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Merlin Carpenter: Paint-it-Yourself

The explosion of angst begins here with a “Dear Reena” letter to the gallery: Merlin Carpenter states, first, that he will not be attending the opening, however “strange a social situation” it might provoke. Of course, since Reena Spaulings is a collective enterprise, the position Carpenter takes is broadly directed; he is critiquing an abstraction.

9th St. Club

9th St. Club, an exhibition with some of the greatest female cohort of the Abstract Expressionist movement, lends itself to not only varying techniques and experimentation but to a much smaller and subtle approach to the movement.

Melissa McGill
RED REGATTA: riflessi

Imagine the Rothko Chapel, but filled with a series of close-up photographs of blue-green waters with reflected shades of red, circulating the surrounding walls in a flowy composition. Melissa McGill’s RED REGATTA: riflessi, currently on view in TOTAH’s Lower East Side gallery, builds a meditative space where the audience is so close to the sculptural details of the waves and the tangible texture of the reds that one feels almost bathing in them.

Lucas Samaras: Me, Myself and …

Origins and foreseen endings bookend each moment of Me, Myself and …, Lucas Samaras’s latest exhibition of digitally produced photos and photomontages. “My mother brought her dress from Paris,” begins a line of text that introduces the exhibition.

Sally J. Han: Foreplay

Each of Sally J. Han’s 18 paintings, ranging from 8 x 8 to 20 x 24, are executed in an illustrative style. Their naturalism, conveyed as though from the instantaneously rendered stillness of a snapshot, is at odds with the patient and calculated application of paint and ink, and the feeling of eeriness eking from their atmosphere.

Catherine Telford Keogh: Nervous System

There are risks with every surgery. For the most part, these remain hypothetical scenarios only realized as part of a phantasmagoric paranoia: a clumsy incision, the quivering hand of your surgeon, an unforeseen lump. Anticipating this obsessive worrying, hospitals aim to reassure us through a compensatory iconography of total sterility.

Joris-Karl Huysmans Art Critic

Flowing through three contiguous galleries along the right-hand mezzanine of the Musée d’Orsay is the stream of consciousness of the novelist and art critic Joris-Karl Huysmans, in the form of the exhibition and installation Joris-Karl Huysmans Art Critic. Acting as a valve on this torrent of images and ideas is another enigmatic aesthetic impresario, the artist Francesco Vezzoli.

Nina Hartmann: FOGBANK

A square printout taped to the table that displays the exhibition literature reads, "BUT… Would information obtained by psychic means be accurate enough to suit the Intel community's needs? Would the Intel community accept information which had been obtained through psychic means?" A black and white illustration of a stoplight accompanies these questions, as if meant to signal a moment of pause.

Josephine Halvorson: On the Ground

A hasty visitor to Sikkema Jenkins might easily overlook Josephine Halvorson’s 11 gouaches, tucked away in the back gallery. That sin of omission would be unforgivable and a source of eternal regret, because these outstanding paintings take landscape painting as a genre in a new direction, focusing on the insignificant rather than the infinite.

Alma Allen

If we regard the works individually, we are struck by the piece-by-piece autonomy of the art. Each of the works, which all receive the name Not Yet Titled, has its own reason for being, while their large scale invests them with an aura of self-reflexive importance.

Teresa Margolles: El asesinato cambia el mundo / Assassination changes the world

Originally from Culiacán in Sinaloa, Mexico, Margolles developed an intimate relationship with death while working as a mortician in Mexico City. There, in the early 1990s, she began making work that centered upon the human cost of drug-trafficking violence in Mexico. Her performances and installations employed post-mortem material such as blood and surgical threads to make tangible this shocking and generally unseen human loss.

Noah Davis

When artist Noah Davis succumbed to cancer in 2015 at the age of 32 he left behind an ambitious body of work. A studio of paintings revealed a flourishing artist already making preternaturally mature work, while a self-conceived exhibition space in Los Angeles, the Underground Museum, attested to the spirit of a social maverick. Rather than being overtly political, Davis’s politics were instead baked into a nuanced and sophisticated body of work.

Hannah Levy: Pendulous Picnic

In her most recent solo show at Casey Kaplan, the 28-year-old sculptor Hannah Levy also turns to the chandelier to address corresponding sociopolitical themes: notably, what structures seem to be versus what they are.

Robert Grosvenor

Robert Grosvenor’s latest exhibition at KARMA—his third with the gallery—continues the artist’s career-long exploration of materiality, visual perception, and minimalist aesthetics. Influenced early in his career by the works of Lucio Fontana and Piero Manzoni, Grosvenor creates sculptures that similarly challenge the boundaries between everyday objects and artistic materials.

Tiffany Jaeyeon Shin: Microbial Speculations on Our Gut Feelings

Nightclub incubator is the mood of Tiffany Jaeyeon Shin’s residency at Recess, corroborated by its magenta light and pulsing, electronic soundtrack tuned to a specific frequency to stimulate bacterial growth. It is not a bad summary of her aims either: to create a collective space for speculating on the possibilities for transcendence, sociality, and care that the microbial might give to us today.

CONDO London 2020

When CONDO first appeared in London in 2016, the idea behind the collaborative show envisioned by gallerist Vanessa Carlos was to provide galleries losing out to an increasingly return-on-investment-driven art market with a platform that would foster creative collaboration and experimental daring.

Doreen Garner:The Remains

In the back room of JTT, held by subtle spotlights, there is a gathering of flesh: it is arranged package-like so that each side folds over to almost meet in the center, revealing a tender interior. This is Doreen Garner’s meditation on Black gender, a theorization that moves us toward multiple valences of enfleshment.

Dan Walsh

Viewers familiar with Walsh’s work will no doubt recognize the strategy of built images, each part, part of a generative process extending across a painting’s surface or, a sculpture’s three dimensions—nevertheless, the deadpan permutations are not strictly programmatic, and invite the viewer to participate in an intellectual and retinal exploration of how exactly these images come to be.

Acquired on eBay (and from other surrogate sources)

Acquired on eBay consists of dense hangings of drawings, paintings, sculpture, and also some books, mostly small, by relatively marginal recent artists. On the second floor of a building on the Lower East Side, the Algus Gallery is about as far from gentrification as you can get in the Manhattan art world.

Becca Albee

Through exquisite turns moving between archival source materials from the life of the artist Robert Blanchon, and still and moving images documenting the spawning of horseshoe crabs, this presentation of her work subtly and carefully compels us to feel a sense of intimate and geologic temporality simultaneously, setting into relief the necessary work of collective grief.

Madeline Hollander: Heads/Tails

A 2019 Whitney Biennial participant and professional choreographer, Madeline Hollander uses her impressive conceptual dance practice to analyze the ways in which humans interact within the mechanical trappings of modern society and urban landscapes.

Luis Camnitzer: Towards an Aesthetic of Imbalance

Luis Camnitzer’s work has always confounded me with the way it speaks so critically while assimilating seamlessly into architectural space, including the quasi-sacred but increasingly consumer-friendly temple of the museum and the white cube gallery.

Jackie Saccoccio: Femme Brut

Layers of texture and materials—paint, oil pastel, and mica—supported by pattern upon pattern in shaky thin lines set the foundation for Jackie Saccocio’s forceful, physically and emotionally self-reflective paintings.

Michael Rakowitz: The invisible enemy should not exist

The visitor enters the gallery and is immediately confronted not by Rakowitz’s recreations of Nimrud’s sculptures but with the backs of their supports. Each of the five panels is displayed in a surround made of wooden two-by-fours, the material recalling nothing so much as shipping or storage crates, the temporary housing of artifacts unearthed (or stolen) from their archaeological environments to be removed to new homes for study or display.

Ken Grimes: Alien Variations

Although the exhibition at Ricco/Maresca contains mostly smaller works on paper—drawings and gouaches—it may be the most revealing presentation about the motives of this prolific artist. It is illuminating as well, not only about Grimes but also about the strategies of a range of artists on the visionary spectrum, from Alfred Jensen and his obsession with Mexican pyramids to Johannes Itten, who founded the Bauhaus design program, to Emery Blagdon, the outsider who created a barn full of healing machines.

JR: Chronicles

Starting out as a graffiti artist in Paris and its banlieues—the suburbs that house so many low-income immigrants—JR quickly realized that his real calling was documenting, through photography, the lives of those who inhabit the city’s grittier neighborhoods. Portrait of a Generation was the public project that launched his reputation.

Marlene McCarty: Into the Weeds

McCarty’s latest project comprises large-scale drawings and an interior and off-site ecological project, bridging her decades-long interdisciplinary art practice to her activist work during the AIDS crisis in the ’80s.

Max Ernst Collages

Well, the most wonderful things about this most wonderful exhibition—and goodness knows, we have all seen many exhibitions of this Dada/Surrealist/genius guy—are the “Lettrines".

A Wonder to Behold: Craftsmanship and the Creation of Babylon's Ishtar Gate

The Ishtar Gate was created in the service of the gods for the divine protection of the city, manifested divine powers on earth as the entry point of the gods into the city, and formed Babylon’s political and religious center. It represented the culmination of centuries of religious thought, technological advances, and artistic achievement.

Fiona Tan: Archive / Ruins

It is a masterpiece by an artist who has spent her career mining archives and probing their authority.

David Reed: New Paintings

It is a cathedral to art, and Reed has produced altars to the art and history of painting. Only that makes them sound serious and stern, possibly boring, and these are not that. Most notably, there is humor throughout.

Kent Monkman: mistikôsiwak (Wooden Boat People)

It may be that history, as Winston Churchill said, is written by the victors, but a deep satisfaction can be had for those who redraft it. Cree artist Kent Monkman does just that for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s inaugural Great Hall Commission. Monkman reverses the European gaze, presenting Indigenous people as heroes who welcome and rescue invading newcomers.

Specific Forms

So many delights here, so many forms that I can’t help comparing with other displays of form, even within one single author like Lydia Davis as she works out the ways (that’s the word she uses) of treating a topic.

Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s

How do we study abstraction across different contexts, and what modes of analysis do we use?

Zilia Sánchez

In her evocation of female mythological figures, Sánchez imbues her work with historical significance, connecting a modernist visual vocabulary with classical subject matter.

Lynda Benglis: In the Realm of the Senses

Facilitated by non-profit organization NEON and curated by art historian David Anfam, the show unites 36 of the artist’s singular creations, beguiling and bewitching with their evocation of fluid transformation. Carefully chosen, the works celebrate the sensual materiality characteristic of Benglis’s oeuvre, while also highlighting the influence of both modern and ancient Greece on her artistic practice.

Graham Lambkin

Graham Lambkin is a New York-based multi-disciplinary artist whose practice is comprised of mixed-media works and musical compositions. He rose to prominence in the early ’90s through the formation of The Shadow Ring, his amateur music group which combined a DIY post-punk aesthetic, electronic noise, and surrealist wordplay.

Susan Rothenberg

As in all her works, the key element is creative destruction, the hands that destroy are also the hands that make. This may bring us closer to Rothenberg’s artistic essence: no creation takes place without destruction. Wherever we look in Sperone Westwater’s gallery, we find disjecta membra, the fragments of an aesthetic cataclysm.

Pat Steir: Color Wheel

Spanning nearly 400 linear feet, this body of work took ten months to realize and represents Steir’s largest painting installation to date.

The Life and Times of Alvin Baltrop

He presents an experience that, in the language of the time, would have been called deviant as something that simply exists in the world on its own terms, and demands that the viewer actively reckon with their response to it.

Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds: Standing Rock Awakens the World

His artworks create opportunities for contemplation, reassessment and, hopefully, healing for Native and non-Native people alike.

Charles Burchfield: Solitude

If naming an object kills it, looking directly at a bewitching scene, even in memory, kills it.

Artist's Choice: Amy Sillman—The Shape of Shape

As Sillman explained in Artforum, much of what interested her “didn’t seem to rate in art history, to fit the correct teleology. Art historian friends who saw my list were like, ‘Who are all these people?’ I was like, ‘Are you kidding?

George W. Bush: Portraits of Courage

Considering that as President, Bush orchestrated the circumstances for these paintings, I wanted to know whether and how he accounts for the politics of his aesthetics. As a civilian, I was literally a piece of his constitutive power as Head of State; and the prescribed outlet for my rage at his misrepresentations and their consequences was essentially voting. Now, to our mutual surprise, we share a vocation, which means that I can evaluate him as a peer.

Jesse Chun and Tiffany Jaeyeon Shin: stain begins to absorb the material spilled on

One may feel like an intruder walking into Jesse Chun and Tiffany Jaeyeon Shin’s stain begins to absorb the material spilled on at DOOSAN Gallery. Perhaps this is caused by encountering Tiffany Jaeyeon Shin’s Onggi (as if from a firm esophageal column) (2019) at the entrance, a gathering of Korean glass onggi vases on a bed of soil that have an authoritative aura in their multitude and containment. There is a sense of walking into the midst of a process that does not readily reveal itself.

Souls Grown Diaspora

It’s my first time at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, a cozy basement cabaret space that’s been around since 1983 and has retained much of its original charm. A dazzling woman wearing a shiny grey two-piece is scat singing to jazz music, performing the most creative cover of “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” that I have ever heard.


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2020

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