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Solo Shows

Multiple angles: Odili Donald Odita’s political inquiries 

Contributed by Julia Bland / Odili Donald Odita’s abstract paintings in “Burning Cross,” at Jack Shainman Gallery, are bright and rhythmic, drawing from European and American modernists as well as textiles from Nigeria, his country of birth. Works like Represent and Opus, X complicate geometric patterning with subtle shifts and contradictions, continually setting and thwarting the viewer’s expectations.

Solo Shows

Paul Pagk: Pure painting revealed

Contributed by Adam Simon / I almost decided not to write about Paul Pagk’s first solo exhibition at Miguel Abreu on the Lower East Side after reading Raphael Rubinstein’s eloquent press statement. Rubinstein articulated so much of what struck me about the exhibition that I wondered what I could add. One thing Rubinstein alludes to but doesn’t explore in depth is the chasm that separates an initial glance at a Pagk painting from longer consideration of his work in person. For viewers not attuned to the ways painters glean meaning from forms and materials, these paintings might appear overly reductive, mere diagrams on fields of monochrome. You tend to take in a Pagk canvas quickly, as a one-to-one relationship of image to ground without a lot of interacting parts. It’s easy to miss the many ways in which his false starts, reiterations, miscues, and reworkings belie his apparent minimalism and austerity.

Solo Shows

Joani Tremblay: No rage against the machine

Contributed by Zach Seeger /As the story goes, James Rosenquist’s images were inspired by his experience as a sign painter in the late 1950s. Blue-collar toil transcended the quotidian and informed not only the scale but also the imagery of Rosenquist’s paintings. The work seemed the most obvious new iteration of modernist opportunism, embracing culture’s latest ready-made: advertising. It did not elevate the artist to greater marketability through grand exhibition, however, but merely led to the appropriation of popular images for display on canvas in galleries. While the paintings sought to deconstruct the PR of capitalism (recall Edward Bernays’ “add an egg”), they also served to keep the capitalist machine humming. In juxtaposiing 20th-century American abstraction and 21st-century images of 19th-century landscape painting, Joani Tremblay tries to avoid this kind of regression in her solo show “Intericonicity” at Harper’s Chelsea 512.

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Renée Khatami’s shimmering surfaces

Renée Khatami, whose recent work is on view in “Behind the Pale,” a solo show at Prince Street Gallery, has developed an intensely methodical art-making process and produced a luminous body of work that seems to transcend the frustrations and anxieties of contemporary life.

Gallery shows

NYC Selected Gallery Guide: February, 2023

We lose a few days in February, so there isn’t any time for procrastinating. Among the early-closing must-sees are David Deutsch’s solo at Eva Pressenhuber, Claudia Keep at March (recently reviewed), and the exhibition of sculptors’ drawings that Carl D’Alvia organized at Helena Anrather. New shows include Erika Ranee’s first solo at Klaus von Nichtssagend (opens Feb 18) and Brenda Goodman at Sikkema Jenkins (opens today). And, finally, Paul Pagk’s outstanding show at Miguel Abreu is required viewing.

Solo Shows

Claudia Keep: Glistening moments of quiet drama

Contributed by Martin Bromirski / I first saw Claudia Keep’s paintings in a recent Jay Gorney Instagram post of her current show “Aubade” at March, in the East Village. The first of the three images Jay posted is of a swimmer, the figure all dashes of refraction under green waves, and the third image a summery painting of a small white garage dappled in sunshine and shadows from a nearby tree. Jay wrote, “small tender paintings.” I went to the gallery website to see more and was happy to learn that she lives here in Vermont, and we were able to set up a studio visit.

Solo Shows

Don Doe’s pulp fictions

Contributed by Margaret McCann / The covetous, dismissive, playful title of Don Doe’s 490 Atlantic show, “I’ll Have What They’re Having,” aptly conveys the work’s lively yet frustrated romanticism. Painting from collages, Doe mixes bodies and genders, scale and spatial orientation, subject and object, high and low culture – all held together in a solid but illogical cubistic order. The few sculptures included show sophisticated facility and prioritize the grotesque. The viewer is manipulated through surprising twists and turns.

Museum Exhibitions

Lucian Freud, authentic modernist

Contributed by David Carrier / The National Gallery’s retrospective celebrating the centenary of Lucian Freud’s birth is first exhibition of his work in a museum of historical art. Freud himself was very familiar with The National Gallery. As the catalogue says, he thought of it “as a doctor to whom, as an artist, one turned for help.” With more than 60 paintings on display, we get a full picture of his career.