Darren Jones

  • picks February 16, 2018

    Peter Plagens

    Each one of Peter Plagens’s eleven abstract paintings and collages here can be regarded as trinities, made up of three visual elements that frame or obscure. Spaghettilike marks along the works’ perimeters jut and race about. They surround and jaggedly collide with flat inner plains of purple, gray, pink, or turquoise. At the heart of these works lie geometric units of blazing color, akin to tangram puzzles.

    Plagens, also an art critic, has said that he manages to keep his writerly tendencies out of his paintings. He is, however, not entirely successful. His images feel a lot like discussions—heated,

  • picks February 04, 2018

    Bror Anders Wikstrom

    Bror Anders Wikstrom arrived in New Orleans from his native Sweden in the early 1880s. Although he worked as a portraitist, printmaker, and cartoonist, he is particularly noted as a designer of Mardi Gras floats and costumes—this exhibition's focus—for the krewes of Rex and Proteus, the oldest in carnival history and still active today.

    “Bror Anders Wikstrom: Bringing Fantasy to Carnival” includes almost sixty watercolors in bound and individual formats that make up a Saturnalian cavalcade of imaginative whimsy and illustrative splendor. In “Twenty Float Designs for Krewe of Proteus ‘The Alphabet’

  • picks February 02, 2018

    Dirk Stewen

    In the upstairs gallery here, Dirk Stewen presents thirty-two individually framed pages of color reproductions of works by twentieth-century icons—such as Matisse, Picasso, and Klee—likely taken from old art catalogues. They have been torn, redacted, and reengineered with newly added elements. Indecipherable slivers of the original prints, with text in the form of artwork captions (primarily in German and French) and page numbers, read as fragmented calderas now overlaid with amorphous blots in gouache and watercolor. Muted browns, blues, and reds commingle with brilliantly hued moments

  • picks September 15, 2017

    Deborah Brown

    Riotous storms of thrashing color formed into woodland scenes are the hallmark of Brooklyn-based artist Deborah Brown’s paintings here. Among forested tableaux under tempestuous skies are recurring motifs: birds, a dog, and a lone female figure. While there are notes of modern civilization—a railing, a pathway—the bent of this exhibition is toward natural, rather than human, architecture.

    In Birch Trees (all works cited, 2017), the woman, arms hanging limply by her side, looks forlornly at a bird perched on a nearby branch. As close as she is to her avian friend—a signifier of beauty, freedom,

  • picks August 04, 2017

    Dana Powell

    Refreshingly, Dana Powell’s twelve oil-on-linen paintings here are titled to succinctly convey their subjects: for example, Pale pool or Smoke screen (all works 2017). The approach is confident, allowing the viewer to engage visually without superficial complication. Subjects include seemingly benign situations, such as the white cloud in Puff or earth’s celestial companion in Daymoon, both delicately rendered and modest in scale. Test site and Hotbox, however—a picture of an explosion and closed elevator doors leaking smoke—complicate matters with their deadpan representations and grim humor.

  • picks June 16, 2017

    Maira Kalman

    The county of Dorset in southwest England is characterized by rolling hills, rugged coastline, and wooded valleys. It’s this idyllic landscape that serves as the subject for Maira Kalman’s current show of ten gouache-on-paper paintings in the gallery’s project room, which focus on the gardens and domestic curiosities of the region’s stately, ancestral houses. (In the main space is a separate exhibition of paintings from Kalman’s 2005 edition of Strunk and White’s classic guide to writing, The Elements of Style.)

    With illustrative flair and fondant-fancy colors, Cream Teas, Sherborne Castle (all

  • picks May 19, 2017

    Peter Howson

    Scottish artist Peter Howson is known for dramatic paintings of brutal melees in urban settings and muscular working-class men in noble combat or heroic poses. Elements of his own tumultuous experiences are often writ large, including his upbringing in a God-fearing environment and his struggles with depression, Asperger’s syndrome, alcohol, and drugs. In 1993, he was Britain’s official artist for the Bosnian conflict. In this role he created a work so horrifying that London’s Imperial War Museum, which had commissioned him, did not accept it into the permanent collection. During a 2000 treatment

  • picks May 15, 2017

    Mark Todd

    For his solo exhibition “Don’t Go to Hell Without Saying Goodbye,” Mark Todd has tweaked the aching sentimentality of crooner ballads, as well as blues and American standards in the vein of Dean Martin, Bobby Rush, and Johnny Mercer to make humorous illustrated album covers. The results of Todd’s topsy-turvy wordplay with songs and band names seem nearly authentic but land just beyond the believable, wittily employing amalgams of lyrics to form titles you almost think you know.

    The acrylic-on-wood LP covers are rendered in a scrappy, cartoonish style somewhere between King of the Hill and Raymond

  • picks April 14, 2017

    Stephen Irwin

    Pornography isn’t often concerned with subtlety and wistful reflection, but Stephen Irwin treated it, in works on view in this posthumous exhibition, as a vehicle for elusive delicacy that repels our expectations. Pages from vintage magazines, gay and straight, have been removed, treated with solution, bleached, and carefully scrubbed of most imagery, transforming them into sculptural sheets of sepulchral timelessness. The remaining visual elements open the work to a reading as something like classical statuary, after the inevitable compulsion to discern the original compositions has been

  • picks March 17, 2017

    Paul Chan

    For his current exhibition here, Paul Chan has made nylon figures—hooded, tapered, or headless—fixed atop fans that inflate and animate them in wild contortions and macabre dance. Electrical cables run from power outlets via concrete-filled shoes, a grounding device that connects each “breather” to the corporeal and domestic. Some forms are presented with props such as a rug, a flag, or turf, further pointing to human connectivity. On the walls hang symbolic ink-on-paper charts of stitching patterns used to achieve particular airflows and movements. Individually and in groups, the works play

  • picks February 10, 2017

    Peter Caine

    Much Trump-related art pokes at the president’s perceived physical inadequacies, faltering at superficiality and failing to elucidate concerns within our body politic. Peter Caine’s exhibition “The Old Man and the Sheep” is an eviscerating exception.

    Known for videos and installations of animatronic sociopolitical tableaux and pop-cultural critique, as well as animal husbandry presentations, Caine has an idiosyncratic on-screen persona lightened by cynical wit. Here, he shows three kinetic works with four life-size figures of a rapturous Trump in various stages of sexual degradation. Aping the

  • picks January 06, 2017

    John Dante Bianchi

    For his solo exhibition “Unavoidable Encounter,” John Dante Bianchi has made sculptures that initially register as paintings attempting to escape their supports. Concertina-like folds of what seems to be canvas—but is actually immaculately engineered strata of wood and aluminum—wrest from their stretcher bars, rising and jutting forth in sharply angled planes, revealing trusses and screws beneath. Acrylic paint is applied to the surfaces in layers, then sanded back to form warm clouds of pinks, purples, and oranges, with patches of iridescent gray where the metal is exposed. The abstract visual

  • picks March 02, 2015

    Loris Gréaud

    Loris Gréaud is best known for expansive multimedia installations concerning grand themes often culled from the natural sciences. Executed in collaboration with architects, engineers, and physicists, the sculptural components of his immersive environments reference the firmament and biological forms. Gréaud set up the entire gallery as a fictional civilization’s natural history museum, titled The Unplayed Notes Museum, 2015, which was then attacked and partially destroyed by actors, as directed by the artist, during the opening night performance. This staged act can be seen as mimicry of humanity’s

  • picks August 12, 2014

    Nancy Rubins

    Nancy Rubins is known for her large public works composed of airplane parts, boats, televisions, mattresses, and other detritus mined from the boneyards of industrialized consumerism. Here she presents four sculptures formed from conglomerations of aluminum animals typical of fairground rides and children’s playgrounds—horses, ducks, and elephants among them—tightly bound together by wire cables. Three floor-based works rise from pedestals, expanding into multicolored cornucopias, while the largest piece, Our Friend Fluid Metal, 2014, also the name of the exhibition, emerges from a wall like

  • picks February 26, 2014

    Luke Stettner

    Luke Stettner’s current exhibition, “this single monument,” includes ten discrete works. Their austere aesthetic (they look almost clinical) belies the emotional heft of their makings—the bodily and baroque made sterile. Each piece also shares the same name as the exhibition, which has been taken from John Ashbery’s 1962 poem “These Lacustrine Cities.” The existential themes that are at the backbone of the poem are condensed within the works. this single monument (all works cited, 2014) combines sentences excerpted from letters penned by William Carlos Williams over some five decades. Stettner

  • picks November 27, 2013

    Michel de Broin

    Michel de Broin’s US solo debut activates cracked lightbulbs, wood logs, bronze castings, and a bicycle with electric currents. The Montreal-based artist calls upon these basic objects to convey fundamental physical forces, all the while adding a trace of whimsy to his works. The result is a constituency of protean ingenuity. A superlative example is Overpower, 2013: A ten-thousand-volt current blazes through a bronze warrior figure that wields a sword over a broken lightbulb. Charged by the voltage, the sword ignites the bulb’s filament, resulting in an electric flash that rushes between the