* Callum Innes/Colm Toibin "Water/Colour" @ Sean Kelly Gallery / 528 W 29th St. The results of a Feb 2010 introduction b/w Scottish Minimalist Innes and Irish writer Tolbin, in the effect of a new body of watercolors interwoven w/ lines from Tolbin's related text "water/colour". Double-major.
* "Il conformista" (dir. Bernardo Bertolucci, 1970) screening @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St), 8p. (w/ Bertolucci intro!!) EPIC. My favorite Bertolucci film, "The Conformist", all deviant, suffocating post-Fascist Italy into sexy, cosmopolitan Paris, w/ the legendary director in person for the screening. From the discomfiting opening shot of Jean-Louis Trintignant (three-piece suit and hat) and a nude woman on a bed, to Stefania Sandrelli and Dominique Sanda's mesmeric dance, to the "Julius Caesar"-like lead-up to a denouement, this truly is one of the finest instances of a film masterpiece.
* WIERD presents Epee Du Bois @ Home Sweet Home / 131 Chrystie St (F/JMZ to Delancey/Essex), 12a. These late Wednesday parties at HSH are hot stuff, verging on the dirtier side of synthwave and industrial. Adding Cheyney Thompson to the mix (a noisy bloke w/ a grasp of sick beats) and you've got an extra-special party. Plus it's my birthday (seriously) so I plan to be there.
* Depreciation Guild + Motel Motel @ Glasslands / 289 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JZ to Marcy), 8:30/$8. Golden Ratio presents a solid night of local rock, anchored by 8-bit-influenced shoegazers Depreciation Guild (you'll recognize frontman Kurt as the drummer for The Pains of Being Pure at Heart) and folk-tinged Motel Motel.
* Santiago Felipe @ Vig 27 / 119 E 27th St (6 to 23rd St), 8-10p. The debut exhibition for the local downtown/nightlife photographer — you know him as the burly, leathered, bearded bloke who snaps residencies at Trash! and many of NYC's burlesque shows — w/ a particular focus on celebrity and performance. And he's a badass. The reception segues straight into Vig 27's weekly "Meaner Harder Leather" burlesque show, of which Felipe is paparazzo extraordinaire.
* "She and He" (dir. Susumu Hani, 1963) @ Film Forum / 209 W Houston St (1 to Houston, ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). The final film in the Toru Takemitsu festival is a haunting Michelangelo Antonioni-esque urban love story. How apropos.
* "Partner" (dir. Bernardo Bertolucci, 1968) screening @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St), 8p. Bertolucci was inspired by Fyodor Dostoevsky's novella "The Double" in this enigmatic thriller, w/ Pierre Clementi playing the classic doppelganger role.
* Jacob Kassay, Robert Morris, Virginia Overton @ Mitchell-Innes & Nash / 534 W 26th St. Form and function and generational influence, w/ Morris' classic, pioneering felt works from the '70s playing off new forays by Kassay (electroplated canvases) and Overton (a site-specific, spatially defining work).
* "Tron: Legacy" (dir. Joseph Kosinski, 2010) screenings in wide release. Reasons to see this dated '80s sci-fi sequel: 1. you love Tron (and 8-bit musicians, and your NES box etc), 2. you love Daft Punk, who scored the soundtrack, 3. you're like me and love Olivia Wilde, hottie costar to Jeff Bridges (reprising his role) and some young guy named Garrett Hedlund. Visually I expect it to kick serious ass. Plot-wise….we'll see.
* "Black Swan" (dir. Darren Aronofksy, 2010) @ BAM / 30 Lafayette Ave, Ft Greene (23/45 to Nevins, G to Fulton, AC to Lafayette). I love this film too much, from the epilepsy-inducing club scene, the ensuing Natalie Portman/Mila Kunis sleepover), to its shell of tortured beauty in the buoyant, sinister dance sequences. Either way, you will feel each tense nerve in Portman's balletic back, in her ruined feet and bleeding nails as she drifts further and further into the blurry realm between the real stage and this dark fantasy world of sinister fluttering wings.
* La Strategia del ragno (The Spider's Stratagem)" (dir. Bernardo Bertolucci, 1970) screening @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St), 8p. (w/ Bertolucci intro!) Yes, I am as stoked as you are. Another chance to catch the legendary director in person, as he introduces the early masterpiece, his first collaboration w/ cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (they went on to do "The Conformist", "Last Tango in Paris" and loads other visually striking films together). Based on Jorge Luis Borges' short story "Theme of the Traitor and the Hero".
* "The Conformist" (dir. Bernardo Bertolucci, 1971) @ Film Forum / 209 W Houston St (1 to Houston, ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). See my praise for this classic, my favorite Bertolucci film, under WED heading. And lucky for you, if you missed it at MoMA (which included a Bertolucci intro), Film Forum is being awesome and giving this film a proper screening run.
* "The Shining" (dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1980) midnight screening @ Sunshine Cinema / 143 E Houston St (F to 2nd Ave). Name the scariest classic horror film you've ever seen (I added that "classic" bit just for parameters' sake). Chances are Kubrick's bone-chiller, awash in waves of blood and '70s-patterned furniture, is high on that list. And w/ good reason: Jack Nicholson transforms into a prowling wild animal for this role, and co-star Shelley Duvall's wide-eyed terror scares this writer more than the primary antagonist. ALSO SAT
* Twin Sister holiday party @ Live with Animals Gallery / 210 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$12. These phenomenal dream-disco-pop kids curated an awesome night of bands — Blair, John K, Avoxblue — but the best thing is they, Twin Sister, headline. Incredibly dynamic, magnetic live act, these kids.
* Dinowalrus + Sweet Bulbs @ Monster Island / 128 River St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$8. Literally next door to the Twin Sister party is this Showpaper knockout, feat. the fuzz-pop darlings Sweet Bulbs and the psychedelic Dinowalrus, now w/ an even stronger rhythm section! w/ motley crew Parquet Courts (feat. members of Fergus & Geronimo, Woods and The Keepsies)
* "Novacento (1900)" (dir. Bernardo Bertolucci, 1976) screening @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St), 2p. The full 5+ hour historical epic, following Robert De Niro and Gerard Depardieu through 50 years of Italian history.
* Coasting + Big Troubles @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p. If you have a love for indie-rock of the garage-y angle — or you've been meaning to get down w/ the local scene I always write about — you can do no wrong w/ this solid lineup. The fuzzed-out riffs of Big Troubles and Coastings one-two punch works every time. w/ Reading Rainbow and Babies
* Andy Warhol "Motion Pictures" @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St). Twelve of the original art pop-star's famous Screen Tests from the mid-60s, superstars Edie Sedgwick, Nico, Baby Jane Holzer, plus musicians, authors, actors and friends, alongside Warhol's films "Kiss" (1963-4), "Sleep" (1963) and "Eat" (1963) — their plots are self-explanatory. More an environment than a proper screening, you understand, an enveloping cocoon of shimmering b&w and silence.
* El Diablo Robotico + Charlene Kaye @ Union Hall / 702 Union St, Park Slope (D/NR to Union St), 7p/$10. We've got quite a contingent of virtuosos here. I'll admit I hesitated when I 1st heard El Diablo Robotico's country-ish vibe, but I cannot deny the lush layerings of the classically trained lot. And w/ Kaye, listen to that voice for like 10 seconds & you'll be convinced. She can sing, brother, from jazz to folk, and she can totally rock out. w/ Sunny ALi and the Kid
* LocalxLocal: Real Estate @ Brooklyn Bowl / 61 Wythe Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 7p/FREE. Yes it's bloody cold outside, but take a listen to Real Estate's surf-imbued grooves and you'd swear you were in some late-June backyard BBQ, near the beach. The chorus is easy so sing along: "Budweiser, Sprite, do you feel alright?"
* David Wojnarowicz "A Fire in My Belly" @ PPOW / 511 W 25th St #301. Perhaps you've heard the news: the Smithsonian chose to withdraw Wojnarowicz's not-super-widely-known '87 film "A Fire in My Belly" from the National Portrait Gallery's exhibition "HideSeek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture", after an uproar by the Catholic League for its supposed hate speech, specifically a shot of a Crucifix swarming with ants. PPOW has repped the artist since '88 and, after his early death in '92 also represents his estate. And the gallery is showing that short film, in its unedited entirety, both online and in the physical gallery space. You owe it to yourself to see it in person. Taken as a whole, and in context, the Crucifix scene is less shocking than it is desperate, the ants as society flailing for support from some higher power. What I found most disturbing was scenes of amputees, legless men hobbling around city streets, one panhandling, another crossing an intersection w/ the aid of a cane, truncated to 1/3 its original length to account for his reduced height. In supporting the arts and freedom of artistic expression, this show gets my highest props.
* Keith Tyson "52 Variables" @ The Pace Gallery / 510 W 25th St. Something about Tyson's multiplying nature makes his latest show, precisely 52 mixed-media paintings on shaped aluminum to resemble playing cards, makes this show feel much larger. Like he's playing w/ two decks. That's not a snub at the artist, however: the works are eye-poppingly vivacious, highly detailed and cheeky, recalling everything from stark red-on-white filigree patterns to gaudy modern bank buildings to pin-up girls to kittens. No jokers in this lot, unless you get permission to check the back room.
* Nathan Harger @ Hasted Hunt Kraeutler / 537 W 24th St. Iconic normality of the NY skyline — power-lines, cranes, crisscrossing bridge-work, aluminum-sided buildings — reduces to crisp, constrasty b&w prints.
* "Law of the Jungle", curated by Tiago Carneiro da Cunha @ Lehmann Maupin / 540 W 26th St. Survival is key, personal and collective, when navigating the current art scene. This Brazil-heavy show does that nation proud, w/ strong works from Adriana Varejao (a visceral take on Darwin's theory, in "Cannibal Landscape"), Adriana Ricardo's soft, photographic like paintings of Rio de Janeiro's massive Rocinha favela, and Os Gemos' ecstatically patterned figure leaping from a vortex of color. Plus a "Blade Runner"-like psychedelia from Ashley Bickerton (repping Bali).
* Al Held "Concrete Abstraction" @ Ameringer McEnery Yohe / 525 W 22nd St. Some of Held's lesser known brushwork ink drawings on canvas from the '60s, revealing his Abstract Expressonist (specifically Franz Kline-like "action painting") roots before his headlong plunge into Hardedge renderings.
* Felix Gonzalez-Torres + On Kawara "Amnesia" @ Andrea Rosen Gallery / 525 W 24th St. Careful you don't miss Gonzalez-Torres' '92 billboard "untitled (Es ist nur eine Frage der Zeit/It's Just a Matter of Time)", rendered in his characteristically stripped down and inherently relatable style. That's the jump-off. Kawara's contribution is one day per month of the year 1994, w/ related news clippings from the NY Times, the Yomiuri Shinbun, from Hamburg or whatever he happened to be. Rebecca Cleman and Josh Kline, both of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), supply a revolving media program on the basis of memory and history, a flotilla of videos lost in the static of media space. The program through 12/24 includes such gems as Joan Jonas' "Double Lunar Dogs" (1984), Takeshi Murata's disturbing "Infinite Doors" (2010), culled entirely from "The Price Is Right" prize reveals, plus exploitation clips, film trailers, and Dan Graham's "Past Future Split Attention" (1972). Concurrent w/ the exhibition theme, this all switches out w/ "new" films in the new year.
* Djordje Ozbolt @ 303 Gallery / 547 W 21st St. I felt I needed to be stoned to truly take in Ozbolt's latest beguiling lot, sumptuous oils done in the mannerism of the Old Masters, w/ these surreal, druggy little add-ons throughout. Not that one necessary HAS to be stoned to appreciate them, though I dare you to stare at "Fear" for longer than 30 seconds, but it could help.
* Bertrand Lavier @ Yvon Lambert / 550 W 21st St. Lavier's 1st solo exhibition in the gallery's NY space is a bit like if you crossed Frank Stella's classic minimalist shaped-canvas lines paintings w/ Dan Flavin's fluorescent bars, swapping out the illumination source for neon (so maybe a bit of Bruce Nauman in there too). Sound dope?
+ Joseph Havel "Nothing." I am pleasantly stunned by Havel's little Conceptual exhibition. He encased stacks of white shirt labels (inscribed w/ the word "nothing") in Plexiglas boxes to create textural monochrome 'paintings' — strongly echoing Piero Manzoni's achromes, but w/ a refreshing twist.
* Anselm Kiefer "Next Year in Jerusalem" @ Gagosian / 555 W 24th St. How to explain this grueling, thoroughly enriching exhibition (Kiefer's first in NY in eight years) in accessible terms? Think of diving headfirst into an 'Alice in Wonderland' like domain, only its a scorched earth, replete w/ dwarfing glass and steel vitrines enclosing haunting arrangements of dead flora and tattered garments, expansive chilly landscapes rendered abstract in layers of emulsion, shellac and physical media, plus a bus-sized rusted steel chamber outfitted w/ bedsheet-sized burlap and lead panels, screenprinted and suspended on metal hooks. Now step back for a minute: Kiefer's latest is not an easy go, nor even easy to explain, as befits the run-on sentence before this. All his imagery of relics from post-WWII Germany (the steel chamber installation is "Occupations", 76 sheet-sized photographs recalling his seminal series from '69, one of his earliest), the Bible, Kabbalah, folklore, poetry and dreams are brought to a foaming head here — the many, many vitrines, about three dozen, encircle "Occupations" like strange trees; even the polyptych landscape renderings are set in glass and steel. One of the more bracing works, if I had to pick one, is "Sefiroth", a plaster-encased dress, shaped around an invisible figure and pierced porcupine-style by enormous shards of glass (like they're emanating from the fabric itself in an unseen explosion). And yet, and yet: as overwhelming as this may sound (another one, "Johannis-Nacht", bears a lead model-size airplane nearly consumed by resin-coated fern, on a cracked ground of clay, shellac and paint), it's not an impossible, claustrophobic trek. Stay awhile and the pieces begin to spread out, permitting sight-lines to the large landscapes ("Fitzcarraldo", a four-paneler, w/ fang-like synthetic teeth dotting the thorn bushes and resin-ferns, is a beauty) and moments of contemplation amid the vitrines. You need to devote a bit of time to this one, though, but the rewards are totally worth it.
* 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.
* 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.
* Sherrie Levine @ Paula Cooper Gallery / 534 W 21st St. Experiencing Levine's work in person is crucial to drawing out the emotional impact from the subtleties of her oeuvre. Her large installation "Equivalents", two sets of 18 same-size monochrome paintings based on Alfred Stieglitz's same-titled cloud photo series from the late '20s, is an intriguing sequence of blues and grays seeping into their maple panels, exposing the woodgrain beneath, lining the gallery walls and meeting in the center. Likewise her bronze sculpture, w/ mythological references this time: check the wild texture of "Khmer Torso", reflecting the original's stone cast, and the mirrored shininess of "Les Deux Chevre-Pieds", which could once have been smooth marble. Levine reappropriates and recontextualizes, but she is careful to reveal nuances from the former works.
* Peggy Preheim "the end (final cut)" @ Tanya Bonakdar Gallery / 521 W 21st St. Don't be afraid to get close to Preheim's works. If you've heard me (or so many other critics) speak of Preheim's unique take on drawing, well let me exhaust terms like "intimately scaled", "diminutive renderings" and the like now. In sum, she draws very very tiny and very very realistic, vintage photograph quality shrunk to 1x100th of its original size, roughly, hazy-edged but alarmingly vivid and clear. Preheim incorporates currency in her new series, turning "Blind Spot", a pair of girls in sun-dresses and floppy hats, w/ a nickel-sized blank in between them, like a really big hula-hoop. This is drawn in the dead center of a snowy white thick paper, nearly 35" long, so yes you do need to get VERY close. "Twister" features these girls again, or their younger sisters, clasping hands in front of a Mobius strip, an exercise in grayscale. "Hummingbird" combines a real U.S. 1$ bill, its backside augmented w/ circles from another currency and a graphite ear. "Snow White" is even more effective: a truncated U.S. 20$ bill in the bottom left corner, an aloft eagle (w/ deftly rendered feathers) way up and center. That's it, but the vibe is so distinct.
+ Tomas Saraceno "Cloud Cities Connectome". Saraceno is working in a way finer scale w/ his weather-minded installations, outfitting the titular gallery-filling work w/ nylon monofilament that is nearly invisible, and hence impossible to traverse the space and be "one with" the work. The comparatively bulky "Biosphere 06" in the front gallery, w/ its water-drip system and tillandsia plants inside, is enchanting.
* 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).
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* Philip Pearlstein "Going Forward" @ Betty Cuningham Gallery / 541 W 25th St. Pearlstein's grasp of physicality in his renderings of voluptuous models, crafting skin and shadow w/ equal care, has few equals in the contemporary art sphere (in my opinion), and the modern master has been honing this for decades. His new large oil on canvas works bear striking sensations of movement, from the strong diagonals of "Model With Speedboat and Kiddie Car Harness Racer" (Pearlstein's works are more detailed than ever) to the westward flow of everything in the backdrop to "Two Models with Weathervane Fox, Fish, Horse and Boat", leaving the two nudes in a calming moment of repose
* Miranda Lichtenstein @ Elizabeth Dee / 545 W 20th St. Photography-as-art that forces you to look twice, three times, to discern the subject and action may not be proprietary to Lichtenstein, but she absolutely has a gift for exploring several divergent perception-disrupting techniques, to great effect. Her "Screen Shadow" works, archival pigment prints all, carry this vivid dynamism w/ their moire patterns, bending and shifting their points of reference. The softer C-prints of still lifes against their reflections are sublime additions.
* Monika Sosnowska @ Hauser & Wirth / 32 E 69th St. I think a key point in the Polish artist's distorted architectural-ish sculpture is their innate relationship w/ the walls they suspend and droop from (or the floors they bow out from and explore three-dimensionally). It might sound odd in print that a bench (metal, painted black) cantilevered and crawling up a wall looks 'natural', but in Sosnowska's talent it looks intentional.
* Aakash Nihalani "Overlap" @ Bose Pacia / 163 Plymouth St, DUMBO. The 'tape-squares' phenom doesn't let the static gallery setting stymie him from a kinetic, progressive exhibition, reacting off the space in a mix of powder-coated aluminum isometric sculptures and site-specific tape works. Nihalani's talent in making us look again at familiar places in new, enlightening ways makes for a very refreshing exhibition.
* Bruce Nauman "For Children/For Beginners" @ Sperone Westwater / 257 Bowery. The pioneering conceptualist continues to set the tone of performative practice in A/V installations. If you caught "Days" (2009), his contribution to the 2009 Venice Biennale, that sonic cocoon of irresistibly simple subject matter (the days of the week, repeated in seven voices), you know what I'm talking about here. He ups that w/ video, counting fingers in various combinations w/ reflective motion. This would be the strongest work in the exhibition if it weren't for the stirring piano melodies playing in the lift-gallery, their speakers hidden so the sound flits back and forth in the small chamber. It elicits a basic emotional reaction intrinsic to music, but that doesn't mean it's no less pronounced here.
* Hwang Jai-Hyoung @ Gana NY / 568 W 25th St. The artist's politically-charged, textural oil paintings, based on his self-appointed time as a laborer in the industrial town Taeback, Korea, filled with his hard-working, disenfranchised countrymen. Hwang splits the show into rugged, emotive portraits temperature-infused landscapes, like you feel the cold dampness in your skin, staring at these.
* Sang-ah Choi "Insatiable Appetite" @ Doosan Gallery / 533 W 25th St. Choi returns in a bright, eye-popping way, extending her oeuvre beyond the pop-up book Pop culture array from her Arario NY show back in 2008. This new mixed media exhibition is a bit like Aya Takano's creepy girlish figures, slackened by resin and injected w/ Choi's luminous palette. Nonfigurative paintings, like "Light and Shadow" w/ its wall-drawn extensions, are some of the deftest, eye-twitching combos of abstract and Op art I have ever encountered.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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).