Max Lakin

  • Sharon Madanes, The Takedown, 2022, acrylic on linen, 60 × 54".

    Sharon Madanes

    Anyone who has seen the inside of a hospital—in all of its bleak, harshly lit linoleum blandness—would likely not recognize the places depicted in “Bedside Histories,” this exhibition of paintings by Sharon Madanes, in which liquescent bodies seemingly coagulate within warm and overstuffed compositions of Fauvist color. But then again, maybe they have. The artist’s subjects all seem to telegraph the same type of exhaustion—their bodies stooped, their faces drawn.

    Madanes is not interested in realism. Presumably she has her fill of that at places like Bellevue Hospital, where she is a psychiatry

  • Greg Smith, dish core invite, 2022, wool fiber, encaustic, wood, hardware,
latex paint, dry-erase board, 19 1⁄2 × 9 × 3".

    Greg Smith

    Nothing in Greg Smith’s exhibition here was particularly pleasant to look at, which he probably wouldn’t be too wounded to hear. Encaustic-caked assemblages were gouged with runic marks and bolted to the wall with bits of wood, piled with pairs of fabric-stuffed nylons (calling to mind horrible camp sausages or lengths of intestine), or simply pressed with so much wax that it looked like lard was mashed into the works’ surfaces. Flotillas of jetsam comprised the derelict little raft sculptures on the floor; the largest of them was outfitted with a motorized armature that whipped a screen door

  • A Charles Ray sculpture on the rooftop of the Whitney. Photo: Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images.
    diary April 02, 2022

    Addicted to the Shindig

    THE GLASSINE LOBBY OF THE WHITNEY was thick with Comme des Garçons “Floriental” on Tuesday morning, overwhelming, even through a surgical mask. Adam Weinberg, the Whitney’s director, asked for a show of excitement, as if ginning up the crowd at a Dua Lipa concert and not a room of journalists at 10 AM after the coffee service had run dry.

    The 2022 Whitney Biennial is really the 2021 Whitney Biennial, waylaid a year for obvious reasons. The exhibition is a curious ritual, a stress test of American art production, but also a kind of debutante ball for young artists, and an act of trust on their

  • Chris Oh, Sky, 2021, acrylic on chalkware statue, 14 3⁄4 × 9 1⁄2 × 8".

    Chris Oh

    There’s an infrathin line between appropriation and theft. The former occasions huge reserve prices, the latter lawsuits. The most successful modern practitioners of appropriation, such as Jeff Koons and Richard Prince—who delight in agitating the limits of good taste and copyright—typically achieve both outcomes, often at the same time. But Chris Oh, who scrupulously paints old-master imagery onto almost hysterically difficult-to-negotiate objects, is after something else.

    Some of Oh’s previous subjects of intense focus have included the paintings of Hans Memling and Rogier van der Weyden; Oh

  • Sarah Slappey, Blue Gingham, 2021, acrylic and oil on canvas, 80 × 100".

    Sarah Slappey

    It’s an accepted idea that unrealistic standards of feminine beauty pushed by fashion magazines and beauty conglomerates have a deleterious effect on society. Most of us enter the prison willingly. Self-care, which emerged as a loosely defined concept of coping with the pressures of modern life (of which looking good is a big one) presents itself as a saner alternative, but has by now been revealed as another trapdoor— a ten-billion-dollar industry that folds beauty into woozy affirmation and pseudo-psychology while reinforcing a kind of solipsism that foists a parallel set of things to buy and

  • Tau Lewis’s Opus (The Ovule), 2021, presented by Los Angeles’s Night Gallery at the Armory Show’s Platform section. Photo: Celsey Kelbaugh.
    diary September 15, 2021

    Moveable Feasts

    INDEPENDENT’S ABILITY TO CHOOSE locations that have private members clubs is unmatched. This year it had left Spring Studios, where someone told me it was outbid by Fashion Week, for the Battery Maritime Building, where a Cipriani recently moved in and bolted a gaudy nameplate to the facade, insisting it be called Casa Cipriani, which no one did. It’s an absurd place, but also a fitting expression of New Yorkers’ recent yen for dining in traffic and pretending they’re in the Veneto. People enjoyed six dollar Diet Cokes and plastic bowls of pasta on the terrace, which has spectacular views

  • Dominique Fung, The Largest and Most Formal Meal of the Day, 2021, oil on linen, 78 × 94".

    Dominique Fung

    Eugène Delacroix’s Orientalist tableaux once thrilled European viewers with their veiled courtesans and dusky harems; today, those paintings are understood as, among other things, imperialist propaganda. As in most arenas of modern life, the forces of hegemony and their attendant gazes—male, white, Western—that shaped the canon have come in for reckoning yet again, with various results.

    Dominique Fung’s imagery tweaks historical painting in a number of sensuous, seditious ways. Her visually knotty and pleasantly perception-scrambling canvases antagonize both colonialist conceptions of Asian art

  • Max Levai at The Ranch in Montauk.
    diary July 01, 2021

    Montauk Cowboy

    “I WAS LAYING STONE this morning with the guys, so it’s been a dogfight,” Max Levai said on Saturday afternoon in Montauk at the debut of The Ranch, his next act following some ugly business and back-and-forth litigiousness that saw him and Levai père Pierre part ways with Marlborough Gallery. Anyway, all that seemed to be in the past, or under gag order. The oysters were on ice and the mignonette was glistening. Levai picked up the property last summer and had been renovating until about an hour before guests arrived. Save for some exposed wiring, it was mostly ready. “It was, as you know, a

  • José Parlá, Writers’ Bench: Grand Concourse and 149th Street, The Bronx, 2020, acrylic, ink, collage, enamel, plaster, and oil on canvas, 60 × 96".

    José Parlá

    “It’s Yours,” José Parlá’s solo exhibition of recent paintings here, took its name from Bronx rapper T La Rock’s 1984 formative hip-hop single, a self-reflexive anthem that sets out the genre’s parameters and its promise of democratic permissiveness. It was a good analogue for Parlá’s practice, a style of Abstract Expressionism informed by both the energy of street life and the built environment of the street itself. Parlá, a tagger at heart (a selection of his early blackbooks are featured), works in what is sometimes called a postgraffiti mode but is probably better understood as gestural