* Olafur Eliasson 'multiple shadow house' @ Tanya Bonakdar Gallery / 521 W 21st St. The ecstasy-inducing Danish-Icelandic artist returns w/ a two-floor exhibition destined to warm our snowed-in hearts in this NY winter. I literally just composed that preceding poetic sentence in less than a minute. The ground floor installation: think of the framework for a house, whose multiple colored light projections interact w/ the movement of visitors. Upstairs: 'full-spectrum' watercolors and a Constructivist projection abstraction.
* El Anatsui @ Jack Shainman Gallery / 513 W 20th St. Anatsui's massive, rippling, shimmering structures — they defy convention, exceeding terminology like 'assemblage' or 'sculpture' or 'relief' — stole the Armory Show spotlight last year (sorry Kenny Scharf!). He's back w/ what should be an epic, though elegant, presentation of new works.
* Emilio Perez "Breakfast by the Light of the Moon" @ Galerie Lelong / 528 W 26th St. Think of the movement in Van Gogh's brush, brilliantly displayed in his nighttime skies and fields of crops. Perez conjures a similar, albeit moody, vibe, via many many many layers of latex and acrylic, carefully carved away in varying degrees.
* Sangbin Im "Confluence" @ Mary Ryan Gallery / 527 W 26th St. Im's utopian compositions match the passage of time in a single landmark (like Central Park) w/ seamless atmospheric elements (water, sky etc).
* Ross Bleckner @ Mary Boone Gallery / 745 Fifth Ave. Big abstract paintings of what looks like crushed flowers, blurred, redone, removed, on linen and photographic paper.
* Takming Chuang "Resolution" @ CHC Gallery / 511W 20th St. Super-saturated acrylic abstracts, think of your favorite color-field painter on mescaline, crossed w/ Brice Marden's whiplike 'Cold Mountain' shapes.
* Thomas Ruff @ David Zwirner Gallery / 533 W 19th St. Two new series from the label-defying conceptual photographer: zycles and cassini, the former incorporating physics and mathematics, and the latter astronomy — and, for both, loads of creative thinking.
* Diana Thater "Between Science and Magic" @ David Zwirner Gallery / 525 W 19th St. Challenge your perceptions in Thater's two looped film projections of the signature rabbit-in-a-hat trick.
* Theresa Chong @ Danese / 535 W 24th St 6th Fl. New Wave pointillist? The artist's delicate charcoal and gouache drawings, on either rice paper or hand-dyed Japanese paper, can be both surges of deep-sea bubbles, a cloud of noseeums, a backlit tree. Use your imagination.
* Courtney Johnson "Glass Cities" @ Jenkins Johnson Gallery / 521 W 26th St 5th Fl. Double meaning in the show title. Johnson creates luminous photography of big cities, but she uses cliché-verre (glass negative) technique to paint, enlarge, and combine — to stunning results.
* Gert & Uwe Tobias "Come and See Before the Tourists WIll Do — The Mystery of Transylvania" @ Team Gallery / 83 Grand St. The catchy exhibition title stems from a series of lovely, graphic wood-block prints from the brothers, incorporating European horror into the works. I am crossing my fingers they did at least one giallo-inspired print.
* Mattia Bonetti @ Paul Kasmin Gallery / 293 10th Ave. A blurring of contemporary art and design or an exhibition that should instead be at MOSS gallery? Highlight: 'commode' composed of stainless steel plates stacked like playing cards. I leave this one to you.
* Tseng Kwong Chi @ Paul Kasmin Gallery / 511 W 27th St. A series of prints from '83, a collaboration b/w the photographer, Keith Haring, and choreographer Bill T. Jones. This is especially relevant as 1) it's the 20th anniv. of Tseng and Haring's passings, and 2) it should pair nicely w/ Tony Shafrazi's Haring show.
* Inbai Kim "Turbulent O'Clock" @ Doosan Gallery / 531 W 25th St. Fluid sculptural forms, composed of aluminum rods, signaling the movement of a busy populace.
* Daido Moriyama @ Luhring Augustine / 531 W 24th St. Japan's preeminent postwar photographer (or OTHER etc etc, if you were thinking either Araki or Hiroshi Sugimoto), Moriyama produces the most gorgeous inky/contrasy b&w prints (of his wanderings and crude modern urban society) that you've ever seen. This exhibit features one of his newest series, 'Hawaii'.
* Banks Violette @ Gladstone Gallery / 530 W 21st St. ANYTHING could happen here, when the lovely gloom rocker-artist has control. Picture sound installation, cascading fluorescent tubes and wires, and lots of gorgeous black.
* Elena Pankova & Anke Weyer "Mother the Cake is Burning" @ Canada / 55 Chrystie St. They're not quite 'anti-painters' b/c they paint very well, but their techniques (Weyer's in constant reduction, subtraction, manipulation; Pankova's in modifying store-bought canvases) may challenge traditional notions of the medium, as in you go from point a) (blank canvas) to point b) completed work w/o a lot of the messy go-between seen here.
* 'New Films from Hungary' @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), thru FEB 18. OK my background on contemporary Hungarian cinema is a bit...lacking, but I love Béla Tarr, and one of his films — "The Man from London" (2007) — is included in this 13-film festival. Check the site for film schedule and ticket info.
* "1" (dir. Pater, Sparrow, 2009) @ Walter Reade Theatre (part of 'New Films from Hungary' Festival), 9:10p. A discovered magical text that tells the fate of the entire world in a minute, based on an essay by Stanisław Lern (who wrote 'Solaris').
* "Inglourious Basterds" (dir. Quentin Tarentino, 2009) screenings @ Sunshine Cinema / 143 E Houston (FV to 2nd Ave). Why is this film playing again, when you could see it in NY theatres last year? I don't know!! But it stars a be-moustached, Tennessee-accented Brad Pitt, a smokin' hot Mélanie Laurent, and a disturbingly charming, multilingual Christoph Waltz (amid many many others), and hey it's about killin' Nazis! So see it again.
* Frankie & the Outs w/ Harlem @ Monster Island Basement / 128 River St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$7. Hot stuff. Miss Frankie Rose and crew play a tight set of fuzzed out noise-pop w/ gorgeous harmonies.
* SUSU + Antimagic @ Glasslands / 289 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$6. Before SUSU's heavy garage-rock decimates the stage, we get the fractured synth pop duo Antimatic (whose instrumentalist wiz is Ted from These Are Powers).
* Total Slacker + X-Ray Eyeballs @ Bruar Falls / 245 Grand St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 9p/FREE. Total Slacker have totally grown on me: they're young and brash, but their earnest sets are loose and loads of fun. They share the bill w/ gloomy Joy Division-ish X-Ray Eyeballs.
* Peter Halley @ Mary Boone Gallery / 541 W 24th St. Tasty geometric abstracts, mostly in Day-glo colors, that, in the artist's own lingo, are comprised of 'prisons' (horizontal bars, in a box, not entirely unlike Dan Walsh but way more hardedge here) and 'conduits' (Mario Bros pipes, only again hardedge). Chiptune bands would have a field-day here.
* Keith Haring "20th Anniversary" @ Tony Shafrazi Gallery / 544 W 26th St. It's all good. Even when it isn't all good, sometimes you need that somebody to show you — or in Haring's way, depict to you — how it can be all good. This is the 20th anniv of his passing. I don't need to explain any further. Catch this show + the Tseng Kwong Chi photo exhibit at Paul Kasmin's 27th St space.
* Blank Dogs + Frankie & the Outs w/ So Cow @ Monster Island Basement / 128 River St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$8. What's better than seeing Miss Frankie Rose and her girls (The Outs) perform live? Answer: seeing them perform live TWICE, in the same venue, over a weekend. I can barely stand it! You won't want to miss this night, b/c it includes those Irish boys So Cow (scraggly, therapeutic pop) and Mike Sniper's Blank Dogs (glam-drenched indie-rock).
* Beach Fossils + The Beets @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JMZ to Marcy), 8p/$7. But they're not going to make it easy for me! Two fab shows w/in walking distance of one another, the Monster Island Basement show + this one: either way you can't go wrong.
* "The Man from London" (dir. Béla Tarr, 2007) @ Walter Reade Theatre (part of 'New Films from Hungary' Festival), 1:30p. The classic humble laborer tale, witness to a murder, discoverer of lots of $, then... only drenched in Tarr's signature long-takes and powerful shadowy contrasts. ALSO TUES 8:30p.
* So Cow @ Cake Shop / 152 Ludlow St (FV to 2nd Ave), 8p/$8. Now THIS is a cool way to spend V-Day: in a crowded basement listening to dope bands (Brooklyn's doo-wop big band White Blue Yellow and Clouds and noisy garage-rock super-group Babies), capped off by So Cow, those Irish lads led by Brian Kelly, who do a fine catchy bit of jangly indie rock in English AND Korean.
* '"F" Valentine's Day' party @ Bruar Falls / 245 Grand St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$5. feat. Fluffy Lumbers, North Highlands, Dream Diary. PopJew aka the superlative Rachel) curates this most excellent post-V-day show. OD'ed on chocolates? Didn't hook up like you wanted to? Having issues w/ your sweetie? Check the proper poppy indie rock, from start to finish.
* Double Leopards @ Market Hotel / 1142 Myrtle Ave, Bushwick (JMZ to Myrtle), 8p/. Ohhh, you read it correctly: Mike + Maya (from Religious Knives) w/ Chris + Marcia = Double Leopards, perhaps NY's finest drone/noise combo, they of the brooding, somnambulant sort, reunite TONIGHT!
* Damien Hirst "End of an Era" @ Gagosian / 980 Madison Ave. Hirst's last solo show at the gallery was nearly five years ago and didn't include any formaldehyde tanks. Don't worry: they're back. Actually, he's provided several flavours of viewing-experience, so if you're more into the luxe, aesthetic Hirst, check the 4th fl. Beyond his dot paintings (the grayscale immemorially titled "Acetaldehye" is especially off-putting) and medicine cabinets are a series of wildly colored, wildly effective butterfly paintings. Indeed, Hirst combines household gloss and actual butterflies (either just the wings or the entire insect) into brilliant, super-trippy mosaics. Check them from different POVs to get the iridescent effect. It's like Philip Taaffe's mandala drawings only way more intense, like comparing shroom tea to a double-hit of acid. Fancy the de-luxe Hirst? Hit the 6th fl, ideally up the spiraling staircase instead of the lifts, and blind yourself w/ "Forgotten Promises" (he always names his art well), a room-filling gold-plated mirrored vitrine, its shelves lined w/ like a thousand cubic zirconia. The next-door gallery contains the aforementioned show-stopper: surrounded by photorealistic renderings of precious gemstones, and an even bigger wall-lining gold-plated mirrored vitrine ("Judgement Day", housing like a million manufactured diamonds) is "End of an Era", a gold-horned bull's head, in formaldehyde, on a marble plinth. If you fear being even remotely offended by said installation, I advise you to give wide berth to the neck-end of the vitrine (the bull is, after all, decapitated). But seen from a front or side view (and more effectively from a short distance, w/ the glittering wall of diamonds in the background, it's a stirring piece. And a highly recommended, very dope exhibition.
* Ida Applebroog "MONALISA" @ Hauser & Wirth / 32 E 69th St. The hook to this vibrant new installation from Applebroog lies in an extensive series of self-portrait vagina drawings from '69. This project was rediscovered only last year, and the artist scanned and digitally augmented the drawings (sometimes w/ the addition of light color washes) and hung the updated vellum prints to nearly totally cover a wood-scaffolding structure, the show's titular piece. The chamber itself is blocked by a ladder (adorned with an ambiguously gendered visage who I am honored to write shares my surname), and beyond that is the massive doll-like portrait 'Monalisa', swimming in a field of red. It's a bracingly energetic experience.
* Sterling Ruby "2TRAPS" @ Pacewildenstein / 545 W 22nd St. Ruby's debut show at PW is a heavy metal gut-punch: two same-scale installations, the self-describing BUS (covered inside and out w/ metal security gates and outfitted w/ subwoofers) and the chilling PIG PEN, a bus-shaped rectangular prism of interlocking rusty security gates, a dialogue on both human containment and an apocalyptic near-future.
* Callun Innes "At One Remove" @ Sean Kelly Gallery / 528 W 29th St. Follow my prescribed route to get the most enjoyable experience from Innes' intense 'monochromes': head straight toward the practically glowing lemony yellow canvas and note its matte whitish half. Innes painstakingly stripped it of its color, retaining only the original gesso layer. Check the edges of the gesso half and catch dry slashes and spurts of erased color. A lot of elbow-grease (a violence, almost) went into this effort. Do a clockwise track of the gallery, past the white/gesso canvases — the shine of the paint v. the matte of the gesso is totally evident w/ these — and the half-blacks, noting the greenish/reddish under-layerings. Then hit the entryway gallery last, and the wetly blood-red canvas will feel even more intense.
* Robert Grosvenor @ Paula Cooper Gallery / 534 W 21st St. Three fantastic vintage works from the industrial 'assemblage' artist, composed of his heavy signature materials (sheet metal, cinderblocks, concrete slabs). The earliest piece on display, from '86, is like an archaeological site, only the fossil is a concrete wall and the canopy a bunch of crudely-cut, welded steel. The latest, from '94,includes a welded surfboard/UFO object resting atop a row of lashed-together poles.
* Jan Dibbets "New Horizons" @ Gladstone Gallery / 515 W 24th St. The Dutch photographer plays w/ two horizon photos, crashing waves and a field, adjoining them to various interesting, geometric effects. There's quite a bit of repetition here (it's only two photos, in various crops), but the gallery to the left of the entryway contain Dibbets' most playful combos.
* Robert Adams "Summer Nights, Walking" @ Matthew Marks Gallery / 523 W 24th St. The gallery writes that Adams' nocturnal landscape photography (this series is from '76-'82) 'vacillates between quiet foreboding and tranquil domesticity', but I'd take that one step further and call some of it tipping toward voyeurism. But don't mistake me: they're gorgeous, this lot, including the slightly creepy ones: a barely lit porch, a rather striking garage door, covered by the massive shadow of an unseen tree (trees in particular and foliage in general figure into most of Adams' works). Another fab instance: shrubbery in the foreground backlit by the flooding glare of headlights, as if someone enacted their revenge on his sneaking lens. A few others show a faraway cityscape caught b/w the shadowy trees and the multitudinously gray night sky, which is the closest to me to a warm summer's night.
* Ken Price @ Matthew Marks Gallery / 522 W 22nd St. A dozen new soft-form sculptures by Price, incl three epic-scale ones, one of which, somehow, reminds me of Snoopy. The patina of these things is incredible, an oilslick of multiple colors (thanks to the many, many layers of paint used in their construction). The twisty question-mark sculptures are bit too cute, but they are few and far between (despite one hot-orange sculpture, a must-see) around his usual slumped and sagging variety. A small goldish one looks remarkably like vintage Louise Bourgeois, only coated in Lynda Benglis' media. Another, an outsized gold at the entryway, has the pebbly dermis of magnified human skin and the figuration of a reclining nude, an interesting foray for Price.
* 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.
* "On the Square" @ Pacewildenstein / 32 E 57th St. The gallery pulls from its roster of minimalists and geometric heavyweights for a group show based around that deceptively simple four-cornered shape. Josef Albers, Ad Reinhardt and Agnes Martin provide the sturdy, scholarly framework for exploration and invention, whether the spare (Sol LeWitt, Robert Mangold), the playful (Keith Tyson, Joel Shapiro), or the wildly dangerous (Tara Donovan's contribution is a just-held-together cube of pins, some of which have already sought more interesting territories by scattering about the nearby perimeter).
* Pearlstein/Held "Five Decades" @ Betty Cuningham Gallery / 541 W 25th St. Allow me to walk you through this incredible, if tantalizingly brief, duet b/w long-career American artists Al Held (he of the super abstract school) and Philip Pearlstein (he of the entirely figurative school). The 1st thing you'll probably see, out of your left peripherals, is Held's ultra-yellow targetish "Echo" from 1966, which pairs across the way w/ Pearlstein's "Female Nude on Yellow Drape" from the same decade. In the alcove w/ "Echo" is an early, wetly composed Pearlstein (which up close resembles mudwrestling) and an early Held, all impasto and thick swaths of paint. Get it? The interrelatedness of the two painters, albeit via on-the-surface different paths? You need this structure going into the spacious main room, where Pearlstein's newer works dominate, at least at first blush. Note the differences b/w a '76 piece and an '08 or '09, the increasing complexity of reflection, color palette and general franticness of composition. And note too how Held's works, while definitely not shirking on the color side (after a foray into sharp b&w in the '70s), calms his geometric compositions as their horizons stretch to eternity. And Roberta Smith of the NY Times likes it! I liked it over two months ago!
* Diane Arbus "In the Absence of Others" + Williams Eggleston "21st Century" @ Cheim & Read / 547 W 25th St. When you pair another photographer w/ Arbus, you've got to bring the heat. And Eggleston's new, textural prints, don't exactly bring it, but they've got their moments. A car wash windshield could be both an undersea view or a color-manipulated deep-space nebula, another spare car window includes a stick-on Santa Claus in an otherwise spare view, and a gorgeous nighttime view in New Jersey is masterful. However, Eggleston's portion of the show could use an edit, as it doesn't carry the concentrated energy of Arbus' dozen-plus b&w prints of NYC's empty hotel lobbies, cinemas and landscapes. There is a palpable closeness to each of these, as if the presence of people just off the frame's edge.
* Marlo Pascual @ Casey Kaplan Gallery / 525 W 21st St. Pascual's first solo show at the gallery feat. her masterful pairing of disparate objects: vaguely familiar silver screen starlets (via b&w prints, greatly enlarged and usually theatrically cropped) and heavy physical objects (rocks, potted plants), her 'props'. She takes this concept even further by staging vignette-like installations in the main gallery, including planks, lighting and chairs to complement her manipulated vintage prints.
* "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.
* 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.
* "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.
* Josh Keyes "Fragment" + Saelee Oh "Infinite Roots" @ Jonathan LeVine Gallery / 529 W 20th St 9th Fl. VERY good dual show, props to the gallery for finding two artists who balance quite well. Keyes' exquisitely rendered acrylic paintings take up much of the space, and they're a trip. Each is like a 3/4 square of either earth, pavement or water, involving some sort of fauna (elk, bears and sharks are recurring characters) interacting w/ or morphing into the space. Think Shintaro Kago's dreamlike manga (specifically "Abstraction"), only less frightening. Oh's contribution, a combo of wildly realized hand-cut paper mock-ups of detailed human-root structures and wispy mixed media works on paper, similar subject matter to the cut-outs but quite colorful, is a softer counterpart to Keyes' amorphous edges.
* Anne Lindberg + Johnny Swing @ Cynthia Reeves Gallery / 535 W 24th St 2nd Fl. Swing's massive rusty steel twists act as an earthy anchor for the real showcase here, which are Lindberg's fascinatingly laborious graphite-on-cotton works. Her control of the pencil lines cause 3D shadows to float and flutter from the surface, like you could breathe on the canvas to produce the same effect.