* "Seat-of-the-Pants" @ Museum 52 / 4 E 2nd St at Bowery. Many of my "new" favorite artists are showing here, feat. Amy Yao (also at "Greater New York", MoMA PS1), Siobhan Liddell (just ended a fierce solo show at CRG Gallery), Daphne Fitzpatrick (from Bellwether), plus Judy Linn and frequent Yao collaborator Jacob Robichaux. HOT.
* Carol Bove + Sterling Ruby + Dana Schutz @ Andrea Rosen Gallery / 525 W 24th St. Last exhibition, the gallery pulled off an interesting pairing b/w young darlings Karla Black and Nate Lowman. They take it one step further now w/ the atmosphere-sucking installation behemoth Ruby, pairing him w/ Schutz's aggressively de-figured paintings and Bove's referentiality. Fingers crossed this trio works.
* Jakub Jilian Ziolkowski "Timothy Galoty & The Dead Brains" @ Hauser & Wirth / 32 E 69th St. One of the few truly gripping painters from the New Museum's "Younger Than Jesus" show, Ziolkowski's new series pairs portraiture w/ a fantastical, folkloric landscape.
* "Swell: Art 1950-2010" @ Metro Pictures / 519 W 24th St + Friedrich Petzel Gallery / 537 W 22nd St + NYEHAUS / 358 W 20th St. Surf-related art, feat. like a thousand artists spread over three galleries (Larry Bell, Ashley Bickerton, Catherine Opie, Ed Ruscha, Peter Dayton, Ed Kienholz, Fred Tomaselli, etc etc) — some of it is quite abstract (check the trove of California Minimalists) but the majority should be totally summer-appropriate, even for us urbanites.
* "ITEM" @ Mitchell-Innes & Nash / 534 W 26th St. Collection (Carol Bove, Rashid Johnson), arrangement (Giorgio Morandi, Mel Bochner), patterns (Wayne Gonzales, Allen Ruppersberg) + more. Nice going w/ the creative focus.
* "Irrelevant: Local Emerging Asian Artists Who Don't Make Work About Being Asian" @ Arario NY / 521 W 25th St, 2nd Fl. Joann Kim and Lesley Sheng curated this huge show, w/ performances and special events happening throughout its duration (check back for LIST updates). Unlabelable performance artist Mai Ueda leads the fray opening night w/ her own sort of curatorial walkthrough, plus interactive workshop by Takashi Horisaki, A/V performance by Jane Hsu and a "Blender Project" food exchange by Hidemi Takagi. You will want to check this show multiple times and you definitely don't want to miss the opening.
* "The Pencil Show" @ Foxy Production / 623 W 27th St. A huge show of artists using that lowly medium, graphite, in some surprising ways. w/ Robert Gober, Sterling Ruby, Kon Trubovich, Romoo Gokita, D-L Alvarez, Louise Despont + more (so expect the unexpected).
* Yuan Yuan "A World of Yesterday and Tomorrow" @ Chambers Fine Art / 522 W 19th St. BIG Yuan Yuan fan here. The young Beijing artist's foggy, mesmerizing paintings — often in diptychs — capture hauntingly beautiful scenes straight from your deepest nostalgia.
* Jeronimo Elespe @ John Connelly Presents / 625 W 27th St. Small-scale, "classical"-style oil portraiture and landscapes on aluminum panels, terribly beguiling.
* Jeff Kessel + Michelle Segre @ Derek Eller Gallery / 615 W 27th St. I think my first brush w/ Kessel's troweled abstracts was a three-artist show "Parallel" at Bortolami Gallery last Spring (a good one, too). Segre's googly-eyed, acid-toned sculpture I've seen before in Eller Gallery, so I'm intrigued by their potential interplay.
* "Year One" @ Ana Cristea Gallery / 521 W 26th St. Nice! Four great painting-based artists who should get way more coverage stateside (but thanks to the gallery, they are), all w/ disquieting and/or apocalyptic undertones whilst remaining extremely realist: Zsolt Bodoni, Josef Bolf, Daniel Pitin and Alexander Tinei (of VOLTA NY).
* "Shred", curated by Carlo McCormick @ Perry Rubenstein Gallery / 527 W 23rd St. Collage as fine art, which sounds dope enough to me. W/ Bruce Conner (I'm sure these will be disquieting), Dash Snow, Gee Vaucher etc, a veritable cornucopia of punk.
* Martin Schoeller "Female Bodybuilders" @ Hasted Hunt Kraeutler / 537 W 24th St. JUST WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE.
* "Forced Exposure", organized by Miriam Katzeff @ Team Gallery / 83 Grand St. You know when you walk into something and immediately the room becomes quiet or you feel slightly self-conscious? That's the plan here: Bjarne Melgaard's porn-mag-modified works, Ross Knight's crude assemblages, Tom Burr's sculpture and Lutz Bacher's self-referential video.
* Christian Marclay "Festival" @ Whitney Museum / 945 Madison Ave (6 to 77th St). I am entirely intrigued by the Whitney's continued sonic directions, w/ their pretty rockin' Whitney Live summer series (see FRI) and this exhibition devoted to artist/composer Marclay. Though his prints, installations and the lot are all here, the power is coming from daily performances/interpretations of his many scores by the hottest, most avant-garde musicians. it's like a gift that keeps on giving, daily, throughout the exhibition's duration. I'll try to keep you attuned (no pun) to the dopest performances, but check here for the running schedule.
+ Christian Marclay "Graffiti Composition", performed by Min Xiao-Fen + Elliot Sharp, 1p. The lead-off show, based off Marclay's 150-print unbound portfolio, should enable endless variations from pipa-player/composer Min and "chaos" composer Sharp, sort of like listening to Gescom's MD on shuffle mode, only w/ a pipa.
+ Christian Marclay "Screen Play", performed by Maria Chavez, Marina Rosenfeld and Tristan Shepherd, 4p. This could be very incredible, w/ the musicians (anchored by Chavez' fractured turntablism) taking visual cues from Marclay's b&w film interlain w/ computerized dots and lines.
* Beach Fossils + Woven Bones (Austin) + The Beets @ Bruar Falls / 245 Grand St, Williamsburg (l to Bedford), 8p/$8. An incredible lineup, perfect for this summer heat, but I can't make it b/c of NYAFF screenings! Go in my place, you won't regret it.
* Nobunny + Apache @ Cake Shop / 152 Ludlow St (F to 2nd Ave), 8p/$10. Insanity, breaking things, noise, good vibes. The one-man arsenal Nobunny + San Fran's Apache. Brace yourselves.
* Darina Karpov "Wayward" @ Pierogi / 177 N 9th St, Williamsburg. Wonderfully technical (yet lovingly smeared) abstract paintings on canvas and panel — think the sunburst clouds of a Renaissance painting, devoid of figures.
* "Pink Power Strikes Back" (dir. Yutaka Ikejima, 2004 + Naoyuki Tomomatsu, 2007), midnight screening @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St), part of NYAFF. What better way to spend your Friday before the 4th in a midnight back-to-back screening of Japanese "pink eiga" (i.e. softcore porn, two 60-minute doses of sugared deviance)? How about I give you their titles: "Japanese Wife Next Door Part 2" and "Groper Train: School Uniform Hunter", the former of which is clearly a sequel, and the latter's mastermind co-directed "Vampire Girl v. Frankenstein Girl" w/ Yoshihiro Nishimura. PLUS: Asami, star of "School Uniform Hunter" will attend the film! She left the AV industry to focus on action films (like Nishimura's co-direction in "Mutant Girls Squad", plus Noboru Iguchi's "Machine Girl" and "RoboGeisha") and YES I want to meet her. And so can you!
* The Beets + Alex Bleeker & the Freaks @ Monster Island / 128 River St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, G to Metropolitan, JM to Marcy), 8p/$8. Group Tightener is throwing a major party here, and I am tremendously bummed I am missing The Beets twice in a row. The inclusion of folksy Bleeker's band + the garage stomp of duo Coasting is wicked cool.
* The Specific Heats @ Bruar Falls / 245 Grand St, Williamsburg (l to Bedford), 8p/$6. Same deal as my THU Bruar Falls comment. I loved catching The Specific Heats....it must have been over six months ago. Now they're playing again and I can't make it, due to films. Go in my place. w/ Overlord + Boston cuties Girlfriends (their 7" release).
* Whitney Live: High Places + Toro Y Moi @ Whitney Museum / 945 Madison Ave (6 to 77th St), 7p. Just try to stand still for this one, NY. If High Place's multilayered grooves don't get you going, Chaz Bundick's (aka Toro Y Moi) particular blend of vocal "glo-fi" will 1st stun you, then get you shaking that thing.
* Warm Up 2010 (opening party) @ MoMA PS1 / 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City (E to 23rd St/Ely Ave, G to Court Square), 2-9p. Summer is very much here. And you need to be losing your mind in PS1's gravel courtyard, dancing about SO-IL's installation "Pole Dance" w/ the sun in your face and Delorean's shimmering grooves washing all over you. I haven't been this enthused about Warm Up since...2007? w/ a live set from Glasser to further sweeten the deal. Check out "Greater New York" (dig it) while you're there.
* MINKS @ Bruar Falls / 245 Grand St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 9p. New Captured Tracks labelmates MINKS are appropriately glamorous and moody, drenched in black w/ a tinge of something sparkly. They fill the stage around Peggy Wang's (of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart) DJ set.
* Christian Marclay "Screen Play", performed by Maria Chavez, Min Xiao-Fen and Elliot Sharp @ Whitney Museum / 945 Madison Ave (6 to 77th St) , 2p. Another take on Marclay's colored dot-interspersed b&w short film, w/ Chavez' turntablism against Min and Sharp's avant-composing.
* "The Ancient Dogoo Girl: Special Movie Edition" (dirs. Noboru Iguchi + Yoshihiro Nishimura, 2010) screening @ Anthology Film Archives / 32 2nd Ave (F to 2nd Ave), 6p. You go have your fireworks. I will be sharing the excitement w/ Iguchi-san on his TV-created "monster hunter", aka Erika Yazawa (w/ magical, crime-fighting breasts), specially edited (w/ assistance from gore-SFX alchemist Nishimura) to create a film. I don't know if that makes any sense, but Cay Izumi (in attendance!) plays a vampire pole dancer in said film, so it is tailor-made for me. Bonkers directors, hot actresses, monsters, psychedelic undercurrent: these are my fireworks.
* "Death Kappa" (dir. Tomoo Haraguchi, 2010, Japan) midnight encore screening @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE, BDFM to W 4th St), part of NYAFF. Or if you want to REALLY end America's Independence Day w/ a "bang", get drunk at some fireworks party and haul yourself to the encore showing of this contemporary, super low-budget monster movie! Laugh as cutie Misako Hirata dances w/ her kappa friend. Cringe as she is captured and nearly turned into an aquawoman by some right-wing militants. Shout as Godzilla-esque monster wreaks havoc on cardboard-miniature Tokyo set, fighting off radio-controlled model airplanes and tanks. Cheer as mega-sized kappa comes to the rescue, bodyslamming the monster and playing an impromptu volleyball game w/ refinery tanks. You owe it to yourself and to America.
* "The Last Mistress" (dir. Catherine Breillat, 2007) screening @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St), 5p. Before seeing Breillat's enveloping take on "Bluebeard", I knew her for this film, an opulent b&w period soap, requisite dramatic pauses, intertitles and balletic sensuality included.
* Summerjam II @ Shea Stadium / 20 Meadow St, Williamsburg (L to Grand, G to Metropolitan), 4p/$10. If you absolutely must get your fireworks fix this July 4, do it at Shea Stadium, celebrating their 1yr anniversary w/ a huge roster of bands, incl. jammers Guardian Alien + CSC Funk, punk (by way of Osaka) Hard Nips, and the raw energy of Future Islands.
* The Met is open on a Monday (my title) @ Metropolitan Museum of Art / 1000 Fifth Ave (456 to 86th St), 9:30-5:30p. Do something cultural on the day after America's Independence Day, along w/ thousands of tourists. But seriously, the special exhibitions are wonderful: Picasso (of course), plus Italian drawings spanning Correggio to Tiepolo from the Tobey Collection, Leon Levinstein's NY photographs (subtitle: "Hipsters, Hustlers, and Handball Players"), a gorgeous Chinese celebration series in the Decorative Arts Galleries, and naturally the Doug + Mike Starn "Big Bambu" rooftop installation (which is only open until 4:30, so get up there early. You don't have an issue with drinking on a Monday afternoon, do you??)
* Jo Baer & John Wesley "Shared Space" @ Matthew Marks Gallery / 522 W 22nd St. Baer's son, Josh, curated this fantastic pairing of the artists' works from their time together in NYC during the '60s. Though Baer's are totally minimalist and Wesley's very Pop and figurative, everything in the show is from the same studio, done at the same time, and w/ the paint used and the respective scales there may well be many captivating affinities revealed.
* Rivane Neuenschwander "A Day Like Any Other" @ New Museum / 235 Bowery (F to 2nd Ave). This is bliss. Those words, written (not uttered) by Tadanobu Asano in a pivotal moment in Pen-ek Ratanaruang's "Last Life in the Universe", carried me through this joyous survey of the Brazilian artist's oeuvre. I was turned onto Neuenschwander years ago, thanks to Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, to my understanding the only gallery (or museum) in NY showing her work — and I don't know where else stateside you can find it. She receives much love in Europe for her interdisciplinary conceptualist interventions, so it was with great pleasure and anticipation that I attended this overdue exhibition. One caveat: this is not an all-inclusive, exhaustive look at her ENTIRE career this far. One of my favorite works, the video "Quarta-Fiera de Cinzas/Epilogue (Ash Wednesday/Epilogue)", a joyous Carnivale-esque parade of ants carrying glittering bits of confetti to an O Grivo soundtrack, which I caught at Bonakdar Gallery TKyears ago, is absent. As is "Pangaea's Diaries", another film from Bonakdar Gallery of a shifting reddish map of the world on an ovoid white backdrop — actually a stop-motion animation of ants moving beef carpaccio around a plate. That said, EVERYTHING in this show, besides the namesake blank clocks, positioned in all sorts of funny places about the museum (check the one in the café) is new to me, a mix of intrinsic earlier works and some brand-new ones. The whole 'bliss' thing I felt most strongly on the 4th Fl, the quieter of the two, that embodies a wonderfully discreet motley of visual and aural elements. First, the buckets, "Rain Rains" (2002), aka "Chove Chuva", one of my favorite Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66 covers, an array leaking buckets suspended from the ceiling (w/ their mates positioned carefully beneath on the floor). Then these soap-bubble shapes on the floor, everywhere, near the buckets and not, that have a slight tactile quality. These are "Walking in Circles" (2000 but always site-specific), circles of invisible glue that pick up your footprints, slowly exposing the shapes over the course of the exhibition. You may begin to hear a rhythm at this point: the drip-drops from "Rain Rains" are incredibly hypnotic, gamelan-esque, like treated bell tones from Autechre. I stood amidst the buckets for...let's say extended periods of time, I lost track (this is keeping in the show-title and the work "A Day Like Any Other", of course). Can I go so far as to call to the melodiousness of "Rain Rains" like 'groovy'? I'll take it there. The gorgeous crumbled and painted maps, "After the Storm" (2010), lining two walls, are the result of exposing maps of NY counties to Belo Horizante, Brazil's rainy season, then drying and painting them afterward. They pick up the wetness of "Rain Rains" quite nicely, like a before-and-after. Finally, "The Fall" (2009), an absolutely stunning film of an egg-race through the woods, from the spoon's perspective. It is nice to look at but the real golden moment is the audio: you MUST pick up the headphones and listen (and fingers crossed the New Museum adds a few more sets). What you will hear: wind through the branches, birds, an insect's buzzing, crunching footsteps on grass, forest sounds magnified and intensified. Then: like the audio goes in your head, respiration, the egg clattering on the metal spoon's bowl. Like "Rain Rains", "The Fall" works on two levels, visual and sonic, and both must be experienced (slow down and listen) to fully get the beauty of the piece. The 3rd Floor (containing another transfixing new film "The Tenant" and site-specific installation "The Conversation") is busier overall but works in dialogue w/ the more discreet upper floor. It's a fascinating, warming experience overall. You really do lose track of time, lingering over Neuenschwander's works. I think that's the best thing.
* "Shape Language", organized by Natalie Campbell @ Nicole Klagsbrun / 526 W 26th St #213. An incredible group show amid a veritable sea of summer group shows, centered on the ostensibly simple thesis of color and form. We're rewarded with a very savory exhibition, anchored by Blinky Palermo's ovoidish gray form and peer Imi Knoebel's jagged, colorful collage. From these '70s-era springboards, the rest of the show is a voyage through the creatively minimal and patterned (Ned Vena, Zak Prekop, Joe Bradley) to the luxuriantly colorful (Amy Sillman, Patrick Brennan, Wendy White's particularly entrancing multicanvas work). Yes, it's all artists/styles I easily get into, but I think you will too. Trust me on this one: Klagsbrun's show carries my highest recommendations.
* "The Evryali Score", curated by Olivia Shao @ David Zwirner Gallery / 525-533 W 19th St. A richly layered, conceptual show based of the title of avant-garde composer Iannis Xenakis' early-'70s solo piano piece. And it draws from Shao's "the baghdad batteries" show that concluded at "Greater New York" a few weeks ago. Now, that's a lot to digest (esp. if you are either familiar w/ Xenakis or saw Shao' previous show, or both), and I've not begun discussing the art yet. Suffice to say, this is a challenging grouping, requiring time for contemplation and worthy of repeat visits. I suggest you pay particular attention to Stanley Brouwn's piece — he's based in Amsterdam and basically never shows, and if he shows his works are not reproduced in media (he did have a part at MoMA's fantastic "In & Out of Amsterdam: Travels in Conceptual Art" last year). His wooden structure, like an inverted box, covers the corner of two of the gallery walls and a small expanse of floor. What Brouwn's piece does so well is calling our attention to the room itself, to the idiosyncrasies of that wall (is it leaning a bit?) and how the room is playing off the art. The 525 space is most like Shao's "the baghdad batteries", w/ Marcel Broodthaers gold artifact in a vitrine taking over for Walter de Maria's stunning "Power Bar" (from MoMA PS1), plus the inclusion of Fred Sandback (schematics) and Willem de Rooij (a surfboard-sized ostensibly plain linen canvas, interwoven w/ metallic fibers to change color based on your orientation w/ it) — though everything here, incl. Mary Ellen Carroll's multipart installation (print of work, filming of actual work burning, ash "paintings" made from original work's detritus), Robert Breer's audience-pleasing moving aluminum sheet and Dave Miko's discreet planar objects, have much more room to breathe. Miko's tie the two rooms rooms together, showing up in the 533 area alongside a super-rare, 1960 wooden Claes Oldenburg relief, plus another eerie Breer, a great video suite from Bernadette Corporation mixing Fendi perfume with art (trust me), and two unnerving Plexiglas-mounted prints from Craig Kalpakjian, ostensibly minimal yet terribly geometric. Yes, I am rather into this show.
* Christian Marclay "Fourth of July" @ Paula Cooper Gallery / 521 W 21st St. Ahead of his major musuem show "Festival" at the Whitney (opens THU), Marclay presented a fragmented series of print blowups from an Independence Day parade in Hyde Park NY. Seeing these torn glimpses of a uniformed marching band and sweating spectators is like viewing the actual parade through a tube: he draws you toward all these interesting peripheral actions that, in the actual festival, would have been lost in all the noise. Like a dude lounging in a folding chair.
* Ragnar Kjartansson "The End" @ Luhring Augustine / 531 W 24th St. The young Icelandic artist's contribution to the 2009 Venice Biennale — daily portrait paintings of his lugubrious model/friend — may have raised some eyebrows on paper. But the end result, 144 colorful "snapshots" hung salon-style to cover the gallery's main room, is pretty magnificent, and consists almost entirely of off-moment gems rather than formal posing. Plus, in the back gallery: Kjartansson's new film "The Man" w/ blues pianist patriarch Pinetop Perkins, shot in such a way that it feels like the back wall is missing and Perkins is there, tickling the ivories in a sunset-drenched field before our very eyes.
* Jack Pierson "Go there now and take this with you" @ Bortolami / 510 W 25th St. I learned something at this show: Pierson, he of the found-signage composites, studied photography for years. This series of folded blowups doesn't hold the weight of, say, Wolfgang Tillmans, but I dug this other facet to his work.
* "Touched" @ Lehmann Maupin / 540 W 26th St. I'm taking back much of my overall reticence toward summer group shows. There are many fine ones on now, incl this very physical one at the Chelsea gallery. Love impasto? Allison Schulnik's are like cake-frosted portraiture and Angel Otero's (particularly that yellow one) will burn your eyes out in a good way. Like impossible-to-categorize mixed media sculpture? My fav was Brett Lund's, which look like a cross b/w Huma Bhabha and Anselm Reyle.
* "The Mass Ornament", curated by John Rasmussen @ Gladstone Gallery / 515 W 24th St. A fantastic group exhibition w/ a fierce undercurrent of dread running through much of the art. The game here is marginalized subjects and discreet interventions, but that's a bit broad so let me break it down for you. Nick Mauss (showing at "Greater New York" at MoMA PS1) has these slightly off double-chairs placed about the gallery. They link a frightening Gedi Sibony installation, which looks like a cloaked piano-sized apparition suspended high up on a wall, bodily prints by Alina Szapoczikow (way under-appreciated, check her at MoMA's "Mind and Matter: Alternative Abstractions" show), Ned Vena's disquieting rubber-on-linen Op-abstracts and Patricia Esquivias' ("Younger than Jesus") captivating four-part "Reads Like the Paper Group" film, w/ her hypnotic monotone overhead.
* Tim Hawkinson "One Man Band" @ The Pace Gallery / 545 W 22nd St. Though who needs a stinkin' group show when you have Hawkinson's uber-creative junk-sculpture assemblages to fill the gallery. Especially if said assemblages make noise! Slide-whistle tree branches, steak-knife music boxes, and other such "Star Wars" cantina-esque mayhem.
* Andy Warhol "Rain Machine (Daisy Waterfall)" @ Nicholas Robinson Gallery / 535 W 20th St. For all the trouble in constructing this installation of eye-popping daisy panels behind a double-layer of running water (its summary destruction in Osaka in '69 and again in LACMA in '71), it's a calming, satisfying experience to see in person, finally fully-functioning and protected. Also: it's a cooling installation, what w/ the faint spray of water, depending on your proximity to it, and it's so bloody hot out as is...
* "The Tell-Tale Heart (part 2)" @ James Cohan Gallery / 533 W 26th St. Obsession and its unraveling. Props to the gallery for a unique spin on the conventional summer show, and double-props for the result. Lots of gun-imagery here (I suppose that's not surprising), from Koto Ezawa's simple-vector "soap opera" animation (echoed by Keren Cytter's stage-dialogue melodrama) to Shirin Neshat's disquieting b&w print (rune-inscribed bare feet around the barrel of a rifle). Dash Snow's print, the glistening just-expelled semen on the nude back of an anonymous figure, I've seen before but fits the tunnel-vision focus underlying the non-gun works (see also: Felix Gonzalez-Torres' lonely chairs/TV installation).
* "Le Tableau", curated by Joe Fyfe @ Cheim & Read / 547 W 25th St. This beauty of a group show focuses on the surface of the canvas (or whatever medium) and the artists' creative lengths in the realm of 2D abstraction. What we receive is a dexterous abstraction show, always a strength of this gallery, incl. Louise Fishman's sumptuous, trowelled "Violets For My Furs" (w/ a crimson bloom in the upper left corner), Merlin James' "CAT", which is just that, an almost stenciled violet cat walking amidst a fuzzy spectrum of festive soap bubbles, the curator's own "After Corot", a deft 'color-block' abstract composed entirely of pink felt, orange-crush cotton, and jute, and a classic Joan Mitchell diptych as an aquatic field. There are nearly two dozen others that I didn't name, and much of it works.
* Summer show @ Robert Miller Gallery / 524 W 26th St. You would think a summer group show (esp. one like this, bearing mostly artists from its roster and w/o a funny title) would be a really unfocused grab-bag. But that's not the case here: there is a great flow from room to room, in small groupings of each artists' work, and the only shrill note is that of Dustin Yellin (only sculpture in the show). The rest, Lee Krasner's lyrical, greenish abstract, early works on paper from Yayoi Kusama and Joan Mitchell, powdery Joseph La Piana facing amorphous Barthelemy Toguo and a chromatic day/night landscape diptych by Glen Rubsamen (straight out of Wong Kar-wai, only this is acrylic paint), are smooth sailing.
* "Heat Wave" @ Lombard-Freid Projects / 531 W 26th St 2nd Fl. Lombard-Freid is moving! One of my favorite, international-cast galleries is moving down to 19th St this fall. I think this is quite a nice way for them to conclude their 26th St, 2nd Fl space, a group show of young(ish) artists from the Middle East (and Indonesia). The photography is strong here, Bani Abidi's "Karachi" series of domestic tasks shown outdoors at dusk, after the ritual fast, and Mounira al Solh's "Elvis" series. Eko Nugroho's stunning, shimmering textile and works on paper are cartoon-tinged politics and NY-based Maya Schindler's raw media installation and text-based works strip her language to its barest forms.
* Jeff Soto "Lifecycle" @ Jonathan LeVine Gallery / 529 W 20th St 9th Fl. A delicious step further from the Cali-based artist, in a new series of acrylic paintings and works on paper. He still has that environmental/industrial vibe underlying everything, but the whip-appendaged orbs and fuzzy fantastic creatures now exist in this "Heavy Metal"-like fantasy realm. The details are exquisite. His last solo show, "Storm Clouds" back in 2007, carried an Elements series. This one features the seasons and manages to tie in the cycle of life.
+ Dave Cooper "Mangle". Cooper's fleshy portraiture has become even...wetter, I think that's the word for it, incredibly textured, Impressionist, even, but the figures themselves are nearly abstract, translucent forms. The titular triptych reminds me of the opening shot from Teruo Ishii's disquieting "Screwed" (starring Tadanobu Asano in one of his more non-mainstream roles). If anybody gets that reference, you are insanely cool.
* "The Fifth Genre: Considering the Contemporary Still Life" @ Galerie Lelong / 528 W 26th St. I dug the challenge behind this group exhibition: hopefully ejecting a bit of cool factor (or at least relevance) into that old art-history chestnut, the still life. And while there are some beauties here, it's not enough. It begins very strong, w/ a postage stamp-sized b&w print from Louise Lawler of a bouquet on a table, across from etchings/aquatints of dried flowers by Kiki Smith and a predictably sumptuous flower "portrait" from Robert Mapplethorpe. Then...I didn't get the inclusion of many other artists. Angelo Filomeno's chromed skull/axe explosion will grab your attention, but that's it. Same deal w/ Jaume Plensa and Petah Coyne. Some strong, moody instances from Alfredo Jaar (appropriately political), Miranda Lichtenstein (appropriately lo-fi and enigmatic) and Marti Cormand (a bit alien landscape-y, but cool) in an overall very uneven show.
* Thomas Eggerer "The Rules of the Fence" @ Friedrich Petzel Gallery / 535 W 22nd St. I see doomsday in Eggerer's new acrylic and oil paintings, reproducing the same collage-y figures against wrong-color backdrops recalling nuclear fallout as filtered through "The Simpsons" (or Radiohead's "Kid A" album art).
* Sungmi Lee "Behind My Door" @ Gana NY / 568 W 25th St. Lee's 1st exhibition at the gallery is a meditation on her father's death, spanning sculpture and paintings created w/ resin and — shall we say — more tenuous mediums. The effect of "Crying For You", a life-size, mushroom-shaped (or I guess frozen fountain-shaped) whitish resin form, lengthened by dripping stalactites that formed the adjacent 'painting' "Painting By Sculpture" (which is fitted on plywood and looks like a tactile whirlpool), is major. Then she starts incorporating crushed automobile glass and blown incense smoke into dangerous pillow-shapes and Plexiglas boxes. She's got my attention.
+ Sun-Tai Yoo. Metaphysical still-lifes, feat. tiny cyclists and Di Chirico-esque distended shadows and shapes against crowded, complimentary objects.
* Kyung Jeon "Belle Rascal" @ Tina Kim Gallery / 545 W 25th St 3rd Fl. Jeon combines her effortless mural-sized, wildly detailed renderings of kids in various shenanigans — like a combo Korean folklore and Bosch — with a suite of intimate small-scale drawings of solitary figures on everything from handmade paper to matchbooks and incised cardboard.
* Haeri Yoo "Body Hoarding" @ Thomas Erben Gallery / 526 W 26th St 4th Fl. A fantastic physicality exists w/in the realm of Yoo's kinetic mixed media paintings. While she may be moving away from total representation, you still get beautiful glimpses of that, most directly in the really tiny canvases in this fine show, like the sensual "Kiss" and "Back Rub". The blurred "Family Unit" could be a reimagined Arshile Gorky, while the absolutely fantastic, bluish "Honeymoon Island" looks to me like animated gestures and poses, brimming with life beneath the paint.
* Romain Bernini "Despite Walls and Landscapes" @ Priska C. Juschka Fine Art / 547 W 27th St 2nd Fl. The setting of Bernini's new suite of large oil paintings is an anonymous, barren landscape w/ a poisonous wrong-colored sky, sparsely populated by anonymous figures trudging along and attempting to surmount a fortress-like wall. Dig it? Cues on immigration, Arizona's current laws, border patrol, and the broader world (Israel/Palestine, Russia/Georgia) — this couldn't be more timely.
* Burt Barr + Valérie Belin @ Sikkema Jenkins & Co / 530 W 22nd St. Nice duality here: Barr's films focus on either a barely moving or rapidly-repeating subject (a moored ship, a lawn sprinkler), so they look like static b&w prints. The deliquescing bubbles at the bottom of a sink is a charmer, though. Belin's lush C-prints of mostly floral arrangements and objet are pulled out of context and abstracted.
* Richard Hughes @ Anton Kern Gallery / 532 W 20th St. Talk about disturbing. The centerpiece of Hughes' sculptural installation (made of convincingly realistic casts of objects, in glass, cloth and artificial materials) is the floor of like a gutted house, insulation and brick dust powdering the ground. This plays off "Dead Flies", cast-resin shoes slung over 'power lines' shoefiti-style and the Robert Gober-esque particleboard-looking slabs (a mix of paint, fiberglass, and resin) — to equal a very unsettling vibe.
* "Process/Abstraction" @ Paul Kasmin Gallery / 293 10th Ave. Let's get this out of the way: this is a dude-only show of process-driven abstraction, so in that sense it's predictable. In another sense: it's a satisfying show, in places. Hell, anytime Christopher Wool is included (here on of his telltale photocopy-ish enamel on linens) I'm game. His outdoes Nathan Hylden's acrylic on aluminum, as Morris Louis' chromatic eruption blasts Ian Davenport's admittedly laborious acrylic outta there. Double props to the perception-screwing Kenneth Noland and the refreshingly reductive Zak Prekop (of "Greater New York").
* Allison Katz "Le Tit." @ Rachel Uffner Gallery / 47 Orchard St. These glistening oil paintings, in a range of sizes and on canvas, linen and panel, bounce between soft-edged Fauvism and harder abstraction, but Katz has a strong command of lines and figures throughout. I look forward to seeing more from her.
* Darren Almond "Sometimes Still" @ Matthew Marks Gallery / 523 W 24th St. Almond's new six-screen film, tracing the path of a Tendai monk engaging in a rigorous process toward Buddhahood near Kyoto, is a thrillingly immersive video experience. Though your arrival during this 25-min film will vary person to person, hopefully it'll go somewhat like mine: you feel your way into the pitch-dark room, to the echoing chants of a Buddhist monk. Suddenly five of the screens light up w/ flashes of the forest, tree trunks at night spanning all cardinal directions as, in the center screen, the camera tracks a solitary nascent monk ascending a stone staircase.
* Martin Creed @ Gavin Brown's Enterprise / 620 Greenwich St. The Scottish conceptualist created a very tactile, very IDably beautiful installation this time, blanketing the floor of the gallery w/ marble planks in varying colors. That's essentially "it", but the work stretches beyond the perimeters of the public space, into the offices and further back, organically.
+ Jonathan Horowitz. The artist restages his notorious "Go Vegan!" installation at La Frieda Meats, at 601 Washington and just around the corner from Creed's show. His work, a combo of screenprinted cute animals, portraits of vegan celeb, and video of cows being bled in a slaughterhouse work brilliantly off the steel walls, hooks, and rubbery doors of the empty meat-market. I wonder, though, if it were like in a white-box space if it would have the same propulsion. Here, though, it's excellent (though I'm still carnivorous).