reviews

  • KAWS, Untitled (Captain Morgan), 1995, spray paint on billboard. Installation view, Jersey City, New Jersey.

    KAWS, Untitled (Captain Morgan), 1995, spray paint on billboard. Installation view, Jersey City, New Jersey.

    KAWS

    Brooklyn Museum

    THERE IS A TRADITIONAL BELIEF in Japanese households that deceased parents, siblings, and children linger close at hand, remaining nearby as members of the family and a comfort to the living. Newer, more eclectic sects hold that even departed pets stay with their owners as reassuring companions. The artist Brian Donnelly, known by his teenage graffiti handle KAWS, created his signature character and virtual alter ego, Companion, in the late 1990s at the invitation of Tokyo toymaker Bounty Hunter. There being the obvious antecedent of Takashi Murakami transforming the

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  • Jane Freilicher, Parts of a World, 1987, oil on linen, 68 1⁄2 × 53".

    Jane Freilicher, Parts of a World, 1987, oil on linen, 68 1⁄2 × 53".

    Jane Freilicher

    Kasmin | 297 Tenth Avenue

    Jane Freilicher, a painter who emerged in the 1950s and achieved near-legendary status before her death in 2014, notoriously chose gestural realism over pure abstraction. As she once remarked, the approach gave her an emotional reason to make art. Even though representational styles moved in and out of fashion, she was never not part of the art world. An exhibition devoted exclusively to her still lifes at Kasmin—both on the gallery’s walls and in an online viewing room—put her virtuosity on full display, affording one an opportunity to contemplate how much she achieved by focusing on the

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  • Lee Godie, Untitled, date unknown, hand-colored gelatin silver print, ink, 4 1⁄2 × 3 5⁄8". From “PHOTO | BRUT: Collection Bruno Decharme & Compagnie.”

    Lee Godie, Untitled, date unknown, hand-colored gelatin silver print, ink, 4 1⁄2 × 3 5⁄8". From “PHOTO | BRUT: Collection Bruno Decharme & Compagnie.”

    “PHOTO | BRUT: Collection Bruno Decharme & Compagnie”

    American Folk Art Museum

    For better or worse, the “raw” creativity expounded by Jean Dubuffet as being unscathed by culture has at this point been thoroughly acculturated to mainstream museums, markets, and magazines. Now the American Folk Art Museum has alerted us to a new, lens-based subspecies. Spanning a century and drawn primarily from the international holdings of French filmmaker Bruno Decharme, this show—organized with Decharme by the museum’s senior curator, Valérie Rousseau—divides more than four hundred objects into overlapping sections roughly focused on gender fluidity, sexuality, appropriation, and occultism,

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  • Brassaï, Au Monocle, un couple (Fat Claude and her Girlfriend at Le Monocle), ca. 1932, gelatin silver print, 13 3⁄4 × 10 3⁄8".

    Brassaï, Au Monocle, un couple (Fat Claude and her Girlfriend at Le Monocle), ca. 1932, gelatin silver print, 13 3⁄4 × 10 3⁄8".

    Brassaï

    Marlborough | Chelsea

    Once one gets past Brassaï’s sometimes sensationalizing accounts of his own art—that he “was eager to penetrate this other world, this fringe world, the secret, sinister world of mobsters, outcasts, toughs, pimps, whores, addicts, inverts”—one realizes that the photographer was making portraits of singular human beings with whom he empathically identified. His pictures are trenchant psychological studies of individuals who lived life as they wanted to (or, in many instances, had to). Brassaï felt at home in Paris’s underground, a realm of the alien and the alienated, because he, too, was an

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  • Alastair Mackinven, Untitled, 2020, oxidized iron powder and oil on canvas, 63 × 86".

    Alastair Mackinven, Untitled, 2020, oxidized iron powder and oil on canvas, 63 × 86".

    Alastair Mackinven

    Reena Spaulings Fine Art | New York

    The haunted, dreamlike atmosphere of Alastair Mackinven’s paintings hearkens back to the late nineteenth century—to the era of symbolism, aestheticism, and decadence. While many of the forms in his tableaux may be well-defined, one always has the suspicion that each picture’s hazy and interfusing hues are acting independently of the obscure irresolvable dramas that seem to unfold in the work. His figurative scenarios, full of eerie doings in intangible and indeterminate spaces, are enigmatic: In one of the works (all are Untitled, 2020), the head of an unsmiling woman, pale as a marble statue

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  • View of “Jeanne Reynal,” 2021. Photo: Jenny Gorman.

    View of “Jeanne Reynal,” 2021. Photo: Jenny Gorman.

    Jeanne Reynal

    Eric Firestone Gallery | New York

    In 1958, Clement Greenberg penned a short essay that posited aesthetic parallels between Byzantine art and modernism. Despite their differences, he said, these movements were united by an emphatic pictorialism, their transcendent qualities tied up with a shared repudiation of illusionism. In this text, the critic cited the work of certain painters, such as Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko, as examples. “This new kind of modernist picture,” Greenberg wrote, “like the Byzantine gold and glass mosaic, comes forward to fill the space between itself and the spectator with its radiance.”

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  • Arthur Simms, Ego Sum, Portrait of Arthur Simms as a Junk Collector, 1994, mixed media, 115 × 56 × 50". From “Lost & Found.”

    Arthur Simms, Ego Sum, Portrait of Arthur Simms as a Junk Collector, 1994, mixed media, 115 × 56 × 50". From “Lost & Found.”

    “Lost & Found”

    Martos Gallery | New York

    Imagine a room in which all the things you’ve ever left behind—lovers, friends, cheap thrills, expensive sunglasses, and even parts of yourself—were languishing together. What would it look like? Or, more important, how would it feel to wander the aisles of this personal lost and found? Reliably shrewd curator Bob Nickas took up these questions of absence, ownership, and the voids that shape us in this five-artist exhibition at Martos Gallery. Some of the disparate works—a prescient wall drawing by Jessica Diamond, abstract canvases by Arnold J. Kemp, characteristically chilling sculptures by

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  • Malia Jensen, Worth Your Salt, 2020, HD video, color, sound, 360 minutes.

    Malia Jensen, Worth Your Salt, 2020, HD video, color, sound, 360 minutes.

    Malia Jensen

    Cristin Tierney

    Denaturation was implicit throughout Malia Jensen’s “Nearer Nature,” her solo exhibition at Cristin Tierney. The show featured five kiln-cast glass sculptures, four perched on reclaimed wooden blocks and one on a concrete block, set atop white pedestals. Each form represented a part of the body—a breast, hands, the stomach (interpreted here as stacks of doughnuts), a foot, and a Brancusi-inspired head. The objects are actually fabricated replicas of carved salt licks the artist placed in various habitats across Oregon as offerings or lures for the fauna—such as deer, elk, birds, and cows—that

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  • Kazuko Miyamoto, Formation I, 1980, paper, twigs, wood, 97 × 55 × 4".

    Kazuko Miyamoto, Formation I, 1980, paper, twigs, wood, 97 × 55 × 4".

    Kazuko Miyamoto

    Zürcher Gallery | New York

    In a photograph of Kazuko Miyamoto’s 1981 performance Stunt (181 Chrystie Street), she is nude save for a dark mask over her eyes. In a shoulder stand on the ground, with her legs scissored overhead, she looks toward the camera, striking a pose of impish seduction. Looming behind her, oddly, are some serious id killers: a couple of Sol LeWitt grid sculptures that she, in her job as his fabricator, had built for him. This is the body that makes that work, she seems to say, the softness of her flesh kinking the Minimalist’s cool logic. Here she is both model and maker—an object of desire amid

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  • Bat-Ami Rivlin, Untitled (inflatable kayak, zip ties), 2020, inflatable kayak, zip ties, 20 × 18 × 110".

    Bat-Ami Rivlin, Untitled (inflatable kayak, zip ties), 2020, inflatable kayak, zip ties, 20 × 18 × 110".

    Bat-Ami Rivlin

    M 2 3

    “No Can Do,” Bat-Ami Rivlin’s cannily spartan solo debut at M 2 3, mined the rich terrain of ontological weirdness that lies between functionality and uselessness, proposing a kind of conceptual junkyard where incapacitated things reveal themselves—and the larger networks of economic and social organization to which they belong—in ways they never could have while operational. Well acquainted with the informal economy of the New York City curb, au fait with both the lightly used castoff and the straight-up piece of junk, Rivlin makes meticulously impoverished bricolage that’s always attentive to

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  • Bruce Burris, Totalitarian Tiptoe, 2020, acrylic, tempera, watercolor, marker, graphite, and spray paint on paper, 22 × 15".

    Bruce Burris, Totalitarian Tiptoe, 2020, acrylic, tempera, watercolor, marker, graphite, and spray paint on paper, 22 × 15".

    Bruce Burris

    Summertime

    Bruce Burris’s trippy, caustic, and unruly exhibition of drawings—organized by the curatorial platform March and presented at Summertime, a nonprofit art studio and gallery in Brooklyn—felt timely in its caricaturing of the deeply divided United States. The show opened one day before President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took the oath of office at the Capitol on January 20, 2021, while the nation was still reeling from an unthinkable attack by a violent mob there earlier in the month. The fourteen works on view, all made in 2020, were essentially heralds, announcing that our lives

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  • Ping Zheng, Luminous Night, 2020, oil stick on paper, 25 3⁄4 × 19 3⁄4".

    Ping Zheng, Luminous Night, 2020, oil stick on paper, 25 3⁄4 × 19 3⁄4".

    Ping Zheng

    Kristen Lorello

    For “Reflection,” Ping Zheng’s intimate exhibition of fourteen oil-stick-on-paper paintings at Kristen Lorello, the artist created dreamlike, supersaturated pictures of nature. Zheng, who was raised in China and is now based in Brooklyn, made all the works in 2020, our pandemic year. The pieces in this show were based on observation and memory, combining the different stages of day and night the artist tracked from the rooftop of her studio building in New York with images of waterfalls, lakes, and expanses of night sky she recalled from childhood. An extraterrestrial incandescence suffused many

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