reviews

  • Robert Ryman, Classico 6, 1968, acrylic on six sheets of handmade watermarked Classico paper mounted on foamcore, each sheet approx. 30 x 22 1/2". From “50 Years: An Anniversary.”

    “50 Years: An Anniversary”

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 524 W 26th Street

    Summarizing the activities of a major art gallery in a single exhibit would seem an impossible task, especially if the gallery happens to be the one opened by a young woman named Paula Cooper a cool fifty years ago. Originally the proprietor of the Paula Johnson Gallery and subsequently director of the collective Park Place Gallery during the mid-1960s, Cooper, one of SoHo’s first “settlers,” launched her eponymous space on an upper floor of a loft building on New York’s Prince Street in October 1968. (She would later move to nearby Wooster Street and ultimately to a cathedral-like space on West

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  • View of “Hilma af Klint,” 2018–19. From left: Group X, No. 2, Altarpiece, 1915; Group X, No. 3, Altarpiece, 1915; Group X, No. 1, Altarpiece, 1915. Photo: David Heald.

    Hilma af Klint

    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | New York

    Perhaps more than a painter, Hilma af Klint (1862–1944) was a profound seeker. During her adolescence in her home country of Sweden, she attended séances so that she might commune with the dead. A precocious student at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm, she deepened her commitment to spiritualism; later, she opened herself to theosophy, Buddhism, and Rosicrucianism, among other teachings. As a young woman, she worked as a scientific illustrator, so dutiful was her attention to nature—her own canvases at that time were rather straightforward portraits and landscapes. But in 1906,

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  • View of “Banks Violette,” 2018. Foreground: No Title/(N.O./powercorruptionandlies), 2018. Background: No Title/(.45 Grave/American Recordings), 2018. Photo: David Regen.

    Banks Violette

    Gladstone 64

    When he effectively withdrew from the art world more than half a decade ago, Banks Violette left behind a pair of entwined legacies: as the prolific creator of persuasively ominous sculptures, paintings, and installations, and as a classic cautionary tale for early success and its excesses. His glamorously dark work of the early 2000s, which gave the then-trending thread of abjection an infusion of black-metal mordancy, was icy and slickly sullen. Meanwhile, his oft-recounted personal history—he was a richly tatted high-school dropout who’d kicked a meth habit, earned a studio-art MFA at

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  • View of “Liliana Porter,” 2018–19. Foreground: Tejedora (The Weaver), 2017. Background: Sin título (Autorretrato con cuadrado) (Untitled [Self-Portrait with Square]), 1973.

    Liliana Porter

    El Museo del Barrio

    Following a yearlong renovation, El Museo del Barrio reopened its doors this past September. Its return felt like a rebirth uncommon in New York as of late: Rather than allowing itself to be seized and yuppified by financialized capitalism, this essential institution had instead seized and rethought its possibilities, community, and overall scope. Signaling this renewal is a survey of Liliana Porter’s oeuvre (on view until January 27), featuring thirty-five works from nearly fifty years, skillfully curated by Humberto Moro. By forgoing chronological order to focus instead on narrative themes,

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  • Tala Madani, The Shadow, 2018, oil on linen, 80 × 80".

    Tala Madani

    303 Gallery

    In “Corner Projections,” Tala Madani’s recent exhibition of paintings and animation, the blunt, raunchy, and cartoony directness of attack that characterized her previous New York show, in 2010, was not entirely gone from her pictorial tool kit, but the paintings here were much more oblique. Stylistically, she’s dialed down her palette and added elements of illusionism. Most of the new paintings were in shades of gray, sometimes with a few small patches of prismatic color. As well, the artist provided some tricky light effects, which rendered the works a bit too slick at times, yet all the more

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  • Aneta Grzeszykowska, Beauty Mask #10, 2017, pigment ink
    on cotton paper,
    237⁄8 × 19 1⁄4". From the series “Beauty Masks,” 2017.

    Aneta Grzeszykowska

    Lyles & King

    The doll is a long-standing device in modern art, from Hans Bellmer to Laurie Simmons and Greer Lankton. You could call it a shortcut to the uncanny and surreal, but that wouldn’t do justice to its lasting power to unsettle—and if you doubted that power, the Polish artist Aneta Grzeszykowska’s show would have given you the lie. Other artists kept coming to mind as I walked through this exhibition—Claude Cahun, Sally Mann, Grzeszykowska’s compatriot Alina Szapocznikow, Arthur Tress, Francesca Woodman—along with movies: Charles Laughton’s poetic frightener The Night of the Hunter

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  • Jes Fan, Diagram VI, 2018, Aqua-Resin, glass, epoxy, 6 × 13 × 5".

    Jes Fan

    Recess Activities, Inc.

    At Recess, a roomful of strangers seated themselves around folding tables and sliced open dead squid. They sifted through viscera to locate the cephalopods’ ink sacs, which they then extracted, pierced, and squeezed, draining the organs’ viscous contents into jars. Artist Jes Fan led the autopsy. He circled the tables to lend each group hands-on help, and he distributed a DIY pamphlet with a diagram of squid innards and several pages of fun facts on melanin, the biomolecule that gives squid ink its dark hue. Melanin absorbs gamma radiation, which is why melanized fungal microorganisms can survive

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  • Dayanita Singh, Pothi Box, 2018, thirty image cards, teakwood enclosure, inscribed napkin,
    7 7⁄8 × 6 1⁄2 × 1".

    Dayanita Singh

    Callicoon Fine Arts

    The Pothi Box, 2018, is Dayanita Singh’s latest “book object,” an unbound photographic publication, produced in an edition of 360, mounted directly on a gallery’s walls. Thirty boxes—each filled with thirty prints—were hung in a horizontal line at Callicoon Fine Arts. Additional copies were wrapped in cloth that was fastidiously knotted, and arranged in stacks on a nearby table. Most of the book’s imagery documents material accumulations, such as countless towers of film, rows of uniformly bound novels, and entire rooms lined with swaddled groupings of archival materials. One picture

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  • Juliana Cerqueira Leite, SHEE, 2018, Hydrocal, steel, wood, pigment, 5' 1“ × 14' 2” × 5' 8". Photo: Greg Carideo.

    Juliana Cerqueira Leite

    Arsenal Contemporary | New York

    During the inaugural Antarctic Biennale in 2017, held aboard research vessels surrounded by icy desolation, the artist Juliana Cerqueira Leite met the architect Barbara Imhof while working on shee (Self-Deploying Habitat for Extreme Environments), inflatable housing for inhospitable terrain. Funded in part by the European Union’s Seventh-Framework Programme, the shee comes fully equipped with a kitchen, sleeping quarters, and working areas to provide one week of shelter. The artist obtained plans for a shee and built a cardboard-and-wood three-quarter scale replica in the back room of Arsenal

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  • Jim Dine, Late Last Summer, the Rue Madame, 2015, acrylic and sand on wood, 79 7⁄8 × 60 5⁄8". From
    the series “The Black Paintings,” 2015.

    Jim Dine

    Richard Gray Gallery | New York

    Pop art provocateur Jim Dine is renowned for humorous works such as The Technicolor Heart (The Big One), 2004—an outdoor sculpture of the titular organ rendered in a queasy blue and embedded with sundry things (including hammers, hatchets, and hands) in a rainbow of colors—and Walking to Bora˚s, 2008, a Brobdingnagian outdoor statue of Pinocchio, located in Sweden. But in 2010, the artist suddenly changed course and began making abstractions. The “Black Paintings” series, 2015, which were on view at Richard Gray Gallery, came out of this shift. As Dine has declared, the images are “

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  • Gray Foy, Untitled (Illuminated Exterior with Morphing Dancers), ca. 1946, graphite on paper, 13 1⁄4 × 10 1⁄2".

    Gray Foy

    Francis M. Naumann Fine Art

    Gray Foy (1922–2012) didn’t require the aid of a magnifying glass to produce his intricate drawings—exquisite, Surrealist-inflected pieces made between 1941 and 1975—but they were handily on offer during the artist’s first major survey at Francis M. Naumann Fine Art. In a charming throwback to old-fashioned modes of sustained attention, delectation, and connoisseurship, visitors were encouraged to pore over his scrupulously rendered botanical and biomorphic images, many on view for the first time in fifty years. Yet even as they seemed to dwell in some etiolated genteel past, these

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  • Olga Chernysheva, Untitled, 2018, oil on canvas, 23 5⁄8 × 23 5⁄8".

    Olga Chernysheva

    Foxy Production

    City dwellers are able to shield themselves from the hell of other people with little more than a pair of earbuds and a scowl. Their psychic defenses must be honed to perfection, and any opportunity for privacy, however brief or restricted, must be seized without hesitation. Being from Moscow, Olga Chernysheva understands this condition; the artist’s quiet but affecting new paintings and drawings focus on men and women who are at once caught up in the flow of a busy urban center and at pains to detach themselves from it, even as everyone else is doing the same thing.

    Chernysheva’s “Autoradio,”

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  • Emily Jacir, Notes for a Cannon, 2016, mixed media. Installation view. Photo: Joerg Lohse.

    Emily Jacir

    Alexander and Bonin

    Emily Jacir’s work on time and power summons an unlikely thought: The consensus that everything takes place in a universally shared present is old but not without origin. Her installation Notes for a Cannon, 2016—which sketches, with brilliant looseness, the British imposition of timekeeping systems on both Ireland and Mandatory Palestine in the early twentieth century—brought to mind Aristotle’s take on the subject in Physics (ca. 350 bce): The “now” is a universal “identity” that “accepts different attributes”—all the events of the world within its total advent. But people, he

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  • Matthew Leifheit, The Marie Antoinette Room (after Velázquez), 2018, dye-sublimation print on aluminum, 10 × 15".

    Matthew Leifheit

    Deli Gallery

    Fire Island is a sliver of sand, forest, and dunes four miles off the southern shore of Long Island. The hamlets of Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines have been—since the 1930s and ’50s, respectively—havens of gay emancipation and barometers of American queer experience. The locale has become a near-mythic ark, encompassing wild bacchanal and funereal poignancy for the generations that sought sanctuary within its pelagic atmospherics. It’s this hallowed ground that Matthew Leifheit took as his subject in the forty-three photographic works exhibited here.

    Most of his nocturnal tableaux

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  • Manit Sriwanichpoom, Pink, White & Blue #4 (The Future), 2005, digital C-print, 23 1⁄2 × 20". From the series “Pink, White & Blue,” 2005.

    Manit Sriwanichpoom

    Tyler Rollins Fine Art

    Spanning twenty years of his ongoing “Pink Man” series, Manit Sriwanichpoom’s exhibition of photographic works “Shocking Pink Story” critiqued Thailand’s jingoism, consumerism, and heavy embrace of tourism through an assortment of archival images and propagandistic portraits. The Pink Man character, who appears throughout the work, is embodied by Sompong Thawee, a Thai poet. He sports a hot-pink, double-breasted satin suit and tie, sometimes with matching pink shoes. On occasion he scoots around with an empty shopping cart of the same florid hue. The Pink Man journeys to Indonesia and Europe—but

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