Tag: Margaret McCann

Solo Shows

Louis Fratino’s happy equilibrium

Contributed by Margaret McCann / Louis Fratino’s paintings in “In bed and abroad” at Sikkema Jenkins depict varied social situations, from intimate scenes to foreign climes. Snapshots of memories, many from Italy, read like a travel diary. In Duomo, light seems to dissolve a church façade into a gossamer veil, like Monet’s series of Rouen. Milan’s iconic gothic cathedral is strikingly illuminated, as are most monuments in Italy at night. Silhouetted throngs of young people in front of it have gathered after their evening stroll to aid digestion, take in the sumptuous surroundings, and see what’s happening in the local piazza. This saunter or “passegiata” is also “a walk in the park,” and the painting’s mellifluous drama demonstrates Fratino’s impressive facility, as it captures the Italian relish of visual and other small pleasures, which Americans often mistake for sunny dispositions (see Fellini’s La Dolce Vita).

Solo Shows

Catherine Mulligan’s offensive charm

Contributed by Margaret McCann / Catherine Mulligan’s captivatingly repellant “Bad Girls Club” at Tara Downs takes irreverent aim at American culture. Creatures of habitual selfies, her satirical painted ladies contend with the pressures of appearance. They would be at home in a John Waters film, where viewing likewise shifts between distaste, amusement, and aesthetics. Mulligan frames each painting with angular, industrial-looking signage that doesn’t detract but, like Polyester’s scratch-and-sniff option, adds a contrasting layer of interest. A zombie-esque girl in Nocturne 2 peeks at us over her shoulder with an intrusive blend of seduction and complicity, a boundary violation that almost breaks the fourth wall. Her grin, like that of Chucky’s bride or Otto Dix’s “Lady in Mink,” portends the unpleasant. But unlike Dix’s fallen women, survivors in post-World War I Germany, Mulligan’s anti-heroines are vapid consumers of leisure.

Solo Shows

Kent O’Connor’s triumphant mundane

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.

Museum Exhibitions

Van Gogh and Divisionism

Contributed by Margaret McCann / Vincent van Gogh drew from many sources in his short, intensely inventive career. “Van Gogh’s Cypresses,” now up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, highlights his encounter with the Mediterranean conifer. A symbol of mourning, it dramatically punctuates the Tuscan landscape, and appears in paintings by Leonardo, in Arnold Bocklin’s Isle of the Dead series (who probably it in Rome), and Salvador Dali, among others. Van Gogh noticed the “interesting, dark note” in the Provencal landscape, near the end of a peripatetic life.

Solo Shows

Mining Krzysztof Grzybacz’s oblique gestalts

Contributed by Margaret McCann / “At the Center of the Onion is Another Onion” is Polish painter Krzysztof Grzybacz’s first solo show at Harkawik. Sturdy yet subtle, his paintings are as elliptical as they are intense. Beyond unpeeling their complexity, his work offers consideration of a larger onion, that of figurative painting’s path through eastern Europe.

Solo Shows

Julie Heffernan’s splendid circuses

Contributed by Margaret McCann / En masse in Hirschl & Adler’s brimming rooms, Julie Heffernan’s colorful, busy paintings overwhelm like a pride of peacocks. Her solo show “The Swamps are Pink with June,” a line from an Emily Dickinson poem, evokes the hope nature can inspire. This plays out in iconography, a saturated palette, and the adoption of tree diagrams as compositional trellises, which poise the accretion of experience against spontaneous flowerings from the unconscious.

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.

Gallery shows

Cathy Diamond and Laurie Fader: The romance of painting 

Contributed by Margaret McCann / Stylistic affinities hold the paintings of Cathy Diamond and Laurie Fader in “Luscious Wasteland” at Radiator Gallery in amicable rapport, before differences in sensibility emerge. Each painter mines the legacies of German Expressionism and American Abstract Expressionism, among other influences, as confident and direct impulses draw on banks of personal experience. Diamond’s airy but compact Woods in Vermont could have been painted from observation, but reads as an excited engagement with Modernist painting vocabulary more than with motif. Its accrual of rough yet precisely individual marks quickly bunches together. Our eyes dart around its prismatic surface, echoing how one might, in such a dappled thicket, quickly survey a way around the center bottom bramble to reach light. 

Solo Shows

Sister selves: Sasha Gordon and Maud Madsen

Contributed by Margaret McCann / In Sasha Gordon’s “The Hands of Others” at Jeffrey Deitch and Maud Madsen’s “Daisy Chain” at Marianne Boesky, fleshy females are pressed on the picture planes as if between corporeality and social stress. All are self-portraits, but the figures read more as types performing hidden allegories.