Art Review

The Shape of Color: Bradley Rubenstein + Pia Lindman

After ten years in New York, Pia Lindman is experimenting with community building and constructing a sustainable and poison-free house in a small village in Finland. Her practice is moving further toward workshops and collaborations and engages with questions of health and individual as well as collective bodies. Last August, she started as Professor of Site and Situation Specific Art at the Finnish Academy of Fine Art -- an opportunity to develop further her ideas of art as workshops and research.

On Some Faraway Beach

Liz Markus: The Look of Love
Zieher Smith
Through March 17, 2012

Color, like scent, is one of the most powerful triggers of memory. The smell of cinnamon or nutmeg brings us back to our childhood kitchens, sweetly reminiscent, like something Mother used to bake. Or a signature perfume reminds us of a first fuck. Liz Markus uses color to tap into our collective memories, evoking the hues of time -- period colors: Seventies Polaroids, Eighties adverts, and the lurid tints of souvenir postcards. In the past her work used color as a weapon -- a blunt, punk-rockers attempt at identity. The paintings in The Look of Love show Markus all grown up, referencing a complex history of Modernism and Color Field painting.

Gigantic

Rachel Kneebone: Regarding Rodin
Brooklyn Museum
Through August 12, 2012

Vitruvius, in The Ten Books on Architecture, proposed that the perfected form of the human body could be diagrammed by being placed inside both a circle and a square. Though he himself did not provide illustrations, Leonardo da Vinci made a drawing demonstrating this proposition to illustrate Paciolio's On Divine Proportion (1509). This was more than a geometric exercise, as Vitruvius imbued the square and the circle with divine attributes: the circle represented the cosmos and the square, those things secular. In the Middle Ages, artists painted the crucifixion both as a representation of Christ's divinity as well as his incarnation as an earthly being. Five hundred years later, August Rodin upended many of these concepts regarding the proportion and deportment of the figure in sculpture with his monumental The Gates of Hell and Monument to Balzac

Bulls on Parade

Jean Dubuffet: The Last Two Years
Pace Gallery
Through March 10, 2012

Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) was born in Le Havre and moved to Paris, where he was briefly enrolled at the Académie Julian. Leaving the school in 1918, he began to follow his own path in painting and, after a brief sojourn in wine dealing (the family business), spent the rest of his artistic life seeking an authentic art based on the work of prisoners, the insane, the naïve, and other marginal outsiders. The style he developed, and which ultimately became its own school, is now called Art Brut.

Bat Out of Hell

Joyce Pensato: Batman Returns
Friedrich Petzel Gallery
Through February 25, 2012

In the 1970s, The Joker, Batman's greatest nemesis, had his own nine-issue comic book series, in which he faced off against a variety of both superheroes and supervillains. Because of the restrictive "comic books code," "good" ultimately had to triumph over "evil" in every storyline. This led to some creative writing strategies -- that is, how to make one of the most morally unhinged villains in superhero lore appear to do something "good" every third issue.

Fractured Fairytales

Paul Pretzer: The Seventh Skill
Marc Straus LLC
20 November - 23 December, 2011

Start with Hieronymus Bosch, lighten with illustrations from an early volume of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, sprinkle in a touch of Robert Hawkins and season with George Condo for a modern flavor, and, voila! You’ve got Paul Pretzer, a twenty-nine-year-old Estonian painter from Dresden. The combination of anthropomorphic, magically whimsical hobgoblins and oblique narratives has been a winning recipe for generations. Pretzer’s renditions are loosely stylized enough to be painterly; rendered tightly enough on board to be termed illustrative fantasy proto-realism (as opposed to photo-realism), and just creepy enough not to be too cutesy. Most visual story telling of this sort tends to be dark and angst-ridden, but whether or not he intended it, his paintings are too good-natured to be genuinely unsettling, and that may actually contribute to their popular appeal. 

Temptation

Damien Hirst: The Complete Spot Paintings 1986–2011
Gagosian Gallery: New York, London, Paris, Beverly Hills, Rome, Athens, Geneva, Hong Kong

Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage payments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suit on hire purchased in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose D.I.Y. and wonder who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning...but why would I want to do a thing like that?

Violent Femmes

Museum of Modern Art
Through March 26, 2012

From my window on the 69th floor of the Temperance Building, I can see the monument to Rosa Luxemburg that Chancellor Nirenberg erected in Zapruder Park after President Manson resigned and The Bund took control of the city. The first thing they did was to tell everyone that we no longer had to worry about The Flu; the virus had mutated and was now known as The Plague. Infection was spread through physical contact, most often rape (Katya and I had a good laugh at that), and the resulting zombies it produced were now wandering the city. Mostly they come at night. Mostly. Posters of women in sunglasses are plastered on walls. They warn what’s left of the panicked population that one side effect of the zombification is dilation of the pupils, until the whole eye turns black. Zombies look for the whites of the eyes. Sunglasses, the posters tell us, are a fashion-must this season.

Take a Look Around

Lola Montes Schnabel: Love Before Intimacy
The Hole
Through February 4, 2012

There is a koan that states, "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him." Thinking about Buddha as something outside of oneself is creating preconceived ideas and is, hence, antithetical to one's awakening. Looking at the work of Lola Montes Schnabel is a little like that. It is hard not to think of the giant reputation of Julian Schnabel, her father, looming over her work. Even if you tried, it might be kind of like not trying to think about elephants, and, well -- you get the point. Schnabel has created a suite of paintings, stylistically not so much indebted to the Neo-Expressionist movement as developing from it, that are worth considering.

The Grounding Art of Jane Wilson

Jane Wilson: New Paintings
DC Moore Gallery

It is a rare gift to create a feeling of relief, of spiritual up-lift simply by painting a vast sky above a sliver of a horizon. The new paintings by Jane Wilson at DC Moore Gallery are a perfect example of this effect. And despite the low percentage of earthbound elements in most of Ms. Wilson’s work, her art has a very distinct ability of grounding the viewer. It is as if she offers an open invitation to proceed safely upward, to leave your fears, your day-to-day responsibilities and move to a place where you can float and experience anything from the electric energy of a pending storm, to the serenity of harmless cluster of white clouds without letting go completely all ties and comforts.