reviews

  • Amy O’Neill, The Zoo Revolution, 2006–19, 16 mm transferred to HD video, color, sound, 4 minutes 42 seconds.

    Amy O’Neill, The Zoo Revolution, 2006–19, 16 mm transferred to HD video, color, sound, 4 minutes 42 seconds.

    Amy O’Neill

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 521 West 21st Street

    To behold a ruin is to bask in melancholia. Add misty, early-childhood memories and a primal, punk-metal soundtrack, and one sinks deep into the affective murk. Amy O’Neill concocted just such a heady brew of emotive stimuli for her first solo exhibition at Paula Cooper Gallery—a single four-and-a-half-minute video projection immingling original, observational footage; a chopped-up antique animation; and a pounding, growling, death-stalking lament by the now-defunct Brooklyn band Orphan, with whom the artist had previously collaborated.

    The bedrock of the video—and the ruin running through its

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

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

    Hayv Kahraman

    Jack Shainman Gallery | West 20th Street

    “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

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  • T. C. Cannon, Two Guns Arikara, 1973–77, oil and acrylic on canvas, 71 1⁄2 × 55 1⁄2".

    T. C. Cannon, Two Guns Arikara, 1973–77, oil and acrylic on canvas, 71 1⁄2 × 55 1⁄2".

    T. C. Cannon

    National Museum of the American Indian | New York

    The painter T. C. Cannon (1946–1978) was only thirty-one when he was killed in a car accident in Santa Fe, New Mexico, leaving behind a startlingly mature body of work that deserves wider recognition. Like that of many American Indians, his art has long been marginalized; this retrospective, curated by Karen Kramer, sought to remedy that injustice.

    Some of the show’s earliest canvases were completed near the end of Cannon’s time at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, the tribal arts college established in 1962 that quickly became a hotbed for radical politics and avant-garde

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  • View of “Teresa Burga,” 2019.

    View of “Teresa Burga,” 2019.

    Teresa Burga

    Alexander Gray Associates

    Teresa Burga, who is based in Lima, Peru, has been making art for more than fifty years. Yet it was hardly evident in the drawings and sculptures that comprised this, her first gallery show in the US, where she is barely known. Youthful energy was showcased in several series of densely rendered mixed-media works on paper featuring, variously, cute girls in folkloric fashions (“Niñas peruanas Cusqueñas”[Peruvian Girls from Cusco], 2019), and the flamboyant figures of the Carnival of Venice that pop in and out of patterned backdrops (“Acqua Alta” [High Water], 2019–). The drawings might have been

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  • Letícia Ramos, Rupturas III (Ruptures III), 2018, stroboscopic photography on microfilm, gelatin silver print, 373⁄4 × 46 1⁄8". From the series “Rupturas” (Ruptures), 2016–.

    Letícia Ramos, Rupturas III (Ruptures III), 2018, stroboscopic photography on microfilm, gelatin silver print, 373⁄4 × 46 1⁄8". From the series “Rupturas” (Ruptures), 2016–.

    Letícia Ramos

    Mendes Wood DM | New York

    During Letícia Ramos’s first solo exhibition in the US this past summer, smoke from tens of thousands of fires in the Amazon rain forest darkened the city of São Paulo, where the artist lives. Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, criticized the Brazilian government’s seeming apathy regarding the devastation; in turn, Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s president, railed against Macron’s outrage, calling his remarks the product of a colonialist mind-set. The ecological disaster and the evocation of European exploitation provided a fitting (if unfortunate) backdrop to “Resiliency and Reverberation,”

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  • Kurt Schwitters, Ohne Titel (Standrad mit Holz) (Untitled [Standard with Wood]), 1947, mixed media, 10 × 6 3⁄4".

    Kurt Schwitters, Ohne Titel (Standrad mit Holz) (Untitled [Standard with Wood]), 1947, mixed media, 10 × 6 3⁄4".

    Kurt Schwitters

    Nahmad Contemporary

    Kurt Schwitters (1887–1948) is renowned for his Merz collages and constructions, titled after an advertisement for Commerzbank he once cut up, dispensing with the German institution’s com and bank, and leaving only the nonsensical merz, which has an odd resonance with schmutz, or dirt. This is fitting, of course, for an artist who was a master of appropriating cultural schmutz—including, in his own words, “tram tickets, bits of driftwood, buttons, and old junk”—for his work.

    At Nahmad Contemporary, twenty-two of Schwitters’s collages, made between 1920 and 1947, were on display. Among them, Ohne

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  • Paulina Peavy and Lacamo, Untitled, ca. 1945–ca. 1980, oil on board, 72 × 48".

    Paulina Peavy and Lacamo, Untitled, ca. 1945–ca. 1980, oil on board, 72 × 48".

    Paulina Peavy and Lacamo

    Andrew Edlin Gallery

    Paulina Peavy (1901–1999), an artist who witnessed nearly a century of culture flash before her eyes, was hardly recognized in her lifetime for her abstractions. Perhaps that’s because she never conformed to reigning styles and instead remained devoted to her own inner voice—or, rather, a voice from a higher dimension. Nearly all of Peavy’s works were made in collaboration with a nonhuman entity named Lacamo. She often channeled this “ghost spirit” while wearing magnificently jeweled masks that she designed, several of which held court in the back room of the Andrew Edlin Gallery this fall. The

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  • Cindy Ji Hye Kim, Creativity, 2019, mixed media, 12 × 9".

    Cindy Ji Hye Kim, Creativity, 2019, mixed media, 12 × 9".

    Cindy Ji Hye Kim

    Helena Anrather

    As a writer, I know what twisting myself into knots over a word is like, though I rarely do this over a letter of the alphabet. But for an artist who might consider script a kind of drawing, the act of forming a single character might, for all I know, become more fraught. Cindy Ji Hye Kim is a draftsperson of implicit elegance and concision, with a style that falls somewhere between Max Fleischer and Christina Ramberg. To imagine Kim manipulating a pen with anything but ease is difficult, yet her paintings and drawings express anxieties about writing. These works feature stylized female figures,

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  • Nicolás Guagnini, Mother Maze 3, 2019, mixed media, 43 1⁄2 × 37 3⁄8 × 8".

    Nicolás Guagnini, Mother Maze 3, 2019, mixed media, 43 1⁄2 × 37 3⁄8 × 8".

    Nicolás Guagnini

    Bortolami

    If, as Nicolás Guagnini opines in the set of notes that accompanied “Asociación Psicoanalítica Argentina” (Argentine Psychoanalytic Association)—his third solo exhibition at Bortolami—“all paranoia begins in the ear,” then his cast of characters must be a nervy one indeed. In the artist’s glazed ceramic figurines, the organ of hearing is often swollen to cartoonish proportions. Sometimes it’s also repeated over and over again in individual works, echoing itself at the expense of other facial features. But one doesn’t get the sense that auditory sensitivity has been enhanced by this mutation;

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  • View of “Berta Fischer,” 2019. From left: Gomolurin, 2019; Ubix, 2017; Petutula, 2019; Sokal, 2018.

    View of “Berta Fischer,” 2019. From left: Gomolurin, 2019; Ubix, 2017; Petutula, 2019; Sokal, 2018.

    Berta Fischer

    James Fuentes

    Berta Fischer’s show at the James Fuentes gallery felt like the happy wreckage of a good party. The Berlin-based artist’s polychromatic acrylic-glass and neon-and-rope sculptures summoned a never-ending celebration for the sheer fun of it: an invitation to enjoy light and prismatic trickery in gestural forms that (un)furled and posed seemingly at whim. The effect was carefree but not careless—each thermoformed piece was expertly manipulated into a dynamic biomorph or watery, melty planes. Fluidity was achieved with rigor.

    Petutula, 2019, was the host with the most, constructed of fraternal twin

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  • Raynes E. Birkbeck, Love on the Beach, 2019, oil and acrylic on canvas, 48 × 48".

    Raynes E. Birkbeck, Love on the Beach, 2019, oil and acrylic on canvas, 48 × 48".

    Raynes E. Birkbeck

    SITUATIONS

    General George S. Patton was famous for many things, including his vicious, ugly temper and a taste for bespoke pistols with ivory handles, made by Smith & Wesson. In a painting by the self-taught artist Raynes E. Birkbeck—which appeared in “Scenes on the Move,” his solo show at the tiny Chinatown gallery Situations—the military hothead admittedly looks kinda hot, portrayed as a beefy, hirsute daddy who sports kneepads, tight shorts, wrist cuffs, and a Technicolor harness with a golden breastplate. Birkbeck, similarly attired, stands next to Patton. The artist’s engorged pink nipples contrast

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  • View of “Chris Bogia,” 2019. From left: Mr. Fussy, 2019; Left Leaner (Yellow), 2019; Big Bonsai, 2019; Pruning Hand, 2019.

    View of “Chris Bogia,” 2019. From left: Mr. Fussy, 2019; Left Leaner (Yellow), 2019; Big Bonsai, 2019; Pruning Hand, 2019.

    Chris Bogia

    Mrs.

    Living coral, a “life-affirming” orangey-pink, is the color of the year, according to Pantone. Emerald dominated 2013, turquoise reigned over 2010, and 2016’s homecoming queen was rose quartz (also known, notoriously, as millennial pink). And while Pantone might not have explicitly been on Chris Bogia’s mind when he produced the sculptures for his first solo show in New York, variations of the aforementioned hues make bold appearances in several of the works on view.

    His sculptures portray decorative trees (rendered semiabstractly via crescents, cylinders, and other basic geometric forms), but

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  • Pierre Cardin, dress with vinyl boots, gloves, and Halo hat, 1968, gelatin silver print, 10 × 6 1⁄2"

    Pierre Cardin, dress with vinyl boots, gloves, and Halo hat, 1968, gelatin silver print, 10 × 6 1⁄2"

    “Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion”

    Brooklyn Museum

    Ninety-seven-year-old Pierre Cardin is fashion’s first mogul; his name evokes the epitome of French chic the world over, though he’s Italian by birth. His story is one of both creative and commercial prowess: After spending his youth honing his craft working under Jeanne Paquin, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Christian Dior, Cardin opened his own shop in 1950 and was soon lauded as Paris’s finest couturier of suits. Believing that all women should be able to afford smart, well-made clothes, he debuted a ready-to-wear collection in 1959—a vulgarity his peers deemed unthinkable until they, out of economic

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  • Haley Hughes, Just because it’s not happening here doesn’t mean it’s not happening, 2014, oil on canvas, 56 × 72". From “MAD.”

    Haley Hughes, Just because it’s not happening here doesn’t mean it’s not happening, 2014, oil on canvas, 56 × 72". From “MAD.”

    “MAD”

    Assembly Room

    “MAD,” a group exhibition at Assembly Room that featured the work of women artists, cohered around anger, or at least the idea of it. Per Angela Conant, who organized the show, anger “spreads easily from one susceptible entity to another,” like fire. The gallery is run by women and holds monthly meetings to bring female-identifying curators together. Yet the disparate works in the tiny Henry Street space weren’t only chosen according to theme; they were united by a low and reliable force: more blood than flame.

    In all three of Haley Hughes’s oil paintings, fire was both a character and a force.

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