Zoë Lescaze

  • Hayv Kahraman, Not Quite Human 8, 2019, oil on panel, 60 × 60".

    Hayv Kahraman

    “She reminds me of that Mexican artist Frida Kahlo,” said a middle-aged man as he scanned new works by Hayv Kahraman depicting her constant subject: a black-haired woman with fair skin, poppy-red lips, and large, heavy-lidded eyes. It may have been this figure’s unapologetic unibrow that inspired the comment. But Kahraman, who is from Iraq, also shares the tendency of “that Mexican artist” to weaponize reductive views of her ethnicity and sexuality in paintings as subversive as they are beautiful. She has described her recurring character as an extension of herself: an avatar of her desperation

  • Todd Gray, The Haunted House of Olympia (Francis), 2019, four ink-jet prints in artist’s frames, UV laminate, 66 3⁄8 × 54 3⁄4 × 5".

    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, Expulsion, 2019, oil on linen, 78 × 112".

    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, Free Public Library, 2015–19, paper, cardboard, fabric, thread, acrylic paint, ink, acrylic varnish, acrylic gel medium, brass, patina, bubble gum, glass, metal, wire, wood, cement board, cement, granite, glue, fiberfill, Mylar, 10 1⁄8 × 97 1⁄8 × 50 1⁄4".

    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, Beat Out the Sun, 2018, oil on canvas, 94 × 87 1⁄2".

    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, Little Nazi Blush, 2018, acrylic on sequin fabric, 50 × 35".

    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, Golden Couple, 2018, oil on linen, 77 1⁄8 × 70".

    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

  • Sayre Gomez, Behind Door #9, 2018, acrylic- and urethane-based paints on canvas over panel, 84 x 120".
    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,

  • Remedios Varo, La Huida (The Escape), 1961, oil on canvas, 48 1/2 x 38 1/2".
    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, Olympia (after Édouard Manet), 2018, acrylic on canvas, 31 × 39".

    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

  • Luchita Hurtado, Untitled, 1970, oil on canvas, 32 7⁄8 × 19 1⁄8". From “Painting: Now and Forever, Part III.”

    “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

  • Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Diddy, 2018, oil paint, paint stick, oil pastel, and gouache on linen, 16 x 12".
    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