Art Review

Pox Populi

Yayoi Kusama
David Zwirner Gallery, NYC
Thru December 16th, 2017

Spots are a disease -- a "Pop Art" pox; a sign of madness, an hallucination. As Tony Hancock says in his brilliant comic movie The Rebel (1961) where he plays a modern artist: "I get the spots before my eyes, the red mist, and I'm off."

Yayoi Kusama is off again at David Zwirner Gallery on 533 West 19th Street in Chelsea. You will have to queue around the block to see her new installations. But you can just walk into a room on 19th street and see 66 of her new paintings. This is a review of the work in that room. Read more »

Little Q & A: Mary Hrbacek + Bradley Rubenstein

Mary Hrbacek is an artist and an art critic (AICA) based in NYC. In 2016 she received the Carole A. Feuerman Sculpture Foundation, ESKFF Foundation, The Helis Foundation, Financial Grant for her art on view at Mana Contemporary. Her drawings in "Whispers" have been included in the collection of The Museum of Contemporary Art of Crete.

Bradley Rubenstein: These are quite lovely; I did see one of your shows a year or two back at CREON, they had a remarkable clarity, and reminded me of Georgia O’Keefe’s work -- there is a very large O’Keefe in the Art Institute of Chicago, a sky, with strange biomorphic clouds. It is a strange painting, and growing up in Chicago, held my attention for years. I don’t want to get to far ahead of myself here, so let’s start with a little background… Read more »

Black Art is the New Black Music

I cannot believe that even the most devout American fascist has not danced or punched their fist in the air to a song created by African American musicians; at a prom, at a frat party or a wedding. "1999" by Prince, "Rock n Roll" by Chuck Berry, "Nutbush City Limits" by Ike and Tina Turner. Black music is an ever-present treatise on American life. Read more »

A Prayer for the Souls in Purgatory

Tony Moore: Sculpture - Children of Light
Sideshow Gallery, Brooklyn
Though November 12th, 2017

Fallen empires, lost peoples, ancient cultures and what they once produced -- like fallen leaves and dead trees -- comprise the very ground we walk upon. What has passed before, what Tony Moore refers to as “the relationship of humanity and nature," that magnificent mix of man and mother earth is at the core of his content. There is that sense of monumentality, that massiveness of told and untold history that we might feel, what Moore gathers in through direct experience, cognitive or corporeal, as he builds up and cuts away with and within his earthen clay is his expression. He remains connected, as we all should, to the past as there is an endless life energy that both stirs and cleanses Moore’s thoughts and imaginings. To Moore, all cultures, all systems and societies past and present are part of a continuous need to feel connected and complete. It is also vital that we have hope and that we stand up for unity and understanding so good can triumph over evil intent and oppression. Read more »

When the Saints (and Sinners) Go Marching In

D. Dominick Lombardi: Saints, Sinners, and the Collective Unconscious (2014-2017)
Hampden Gallery
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA

Saints, Sinners, and the Collective Unconscious is riveting. Mr. Lombardi is an artist with an intimate understanding of history in regard to religion and popular culture. After careful viewing of the 30 works in the exhibition, I was compelled to research the titles of the works because they seemed to hold the key to unlocking Lombardi’s intentions. I focused on the works in the Saints section of the exhibition because I found their cryptic iconography most intriguing. The research of the saints depicted in Lombardi’s work opened up a new route for me to access the works’ meaning. Read more »

Things Past: Brenda Goodman at David & Schweitzer

Brenda Goodman: In a New Space
David & Schweitzer Contemporary, NYC
September 8 - October 1, 2017

If there is a thread that unites the varied bodies of work that the protean painter Brenda Goodman has produced over her five-decade career, it is the sense of urgency -- in the need of the artist to articulate her thoughts and emotions onto the painted surface, but also a feeling of immediacy in the directness of expression, the painterly "hand" manifest in the work. Even in the Ingre-esque drawings of her work in the 1970s, one senses Goodman's need to capture a moment, a relationship between her psychological characters, and then move on, leaving a generous space unfinished for the viewer to move around in. This restlessness pervades her work, in fact defines it, as she jumps from style to style, figure to abstraction, throughout different periods. Read more »

From Warm To Cool

Anselm Kiefer: Transition From Warm to Cool 
Gagosian Gallery, NYC
Thru Septemer 1, 2017

An older creative man who finds energy in their work from having a new young love in his life can represent a wonderful coda. In 1857 when Dickens was 45 years old, he fell in love with the 18-year old actresses Ellen Ternan, a passion that lasted the rest of his life. In 1917 the composer Janacek met Kamila Stösslová, 38 years his junior, who inspired a host of new works. A young woman's sexual ecstasy is the central theme of a suite of new pieces by Anselm Kiefer at Gagosian on 21st Street in Chelsea, up until September 1st. Read more »

Unless You're Planning a Trip to China...

Terracotta Warrior Exhibit of the First Emperor
Pacific Science Center, Seattle
Thru September 4, 2017

Upon entering we were informed that this was a world class exhibit. Not certain what exactly that was meant to imply, the term stuck in my head as I began my journey... by the end of my time there I had my answer.

Presently on display at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, "Terracotta Warrior Exhibit of the First Emperor" offers a rare opportunity to view a large collection of the famed Terracotta Warriors of the the Qin Dynasty. Along with the legendary statues themselves, interactive displays help bridge the gap between a professionally curated instillation and a hands-on approach utilized elsewhere at the Pacific Science Center to engage school children. This touring showcase succeeds in being child friendly without being childish, inviting people of all ages to approach the exploration of these artifacts with the kind of beaming excitement often reserved for children.

Beginning with a dramatic and somewhat cinematic introduction, projected images and a looming voice-over prepare audiences for the ancient wonders just on the other side of a pair of closed doors. This presentation induces a fitting amount of anticipation for this momentous opportunity as the Terracotta Warriors aren't often on displayed outside of their home in the province of Shaanxi. Unless you're planning a trip to China some time in the future this may be your only opportunity to witness in person such an extensive collection of these haunting figures. Read more »

Borderline

Counterpoints to the Narrative
Lichtundfire Gallery, NYC
May 31 - June 30, 2017
The exhibition is jointly organized through Lichtundfire and Katharine Carter & Associates, D. Dominick Lombardi, Curator.

The concept of walls and borders has been tossed around with such frequency of late, and with such politically charged implications, it seems almost anticlimactic that artists would address this notion within a primarily aesthetic context. Counterpoints to the Narrative curated by D. Dominick Lombardi, features a group of artists exploring ideas that are simple, yet provocative, visuals of this complex subject matter. Sparky Campanella, Mark Sharp, and Martin Weinstein, two painters, one photographer, whose work, seen in combination is much more than a contrast in method and style; rather, it is a meditation on visuality and viewership. These artists are creating work that explores some of the ideas Rudolf Arnheim has put forth regarding the contrast between "seeing into" a work of art, and "seeing as." Read more »

A Summer Breeze...

Ting Lui: A Breeze Comes From ‘Meng Bana Xi’ 
Paris Koh Fine Arts, NY
May 16 - 26, 2017

The exhibition, A Breeze Comes from ‘Meng Bana Xi,' displays recent oil on canvas works whose quirkiness and individuality are rare in an era of globalization, when standardized ideas take on a generic identity that reveals few personal hints about the artist who creates them. The twenty-four paintings on view provide a glimpse of purity undiluted by outside contemporary influences. Ting works in a small isolated village in South China, near the Myanmar (Burmese) border, separate from the hip and the trendy burgeoning yet government “guided” art centers of Shanghai and Beijing. These works are rife with messages and feelings that seem on the brink of exploding. Her demonstrative approach, which harks to the era when both the German Expressionists and Edvard Munch gave voice to their dark feelings of foreboding and anxiety, is viewed by local Chinese authorities with suspicion. Ting fails to follow the official lines whose boundaries determine acceptable styles and content for contemporary art in China. Read more »

The Moviegoer

Robert Longo: The Destroyer Cycle
Metro Pictures Gallery, NYC
May 3 - June 17, 2017

Looking at the career of the artist Robert Longo can be a philosophical meditation on style. Style, as opposed to stylization, is a key to understanding Longo’s importance as an artist, both at the beginning of his career with the Men in Cities drawings, through his large charcoal drawings of guns, to his blue-chip Abstract Expressionist paintings, and into this recent, powerful exhibition at Metro Pictures. Read more »

Staying Upright

Mary Hrbacek: The Painted Veil That Those Who Live Call Life 
Paris Koh Fine Arts, NY        
May 3, 2017 - May 13, 2017

Ms. Hrbacek has put together an important array of acrylic paintings for her show “The Painted Veil that those who live call life,” at Paris Koh Fine Arts. These works advance the traditional representation of the natural world into an aesthetic statement about the unity of human beings and the environment, while testifying to the artist’s growing assurance in the rendition of her trademark human-tree amalgams. Two related trends stand out: the emphasis on subtle yet discernible anatomy and the emergence of ambiguous images with echoes of human bits.

In her hybrid tree creations Hrbacek fuses male and female traits, which stretch the boundaries of conventional thought about nature, to forge images imbued with a mysterious aura of optimism that encourages viewer engagement and conjecture on the fantasy realm that extends beyond ordinary experience. There are no images of explosions or shootings on view; here the drama unfolds in dynamic juxtapositions of sophisticated shades of warm and cool tones and colors combined with an array of various intricate shapes and forms. 

Many of the paintings blend a high level of abstraction with a vestige of realism and reality, fusing the human and tree to disclose mere glimpses of a figure.

The first work encountered by the gallery visitor illustrates some of the key principles driving Hrbacek’s art. Read more »

Watching With My Ears: The Improvised Paintings of Jorgo Schaefer

For the past 17 years, painter and graphic artist Jorgo Schaefer from Wuppertal, Germany has been an artist-in-residence at the New York Vision Festival, one of the world’s premier festival’s of avant-garde jazz, dance, poetry, film and visual art. 

Steve Dalachinsky Can you explain a bit about your process and becoming an artist?

Jorgo Schaefer: My career as a professional artist started in 1970 at the Werkkunstschule (WKS, School of Applied Arts) in Wuppertal. At this time, the WKS was a highly regarded institution with a long tradition. It was not an art academy but arts were a key element. Artistic skills were taught as well as philosophy. Our freshman class consisted of 15 students and we were hanging out together day and night, influenced and inspired by the political and artistic movements of about 4 good years. Plus: Amsterdam was just around the corner... Read more »

Wide Awake in America

C. Michael Norton: When Paintings Awake
David&Schweitzer Contemporary, Brooklyn
April 14, 2017 - May 7, 2017

There was a time, over a century ago, when the idea of a purely abstract painting, one which referenced only the means of its creation, was a far-off goal, a seemingly unattainable dream. In the following decades this idea was tested, tried, worked, and re-worked until the project engendered many and various permutations. Post-modern, appropriational, deconstructed -- the list of approaches to this idea is legion; yet there endures some compulsion, some drive that seems hardwired, to create paintings of pure visuality. Just when we think we have come to the end of this story we find new characters waiting in the wings, new gladiators wanting into the arena. In C. Michael Norton’s current exhibit at David&Schweitzer Contemporary we see that this project still has viability. Indeed, Norton seems to open new fields of exploration. Read more »

Transubstantial

Dona Nelson: Models Stand Close to the Paintings
Thomas Erben Gallery, NYC
Through May 6th, 2017

Dona Nelson is showing new paintings at Thomas Erben Gallery. There is no other artist in America that is a "modern painter" in so many different ways without losing her centre.

Trying to subvert its meaning seems to be part of the definition of what modern art is. There doesn't seem to be an accurate way to define an activity that is made up of a system or interelating systems that has occasional contradictions built into it, But art doesn't seem the worse for it. Modern painting in particular is like a series of interconnected temples where people are constantly entering and trying to knock down a load bearing pillar to see if it still stands or if it's now something else. It's quite often a sign that that particular approach is thriving. Read more »

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