May 132024

“The Lazy Logic of Ignava Ratio”, 2009, Acrylic on canvas

“The Lazy Logic of Ignava Ratio”, 2009, Acrylic on canvas (detail)

Ryan McGuiness’s brightly colored screen printed paintings for WYSIWYG at Miles McEnery Gallery are incredibly dense with imagery, yet still manage not to feel too overwhelming. The combinations of graphics and patterns do require a closer look though.

The title of the exhibition references the acronym for What You See Is What You Get, which refers to software that allows creators to see and edit their product in the form it will resemble when printed or displayed.  Whether there is more to these paintings than what is seen remains up to the viewer.

“Condition Report”, 2022 and “Recreational Use”, 2022, Acrylic on wood

“Only a Thief Thinks Everybody Steals”, 2008, Acrylic on canvas

May 132024

“Capturing the Moment”, 2023, Acrylic on canvas

“Prismatic Window”, 2023, Acrylic on canvas

“El Paraíso”, 2023, and “Coin Laundry”, 2023, Acrylic on canvas

“Kurashiki Ki”, 2023, Acrylic on canvas

“Daikanyama”, 2023, Acrylic on canvas

Brian Alfred’s paintings for his exhibition Beauty is A Rare Thing at Miles McEnery Gallery capture moments from his travels around the world. Small details are removed to focus on shapes and colors, resulting in works that are extremely pleasing to the eye.

From the press release-

…Alfred’s process, honed over the past two decades, distills his source imagery to its most essential forms, layering idyllic elements together and segmenting forms into two dimensional planes of mostly-solid color to reveal a sense of stillness that can be tranquil, unsettling, or both. His compositions are reminiscent of architectural ukiyo-e prints, both in technique and style, while his exploration of collage continues to inform the resulting paintings.

“Alfred captures the ephemeral, silencing the noise of the world and focusing solely on the composition,” writes Annabel Keenan. “In every image, there is a sense that he is not only preserving the memory of a place, but also the essence of a specific time. This show… is more personal than his others.” Beauty is a Rare Thing casts a newfound appreciation on the everyday, presenting an aura of hope over our ever changing world.

Also included in a separate room are his portraits of contemporary musicians, pictured below.

Jul 252023

Currently at the University of Florida’s Contemporary Art Museum is Rico Gatson: Visible Time. The exhibition includes a collection of the artist’s paintings and works on paper, video works from 2001-present, and a life size mural of author Zora Neale Hurston.

From the museum’s website about the exhibition-

For more than two decades, Brooklyn-based artist Rico Gatson has been celebrated for his vibrant, colorful, and layered artworks. Inspired by significant moments in African American history, identity politics and spirituality, his oeuvre includes images of protests and longstanding injustices—touching on subjects like the murder of Emmett Till, the Watts Riots, and the formation of the Black Panthers—as well as dynamic abstract geometries that celebrate Pan-Africanist aesthetics and Black cultural and political figures.

About the mural, Zora III, commissioned by the museum (pictured above)-

Zora Neale Hurston was an American author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. She portrayed racial struggles in the early-1900s American South and published research on hoodoo (a set of spiritual practices, traditions, and beliefs created by enslaved Africans in the Southern U.S.). The most popular of her four novels is Their Eyes Were Watching God, published in 1937. Born in Notasulga, Alabama, Hurston grew up near Orlando, in Eatonville, Florida, incorporated in 1887 as one of the first self-governing all-black municipalities in the country. Despite her landmark achievements, Hurston died penniless and in obscurity in 1960-her novels and other writings largely unknown, until they were single-handedly rescued by novelist Alice Walker in 1975. Through his wall painting Rico Gatson extends the monumental impact of Hurston’s legacy-and Walker’s- into a visual arena reminiscent of the Mexican Muralists and hand-painted cinema signs.

“Untitled (Seven Panels)”, 2022 acrylic paint on wood, in seven parts

From the museum’s wall plaque about the above paintings-

According to catalog contributor Mark Fredricks, Rico Gatson’s “panel paintings” resemble “a musical framework.” Arranged together along a single wall, the “rhythm” animating their colorful compositions and their “uniformity of structure” suggest, anthropomorphically speaking, musicians in a jazz combo. One of the many ways in which Gatson draws on music as a lasting influence in his art, his seven panels approximate what legendary jazz player Albert Ayler described as “the healing force of the universe,” but in three dimensions.

“Don” 2022, Color pencil and photo-collage on paper

“Sidney” 2022, Color pencil and photo-collage on paper

“Miles #2″ 2022, Color pencil and photo-collage on paper

Below are images are from Four Stations, one of the five moving image works in the exhibition. For this work, Gatson traveled to Money, Mississippi and took handheld footage along the trail of places and events that led to the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till.

“Four Stations” 2017

On one of the smaller screens is Gun Play, 2001, a film collage that mixes sequences from Foxy Brown and The Good, the Band and the Ugly, combining them together with kaleidoscopic effects.

“Gun Play”, 2001, single-channel video, color, sound

This Thursday 7/27/23, the museum will be showing Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, the last of the three films chosen by Gatson to accompany the exhibition.

The exhibition will close on Saturday, 7/29.

Apr 212023

“when stone entwines”, 2023, Oil and enamel paint, graphite on cast aluminum, in two parts

“when stone entwines”, 2023, (detail)

“if only, if yet”, 2023, Oil and enamel paint, graphite on cast aluminum/painted wood

“if only, if yet”, 2023, detail

Miles McEnery Gallery is currently showing Katy Cowan’s colorful and intricate sculptures for her exhibition gods on a bridge.

From the press release-

gods on a bridge is Katy Cowan’s first exhibition of metalworks since relocating her artistic practice from California to Berlin. The resulting body of work is a culmination of her current experiences, coupled with engrained references to the historical presence of sculpture in the city.

Each work starts in a foundry where the artist casts solid aluminum forms, which are then adorned with a variety of mediums and methods: acrylic and enamel paints, sprayed and brushed. Cowan elects to retain the fractured casting bars, signaling a parallel to the remnants of the Berlin Wall. As personally described, a guiding principle in her process is to “combine a multitude of experiences onto one surface and find a way to seize that depiction.”

This overarching aim is realized when Cowan draws from natural and urban environment alike—the blooming trees, reflecting ponds, and embracing bodies. The most prominent of these influences are the stone sculptures that appear throughout the city, acting as constant fixtures in the landscape, changing with age, taking on the textures of time and layers of graffiti. In her essay, Stephanie Cristello cements their influence by the figurative turn in Cowan’s compositions, expressing that they “have manifested as sculptural abstractions and fragmented, embodied landscapes.”

Cowan translates this amalgamation of inspiration to her aluminum surfaces, contouring reflections with cast rope, painted lines and flowing points. “Each work constitutes at once a fleshing out of figures as much as a mapping of movements—whether bodies in a park or city street or marks that dance across the capacious plane of representation itself,” writes Stephanie Bailey. “[gods on a bridge is] where line, ground, and figure collapse into a vortex of intuitive becoming.”

This exhibition closes 4/22/23.

Dec 172022

“Tower, Houston”, 2020

“Tower, Houston”, 2020 (closer look)

“City Square at 4 am (Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, Large Version)”, 2020

“Midtown, NYC”, 2020

The paintings above are from Daniel Rich’s 2020 exhibition at Miles McEnery Gallery in NYC.

From the gallery’s press release-

Daniel Rich’s reticulated cityscapes and slick façades appear at first glance to be quite literally superficial. Whether it is a geometric exterior pressed close to the picture plane or a cluster of multiple structures glimpsed from a distance, we experience architecture in his painting as a wholly exteriorized phenomenon— looming close up or made smaller through a bird’s-eye view.

His process-oriented paintings offer windows to different parts of the world— some figuratively, others much more literally—and can evoke a distorted experience of temporality for the viewer. Like compositions by Bernd and Hilla Becher or Andreas Gursky, Rich’s artworks offer clinical, complex architectural views onto the world that are filled with subtleties. However, Rich differs from Becher or Gursky in his painstaking, intricate process of translating found images into painting. The works also evoke early 20th century European Modernism, recalling Giorgio de Chirico’s metaphysical cityscapes and Germany’s Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) artists of the 1920s and 1930s.

Architecture, as it is commonly understood, is designed and implemented to house the human and is itself the manifestation of our constructed realities. When all signs of life are missing from buildings and spaces, as in Rich’s paintings, the result is an unsettling subversion that upends and questions what we have come to expect of both architectural spaces and the organized linearity of time. Rich probes viewers to consider what lies beyond the surface.

Rich also uses his anonymous architectural imagery to talk about history and politics. He speaks of his scenes as “failed utopias” and “changing political power structures.” In their seeming permanence, the fixed and rigid edifices that populate his work speak to a late capitalist urbanism that sees its monuments not as contingent, but as immovable and eternal.

His newest paintings are currently on view at the gallery for his exhibition Flat Earth on view until 1/28/23.

Jul 282021

Houses of the Holy, 2021

Houses of the Holy, 2021, detail

Rain Rereleases, 2021

Rain Rereleases, 2021, detail

Rain Rereleases, 2021, detail

Currently at Miles McEnery Gallery are Tom LaDuke’s incredible layered paintings. The more you look at them, the more the details emerge.

From the press release-

Tom LaDuke’s paintings are painstakingly constructed, offering multiple layers to absorb, with their own references and meanings. In his essay on the artist, Spaulding asserts, “hard-to-describe forms occupy a spatial netherworld that is neither entirely here nor there: neither entirely on the flat of the canvas, nor entirely in the spatial grid of post-Renaissance perspective.” LaDuke’s paintings situate the viewer in an illusory middle dimension, suspended between many levels of imagination.

Forms tend to be screened, stacked, and occluded among layers of fused, brightly colored impasto brushstrokes. “Art grows from the gallery like a tree from soil, in which strange tubes, tree-like structures, rock-like protuberances, proto-figures, or miasmatic nebulae of color precipitate from the atmosphere.” The complex abstract layers are set against the industrial lighting and airy architecture of the art gallery.

This exhibition closes on 8/13/21.

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.