* George Segal @ L&M Arts / 45 E 78th St. So cool: classic 20th C. figurative sculptural tableaux. You know the man: those sort of creepy plaster-cast figures assembled into urban 'environments' (park bench, street sign, phone booth); less 'real' than Duane Hanson, less 'freaky' than Ed Kienholz, yet alluring, atmospherically, all the same. This exhibition spans his career.
* Baron Adolph de Meyer @ Robert Miller Gallery / 524 W 26th St. A discerningly chic exhibition of the preeminent fashion photographer's oeuvre, feat. portraits of his wife and muse, plus works from his years at Conde Nast and portraits of stage and screen actresses.
* Nonhorse + Blissed Out @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$6. Ever seen Woods perform live? Ever seen that guy kneeling on the floor, mic-headphones tethered to his face while he rocks out to what looks like cassette-tape mixers? That's G. Lucas Crane aka Nonhorse, and his noisy sound-sculpting is serious next-level.
* Bill Jensen @ Cheim & Read / 547 W 25th St. Jensen is one of my favorite not-large-scale abstract painters, alongside Josh Smith (though his is more mixed media) and the untouchable Gerhard Richter. Jensen's compositions, underwater explosions of saturated color or sweeping b&w, are imbued w/ his Taoist background.
* Beverly Pepper "Metamorphoses" @ Marlborough Chelsea / 545 W 25th St. I'll admit I didn't love Pepper's soaring twist-sculptures from '08, but this new exhibition, blocky crypto-portals and angles (in delicious onyx and granite) looks really satisfying.
+ George Rickey. Marlborough balances Pepper's heavy arsenal w/ lighter-than-air steel sculpture from Rickey's estate, soaring blocks and bars (and a few 'Nebula's that are like schools of fish) that interact w/ the air.
* Gary Simmons "Midnight Matinee" @ Metro Pictures / 519 W 24th St. Creepy renderings, in oils, wax and pigment, of nostalgic cinema and drive-in signage.
* Jaehyo Lee @ Cynthia Reeves Gallery / 535 W 24th St 2nd Fl. I was absolutely riveted by Lee's first solo show at the gallery back in 2008, and this one, lined w/ his current sculptures in burnt wood and steel, should be charming. His sculptures tend to smell really nice, heady, like the curtain of leaves he installed last time, so I'm hoping for some of that too.
* James Rosenquist "The Hole in the Middle of Time" @ Acquavella / 18 E 79th St. Take Rosenquist's trippiest cosmic washing-machine paintings, combine 'em with mirrors, and then motorize the paintings so they spin. Offset w/ massive paintings that incorporate spinning mirrors. Success.
* William Bailey @ Betty Cuningham Gallery / 541 W 25th St. An excellent pairing of Bailey's from-memory still-life paintings and his dreamlike figure portraits, on canvas and paper.
* Park Jihyun "Incense Series: Weightlessness" @ Gana NY / 568 W 25th St. Park composes — 'paints' or 'erases' if you need to conceptualize it that way — his works on paper w/ fire, marking them w/ burning incense to create cloudy subtracted images like textural rubbings.
* Hannah Whitaker "Victory over the Sun!" @ Kumukumu Gallery / 42 Rivington St. My likes and dislikes for art photography dwell more on a gut-reaction sensibility. And it's telling me that Whitaker is dope. Her shots are not exactly representational nor abstract, they offer up their subject (an excavated tree, a bunny, a 'constellation' of lights) for us to judge, and they tend to look pretty cool.
* Jill Moser @ Lennon, Weinberg Inc / 514 W 25th St. I'm excited to see Moser's new abstract paintings and prints, rendered deftly in drypoint, aquatint and acrylic, as she seems to be eschewing her moodier constant palette for sunny hues a la Joan Mitchell.
* Liam Gillick @ Casey Kaplan / 525 W 21st St. Powder-coated aluminum and plexiglass frames and constructs, in delicious jeweltone colors. Mate's also got an installation in Wright, the new dining room of the Gugg, an added bonus.
* Aa + Dan Friel @ Don Pedro / 90 Manhattan Ave, Williamsburg (L to Montrose, JM to Lorimer, G to Broadway), 10p. Let Dan Friel, the composer/vocalist of math-rock trio Parts & Labor, warm you up w/ his wheezy electronics before the Aa percussion contingent like totally obliterate the place in ecstasy-inducing drumming.
* Robert Ryman "Large/Small, Thick/Thin, Light Reflecting, Light Absorbing" @ Pacewildenstein / 32 E 57th St. Look again, is all I have to say for those hesitant to explore Ryman's ostensibly 'white' paintings further than a passing glance — in this case a glance across 30 square works. He draws from his wide historical vocabulary, so each and every element (from the paint media to the the wall hangings) differs, but the coolest aspect, what you must experience in person to really 'get', is the interplay b/w the paintings and the light. Trust me on this. Check it out. See for yourself.
* Dan Walsh "Days and Nights" @ Paula Cooper Gallery / 521 W 21st St. The artist injects some looseness into his large hypnotically-patterned canvases, which have a tendency to pulse before your eyes, the rate of which depends on his chosen color palette.
*Céleste Boursier-Mougenot "harmonichaos" @ Paula Cooper 'Boutique' / 465 W 23rd St. From what I can tell, this is a smaller, though no less cool, version of Boursier-Mougenot's awe-inspiring sound installation, which I saw at the 21st St gallery back in '06, involving old-school vacuum cleaners outfitted w/ harmonicas, motion sensors and lights.
* Yun-Fei Ji "Mistaking Each Other for Ghosts" @ James Cohan Gallery / 533 W 26th St. Huge, gorgeous narrative watercolors and ink works on paper, combining traditional ghost stories and folklore with the Three Gorges Dam.
* Kim Fisher @ John Connelly Presents / 625 W 27th St. One of the more interesting contemporary abstract artists, Fisher paints fractured/fragmented blocks of color onto linen, but keeps some of the surface untouched – so we're left with a really interesting combination of textures and interplay b/w the hard-edged color and the raw linen. This series is Fisher's take on exotic shells from the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.
* Jacco Olivier @ Marianne Boesky Gallery / 509 W 24th St. A looser direction for the Dutch artist, whose painted narrative films are even further into the 'painting' direction, probably to excellent effect. The centerpiece is 'Revolution', a galaxy's cycle in 24 minutes, accompanied by 'Bath' (recalling proper post-Impressionists) and 'Landscape' and 'Transition' (w/ their ever-changing scenery).
* Josh Azzarella @ DCKT / 195 Bowery. Azzarella manipulates film stills and amateur photography, creating anonymous, relatable scenarios. This show won't be nearly as grueling as his 2008 exhibition (which feat. manipulated press images from Abu Ghraib prison) but its unsettling enough to accompany a good ghost story.
* Film Comment Selects @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St) THRU MAR 4. The tagline for this dope festival of new international and domestic (+ a few reissues) is "Edgy. Extreme. Out there. Don't say we didn't warn you" — which nearly reads like something I would write, and it totally sums up the two-dozen films. Never been to a film festival before? This one is an excellent primer (and w/ Rendez-Vous w/ French Cinema coming up in a few weeks, you'll need the ocular exercise). Check this for full festival details and showtimes. I've included some of my selections below.
* Fucked Up w/ Frankie & the Outs @ Europa / 98 Meserole Ave, Greenpoint (G to Nassau), 7p/$13. Well yes, you might not pin me for a hardcore fan, but I've always wanted to see Fucked Up. And the deal is sweetened further w/ the addicting harmonies and fuzzy guitars of Frankie & the Outs, two nights before their show in Manhattan.
* Noveller + Secret Machines + Bear in Heaven @ Glasslands / 289 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 9p/$15. The draw for me, beyond the spacey pop of Brooklyn's Bear in Heaven and NY/Chicago's Secret Machines, is the beautiful noise conjured by Sarah Lipstate (aka Noveller) via her pedal-looped guitars.
* "Accident" (dir. Soi Cheang, Hong Kong, 2009) screening @ Walter Reade Theatre, 1:30p (part of Film Comment Selects). This is a gritty, in-your-face director (I mean seriously in your face. His crime-dramas "Dog Bite Dog" (2006) and "Shamo" (2007) were all hooked elbows, flickering sweat and blood, and ultra close-in fighting), and his new film — an 'accident choreographer' hitman caught in a choreographed accident — sounds particularly deliciously claustrophobic.
* "Godard Rarities" (dir. JLG, France) screening @ Walter Reade Theatre, 3:30p (part of Film Comment Selects). This just SOUNDS dope: odds and ends from the master of Nouvelle Vague, which I believe will include some American stuff too but it's JLG and he can do no wrong in my eyes.
* Crystal Stilts + The Beets + Beach Fossils @ Music Hall of Williamsburg / 66 N 6th St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$15. If you've never once stepped foot into an 'indie' NY venue, if you've never heeded my advice and checked out a local band, if you've been yearning to catch up on the Brooklyn (and Jackson Heights!!) scene: well aren't you in luck?? This lineup is a fab primer: the surf-friendly Beach Fossils and the sing-along punks The Beets w/ mix-matched German Measles and pop cuties Christmas Island for added flava. Oh, and headlined by Crystal Stilts, who are a bit Velvet Underground but so much more than that.
* The Golden Filter + DJ Nancy Whang @ Brooklyn Bowl / 61 Wythe Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 11p/$5. Ever danced in a bowling alley? I don't mean like what you did in junior high; I mean REALLY danced, like to really good music. Like duo The Golden Filter, so hot right now, and Nancy Whang (of The Juan MacLean), who pulls off a jumpsuit w/ an effortless chic that should not be taken for granted.
* "The Revenge: A Visit from Fate" + "The Revenge: A Scar That Never Fades" (dir. Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan 1997) double screening @ Walter Reade Theatre, 3p/4:45p (part of Film Comment Selects). Double-header! I'm wild about Kiyoshi Kurosawa. And while I won't quite say 'before there was Koji Yakusho there was Sho Aikawa', you've got to give it to Kurosawa for knowing how to select some true hard-boiled, no-nonsense roughhousers. Aikawa looks like he could chew nails. Which is a good thing, as "The Revenge" double-feature, filmed just before Kurosawa's J-Horror psych-out game changer "Cure" (starring Yakusho), is Aikawa up against the baddest-ass yakuza thugs. Like Toshiro Mifune in Akira Kurosawa's "Yojimbo"/"Sanjuro", only set in the mid-90s.
* Dum Dum Girls + Frankie & The Outs @ Mercury Lounge / 217 E Houston St (FV to 2nd Ave), 7p/$10. Major double-header of proper '60ish girl-indie-rock. Frankie Rose pulls overtime, first leading her band in ethereal three-part harmonies (tempered by buzzsaw guitars), then taking the drums for psychedelic Dum Dum Girls, who are just as cool. w/ Coasting.
* "Air Doll" (dir. Hirokazu Koreeda, Japan, 2009) screening @ Walter Reade Theatre, 6:15p (part of Film Comment Selects). I was so bummed when Koreeda's new film wasn't included in 2009's New York Asian Film Festival, and now I've got my chance to see it! Now, this director is not one to shy away from controversial subjects, oh say like Bae Doona playing a live-action inflatable sex doll to a sarariman? You know it's more than that.
* JEFF the Brotherhood + Screaming Females + Stupid Party @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$7. This will be a hard-rockin' night, beginning w/ the authentically mid-90s sludge of Stupid Party (who pair that w/ an intriguing bit of spaghetti western instrumentals), then the boom-bop of Marissa and Screaming Females, finished by the deceivingly minimalist setup of the Orrall bros — trust me they rock full-out.
* Olafur Eliasson "multiple shadow house" @ Tanya Bonakdar Gallery / 521 W 21st St. Eliasson never ceases to disappoint. His simplistic-on-paper installations (here focusing on light, shadow, and color — nothing new to the artist) should thrill even the most jaded art-goer. Unless you're a total killjoy. The titular piece, a wooden framework w/ projection-screen walls and varying colored spotlights, is a dormant creature until you and your friends begin traversing it, then it comes alive like a really fantastic avant-garde carnival attraction. Upstairs, amid Eliasson's spectrum watercolors, is 'abstract afterimage star', a flotilla of light projectors that switch on seemingly randomly — or is it really? — throwing up abstract tangram shapes on the wall that overlap into gorgeous color combinations.
* El Anatsui @ Jack Shainman Gallery / 513 W 20th St. The Ghanian sculpture had a major installation at last year's Armory Show, nearly stealing the attention from, well, practically all else there, it was that dope. So I've been yearning for an Anatsui fix, and he delivers. His shimmery, curtainlike woven sculptures, if they can be called 'sculptures' as they seem so fluid, resemble flags, animal pelts, and zoomed-out topography, variously — yet look close their painstaking composition (liquor labels, bottle caps). They're so big, you've got to step back from various angles to take 'em all in, like you're contemplating a sleeping lion from the distance.
* Thomas Ruff @ David Zwirner Gallery / 533 W 19th St. Works from two new series by the conceptual photographer — 'zycles' (I dug it, large-scale prints or canvas-printed renderings of wire-frame curves) and 'cassini', spacey captures of Saturn from the Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft, which are beautiful but foggy, a combo of the original film grain and Ruff's color saturation.
* Diana Thater "Between Science and Magic" @ David Zwirner Gallery / 525 W 19th St. Appearances are deceiving, so I suggest you stay longer than a minute when viewing Thater's dual-projection video installation. It subject, a rabbit-in-the-hat magic show, lasts but a blip in time, but she films it from multiple perspectives, and as the cameras travel 'round our magician, we begin to wonder: 'which is the 'actual' film and which is the 'film of the filming'?'
* Daido Moriyama @ Luhring Augustine / 531 W 24th St. Double props here for the brilliant installation, specifically the hanging of Moriyama's newish 'Hawaii' series in the main gallery. Largish b&w prints, 40x60" verticals or horizontals, framed in white pine, line the walls at comfortable eye level, like Josh Smith's show last year, creating an immersive environment for the photographer's lovely, contrasty works. And as with his classic Japanese prints in the back gallery, Moriyama captures various local subjects w/ effortless chic — whether it's a flower-draped mannequin, the Hawaiian skyline at night, an old automobile, or a rocky seashore, everything looks gorgeous. The most usual and banal ARE gorgeous under Moriyama's lens. Highly recommended, esp. w/ the adjacent Wolfgang Tillmans photo show at Andrea Rosen Gallery.
* Banks Violette @ Gladstone Gallery / 530 W 21st St. No proper sound installation to complete Violette's 'dark triangle' (meaning messy wires + lots of shiny black), but the low buzz off the fluorescent bar 'chandelier' takes its place. This plus the massive billboard-like pieces are tongue-in-cheek Minimalism, the former an obvious Dan Flavin, the latter Ad Reinhardt (or anti-Robert Ryman) crossed w/ Steven Parrino's tortured canvases.
* Inka Essenhigh @ 303 Gallery / 547 W 21st St. "The Old New Age". Really fine psychedelia here, in Essenhigh's largish oil paintings of surface-level landscapes that somehow come off w/ this dreamy submerged vibe. Like the action — a stately Clydesdale in a flowing golden field, a squadron of spooky shapes in an antiquarian forest, and the green goddess herself encircled by pink blossoms — is trapped in a liquid-filled globe, slowing everything down, lending grace and continuous movement. And the one piece, 'Lower East Side', well besides the bass guitar, it's a mix of that magical street from 'Harry Potter' (stay with me here) w/ something out of Vermeer's time, and it's absolutely gorgeous.
* 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).
* 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.
* 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.
* Markus Schinwald + Koo Jeong-A "A-Z" @ 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).
* 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.
* Peter Peri @ Bortolami / 510 W 25th St. This London artist's reductive mixed media paintings, gloomy canvases marred by either razor-sharp linework or the occasional tonal explosion, creep me out in a really good way. It's sort of like taking Tomma Abts style, enlarging it, then painting over it. He mates these w/ some absurdly deft linework on simple geometric shapes and a mirror image of Jean Auguste Dominique's famous 'Odalisque'.
* Kirsten Nelson "Assembly Required" @ Frederieke Taylor Gallery / 535 W 22nd St 6th Fl. I dig Nelson's stark sculptural installation, composed of materials you could quite easily find @ Home Depot (sheetrock, plywood, drywall etc)...though the effect is way less than perusing a hardware store than it is noticing the details of the compositions, wallpaper-like patterns tucked just beyond the apparent field of vision.
+ dNASAb "dataclysmic", in the project room. The title and concept, wild video sculptures utilizing phosphorescent silicone and consumer electronics, might sound a little too easy, eye-candy-ish, but they are mad gorgeous up close.
* Anne Collier @ Anton Kern Gallery / 532 W 20th St. Collier's super-sharp C-prints w/ their eye-trickery subject matter (check the Rene Magritte-ish 'Open Book' series, plus the crisp 'Cut') totally reminded me of Christopher Williams, the conceptual photographer I most ID w/ when viewing these sort of representational prints.
* "Cinnabar: The Chinese Art of Carved Lacquer" @ Metropolitan Museum of Art / 1000 5th Ave (456 to 86th St). If you came to the Met to check out Xie Zhiliu's modern yet faithfully traditional paintings and calligraphic works, I advise you to check out this stunning historic collection as well. Part of the fun is locating it, which means you take this private lift tucked in a corner of the Chinese art galleries, to the Chinese Decorative Art Galleries on the 3rd Fl. There lies a miraculous assortment of carved lacquer, from bowls and small containers to an eight-panel screen from the 16th century, depicting a pretty excellent bash. The craftsmanship in these carvings is unparalleled. Seeing it is like falling into a secret, extra-special domain of works of art in the truest sense.