Barry Schwabsky

  • Brice Marden

    Brice Marden’s recent show “It reminds me of something, and I don’t know what it is.” included a sextet of horizontal paintings (each six by ten feet), as well as five smaller but still substantially scaled studies in oil (three by five feet), and four vertical drawings on paper. (I note at the outset the works’ format because, in a very interesting way, they make an issue of it by playing their rectangularity against a contained square.)

    Marden has long been fascinated by Chinese calligraphy, most evidently until now in his “Cold Mountain” series, 1989–91, which was directly inspired by the

  • Larry Poons

    Two very different sides of Larry Poons appear in his most recent exhibition. On the one hand are a dozen paintings—made between 2014 and 2019 and built out of masses of small, flickering gestures—that in their meditative lyricism hearken back to Impressionist landscapes. On the other are thirteen canvases, or “Particle Paintings,” dating from 1996 to 2002, that Poons made using a technique that involved laying down mostly linear relief elements onto the work’s surface before applying paint. Via this approach, “drawing” became a material fact, to which Poons could react with color, presumably

  • Lisa Brice

    Among my favorite paintings by Marlene Dumas is The Painter, 1994, which shows a serious-faced little girl—the artist’s daughter, then five or six—whose hands are completely covered in paint: blue for the right hand, red for the left. I’d like to think that girl could have grown up to be Lisa Brice—like Dumas, a South African by birth, though she now lives in London. True, the age isn’t right (Brice was born in 1968, not the late 1980s), but Brice clearly doesn’t mind getting her hand dirty with blue, the dominant (and sometimes only) color in most of the twenty works on view in her recent

  • E’wao Kagoshima

    Born in Niigata, Japan, in 1945, E’wao Kagoshima has been a New Yorker since 1976. Working in a manner that combined aspects of Symbolism and Pop into an unstable cocktail of seductive decadence and a (possibly naive?) cosmic consciousness, he made a discreet reputation for himself in the East Village of the ’80s when the artist, writer, and all-around impresario Nicolas Moufarrege drafted him into his self-proclaimed Mutant International, a group of artists who, when hymned in Moufarrege’s inimitably vatic and enthusiastic style, sound less like members of an art movement than like a bunch of

  • “Peter Saul: Crime and Punishment”

    Curated by Massimiliano Gioni and Gary Carrion-Murayari

    Peter Saul has been called a painter’s painter. But when I hear that phrase, I think of someone whose work trades in refinement, in nuances likely to be lost on the layman, not an in-your-face provocateur like Saul, whose work art historian Richard Shiff has called “vulgar to such an extreme that it disturbs even the vulgar.” And yet it’s true: Most painters I know are fascinated by Saul and seem to believe he’s on to some of the art’s inside secrets—which means they suspect, I think, that the essence of painting must be something other than

  • “Think of Them as Spaces: Brice Marden’s Drawings”

    Curated by Kelly Montana

    Brice Marden has said that he starts his work “far away and end[s] up really close.” He continues, “Usually, when I am drawing, say with a brush from a distance, I always close in on it and I end up working it with a knife. . . . It’s like going from the vague to the specific—closing in on it, focusing.” Likewise for the viewer: You want to keep getting nearer to the work. Rather than trying to be all-inclusive, this first survey of his works on paper since 2001 delves deeply into a few important themes—including, for instance, thirty-five studies for the 1988–91 “Cold

  • Suh Seung-Won

    Born in 1941, Suh Seung-Won is younger than the more-prominent painters—such as Ha Chong-Hyun (b. 1935), Park Seo-Bo (b. 1931), or Yun Hyong-keun (1928–2007)—associated with Dansaekhwa, or Korean monochrome painting. Although commonly grouped in with them, Suh, at least during the period covered by this show (1967 to 1989), seems to come from a different branch of abstraction’s family tree: Where their art is earthy, based in process and materials, his hard-edged shapes are rendered in flat hues and inexpressive surfaces, exuding a spirit more akin to that of Russian Suprematism.

    The three earliest

  • Robert Colescott

    A DECADE AFTER HIS DEATH, Robert Colescott is still mostly known for his paintings of “the old masters in blackface,” as he once lamented. His pastiches—among them Eat Dem Taters, 1975 (take that, van Gogh!); George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook, 1975; and I Gets a Thrill, Too, When I Sees De Koo, 1978, which I had not realized is a pastiche of a pastiche, using the figure of Aunt Jemima to get at de Kooning by way of Mel Ramos—subvert what they pay homage to, substituting black figures for white ones to reimagine historic events and images, even

  • Cindy Ji Hye Kim

    As a writer, I know what twisting myself into knots over a word is like, though I rarely do this over a letter of the alphabet. But for an artist who might consider script a kind of drawing, the act of forming a single character might, for all I know, become more fraught. Cindy Ji Hye Kim is a draftsperson of implicit elegance and concision, with a style that falls somewhere between Max Fleischer and Christina Ramberg. To imagine Kim manipulating a pen with anything but ease is difficult, yet her paintings and drawings express anxieties about writing. These works feature stylized female figures,

  • Jean Dubuffet

    JEAN DUBUFFET has been having a moment—or maybe something longer, and certainly more expansive. New York’s Museum of Modern Art had a very well received in-house show of his work in 2014–15, which was quickly followed by a display of the artist’s collection of art brut that opened at the nearby American Folk Art Museum in 2015. (Writing on the latter show, Roberta Smith slyly suggested that many of Dubuffet’s best efforts were made during a ten-year period when the collection was out of his hands, temporarily housed on Long Island.) This New York affair continued in 2016, when Acquavella Galleries

  • Alissa McKendrick

    “Resentment” was a surprising title for a show of five vibrant, high-spirited paintings, none of which immediately gave off vibes of bitterness or rancor, even if their energy contained an understated ferocity. Alissa McKendrick is a fluent colorist with a propensity for subtly dissonant combinations of fruity, saturated hues that produce a jarring, acidic sweetness. Placing her stylishly accoutred female protagonists in spatially nonspecific color fields where they act out equivocal scenarios (motorcycling, nearly naked, past an overturned car, or confronting a seated ape as if engaged in


    Curated by Lowery Sims and Matthew Weseley

    Robert Colescott (1925–2009) was an odd man out among the painters of his time. His work has something in common with that of Bay Area “funk” artists such as Joan Brown, Peter Saul, and William T. Wiley, but has a satirical edge all its own, thanks to Colescott’s fantastical, sometimes outrageous approach to racial politics, art history, and popular culture—exemplified by his most famous work, George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook, 1975. Before Kerry James Marshall, Gary Simmons, or Kara Walker, there was

  • Marina Adams

    Although Marina Adams began exhibiting in group shows as early as 1983, she has only lately come to prominence. If her 2017 solo exhibition “Soft Power,” also at Salon 94, was, as the poet and critic John Yau noted at the time, “her breakthrough,” then this show, “Anemones,” will likely be remembered as the one that cemented her reputation as among the best abstract painters around. In particular, with the six large canvases in the gallery’s main space (seven small ones were in its upstairs reception area) she used scale to achieve something that’s been rare in contemporary painting: a sense of

  • Thomas Joshua Cooper

    Yes, a photograph is of some thing or some place. But what sort of relationship is covered by that little word of? Thomas Joshua Cooper’s work reminds us just how mysterious the link between a picture and its subject can be.

    Cooper is exceedingly deliberate in choosing what to capture. His decisions involve painstaking historical research. A long-term project of his has been to make pictures along all the coastlines of the Atlantic Ocean. In pursuit of opportunities to do so, he has—as the Parrish Art Museum’s director, Terrie Sultan, explains in the catalogue for this exhibition, “Refuge”—“journeyed

  • passages July 17, 2019

    Warren Niesluchowski (1946–2019)

    IN EARLY MAY I started to receive emails from friends who were at the professional viewing days for the Venice Biennale. No, they weren’t wondering where I was, why I wasn’t there. They were asking, instead, if I knew anything about the whereabouts of the one person without whom such an event felt incomplete: Did I know if Warren Niesluchowski was coming?

    Warren wouldn’t be making it to Venice this time, I had to tell them. He was in a hospital bed in New York—the latest (and, it would turn out, the last) of the many temporary accommodations he’d had the use of over the past two decades.

    Why so

  • Sangram Majumdar

    Certain artists settle easily and without trepidation into a credible style that allows them to proceed in an unencumbered, linear fashion; Sangram Majumdar is apparently not among them. A decade ago, it made sense for the critic Jennifer Samet to discuss the Kolkata-born New Yorker’s work under the rubric “painterly representation”; at that time his art was rather academic in character, with an affinity for restrained color enlivened by a sensitive touch. Fellow painter Kyle Staver noted—and not without admiration—“a stubborn and humorless aspect” to this approach. By 2013, Majumdar had mostly

  • Bernard Gilardi

    The poet and critic Parker Tyler, in the 1943 issue of View magazine titled “America Fantastica,” observed that the fantastic in art, “while primitive, is also sophisticated, since it makes direct appeal to that anarchy of elements which binds the most rational man to the lunatic.” I believe Tyler would have immediately recognized Bernard Gilardi as an artist of this stripe, and, if labels are useful at all, I find this a more informative way to explain what kind of artist he was than trotting out more conventional rubrics such as outsider, self-taught, or naïve. Born in 1920, Gilardi spent his

  • Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

    “In Lieu of a Louder Love,” Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s exhibition of twenty-six paintings—including two diptychs and a quadriptych—occupied both of Jack Shainman Gallery’s Chelsea spaces. These imaginary portraits conveyed a timelessness, a sense that they might have been made either a hundred years ago or just the other day. Yiadom-Boakye’s work does not elicit mere nostalgia; it evokes a sense of inward reflection, less affected by immediate sensations than by what’s been brooding in the soul. Although the artist relies on imagination rather than observation, she still uses photographs and other

  • Jennifer Packer

    Jennifer Packer’s paintings come, she has said, from “observation, improvisation, and memory.” That sounds a bit like realism, abstraction, and symbolism all at once—or maybe at different times of day? It’s a tall order, but her recent exhibition “Quality of Life” bore that out. Although what she paints—people, flowers—might sound limited, she can do pretty much anything she wants with her medium of choice (and with charcoal), and she allows herself the freedom to range widely in form and feeling, and sees more in her subjects than others might notice.

    A striking example was Jess, 2018, an

  • Cecily Brown

    The massive 2017 triptych that gives this show its title, Where, When, How Often and with Whom, is a complex but inscrutable composition. Its left canvas depicts what appears to be a shipwreck (or at least a vessel tossed on a storm), while the center is occupied by a mass of figures who direct their apparently alarmed attention not at the foundering vessel but outward at the viewer (unless we are to imagine a shift in viewpoint, so that the viewer is at sea with the boat); on the right, a single figure lies sprawled out with another kneeling alongside. The painting brings to mind the refugees