Art Review

Holywood

Paul McCarthy and Damon McCarthy Rebel Dabble Babble Hauser & Wirth Gallery
Through July 26, 2013
 
Paul McCarthy WS Park Avenue Armory Through August 4, 2013

James Franco is finishing a joke. "Natalie Wood…get it? What kind of wood doesn't float?" Everyone is very hung over this morning, but fortunately Franco sent his Maybach Landaulet and driver to whisk us to Chlamydia, the new Bobby Flay café in Chelsea, where we are drinking revivifying Bellinis and an assortment of other smart cocktails with Vito Schnabel, Slavoj Žižek, Natalie Portman (or possibly Keira Knightley, or Keira Knightley's body double), Sasha Grey, Heath Ledger, Michael Lee Nirenberg, Lena Dunham, Chloë Sevigny, and a Thai/Puerto Rican pre-op transsexual Franco introduces as "Pinball."

Nights Without Armor

Heraclitus wrote, "Nothing is constant but change," illustrating succinctly his philosophy of the nature of the universe; with her current exhibit, Battle Armor, Karen Heagle illustrates this adage, with paintings that show that old motifs can have new life breathed into them, in the right hands. In the past, Karen Heagle has made reference to heroic figures in her paintings, including the Incredible Hulk and Xena: Warrior Princess; in her recent show of paintings on paper at Churner and Churner in New York, she revisits some of the same themes, and sense of the heroic, through her choice of subject matter -- primarily medieval armor -- and combines it with a painterly style that draws from great nature morte and vanitas artists such as Hals, Chardin, and Soutine.

Funtime

Gutai artists (various)
Gutai: Splendid Playground
Solomon R. Guggenheim
Through May 8, 2013
 
"Discarding the frame, getting off the walls, shifting from immobile time to lived time, we aspire to create a new painting." Suburō Murakami, Osaka, 1957

"Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!" MC5, Detroit, 1968

The Guggenheim Museum's Gutai: Splendid Playground presents the work of Japan's most influential avant-garde collective of the postwar era. Founded by the visionary artist Jirō Yoshihara in 1954, the Gutai group was legendary in its own time.

The Color and the Shape: John Paul + Bradley Rubenstein

Bradley RubensteinCan you give me a little of your backstory? I know you went to Yale for painting, but you have also been a sign painter and worked in movies and TV, and you are also a musician. How has all of that informed your work?

John Paul: In St. Louis I had solid training, and at Yale exposure to cutting-edge thinking.

The St. Louis years were dominated by the importance of Max Beckmann, who taught there after the war until the Fifties. His canvases were a part of a student's daily diet, lining a corridor between the schools of art and architecture.

Spirits in the Material World

Susanna Heller
Phantom Pain
Magnan Metz Gallery
Through April 20, 2013
 
Susanna Heller's recent paintings present visually stunning landscapes that are layered with both strata of gestural paint and rich, subtle nuanced meaning. Heller uses the vocabulary of Expressionism, wielded with great skill, to create paintings that are rooted in nature and a gritty urban reality of lived experience.

Theater of Painting: Susan Bee + Bradley Rubenstein

Susan Bee is a painter, editor, and book artist who lives in New York. Bee is represented by Accola Griefen Gallery, New York, where she will have a solo show of new paintings from May 23 to June 29, 2013.

Criss Cross: New Paintings will be accompanied by a catalog with an essay by art critic and poet Raphael Rubinstein.

Bradley RubensteinSusan, I just saw this piece by Roger Denson in the Huffington Post: "Mira Schor and Susan Bee, the Thelma and Louise of the Feminist Painting and Crit set, pose the biggest threat to male domination of the medium and criticism of painting in that they are critics as wellas painters, and editors to boot, whose joint imprimatur has been pulsing out the feminist-left political art journal M/E/A/N/I/N/G since the mid-1980s." (Huffington Post, May 1, 2012)

Voodoo Problems

Peter Williams
Foxy Production
Through March 23, 2013
 
"Art should not have to be a certain way." -- Willem de Kooning

For Peter Williams's first solo exhibition at Foxy Production, he is showing work from two distinct but interconnected bodies of work:large figurative paintings depict fanciful, fractured narratives that mix cultural and personal histories with fields of pattern and color; and a set of smaller paintings that distil and intensify visual moments from the larger works, magnifying and expanding them. Williams's paintings tell entropic tales, with figures caught in moments that show their fragility -- scenes of everyday life, both seen and imagined.

Little Q + A: Amos Poe + Bradley Rubenstein

Bradley RubensteinYou are known primarily for your film work, but this show, Robots, is paintings. Is painting a new venture for you, like an extension of filmmaking, or something new?

Amos Poe: I am a filmmaker and have been making various art objects for years; the similarity is that they both take over my conscious and subconscious, and I'm compelled to get them out. Painting is a new discovery, or at least the pleasures of it are new. A new love. I started having dreams of robots in May of 2012, and the first painting came about a week later. I've been painting these robots since then, and the dreams still come regularly. I think everyone should have a robot in her or his life.

BR: You are a seminal New York filmmaker, so it almost seems beside the point where you are from, or studied, or whatnot -- but I'm going to ask you anyway.

Public Image, Ltd.

Jean-Michel Basquiat
Gagosian Gallery
Through April 6, 2013
 
Life is a dark chain of events. 
-- Frederick Neitzsche
 
Pay for Soup.
Build a Fort.
Set that on Fire. 
-- SAMO (Jean Michel Basquiat)
 
Jean-Michel Basquiat was a unique and prodigious artistic talent who fused drawing and painting, pop culture and music, with history and poetry to produce an artistic language and content that was entirely his own. Combining the tools of graffiti (Sharpie markers, spray enamel, and chalk) with those of fine art (oil and acrylic paint, collage, and oil stick), his best paintings maintain a powerful tension between opposing aesthetic forces -- thought and expression; control and spontaneity; wit, urbanity, and primitivism -- while providing acerbic commentary on the harsher realities of race, culture, and society in the early 1980s New York social landscape.