* Adam Pendleton "BAND" @ The Kitchen / 512 W 19th St. Pendleton's new video installation tracks Deerhoof's new song "I Did Crimes for You" (+ works from Pendledon's "Black Dada" series, which I was digging at MoMA PS1's "Greater New York").
* "Ne Change Rien" (dir. Pedro Costa, 2009) screenings at Anthology Film Archives / 32 2nd St (F to 2nd Ave). YES!!!!!! I fell in love with this incredible auteurist Portuguese director courtesy of his Anthology-housed retrospective back in '07. His latest film, which played at the 2009 NYFF (and which I sadly expected to NEVER see a proper theatrical run in NY thereafter) receives proper treatment here, for a limited time! Costa moves beyond Lisbon (specifically the Fontainhas ghetto, the backdrop and nearly secondary character in his films "Ossos", "In Vanda's Room" and "Colossal Youth") to focus on chanteuse Jeanne Balibar, from the recording studio to the stage. Costa's subtle filming and sumptuous framing figures throughout this genius feature. Through 11/16
* "Four Lions" (dir. Chris Morris, 2010) sneak preview @ BAM / 30 Lafayette Ave, Ft. Greene (23/45 to Nevins, C to Lafayette), 6:50p + Q&A w/ Morris. The term "Jihad satire" might not grab you, but this farcical portrait of wannabe radicals in Sheffield, lurching out of their mundane lifestyles w/ highfalutin righteousness, might just be a Trojan Horse to lure you in and wow you in the process. It opens at Angelika on FRI but it's more fun to catch the preview, w/ director Morris in attendance, innit?
* "Throne of Blood" (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1957) screenings @ BAM / 30 Lafayette Ave, Ft Greene (23/45 to Nevins, C to Lafayette), 9:30p. Shakespeare's Macbeth, as remained by Kurosawa in feudal Japan, w/ Toshiro Mifune (who else??) as the titular ruler, whose dramatic demise at the end is as legendary as it is beautiful. Also THU 6:50/9:15p
* "Funny Face" (dir. Stanley Donen, 1957) screening @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 6p. The only more incredible thing about this classic haute couture fantasyland, w/ Fred Astaire as the high-fashion photog and Audrey Hepburn at her beatnik best is that Donen will be PRESENT for a Q&A after this screening. I know!
* "Touchable Sound" DJ Night @ Heathers / 506 E 13th St (L to 1st Ave, NR/456 to Union Square), 8p. Ahead of the proper NY-area book release for "Touchable Sound: A Collection of 7-inch Records from the USA" (quite possibly a keystone guidebook for crate-diggers, audiophiles — me — and people who care about dope music alike), the editors Mike Treff & Diego Hadis, plus contributors Brian Price, Julie Williams and Justin Gressley, spin 7"s featured in the book at this daringly eclectic party.
* Blonde Redhead @ Webster Hall / 125 E 11th St (NR/L/456 to Union Square), 7p/$30. I must come to terms w/ the truth that Blonde Redhead will probably NEVER go back to that lusciously atonal "La Mia Vita Violenta" age; if their new album is any indication, they've added electronic undertones to their increasingly fuzzy indie-rock. But they do rock out live, no question. ALSO THURS (incredibly, too bad not FRI as well, b/c I'd send you down to TRASH! in the basement straight after)
* "Theoretical Music: Rome '78" w/ James Nares @ ISSUE Project Room / 232 3rd St, Gowanus (MR to Union St), 8p/$10 (3-night package for $25). Art historian Branden W. Joseph and musician David Grubbs organized this fascination three-day event, leading off w/ artist Nares' quintessential film, which is rare enough that I (and probably you) have never seen it, feat. a cast of NY No Wave darlings + more.
* NY Art Book Fair @ MoMA PS1 / 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City (E/M to 23rd St/Ely Ave, 7 to 45th Rd/Courthouse Sq), PREVUE 6-9p. This is the 2nd year running that PS1's old schoolhouse converts into a Willy Wonka-esque fun factory of limited editions, first-runs, and international pressings in the 5th iteration of Printed Matter Inc's NY Art Book Fair. And like last year, the Fair hosts a Classroom (readings, workshops & other informal artist-led events) and loads of performances, screenings and one-offs throughout. Visit the Fair site for full details and schedule. It runs THRU SUN w/ hours 11a-7p FRI & SAT and 11a-5p SUN.
* Anthony Caro "Upright Sculptures" @ Mitchell-Innes & Nash / 534 W 26th St. A selection of Caro's latest sculptural works, in his traditional raw pairings of painted steel, cast iron and organic materials, w/ an emphasis on height.
* Jenny Holzer "Retro" @ Skarstedt Gallery / 20 E 79th St. Classic architectural works from the late '70s to '80s, comprised of Holzer's pairing of LED signs and deft slogans w/ benches, painted signs and even a sarcophagus.
* John Currin @ Gagosian / 980 Madion Ave. Few contemporary artists have sustained an uncanny knack for 1) executing Old Masters style painting and 2) using that to warp and pervert the feminine form quite like Currin. Call his works gorgeous or repellant, he's made a style of his own, continuing that here w/ new paintings that add B-movie references to his challenging (and sometimes grotesque) updates to classical, formalist representation.
* Erwin Wurm "gulp" @ Lehmann Maupin / 540 W 26th St. For those keeping track, this is the 2nd Erwin Wurp exhibition that just opened (I am also counting the site-specific installation at Jack Hanley Gallery, which opened last SUN). Thanks to the additional space in Lehmann Maupin, Wurm has more room to play, filling the rooms w/ idiosyncratic sculpture.
* Tomas Saraceno "Cloud Cities, Connectome" + Peggy Preheim "the end (final cut)" @ Tanya Bonakdar Gallery / 521 W 21st St. An ambitious duet at the gallery, feat. Saraceno's eco-minded installations and Preheim's super-intimate, highly-realistic pencil drawings and currency collage works.
* Charlotte Dumas "Repose" @ Julie Saul Gallery / 535 W 22nd St. Animal photographs, what's not to love about that? Medium-format prints from several of Dumas' series, incl. stray dogs and caged zoo animals.
+ Julie Evans & Ajay Sharma "Cowdust". The artists, NY-based Evans and Indian miniaturist painter Sharma, may seen the unlikely collaborators in print, but the results of their work together, done in Jaipur, sounds wicked.
* Aakash Nihalani "Overlap" @ Bose Pacia / 163 Plymouth St, DUMBO. You've totally seen Nihalani's fluorescent tape 'interventions' about NYC, those 8-bit foreshortened cubes and Atari-esque patterns. He's even cooler in the gallery setting, converting the most drab white-boxes into humorous and inventive (but never gaudy) installations.
* Philip Pearlstein "Going Forward" @ Betty Cuningham Gallery / 541 W 25th St. The gallery furthers its unparalleled coverage of Pearlstein w/ this show of 10 new works from the past two years, retaining the artist's voluptuous physicality in his renderings of skin and shadow, but w/ an even more vivid degree of realism and accompanying color.
* Robert Lazzarini "Friendly-Hostile-Friendly" @ Paul Kasmin Gallery / 511 W 27th St. New wall-mounted sculptures taking reference from law-enforcement training targets, but warped into surreally new forms.
* Youssef Nabil @ Yossi Milo Gallery / 525 W 25th St. Hand-colored gelatin silver prints recalling Egyptian movie posters and films of the '40s and '50s, which just sounds mesmerizingly dope.
* Sophie Crumb @ DCKT Contemporary / 195 Bowery. The daughter of underground comix legends R. Crumb and Aline Kominsky-Crump dives into her debut solo show at DCKT w/ raw, realistic portraits of herself and others, w/ imagery culled from mass media.
+ Irvin Morazan, "Introducing Masterblaster" at 7:30p. The 1st of three performances by NY-based Morazan in the gallery, combining pre-Columbian folklore w/ contemporary cultural references, i.e. a sound battle b/w Ghettoblaster and Masterblaster.
* "Four Lions" (dir. Chris Morris, 2010) sneak preview @ reRun Theatre / 147 Front St, DUMBO (F to Jay St, AC to High St), 10p + Q&A w/ Morris. The term "Jihad satire" might not grab you, but this farcical portrait of wannabe radicals in Sheffield, lurching out of their mundane lifestyles w/ highfalutin righteousness, might just be a Trojan Horse to lure you in and wow you in the process. It opens at Angelika on FRI but it's more fun to catch the preview, w/ director Morris in attendance, innit? Also: this screening is FREE, but show up early (I don't know how early! The theatre is connected to a gastropub, have a drink or something) to guarantee your spot.
* "Theoretical Music: Two Panel Discussions" w/ Kim Gordon, Dan Graham, Taro Suzuki, Byron Coley, Thurston Moore, Neb Sublette & more @ ISSUE Project Room / 232 3rd St, Gowanus (MR to Union St), 5:30p/$10 (3-night package for $25). The organizers of this three-day event, Joseph and Grubbs, moderate two panels of influential, cross-cultural leaders, like those listed above.
* Aki Onda + MV Carbon @ Roulette / 20 Greene St (ACE/NR to Canal St), 8:30p/$15. A pairing of experimental minds, sound technician and cassette maestro Onda and analog sculptor Carbon, who was recently the artist-in-residence at ISSUE Project Room in Gowanus.
* Hiroshi Sugimoto "The Day After" @ The Pace Gallery / 545 W 22nd St. The ineffable experimental photographer's debut show at the gallery should be epically electrifying. He exhibits two 50-ft photographic diptychs from his "Lighting Field" series, created w/ electrical discharges on unexposed film in the darkroom, plus related single photographs. I am stoked.
* Anton Corbijn "Inwards and Upwards" @ Stellan Holm Gallery / 1018 Madison Ave. You may know Corbijn as a filmmaker (a very good one at that, considering "Control" and "The American"). But he's a fantastic photographer, whose subtle lens latches deeper into your emotions than you might expect. This show, feat. contrasty b&w digital prints from the past decade of Alexander McQueen, Gerhard Richter, Kate Moss and others, is characteristic of his brooding talent.
* Monika Sosnowska @ Hauser & Wirth / 32 E 69th St. Seven new kinetically architecture-ish sculptures by the Polish artist, in her debut solo show, warped and tangled stairs and seating.
* Jessica Ann Peavy "Emergency Contraception" @ Collette Blanchard Gallery / 26 Clinton St. Do we trust the narrator? Peavy features new single-channel videos of 1st person romantic accountings, both realistic and outrageous, plus culturally- and gender-conscious photography and an opening night performance.
* Miranda Lichtenstein @ Elizabeth Dee / 545 W 20th St. New experimental photography from the NY-based artist, incl. shadowy and moire-patterned archival pigment prints and softened C-prints of flower arrangements.
* Koo Jeong-A "Constellation Congress" @ DIA at Hispanic Society / Audubon Terrace, Broadway b/w 155th & 156th St (1 to 157th St). Koo enacts a three-part exhibition, commissioned by DIA. Her multidisciplinary installation at the Hispanic Society, a truly immersive experience (there's an olfactory element to it, besides the video and architectural stuff) is the tip of the ol' iceberg.
* Koo Jeong-A "A Reality Upgrade & End Alone" @ DIA:Beacon / 3 Beekman St, Beacon NY (Metro North to Beacon). I don't usually profile my favorite upstate gallery, but it's an essential part of Koo's three-part exhibition. In this case, it's a new iteration of her Venice Biennale outdoor installation, 5000+ glittery rhinestones strewn about the grass and trees behind DIA.
* Koo Jeong-A "Drawings" @ Dan Flavin Art Institute / Corwith Ave, Bridgehampton NY. Part three of Koo's DIA-commissioned exhibition is a series of new works on paper at the Flavin Institute's ground-floor gallery.
* "Ne Change Rien" (dir. Pedro Costa, 2009) screenings at Anthology Film Archives / 32 2nd St (F to 2nd Ave) + conversation w/ Costa and Dennis Lim at 5:30. I lavish attention to Costa's latest doc, swapping out his native Portugal for France and Jeanne Balibar, under WED, but this particular screening is super-bonus due to the inclusion of the director himself in attendance.
* "Four Lions" (dir. Chris Morris, 2010) @ Angelika NY / 18 W Houston St (BDFM to Broadway/Lafayette). The term "Jihad satire" might not grab you, but this farcical portrait of wannabe radicals in Sheffield, lurching out of their mundane lifestyles w/ highfalutin righteousness, might just be a Trojan Horse to lure you in and wow you in the process. Like the non-Toshiro Mifune characters in "Yojimbo/Sanjuro", only w/ semi-access to explosives. Also: this is a Drafthouse Films release, which in its exhilaratingly indie nature earns my support.
* "Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie? (dir. Pedro Costa, 2001) at Anthology Film Archives / 32 2nd St (F to 2nd Ave), 9:30p. A glaring blank spot in my inclusive mastery of Costa's oeuvre, where he turns the lens on longtime collaborators Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet, part of the series "Cinema of Our Time".
* "Bedazzled" (dir. Stanley Donen, 1967) screening @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 9p. You haven't "really" seen this modish Swingin' London romp until you've seen it big: Dudley Moore's deal w/ the devil, aka Peter Cook cutting a sharp line in a dapper suit and a valise of snide comebacks (and a cameo by Raquel Welch as "Lust", obvs) is mayjah. The sing-off b/w the two leads, Moore belting out "Love Me!!!" and Cook's monotone, psychedelic "I'm Bedazzled" must be seen to be believed.
* "Pleasures of the Flesh" (dir. Nagisa Oshima, 1965) screening @ Asia Society / 725 Park Ave (6 to 68th St), 6:45p/FREE. I still can't get over the fact that Asia Society is hosting this ambitious series of Japanese New Wave and art-house films, esp. b/c they're leading off w/ Oshima's infamous sexual netherworld AND that the screening is free of charge.
* "127 Hours" (dir. Danny Boyle, 2010) @ Sunshine Cinema / 143 E Houston (F to 2nd Ave). A delirious, breakneck adaptation of mountain climber Aron Ralston's accident and self-amputation in remotest Utah canyons, as shown through the twinkling eyes of James Franco. Guilty pleasure, maybe, but whatever, I'll definitely see it.
* "Theoretical Music: UT + Talk Normal" @ ISSUE Project Room / 232 3rd St, Gowanus (MR to Union St), 8p/$10 (3-night package for $25). Rock out No Wave style for the final night of this three-day event, feat. UT (Nina Canal, Jacqui Ham and Sally Young) in their 1st U.S. concert since '91, plus Brooklyn's leading No Wave duo Talk Normal.
* William Earl Kofmehl III "Dear Father Knickerbocker, I Just Googled You" @ Lombard-Freid Projects / 518 W 19th St. The inaugural show at this international-strong gallery's new location promises to be an event, thanks to Kofmehl's ambitious exhibition. Besides filling the larger space w/ a cache of embroidered canvases and mixed-media sculpture, he christens the new gallery w/ a performance, from 6:30-8p opening night, extracted from NYC's history.
* Anselm Kiefer "Next Year in Jerusalem" @ Gagosian / 555 W 24th St. OK I saw a bit of the pre-installation for this new show, and what I saw, enormous, labyrinthine glass vitrines, like from a dystopian, high-security future world, which surround Kiefer's new installation "Occupations", many dozen photographs (adapted from his very early '69 series) mounted on lead, then burlap shrouds, enclosed in steel, to brutal effect. Are you ready to dive into Kiefer's complexly dark world?
* Sherrie Levine @ Paula Cooper Gallery / 534 W 21st St. Levine explores Alfred Stieglitz to a further degree throughout her latest works, a series of tonal monochromes inspired by his "Equivalents" from the mid-20s to '30s. Plus new bronze sculptures, recalling Cambodia and Greece.
* "Inaugural Show" @ CRG Gallery / 548 W 22nd St. Another gallery moves to a ground floor primo spot, this time it's CRG and their forward-thinking roster of talent, incl Siobhan Liddell, Colby Bird, Angela Dusfresne, Ori Gersht and Carmen McLeod.
* Ugo Rondinone "nude" @ Gladstone Gallery / 530 W 21st St. The Swiss artist's conceptual sculptural style is nearly unclassifiable. He works in the highly figurative, true, but he is equally comfortable in the physically cartoonish (like his last "Heads" show at this gallery) and in text ("HELL YES!", recently removed from New Museum's facade). This new show is human-scaled, at least.
* Tony Smith "Bronze" @ Matthew Marks Gallery / 532 W 24th St. A treasure trove of classic small bronze sculptures (finished in Smith's trademark black), which ultimately turned into his later monolithic works.
* Luc Tuymans "Corporate" + Raymond Pettibon "Hard in the Paint" @ David Zwirner / 525-533 W 19th St. Tuymans' intentions should be clear in the show title, but his exhibition of new, sparsely colored, veiled paintings span the ages, from feudalism and colonial times to present-day corporate culture. Next door, Pettibon presents a series of new, graphic drawings w/ text elements in his ongoing cultural commentary.
* William N. Copley "X-Rated" @ Paul Kasmin Gallery / 293 10th Ave. The gallery recreates Copley's infamous '74 installation at former Huntington Hartford Museum on Columbus Circle, a riot of libidinous physicality in large acrylics on linen.
* "The Hidden Fortress" (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1957) screenings @ BAM / 30 Lafayette Ave, Ft Greene (23/45 to Nevins, C to Lafayette), 3/6/9p. Fanboys lure this Kurosawa epic b/c it influenced George Lucas' "Star Wars: A New Hope". I love "The Hidden Fortress" b/c it freakin' rips, b/w the bumbling peasants/droids to stodgy, athletic Toshiro Mifune as the cooler-than-Jedi hero, and b/c when you think 'jidaigeki' you have to mention "The Hidden Fortress" in the same breath.
* Jean Pigozzi "Johnny STOP!" @ Gagosian / 980 Madison Ave. Pigozzi and his all-seeing little Leica have produced an incredible wealth of insidery, intimate photography for decades. Expect many of those off-kilter, humorous and generally warm moments in this exhibition.
* "Of many, one", curated by Erin Sickler @ Scaramouche / 52 Orchard St. Eight young London-based artists work across multiple media platforms in an exercise in broken narratives, incl. Johann Arens, Rehana Zaman, Laura Morrison and Daniel Lichtman.
* "Yojimbo" (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1961) screenings @ BAM / 30 Lafayette Ave, Ft Greene (23/45 to Nevins, C to Lafayette), 4:30/6:50/9:15p. Part one of Kurosawa's loose duo of ronin films, w/ Toshiro Mifune taking the charisma factor to new heights. Only problem is BAM screens the 'sequel' "Sanjuro" next week, but what the hell, see this THEN see that.
* "Singin' in the Rain" (dir. Stanley Donen, 1952) screening @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 6:30p. Everyone's heard of this film, even if it's just for Gene Kelly dancing alone in a downpour. I mean, Anna Karina references it, kind of, in JLG's "Une femme est une femme". Essential!
* UT @ Maxwell's / 1039 Washington St, Hoboken NJ (PATH to Hoboken stop), 9p/$10. This is beyond, really. If you missed seminal No Wavers UT (Nina Canal, Jacqui Ham and Sally Young, who haven't played here since '91) at their reunion theoretical music show at ISSUE Project Room on FRI, you (incredibly) have another chance to see 'em. In Jersey. w/ the properly avant-garde Sightings
* Lucas Samaras "Poses" @ The Pace Gallery / 534 W 25th St. Photoshop-manipulated digital portraits of art world stars, in a fairly consistent creepy style.
* Robert Rauschenberg @ Gagosian / 522 W 21st St. The first sentence of Gagosian's press release for this show, after Rauschenberg's quote on art as communication and its inherent ability to change, is the description "a major exhibition". I'd rephrase that "a MAYJAH exhibition". Goodness, there is a lot of art here, and I hate to use the shortcut phrase "career-spanning retrospective", but that's in the works here, from Rauschenberg's John Cage-era, infamous "White" paintings (one of those, plus a triptych in black, which I'd title "void" paintings instead, as they're sinisterly devoid of anything, active in their starkness) to the deliciously battered-but-luxe "Watchdog" sculpture, shown in the same room as the White painting and appearing as a series of seven battered and rusty pails (a la friend Jasper Johns) over chromed aluminum. "Watchdog" is from 2007 and the adjacent White canvas is 1951. Do the math. In between, we get a little bit of everything, meaning Combines (the humorous "Short Circuit" from '55, featuring a Sturtevant reproduction of a Johns flag painting inside one of its cupboards), Spreads (the vivid "Palladian Xmas" fro 1980, w/ illuminated washboards amid the screenprints of cats and fabric stripes), ROCI (aka Rauschenberg Overseas Cultural Interchange, incl "Caryatid Cavalcade II", a threateningly huge five-canvas mixture of acrylic washes and larger-than-life screenprints, of Chilean imagery and building facades), and Runts (amid his last works, sprawling Americana pigment transfers). Plus a lot of Rauschenberg I've NEVER seen before, not in my memory anyway, like his Early Egyptian works (check the pyramidal work from '73, its cardboard stacks painted Day-Glo on the reverse, projecting an orangey aura against the wall, plus its sand-encrusted neighbor from '74 w/ spoke-wheels embedded in the boxes) and the Jammer series, little more than layered, ethereal cloth works w/ rattan poles, and two Borealis works from '90 and '91 of tarnished shadowy objects on brass. Think Andy Warhol's oxidation series but way cooler. I am still taking all this in, but the essential nature of this MAYJAH exhibition should be a given, even if you didn't read this far.
* Brice Marden "Letters" @ Matthew Marks Gallery / 522 W 22nd St. Might sound a bit weird for me to claim nostalgia for Kyoto when traversing this sublime series of related new works, as Marden drew inspiration from his travels to the National Palace Museum in Taipei (when his own retrospective was on at the MoMA). But that is the feeling I get, climbing up the wide, uneven stone stairs of Ginkaku-Ji in Kita-Higashiyama, amid bamboo forests and burbling brooks. The paintings themselves are fascinating, incorporating blank fields of muted color (usually a combination of grays) as framing devices to either side of the action, Marden's complexly layered calligraphic whips of thoughtfully paired colors. The end effect is even more 3D than his earlier works and involving a range of climates and emotions beyond his 1991 Cold Mountain series. Check the foggy warmth inherent to "First Letter", the cloaking rainstorm over "Letter About Books #3, Blue Ground", the punctuating gold emerging from "Third Letter". These seven large canvases are paired w/ a slew of works on paper in an adjacent gallery, rivulets of Kremer ink and either shellac ink or gouache on thick paper. A truly transporting experience.
* Brice Marden "Paintings 1961-1964" @ Matthew Marks Gallery / 526 W 22nd St. Don't miss this tiny, thoughtful show from Marden's early career, six small- to medium-scale works w/ either impenetrably waxy or intriguingly kinetic surfaces, like the brownish "Arizona", its regular permutations interrupted by almost Abstract Expressionist drips and dribbles of black paint. It's of interest to note that after this work he segued into those quietly regal monochromes, their surfaces flattened out w/ beeswax, and didn't revisit this lyrical brushwork for another 20+ years.
* Ana Mendieta "Documentation and Artwork, 1972-1985" @ Galerie Lelong / 528 W 26th St. I really love Mendieta's oeuvre, and the gallery has done a fitting homage to this unparalleled Conceptualist/performance artist in the 25th anniversary of her untimely death at age 36 w/ this trove of Mendieta's archival drawings, photography (incl. contact sheets!) and films, most of which have rarely (if ever) been shown publicly. The whole thing works and is museum-level in its enriching qualities (won't MoMA etc do a proper retrospective on Mendieta? Klaus Biesenbach, looking at you), but the real standout for me were the films. They're brief and silent, so you can watch them all, and you should. It is one thing to see a series of Mendieta's signature "Silueta"s, smoldering or burning shadowy, angelic figures in the ground, and another to see smoke billowing violently from a filmed "Silueta". Same deal w/ "Black Ixchell, Candle Ixchell", a wrapped Mendieta-sized figure w/ a candle burning over it. Another, "Mirage", totally had me transfixed for its 3-min runtime: the camera focuses on a slightly windy field. There's a mirror in the right corner, reflecting the artist in near-silhouette, sitting transfixed for the 1st minute, then systematically ripping a feather pillow (I think??) apart, then sitting still once again. It's somehow peacefully lulling and frightening simultaneously.
* Brody Condon & Jen Liu @ On Stellar Rays / 133 Orchard St. A great juxtaposing at work here. Condon's straight of "Greater New York" at MoMA PS1, and he elaborates on those works w/ a trio of videos that feat. little more than his hand maneuvering handmade "fantasy role-play" die of various geometric forms, in a repetitive and psychedelic dance. His static work in the show, "Vat Flesh on a Pedestal of Imitation Jade" is blockishly visceral, its many surfaces smeared and pixellated mid-90s graphic design style. Liu's more prickly works shine, then, as you get to know them. Her "Folded Black Cloud" series, sharply folded wall reliefs of sinisterly clouded skies, rendered in fiberglass, are simultaneously dangerous and fragile. Her "Fugue State" works on paper, interconnected found imagery overlain w/ patterns and then "torn", reminded me a bit of James Rosenquist's Pop-culture minings, but w/ a contemporary, representational immediacy.
* Wangechi Mutu "Hunt Bury Flee" @ Gladstone Gallery / 515 W 24th St. Each time I see Mutu's new large-scale collages on Mylar, she's taken her figures to another level of interpretation and figuration. This time they're ferocious amalgams of flesh, pelt, scales, feathers and foliage, metamorphosing against either celestial or poisonous backdrops. One fashiony woman-figure climbs a woodgrain-patterened tree (bearing tracings of another woman w/in), pursued by an "Alien"-like snaking appendage lashing out from behind her. The ecstatic "Oh, Madonna!" appears to have flowery, anemone-like explosions coming from her torso. Her "Moth Girls" sculptural installation, many dozen porcelain and feathered figures fill the back gallery in four rows, seemingly embodying the spirits of her past works' avatars.
* Paul Lee "Lavender" @ Maccarone Gallery / 630 Greenwich St. We're in for a treat: the towel-sculpture artist stole the show, in my opinion, back in Bortolami's incredible "Parallel" group exhibition in 2009. He returns w/ his 1st solo NY show since 2002, which includes his familiar washcloths, hand-dyed, cut and draped like melting hardedge configurations, accompanied by two films and mixed media collages. The exhibition installation has a soothing, chill-room effect: soft fabrics hung in the corners of painted wood, looped video of backlit shower curtains pulled across a camera lens (w/ a lulling water-droplet-like soundtrack/effect). Traverse the side gallery of "Stills" from '09-2010, nearly 100 unique hand-dyed towels in varying grays and blacks lining the walls, and reemerge in the video room to get the full impact of Lee's exhibition. It's like a spa appointment in an art gallery.
* Mickey Smith "Believe You Me" @ Invisible-Exports / 14A Orchard St. Smith returns to NY Public Library, specifically the Picture Collection, for her new exhibition, though she brings some of the stacks w/ her, wedging them into a unique floor installation that is strangely ergonomic (though I'll see how well this thing ages, after much foot-traffic) and a literal basis for the new C-prints. She rephotographed images from the archives, played w/ combinations (one, w/ its garage-sale frames, is convincingly "family portrait" circa late '50s) and crops (esp. of more current figures, to playful effect).
* Chrstiana Soulou "DANCERS" @ Friedrich Petzel Gallery / 535 W 22nd St. Sixteen drawings on dance and its models from the Athens-based artist, in her gorgeous, spare style. The result is disarmingly lovely: it's definitely not trendy (there are seductive traces in costuming and pose here and there, but the overall is very classic), but it is rare that such subtle works hit me so deeply. Her line-work recalls printmaking, entirely devoid of additional or trace marks. In a busier show (like "Skin Fruit" at the New Museum) Soulou's delicate works might recede, and it's to our benefit to see them in chorus in this solo exhibition.
* Roger White @ Rachel Uffner Gallery / 47 Orchard St. This new series of paintings and airbrushed acrylics on paper walks the line of semi-representation, as the ordered objects, depicted in their most basic forms, retain their individual identities to the degree that they never become repetitive patterns. Some could even be high aerial views of farming villages, or studies of human motion.
* Paulina Olowska "Applied Fantastic" @ Metro Pictures / 519 W 24th St. I dug this oblique pairing of high-fashion sensibility w/ its "behind the Iron Curtain" origins. Olowksa adapted sewing instructional postcards from Communist-era Poland into these '80s fashion mag-style large portrait paintings, these severe and sensual women striking poses against amorphous monochrome backdrops, the names of their patterned sweaters ("Landscape" etc) written in Polish like caption info beneath. She also included large collages of source materials as historical reference to her paintings.
* Mika Rottenberg "Squeeze" @ Mary Boone Gallery / 541 W 24th St. Claustrophobes beware: Rottenberg's ambitious, and exhilarating, and miraculous, new film is a close encounter. Wind your way to the small viewing room, but don't miss the framed portrait of Boone herself hoisting a curious cubic amalgam of what appears to be pressed lettuce, cloth and detritus. It's the tongue-in-cheek payoff, the "great work" toiled over in mechanical repetition b/w lettuce farmers in middle America, rubber-sap harvesters in India, and the players in Rottenberg's Harlem studio soundstage. We get a quintet of nail-spa hand-washers, a bored, blond DMV-type smoking cigarettes, a disembodied tongue, a line of disembodied booties, and an obese Black woman who appears to have psychokinetic powers. Everyone does their thing, ad nauseum, toward completion of this mystery product, and Rottenberg threads it all together so well that I swear you won't notice the film has looped over on itself, seamlessly.
* David Thorpe "Peace not Pacifism" @ Casey Kaplan Gallery / 525 W 21st St. Ornate and handcrafted ceramic tile screens, glazed in intense color, act as framing device to Thorpe's mixed media installations, enormous plaster boxes w/ leather filigree patterns and watercolors on paper.
* Adam Helms "Without Name" @ Marianne Boesky Gallery / 509 W 24th St. How about 48 portraits of insurgents, guerillas and subversives (try Norwegian death metal!!!), in charcoal and in response/homage to Gerhard Richter's own "48 Portraits" (1971-2) of iconic 20th C. cultural figures. Helms works w/ identity as well in his flag manipulations, but I think it's portraiture where he really shines.
* Carey Young "Contracting Universe" @ Paula Cooper Gallery / 521 W 21st St. The London-based artist shows new manipulated photography, created by exposing light through translucent meteorite fragments (a la negatives), which is pretty dope, plus a text-based work on U.N. documentation about outer space exploration and control.
* James Casebere "House" @ Sean Kelly Gallery / 528 W 29th St. You might remember two of the lead, large-scale C-prints in the main gallery from this year's Whitney Biennial, taken from Casebere's massive scale-model of Dutchess County NY. They are paired w/ other daytime and twilight "scenes", shots of mowed lawns, varying swim pools and burning logs in this plainly beautiful slice of Americana. Now contrast that w/ the much earlier works in the front gallery, a decidedly creepy selection of gelatin silver prints from the '80s and '90s that appear to be encased in either snow (good!) or ash (spooky!). What's consistent is Casebere's mindful use of lighting for both realistic and dramatic effect.
* Storm Tharp "Ashby Lee Collinson" @ Nicole Klagsbrun / 526 W 26th St, 8th Fl. Tharp's incredible control of pooled ink and dry pigment produces equally realistic and terrifying, "Jacobs Ladder"-like results. He focuses entirely on one model here, the titular Collinson, giving her the run of sun-dappled sweetness to blurred-head mania.
* Maria Lassnig @ Friedrich Petzel Gallery / 537 W 22nd St. A dozen newish paintings from the Vienna-based Lassnig, very physically rendered figures dropped against stark monochromatic backgrounds. The overall effect is discomfiting and unglamorous, but one canvas in particular, "Schlafende/Sleepers", has a gentle calming atmosphere to it.
* Ilene Segalove "The Dissatisfaction of Ilene Segalove", curated by Dean Valentine @ Andrea Rosen Gallery / 525 W 24th St. This is a beautiful, autobiographical little exhibition culled by Valentine of the Cal Arts Conceptualist, both political and (self) deprecating and w/ a media undercurrent. I've seen Segalove's contributions in museum group shows but never to the degree as here, a range of photography and film works from the '70s and '80s, often w/ her family as subject when she isn't in front of the camera herself. The simplest renditions, like "Close But No Cigar", where Segalove mimics a Barbie Doll, down to the featureless torso, are easy convo-starters, but compare to her family photo collage of (she says) Asiaphile Dad and mixed-race daughter dissecting a hard cheese w/ chopsticks, which bears that self-deprecating yet stirringly emotive effect I alluded to above. Don't miss it.
* Mark Leckey + Mark Handforth @ Gavin Brown's Enterprise / 620 Greenwich St. Leckey's classic "Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore" from '99, a video collage of the U.K. underground music scene from the '70s through '90s, complete w/ what should be its custom sound system, the titular "Sound System" from '02, totally steals the show. Miami-based Handforth's spatial-disrupting sculpture comes off properly flaccid once you've experienced the full 15-min "Fiorucci", w/ its booming, throbbing soundtrack and hypnotically edited dance sequences.
* Daniel Hesidence "Autumn Buffalo" @ D'Amelio Terras / 525 W 22nd St. The titular American beast is abstracted beyond oblivion in this suite of large-scale paintings by Hesidence, but that's OK w/ me: his energetic brushwork, going from these lava-like flows to washing-machine smears and blurred-out fireworks (mostly in earthy, warm reds and oranges, w/ bluish highlights — the sky? — here and there) are impressive.
* Hans Hartung "The Last Paintings" @ Cheim & Read / 547 W 25th St. There is a stunning breadth of surface techniques and textures to Hartung's final spraypaint-infused, saturated color abstractions. This ranges from a large acrylic work in the back, "T1989-R29", that seriously looks like melted butterscotch-topped ice cream, to the refreshing misting of its neighbor, like a waterfall straight out of "Avatar"'s world, to the color driblets and sprays earlier in the show.
* Elad Lassry @ Luhring Augustine / 531 W 24th St. Lassry's staged, saturated-color C-prints, each in its own artist's frame, aren't my cup of tea, but they might be yours. Consider the blurry line of watermelons (green background), the VERY '80s-style female model (tie-dyed room), the cherries (against graphic white, then against red).
* Michael Heizer "Works from the 1960s and 70s" @ David Zwirner / 519 W 19th St. Anytime somebody says "Michael Heizer", i.e. the seminal earth-shaping artist, you've got my attention. He's probably best known for his massive land-moving, addition/subtraction works, like the epic work-in-progress "City" in Garden Valley, Nevada, or the yawning polygonal abysses "North, East, South, West" in the floor of DIA:Beacon. Zwirner Gallery fills in the blanks a bit, though, w/ Heizer's rarer, smaller art, geometric abstracts on shaped canvas, little more than asphalt-black latex covering raw canvas, and a handsome gray granite pie-slice set called "Vermont". Set atop two aluminum slabs, one can only imagine what "Vermont" would look like in Heizer's traditional outsized style.
* Erwin Wurm @ Jack Hanley Gallery / 136 Watts St. Ahead of the trickster Austrian artist's solo show at Lehmann Maupin (see THUR), this gallery hosts the first U.S. appearance of Wurm's 2008 self-portrait installation "Selbstportrat als Gurken", i.e. 26 uniquely cast and convincingly painted pickles on different-sized white plinths. If you didn't catch that, it's a room full of pickle-sized sculptures. And if you're STILL wondering "well, Brian, does that mean this is an essential, must-see show?" all I can say is "obvs".
* Barry Le Va "Ink on Paper, Cut and Glued to Ink on Paper" @ David Nolan Gallery / 527 W 29th St. I LOVE some Le Va. He's a beguiling artist, IMO, morphing b/w the intrinsic violence in his cleaver installations to his cerebral, contemplative scatters and orderings. I'd definitely put this exhibition of large-scale '80s collages in the latter category, and half the fun of viewing these works is that they LOOK like they're from the '80s, delightfully retro, particularly the yellow-on-black "Plain View/Perspective - North is East", which one-ups the whole 'chiptune' movement in its Atari-era authenticity by 20+ years. The massive "Diagrammatic Silhouettes: Sculptured Activities", meanwhile, resembles the abstracted innards of a massive lifeform, or perhaps the zoomed out view of many lifeforms, furthering Le Va's grasp of the organic in his works.
* "Redressing" @ Bortolami / 520 W 20th St. I had high expectations for this mega-sized group show in the gallery's new larger space, several blocks down from it's original Chelsea haunt. My history w/ the place, dating back to when it was hyphenated "-Dayan" even, has been erratic, w/ the usual gallery highs and lows, but more extreme here b/c the lows just pissed me off and the highs absolutely wowed my pants off, like phenomenal stuff. I'm particularly intrigued w/ how Bortolami will follow up, as "Redressing" is full to the brim, several dozen artists from the gallery's roster, downtown darlings, and some mid-career surprises (but still bearing that edge). All said, there are some lovely things here, most of 'em new, w/ Terence Koh's "History" (2008), a mannequin draped in a lioness and blue wildebeest hide, respectively, opening the experience. A brilliant combo further in begins w/ Daniel Buren's gray and white-striped wallpaper, carrying a new David Salle, "Lookout", and a new Jacki Pierson word-sculpture. Adjacent to this is Jonathan Horowitz's cheeky "Daily Mirror" (2006), a mirrored silkscreen of the 'Cocaine Kate' "Daily Mirror" cover, and if you look at it from a slight angle you get the prison-bars effect from the Buren. Another combo, in the back (and I'm interested in what the gallery does w/ this space, as it is quite obviously beneath their offices), includes Ryan Foerster's new "Julie Night Swimming" abstract C-print, which could be a twilit shoreline from the distance or the smear of a UFO, and the Tim Noble & Sue Webster heavy-metal copulating rats, scrap metal transformed by a spotlight into said vermin. It's one of their more stirring light-and-object examples, in my opinion, which is a bit funny b/c it's about rats.