Picks: April 14-15

With “Picks,” I call attention to shows at the end of their run that I think are worth seeing before they close for good. Some will be shows I’ve reviewed, but for the ones I don’t have time to get to, I’ll include a link to a piece of criticism elsewhere. Ideally, I’d like this feature—and this blog in general—to be as much about current developments in criticism as it is about contemporary developments in art.

In addition, I’ve included two shows below that unfortunately, have closed, but that were so good I couldn’t go without mentioning them.

Ryan McNamara, Still
Elizabeth Dee
Through April 14

McNamara’s show manages to be playful, innovative, and consequential at the same time—just how consequential I think it is, I’ll save for my review, which will go up later this weekend. For now, I’d rather you experience the exhibition on your own. Even without their cultural topicality, McNamara’s wall hangings are hard to beat for pure fun factor. So, too, are the photographs he used to make them, which feature gallery visitors from the first three weeks of the show and are available on Elizabeth Dee’s website.
Maybe you’ll see someone you know.

Critical Pick: Check back soon for my review.

Jenny Perlin, Funes
Simon Preston Gallery
Through April 15

Perlin’s suite of films is as beautiful and lovely as the Jorge Luis Borges story by which they were inspired (Read it online here if you never have—it’s worth it.). Though distinct in subject and medium, the three works share a simplicity and intimacy that makes them, like Borges’ prose, profoundly poetic. Most moving is a film of three bassoonists playing an element of a composition by Stravinsky. In an almost Kantian gesture, the film’s subjective repetition suggests that we might understand beauty as a particular instance of the universal.

Critical Pick: The New Yorker

Pamela Rosenkranz, Because They Try to Bore Holes
Miguel Abreu Gallery
Through April 15

For all its convincing rhetoric, I find the assessment of Rosenkranz’s work advanced in the press release and repeated in some reviews to be a bit too solid for what, at least aesthetically, is an ethereal and calming exhibition, if somewhat strangely so. Part Scandinavian office atrium and part arctic dreamland, the show is too peaceful to be so harsh and too pretty to be so accusatory. Certainly the white paintings, empty of artistic material as well as content, have a ghostly quality to them that might recall our current dematerialized economy and culture. But the pale pink wall at the back of the space imbues them with counteracting warmth that, at points, pushes them even a bit too far into the realm of the decorative. Better to rely on the work rather than text: One (Emotional Roll), 2012, an undulating glass screen toward the front of the gallery, artfully produces the kind of distortion that comes with a particularized viewpoint without the need for abstracted explanation.

Critical Pick: Mathieu Malouf in ArtForum

A.K. Burns, pregnant patron penny pot
Callicoon Fine Arts
Through April 15

I haven’t seen A.K. Burns’ show of sculptures and prints, but I’ve planned my Sunday afternoon around getting down to the LES to see the artist’s sly combinations of soft and hard, high and low. Formica formations after Richard Artschwager share the space with inkjet prints on vinyl coated canvas, which have been stuck to the wall by lodged pennies and allowed to flop down around their single supports. It’s a blending of disparate gestures that I suspect are held together more by an attitude than by a vision and, for that reason, worth seeing in person.

Critical Pick: The New Yorker

CLOSED:

Jenny Holzer, Endgame
Skarstedt Gallery
Closed April 7

Holzer’s text-based works cover a range of visibility, from her bronze placards often hidden in hallways, to her bright and fast LED works, to her all-encompassing projections. In her return to painting, the artist explored the furthest end of this spectrum, that of total invisibility, by taking censored government documents as her subject. “Endgame” points out that abstraction can be a dangerous tool if allowed to displace the humanity that lay behind it. But more importantly, it reminds us that the most influential abstract art—of Malevich, Rothko, Ryman, and others—has drawn its power from its ability to remind us of that very humanity. Holzer proposes that a combination of the painterly and the political may be a way to inspire the kind of sincere desire for change needed in our opaque and dark political climate.

Critical Pick: Chloe Wyma at ARTINFO

Georg Baselitz
Gagosian Gallery
Closed April 7

Baselitz’s paintings are simultaneously lyrical and devastating in a way that I would argue few others have achieved. I am not ashamed to admit that this exhibition made me cry a little. For that reason, I’m not going to opine any more than that.

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