Picks: April 21-22

This weekend, Sam Moyer’s Slacktide, which I recently reviewed, closes at Rachel Uffner Gallery. Also recommended: Fred Sandback’s endearingly minimal sculptures, Anne-Lise Coste’s cursive graffiti, Liz Magic Laser’s deft political comedy, and Martos Gallery’s stab at what constitutes our “new tradition.”

Sam Moyer, Slacktide
Rachel Uffner Gallery
Through April 22

The inexhaustible associative potential of Moyer’s dark abstract canvasses make them worth seeing a second time, not to mention a first. Will Heinrich at GalleristNY points out the interesting fact that some of the works are assembled from smaller pieces, creating a shallower layer of flat surface that fights the illusionistic depth of the paintings themselves. A granddaughter of Abstract Expressionism, Moyer deftly synthesizes the positions of Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg, combining image and process—“all-over” and “action painting”—into works that explore depth in its literal and metaphorical dimensions.

Critical Pick: Kevin Horton at TroggBlogg
Read my review here.

Fred Sandback, Decades
David Zwirner
Through April 21

I got a bit carried away writing this blurb on Fred Sandback, such that it turned into a short review that I’ll post later this weekend. That being said, Sandback is an underrated artist who gets written off for appearing to have taken the term “Minimalism” too literally. His mini-retrospective at David Zwirner demonstrates that his work is more complex than its austere simplicity might suggest.

Critical Pick: Pac Pobric at On-Verge
Check back soon for my review.

Anne-Lise Coste, m,l,e
toomer labzda
Through April 22

Coste’s black and white spray paintings are nothing innovative, but installed salon-style in the small space of toomer labzda, they look nice. Like excerpts from the expansive canvasses of Christopher Wool or Joyce Pensato, the paintings are abstractions of abstractions: script letters made with an aerosol can which climb rhythmically up the wall. As with the single letters on which each painting is based, the temptation is there to piece them together, rather than have them stand alone. The installation of the works hints at this possibility but ultimately denies it, staking a claim for the significance of the individual gesture.

Critical Pick: Serena Qiu at ArtLog

Liz Magic Laser
Derek Eller Gallery
Through April 21

I’m not alone in insisting that Liz Magic Laser needs no formal recommendation. The artist’s video and performance works are smart and funny in a way that proves that all hope for contemporary art as a venue for social critique is not lost. “I Feel Your Pain” documents Laser’s performance at Performa 2011, which excerpted dialogue from interviews with prominent politicians and recombined it into hilarious personal conversations, calls out our modern political arena for the cult of personality it has become.

Critical Pick: Karen Rosenberg on “I Feel Your Pain” at NYTimes ArtsBeat

The New Traditionalists
Martos Gallery
Through April 21

While the gallery proposes senior artist B. Wurtz as a kind of father figure for the three younger artists in this group show, one should really trace their lineage back a little further, both to Robert Rauschenberg and Claes Oldenburg. Rauschenberg was the first to try to fill the gap between painting and sculpture with the simple materials around him. It’s this gap into which all these artists’ works fall, and Leif Ritchey’s collages of discarded materials on canvas presenting themselves as new versions of the former artist’s Combine Paintings updated for a new material era. Oldenburg’s soft sculptures, then, are a clear reference point for Justin Aidan’s sleekly industrial foam and Jess Fuller’s distressed canvas forms. A better case for Wurtz’s influence might be found at Richard Telles Fine Art in Los Angeles, where the exhibition “B. Wurtz & Co.,” curated by Matthew Higgs, highlights eleven artists who mine both the minimal and the mundane, not just one or the other. But “The New Traditionalists” is worth seeing regardless because the works are good. Moreover, the notion of a “new tradition” is intriguing: it just needs a bit more parsing out.

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