Tag: Michael Brennan


Michael Brennan’s moving images

Two Coats of Paint invited painter Kim Uchiyama to sit down with Michael Brennan to discuss “Floating Weeds,” Brennan’s fourth solo show at Minus Space. In their wide-ranging conversation, they discuss Japanese film, Russell Lee’s photographs, Charles Olson’s poetry, Venetian lagoons, architect Carlo Scarpa, Homer, and more.

Solo Shows

Nola Zirin and the march of abstraction

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.

Solo Shows

Taney Roniger and the miracle of charcoal

Contributed by Michael Brennan / I spent spring break at Studio 34 with Taney Roniger, mostly silent, measuring the depth of her drawings. Her solo show there, “Drawing is a Verb,” includes eight works on paper, mostly made of charcoal drawn on slightly textured hot-press watercolor paper. Each drawing is mounted directly on the wall, unframed, using hidden magnets. Her presentation of drawing as a primary medium – not something to be imported into painting or something else later, not for studies – is authoritative. Too often, drawing shows read as frame shows. Drawings presented like these, unmediated by glass or frame, preserve subtle surface incident that would be lost if they were conventionally sealed-off and protected. The collective series title, Myyrmaki, refers to a Lutheran church in Finland, a source of inspiration for the artist, known for its architectural engagement with fluted light.

Solo Shows

Paul Mogensen’s ordering formulations

Contributed by Michael Brennan / Paul Mogensen dismisses the Renaissance. Not its considerable artistic achievements, of course, but rather its excessive emphasis within conventional art history. Mogensen is experiencing a renaissance himself with “Paintings: 1965-2022,” at Karma, a de facto mini-retrospective that includes 20 paintings and works on paper. Karma, a gallery known for its adventurous curatorial program and savvy publishing arm, has done a great deal more than most museums to sustain a variety of NYC-specific historical discourses since its inception in 2011. In the case of Mogensen, along with fabled colorist Robert Duran, Karma’s program is potentially the second coming of the legendary Bykert Gallery. This is a considerable achievement in a contemporary art world often characterized by “context collapse.”

Gallery shows

Kim Uchiyama’s quasi-sacred spaces

Contributed by Michael Brennan / The seven large paintings in Kim Uchiyama’s solo show “Heat and Shadow” at The Lobby Gallery were inspired by Greek temples located in Sicily. They are rigorous, modernist, and abstract. But what might ancient sacred spaces have to offer anyone in midtown Manhattan in 2022?

Solo Shows

Cora Cohen’s thoroughbred abstraction

Contributed by Michael Brennan / The virtues of some art emerge only when it steps out of its own time. Hilma af Klint’s 2018 retrospective at the Guggenheim is an example. Another is Lou Reed’s album Berlin, released and widely panned in 1973, only to be performed and filmed by Julian Schnabel 35 years later, celebrated by an unforeseen audience, and subsequently considered a canonical masterpiece. Cora Cohen did exhibit her work in the 1980s and has been showing regularly, at a high level, since the 1970s. She’s a well-known, well-regarded painter. But the eight large abstract paintings from the 1980s, now on display at Morgan Presents, haven’t been shown together until now. They are a revelation that couldn’t have fully registered in its own time. 

Solo Shows

Hank Ehrenfried’s painterly erudition 

Contributed by Michael Brennan / “Fold Upon Fold,” the title of Hank Ehrenfried’s first solo exhibition in New York, at Auxier Kline on the Lower East Side, is an expression borrowed from a sonnet by French Symbolist Stéphane Mallarmé. It succinctly describes the creative premise behind every painting presented. Working in the trompe l’oeil style, Ehrenfried paints realistic images of his own collages, made mostly during the pandemic. Making the collages the subject of the paintings lends the show a lightly but distinctly meta character, reflecting both the claustrophobic intensity and the intellectual expansiveness of his endeavor.

Solo Shows

GJ Kimsunken: Abstraction and the figure

Contributed by Michael Brennan / I first saw GJ Kimsunken’s work in person last fall in an exhibition at Yi Gallery titled “Where We Meet Ourselves.” Sensibly pairing his paintings with Debra Ramsay’s, the two-person exhibition mainly investigated light and materiality. With his solo exhibition “Figuration,” the gallery, which is in the emerging art corridor of Industry City in South Brooklyn, has mounted another striking and sensitive show, making optimal use of its studio-sized space. Kimsunken has largely maintained his method and approach while illuminating the substantive inflection and character of his work.