whereby vivid flashes of blue light interrupted his vision.

The film rejects images because, according to the artist, they “hinder the imagination and beg a narrative and suffocate with arbitrary charm, the admirable austerity of the void.” Instead, an unmodified, 75-minute screen of Yves Klein’s “International Klein Blue” is accompanied by a soundtrack of music and sounds. The voices of Tilda Swinton, Nigel Terry, John Quentin, and Jarman read a haunting combination of Jarman’s own poetry and excerpts from his hospital diaries.

Blue not only recounts Jarman’s corporeal experiences with the virus, but also demands that viewers meditate viscerally on color, the void, and the somatic experience of living with AIDS. The film is Jarman’s last feature, completed months before he died.

The interview below provides some background on the artist, and includes clips from the film.

This exhibition is on view until August 3rd, 2021.

 

 

Oct 102020
 

The Mountain, 2020

The Mountain, Center Painting

 

The Mountain, Center Painting, Detail

Untitled, 2020

Detail of the above painting

Untitled, 2020

Currently at David Zwirner’s 19th Street location is Traveling Light, an exhibition of new work by Belgian-born, New York–based artist Harold Ancart. The stunning large scale paintings were created using oil stick and graphite.

From the press release

On view in one gallery space will be a new series of paintings that depicts trees. These works were painted between Ancart’s Brooklyn studio and a makeshift outdoor studio in Los Angeles, which he traveled to during lockdown. Pointing to references as varied as René Magritte, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, and Piet Mondrian, who approached this subject matter in distinct ways, Ancart’s tree paintings blur form and color, figure and ground, and figuration and abstraction.

In the adjoining gallery space, there will be two multipanel canvases that situate the viewer between a mountain-scape and a seascape, both monumental in scale. These works are inspired in part by the artist’s encounter with the modernist landscape murals of the American painter Gottardo Piazzoni (1872–1945) permanently installed at the De Young Museum, San Francisco.

The exhibition constructs an immersive landscape experience, and together, the works on view comprise a meditation on the expansive possibilities of painting.

The two quotes from Ancart below (taken from the gallery’s website) describe the concept of the exhibition a bit more.

“It is a very strange time to think about traveling, and it is a strange time to think about freedom. I didn’t conceive the exhibition this way, but I guess meaning always catches up with you. I am opening this exhibition, Traveling Light, at a time when no one travels.… But there are always means of transportation, and I think painting is very much one of them.”

“I actually did conceive the exhibition as a walk.… I think it is very important, as a painter, that you can wander freely through paint. And I think it is very important as a viewer that you can wander equally freely through it. You don’t need to know where you are going.”

This exhibition closes 10/17/20.

 

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.

Feb 202020
 

Closing 2/22/20 at David Zwirner’s 20th Street location in New York is Stan Douglas’s fascinating video installation Doppelgänger. It is also on view at view at Victoria Miro Gallery in London.

From the press release

Since the late 1980s, Douglas has created films and photographs—and more recently theater productions and other multidisciplinary projects—that investigate the parameters of their mediums. His ongoing inquiry into technology’s role in image-making, and how those mediations infiltrate and shape collective memory, has resulted in works that are at once specific in their historical and cultural references and broadly accessible.

Doppelgänger is set in an alternative present. Displayed on two square-format, translucent screens, each of which can be viewed from both sides, the looped narrative unfolds in side-by-side vignettes that depict events on worlds that are light years apart. When one spacecraft embarks on its journey, another is launched at the same time in a parallel reality. Alice, a solitary astronaut, is teleported to a distant planet, and her double to another. Then, Alice and her ship, the Hermes II, for unknown reasons, return. Alice assumes her mission has failed and she has somehow returned home, but she has, in fact, arrived at a world where everything, from writing to the rotation of the sun, is literally the reverse of what she once knew.

The action on the two screens proceeds alternately in tandem and in parallel, seamlessly moving between two oppositional scenarios of Alice’s reception back on Earth. In one version, Alice is received compassionately and welcomed home, whereas in the other, she is treated as an outlaw or a potential threat. Douglas intentionally heightens the viewer’s feeling of displacement through a continual sense of reversal and mirroring, both in the form and content of his installation. Since the early 1990s, multi-channel video installations have been an integral part of Douglas’s practice, allowing for the simultaneous presentation of multiple, overlapping narratives or vantage points, and with Doppelgänger, he extends his ongoing exploration of both nonlinear narratives and alternate histories: the omnipresent sense of doubling that is built into the structure of the work implicitly suggests the possibility of simultaneous, diverging experiences and realities.

Intercut with quasi-abstract passages of color and light, which nod both to avant-garde cinema as well as the history of space exploration, Doppelgänger presents a nuanced and layered parable that powerfully addresses the slippery notion of objective truth, and the position of the “other” in contemporary society.

 

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 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.

 

 

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.