Mar 012019
 

Matvey Levenstein, LY, 2018

Currently at Kasmin Gallery are Matvey Levenstein’s paintings depicting scenes from his life in North Fork, Long Island. There’s a quiet, peaceful quality to the works, which begin with snapshots before they are turned into paintings. This exhibition closes Saturday 3/2/19.

Across the street at another of Kasmin Gallery’s Chelsea locations, and worth a visit, is an exhibition of some of Andy Warhol’s polaroid portraits.

Matvey Levenstein, Pink Moon, 2018

Susan Inglett Gallery is showing Slim… you don’t got the juice, an exhibition of work by Wilmer Wilson IV. His work with staples may seem familiar from its inclusion in the New Museum’s 2018 Triennial: Songs for Sabotage.

From the press release-

Slim… you don’t got the juice presents multidisciplinary departures from familiar modes of figurative representation, as they have evolved in the realm of photographic discourse. Wilmer Wilson IV has developed strategies of redaction and annotation in his work that begin to destabilize the norms of making and viewing portraiture through visual, material, and technical manipulation. An exploration into the complex renderings of individual subject-hood versus object-hood in portraiture, the artist has conceived of a stapled-surface-as-viewing-device that mediates image with material. The device is manifest in a series of staple works that almost fully shroud the photographic subjects beneath dense fields of metal fasteners. The austere, randomized application of the staples onto the surface of each portrait results in a resistance of visual penetration from many angles, complicating access to the underlying figures and deconstructing the voyeuristic inclinations of the viewer.

This exhibition closes 3/16/19.

Wilmer Wilson IV, Host, 2018

 

At Lehmann Maupin’s 24th Street location is McArthur Binion, Hand:Work, an exhibition of the artist’s grid paintings created with oil paint stick and paper on board. The patterns created in the work are overwhelming at first glance but then when seen up close, the personal details add a new dimension to the paintings.

From the press release

…For Binion, his personal documents represent the sum total of one’s social life: relationships, citizenship, vocation, and family life. The revealing and obscuring of these aspects of his life also addresses the larger sociopolitical reality of African-American identity—often obscured or erased from common knowledge, yet always present in tandem with major movements in American culture. In his newest Hand:Work paintings, Binion takes an introspective approach that is more closely aligned with the artist’s own self-perception—effectively, his first self-portraits. Using copies of a photo of the home where he was born, along with a photograph of his hand as the ground layer of the paintings, Binion pares down his identity to its most essential elements. These images are tiled in repeated succession, layered under his repetitious line work in oil stick. These gestures themselves relate to memories Binion has of his early childhood farm life, a disciplined approach to the cyclical, sustained effort he maintains in his work today. Through the insertion of his hand, literally in the photographs, and figuratively in his intricate, overlapping mark-making, the artist relates to his earliest introduction to artistry in his mother’s quilting, a tradition he modified and carried into his practice.

This exhibition closes 3/2/19.

McArthur Binion at Lehmann Maupin

McArthur Binion at Lehmann Maupin, detail of above painting

Robert Mann Gallery is showing the newly discovered work of photographer Ed Sievers. The exhibition of black and white photos also includes his later work from the 1970s in Venice Beach. The gallery also has an exhibition of Michael Kenna’s series of black and white female nudes made in Japan (not shown). Both shows close 3/2/19.

Ed Sievers, Untitled (woman in the shadows), c. 1960s, courtesy of the artist, image via Robert Mann Gallery

Damn! The Defiant, a group show curated by Damon Brandt and Andrew Freiser at Fredericks & Freiser Gallery, brings together “images of rebellion and dissent in contemporary portraiture” and includes a wide variety of work in different mediums from an incredible selection of artists that includes Mary Ellen Mark, Gordon Parks, Dana Schutz, Bruce Davidson, Whitfield Lovell and many more. It’s a show that’s very appropriate for a time period that is going to require more and more defiance.

From the press release-

Nothing creates projected personal territory more than the emotional push back generated from the recalcitrant expression of a defiant subject. Yet ironically, it is the very nature of this engagement that makes it difficult for the viewer to quickly detach or withdraw from what in fact amounts to an extended glare or moment of social tension. In a time of undeniable anxiety, finding both the common and contrasting ground in the portrayal of defiance speaks directly to the angst and pre-occupation for self-determination that has been and continues to be a pervasive human concern.

This exhibition closes 3/2/19.

 

Installation view of Damn! The Defiant, image via Fredericks & Freiser

 

Feb 162019
 

Currently at Mitchell-Innes & Nash is Masses & Mainstream, an exhibition of Karl Haendel’s incredibly detailed drawings and his musings on life in current day America. The drawings can be humorous at times, including a comparison of himself to Jared Kushner through a checklist, and a record of his types of sneezes. They are balanced by others, where he expresses his anxiety when it comes to selling art, or a smaller piece that lists “wishful thinking” items that includes healthcare, education, housing, and equity for all.

From the press release-

While Karl Haendel’s newest work covers a wide range of subject matter from a stack of lawnmowers to a portrait of Barbara Walters, the common thread that links these disparate images is a dialogue between memory, both personal and collective, and national identity. Many of the works on view are drawn from overlooked sources in contemporary American life—cultural leftovers the artist combs through and resuscitates in order to represent an alternate picture of American reality. Other works, like the aforementioned stack of lawnmowers, come from the artist’s personal history and experiences—a once-submerged detail from his childhood home that has floated to the surface of recollection—that could also be read, more symbolically, as the paraphernalia of American comfort, excess and, perhaps even, of the endangered middle class.

This exhibition closes 2/16/19.

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.