Contributed by Sharon Butler / Howard Smith�s understated paintings, on view at Jane Lombard Gallery, are created through a meticulous process of accumulation. Call the technique abstract pointillism. The surfaces are covered with small dots, dashes and brushstrokes, building loosely woven fields of color that sometimes form recognizable geometric shapes. The pieces in this show vary in size from one-inch to eight-feet wide, but the size of the marks remains the same. In most, the color at first glance appears monochromatic, but subtle variations within unified fields create illusions of light and shallow space. In his most recent paintings, the smallest flecks of color are innovatively contrasted with larger dots of different colors. Smith has spent years working in this way. It must be intensely hermetic and time-consuming, but it seems to have been rewarding.
Contributed by Laurie Fendrich / The poet and artist Anne Ryan (1889�1954) accomplished the rare feat of making precious art � art that�s small, perfectly executed, and pretty � that is not the least bit treacly or sentimental. Drawn to both abstraction and surrealism, Ryan was a quiet player in the avant-garde visual art circles of the 1940s, attracting less attention than women artists like Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, and Grace Hartigan. Today she�s best known for her small collages, which she began after having a eureka moment at a Kurt Schwitters collage exhibition at the Rose Fried Gallery in New York in 1948.
Contributed by Sharon Butler / What conceptual painter hasn�t looked at an Ikea how-to diagram and at least fleetingly thought it would make a fine subject for a painting? David Diao has gone farther, deconstructing a Gerrit Rietveld chair and using the shapes and colors as the subjects for a new series of paintings, on view at Postmasters through March 12.
Contributed by Patrick Neal / Mark Ryan Chariker?s paintings have a romantic, brooding quality that sometimes leans toward the Gothic. In All the Time in the World, his second solo show at 1969 Gallery in Tribeca, he paints youthful figures residing in lush woodlands or dream-like interiors who behave somewhat like fl?neurs, passively inhabiting time and space. These medium scale works in oil on linen and canvas are suffused with a glowing golden aura, and are defined by scenes that wistfully overlay the present onto the past.
Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / When the Minimalists were casting paintings as nothing more than value-free objects in the world and the Pop Artists were knocking them off their elitist pedestal, Vincent Smith (1929�2003) was stalwartly maintaining his belief in the form as a conveyor of social reality and, beyond that, an instrument of political assertion. With great substantive range and technical facility, he invested his throat-grabbingly expressionistic paintings of the urban vistas and signature characters of Harlem and Brooklyn � sixteen now on display at Alexandre Gallery on the Lower East Side � with the brimming emotion of the African American nation. He made the work in this exhibition between 1954 and 1972, so the varied subject-matter is perhaps expected. More remarkable is the potent through-line of his vision.
Contributed by Jacob Patrick Brooks / People love to categorize stuff, however silly it sometimes seems. Despite the best efforts of post-modernist artists to remove separations among media, they have proven surprisingly resilient. If you subvert categories, new ones tend to take their place. Jobi Bicos, whose work is currently on display at Lubov on the Lower East Side, is a savvy and interesting artist not because they�re trying to destroy them outright, but because they�re straddling several at once.
Contributed by Sharon Butler / �Library of a Dream,� Robert Janitz�s elegantly installed exhibition, on view at Canada through January 21, is a knockout. Janitz spent years in intense meditation communities, making paintings that seemed primarily about the physical experience of making the object, reflecting palpable focus and presence. Now he appears compelled to turn his attention gingerly outward and explore a somewhat more playful approach.
Contributed by Sharon Butler / Like Michael Krebber, I love beginnings and find meaning in irresoluteness. Lately, though, in my own work and that of other painters, I have come to appreciate the virtues of more rather than less paint on the canvas. It appears that Krebber, now painting in oil, has evolved in a similar way. In his eighth show at Greene Naftali, two large diptychs, Doll in Pink and La Poup�e, look to question his once emphatic emptiness and doubtfilled beginnings, manifesting more pronounced back-and-forth between layers, edges, shapes and color, more varied brushwork, and, overall, a more intense engagement with paint and brushwork.
Contributed by James J. A. Mercer / Mythological characters and creatures from antiquity populate Jennifer Coates�s beguiling solo show �Lesser Gods of Lakewood, PA� at High Noon Gallery on the Lower East Side. Dryads (wood nymphs) peer out of underbrush. Layers of washy acrylic carve out sapphire chambers for bacchanals. An LED Diana hunts herds. The references are not only mythological, however. The figures� proportions and contours trace long paths through art history, from Greco-Roman sculpture to Matisse’s nudes.
Contributed by Rick Briggs / Gold Gold, RJ Messineos second solo exhibition at CANADA, is both a cohesive and a dynamically exciting effort. They make abstract paintings, often irregularly shaped, with plywood panels that are attached to the canvas with strong, rare-earth magnets.