Jan Avgikos

  • View of “Cady Noland,” 2021. All works Untitled, 2021. Photo: Carter Seddon.
    print September 16, 2021

    Cady Noland

    Cady Noland rarely shows new work, but when she does it’s a big occasion—and in this instance doubly so because the exhibition of six new sculptures (and three prints on metal from the early 1990s) was produced in tandem with the release of her self-published two-volume book, THE CLIP-ON METHOD (2021), which also happened to be the title of her presentation here. As much a catalogue raisonné as an extended manifesto and meditation on evil, the publication contains copious photographs of her art and exhibitions from the 1980s to the present (including the 1989 work for which the volumes and show

  • Jennifer Bartlett, Leaking Systems, 2001, oil on five canvases, overall 104 × 88".

    Jennifer Bartlett

    The dichotomous tension between abstraction and representation is as important today as it was a century ago. The polarity is particularly rich in painting, where the construct tests relations between what we see, what we imagine, and what we know. That this domain has been the basis of Jennifer Bartett’s practice for more than half a century is in and of itself quite remarkable. Her exhibition here, presenting work made between 2000 and 2003, showed how adept she is at activating both the sensual and the cerebral, using formal vocabularies that emerged in her art during the late ’70s and early

  • Arthur Monroe, Untitled, 1983, oil on canvas, 96 × 84 1⁄2".

    Arthur Monroe

    Suppose you had never heard of San Francisco Bay Area painter Arthur Monroe (1935–2019). He might be obscure, but his work, which was on display in a solo presentation at Malin Gallery, speaks for itself. It was immediately apparent that the large-scale gestural abstractions, produced between 1980 and 2012, were extremely accomplished. The viewer was drawn in by their rhythmic intensities, the linear storms of calligraphic black strokes, the honeycombs of vibrant color, and the grids that wove in and out of forms vaguely suggestive of Mayan hieroglyphs or tribal markings, influences cultivated

  • Jane Freilicher, Parts of a World, 1987, oil on linen, 68 1⁄2 × 53".

    Jane Freilicher

    Jane Freilicher, a painter who emerged in the 1950s and achieved near-legendary status before her death in 2014, notoriously chose gestural realism over pure abstraction. As she once remarked, the approach gave her an emotional reason to make art. Even though representational styles moved in and out of fashion, she was never not part of the art world. An exhibition devoted exclusively to her still lifes at Kasmin—both on the gallery’s walls and in an online viewing room—put her virtuosity on full display, affording one an opportunity to contemplate how much she achieved by focusing on the

  • Mernet Larsen, Gurney (after El Lissitzky), 2019, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 45 1⁄4 × 70".

    Mernet Larsen

    Think back a hundred years ago to the high-water mark of Russian avant-garde art, when, in stark contrast to our present day, utopianism was at a peak. Currents of revolutionary fervor, coupled with industrial expansion and promises of liberation for all workers, stirred a radiant vision of the future: “The people” would be released from poverty and the onerous social conditions they had endured. Everyone could be a creator—an artist!—and manifest their own unique essence. El Lissitzky and Kazimir Malevich were among those prophets of the new world order, and their radically abstract art mapped

  • Suzan Frecon, stone cathedral, 2019, diptych, oil on linen, overall 108 1⁄2 × 87 3⁄4".

    Suzan Frecon

    The constraints levied against female abstract painters in New York during the postwar decades resulted in their near-total marginalization. Nevertheless, they persisted. The situation seems unfathomable, but such was the depth of this historical amnesia that by the 1960s and ’70s women were disparaged for “painting like men,” which was idiotic given how prominently they figured as producers and innovators in vanguard abstraction. Special reverence is due the female artists who, continuing on their paths of invention, set up studios in Lower Manhattan—a boys’ club—despite the blatant sexism they

  • Kim Dingle, Full Service–Restaurant Mandala, 2012–20, oil on canvas, 48 × 48".

    Kim Dingle

    Sunny and animated, Kim Dingle’s latest series of oil paintings at Andrew Kreps Gallery, titled “Restaurant Mandalas” and produced between 2012 and 2020, exude a sense of casual ease and comfort. Channeling the formal languages of abstraction into open floor plans, seating arrangements, table settings, and serving suggestions, they describe the dimensions and pleasures of dining out (remember when we did that?) and fit the bill as templates for the good life. The idea for these pictures came from a phase in Dingle’s career during which she operated a neighborhood-style café named Fatty’s from

  • Jane and Louise Wilson, Untitled #1 ‘I’d Walk with You but Not with Her’, 2020, ink-jet print, 60 × 43".

    Jane and Louise Wilson

    Artists and identical twin sisters Jane and Louise Wilson, whose collaborative career spans more than thirty years, possess a seemingly insatiable appetite for all manner of psychic, social, and environmental catastrophes. Their remarkable Stasi City, 1997, a four-channel installation filmed inside the abandoned former headquarters of the East German secret police in Berlin, is a powerful evocation of the lingering toxicity associated with state-sponsored terror. In Face Scripting: What Did the Building See?, 2011, a collaborative effort between the sisters, the research group Forensic Architecture,

  • Peter Nagy, Entertainment Erases History (detail), 1983, UV print on vinyl, 6' × 11' 1".

    Peter Nagy

    As an artist and a cofounder of legendary East Village gallery Nature Morte, Peter Nagy launched his storied career amid the combative, hyperintellectual atmosphere of 1980s postmodernity. This retrospective survey of works produced between 1982 and 1992, all rendered in black and white, constituted a richly nuanced time capsule of a paradigm-shifting period.

    To revisit work predicated on cultural critique several decades after its production is to submit it to quite an acid test. How amazing to discover that Nagy’s early output, which shows the artist’s penchant for mapping transformations

  • Gary Simmons, Anger Issues, 2020, oil and cold wax on canvas, 24 1⁄4 × 18 1⁄4".

    Gary Simmons

    Honey’s back for a return engagement in Gary Simmons’s new paintings, this time with her boyfriend, Bosko; both characters hail from the Looney Tunes animated cartoons that captivated audiences in the 1930s. As stereotypical caricatures of black people, Bosko and Honey, who were neither fully human nor entirely animal, starred in more than twenty musical-film shorts as singing, dancing simpletons who were as happy as they were oblivious to the debased racism they emblematized. Directly related to the minstrel stage, they were second only to Porky Pig and Daffy Duck in popularity. Even when

  • Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Running with My Black Panthers and White Doves a.k.a. Running with My Daemons, ca. 1989–90, mixed media on canvas, 6' 9“ × 11' 6”. From the series “Panthers in My Father’s Palace,” 1984–90.

    Mary Lovelace O’Neal

    Though the seventy-eight-year-old Mary Lovelace O’Neal’s art and achievements warrant great acclaim, she is, unfortunately, little known. It’s no small wonder: O’Neal is a black woman based on the West Coast. She was not celebrated in the much touted “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,” which originated at London’s Tate Modern in 2017 and traveled around the world. “Chasing Down the Image,” a mini retrospective covering five decades of her paintings at Mnuchin Gallery—O’Neal’s first show in New York since 1993—aimed to remedy that omission.

    Hailing from Jackson, Mississippi, O’Neal

  • View of “William Cordova,” 2020. Foreground from left: untitled (cajon), 2018; untitled (rouse), 2019. Background from left: untitled (el quinto suyo) (Untitled [The Fifth City]), 2018–19; untitled (ruling principles of the universe), 2018–19.

    William Cordova

    William Cordova is a storyteller—a recuperator of ancestral memories. The artist invites us to question how we might revisit belief systems that vanished eons ago. Themes that animate his installations, objects, and collages are intoned in the material dimensions of his work, along with undulating titles that refer to sound, occult secrets, warriors, ghosts, ancient architectures, folkloric music, textiles, and the landscape of Peru.

    Aspects of his own life factor significantly in his efforts to ameliorate the conditions of displacement and erasure—he was born in Lima, taken at an early age to