* Lee Lozano "Tools" @ Hauser & Wirth / 32 E 69th St. Good ol' NYTimes spilled the beans on one of my most anticipated shows this winter: a rare exhibition of "art punk" Lozano's intense tool paintings and drawings from the '60s. Don't miss this one, even if you can't make the opening.
* Piotr Uklanski "Discharge!" @ Gagosian Gallery / 980 Madison Ave. The Warsaw-born media alchemist hasn't had a proper solo show in NY since his red/white splash back in spring 2008, a graveyard of charged decorative imagery and resinous paintings. The experimenter's latest begins w/ tie-dye works, which sounds banal on paper but, at least in visuals, carries a transfixed explosiveness, like the aftermath of Cai Guo-Qiang's gunpowder 'drawings'. Brave the snow remnants for this one.
* "Paintings & Sculptures" @ Skarstedt Gallery / 20 E 79th St. An innocently titled group show like this shouldn't be taken for granted, esp. if you're aware of Skarstedt's primo list of ferocious contemporary artists. Mike Kelley sets the tone w/ a seminal do-it-yourself woodworking apparatus from 1992, his "Torture Table". Plus newish George Condo (ahead of his big exhibition at New Museum), biomorphic Carroll Dunham (the kind I can get into), textural Christopher Wool and others.
* "Performance 11: On Line/Trisha Brown Dance Company" @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St), 2 & 4p. Wicked! MoMA's performance series feat. a bunch of classic and new shows related to "On Line", the historical and fascinating exhibition on the 6th Fl. Choreographer Trisha Brown kicks it off w/ four works in the atrium, performed by her dance company (which also marks its 40th year in existence). Includes early works "Sticks" (1973), "Scallops" (1973), "Locus Solo" (1975) and brand-new "Roof Piece Re-Layed" (2011, based on her "Roof Piece" from '71). Performances also recur SAT & SUN, 2 & 4p.
* Kordan, deVries, Invisible Days @ Glasslands / 289 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$7. Tiny artsy Glasslands will be full to the ceiling w/ amps and guitar noise tonight, w/ this local three-pack. Kordan veers a bit electro, but their enveloping sound is irresistible.
* Grooms + Fiasco @ Silent Barn / 915 Wyckoff Ave, Ridgewood (L to Halsey, M to Myrtle/Wyckoff), 8p/$7. What do you get when you pair melodic sludge-rockers Grooms w/ the skronk instrumentals of Fiasco? A: a delirious sweaty mess of fun, is what you get.
* Ulf Puder @ Ana Cristea Gallery / 521 W 26th St. Neo Rausch might be the best-known name of the 1st Gen. Leipziger Hochschule, but Puder's debut stateside solo exhibition puts him firmly in the need-to-know realm of Eastern European artists. His stark, uninhabited landscapes of ramshackle buildings seems poised at either post-aftermath or approaching some unseen destruction.
* Tony Feher "Next On Line" @ The Pace Gallery / 534 W 25th St. OK, so a line of everyday PET bottles or stacked milk-crates (color-coded, naturally) might not grab you, so how about a ginormous sculpture of vinyl tubing, filled w/ colored water and tumbling from the ceiling in arabesque designs? Feher is all about pushing commercial materials to their limits, and this installation should make believers out of us.
* Amy Rathbone "suchness" @ Priska Jusckha Fine Art / 547 W 27th St 2nd Fl. Rathbone further develops her telltale 'flocks' vocabulary (think a bunch of little wire loops, or ink markings, exploding on the gallery walls) w/ a blend of natural and artificial materials, like conifer branch interventions and spraypainted mist, mounted on birch.
* Jonggeon Lee & Buhm Hong "I Was There" @ Doosan Gallery / 533 W 25th St. NY-based Lee and Hong both seek to transport the viewer via their own personal nostalgias, Lee's in poetic wood sculpture and Hong's fantasy-laden drawings.
* Patrick Hill "Clumsy Angels" @ Bortolami / 520 W 20th St. Hill has a handle on gorgeous/dangerous combinations, enormous cut-glass circles bisected by steel plates, usually incorporating concrete or some natural mineral block. His latest utilizes wood beams for structural support in riffs on Classical figurative sculpture.
* R. Luke DuBois "A More Perfect Union" @ bitforms / 529 W 20th St, 2nd Fl. The NY-based A/V artist comes off his traveling "Hindsight is Always 20/20" project (focused on the 2008 U.S. presidency) w/ a sharp look at American self-identity through online dating, combining Congressional District stats to create regional 'romantic atlases'.
* "Tuesday", curated by Mr. & Mrs. Amani Olu @ Mixed Greens / 531 W 26th St. The mastermind behind the annual "Young Curators, New Ideas" exhibition culls nine emerging artists whose work in recontexualizing the 'usual' may make us jaded art-goers look at the world a bit differently.
* Joe Bradley "Human Form" @ Canada / 55 Chrystie St. A potentially MUCH softer 180 from Bradley's primal physicality at Gavin Brown's Enterprise, this suite of silkscreens feat. posed human silhouettes getting down Bangles style.
* Marcel Odenbach @ Anton Kern Gallery / 532 W 20th St. The artist's latest film short film "Turning Circles", a study of the Majdanek Mausoleum designed by Polish sculptor Woktor Tolkin and erected in 1969 to mark the 25th anniversary of the Lublin Concentration Camp's liberation.
* Gia Edgveradze "Stolen Blanket & Other Short Stories" @ STUX Gallery / 530 W 25th St. The debut stateside solo show by the Georgian-born, German-based artist is a cross-media affair, reflecting his homage to Malevich, Constructivism, Conceptualism and incorporation of Georgian calligraphic script.
* Robbin Hill "Case Discussions" @ Lennon, Weinberg Inc / 514 W 25th St. Neat concept: Hill is a member of the studio faculty at University of California at Davis and centers her latest gallery exhibition on decommissioned lab equipment from the university's flea market. She incorporates her cyanotype patterns throughout.
* Bridget and the Squares + Anna Haas @ R Bar / 218 Bowery (J to Bowery, 6 to Spring, F to 2nd Ave), 8p/$5. Brooklyn's pop darlings Bridget and the Squares plus local bluesy singer-songwriter/pianist Haas (catch her last NY show for some time), b/c it's cold out there, baby, and their vocal-driving songs will take care of that quite nicely.
* Xray Eyeballs + Sweet Bulbs @ Cameo Gallery / 93 N 6th St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$5. This is totally rad: pop-punks Xray Eyeballs (track "Egyptian Magician" is constantly stuck in my head) and fuzzy noise-popsters Sweet Bulbs (ditto to "Kissing Clouds") epitomize why I get down w/ the local scene so well. w/ Slow Animal
* "Readykelous: The Hurtful Healer" @ Invisible-Exports / 14A Orchard St. Get ready: the organic Ridykeulous collective, founded in 2005 by A.L. Steiner & Nicole Eisenman, descends on Invisible-Exports, feat. works by Allyson Mitchell, David Wojnarowicz, Glen Fogel, Kara Walker, K8 Hardy, Jack Smith, Mike Albo (incl. an open-mic, or "Open Mike", by the man on FEB 12) and loads others from the archives.
* Stuart Hawkins "Broken Welcome" @ Zach Feuer Gallery / 548 W 22nd St. Nepal-based photographer Hawkins imagines the day-to-day in failed Indian millennial planned community 'Newtown', using low-tech props to 'complete' the unfinished residential landscape.
* 2011 Maximum Perception Performance Festival, curated by Peter Dobill & Phoenix Lights @ English Kills / 114 Forrest St, Bushwick (L to Morgan), 7p-12a. Two nights (tonight & SAT) of contemporary performance art from a local and international cast, in the festival's fourth iteration. The full lineup and schedule is here but some standouts: Sindy Butz (Berlin, now studying butoh in NY, produces wearable sculpture), duo Holly Faurot & Sarah H. Paulson (Brooklyn, shared choreographies and frequent performers at NURTUREart), Akiko Ichikawa (Brooklyn, well-versed in Fluxus practice), Rafael Sanchez (NY, time- and endurance works) and Anya Liftig (Brooklyn, whose own "The Anxiety of Influence" art-savvy people and scenesters may recall as an intervention during Marina Abramovic's retrospective at MoMA).
* "The Green Hornet" (dir. Michel Gondry, 2011) screenings in wide release. Adapting Golden Age stories is an immensely tricky maneuver, but when you've got Gondry at the helm, Seth Rogen and Jay Chou as mismatched heroes, and the silver-tongued Christoph Waltz as supervillain, you've got the makings of LIST-certified dopeness.
* "Enter the Void: Original Uncut Version" (dir. Gaspar Noe, 2010) @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). Damn it! Are you telling me, seriously, that the version of "Enter the Void" I caught at IFC, less than a week after it debuted, wasn't Noe's full 163-minute downtown Tokyo acid trip? According to the man himself, the cut stuff includes more astro-visions & an orgy feat. Paz de la Huerta and one of the Japanese dancers… so I guess it's worth it?? If you've not seen "Enter the Void" yet, then you definitely should. I am not sure I could sit through it again, w/o at least some light hallucinogenic, but the title sequence does kick some major electric typeface ass, cannot lie.
* Anamanaguchi + Peelander-Z @ Studio at Webster Hall / 125 E 11th St (NRW/L/6 to Union Square), 8p/$12. Catching NES-hacking, Four Loko-quaffing punks Anamanaguchi in sweaty Webster Hall's studio epitomizes dope, but then add Japan-by-way-of-E.Vill art-punks Peelander-Z to the drunk & disorderly mix and you've got the recipe for best live show of the 2011, thus far.
* Liturgy + Controlled Bleeding @ Silent Barn / 915 Wyckoff Ave, Ridgewood (L to Halsey, M to Myrtle/Wyckoff), 8p/. The Barn's culled together an incredible night of 'tough' music, epitomized best by seminal Boston outfit Controlled Bleeding, who have done post-everything since 1978. They're joined by Brooklyn's blackest black metalheads Liturgy. w/ PAK (new to harsh label Tzadik) and Cellular Chaos
* Yuichi Higashionna @ Marianne Boesky Gallery / 509 W 24th St. Fluorescent light sculpture that mimics graffiti, Op art and trompe l'oeil, filled out w/ mirrors and cut glass. Expect a lot of extra badassness here.
* Stephen G. Rhodes @ Metro Pictures / 519 W 24th St. Rhodes takes Immanuel Kant as inspiration for his gallery debut, kinda, as the lederhosen-and-wigged philosopher reappears throughout this labyrinthine mixed-media installation.
* Kai Althoff "Punkt, Absatz, Bluemli" @ Gladstone Gallery / 515 W 24th St. I have a feeling Althoff's latest installation will elicit something of a spiritual reaction, whether that means an awakening or glossolalia or whatever depends on the viewer and their experience w/ the Cologne-based artist's particular style. Proceed w/ caution.
* "112 Greene St: The Early Years (1970-4) @ David Zwirner / 533 W 19th St, gallery talk w/ curator Jessamyn Fiore, 11:30a. RSVP to Lauren O'Donnell: firstname.lastname@example.org. Fiore is daughter to Jane Crawford, widow of Gordon Matta-Clark, and assists in managing his estate while directing The Writing Workshop and Dublin's not-for-profit gallery space Thisisnotashop — and she curates, like this enriching stunner at Zwirner Gallery (read on under CURRENT SHOWS).
* Saturday Sessions @ MoMA PS1 / 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City (E/M to 23rd St/Ely Ave, 7 to 45th Rd/Courthouse Sq), 4p. feat. Brandon Stosuy hosts convo b/w artist Adam Helms & curator Klaus Kertess, performance by Wolf Eyes (Nate Young/John Olson) in "STARE CASE" project
* Signal to Noise Party @ Museum of the Moving Image / 3601 35th Ave, Astoria (NQ to 36th Ave/Washington Ave, EM/R to Steinway St), 8p/$20. As the Museum describes it: a three-ring circus of live electronic music, moving image performances and interactive art. Incl. Martha Colburn's double-projected "Dolls vs. Dictators", w/ live band accompaniment (Deerhoof's Greg Saunier and Michael Evans scored it), plus chiptune acts Bit Shifter and nullsleep, Victoria Keddle on prepared violin, VJ Shantell Martin's visuals and loads else ecstatic messiness.
* The Beets, Eternal Summers, Sweet Bulbs @ Glasslands / 289 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$10. Here's a primer on the hot local indie scene. If you only catch ONE live show this month (sad for you!), may I recommend the stripped-down barbershop rock of Jackson Heights' The Beets, accompanied by fuzz-popstars Eternal Summers and Sweet Bulbs? CanNOT miss w/ this one.
* Trap Them + Black Anvil @ Cake Shop / 152 Ludlow St (F/JMZ to Delancey/Essex), 5p/$12. Cake Shop's recurring hardcore shows have always frightened me — something about the tiny, sweaty basement venue, w/o any safe hiding spots — but if I wanted to attend a show w/ the very refreshing reality of being hit over the head w/ a guitar, the combo of speedfreaks Trap Them and Relapse's Black Anvil would definitely be worth it. w/ Psychic Limb (show up early, get messed up!)
* Michael Patterson-Carver "Loose Lips Do Sink Ships" @ Laurel Gitlen (Small A Projects) / 261 Broome St. In Patterson-Carver's 2nd solo w/ the gallery, a meditation on Wikileaks! His approachable drawing style permits for many well-timed, skewering takedowns, so expect to learn something too.
* "A Strange Affinity to the Beautiful and the Dreadful", curated by Maureen Sullivan @ Hendershot Gallery / 195 Chrystie St. This large group show's title sounds like me, sometimes… Feat. cinematic Sue de Beer, some meditative strewn pieces by Julia Chiang, plus other happy characters like Ghost of a Dream, Alexa Gerrity, Nelson Loskamp, Galia Offri and, yes, Marilyn Manson.
* "Offset Summary" @ Rachel Uffner Gallery / 47 Orchard St. Reconfiguration and spatial intervention — hallmarks of conceptual art — form the backbone of this auspicious five-artist show. Feat. the original renegade Yves Klein, plus Cali's Kathryn Andrews, local artists Zak Kitnick and Mary Simpson, plus a collaboration b/w Simpson and writer/curator Fionn Meade.
* The Toasters @ Knitting Factory / 361 Metropolitan Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, G to Lorimer), 7p/$15. The Toasters?? What you thought ska was "over", totally co-opted by the '90s punkish overtones and then obliterated? This is the NY band's 30th anniversary tour, brother! Don't let the bastards grind you down, indeed.
* "Performance 12: On Line/Marie Cool & Fabio Balducci" @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St). The line in motion, via untitled dance performance works from 2004-2009, enacted throughout the day in the Marron Atrium. This also recurs WED & THUR.
** SPECIAL MENTION **
* "Fireworks From the Heart" (dir. Masahiro Kunimoto, 2010) U.S. debut @ Big Cinemas Manhattan / 239 E 59th St (456/NR to 59th St), WED Jan 26, 3:30/6:30p. First off, here's what you have to do to get in: go here and RSVP by JAN 23. You'll receive a confirmation. I preview this b/c 1) it stars Kengo Kora (a hottie NY film freaks might know from Yoshihiro Nakamura's "Fish Story" -- he was in the badass punk band -- but I will always equate him w/ the rakish, deviant costar to materialistic/piercing-obsessed Yuriko Yoshitaka in Yukio NInagawa's "Snakes and Earrings") and 2) most importantly, IMO, it stars Mitsuki Tanimura, the cutie in Akihiko Shiota's exquisite film "Canary", who plays Kora-kun's tough and caring sister. (3. would be incredible character actor Ren Osugi as their dad) The plot: he's a hikkikomori, she's got a terminal illness, and the action's centered around a famous Katakai firework festival in Niigata Prefecture…and it's based on a true story. Plus, I wonder aloud if this film will EVER be properly screened in the states (possibly at Japan Society, but I'm not holding my breath).
* Mika Tajima @ Elizabeth Dee / 545 W 20th St. A lovely chromatic chaos, as Tajima deconstructs a 1970's Herman Miller Action Office system into a modular installation of mini painted cubicles (or prisons), some doubling as bulletin boards for additional paintings, and vintage ergonomic kneeling chairs. Accessibility denied! Her gridded spray-painted acrylic frames lining the gallery walls, "Furniture Art" (after Erik Satie's "Musique d'ameublement") are as much architectural references as mindless visual eye-candy, meant perhaps to make office hell a bit more bearable. Though if she were called in to redesign a proper office, I would be down for that.
* "QuietlyLoud" @ Thomas Erben Gallery / 526 W 26th St, 4th Fl. Pay attention to these three twentysomething artists, painters Alisha Kerlin (contributed to PS1's "Greater NY") and Natasha Conway (shortlisted for Saatchi Gallery's 'New Sensations 2009' Prize) and sculptor Cassie Ralhl (part of "Knights Move" show at SculptureCenter). The 'handmade' qualities in their respective works, plus their own undeniable talents, position the art world's winds to their backs. This is Conway's debut stateside, and her somehow masked geometric abstract paintings simultaneous tie Kerlin's stark canvases and Ralhl's equally stark assemblages together, whilst maintaining a certain autonomous semblance about the respective works.
* Deville Cohen, Andrei Koschmieder, Joe Winter @ Foxy Production / 623 W 27th St. The interaction b/w Koschmieder's screenprinted series "Catnip High" and Winter's malfunctioning cubicle hell — if you've ever had to change a toner cartridge, you now what I mean — tie quite nicely, but hang out a bit for Cohen's video installation "The Wall", complete w/ a Xeroxed brick wall.
* Adam Marnie + Tom Thayer @ Derek Eller Gallery / 615 W 27th St. Both artists take on the cut-and-glue medium, w/ Marnie riffing endlessly off a vase of flowers photographed in his studio and Thayer's Arte Povera-style puppets and collages (elements to his stunning lo-fi animations) framed here like bizarre family ephemera.
* Ayako Wakahara "Tenkoku" @ Onishi Gallery / 521 W 26th St. Wakahara takes the traditional Japanese practice of stone seal engraving and spins that into her contemporary blending of calligraphy and painting.
* Ann Craven @ Maccarone Gallery / 630 Greenwich St. Five years' worth of Craven's watercolors — a very rarely shown facet of her oeuvre — plus several large oil on linen paintings. Many of her thematic elements (watery and saturated blooms, cats, owls, songbirds) recur here in great numbers, providing like a hand-drawn animated element when hung in multiples.
* Joe Bradley "Mouth and Foot Painting" @ Gavin Brown's Enterprise / 620 Greenwich St. Bradley goes Paleolithic with his debut at Gavin Brown, slathering on the paint and scraping out brutally figurative abstracts on raw, dropcloth canvas. He worked the elements out on his studio floor, hence the dribbles, foot-tracks, markings and other loving, historical elements imbued in their respective surfaces.
* Leslie Thornton "Binocular" @ Winkleman Gallery / 621 W 27th St. The experimental film pioneer — her several-decade opus "Peggy and Fred in Hell" had a special screening during PS1's "Greater New York" — debuts at Winkleman w/ a deceptively simple, and therefore thoroughly amazing, exhibit. She presents a series of flat-screen, two-channel monitors, each bearing a circular field of some animal, filmed in the wild, plus a second circular field, projecting the same image but remapped as a kaleidoscope. The resulting diptych — a regal black parrot preening along against its jewellike abstraction, a lizard on a branch vs. its geometric opposite — may cause us to recast our feelings on which field, the legit or the manipulated, contains the most life.
* Jesse McCloskey "New World Nightmares" @ Claire Oliver / 513 W 26th St. McCloskey's inclusion at last year's "The Antidote" group show was a teaser for his fascinating debut solo at the gallery. His media — layered vinyl, paint and paper collages, in super-saturated, constrasty colors — resembles woodcuts, and their Old World mythologies echoes that.
* Ezra Stoller @ Yossi Milo Gallery / 525 W 25th St. A succulent exhibition of the architecturally-cognizant photographer's classic gelatin silver prints, depicting various triumphant structures around NY. The TWA Terminal at JFK is particularly otherworldly: Eero Saarinen's creation all supple alien curves and fins. Against that, Mies van deer Rohe and Philip Johnson's Seagram Building is both capacious and cozy.
* David Stephenson "Light Cities" @ Julie Saul Gallery / 535 W 22nd St. This veteran photographer's management of light over nighttime urban skies is really enthralling. The triptych of Melbourne around the Rialto Tower bears a "Blade Runner" luminescence, and Tokyo seen from its bay and Tokyo Tower is a futuristic wonderland.
* Deborah Luster "Tooth for an Eye" @ Jack Shainman Gallery / 513 W 20th St. This photographic archive of contemporary and historical homicide sites in New Orleans is a punishing feat, but well deserving a close look. Luster achieves this on multiple levels. She frames her large b&w prints as circular images, pitching the viewer forward into the city's landscape itself, and she exhaustively titles each work based on the crime's location, date and descriptions on the violence committed. Finally, the breadth of works on display, the dozen or so leading into the main room are just the tip of the iceberg. Check the installed bookshelf, lined w/ bound oversized volumes, and the several ledgers open for perusal, feat. a dizzying array besides those framed.
* Sam Samore "The Dark Suspicion" @ D'Amelio Terras / 525 W 22nd St. This cinematically conceptual photographer's style is intrinsically seductive, at least to my eyes. It's precisely what I get into as far as art-photography: "widescreen" prints, transferred from film, beautiful star-like women, lots occurring in the margins, multiple points of reference, thoughtful cropping — OK the last bit in particular was a bit geekish but you see what I mean. Check Samore's classic "Allegories of Beauty (Incomplete)" series from the '90s as the jump-off of what to expect here.
* Miguel Palma "In Image We Trust" @ Nicholas Robinson Gallery / 535 W 20th St. The cycle of war (or militarism, if you want to take it there) proliferates the Portuguese artist's debut at the gallery. From the gadgetry and whiz-bang detailing of the titular moving (literally) diorama, to the mix of nostalgia and evacuation maneuvers underpinning "Action Plan" and "Nautical Installation".
* Seth Price @ Friedrich Petzel Gallery / 535 W 22nd St. Take your pick in Price's latest A/V installation, a bank of video booths containing the artist's own narrated ghost stories (like "The Rolling Skull", shown against religious extremist video) and music videos (like "Happy Boots" a cheery psychedelic 2 1/2 minutes).
* Hiroyuki Doi @ Ricco Maresca Gallery / 529 W 20th St 3rd Fl. Debut stateside show for the amazing Tokyo-based veteran Doi, who creates organic, billowing ink abstracts on handmade textured Japanese paper. His pulsing renderings of thousands of teeny-tiny orbs resonate like their own parallel universe — or our own universe, perhaps (I've been reading a lot of Borges, and "The Library of Babel" came to mind when viewing Doi's lush cloudlike forms).
* Johannes Wohnseifer "Another Year" @ Casey Kaplan Gallery / 525 W 21st St. The show's title is indicative of the artist's thought process: mutability, the passage of time, mortality. The standout seems to be a series of sleep-cycle influenced "Light Sleeper" abstract paintings and related "Stacked Studio Lights", a sculpture of fluorescent lightbulbs attuned to Wohnseifer's REM/NREM cycles.
* "112 Greene St: The Early Years (1970-4)" @ David Zwirner / 533 W 19th St. The gallery reunites a group show from one of NY's first alternative artist-run venues. Mastermind and "mad scientist" Gordon Matta-Clark's contributions figure throughout, from his photography (the wall-spanning "Graffiti Scroll" of tagged subway cars and related "Small Graffiti: Truck Fragment" bit of steel) to cast-lead objects, paster and construction ingredients and melted beer bottles, to these really incredible, delicate ink and crayon drawings ("Carmen's Fan" and "Three Forms"), the latter totally unlike my general impressions of his excavation-style art gathering. Plus some intriguing sculptures by Alan Saret (the wicked "Four Piece Folding Glade", turning wire into 'trees' decades before Roxy Paine's coated aluminum works) and Richard Nonas (these cerebral "Blocks of Wood") and short films by Rachel Wood, Suzanne Harris and Richard Serra. Brain food for 2011.
* Christopher Williams "For Example: Dix-Huit Lecons Sur La Société Industrielle (Revision 12)" @ David Zwirner Gallery / 525 W 19th St. I looked back at my notes on Williams' last solo show at the gallery (a similarly titled affair, though "Revision 7") to glean any insight on what I could add to this one. Guess what: I can't! That 2008 entry, in a dozen sentences, amounted to "well I really like what I see but I can't describe it". There's less camera bifurcation going on here, (in one instance, there's an actual window set cutaway in place of destroyed machinery) and there's a lot of repeating red, in a sock or developing trays or advert-luscious fruits. Plus a lone haystack (rendered as a gelatin silver print), adding some innocence to his otherwise ultrasharp renderings. Photography lovers (particular film devotees) will love this.
* Dave Miko + Tom Thayer "New World Pig" @ The Kitchen / 512 W 19th St. Miko's enamel on aluminum abstract paintings and Thayer's lo-fi stop-motion animations are match-made. The arcing narrative here, a folktale about a hunter, his dog and a pig, is tenuous at best unless you really spend time watching them, but a cursory perusal of the flickering, melting landscapes and toxic-bright color saturation is quite lovely, to scrape it surface-level anyway.
* Mona Vatamanu & Florian Tudor "Land Distribution" @ Lombard-Freid Projects / 518 W 19th St. The Romanian duo reexamine a '50s socialist concept of wealth distribution by literally blocking out the main gallery space in teetering rebars and VHS tape. Their materials were inspired by actual contemporary land redistribution in Venezuela, and there's a sense that if you dared to attempt to cross these plots, you'd inadvertently pull the whole structure down. The adjacent sewn banner "LONG LIVE AND THRIVE CAPITALISM" in the room reappears in their video "Poem" (2009), showing a bunch of art students working 'assembly-line style' to create it, while another video "Surplus Value" (2009) is simply a block of metal being filed away, by hand, wasted effort to create nothing. The end effect of these related works resonates long after you leave the gallery's domain.
* John Stezaker @ Friedrich Petzel Gallery / 537 W 22nd St. Two incredible, pivotal series — "Dark Star" (1979-1983, off Stezaker's 'city of voyeurs' opinion of NYC) and silkscreens (1979-1992) — from the London-based Conceptualist. I could spend hours in this exhibit. The silkscreens incorporating pure black (or in a few cases white) fields act like visual windows to some uncertain realm, promising to pull you inward if you lose balance and pitch toward them. A few of the more recent versions, from the early '90s, utilize skewed quadrilateral canvases (think warped Ellsworth Kelly). Triangular canvases, like a three-peat of a man's profile, cover his face w/ his hands, or another of a female nude, her head cropped from view, embody an invigorating sense of surrealism. His "Dark Star" figures are literally cut out from their scenes, leaving "backlit" collages in their absence.
* Martin Boyce "Winter Palms" @ Tanya Bonakdar Gallery / 521 W 21st St. Welcome to post-armageddon 2011, or so you might think walking through Boyce's latest exhibition. Think twisted metal park benches, reconfigured as undulating screens, overturned bike racks bearing some sort of coded language, and jesmonite and steel "collages". I wiki'ed jesmonite: it's a gypsum-based material in acrylic resin, used in sculpture — here Boyce has turned it into a wood slats-like mentality.
* "Untitled (Painting") @ Luhring Augustine / 531 W 24th St. Want hot abstract paintings? The gallery sets the tone of dope group shows this year w/ a stunner: Josh Smith (who's got a solo opening here in February) reworks his name-only paintings into an even more twisted soup. There's a badass Christopher Wool in the main room, sharing the space w/ a pixellated (and Wool-esque) Albert Oehlen plus a vicious big-X Wade Guyton and another Tauba Auerbach "Fold" painting, bearing a subtle, shimmering gradient. I've never counted myself a Bernard Frize fan, but his "Fabia" acrylic in the 2nd room, a fuzzed-out network of spraypaint-like lines, will blur your vision in the coolest way.
* "Here and Now" @ Lyons Weir Gallery / 542 W 24th St. The inaugural group exhibition in the gallery's new location injects a good jab of badassness (and solid, representational works) to the W.Chelsea scene. Both Tim Okamura, Mary Henderson and Fahamu Pecou work in stunningly realistic portraiture, w/ Okamura's in particular emanating a strong, meditative beauty, plus Henderson's photorealistic nostalgia. A bit of sexiness from James Rieck (again with realism, but enlarged and cropped for maximum ratio of skin to fire engine red shirt) and Ryan Bradley (an ace of spades-patterned nude, evaporating into its Arches paper background), and a bit of notable, intriguing sculpture (Andres Basurto cobbled up a bottle-green, horned skull of broken glass and epoxy putty, Jan Huling's "Steampunk Willy" is, I think, a beaded riff on the Kewpie doll). The exhibition brims w/ creativity and attitude: I look forward to concentrated doses now from individual artists. W.Chelsea, I hope you're ready.
* Robert Rauschenberg @ Gagosian Gallery / 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.
* Peter Saul "Fifty Years of Painting" @ Haunch of Venison NY / 1230 Ave of Americas, 20th Fl. So 2010 was pretty fierce for dueling American art trends. If you've been paying attention, you might recall MoMA overhauled their 4th floor w/ a luxurious Abstract Expressionist (New York) exhibition, culled entirely from the museum's vast holdings. Roy Lichtenstein has enjoyed several focused shows (incl. an extensive still-life extravaganza at Gagosian and a scholarly look at his work in reflections at Mitchell-Innes & Nash) and his "Ohh…Alright…" took top dollar (over $38 million of 'em, actually) at Christie's. And because I must: Gagosian's thrown a museum-worthy look at Robert Rauschenberg's entire oeuvre at their 21st St space (see above). And yet, and yet. That same gallery, in their Madison Ave space, devoted a retrospective to Ed Paschke, the electrifying Chicago Imagist whose Pop-themed art goes way more garish than Warhol ever took it (and whose grip of neon and early-cyber in the '80s is, well, incredibly '80s-looking). Related Hairy Who stalwarts Karl Wirsum and Jim Nutt also appeared in solo gallery shows (Nutt's incl. a mix of classics and new works), all fiercely removed from NY art world trends of the day. So it's fitting, then, not quite an answer to these Pop Art/Abstract Expressionist rock-star shows, but rather an alternative to the heavy-NY presence, that we get an inspired survey of Cali grotesque-Pop artist (and tie-in to the Chicago scene) Peter Saul. The highlight, in all its contorted, lurid Day-Glo glory, is the massive "Typical Saigon" from 1968, Saul's biting retort to the Vietnam War. The cruelty depicted — American G.I.'s sodomizing and crucifying Vietnamese women — is intensified by the painting's plasticky surface, the stinging contrast of the colors and the warped, twisting movement of the figures. Its torturous energy still resonates. Though Gen. Custer, Christopher Columbus, the death penalty, and even the NY subway system are targets of Saul's cold-shock techniques. His "Icebox" series from the early '60s, echoed in new work "Refrigerator Breakdown", are benign by comparison. Saul's most recent style, pairing acrylic with oil paint in powdery-edged renderings, have this melted-3D effect, popping off their canvases with the threat of spilling into our laps. Bad taste rarely looks this good.
* Huma Bhabha @ Peter Blum Chelsea / 526 W 29th St. A stunner, as Bhabha continues her forays into reapplying ink, paint and collage onto vintage photography. Imagery of Achilles — or more specifically heels — trod massively across arid landscapes and highways, grillwork hands grapple with the earth and half-completed structures, a two-headed dog (or the blurred, Francis Bacon-like motion of a normal canine) seems to visibly shiver furiously in front of a large government facade. Elements extend beyond the borders of the photographs, Bhabha colorizes b&w prints, in a riotous cycle of destruction and creation.
* Joan Miro "The Dutch Interiors" @ Metropolitan Museum of Art / 1000 Fifth Ave (456 to 86th St). In late-fall 2008, the MoMA held a stunning decade-spanning show of Miro's genre-busting oeuvre entitled "Painting and Anti-Painting", a sliver of the artist's oeuvre but a richly beautiful, cerebral wealth of technique and experimentation, that still strongly resonates in my consciousness. The Met takes a scalpel to that exquisite exhibition, mining out his three "Dutch Interior" paintings from his time in Montroig (near Barcelon), plus one of the two related canvases from that trip ("The Potato"), work studies, sketches, several delicious earlier works and — because this is the Met we're talking about — the two Dutch Golden Age paintings that inspired "The Dutch Interiors". An exemplary feat. Miro visited the Rijksmuseum during a 1928 trip to Amsterdam and, taking postcards back of two works that struck a chord w/ him, Hendrick Sorgh's "The Lute Player" (1660) and Jan Steen's fanciful "Children Teaching a Cat to Dance" (1660), distorted, abstracted, exaggerated, and updated them into three lyrical, poetic paintings. The first, based deceptively closely off "The Lute Player", is a riot of semi-figurative forms on an eye-popping green backdrop, w/ the window overlooking a smeared blue and yellow town scene. Miro played more w/ the second canvas, deemphasizing the dancing cat and lutist in favor of the foregrounded hound and an onlooking child's rapt gaze. The third interior is the loosest, floating planes of color and predated Calder-esque mobile forms on a sea of bright yellow and yellow-green. In essence, this is more than enough, seeing Miro's marriage of structure and experimentation w/ the Dutch compositions, but the Met augments it w/ several works from its own collection, incl. the stunning, gradient- and texture-rich "Animated Landscape. Study this one closely after viewing "The Dutch Interiors" and their work drawings, as the truths hidden in this lovely work are far more opaque.