Barry Schwabsky

  • Josephine Halvorson, Roadside Memorial, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 22 × 24".

    Josephine Halvorson

    Just a handful of the fourteen paintings in Josephine Halvorson’s “Unforgotten” called on trompe l’oeil conventions. But with the show following hard on the heels of the controversial “Cubism and the Trompe l’Oeil Tradition” at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, it was hard to avoid focusing on the connection. Halvorson has long depicted vertically oriented tableaux parallel to the picture plane (corkboards or just wooden walls) with pinned-up receipts, sketches, letters, and flyers, as in New England Blacksmiths, 2021, or Important Notice, 2023, both of which were on view here. Her intention

  • Oda Knudsen, Skibet skal sejle i nat (The Ship Must Sail Tonight), 1997, oil on canvas, 58 1⁄4 × 36 5⁄8".

    Oda Knudsen

    With her gritty, uningratiating facture, her unruly mélange of blunt imagery and vigorous abstract mark-making, and her equally wayward blend of sarcasm and naïveté, Oda Knudsen could have easily fit in among the De Unge Vilde (the young wild ones) who emerged in Denmark in the 1980s, somewhat in tandem with German artists such as Werner Büttner or Martin Kippenberger. In fact, born in 1938, she was a generation older than those Danish painters (among them Claus Carstensen, Inge Ellegaard, and Berit Heggenhougen-Jensen). While “Kredit i flammer” (Credit in Flames) was Knudsen’s first posthumous

  • Genevieve Goffman, A Lady Listens to Music, 2022, nylon, dye, acrylic paint, wood, 19 × 14 × 9".

    Genevieve Goffman

    Genevieve Goffman’s “Before It All Went Wrong,” a show of half a dozen small intricate sculptures, suggested a nostalgia for some lost dreamworld. But, with their focus on setting rather than story, they left the cause of the fall uncertain. Using modeling software, Goffman concocted her deliriously artificial paradises and stately pleasure domes with heady amalgams of Baroque style, chinoiserie, and Disneyesque whimsy, peppering them with stray bits of Brutalism culled from Yugoslavian war monuments. She realized her seductive yet unsettling visions with a 3D printer, mostly in transparent

  • Sam Szafran, Feuillages (Foliage), 1986–89, watercolor, 58 5⁄8 × 39".

    Sam Szafran

    Though encompassing nearly one hundred works on canvas and paper, “Sam Szafran: Obsessions of a Painter” did not offer a full-scale retrospective of its subject. Instead, the exhibition provided a deep look into two of the artist’s key themes: interior spaces and luxuriant foliage, often in a garden or greenhouse, where the distinction between inside and outside becomes moot. More than just covering different subject matter or, as the exhibition subtitle would have it, following different obsessions, these two bodies of work could almost be by different artists. And yet they come from the same

  • View of “June Leaf,” 2022. Photo: Timothy Doyon.

    June Leaf

    This was June Leaf’s first show in her adopted hometown since the artist’s 2016 exhibition at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, “Thought Is Infinite,” which focused mainly on her drawings. And while the presentation at Ortuzar Projects included several pieces dating as far back as the 1970s, the accent was firmly on work created since the Whitney show. As ever, Leaf has been equally active in sculpture and painting, with drawing as the inevitable fount of inspiration. Her art seamlessly and beguilingly stitches together naturalistic detail and abstract structure with elusive symbolism

  • Sanya Kantarovsky, Mandible, 2020, watercolor on paper, 14 3⁄4 × 11 1⁄4".


    SANYA KANTAROVSKY is quintessentially a painter—someone who lives and breathes the materials, procedures, and heritage of the art. He’s someone who, according to the curator Elena Filipovic, “believes more in the utter necessity of painting than nearly anyone I’ve ever met.” So it might seem counterintuitive that his first American museum exhibition, which opened this past month at the Aspen Art Museum in Colorado, will be a video installation—no canvases in evidence.

    But no one who knows the artist would be entirely surprised. Yes, Kantarovsky is a painter, and passionately so, but his very

  • Cora Cohen, Replace the Beloved, 1985–87, oil and Flashe paint on linen, 78 × 78".

    Cora Cohen

    About a decade ago, it seemed to become increasingly notable that a number of women painters had been pursuing aspects of Abstract Expressionism in idiosyncratic and innovative ways. In these pages, Mark Godfrey pointed to Jacqueline Humphries, Laura Owens, Amy Sillman, and Charline von Heyl—all participants in the 2014 Whitney Biennial—as protagonists of this effort to reexamine a once “forbidden” style, stripped of its former rhetoric so that, as Godfrey put it, “meaning is thrown back onto the viewer as the artists’ own subjective investments in their decisions around paint handling become

  • Janet Werner, Untitled (harlequin), 2022, oil on canvas, 69 × 52".

    Janet Werner

    “Crush,” featuring eighteen canvases made over the past two years, was a belated New York solo debut for prominent Montreal-based painter Janet Werner. Her earlier work often took the form of portraits—but imaginary ones, made without the use of real or photographic models. According to the artist, those paintings “actually came out of an investigation of abstraction.” Judging from reproductions, they certainly had nothing to do with realism, allowing painterliness its own impulses as it flirts with the grotesque. Later, she began mining fashion magazines for source material. That’s well-trod

  • Norman Bluhm, Untitled, Studies in Blue, White, Gray, 1975, oil on canvas, 4 × 20'.

    Norman Bluhm

    Frank O’Hara contrasted the art of Norman Bluhm (1921–1999) with that of Jasper Johns, saying, “Johns’s business is to resist desire, Bluhm unconsciously inspires it.” Perhaps the poet’s remark helped turn Bluhm’s instinctive aesthetic goal into a more deliberate project. In any case, by the end of the 1960s, Bluhm’s imagery had swerved from the gestural abstraction for which he’d become well-known to a mode of painting that, while still nonrepresentational, was nonetheless highly evocative of the body; the work’s aggressive energy had morphed into a more seductive sensuality. This, apparently,

  • Simone Kearney, Crier (XXI), 2022, unfired clay, 15 × 10 × 7". From the series “Criers,” 2021–22.

    Simone Kearney

    Yes, this is a disheartening era we’re living through. I didn’t really need the text accompanying “Criers”—poet and artist Simone Kearney’s exhibition here—to remind me that we’re living through a “time of global pandemic, war, and ecological catastrophe”; most days I feel like Anthony Quinn at the end of Fellini’s La strada. Au courant in that sense, Kearney’s show took its name from a series of ceramic heads, twenty-five of which occupied the main space at Brooklyn’s Undercurrent gallery. A roomful of weeping faces, however far from realistic in their rendering, might sound like a lugubrious

  • Nicole Eisenman, Maker’s Muck, 2022, mixed media, 8' 7 1⁄4" × 10' × 12' 11 1⁄4".

    Nicole Eisenman

    Nicole Eisenman’s “Untitled (Show)” could at first appear either as a painting exhibition with a few sculptures, or a sculpture exhibition with a couple of paintings, depending on which floor of Hauser & Wirth’s Chelsea redoubt you stepped into first. After absorbing it all, I couldn’t help wondering if any other artist working today can make as plausible a claim to equal mastery of both mediums. Having taken up sculpture only a decade ago, Eisenman is now clearly an artist for whom painting and sculpture are part of a single continuum: analogous ways of materially engaging with the making and

  • Bridget Mullen, Free to Be You and Me, 2021, Flashe paint and acrylic on linen, 22 × 15".

    Bridget Mullen

    At first, the imagery in Bridget Mullen’s canvases for her show “Quitters” seemed difficult to parse; but I eventually found my way into her world by grooving to the works’ facture. Because she uses the ultra-matte vinyl paint Flashe, often in combination with acrylic or spray paint, the paintings’ surfaces look very dry, which somehow conflicts, in the eye’s mind, with the fluidity of her slyly workmanlike mark-making. The color is thinly applied in layers so that a sense of depth, volume, and plasticity coexists with an acute feeling for the flat surface—another perceptual conundrum. The effect