Tag: Jonathan Stevenson

Solo Shows

Rebecca Morris: Resisting beauty

Contributed by Sharon Butler and Jonathan Stevenson / Rebecca Morris, a masterly abstract painter who could do pretty if she wanted to, insists that when a painting starts to look beautiful she catches herself on and pivots to more discomfiting territory. That kind of grim integrity and its visual realization has an austere appeal, but there’s no need right now to get into the niceties of infinite regress or meta paradox. Judging by her solo show at Bortolami, parsimoniously titled “#31” after the number of solo shows she has presented during her career, Morris does consciously resist the pursuit of visual beauty and representation. The large-scale oil-and-spray-paint works are all untitled, distinguished only by parenthetical number indicating the year and the order in which the paintings were made. Each canvas is replete with vivid color and divergent shapes but embodies an irresolute and disconsolate state of play. This could ramify for a given viewer in any number of ways – though not, presumably, as lovely.

Out of Town

Stockholm’s art scene: Gracefully forward

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / A sense of continuity and integration permeates Stockholm’s grand state museums, its smaller konsthalls, its bountiful old salons, its stylish established galleries, and even its hipster-ish artists’ spaces. Just as consistently, though, contemporary assertiveness challenges tradition. At least on the evidence of an unavoidably incomplete late September visit to the city, the net result is contained vibrancy, exciting and inventive but also richly contextualized and sensibly progressive.

Gallery shows

Jules and Julian: Painting for generations

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Julian Schnabel and Jules de Balincourt are hardly strangers to socially or psychologically attentive art. Schnabel’s neo-expressionist painting as well as his films have often manifested an acute sense of history and conscience. And de Balincourt in his work has consistently demonstrated a penchant for celebrating the grand resonance of particular moments. At the same time, though, neither has ever seemed overtly essayistic or advocative, as though he were self-consciously speaking for his fellow human beings. With their respective solo exhibitions now up at Pace, that disposition appears to have changed.

Solo Shows

Closely guarded turbulence: Amy Feldman in Stockholm

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 […]

Solo Shows

Steve Greene’s crafty agitation

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. 

Film & Television

Arthouse Art House

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / The set-up of Vasilis Katsoupis’ slickly but somewhat facilely resonant feature debut Inside is deceptively simple. A high-end art thief is helicoptered onto the roof of a luxury Manhattan high-rise and, with the aid of a techie accomplice, hacks into the security system of an absurdly opulent penthouse, owned by a high-end art collector who is evidently away for a season or two. The thief is targeting several of Egon Schiele’s signature vampy drawings and a singularly valuable self-portrait.

News comment Writing

Part 2: On “negative criticism”

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / It’s tempting to lament the demise of the takedown review. The form invites both schadenfreude and outrage, which are energizing. In the literary world, it had been fading for some time until B.R. Myers and Dale Peck revived it in the naughts. They enjoyed an extended moment of visceral celebrity, but it seemed to burn out relatively quickly on a pyre of stern earnestness. Literary Hub does publish a list of the year’s “most scathing book reviews,” but the targeted screeds – self-promoting Beltway memoirs, vanity projects by anointed novelists, didactic polemics masquerading as fiction – tend to be overripe, low-hanging fruit that would be exempt from even the most charitable standard of forbearance. The general rule of civility is still that the compulsion to shape opinion is best served by measured reason rather than reactive assault.

Solo Shows

Elisa Soliven’s vessels of impeccable resistance

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.

Group Shows

Vivid color and discreet provocation at Mrs.

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / The group exhibition “Resounding, Variegated, Leaves” brought together three quite divergent artists – Fabienne Lasserre, Annie Prendergast, and Lily Ramírez – who share a penchant for audacious color choices that serves to unify their work. The show yielded an intellectually satisfying and harmonious experience as well as an aesthetically edifying one. That’s a credit not only to the artists but also to the insightful curators at Mrs. Strategically postured in New York but at a tactical remove in the gritty neighborhood of Maspeth, Queens, the gallery appears to have forged a crisply nuanced niche, gently tilting towards female artists, abstraction, and vivid color.

Solo Shows

Mark Bradford’s urgent abstraction

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.