* Total Slacker + Reading Rainbow @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JMZ to Marcy), 8p/$7. This should be a good 'n messy show, the feedback-drenched Reading Rainbow and particularly Total Slacker, whose Warholish frontman buries the lyrics under a trundling bassline. Added bonus is the charmingly titled Easter Vomit, who has something to do w/ Queens all-stars The Beets.
* Big Troubles + My Teenage Stride @ (le) poisson rouge / 158 Bleecker St (ACE/BDFV to W 4th St, 6 to Bleecker), 10p/$8. I honestly don't understand how this is billed as a 'fully seated' event. Oh, I bet there are chairs, but how can you sit to Jedediah Smith and crew's wonderfully popish My Teenage Stride, let alone the searing feedback jamming of Big Troubles??
* Anne Collier @ Anton Kern Gallery / 532 W 20th St. Collier's first solo show at the gallery, an exhibition of her crisply subversive C-print photography.
* Darlings @ Union Pool / 484 Union Ave, Williamsburg (L/G to Lorimer), 9p/$7. Brooklyn's Darlings (and they truly are) craft the freshest boy-girl '90s indie-rock around, bar none. Raleigh's Lonnie Walker joins the party for some campfire tunes of his own.
* Open Ocean w/ Bull Thieves @ Monkeytown / 58 N 3rd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 10:30p/$5 (reservations recommended!). A/V artist Shadrach Lindo creates live manipulated video projections to accompany these two dreamy bands. But the real coup for me is Open Ocean: this fashion-y foursome play some wicked, emotive pop music (I'd almost take it to mid-90s, Bristol-based trip-hop, if that sweetens the deal).
* "The Shaft" (dir. Zhang Chi, 2008) screening @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/V to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St), 7p (ALSO SUN 5p). Family drama centered around western China's mining industry, where the three main characters (aged father, attractive daughter, singer-inspired son) make a living.
* "Pripyat" (dir. Nikolaus Geyrhalter, 1999) screening @ Anthology Film Archives / 32 Second Ave (FV to 2nd Ave), 7:15p. A doc on the people who still live and work 'in the zone', i.e. the restricted area around Chernobyl. For real.
* Superflex "Flooded McDonald's" @ Peter Blum Chelsea / 526 W 29th St. The Danish collective shows three short films, including their first, "Burning Car" (2007), a deadpan 'cinematic' take on a potent symbol of disorder (and sensationalism), and the titular film, a slowly submerging reconstruction of the omnipresent fast-food joint.
* "The Good The Bad The Weird" (dir. Kim Ji-woon, 2008) screening @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 7p. Kim's madcap take on the spaghetti western, set in 1930's Manchuria, where the theme 'showdown' is ever-present and ever-inventive.
* "The Girl on the Train" (dir. André Téchine´, 2010) screenings @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFV to W 4th St). The focus: white girl from the banlieue is the victim of an anti-Semetic bias attack by a group of Arab youths on the train. Only...she made it all up. Lives spiral out of control. Based on true events.
* "The Face of Another" (dir. Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1966) screening @ Rubin Museum / 150 W 17th St (1 to 18th St), 9:30p. The most existential director of Japan's New Wave collective instills an acute sense of disquietude w/ the concept of social anonymity (and its abuse of power).
* "Paris and the Avant-Garde" @ Guggenheim Museum / 1071 Fifth Ave (456 to 86th St). A delicious 30-piece collection of early 20th c. Paris-based art, from such lovelies as Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Joan Miro, Georges Braque — you can learn all about these guys in an art history class but wouldn't it be doper to just see 'em in real life?
* Inka Essenhigh @ 303 Gallery / 547 W 21st St. Landscape is apparently a hot topic in the gallery scene; it's like everyone's reimagining it. Essenhigh's style, though, I dig. Her technique and palette are gauzy pastels a la Lisa Yuskavage, but her subject matter of crashing waves and fantastical forest nymphs is somehow surreal, Daliesque (perhaps w/ a bit of John Currin thrown in the mix).
* "Drunken Angel" (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1948) @ Film Forum / 209 W Houston St (1 to Houston, ACE/BDFV to W 4th St), 7:50/9:50p. The titular 'angel' is Takashi Shimura, the hard-drinkin' doc, but Toshiro Mifune in swaggering gangster mode is the perfect foil, except he's infected w/ TB!!!
* "Double Dirty Dancing 2010" @ Monkeytown / 58 N 3rd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 7p/FREE (reservations recommended). The Monkeytown classic dual screening installation (the Swayze/Grey original and the ultra-dope "Holiday", Pooja Bhatt's 2006 shot-for-shot don't-call-it-a-remake) one last time, on the eve of the venue's closing. I'm telling you, you've NEVER experienced anything like this (it ranks higher than that bonkers four-screen Bowie film installation Monkeytown hosted a few years back, which incidentally eschewed video sound for an unrelated gamelan soundtrack). Epic in every sense of the word.
* (the) Tony Castles @ Union Pool / 484 Union Ave, Williamsburg (L/G to Lorimer), 9p/$8. I'm a believer in Tony Castles' New Wave-ish energy, which for me is just a tad bit like Phil Collins (and that's a good thing!), and if you need further convincing check out their new track 'Adequate Sheen'. Game over.
* "The Quiet Duel" (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1949) @ Film Forum / 209 W Houston St (1 to Houston, ACE/BDFV to W 4th St), 1p. Did you catch "Drunken Angel"? OK so this time Toshiro Mifune plays a doctor (Takashi Shimura plays his MD dad), and this time he catches syphilis!
* Closing Party @ Monkeytown / 58 N 3rd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$10 (reservations recommended!!!). The Williamsburg venue ends it w/ a bash, sort of a blow-by-blow of the eclectic curating that made the place so special. This means audio improv from the Almovacy trio, wicked raga-chamber-jazz from Neel Murgai Ensemble, an electroacoustic set from Shelley Burgon (of Stars Like Fleas), and Maria Chavez's fractured turntablist soundscapes. Will this culminate in one mega jam session?
* "No Regrets For Our Youth" (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1946) @ Film Forum / 209 W Houston St (1 to Houston, ACE/BDFV to W 4th St), 6:25/10:10p. This brilliant early romance from Kurosawa stars Setsuko Hara in a powerful lovesick role, predating Nouvelle Vague by like 15 years.
* DJ Krush @ Bowery Ballroom / 6 Delancey St (F/JMZ to Delancey/Essex), $17. I owe a lot of my chillness to this seminal Japanese DJ, whose deft combo of (mostly) instrumental hip-hop and acid jazz exemplifies the "smoked out" persona. Heaaavvvy.
* Joel Shapiro @ Paula Cooper Gallery / 521 W 21st St. Early small-scale bronze and cast-iron sculpture from the NY artist you probably equate w/ ginormous stacked-box figurative sculpture. These discreet, simplified forms (chair, house, tree-root), and their positioning in the space itself, demand your undivided attention. Closer inspection reveals a few creepy idiosyncrasies too, like the windowless chamber or the covered shaft plunging from a wall panel.
* 'Repetition' Group Show @ Paula Cooper Gallery / 534 W 21st St. I am unofficially titling this five-artist exhibition a 'repetition' show, though one artist, Joel Shapiro, contributes a single plaster-cast cone instead of multiples. Think of it like a trumpet for the others, the earthy creosote-wood slabs from Carl Andre, the architecturally-exacting clean wood Krate Tables from Sherrie Levine (a rotation of same-size planks, to wondrous effect), Jennifer Bartlett's bracing enamel wall installation (a meditation on evolving forms?) and a wildly gridlike wood piece from Sol LeWitt.
* Markus Schinwald + Koo Jeong-A @ Yvon Lambert / 550 W 21st St. Despite their asymmetric practices, these two artists pair well together. Schinwald's antique-y oil portraits are creeped out by these weird little medical additions, like braces and prostheses and the like, coming out the subject's nostrils or covering their mouth — you get the idea, very unsettling. Sort of like those mashup pieces from Quirk Books (like Seth Grahame-Smith's "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies"). He furthers the unease w/ an installation, white pillars jutting out from the gallery walls and ceiling, interrupting traversing the space, and these odd chair-leg constructs that come off oddly hooflike, in a Satanic sort of way. Koo's inclusion is her typical (though w/ her there's nothing really 'typical') series of watercolors, placed sporadically across three walls, feat. elements both banal (a soccer team?) and startlingly deep (lone figures falling through a royal blue sky).
* "The Promise of Loss: A Contemporary Index of Iran" @ Arario NY / 521 W 25th St, 2nd Fl. Shahenn Merali has curated one of the most important group exhibitions that I've experienced in a good long while. First try to name even two contemporary Iranian artists, then throw all your didacticism out and catch this show, feat. more than a dozen artists based in Iran and abroad, from people 20 years my senior to several years younger than I, working in a broad variety of media. The lavish painting by Vienna-based duo Asgar/Gabriel echoes the 'Twitter Generation' protests following the June 2009 elections in Iran — a piece specially created for this show, as the duo claim to rarely be so overtly political. This particular painting sets the tone, created by a Tehran-born man and an Austrian woman, for the ideas coming from the multiple participants in the exhibition. Vancouver-based Babak Golkar pairs traditional nomad carpet w/ futuristic high-rise architecture, whose extruded shape mimics the patterns in the weave. Samira Abbassy takes elements of formal miniaturist painting in her multi-panel treatises on war and gender. Mandana Moghaddam's scene-stealing installation of a concrete trough (full of bubbling fluid), surrounded by empty gasoline containers and blinking green fluorescent bars, recalls the largest cemetery in Tehran. And that's just a bit of the art for viewing.
* Philip Taaffe "Works on Paper" @ Gagosian / 555 W 24th St. A whole slew of concert poster-sized (most of 'em are about 21x30") 'mixed media' works on paper from the mandalic — is that a real word? Mandala-derived? — NY-based artist, heavy on the décalcomanie technique. Hmm, by 'mixed media' does he mean lots of proper entheogens? The show is beautiful, don't get me wrong, but by the time you pass the school of fish- and coral reef-works (many of these have an aquatic vibe), and the beautiful dragonflies, and get into the fuzzy skulls, the aliens, the, uh, grasping hands... you'll feel like whatever you're buzzing on — secondhand, bien sur — just morphed from psilocybin to ayahuasca (or salvinorin, hell might as well take it all the way there, and if you get the references I'm not sure I should be pleased w/ that) .
* Elisa Sighicelli "The Party is Over" @ Gagosian / 980 Madison Ave. Sighicelli's forte is light. Her array of backlit lightbox C-prints of spare urban spaces (empty billboards, construction sites) glow with this energy, but there wasn't a lot of variety to hold my attention. Luckily she included two video works, the titular piece (this 7.5 hour beast, which obviously you don't have to stay the whole while to get it, a silent number w/ reverse fireworks against a night sky, quite mesmerizing) and the standout, called 'Phil Building', a very Electric Company-ish light show against an office tower, accompanied Paolo Campana's spacey soundtrack, veering from theremin-laden mood-scapes to light bossa-nova like from a YHC Heavy Industries piece. It's dope.
+ 'Solid and Fractured' Group Show. I came up with the title for this four-artist amuse bouche in the project gallery. But it's a nice one. Dan Flavin and Walter de Maria contribute the 'solid' pieces, w/ the latter totally outdoing the former w/ his mirror-polished hendecagonal rods. For 'fractured' we get a brilliant black-striped twisted canvas from Steven Parrino (wittily titled 'Skeletal Implosion #2') and a shattered and epoxied basketball backboard from Dan Colen.
* Emi Fukuzawa "Landscape Transcended" @ Castelli Gallery / 18 E 77th St. These new small- and medium-sized mixed media works on several varieties of Japanese paper echo the artist's travels in rainforests. Maybe that's why I got this 'Avatar' vibe from some of them. The basic makeup of most of these is a cascade of diagonal greenish lines and swoops, like dense foliage — most of her works have a green palette as the basis — but then there are these flitting yellow, red and blue blurs, just so often, like some brilliant canopy-dwelling bird swooping down.
* "Look Again" group show @ Marlborough Chelsea / 545 W 25th St. The gallery focuses on good ol' re-appropriation via its international roster of artists (plus some guest stars), to mostly cool effect. Arman's posthumous work steals the show (you can't really mess with a massive multipanel painting in homage to Van Gogh's "The Starry Night" that includes trails of paintbrushes tracing the curves of the star-paths), but Yasumasa Morimura's staged photography (mimicking the Old Masters) comes a close second. I was genuinely surprised by the overall freshness of the included works. Richard Pettibone's tiny take on Frank Stella's classic "River of Ponds" and Peter Coffin's 'stamped' transfers of iconic modern art were both pretty dope too.
* "Stripped, Tied and Raw" @ Marianne Boesky Gallery / 509 W 24th St. OK Boesky gets the Winter 2010 award for 'Most Creative Title'. But seriously, any show that involves Steven Parrino and his classic, tortured canvases, is sheer golden to me. His presence is creatively accompanied by gallery fixture Donald Moffett, whose zippered and hole-spliced raw canvases take it one step further w/ "Lot 103007X", the lime-green center of which is pulled open like a vivisection; plus the tied cloth-amalgams of Jorge Eielson and Salvatore Scarpitta's mixed media oddities.
* Jacob Aue Sobol "Sabine" and "I, Tokyo" @ Yossi Milo Gallery / 525 W 25th St. You could get away w/ dubbing Sobol's photographic technique 'harsh', as his contrast-y b&w prints, w/ the looming shadows and blazing flash (let alone the subject matter) practically reverberate w/ grit. But it works in these two photo series, the earlier "Sabine" (shot in Greenland) and the more recent, lovely "I, Tokyo", a slew of hormonal closeups of naked skin and drenched architecture.
* Richard Misrach @ Pacewildenstein / 534 W 25th St. Misrach's latest series of jumbo 'positive capture' pigment prints fairly well encapsulates the trippy vibe going down in the W.Chelsea scene right now. As in reverse-color landscapes, ultra-sharp reflections of water and sky, glowing rocky shores in Oregon and shimmering dunes in Nevada. It's funny, too, b/c David Hockney just had a show here of trippily-colored landscapes, though he painted 'em.
* Roy Dowell @ Lennon, Weinberg Inc / 514 W 25th St. I like this exhibition of new small-scale acrylic and collage works from Dowell, as he's included more hand-drawn 'collage-y' bits in addition to his generally vibrant use of color.
* "The Rise and Fall of Excess Culture" Group Show @ STUX Gallery / 530 W 25th St. Jelena Tomasevic threatens to usurp attention from the other six gallery artists and related from this New Economy-driven show, curated by Jovana Stokic. Why do I write this? Tomasevic's new piece, "Thought", a mini swim pool outfitted w/ a hair-dryer (picture rippling water), installed at the exhibition entrance, is so entrancing, literally, that you might not want to proceed further. But you should: Patricia Iglesias's modified floor plans are cool, Shimon Okshteyn's installation isn't terribly offensive, and Zhou Tao's three-channel video, following linked energy power on a corner, is fairly mesmerizing.
* Christian Hellmich "The Array/Transfer-Domino" @ Lehmann Maupin / 540 W 26th St. The German painter continues his foray into architectural renderings, but they've become so abstract now, like explosions of lines and geometry, that I get this serious inescapable Thomas Scheibitz vibe off them, the other German. And I love Scheibitz, but Hellmich is no Scheibitz, if you get my drift.
* Matt Connors, Arturo Herrera, Merlin James "Building on a Cliff" @ Sikkema Jenkins & Co / 530 W 22nd St. A benefit of writing this LIST is my totally subjective approach to the art I cover. And though this is billed as a group show, I suggest you take it as James' highly experimental investigation and variation on landscape painting — leave it as that, a solo show, James', w/ Herrera's and Connors' respective works on the side for amusement. Hell, there's a great short film from Singapore video artist Sherman Ong in the back gallery, just to REALLY mix things up. But if you focus on this 'group show' as James' solo show, and take the layout in a clockwise fashion by heading straight back into the big main gallery space and then follow the wall (and smaller galleries) towards the entrance, tracing James' canvases of innocuous country vistas that suddenly transform into acrylic on translucent screens or jute fabric (like the show's titular work, recalling Joan Miro), literally throwing the traditional medium oil-on-canvas out the window, then returning to it @ the end — only by this point you'll second guess yourself and think the canvas is actually stretched vinyl, like some of his other pieces — and you've just experienced QUITE a show.
* Paolo Ventura "Winter Stories" @ Hasted Hunt Kraeutler / 537 W 24th St. The only way I sorted out the scale of these meticulously created carnivalesque C-prints is the one vitrined diorama that accompanies the lot. In fact, you see these prints in a magazine, you might think they're real, and not Ventura's painstakingly rendered, nostalgic world. The study drawings in the side gallery are a nice accompaniment.
* Alighiero e Boetti "Mappa" @ Gladstone Gallery / 530 W 21st St. The first retrospective of the Arte Povera artist's 'Mappa' series: hand-embroidered world maps composed of respective country's flags. That is a simplistic summary, though, as these geopolitical works, working off Boetti's global consciousness, are both graphically and mindfully relevant.
* Egon Schiele "As Printmaker" @ Galerie St. Etienne / 24 W 57th St. A gorgeous selection of the rakish young artist's varied media, etchings, drypoints, pencil and gouache drawings — all of it portraiture and all of it really echoing once again Schiele's omnipotent linework. I found this most evident in his charcoal and 'black crayon' drawings of nudes, full of movement and tense musculature but w/o any stray or unnecessary lines.
* Kazuo Shiraga "Six Decades" @ McCaffrey Fine Arts / 23 E 67th St. Lots of 1sts in this brief but intensely compelling show: 1st US solo show for the Zero-kai founder and Gutai member (think sort of like Japanese Fluxus, for absolute shorthand purposes); 1st in-depth catalogue in English; and I'll go ahead + posit that much of the works here (besides Shiraga's singular "Challenging Mud" from the mid-50s) have NEVER shown in the US. Much as contemporaries Jackson Pollock and Yves Klein approached the canvas w/ wildly new forms of abstraction, so did Shiraga, substituting his feet for brushes, to confidently energetic results. In fact, the range here is incredible, from the explosive reddish energy of "Chizensei Kirenji (Demon Face incarnated from Earthly Whole Star)" (Shiraga's titles are amazing, and remind me of Keiji Haino's lengthy, descriptive song titles) from '61 to the heavily impasto'd "Kanyou" from '80 and "Souryuu no Mai (Dance of the Two-Headed Dragon)" from '94 — both of whose densely textured surfaces are lightened by diaphanous strains of green and white, respectively —, to the fluid "Funryuu (Jetstream)" from '73, a dance of b&w alkyd paint that half resembles the melted deliciousness remaining at the end of a chocolate-syrup-inundated sundae.
* "Bauhaus 1919-1933: Workshops for Modernity" @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (EV to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St). This is a great show. And unless you're a Bauhaus-fanatic, you will learn something, or a lot of something, just by casually perusing the works. Proceed through the early Johannes Itten and Paul Klee color studies (plus Klee's brilliant mechanicalesque drawings), the painted glass from Josef Albers (if you only know his 'Homage to a Square', brace yourself), and of course the furniture, the lamps, the tea-sets, the architecture. Intellectual shows that are as effective as this are rare, so don't miss out.