Contributed by Sharon Butler / “Reaching for Something High,”Leslie Smith III’s first NYC solo show, on view at Chart, is a virtuosic blending of influences and themes, reflected in the delicate complexity of eight shaped paintings on thick stretchers floating with trenchant awkwardness on the wall. Each painting comprises many smaller, oddly shaped canvases, each of them individually constructed and stretched and, for the most part, lightly painted.
Contributed by Jared Hoffman / “Various Artists,” Pop Gun Gallery’s current group show, ostensibly invites art fans to glimpse the future in works by some rather big names: Jordon Wolfson, Kim Gordon, Joe Bradley, and Mike Kelley. But not all is what it seems. The show, organized by Jacob Patrick Brooks and Gunner Dongieux for the artist-run, DIY gallery, starts by gently wrong-footing viewers. Four of Brooks’s large, slick oil paintings appear, each riffing on the phrase: “Glamour, it’s back.” In successive iterations, Brooks eases the phrase into abstract scenes, pushing large brush strokes into soft forms. A bit of Lois Dodd is felt in his color palette. The paintings give me the feeling of sipping tea in a Danish wood.
Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Simple and blithely inviting though they may seem at first, Amy Feldman’s new abstract paintings, on display in her solo show “Heart Arts” at Anna Bohman Gallery in Stockholm, are full of tension and nuanced emotion. They are quietly beguiling. In Jolly Squall, one of […]
Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / In an adventurous departure from drawing and collage, Steve Greene now offers intriguingly acerbic abstract paintings in his solo show “News From Nowhere,” on view at Frosch & Co. They are rich with sharply drawn shapes and robustly differentiated visual content, yet they require little deliberation to be appreciated. They penetrate immediately. This quality stems from the thematic cohesiveness produced by trenchant cultural and art-historical tropes distributed among the paintings. Judging by the fluidity of his marks and line, Greene generates these allusions intuitively, with minimal contrivance.
Contributed by Michael Brennan / It has sometimes been assumed that abstraction is unlimited in its possibilities. While that’s still broadly true, abstraction also has been exhaustively explored over the course of a century or more. All painting is organized around some kind of form. Abstraction is burdened with establishing form in the absence of figuration, the readiest and most natural source. There are only a few ways to define form without a figure – for instance, through geometry or gesture. It’s a limited playbook. Much of the success of Nola Zirin’s new paintings, on view at Mosaic Artspace in Long Island City, comes down to her bold expansion of the index of abstraction. Many are striking in their recombination of form and unusual mix of materials.
Contributed by Riad Miah / What’s a ghostly-looking ship doing in the city? Probably the same thing as the ethereal-looking figures passing through a similarly urban environment. In Leigh Behnke’s solo show “Time Travelers and Ghost Ships” at the School of Visual Arts’ Flatiron Project Space, enticing and mysterious paintings of such phenomena stimulate contemplation of the future as a manifestation of how we treat the present.
Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Elisa Soliven sees her dignified ceramic sculptures, now on display in a faultlessly curated solo show at LABspace in Hillsdale, as vessels containing the rich stuff of life – space, time, cultural tropes, history both grand and personal. Too eclectic and searching to be merely iconic, they are brimming with both old and new referents, and bear their weight with extraordinary grace.
Contributed by Gwenaël Kerlidou / Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella, is one of the first fictionalized accounts of the ravages of European colonialism in Africa. Marlow, the narrator, while surveying the grounds of an ivory collecting station on the Congo River, catches sight of a row of shriveled heads mounted on stakes. The episode segues to a deeper exploration of the psyche of Kurtz, a terminally ill but very successful ivory harvester working for the king of Belgium. His cryptic last words – “the horror, the horror” – sum up the situation. The title and content of Conrad’s novella reverberates through Carol Bruns’s current exhibition at White Columns of mostly monochromatic frontal sculptures, in which the human figure is omnipresent, either as hieratic totems or as ritual masks. Scattered in the gallery space, an unruly mob of chimeras and other nightmarish characters seems to be stoically harboring the scars, wrinkles, creases, and other traces of immemorable sufferings.
Contributed by Margaret McCann / Kent O’Connor’s “Everything All at Once” at Mendes Wood DM comprises small portraits, landscape studies, and several larger paintings, including still-lifes in shallow interiors, which he calls tabletops. The show’s evocative title, which relates to their multiplicity, may also be after a song or film. O’Connor’s description qualifies intense observation with the levity of comics.
Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / “You Don’t Have to Tell Me Twice,” Mark Bradford’s galvanizing tour de force at Hauser & Wirth, was a three-story exhibition of arresting coherence. His muscular paintings grab you by the lapels, pull you in, and visually immerse you to a point of satisfying comprehension.