Zoë Lescaze

  • picks June 29, 2018

    Math Bass

    Caution. Hazard. Falling rocks. With their flat, clear-cut shapes and bold colors, the paintings of Math Bass recall wordless road signs: dangers distilled to their starkest, most essential forms. What perils or pleasures lie ahead, however, are less easy to decipher. The New York–born, Los Angeles–based artist has coined a style somewhere between representation and abstraction, where communication breaks down.

    But if Bass skewers visual and written languages for their inability to convey certain experiences, she seasons her semiotics with a dash of humor. Several forms—a cadmium-red cone, a

  • picks February 02, 2018

    Jamian Juliano-Villani

    The last time Jamian Juliano-Villani staged a show at JTT, the canvases were so big and the gallery so small that viewers had to stand outside to fully see the works: sci-fi visions of sexed-up aliens and blasted moonscapes, both menacing and irreverent, like billboard ads for the apocalypse. This time, the space is bigger, the paintings are smaller and—more importantly—sparer. The restraint that characterizes these enigmatic, economical works marks a shift for the young New Jersey native, who gained early fame for phantasmagoric mash-ups of cartoon figures stretched like Silly Putty, stock

  • picks September 15, 2017

    Christian Marclay

    As anyone who has ever used a telephone knows, it doesn’t always make communication easier. Here, Christian Marclay teases out the medium’s shortcomings in four works from the 1990s while broaching broader questions of how we attempt to convey meaning to others. Extended Phone II, 1994, involves a black telephone receiver stretched to Seussical proportions. It loop-di-loops around one room, filling the space with coils like an out-of-control garden hose. The effect is funny, but the exaggerated distance between the speaking and listening ends of the receiver underscores the gulf between those

  • picks July 07, 2017

    Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garçons

    Never mind that the dress, with fluffy black feathers bursting from an electric-blue halo, looks as though a giant scrunchie swallowed an ostrich. The piece from Rei Kawakubo’s “Blue Witch” collection, spring/summer 2016, is beautiful. With its opulent folds of fabric engulfing the mannequin, the dress is at once regal, farcical, and otherworldly. The Japanese designer is famous for spoofing traditional forms and subverting the conventional functions of women’s clothing. (This dress lacks armholes, while others sprout enough sleeves for an octopus.) Ever since she launched Comme des Garçons in

  • picks June 09, 2017

    Marguerite Humeau

    Dystopian daydreams and arcane myth collide in Marguerite Humeau’s particle accelerator of an exhibition. The French artist probes mass surveillance and modern warfare through sleek new sculptures made of synthetic media, including eight gargantuan polystyrene masks that crowd one room. Their white wrinkled faces are grotesque, pinched and puckered like those of hare-lipped chimpanzees. They grimace, snarl, and stick out their tongues. Behind each mask, a milky-pink sci-fi cylinder emits a pulse. These heartbeats merge with the surge of jet engines in the following room to create a soundscape

  • picks May 01, 2017

    “Facing the Future: Art in Europe 1945-1968”

    Even as the Great Powers divvied up Europe following World War II, some artists dared to envision a single unified continent. “From now on we must consider all of Europe,” declared one collective of Hungarian artists and writers in 1945. “The New Europe could be . . . a synthesis of East and West.” Their manifesto might as well be the mission statement of this exhibition, a survey of nearly two hundred artworks by approximately 150 artists representing Russia and eighteen European countries. Debunking the simplistic East–West dichotomy through which postwar art is regularly understood, the show

  • picks February 24, 2017

    Svenja Deininger

    With their interlocking curves and shards of radiant color, Svenja Deininger’s boldly geometric paintings could be diagrams for modernist heraldry. The compositions are striking, but the fascination and intrigue of these works lie in their uneven surfaces. Some areas are raised while others are recessed down to the initial gessoed surface, evidence of Deininger’s assiduous cycle of adding and removing coats of pigment. Studying the edges of thicker sections, the viewer becomes a geologist, reading a history of sediment and erosion in the strata.

    The artist deftly complicates and contradicts the

  • picks March 11, 2016

    Jeanette Mundt

    Mountain ranges and female bodies, with their slopes and crevices, precipitous peaks and valleys, are recurring motifs in Jeanette Mundt’s work, and they anchor this succinct, alluring show, appearing in the two most striking paintings. The Matterhorn, beloved by centuries of artists, is rendered in radioactive shades of cobalt, coral, and teal in Another Double Mountain and the Modern Sofa (all works 2016). And in Climbing, Mundt nods to Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, copying the nude figure from his painting Crouching Woman with Red Hair, 1897. Both of Mundt’s works are painted on large, upright

  • picks February 19, 2016

    Otto Piene

    Tracing Otto Piene’s rhythmic oeuvre, this poetically curated survey draws the viewer upward, elevating us from the earthly to the celestial, body to soul. Smoldering red paintings alive with molten hues flaring against tar-black clouds fill the first room: soot left by solvent set alight. The elemental love of color evident in these blazing crimson canvases distinguishes Piene from the other members of ZERO, the avant-garde group he cofounded in Düsseldorf in 1957. But like his peers, Piene famously pursued means of nontraditional mark-making, from using fire (in the tradition of his mentor

  • picks November 13, 2015

    Martin Wong

    Gritty and glorious, the Lower East Side of the 1980s and ’90s blazes with bricks and stars in the paintings of Martin Wong. Night skies tattooed with constellations form the backdrops for calico patchworks of tenement buildings rendered in ruddy ochers, browns, grays, gold, and black. Hercules and Hydra arc above the everyday heroes and monsters of the city streets: lovers, junkies, prisoners, poets, fighters, and firemen. Lavishing countless layers of acrylic on every brick that forms this lawless, desperate world, Wong renders each mottled facade in almost carnal detail. The arresting contrast

  • picks October 30, 2015

    Andrew Masullo

    In an art world glutted with gratuitously large abstract painting, a compact canvas can say more than those the size of billboards. Of the twenty pieces in Andrew Masullo’s exuberant exhibition “Recent Paintings,” none measures more than three feet tall, and most are two or less. Their high-keyed Crayola colors and lobed, undulating shapes evoke Matisse cut-outs, but Masullo’s works are deeply concerned with oil paint. His investigation of texture, translucency, and the intimate complexities within a nonobjective realm of loose geometry recalls certain works by Stanley Whitney and Mary Heilmann.

  • picks July 24, 2015

    Raymond Roussel

    In “Mon Ame,” 1897, an early poem celebrating his own genius, Raymond Roussel declares: “My soul is a strange machine.” It certainly produced some of the twentieth century’s most peculiar novels and plays: word-game phantasmagorias that prized fantasy over reality. Much to Roussel’s surprise, they were critical and commercial flops (he felt destined to outshine Victor Hugo). But the eccentric writer became a cult hero to the Surrealists and Dadaists, who even brawled defending his works. This sophisticated and transporting exhibition assembles a wealth of rare and previously unseen archival

  • picks July 03, 2015

    Peter Regli

    The marble Buddha laughs benevolently, luxuriating, on one side. His follower, a worried-looking marble snowman, stares back. He seems to be realizing that he’s got a snowball’s chance in hell at this whole enlightenment thing. Artist Peter Regli cleverly comments on metamorphosis through more than fifty small groups of these knee-high characters. Watching the deities serenely teach their lumpy, half-melted little acolytes is highly amusing—they make such unlikely pairs. Yet, the snowmen become relatable stand-ins for us humans, desperately seeking wisdom and meaning before it’s too late. To

  • picks June 12, 2015

    Zoe Barcza

    For her New York solo debut, Toronto-born, Stockholm-based artist Zoe Barcza has turned the gallery into a cryptic crime scene. Nine stretched linen canvases painted with trompe l’oeil rips and tears line the walls in a continuous band. It looks as though a claustrophobic tiger tried to claw its way out of the room. While Barcza’s painted gashes play on the actual slashes Lucio Fontana famously made in his monochromes, cheekily codifying them, they’re more than art-historical one-liners. Flat yellow stripes—visible through some of the “tears”—suggest stretcher bars supporting the linen. By

  • picks April 24, 2015

    Nina Beier

    Squashed under glass like butterflies, a pink down jacket, five Hermès ties, and a human-hair wig lie inside a frame. Peanuts & Turtles & Hunters & Chains & Potted Plants, 2015—named for the items cheerfully printed on the ties—encapsulates the keen wit pervading Nina Beier’s first solo show in New York. The materials are whimsical, but their humor is undercut with horror. The flattened jackets and sleeping bags in this series suggest crushed bodies; the sinuous ties swirling around them become viscera spilled on impact. Flattening the ties allows us to examine them as though they were drops of

  • picks April 03, 2015

    “In The Studio: Paintings”

    Studio paintings are seductive. They invite us to enter the sites of creation, extending the tantalizing hope that doing so will demystify the process. Then they thwart our expectations. From Brueghel to Brancusi, Daumier to de Kooning, curator John Elderfield has mined the centuries for artists’ paintings of their ateliers, plucking fifty-odd works from far-flung museums, foundations, and private collections and setting them in the gallery like precious stones. The variety is mesmerizing. When models appear, they range from relaxed and sexy (Henri Matisse) to anguished (Lucian Freud). The rooms

  • picks March 20, 2015

    “The Painter of Modern Life”

    A forceful, magnetic tension fuels the infectious energy of this show, conjured by curator Bob Nickas. The diverse works by twenty-one artists gravitate toward opposing poles, the obsessive and the spontaneous. You can feel them attract and repel one another from across the room.

    Intricate, labor-intensive pieces by Xylor Jane, Richard Tinkler, and Chip Hughes buzz with complex grids and patterns. Thousands of small dashes densely scratched into wet purple paint form Hughes’s labyrinthine I tried to hide the heart from the head, 2014. Currents of James Siena, his Op art forebears and trippy twangs

  • picks March 06, 2015

    Marsha Cottrell

    Ten diverse black-and-white drawings created with an electrostatic printer make up Marsha Cottrell’s Index 1 (Presence of Nature), 1998–2013. A spare, crisply gridded work on typewriter paper hangs near another made on cloudy Mylar. Manipulated while damp, the smudged streaks waft upward like wisps of smoke. The busiest drawing whirls with scattered ovals and staccato dashes, a musical score blown to smithereens. These flurries of stray marks contrast with more solid, linear forms, and it feels as though an indecipherable architectural diagram is disintegrating into the maelstrom. Still others

  • picks February 27, 2015

    Alice Neel

    The moods of this elegant exhibition, which includes loose pastels and watercolors, precise pencil sketches, and frenetic ink drawings, fluctuate like the spikes on an EKG. There are moments of warmth here—a mother and child on the beach—but many of Alice Neel’s subjects are solitary: an old woman with no purse riding a train, a brooding child, a lost-looking man with an empty coffee cup. Even when several figures share a space, they can appear isolated. In Alienation, 1935, Neel lies naked on a bed, lips and eyes firmly shut. A nude lover stands above her, turning away, limbs crossed defensively.

  • picks January 30, 2015

    Tal R

    Mingling homage with sabotage, Tal R frequently adopts the styles of other painters to produce anachronistic works. For his seductive new show, “Altstadt Girl,” the Copenhagen-based artist nimbly channels Modigliani and Matisse, creating clever modernist chimeras with contemporary bite. Abstracted female nudes with masklike faces shower, smoke, and lounge like odalisques in richly patterned, jewel-toned interiors. One standing woman, her body rendered in the shades of a particularly spectacular sunset, holds up an actual mask, a puckish, art-historical in-joke on primitivism. The figure in ET,