Art Review

Spring Is Nearly Here

Taegyu Lim: Blurry Scene
Gallery d’Arte, NY
March 1 - 15, 2017

The exhibition “Blurry Scene” presents atmospheric landscape works where wild pristine nature is shrouded in falling snow and low misty clouds hover over the horizon, establishing a sense of silence and solitude. While Lim’s touch with ink on paper is steeped in the tradition of the Asian masters, his art is linked as well to the landscape tradition of Western artists whose longing to be one with nature strikes a cord with Lim’s vision. In many cultures, mountains are said to represent the spiritual forces that inhabit the landscape where earth and heaven are believed to merge. Cézanne’s preeminent connection with the iconic Mont Sainte-Victoire parallels Lim’s attraction to the vertical sweep of the mountain in his snowy vista (“Dong River,” oriental ink mounted on rice paper with sealed white porcelain powder, 2016) that dwarfs a small figure by its majestic towering tiers.

Hard Times

Julian Schnabel: New Plate Paintings
Pace Gallery, NY
Feb 24th - Mar 25th, 2017

I'm not going to write a bad review of Julian Schnabel's show of roses painted on smashed plates up at Pace Gallery. I don't believe it matters what I think of them. The parameters that embraced what was good and rebuffed what was bad are mostly no longer in place. The people who will buy these paintings for $900,000 are as far from me as the people who built the pyramids were from those inside them.

The Beauty of Portraits

Dong Yeoun Lee: Project Room
Gallery d’Arte, NY
2/28 - 3/14, 2017

Dong Yeoun Lee's series of female portraits features standing and sitting young women in traditional Korean dress who display a range of technological devices. Although the scroll paintings elicit a definite Asian sensibility (oriental coloring on oriental paper), they are reminiscent of the art of Thomas Gainsborough who produced sympathetic portraits of female subjects, which penetrated their social "masks" to reveal the truth of their character. Lee’s works are shorn of site-specific ornamentation; they hone the essence of solitary or dual figures situated on empty formats, which accentuate their faces and poses.

The young women exist in isolation within the confines of the vertical design as they quietly assert their presence. The figure in "Clear Girl" displays a contemplative smile, mysterious and inward, not unlike a "Mona Lisa" smile in its enigmatic purity and elusiveness. The girl in "Redefining Contemporary Beauty 5" (2012) dresses traditionally but her preoccupations appear to be thoroughly modern as she listens, presumably, to music with headsets, wears a digital watch and seems to be using a Bluetooth device with her cell phone. Her Hanbok garment signifies the ability to participate in the customs of historical eras as well as present day trends. The girl's modest reserved demeanor might suggest that she is "old-fashioned" apart from her display and use of contemporary devices. The subjects are out to communicate on whatever level they are functioning on at the present moment.

The communication tools infuse a narrative element into several of the works; the females in "Redefining Contemporary Beauty 1," and "Redefining Contemporary Beauty 5" convey the impression that they experience no strife or conflicts, but accept the intersection of past and present, navigating diverse cultural expectations in a hybrid life.

In The Moment

Young Gil Kang: Limbo
Terri Cultural Institute, NYC
Thru March 18, 2017

In modern idiom the term "limbo" refers to a condition of uncertainty, an intermediate stage in individuals’ lives and feelings. The word originates in the Christian tradition where the souls of unbaptized babies remain in a state of Limbo, separated through eternity from God due to "original sin." The show’'s name '"Limbo” brings focus to the significance and intentions of this exhibition of immersive large-scale photographic images curated by Thalia Vrachopoulos, Phd. and Suechung Koh. The Korean artist Kang, in collaboration with eminent actress and model Suae, creates photographs that submerge her in an enigmatic watery world where she strikes various poses wearing diverse garments. In some works, the perplexing iconography of tortuous underwater confinement yields inklings of contorted features that subtly suggest the torments of Hell itself. In one view the figure appears to dissolve into a funnel of black smoke as the "spirit" wafts upward, conceivably fated for an arduous end. While the show highlights the intimations of scenes where Suae rests sitting or lying inert in a pool, some of the works on view have political underpinnings as well.

Free Patternicity

Mark Sheinckman: New Paintings
Lennon Weinberg, NYC
Until March 5th, 2017

Mark Sheinkman sets up his canvas with an oil and alkyd ground and polishes and reprimes it again, until it looks like Carrera marble, so that it can take the thin black oil paint. He wipes off and lays in. Many of the pieces deal with tropes of painting and design. Squiggles and spots, diamonds on what appears to be a spinning disk. Cross-hatching becoming unmoored and floats away, Some are pure muscle memory. Lines just moving and corresponding. Like the way Coltrane drops off the theme and into the solo on "Ascension," responding to a shifting background of changing modality with a thin free line twisting in the void.

Redrum!

Murder She Said - Curated by Thalia Vrachopoulos and Richard Vine
Anya & Andrew Shiva Gallery at John Jay College of Criminal Justice
November 15, 2016 - January 13, 2017

Am I looking at an image of a dress on the ground covered with leaves? Is it from a lover’s tryst, or is something more sinister going on, and why would I think that?

On the whole, media and society have turned darker and more aggressive as we’ve moved into the 21st century. Being besieged with nominally factual content has constrained us all to a different type of viewing, more of a true-crime voyeurism than ever -- inundated with reality or its simulacrum on television and computer screens on a daily basis, we wonder how we ended up here. When did we start needing to see unedited live-steamed reality of life’s most horrific moments? The true-crime program America’s Most Wanted premiered in 1988. I remember it well because I was studying video and art history for my undergraduate degree at Tufts -- it was hard to ignore the fact that a social boundary had been crossed when watching videos of real criminals being hunted down for horrible crimes, as well as listening to their victims and families reliving events for an audience hungry for only its most salacious details.

David, Biggie & Me!

David Humphrey: I'm Glad We Had This Conversation
Fredericks & Freiser Gallery, NYC
January 19 through February 25 

I have often wondered if contemporary American artists accept the idea of a "point" in their work as being at all legitimizing. Preferring the physical presence of the work to be its own witness. Perhaps it's the legacy of the "semiotexters" in colleges and art academia. Identifying and discrediting as they go forcing 'fabulists! Like David Humphrey to dance clear of any obvious "read".

Ashes to Ashes...

Heide Hatry: Icons In Ash
UBU Gallery, NYC
Through March 7th, 2017

Heide Hatry's show at Ubu Gallery is a series of portraits made from cremated ashes based on photographs of the deceased selected by family members or loved ones who have provided her with their ash remains. These are objects made in the spirit of the Consolatio, the ancient tradition of honoring the dead and consoling the mourners.

A Fine Line

A Fine Line
Art 100 New York                           
December 8 - February 6, 2017

"A Fine Line," the inaugural exhibition for the newly launched Gallery 100 New York, presents an amalgamation of the varied but related works of four international artists, who use straightforward natural materials with telling effect. The show curated by gallery director Michelle Loh, features Wang Huangsheng, Oliver Catté, Mahmoud Hamadani, and Alan Sonfist. An express emphasis on paper unites the installation; there is an aura of purity emanating from the white paper of the drawings on view that permeates the space. Color plays an important tandem role; hues glitter in conjunction with the brown cardboard works, and in the nature-based leaf piece entitled "Leaves Frozen in Time: Spring." The abstract drawings explore the essential delicacy of paper as it comingles with ink flowing irregularly over the surfaces, while the creative potential and durability of cardboard come sharply into focus in cityscapes that radiate urban exuberance. Traditional underpinnings resound through the exhibition; the use of ink, which is made from tree bark, is a medium used for millennia in Asian and Middle Eastern cultures.

Chewing Tar

In November I was at LICHTUNDFIRE joining in with the many artists and collectors for their first year celebration and it was exactly as I expected an event that showed the unity and support I stick around for in the New York art world. Oh have I surprised you?  Well yes, its hard to see it in the break neck virtual pace of todays self promoting internet everything but at one point there was a great deal of support amongst us all involving hard work with heavy with compassion and a physical presence out there among fellow contemporary dealers and the artists that they represented. This is what makes LICHTUNDFIRE unusual in the sense that it is a computer platform that attracts a community presence.