The above image is from Leidy Churchman’s 2020 painting exhibition Earth Bound at Matthew Marks Gallery in New York.
From the press release-
Safe House is so termed for being a place of refuge. It is also a phrase used more colloquially as a space where one escapes the dangers affiliated with the law. With these eight single-panel paintings, Abney invites us into a place of reprieve, showing us people partaking in everyday activities. Abney’s scenarios offer sincere portrayals that counter how black life is represented in the mainstream media. The decision intentionally explores black joy as a means of resistance.
A deeply accomplished artist associated with innovating history painting, Abney took a multipart strategy to reclaim a space for creativity for this exhibition. To begin, she sourced graphics from posters dating from the 1960s that addressed aspects of safety for occupation, home, and leisure, abstracted these, and made them grounds for large-scale compositions. Then, against this backdrop Abney painted figures, objects, and letters to articulate the complex dynamics of contemporary urban life. She unequivocally is in pursuit of a depiction of commonplace activities and things. With each intuitively developed composition, each element such as the figures is often obfuscated by another element such as text, which in turn is challenged by a direction, such as an arrow. The imagery is reminiscent of sign painting, and each move made by Abney necessitates another. This chain of forms turns each element over to a type of writing, which opens a narrative and its reception to many readings. The abstracted source material (safety posters), combined with the abounding narratives from the detailed scenes, returns us to the title of the exhibition. The phrase prompts us to ask directly or obliquely: What caution and care are these narratives invoking and advocating? What danger might not be readily apparent to the viewer here?
From the show’s wall caption-
Hockney was impressed with how a photograph he had taken of a red pool toy floating in the water in Cadaqués, Spain looked nearly abstract, “like a Max Ernst,” he said. “I thought, it’s marvelous, I could just paint it.” He pointed out later that while the picture may look completely abstract at first glance, once the viewer reads its title, the work changes completely.
The Met has a lot of great online programming due to the closures for COVID-19, including virtual tours of iconic spaces in the museum and their current exhibitions; talks, performances, and concerts; over 500 free books; art instructions; six seasons of The Artist Project- short videos from contemporary artists discussing art that inspires them; coloring pages; a full length feature documentary film on Gerhard Richter (he has an exhibition currently at The Met Breuer) and more.
From the press release–
… And on the wall are a series of photographs of masks wearing masks. By putting on masks the support masks become anthropomorphized into faces so that these inanimate objects come alive. At the same time, the layering of these masks emphasizes their emptiness. Behind the illusions there is nothing. Absurdly, the more masks the masks wear, the deeper the layering of nothingness becomes. Onions, 2015, is a sculpture of many masks layered over the hollow head of a mascot costume. The title of the work refers to a monologue in the Henrik Ibsen play Peer Gynt in which Peer peels away the layers of an onion as he examines the various roles he has played in his life. Eventually he comes to realize there is nothing substantial at the core.
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.
From the press release-
Eaton’s upcoming exhibition is a nod to Bruce Nauman’s One Hundred Live and Die. Eat and Live, Eat and Die; the essence of all life: plants, animals, humans, kings, queens, and cockroaches are all bound to this ethos. This, like Nauman’s other phrases, Feel and Live, Feel and Die, is simultaneously fatalistic and equalizing. The chaos of politics, climate volatility, and random violence is rightfully fear inducing and overwhelming, yet there is something hopeful and meditative about the reality you eat you live, you eat you die. There will always be a tomorrow no matter how dystopic.
Eaton’s darkly humorous oil paintings riff on this dichotomy. As climate change and divisive politics tear at our foundations, we are placated by funny cat videos and TikTok memes. Play and Live, Play and Die. We can see the big picture, but sometimes it is just too depressing and overwhelming, and we want to enjoy that gorgeous sunset even if it is made of toxins.
In a series about state birds, Eaton examines the warped reality that many of the state birds are no longer able to inhabit the states they were legislated to represent. The California quail, California’s state bird for nearly a century, is leaving the state as their range is becoming too warm for them to stay. In Eaton’s depiction, the quail appear in front of a lovely sunset, but on further inspection, they might actually be escaping the latest wildfire. In another painting, Paul Bunyan rises in the foreground, while an American loon flies in another direction. The juxtaposition of this iconic strongman roadside attraction—symbolic of the American celebration of “man taming the wilderness”—-with a bird that can no longer live in Minnesota, hints that it might be time to reexamine our origin stories. In another painting from the series, a Northern Flicker with bright yellow plumage rises from a background of rockets in Huntsville, Alabama. As the location of early launches, these relics of NASA’s glory years are now tourist attractions. Space is no longer the purview of science and human progress—it has become the escape hatch, the place to go when we need a Plan B.
Eaton also spins Nauman’s duality to remind us that despite the apocalyptic visions we read about daily, it is not all bad for all creatures. Fireflies, for instance, are flourishing. The Canada Goose, once on the verge of extinction, has become so common as to be a nuisance. With these color-rich and storied paintings, Eaton is asking us to realize that this is our moment to be alive, before we all die, and that the flowers are indeed quite beautiful.
This exhibition closes 3/14/20.
Currently at Galerie Lelong & Co. is Krzysztof Wodiczko: A House Divided…, a projection installation work that explores the diverse political issues in the United States. For this project Wodiczko projects videos of various people from New York’s Staten Island discussing their political views. Their bodies appear superimposed on two large statues of Abraham Lincoln, which face each other in the room.
From the press release-
The exhibition’s title refers to the phrase “A house divided against itself cannot stand” from Abraham Lincoln’s 1858 speech during an unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate, which quoted a passage from the Bible, Matthew (12:22-28). Lincoln borrowed a familiar phrase in order to garner support for the contentious proposition of unifying a rapidly expanding nation teetering on the brink of war. Wodiczko repurposes the statement in a contemporary setting to highlight the partisan contention. In 2019, Wodiczko conducted research of suburban social landscapes in the Tri-State area before choosing Staten Island, a New York City borough that is racially and ethnically diverse yet a simultaneously politically divided geography: north as liberal-leaning and south as conservative-leaning. “Speaking to each other, they explain and exchange their positions and disagreements while expressing their mutual wish for careful and respectful listening to the opposite side,” says Wodiczko.
This exhibition closes 3/7/20 but the artist’s most recent site-specific projection, Monument, is showing in Madison Square Park (starting at dusk) through May 10th.
For Monument, Wodiczko projects “the likenesses and spoken narratives of resettled refugees—who have originated from different parts of the world—onto the Park’s 1881 monument to Admiral David Glasgow Farragut. A looping video projection will bring the monument to life with stories of displacement that illuminate how war, conflict, and political fallout impact individuals globally, encouraging visitors to consider how the history of conflict is memorialized.”