Zoë Lescaze

  • Todd Gray

    In pristine, almost clinically precise photographic sculptures, Todd Gray confronts savage, tangled histories. The works comprising “Cartesian Gris Gris,” his debut exhibition at David Lewis, addressed the colonization of Africa, the economic and cultural hangovers of foreign rule, and Western concepts of the exotic. These are daunting themes, enough to sink less adroit artists—but Gray’s efforts felt neither leaden nor didactic. If anything, one could overlook the conceptual heft of these polished, unapologetically attractive pieces, which take a sidelong approach to their thorny subject matter.

  • Verne Dawson

    Every deck of cards contains a secret calendar. We may pass the hours (or kill them) playing endless games of solitaire, but those kings and queens we’re shuffling symbolize time itself: fifty-two cards for fifty-two weeks in a year, parceled into four seasons. Jokers are leap days, and the thirteen cards comprising each suit represent the new moons. This is the kind of gorgeous arcana that informs the work of Verne Dawson, an Alabama-born painter fascinated by the allegories we have devised to make sense of the world and our place within it. The artist’s interviews and exhibition texts reflect

  • Charles LeDray

    Charles LeDray works with granite and leather, copper buttons and human bone. For decades now, the artist has played with scale, creating miniature replicas of everyday objects using mortar, embroidery floss, and stainless steel, among sundry other materials sourced from hobby shops and hardware stores. His works—replicating cinder blocks, suspenders, wrenches, barbells, and rabbits’ feet—are obsessively detailed, down to the hand-sewn vents and hems on tiny houndstooth jackets and the ribbed handles of finger-length umbrellas.

    If this is beginning to sound grossly twee, consider The Janitor’s

  • Dana Schutz

    Americans do not see eye to eye on much these days, but we have, as the writer Nitsuh Abebe notes, “reached a weird, quiet agreement that the most potent force in our politics is . . . a stew of unease, fear, rage, grief, helplessness, and humiliation.” Dana Schutz is rendering our deeply anxious times with rare bravura. Her latest New York exhibition delivered twelve mordantly funny visions of modern agony: high-speed collisions of the mythic and the banal executed in a searing palette that is part German Expressionism and part underground comics. Photos fail to convey the tectonic textures of

  • Sergej Jensen

    Like Broadway stars reduced to singing in two-bit saloons, sequins have suffered a fall from grace. Long before they became the provenance of prom queens, musicals on ice, and Las Vegas magicians, they occupied a loftier sphere of the fashion heavens. Tutankhamun sashayed into the afterlife fully spangled. Medieval merchants jangling along the canals of Venice called the precious metal trimming zecchino (“golden coin”), which became sequin in France. There, the tiny ornaments festooned tony waistcoats, opulent ball gowns, and delicate fans. In the United States, Jazz Age dance floors glinted

  • Lisa Yuskavage

    The baby-faced blonde with big pink breasts spreading her legs in Lisa Yuskavage’s Split, 1995, wears nothing but a tiny tangerine shrug and a “come hither, Humbert” look. The invitation might be erotic, but the scene is not: Her legs taper into tentacles, her nipples point in opposite directions, and a mouth is not her only missing orifice. Even the pubescent cutie-pies with intact anatomy who populate Yuskavage’s paintings are made repellent by their saccharine trappings. More than thirty years of underage popsies rendered in Jordan-almond pastels and smoldering shades of red, gold, and acid

  • picks January 31, 2019

    “Make Believe”

    “Ladies and gentleman, by way of introduction, this is a film about trickery and fraud, about lies,” purrs Orson Welles in F for Fake, his 1973 paean to art as illusion and the nebulous nature of authenticity. Films, he suggests, are elaborate sleight-of-hand deceptions, but their fictions can ring truer than reality. “Make Believe,” a selection of works spanning more than six decades and deftly curated by Bruce W. Ferguson, takes artifice and cinematic alchemy as its themes.

    Meg Cranston’s installation based on a performance, Women Who Would Play Me If I Paid Them (Partial Facsimile), 1994,

  • picks January 18, 2019

    Remedios Varo

    The paintings of Remedios Varo are fraught with supernatural hassles. Men become cats and cats become leaves. Chairs grow pincers, mechanical imps on wheels run the streets, and overflowing goblets cause flash floods. Still, the androgynous, almond-eyed inhabitants of Varo’s sci-fi world seem used to these kinds of inconveniences. The woman in Presencia inquietante (Distressing Presence), 1959, for instance, looks more annoyed than alarmed by the phantom about to lick the nape of her neck. This work, a pencil study for an equally droll painting, currently hangs at the Museo de Arte Moderno,

  • Genieve Figgis

    No one else coaxes paint to do the delicious, devilish things that Genieve Figgis does. The Irish artist tends to work quickly, in wet-on-wet acrylic, to tease ghoulish aristocrats, disfigured nymphs, and molten gods out of spindly trickles, ecstatic blurs, and swollen pools of pigment. She encourages the medium’s capricious whims and outright rebellions, wrangling these unwieldy effects into legible scenes. One imagines her skimming the contents of a witch’s cauldron and laying the swirling, sinister visions down on canvas. 

    Figgis has primarily shown two bodies of work since she rocketed to

  • “Painting: Now and Forever, Part III”

    The pensive woman portrayed in Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s Jubilee, 2016, prominently hung in “Painting: Now and Forever, Part III,” appeared to be contemplating her predicament: “How’d a good painting like me end up in a show like this?” The spectacularly haphazard exhibition, a mishmash of roughly one hundred works by forty-six artists at both Greene Naftali and Matthew Marks, raised a lot of questions. Why so many bad painters? Why so many bad pieces by good painters? Why the whipsaw transitions between works as bewilderingly different as Alex Israel’s giant, onanistic self-portrait and a subtle

  • picks October 13, 2018

    Nathaniel Mary Quinn

    How do we exist in the minds of others, in the glances of strangers, in the memories of those who know us well? Surely not as razor-edged effigies—properly proportioned bodies with crisply outlined fingers and toes. Instead, we probably look more like the characters in the paintings of Nathaniel Mary Quinn. The Chicago-born artist emphasizes certain features (a wary gaze, the cleft of a chin) and eliminates others (a forgettable forehead, an unimportant earlobe) to create expressive, empathetic portraits.

    Quinn’s first solo show at Salon 94, across its two locations, delivers impressions of his

  • Ryan Foerster

    Ryan Foerster has a penchant for rescuing rejects, courting accidents, and embracing disasters. When Hurricane Sandy flooded the artist’s home in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, ravaging the photographs stored in his basement, he exhibited the buckled, bleeding prints as new works. His recent solo show at C L E A R I N G’s uptown branch delivered similarly resourceful, unabashedly imperfect projects. Among them were twelve pieces made with defective photo paper, nine cast-off aluminum printing plates, and a sculpture composed of flotsam found on the beach: a tangled fishnet, a battered soda-can

  • 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