reviews

  • Gladys Nilsson, Plain Air, 2018, acrylic and paper on canvas, 40 × 60".

    Gladys Nilsson, Plain Air, 2018, acrylic and paper on canvas, 40 × 60".

    Gladys Nilsson

    Matthew Marks Gallery | 523 West 24th Street

    “Honk! Fifty Years of Painting,” an energizing, deeply satisfying pair of shows devoted to the work of Gladys Nilsson that occupied both Matthew Marks’s Twenty-Fourth Street space, where it remains on view through April 18, and Garth Greenan Gallery, took its title from one of the earliest works on display: Honk, 1964, a tiny, Technicolor street scene in acrylic that focuses on a pair of elderly couples, which the Imagist made two years out of art school. The men, bearded and stooped, lean on canes, while the women sport dark sunglasses beneath their blue-and-chartreuse beehives. They are boxed

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  • Gladys Nilsson, Plain Air, 2018, acrylic and paper on canvas, 40 × 60".

    Gladys Nilsson, Plain Air, 2018, acrylic and paper on canvas, 40 × 60".

    Gladys Nilsson

    Garth Greenan Gallery

    “Honk! Fifty Years of Painting,” an energizing, deeply satisfying pair of shows devoted to the work of Gladys Nilsson that occupied both Matthew Marks’s Twenty-Fourth Street space, where it remains on view through April 18, and Garth Greenan Gallery, took its title from one of the earliest works on display: Honk, 1964, a tiny, Technicolor street scene in acrylic that focuses on a pair of elderly couples, which the Imagist made two years out of art school. The men, bearded and stooped, lean on canes, while the women sport dark sunglasses beneath their blue-and-chartreuse beehives. They are boxed

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  • Teresa Margolles, Dos bancos (Two Benches), 2020, cement and mixed media, each 19 3⁄4 × 17 3⁄4 × 55 1⁄8".

    Teresa Margolles, Dos bancos (Two Benches), 2020, cement and mixed media, each 19 3⁄4 × 17 3⁄4 × 55 1⁄8".

    Teresa Margolles

    James Cohan

    In their book Mengele’s Skull (2012), Eyal Weizman and Thomas Keenan argue that the history of international criminal justice has two stages: the era of testimony, inaugurated by the capture of Adolf Eichmann in 1961; and the era of forensics, which arose from the discovery (and subsequent need to positively identify) the remains of Josef Mengele in 1985. In the former, witnesses spoke; now, in the latter, things are made to speak, through an activation of scientific, legal, and aesthetic strategies. Curiously, the cited dates sync almost perfectly with two key moments in the history of Minimalist

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  • T. J. Wilcox, Spectrum, 2020, six HD videos, color, silent, various durations.

    T. J. Wilcox, Spectrum, 2020, six HD videos, color, silent, various durations.

    T. J. Wilcox

    Gladstone Gallery | West 24th St

    A luxuriant garland of rainbow-hued video projections greeted visitors to T. J. Wilcox’s solo show at Gladstone Gallery. Landing shoulder to shoulder upon a long narrow screen diagonally spanning the main space were six silent, color-drenched, filmic vignettes, subjective meditations on the chromatic components of the original LGBTQ pride flag. The color sequence here ran left to right as the flag does top to bottom—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet. Kicking off proceedings, the video on the far left zeroed in on the extravagant scarlet living room of the legendary Vogue editor Diana

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  • View of “William Cordova,” 2020. Foreground from left: untitled (cajon), 2018; untitled (rouse), 2019. Background from left: untitled (el quinto suyo) (Untitled [The Fifth City]), 2018–19; untitled (ruling principles of the universe), 2018–19.

    View of “William Cordova,” 2020. Foreground from left: untitled (cajon), 2018; untitled (rouse), 2019. Background from left: untitled (el quinto suyo) (Untitled [The Fifth City]), 2018–19; untitled (ruling principles of the universe), 2018–19.

    William Cordova

    Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

    William Cordova is a storyteller—a recuperator of ancestral memories. The artist invites us to question how we might revisit belief systems that vanished eons ago. Themes that animate his installations, objects, and collages are intoned in the material dimensions of his work, along with undulating titles that refer to sound, occult secrets, warriors, ghosts, ancient architectures, folkloric music, textiles, and the landscape of Peru.

    Aspects of his own life factor significantly in his efforts to ameliorate the conditions of displacement and erasure—he was born in Lima, taken at an early age to

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  • Troy Brauntuch, Chanel, 2020, newspaper advertisement clipped from a 2016 copy of the New York Times, 16 × 12 3⁄4".

    Troy Brauntuch, Chanel, 2020, newspaper advertisement clipped from a 2016 copy of the New York Times, 16 × 12 3⁄4".

    Troy Brauntuch

    Petzel Gallery | East 67th Street

    Dreadful visions can yield beautiful afterimages, as confirmed by the art of Troy Brauntuch. For more than four decades, the artist has produced spectral, infrathin pictures qua pictures: works that are unremittingly oblique but unswerving in their associations with human cruelty. His career launched in 1977 with the epochal five-person “Pictures” exhibition at Artists Space in New York, where he showed silk-screened and lithographic reproductions of drawings by the Führer—renderings of a tank, an opera set—sans context. Such wiles typified the “Pictures” cohort, who picked apart the delusive

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  • Erró, Good Morning America (detail), 1992, alkyd paint on canvas, 9' 10 1⁄8“ × 14' 9 1⁄8”.

    Erró, Good Morning America (detail), 1992, alkyd paint on canvas, 9' 10 1⁄8“ × 14' 9 1⁄8”.

    Erró

    Perrotin | New York

    Comprised of thirty-four modestly sized collages and a pair of huge, panoramic paintings, Galerie Perrotin’s exhibition of works by the octogenarian Icelandic artist Erró was like a grand expedition across sixty-one years of his imaginative brilliance. Using his manic enthusiasm and inventive wit, he bombarded us with images from all quarters of high and low culture, often combining them to unusual effect. Léger Scape, 1984, an unexpected amalgamation of Fernand Léger’s Cubistic machine aesthetic with Joan Miró’s Surrealistic naturalism, was a refreshingly new creature, a Frankenstein monster

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  • Josep Grau-Garriga, Pell del poble (Skin of the People), 1976, jute, rope, cord, 60 × 30 × 7".

    Josep Grau-Garriga, Pell del poble (Skin of the People), 1976, jute, rope, cord, 60 × 30 × 7".

    Josep Grau-Garriga

    Salon 94 | Bowery

    Llum de febrer (February Light), 1978–81, was the centerpiece of this exhibition by the Catalan artist Josep Grau-Garriga (1929–2011) at Salon 94’s Bowery location. The tapestry, which took Grau-Garriga four years to complete, takes care with its undoing. More than twenty feet in length and majestically suspended from the ceiling, it cast a soft shadow on the wall; the result was an arresting spectacle, a secular reredos softly aglow in pink, cherry red, and earth tones. True to its name, the work deferred to space and air on powerful trapezes of string and fiber that swung across textural

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  • Jayne County, Silver Bastet 46 1/8, 2019, acrylic and ink on canvas, 16 × 20".

    Jayne County, Silver Bastet 46 1/8, 2019, acrylic and ink on canvas, 16 × 20".

    Jayne County

    Marlborough | Chelsea

    A pioneering transgender entertainer and one of the high priestesses of punk, Jayne County first made a name for herself in downtown 1970s New York, rocking and rolling onstage at the legendary clubs Max’s Kansas City and CBGB with her signature song “Fuck Off,” and hanging out with the Warhol crowd. She costarred in the Pop artist’s 1971 play Pork, a parody of Factory habitués, and her hell-raising antics and transition from Wayne to Jayne are illuminated in her fascinating 1995 memoir, Man Enough to Be a Woman: The Autobiography of Jayne County.

    While the artist has continued to perform ever

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  • Issy Wood, Relapsing in2 mysticism, 2019, oil on velvet, 39 1⁄2 × 23 1⁄2".

    Issy Wood, Relapsing in2 mysticism, 2019, oil on velvet, 39 1⁄2 × 23 1⁄2".

    Issy Wood

    JTT

    Somewhere between realism and surrealism sits a distinctively uncomfortable yet curiously seductive pictorial mode I call perverted realism. It draws on traditional, even ostentatiously conventional representational styles in order to estrange them, but without resorting to the overtly self-contradictory strategies of, say, René Magritte, or the blatantly subjective grotesquerie one finds in the work of an Ivan Albright. Painting of this sort is almost by definition dark in temperament. But much of it is chromatically dark, too, conjuring spaces full of shadow and murk. Think of Michaël Borremans,

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  • Tiril Hasselknippe, Bykjernens Soldans (Solar Dance of City Kernel), 2019, steel, resin. Installation view.

    Tiril Hasselknippe, Bykjernens Soldans (Solar Dance of City Kernel), 2019, steel, resin. Installation view.

    Tiril Hasselknippe

    Magenta Plains

    The New York–based Norwegian artist Tiril Hasselknippe channeled the apocalyptic doom that pervades our awful present in “Braut” (Bride), her solo exhibition at Magenta Plains. Two hulking sculptures—which looked like salvaged monuments to lost causes, or chunks of destroyed architecture rescued from fallen cities—suggested that the past, present, and future all collapsed into the space we were standing in. Hasselknippe’s ruins listen, remember, and speak.

    The show radiated lost urban optimism—the kind of broken spirit that’s palpable in a place such as New York, where three centuries of misery

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  • Corin Hewitt, A Parrot in Parallel Proposes, 2020. Performance view.

    Corin Hewitt, A Parrot in Parallel Proposes, 2020. Performance view.

    Corin Hewitt

    Motel

    The setup of Corin Hewitt’s new work was as pristine as a thought experiment. A Parrot in Parallel Proposes, 2020, comprised two birds, one fluttering in a cage inside Motel’s modest storefront, the other in a similar situation in the apartment next door, just on the other side of the gallery’s north-facing wall. Both parrots actually live together in the flat, but for a few hours each week, they were artistically intervened into this new schema. Art lovers, fowl fanciers, and other freaks signed up for brief small-group encounters with the bird in the gallery—ten minutes of sitting in contemplative

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  • Clarity Haynes, Grace, 2019, oil on linen, 62 × 62".

    Clarity Haynes, Grace, 2019, oil on linen, 62 × 62".

    Clarity Haynes

    Denny Dimin Gallery

    A pair of hairy, pendulous tits and a huge belly marred by stretch marks, drooping skin, fresh bruises, and old wounds: This is a general yet reasonably accurate description of an obese, middle-aged physique—one that belongs to me, a gay man.

    I see myself reflected in the luminous portraits of nonbinary, trans, and female torsos—fat, scarred, imperfect—by Clarity Haynes. But in her pictures, I don’t find shame or self-loathing—feelings I imagine those with nonnormative bodies, like mine, must struggle with. Obviously, I have no idea what the artist’s models might think about themselves, or how

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  • Annabel Daou, WHEN IN THE COURSE OF HUMAN EVENTS (detail), 2019–20, ink and correction fluid on paper, dimensions variable.

    Annabel Daou, WHEN IN THE COURSE OF HUMAN EVENTS (detail), 2019–20, ink and correction fluid on paper, dimensions variable.

    Annabel Daou

    Signs and Symbols

    Although political discourse contains language that is seemingly direct, it is subject to endless interpretation and reinterpretation. Take the Declaration of Independence’s “All men are created equal,” which has been quoted with rhetorical flourish by American civil rights icons including Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In a 2009 interview, Donald Trump—a willfully obtuse man who is barely literate—called the statement “very confusing.” This ugly moment foreshadowed his presidency, one that is bolstered by supporters—such as White Lives Matter, among other

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