Aug 182021

I Thought Freedom Would Set Me Free (And You Gave Me A Song), 2020

Hey Tomorrow, Do You Have Some Room For Me (Failure Is A Part Of Being Alive), 2021

Currently at Lehmann Maupin’s New York location is Hey Tomorrow, Do You Have Some Room For Me: Failure Is A Part Of Being Alive, the gallery’s first exhibition with New York-based painter Arcmanoro Niles. The painting’s colors are intense and bright and often utilize gold tones and glitter, contrasting with what they depict.

From the press release

Featuring a series of new portraits, still lives, and a single landscape, this exhibition continues the artist’s critical investigation into the function and form of historically revered genres in painting. Niles is best known for his vivid, brightly-hued canvases that illustrate the seemingly mundane aspects of daily life―a man about to get into his car, a father and daughter sitting on their stoop with their dog, a woman waiting at a bus stop. His subjects are drawn from photographs of friends and relatives and from memories of his past, offering a highly personal record of contemporary life. The paintings, though autobiographical, engage with universal subjects of desire, hope, fear, and failure, while also recalling numerous art historical predecessors, including Italian and Dutch baroque, history painting, Color Field painting, and ancient Egyptian sculpture. For Hey Tomorrow, Niles has created a number of his distinct portraits, but the exhibition also features still lives and interiors that become surrogates for the figure―a cluttered bedside table, a urine test in a doctor’s office bathroom, or a kitchen table littered with liquor bottles and food containers….

…The titular work in the exhibition is the only landscape featured and the first Niles has created in his professional career. The painting, Hey Tomorrow, Do You Have Some Room For Me (Failure is a Part of Being Alive), depicts an idyllic view from the edge of a body of water. The surface is blue and calm, a tree occupies the left side of the composition, and the foreground is marked by a row of rocks. The clouds are a vibrant pink that stand in stark contrast to the pale blue sky. The serene scene is the outlier in the exhibition and offers the viewer “room” for contemplation, self-reflection, a moment of pause in the otherwise dense body of work. In depicting not only people close to him but the places and times they inhabit, Niles creates his own chronicle of life today. Each painting invites us to consider the time in which it was made, as well as our own histories―our struggles, successes, and desires for the future. While most of the paintings represent the past and the present, for Niles, the painting Hey Tomorrow offers space to imagine tomorrow, and what might come next.

This exhibition closes 8/27/21.


Aug 112021

Rapunzel, 2021

Fruity, 2021

Fee-fi-fo-fum, 2021

Good Hair, 2021

Lisson Gallery in New York is currently showing Hugh Hayden: Huey. This new body of work by Hayden “examines the American experience via agency, appearance, athletics and religion” and “interweaves symbols of the institutions that play key roles in an American upbringing with equally ever-present fairy tales to produce a new series of sculptures in wicker, vine, and ebony.”

More from the press release-

Hugh Hayden has previously examined the concept of the American Dream as well as the role historical foodways and dining traditions have played in shaping American identity. For Huey, the Texas-born artist chronicles and remixes his upbringing in the American South. Church, sport, school and hair are highlighted as Hayden probes the ingrained nature of cultural expectations. The exhibition is split into a trinity of rooms: a barber shop cum sanctuary, a basketball chapel and an ebony crypt, all of which harbor Hayden’s meticulously sculpted, sawed, sanded and woven objects.

The sanctuary features “Good Hair,” a new body of bristled wooden works that explore expectations of appearance and refinement in obligatory adolescent participation in athletics, education and religion. For Hayden the bristles render a subject simultaneously desirable yet uncomfortable, creating order via an abrasive action that, like the American Dream, is challenging and difficult to inhabit.

In the second chapel-like space hang woven basketball hoops out of hair, rattan and vine. The works are a childhood reimagination of the iconic peacock chairs the artist grew up with as well as an homage to the 1967 portrait of Black Panthers co-founder Huey P. Newton seated in one. The braided and woven works conflate tedious domestic handwork with hypermasculine athletics to materialize a queerness at odds with the fairy tale-like aspirations and reservations of becoming a professional athlete.

The final room of the exhibition is a meditation on agency, blackness and invisibility. Works sculpted from Gabon and Texas ebonies are presented in a daylight-lit, all-black room shifting in and out of visibility. Sculptures that reference the body, both moving fast as well as relaxing, offer an opportunity to reflect on the many hues of blackness.

This exhibition closes 8/13/21.

Aug 102021

summer syllables, 2021

soft, dark, demigod, 2021

marshling, 2021

Currently at Jack Shainman Gallery is Diedrick Brackens: Rhyming Positions, the artist’s second exhibition with the gallery. Brackens’ weavings use nature as symbolism to tell stories about the current world.

From the press release-

In several tableaux situated in nature, Brackens plays with the idea of creating home in a wild space, honoring the outdoors as a place in which queerness lives. This is a nod to the history of queer and femme folks who have gathered in nature, creating safe spaces for ritual and communion. This notion of commune is present in summer syllables, in which two figures stretch in lyrical movement, seemingly fashioning loops out of their own bodies, as if flowing one into the other within a vast, yellow landscape. In soft, dark, demigod, a figure bends over, caught within a thicket of roses in full bloom. This moment is indicative of Brackens’ own observation of the outside world over the course of the past year, as he has relished in these quiet moments of continued life as flowers grow. The presence of roses hint at the sensuality and eroticism that are apparent throughout this body of work and in Brackens’ practice more broadly.

In marshling a lone figure stands poised in the water, akimbo, surrounded by catfish and flora of the swamp. Catfish are a recurring motif in Brackens’ work, an emblem of the American South, embodying the soul and ancestral spirits. Continuing his practice of pulling from traditional folklore, two rabbits rest on chairs in each their own, almost as if they have been conjured up by the figure seated in their midst. Rabbits, creatures that live both above and below the earth, have shown up throughout African and African-American tales and literature as messengers and trickster figures. To Brackens, the animals in these works feel less literal and more like other humans or spirits  in communion with the figures, the trio seated together almost as if awaiting a dance.

This exhibition closes 8/20/21.

Aug 082021

Deresolution Tools, 2014

Also at Pace Gallery is the group exhibition Hiding in Plain Sight, a collection of work that includes Hito Steyerl’s installation (pictured above). It accompanies her video How Not to Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File, 2013. As we approach possible new ways of being tracked by technology, the work has never seemed more relevant.

From the gallery’s website

Hito Steyerl’s video installation examines how hidden infrastructures operate at both an individual level and at a global scale. Offering five lessons in invisibility, the film wryly maps the formal, symbolic, and real connections between the worlds of art, economics, and global political regimes in our era. In an interview Steyerl explains “in the case of How Not to Be Seen, it started with a real story that I was told about how rebels avoid being detected by drones. The drone sees movement and body heat. So, these people would cover themselves with a reflective plastic sheet and douse themselves with water to bring down their body temperature. The paradox, of course, is that a landscape littered with bright plastic-sheet monochromes would be plainly visible to any human eye—but invisible to the drone’s computers.” Exploring the complexities of the digital world and its relationship to lived reality, Steyerl’s film and installation chart circuitous connections to art and capitalism through vision and technology.


This exhibition closes 8/20/21.

Aug 082021

Pace Gallery is currently showing the lovely, meditative photographs of JoAnn Verburg at their NYC location.

From the press release-

JoAnn Verburg: For Now debuts recent multiple-frame photo and video works by the renowned American photographer depicting olive trees captured on three continents. Exemplifying Verburg’s multidisciplinary practice, which for over four decades has existed at the intersection of a range of art-historical traditions, including still life and portraiture, these experiential artworks offer a contemplative respite from the cacophonous urban environment outside of Pace’s gallery space in New York. In response to a period of social and political unrest and a global health crisis, Verburg’s presentation invites viewers to pause and enter a world of self-reflection while simultaneously diving into landscapes from Italy to California to Israel. Generating what the artist has called an “imagined reality,” her images become vehicles for orchestrating a performative and existential encounter between the viewer and the world.

For Now marks Verburg’s first solo exhibition with Pace since the gallery began representing her in 2020, and only the second exhibition in New York since her survey exhibition Present Tense: Photographs by JoAnn Verburg at The Museum of Modern Art in 2007.

Since her last exhibition in New York in 2010, Verburg has been experimenting with the intriguing implications of creating an installation of photos and videos within an urban environment that both acknowledge the environment and provide an escape from it. In this sense, Verburg’s desire to exhibit her images of olive trees in New York reflects her interest in the disjuncture between the contemplative space of the gallery and the busy world outside. Like the pioneering Italian still life artist Giorgio Morandi, Verburg returns repeatedly to the same subject matter—arranging and rearranging her images in three-dimensional space through use of vantage point, framing, and light, while employing techniques of classical craftsmanship, including the production of each singular print herself. In the editing process, she manipulates elements forward and back in space, creating emphases and clarifying her images by manipulating color like a painter. Having studied sociology as an undergraduate, her artwork also reflects a deep philosophical engagement with the social and formal histories of photography as well as the work of key practitioners who blended formalist concerns with sociological awareness, such as Diane Arbus and Robert Frank.

While the subject matter depicted in For Now is olive trees, the subject of the exhibition itself is the experience of the present moment—what Verburg calls “Vermeer time,” evoking the sense of suspended animation that characterizes the paintings of Dutch master Johannes Vermeer. “Her pictures describe spaces and moments suspended in the reverie that precedes action,” observed the celebrated photographer, curator, and critic John Szarkowski, “Like a Leyden jar, they are containers of potential.” Treating the olive grove as both landscape and still life, her focus on a limited range of subject matter suggests a connection between her work and the Minimalist and serial practices of the 1970s. Yet Verburg’s practice is also aligned with Old Master paintings: her works resist the acceleration and velocity of contemporary culture…

If you are unable to see the works in person, the Pace website has them on view as well as the full press release and a video of the artist in her studio.

This exhibition closes on 8/20/21.

Aug 052021

hic manebimus optime, 2021

Ave Maria, 2019

Resolute in Privation, 2021

The Temptation of Christ, 2020

The Courtier, 2021

Currently at Matthew Marks Gallery in New York is Julien Nguyen’s first one person show at the gallery, Julien Nguyen: Pictures of the Floating World.

From the press release-

Nguyen is known for his deftly rendered paintings that combine elements of art history, science fiction, and contemporary subjects. His interest in worldbuilding can be seen in several new paintings that use biblical and classical themes as a starting point, including Ave Maria (2019), a take on the Madonna Enthroned, and St. John the Baptist (2020), a reworking of Caravaggio’s John the Baptist featuring one of Nguyen’s friends as the model.

The exhibition also highlights Nguyen’s recent emphasis on portraiture, with depictions of friends, lovers, and fellow artists painted from life. He has said of his art, “Reality occurs only in the intimacy of understanding and being understood.” The Los Angeles studio where he lives and works can be seen in several paintings, including one that presents the view from a second-story window in a depiction as thoroughly detailed as it is inventive.

The exhibition’s title refers to the visual art of Edo-period Japan, a decadent period of flourishing culture. An enthusiast of history, Nguyen uses the past as a lens through which to view, analyze, and reframe our present moment. As Zack Hatfield has described in Artforum, “Some declare the end of the world; others make new worlds. Julien Nguyen does a bit of both.”

If Nguyen’s work looks familiar, it may be because he also collaborated with Ottolinger on its fall 2020 collection, which was then worn by several celebrities.

This exhibition closes on 8/13/21.

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.



Jul 282021

Texas Louise, 1971

Where is Lucienne?, 1971


Where is Lucienne? (detail), 1971

Where is Lucienne? (detail), 1971

Frank Bowling’s incredible paintings are currently on view at two of Hauser & Wirth’s locations, London and NYC, reflecting the artist’s time living in both cities. The paintings above are from the New York location.

From the press release-

The exhibition charts Bowling’s life and work between the UK and the United States. Born in Guyana (then British Guiana) in 1934, Bowling arrived in London in 1953, graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1962. He later divided his time between the art scenes in London and New York, maintaining studios in both cities. London is the city where Bowling trained as a painter and achieved early acclaim. New York is the city that drew him to itself at the height of the Civil Rights movement, where he became involved in discussions of Black Art – New York was a place of fresh energy and ideas for an artist in search of new ways to make paintings.

Bowling’s transatlantic orientation reveals itself in a shift from his early engagement with expressive figuration and pop art, to an immersion in a uniquely poetic abstraction that continues to evolve even today. Visible in his work are the legacies of both the English landscape tradition and American abstract expressionism. Developing in and between two cities over the course of decades, Bowling’s exploration of light, colour, and geometry can be understood as profoundly influenced by the two great rivers of his life: he has maintained studios close to The Thames in London and the East River in New York, absorbing the brilliance of the rivers’ light into his vision. Bowling would often begin a work in one city and finish it in the other, merging the atmospheres of both. In his own words, ‘I would just roll the lot up and move. And I knew that when I got to the other end, I could roll them out again and continue to work.’

Bowling’s restless innovation on the painted plane endures in his latest works. He continues to break ground through the use of thick impasto textures, acrylic gels, collage, stitched canvas, and metallic and pearlescent pigments. The complexities of his upbringing in Guyana and his constant journeying between London and New York have only served to activate the richness of the different influences of each location. His paintings are a celebration of life lived in varying lights and colours.

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.

Jul 202021

Hartley, 1966.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is currently showing Alice Neel: The People Come First, the first museum retrospective of the artist’s work in twenty years. It’s an impressive body of work covering a wide range of subjects, focused predominantly on her portraits.

From the museum’s website-

Alice Neel: People Come First presents Alice Neel (1900–1984) as one of the twentieth century’s most radical artists, a champion of social justice whose long-standing commitment to humanist principles inspired her life as well as her art. “For me, people come first,” Neel declared in 1950. “I have tried to assert the dignity and eternal importance of the human being.” In keeping with the ethical foundations of humanism, Neel dedicated herself to painting what she called “pictures of people.” The artist focused especially on individuals who had experienced injustice as a result of sexism, racism, and capitalism as well as those who combated it. Democratic and inclusive, Neel painted people from many different backgrounds and walks of life.

New York was Neel’s greatest muse and the stage for a human drama she began capturing in the early 1930s. Neel’s life and art were inflected by the tumultuous events of the twentieth century, including the Great Depression, the rise of Communism, and the feminist and civil rights movements. For this reason, she described her work as a kind of history painting. Mindful of the formal and sensuous possibilities of paint, Neel applied her incisive eye to all her subjects, whether people, urban landscapes, or still lifes. Her riveting portrayals of life in New York, whose gritty beauty persists even in precarious times, make Neel’s art even more relevant in 2021.

Below are a few selections from the exhibition, but it’s worth going to the museum’s website (even if you see the show), where all the paintings and their descriptions can be found.


Robert Smithson, 1962

This painting of artist Robert Smithson is worth noting for the detail Neel put into depicting Smithson’s skin condition, and her decision not to shy away from showing these aspects in her portraits.

The Black Boys, 1967

The New York Times has an interesting story about Jeff and Toby Neal, the boys from the picture above, and the search for the painting they sat for so many years ago.

Jackie Curtis and Ritta Red, 1970

Ginny, 1984

This moving portrait is one of her last paintings, and captures Neel’s daughter-in-law Ginny’s grief after her mother’s passing.

107th and Broadway, 1976

Black Bottles, 1977

This exhibition closes August 1st, 2021.