Alex Jovanovich

  • interviews September 21, 2017

    Tabboo!

    Painter, theatrical designer, and drag artist Tabboo!, also known as Stephen Tashjian, was an essential figure in New York’s early downtown art and club scene. “World of Tabboo! Early & Recent Work” will feature a new batch of his paintings in addition to a suite of pieces he made when he first moved to New York and was living with his friend and collaborator Pat Hearn (who went on to open her own eponymous gallery in 1983). The show is on view at Gordon Robichaux in New York from September 24 to November 19, 2017. Additionally, a selection of Tabboo!’s works will be featured in “Club 57: Film,

  • picks August 11, 2017

    “The World Without Us”

    If you’ve been at all conscious since the start of this dreadful year and never once wished for Armageddon, you probably shouldn’t be trusted. “The World Without Us,” the darkly suggestive title of this group exhibition, casts the assembled works as detritus from a civilization—ours, of course—gone to hell. This is not a negative assessment of the pieces on view, but rather a testament to the misanthropically groovy black energy they radiate as a whole.

    Upon entering the space you notice Lin May Saeed’s fabulous Lioness Relief, 2015, a Styrofoam and wood sculpture of the titular creature wading

  • interviews July 25, 2017

    John Giorno

    Ugo Rondinone’s massive project “I ♥ John Giorno” is a love letter to the titular poet—and Rondinone’s husband—which originally opened in 2015 at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris before coming to New York this summer. The exhibition, a major retrospective of John Giorno’s work, is also a homage, with contributions from artists such as Billy Sullivan, Verne Dawson, Elizabeth Peyton, Anne Collier, and Judith Eisler. “I ♥ John Giorno” is spread across twelve institutions throughout the city, including the Swiss Institute, Red Bull Arts New York, New York University’s 80WSE

  • diary July 02, 2017

    Second Coming

    SUMMER IN NEW YORK IS DISMAL. It turns your face into a pus farm, the air is rich with the scent of garbage cooking on the sidewalks, and my friends’ lengthy trips to Montauk or Morocco remind me of what everyone else seems to have and I don’t.

    Thankfully, others approach the season with a spirit of generosity—specifically Vanessa Carlos, Simone Subal, and Nicole Russo, the organizers of Condo New York, “a large-scale collaborative exhibition of international galleries” (as per Condo’s website) that sidesteps the enervating costs and madness of the art-fair circuit and promotes collaborative

  • picks June 30, 2017

    Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz

    Anita Pallenberg is dead, long live Anita Pallenberg.

    I couldn’t help but think of the sublime rock goddess, a mere two days after her passing, upon entering Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz’s exhibition (organized by Alhena Katsof and Mason Leaver-Yap), a glamorous sepulcher that calls to mind a sex dungeon, an abandoned cabaret, and a dressing room—Alice Cooper’s perhaps, during the height of his power. Near the entrance is a rotating stand of microphones, he ear r (all works 2017), glittering in the darkness, while a screen of imitation blond, black, and ombre hair, Wig piece (whose body? –

  • picks June 09, 2017

    Maureen Gallace

    I would like to die inside of a Maureen Gallace painting. The New England of her intimately scaled canvases and panels—full of solitary beach shacks and desolate coastlines, summer homes, Christmas cottages, flowers, and trees—is irradiated by an endless midmorning sun. Her world is beautiful, sumptuous, yet just out of reach—every barn or verdant hedge seems dangerously close to being swallowed up whole by its vanishing point. The artist’s tableaux call to mind Paul Cézanne’s obsessive looking, the domestic surrealism of Lois Dodd, or Jane Freilicher’s rural poeticism. But the mood Gallace

  • interviews May 30, 2017

    David Gordon

    David Gordon—longtime director, choreographer, actor, playwright, and cofounder of the Judson Dance Theater and the improvisational dance company Grand Union—is preparing to present Live Archiveography, 2017, a performative extension of “ARCHIVEOGRAPHY – Under Construction,” his massive retrospective that was recently presented at the Vincent Astor Gallery at the New York Public Library, as he discusses here. Live Archiveography runs from June 1 to June 3, 2017, at the Kitchen in New York as a part of the LUMBERYARD in the City Festival.

    WHEN I WENT TO TALK WITH THE PEOPLE AT THE NYPL about them

  • picks March 17, 2017

    Vija Celmins

    Vija Celmins is a ruthless poet. The artist’s images in this exhibition—rippling waters, blank slates, stones, stars—are as obdurate as they are yielding, as everything as they are nothing. Experiencing a fastidiously constructed painting, sculpture, drawing, or print by the artist, often made over many years and with an endless supply of patience, is not unlike looking into a mirror. You see yourself in the picture or object you’re gazing at—or falling into—wondering how it came to be, and how you got there, too.

    Celmins frequently works small—it is when she is at her most astonishing. Here,

  • interviews March 07, 2017

    Cary Leibowitz

    There’s a ceramic piece by Cary Leibowitz from 1993 that reads: FUCKED UP HOMO BAR-MITZVAH GAY BOY WORRIES TOO MUCH ABOUT WHAT HIS MOTHER WILL WEAR. “Museum Show,” which runs through June 25, 2017, at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, is Leibowitz’s first-ever solo museum exhibition and midcareer survey, covering nearly thirty years of the artist’s identity-centric, bummer-rich comedy via paintings, drawings, sculptures, texts, and more. Here, Leibowitz talks about his work, organizing his show, and Fran Drescher.

    I’M STILL SURPRISED THAT THIS EXHIBITION MADE IT INTO EXISTENCE.

  • diary January 31, 2017

    Band of Outsiders

    DESPERATE TO LOCATE SOME SHRED OF LIGHT, grace, or decency at the beginning of our new Dark Age, I lumbered downtown to see the Outsider Art Fair the Saturday before last—as my blessed sisters were marching, raging—at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea. I was in dire need of tempering my apoplectic bloody-mindedness. (When I saw our new chef à l’orange being sworn in with the Lincoln Bible—the same bible Barack Obama used for his 2009 and 2013 inaugurations—I wanted it to explode into flames.)

    When I got there, I had the good fortune of meeting and talking to the delightful Jackie Klempay—proprietress

  • interviews January 24, 2017

    Joyce Pensato

    Homer, Kenny, Donald, Mickey: Joyce Pensato’s painterly masticating of these American cartoon icons—distilled in black-and-white enamel—have been seducing audiences for decades. One of her earliest Mickey Mouse paintings will be featured in the Whitney Museum’s survey of image-making in downtown New York, “Fast Forward: Painting from the 1980s,” curated by Jane Panetta and Melinda Lang. The exhibition opens on January 27 and runs through May 14, 2017.

    I WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE my first ever solo show in the East Village at Fiction/Nonfiction gallery in 1991. A couple of the Mickey Mouse drawings I

  • picks December 09, 2016

    “Securing the Shadow: Posthumous Portraiture in America”

    “Secure the shadow, ere the substance fades.” The carving of character by light, as the early camera was thought to do, and as this advertising slogan for photographers of the 1800s suggests, was especially trenchant for those who wanted to remember their dead at eternal slumber’s start, with astonishing veracity, via the daguerreotype’s unearthly powers. Memorial portrait painting is another kind of alchemy—venerable, yet stranger, as it tasks the artist with reviving a kind of familiar glow or personality from the deceased––sometimes using the corpse as a model––for the commissioning bereaved.

  • interviews September 13, 2016

    McDermott and McGough

    “I’ve seen the future, and I’m not going,” says David McDermott, Peter McGough’s creative partner and fellow time-traveler for over thirty years. McDermott and McGough’s queer reimaginings of the past—from eighteenth-century America to the roaring twenties, all the way up to 1984, via painting, photography, film, and sculpture—reinvigorate one’s hopes, to paraphrase E. M. Forster, for better days ahead. Here, McGough discusses their first exhibition with James Fuentes Gallery in New York, “Velvet Rage, Flaming Youth, and the Gift of Desperation,” which opens on September 16 and runs through

  • picks August 12, 2016

    Lauretta Vinciarelli

    Light can be terribly cruel. Excessive amounts can damage eyes and burn skin. Think of José Saramago’s Blindness (1995), a story about a bright-white sightlessness that inexplicably afflicts an entire city, causing violence and horror. Or the Old Testament God: an incandescence who was severe and punishing.

    One could easily assume the light depicted in Lauretta Vinciarelli’s numinous watercolor paintings is healing and warm. The architect and artist—who died of cancer on August 2, 2011, her sixty-eighth birthday—studied Eastern philosophy and was especially devoted to the eleventh chapter of the

  • picks July 29, 2016

    “The Keeper”

    Grandpa, kids, the rich, serial murderers: Everybody collects! Freud said it has something to do with toilet training—that losing one’s shit, quite literally, can be a traumatizing experience, and collecting is a way of cauterizing that early-childhood wound. That’s stupid, and deeply ungenerous. It doesn’t explain the eerie profundity of self-described “super-medium” Vanda Vieira-Schmidt’s Weltrettungsprojekt (World Rescue Project), 1995–, a small edifice comprising more than three hundred thousand drawings created to save humanity from supernatural forces of doom, or The Sketchbook from

  • film March 17, 2016

    Remember the Alamo

    SO IT APPEARS THAT The Archies have become “dark.” Due to a big brand revamp a few years ago, Riverdale’s now overrun with murder, zombies, witchcraft, and a fine powdering of incest. Who knew? It’s making Archie Comic Publications, Inc. a great deal of money, certainly—even NPR approves. But isn’t this Frank Millering of juvenilia a cynical and predictable strategy of revivification? If you want challenging literature about the vicissitudes and complicatedness of life, maybe grow up and read Tolstoy? Kathy Acker? Karl Ove Knausgård? Lena Dunham?

    A new Pee-wee Herman movie from the inimitable

  • interviews March 15, 2016

    Isaac Mizrahi

    During Hollywood’s early days, actors didn’t just act—they also sang, danced, and played instruments. These people were, in the truest sense of the word, entertainers. The designer Isaac Mizrahi is similar—an old-school charmer who’d never settle on doing just one thing forever. This is abundantly evident in the exhibition “Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History,” put together by Kelly Taxter and Chee Pearlman, which opens at the Jewish Museum on March 18 and runs through August 7, 2016, the midcareer survey that explores Mizrahi’s life in fashion, theater, film, and television. Unzipped (1995),

  • diary March 15, 2016

    Sui Genesis

    IF YOU’RE OLD ENOUGH, you’ll remember the term “urban primitive,” a pejorative (I always thought) coined during the late 1980s or early ’90s for the tatted, pierced, and dyed set who, through these various cosmetic alterations to their bodies, were somehow more in touch with the dissipating collective id that was being ravaged by Western cynicism and late capitalism.

    I dunno—back then I recall the majority of UPs being aggro straight white dudes who smoked the shittiest weed and drank too much, calling anyone who had a sense of humor and not a jot of “tribal” ink on their bodies “fuckin’ faggots.”

  • picks February 12, 2016

    Beverly Semmes

    “A heartfelt seduction lasts a lifetime,” says the archly camp English band Black Box Recorder. And, no joke, they’re right, especially when it comes to Meret Oppenheim, whose sexy, Surrealist works balance nightmare and Eros with sinister aplomb. Beverly Semmes’s exhibition here, “Rabbit Hole,” is a love letter dropped into the abyss—an homage to Oppenheim’s fur-lined teacup, spoon, and saucer from 1936, Object.

    Semmes’s colorful fabric “Ghost” sculptures, made between 1996 and 2016, are T-pinned to the walls of gallery, and all six of them wear little sewn-on skirts. Two carry patterns of dots

  • picks January 29, 2016

    Jeni Spota C.

    James Hampton, a janitor, built a tinfoil throne room for Christ’s return in a Washington, DC, rental garage; Leonard Knight’s Salvation Mountain is an adobe edifice in California made in honor of God’s enduring love; Laure Pigeon’s densely worked ink drawings are faithfully recorded transmissions from beyond the veil. Painter Jeni Spota C. unabashedly joins this lineage of ecstatic visionaries for whom art is a gateway into the divine.

    One doesn’t just look at Spota’s paintings; one feels them. Their thickly encrusted oil surfaces warp—or rather, masticate—the orderly and elaborate geometry of