* Gerhard Richter "Sinbad" @ The FLAG Art Foundation / 545 W 25th St, 10th Fl. Subtitled as "98 Paintings, 1 Room". I saw Richter's jewellike lacquer mists tucked behind glass panes at Marian Goodman's extensive exhibition of his new works last year, but I think that was just part of this exquisite array so I'll totally see 'em again, multiple times, as should you.
+ Josephine Meckseper, 9th Fl. New works cut from flashy retail displays taking less a cue from Jeff Koons' vacuum cleaners than from those machines' predecessors: Mies Van Der Rohe, high chrome, mirrors and American Gothic. Plus a booming acid-house soundtrack.
* Tom Otterness "Animal Spirits" @ Marlborough NY / 40 W 57th St. Like menageries of bronzed anthropomorphic animals, ideally plucked from classic fairytales and crawling about Wall Street's spoils? Like 'em big-ass scaled and regular-sized? Hung out in the 14th St ACE subway station "just because"? You are SO in luck.
* Caroline Walker "Vantage Point" @ Ana Cristea Gallery / 521 W 26th St. Highly realistic mundane domesticity, rendered in oils, bearing this very, very subtle kink to it — but then that's ideally in the eye of the beholder, no? This is Walker's debut solo show in America.
* Sarah Anne Johnson "Arctic Wonderland" @ Julie Saul Gallery / 535 W 22nd St. A body of work produced in the Winnipeg-based artist's residency on board a schooner in Norway, near the Arctic Circle, some striking and subtly manipulated photographs of the stark and fleeting landscapes.
* José Manuel Ciria "The Execution of the Soul" @ STUX Gallery / 530 W 25th St. Though known best for his vivid lyrical abstraction, which he's continued to propel since the early '90s, this Spanish painter presents masklike figurative paintings here, his first instance of that in a U.S. exhibition.
* Tomory Dodge @ CRG Gallery / 548 W 22nd St. Landscapes and other representational settings duplicated and broken up into Rorschach-like bilateral symmetries, only even wilder b/c they're all paintings.
* "Birth of the Modern: Style and Identity in Vienna 1900" @ Neue Galerie / 1048 Fifth Ave (456 to 86th St). A lovely and enveloping exhibition of fine and decorative arts in turn-of-the-century Vienna, ushering in the modern age w/ some of my favorites (Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele) with furniture by Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos, plus decoratives by Jojsef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser, among others. Now compare/contrast w/ the Guggenheim's "Great Upheaval", which features a few of these artists and occurs a mere 10 years later. The glitz and glamour, like in fin de siecle Paris, wasn't destined to last.
* "Cold Fish" (dir. Sion Sono, 2010, Japan) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center at 65th St (1 to 66th St), part of FCS, 8p. You are DEFINITELY not ready for this. No director around conveys contemporary domestic drama like Sono-san, and while blackmail and murder — lots and lots of murder, dismemberment, tripping over gore in the bathroom etc — figures heavily w/in this adapted-from-reality thriller, as the pace speeds up to a fevered pitch, he remains true to his roots and keeps teasing out the dysfunctional family. All in all, breathless and brilliant.
* Sarah Lipstate "Artifact" @ Splatterpool / 138 Bayard St, Greenpoint (G to Nassau, L to Bedford), 8-11p. Local sound-scaper Maria Chavez curated this sixth edition of sound art series Dead of Winter Works. This one feat. Sarah Lipstate, Brooklyn-based filmmaker and solo guitarist as Noveller, who's created a site-specific echo chamber with a motion-operated tape loop and digital projections that follow a clear 16mm film leader through processes of stenciling, excision and redacting — the results of which blown-up resemble blood-streaked, bullethole-riddled plastic. Yum, right?
* La Big Vic + C. Spencer Yeh @ Cake Shop / 152 Ludlow St (F/JMZ to Essex/Delancey), 8p/$8. Get trapped in the extra-spacey sound-resin of Brooklyn group La Big Vic before Mr. Yeh (aka Burning Star Core) sears it off w/ his thrilling, treated violins.
* Joan Mitchell "Paintings from the 1950s" @ Lennon, Weinberg Inc / 514 W 25th St. There is a big ONE Mitchell painting in MoMA's "Abstract Expressionists" show, her lovely '57 canvas "Ladybug". If you're wanting more of that, before she switched from all-over brushwork to focused, super-saturated fields that increasingly focused on sunflowers, then this is a must-see.
* Mark Lombardi "Index" @ Pierogi Gallery / 177 N 9th St, Williamsburg. The pure Conceptualist's well-known diagrammatic drawings, his "narrative structures", are the basis of this exhibition, which also includes a selection of reference books he used to complete these works on paper, plus a sole video interview where he describes his process.
* Evan Penny @ Sperone Westwater / 257 Bowery. Further freaky forays into the human form, exquisitely rendered via Penny's palette of silicon, pigment, hair, fabric and aluminum. Works include a bust of the artist, both shockingly realistic and obviously fake, and a 10' tall "Jim Revisited", referencing the original reduced version from 1985.
+ Emil Lukas "Larva, Bubble and Thread". New mixed media paintings in Lukas' debut at the gallery, involving, somehow, the media listed in the exhibit's title.
* "DADARHEA" @ Canada / 55 Chrystie St. The freeform video workshop, set to confound and thrill audiences with animation, live-action video, performance, or all that once — in true Dadaist spirit — comes to New York. Feat. like two dozen, from Jim Drain to Takeshi Murata. You're not ready for this but you won't want to miss it, either.
* Robert Barry, Peer Bode, Nikolas Gambaroff, Raymond Hains and Ryan Sullivan @ Nicole Klagsbrun / 526 W 26th St #213. These artists explore the conceptual gesture, from Sullivan's visually intriguing media to Hains' photographies hypnagogiques, w/ Barry's early works forming a background to the exhibition.
* "I Saw the Devil" (dir. Kim Ji-woon, 2010) screening @ BAM / 30 Lafayette Ave, Ft Greene (23/45 to Nevins St, AC to Lafayette), 7p + Q&A w/ Kim. You are not ready for this. Ahead of its proper screen-run at IFC Center next week is a dark sphere of depraved, gruesome energy, a revenge tale so sickening that it pushes the envelope way further than you'd ever dare. That said, I loved it. If you've seen Park Chan-wook's "Oldboy" and wondered what happened to that rugged slice of man-muscle named Choi Min-sik, well he's back as the evilest sociopath since Hannibal Lecter.
* "Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen" (dir. Andrew Lau, 2010, China) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center at 65th St (1 to 66th St), part of FCS, 10:45p. Donnie Yen returns as the ass-kicking titular hero, out for revenge and beating back the resistance post-WW2 whilst unknowingly romancing a Japanese double-agent (played by the gorgeous Shu Qi, which is reason enough for me to see it).
* "Hausu" (dir. Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1977) midnight screening @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). AKA the J-Horror precursor that cannot be killed, the coked up Technicolor joyride of cute high-school age Japanese girls versus a murderous house, possessed Himalayan cat and ghostly auntie, replete w/ theme music, painted landscapes, makeup tips and over-the-top kills! Also SAT
* Lower Dens @ Music Hall of Williamsburg / 66 N 6th St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$10. Call 'em post-punk or shoegaze or whatever, Baltomore's Lower Dens are mesmerizing, dreamy, droney and super loud when necessary. I love 'em. w/ Ducktails (Matt Mondanile, coating the venue w/ his shimmery guitar loops and sounds)
* Liturgy + Talk Normal @ 285 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$10. These bands channel yesteryear NY, both the droning, atonal, ferocious No Wave scene, w/ Liturgy slanted more black metal and Talk Normal more raw rock 'n roll. Major. w/ Nat Baldwin (of Dirty Projectors)
* DJs William Streng & Chinese Cat @ Sweet & Vicious / 5 Spring St (6 to Spring), 10p. This cozy dive with its perfect-for-spring backyard garden just got a whole helluva lot darker, thanks to twin* evilest DJs Streng & Chinese Cat. For those who need a harsher, yet more fulfilling, alternative to Trash!, are you ever in luck. (* not actual twins)
* Darlings @ Shea Stadium / 20 Meadow St, Williamsburg (L to Grand), 8p. That tousle-haired Brooklyn four-piece Darlings continue to advance the charge for delightful, catchy, sometimes slightly noisy but in a delightful and catchy way, pop music. w/ Teen Witch and Sultan.
* Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers + Android Lust @ Pianos / 158 Ludlow St (F/JMZ to Essex/Delancey), 7:30p/$10. I never thought I'd see Brooklyn's hard-hitting rocker Shilpa Ray & band on the same lineup as the crackling industrial organism Shikhee and HER band Android Lust…. but then MTV Desi created this pretty wicked showcase of contemporary NY-based Indian musicians, so why not? w/ Headless Horseman and Popo
* Nick van Woert "Breaking and Entering" @ Yvon Lambert / 550 W 21st St. Incredible that this is van Woert's 1st U.S. solo exhibition, as he's an American and based in Brooklyn! His modus is dissecting found sculpture in environmentally-altering ways.
+ Charles Sandison "Body Text". Crypto LED panels by the Scottish artist in his debut solo exhibition in New York.
* Miriam Cahn @ Elizabeth Dee / 545 W 20th St. Lovely and softly rendered ghostly portraiture and scenes by the Swiss artist, in her debut stateside. They're looking lovely, so this is high on my must-see list.
* "Touched: A Space of Relations" @ bitforms gallery / 529 W 20th St, 2nd Fl. Four multigenerational artists explore the sense of touch as metaphor for bodily presence and as extension across boundaries, w/ Janine Antoni, Lygia Clark, Lynn Hershman Leeson and Annette Messager. Laura Blereau curated the exhibition, which includes some works shown publicly for the 1st time here, like Messager's "Mes Petites Effigies" (1989-90) and "Mes Trophees" (1986-8).
* Maria Lassnig "Films" @ Friedrich Petzel Gallery / 535 W 22nd St. The gallery follows up Lassnig's bodily, figurative paintings from last autumn w/ an exhibition of her raw animation works, an important facet of the Vienna-based artist's oeuvre I've never seen before.
* Kota Ezawa "City of Nature" @ Murray Guy / 453 W 17th St. Few animated works hit so close to home (and to reality!) as Ezawa's meticulous frame-by-frame recreations of past news events and cinema history.
* Kengo Hioki "Happee Print" @ Makari / 97 Third Ave. A high-energy, wicked-times block-print exhibition by that fantastic punk-rocker also known as Peelander-Yellow, frontman for Peelander-Z. And if you see him w/ that scratched and stickered up guitar, it might be an opening reception performance! Taco, taco, taco, taco, taco say YEAH.
* Dario Robleto "The Minor Chords are Ours" @ D'Amelio Terras / 525 W 22nd St. The Conceptual Texan artist returns to one of his earlier mediums, the vinyl record, in both handmade sculptural silhouettes from cut albums and erased album imagery. That just sounds dope.
* "THAW" @ Betty Cuningham Gallery / 541 W 25th St. Well, this past weekend was colder than I expected, but technically I should be thinking "spring". This gallery artist group show should help: beginning w/ Rackstraw Downes' classic "A Thaw" (1972) and including Philip Pearlstein nudes, Judy Glantzman, Clytie Alexander, Jake Berthot and more.
* "Bittersweet Life" (dir. Kim Ji-woon, 2005) screening @ BAM / 30 Lafayette Ave, Ft Greene (23/45 to Nevins St, AC to Lafayette), 6:50/9:15p. The chiseled, disturbed detective from "I Saw the Devil" is a chiseled, coldblooded mobster in this earlier film, whose snap decision sets off a powderkeg of violence.
* Ryuichi Sakamoto @ The Stone / 16 Ave C (F to 2nd Ave), 8p & 10p/$20. That this unparalleled Japanese artist and composer is playing a solo piano set at the super-intimate Stone tonight is one more example why New York rocks so hard.
* Gianna Commito @ Rachel Uffner Gallery / 47 Orchard St. I'm a fan of Commito's stark geometric style, fracture planes of boldly colored lines like caution signs, grasping our attention and refusing to let go.
* Maya Bloch "Hello Stranger" @ Thierry Goldberg Projects / 5 Rivington St. Bloch has great control of her mediums, mixing acrylic, oil and graphite to create phantasmagoric figures cohabiting in either realistic or obliterated landscapes.
* Frank Haines "Under the Shadow of the Wing of the Thing" @ Lisa Cooley Fine Art / 34 Orchard St. Dualities is key here, throughout Haines' sculpture and saturated works on paper.The exhibition precedes a lecture by the artist on March 10, whose short title is "Traversing the Boundless".
* Anissa Mack "Second" @ Laurel Gitlen (Small A Projects) / 261 Broome St. A texturally-conscious array, in the Berlin/NY artist's third solo show w/ the gallery. Meaning it expands beyond her silver-leafed quilted denim polygons from last time.
* "A Tale of Two Sisters" (dir. Kim Ji-woon, 2003) screening @ BAM / 30 Lafayette Ave, Ft Greene (23/45 to Nevins St, AC to Lafayette), 2/4:30/6:50/9:15p. Kim set the tone for the way K-Horror SHOULD be w/ this dance of dread, a gorgeous and grim fairytale that'll have you falling in love w/ lead sibling Lim Su-Jung.
* "The Quiet Family" (dir. Kim Ji-woon, 1998) screening @ BAM / 30 Lafayette Ave, Ft Greene (23/45 to Nevins St, AC to Lafayette), 6:50/9:15p. Something I didn't know: this debut feature by Kim, a perverse attack on conservative Korean family values (and starring Song Kang-ho AND Choi Min-sik!) was the loose basis of Takashi Miike's own "The Happiness of the Katakuris". Plus, this is Song and Choi pre-stardom, i.e. pre-Park Chan-wook's "Vengeance" trilogy.
* Berlinde de Bruyckere "Into One-Another To P.P.P." @ Hauser & Wirth / 32 E 69th St. The gallery follows up its singular Lee Lozano "Tools" grouping (did you see it? I told you to see it!) w/ another major one. De Bruyckere is a empyrean sculptor of moods. Her waxy and fleshlike (or at times hidelike) contorted figures recall Francis Bacon's most abstract renderings come to nightmarishly sharp focus and convey a loneliness and suffering matched only by Louise Bourgeois' extensive oeuvre. She also only gets so much love here, stateside, I feel, so this suite of new works, in ode to iconoclast filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini (and preceding De Bruyckere's own traveling museum exhibition, paired w/ Pasolini classics and Renaissance master Lucas Cranach), is particularly vital.
* John Chamberlain @ Paula Cooper Gallery / 534 W 21st St. Chamberlain's classic crushed-auto sculptures, both freestanding and wall-reliefs, from 1962 to 1990. What else do you need? Must I define "dopeness" for you again??
* "Cold Fish" (dir. Sion Sono, 2010, Japan) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center at 65th St (1 to 66th St), part of FCS, 8:45p. You are DEFINITELY not ready for this. No director around conveys contemporary domestic drama like Sono-san, and while blackmail and murder — lots and lots of murder, dismemberment, tripping over gore in the bathroom etc — figures heavily w/in this adapted-from-reality thriller, as the pace speeds up to a fevered pitch, he remains true to his roots and keeps teasing out the dysfunctional family. All in all, breathless and brilliant.
* MERCE @ The Stone / 16 Ave C (F to 2nd Ave), 8p/$10. Guess what? You put Shelley Burgon (electronics/harp, of Stars Like Fleas and Ne(x)works) & Maria Chavez (manipulated turntables) together, and what do you get? Magic, that's what.
* Jessica 6 @ Mercury Lounge / 217 E Houston St (F to 2nd Ave), 6:30p/$10. Supercute singer/songwriter Nomi Ruiz leads this post-disco electro trio, exuding fierceness w/ every song.
* Cézanne's Card Players @ Metropolitan Museum of Art / 1000 5th Ave (456 to 86th St). Another thoughtfully curated instance of the Met rocking out: the museum unites for the 1st time Cézanne's card player canvases (made during the 1890s outside Aix-en-Provence) with their associated oil studies and drawings. But don't let my enthusiasm give the false impression that this is some bombastic exhibition, full of rowdy blokes swilling booze and engaging in passionate gambling. That's not Cézanne's style at all. Rather, we get two meditative scenes, a grouping of four men (all employees of Cézanne on his family's estate or related) and a more intense lot of two, taking a breather from their gardening or labor and, pipe in hand or mouth, hunched over their cards. There is a lot of pipe-smoking going on, in fact, that these non-portraits could almost be titled "The Pipe Smokers" — like an jolly Adriaen Brouwer canvas, "The Smokers", from 1636, says (it's one of an entire room of Met-owned works that typify these social pastimes, mostly Flemish and Dutch, plus a few later Edouard Manet drawings). And despite a central bottle on the duo's card-table, we don't see hard drinkers in Cézanne's renderings, nor gambling per se (no money exchanged). Rather, it's rugged be-hatted gents taking a rest.
* Donald Judd "Works in Granite, Cor-ten, Plywood & Enamel on Aluminum" @ The Pace Gallery / 534 W 25th St. I can always do with more Judd, and an exhibition showcasing over a dozen of the industrial "minimalist"'s classics from 1978 to 1992, each one an envelope-pusher on non-traditional mediums and inspired constructions, is pure aesthetic catnip to this writer. What is evident here for even the nascent Judd-viewer is his ingenious incorporation of mediums. His Douglas Fir plywood crates are handsome (check their meditative array upstate at DIA:Beacon), but a pronouncement of glossy red enamel-painted aluminum adds a human warmth. I love his forays in Cor-Ten — feels very different than Richard Serra's epic torqued forms and Mark di Suvero's paleolithic-like sculpture, for two — but was particularly impressed by Judd's addition of black aluminum in several stacked Cor-Ten boxes, echoing off the steel's weathered patina. And that bomb-shelter granite construct, four slabs menacingly balanced on/against one another? It's a receptacle of brooding potential energy.
* "Minor Cropping May Occur (selected diaries 1962-2011") @ Lombard-Freid Projects / 518 W 19th St. Photographer Nick Haymes co-curated this international grouping of 13 photo-based artists, spanning continents and generations, who each present a diary-like narrative series. Keizo Katajima's deliciously contrasty b&w prints (mostly from his "Tokyo '79" series, which haven't been exhibited since their original show in Japan) bear the intrinsic grit of that endlessly futuristic metropolis, while Haymes' own "Zoloto" series (though shot over time) retains a refreshingly cool burst of air throughout, in his (im)perfect documentation of his Russian in-laws. Beautiful chaos reigns in varying degrees, in the oblong POV in Nick Waplington's "Living Room" series and, more readily intriguing for this writer, Motoyuki Daifu's family's cozily crowded house. Takashi Homma and Hiromix both offer sublime, peaceful examples, his in the stillness and intimate six-year series "Tokyo and My Daughter", Hiromix's in her sun-streaked interiors and glades of cherry blossoms.
* Jim Dine @ The Pace Gallery / 32 E 57th St. Dine's iconic heart returns as a motive and medium for experimentation and his process-driven painting, each rendered in acrylic, charcoal and sand (lovely textures!) on either wood panels or linen. Sizes range from the delicious trio "The Dahlias, The Cherries, The Swiss Chard", poster-size each until you put them together, to the epic 9-ft square "Abyss of The Good Soldier (for Harry W.)", which if it were an actual field of autumnal blooms you'd want to fall face-first into it, but it's enough to experience this magnetizing pull in person. And beneath and beyond the blur of brushstrokes, smears and colorful fireworks is the resonating contours of that heart.
* Sze Tsung Leong "Cities" @ Yossi Milo Gallery / 525 W 25th St. This New York-based photographer's previous exhibition "Horizons" wowed the crowds: a wraparound horizon-line of all sorts of different worldly landscapes. This time Leong focuses on urban formations, ancient to contemporary, shooting them from high above in context of their surrounding natural environments to highlight the geometries of city planning. My eye kept locking onto intriguing details: like the freshly mowed tracks in the laws of "Linkeroever, Antwerpen", the winding blocks of "Sablon, Bruxelles" (and there's a Tokyo shot too).
* Olivier Mosset @ Mary Boone Gallery / 745 5th Ave. Two treats from the solid conceptualist, four zoomed-in found-abstractions from the '80s and '90s and 10 brand-new milky-hued polyurethane monochromes. The latter are installed together in a meditation-like room in the side gallery. The former are incredible, and huge, like you could lose yourself tracing the path of that orange zigzag across "Juke" (1990) and its 20-ft of horizontal length. Or even wilder, the superflat and eerily dense red monochrome, untitled and from the mid-'80s, that fills and practically swallows up an entire gallery wall, its width and floor to ceiling. How often is it a "minimalist" rendering draws such a strong, almost physical, reaction?
* Marcel Dzama "Behind Every Curtain" @ David Zwirner / 525 W 19th St. This is really wicked. Dzama puts it all on the table, so to speak, a fantastic centerpiece film "A Game of Chess", this surrealist affair feat. actors in geometric costumes and elaborate Dzama-esque masks dancing across a life-size chessboard, emulating the pieces' respective movements and challenges, augmented by his characteristic hyperdetailed, somehow Old Masters' style graphite, watercolor and ink renderings on paper (or scrolls!) and these fascinating cut-paper dioramas. Oh, and several spinning life-size sculptures, recalling the figures in "A Game of Chess", w/ properly moody lighting. Yowza.
* Shinichi Maruyama "Gardens" @ Bruce Silverstein Gallery / 535 W 24th St. A brilliant series of extra-wide pigment prints, furthering Maruyama's frozen-action splashes (like his "Kusho" sumi-e works) to a whole 'nother dimension. Think Yves Tanguy's alien landscapes, populated by Joan Miro's filigree impossible forms (or perhaps Salvatore Dali), slippery and slithering and throwing shadows in their wake.
* Chuck Webster "My Small Adventures" @ ZieherSmith / 516 W 20th St. This Brooklyn-based artist's small-size oil on panel abstracts carry an interesting vocabulary of shapes and creatures, floating above or stacked within roughly painted, stark landscapes.
* Hiraki Sawa "O" @ James Cohan Gallery / 533 W 26th St. There was this super-popular show in Chelsea for awhile, Christian Marclay's durational filmic work "The Clock", which screened at Paula Cooper Gallery and included 24-hr marathon runs on Fridays that drew queues down the block. Guess what: there is another fascinating time-themed video work, a multi-channel audio/visual installation by Sawa, that you should definitely pay attention to. He's compressed and abstracted time here, presenting perpetually spinning, silent objects, their respective clatters and rollings echoing elsewhere, punctuated by organ ebbs and flows that mimic the visuals of birds, shadows across an arid landscape, fluttering leaves. Sawa initially created this installation for Queensland Art Gallery's 2009 6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Brisbane. It's so smoothly enveloping, like the moon's cycles, that your notion of time vanishes.
* Michael Riedel "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" @ David Zwirner / 533 W 19th St. The dying embers of graphic designer that I still embody totally geeked out at Riedel's "click-aesthetic" exhibition. He's silkscreened the entire gallery w/ copy-pasted text from websites (incl. Zwirner's) that mentioned his name or works, plonked into InDesign text-boxes (source codes, gibberish and all), further abstracted w/ simple circular elements, and then printed out.
* Pat Steir "Winter Paintings" @ Cheim & Read / 547 W 25th St. The fruits of Steir's laborious, meditative, monolithic abstract paintings are their jewellike surfaces, resulting from layers and layers of poured and dripped paint, like the luxurious fizz of "Winter Group 3: Red, Green, Blue and Gold" (2009-11), where the latter asserts itself strongest on half the canvas against a deep blackish rectangle, or the silvery panes recurring in other works. Spending time losing yourself in Steir's paintings — they're like 11' tall, each — is an effortless task.
* Sue de Beer "Depiction of a Star Obscured by Another Figure" @ Marianne Boesky Gallery / 509 W 24th St. Following de Beer's filmic work "The Ghosts" that debuted at the Park Ave Armory, she reveals an installation with short videos that rekindle aspects of her earlier work while furthering her work in perception and dream narratives. Her flickering slide projection here (runtime less than 2min) is but one element to the greater installation, feat. twinkly shadow screens and a low-hanging translucent ceiling.
* Heimo Zobernig @ Friedrich Petzel Gallery / 537 W 22nd St. New grid and monochrome paintings and two new sculptures, bearing some reference to Yves Klein and Zobernig's continued trawling of post-Modernism, Geometric Abstraction and Minimalism. The latter are raw and particulate, "prop-like" as curator Martin Clark says. Zobernig's paintings, however, command the room, pulsing w/ not just Klein's "Anthropométries" but even, kind of, Brice Marden's whiplike style, as if Zobernig distilled Klein's "living brushes" down to their simplest serpent-like forms.
* Philip-Lorca diCorcia "ELEVEN" @ David Zwirner Gallery / 519 W 19th St. This exhibition focuses entirely on the prolific photographer's fashion editorial work, feat. eleven projects for W magazine b/w 1997-2008. On the one hand, some of the series REALLY look fashion-y, even for diCorcia, but I found his March 2000 trio, incl. dark-suited elder Japanese businessmen confabbing in a circular booth, crowned by spotlights, particularly likable.
* Wei Dong @ Nicholas Robinson Gallery / 535 W 20th St. The artist reaches for the jugular in his satirization of Maoist China and its contemporary effects in phantasmagoric groupings of gender-blended people, performing ceremonial motions like "The Newleywed 2" or half-clothed like "Sunset 2" and "The Mystery 1". It's not mermaids, I can tell you that much — so it's even more disturbing, pseudo-utopian and vaguely sinister.
* Seung Ae Lee "The Monstrum" @ Doosan Gallery / 533 W 25th St. Lee's vivid large-scale pencil renderings of monsters manifest from inner conflicts in her daily life, so by depicting them perhaps she reins them in and tames them? A Siberian tiger morphs into a heavily irezumi-ed man, self-immolating itself as dragons sprout from his limbs. Her grouping of Bosch-like demons, pinned in boxes like butterfly specimens, is an even more immediate stimulus-response.
* Coke Wisdom O'Neal "Blue Nude" @ Mixed Greens / 531 W 26th St. O'Neal's latest photo project is perhaps his most claustrophobia-inducing: a constraining transparent container and its contorted, posing figure within. The smallish size of his prints echo alarmingly their confining nature.
* Angel Otero "Memento" @ Lehmann Maupin / 201 Chrystie St. The young artist (he's my age) elevates his stripped and abraded abstract paintings w/ some eye-shocking color combinations, like the toxic-green covering violet in opening work "Left to Wonder", which vividly demonstrates his paint-peel-and-reapply methodology.
* Ellen Gallagher "Greasy" @ Gagosian / 555 W 24th St. The miracles this artist does w/ cut-paper continue to elude and enchant me. Gallagher's latest body of work, bridging the period b/w her 2005 Whitney exhibition and now, somehow channels both density and fragility. Her large "collages" (in the literal sense, as they are indeed composed mostly of ink-soaked strips of paper) come across more as carvings, like she hewed an indigo-stained block of wood and ended w/ these ghostings of Black periodical clippings. Check "OK Corral" (2008) and "Puppy Chow" (2009), both midnight-toned networks of slashed paper. This carries over to "An Experiment of Unusual Opportunity" (2008), acting as backdrop to sinewy arms and distorted physiognomy. In a few cases, like the eponymous new work and the stunning "Unit" (2010), the surface exhibits deep cracks, like Gallagher chipped away at 'em until just the point where they began to shatter. The eight-part series "Morphia" trails about both galleries, transparent, egg-washed and incised paper enclosed in glass like artifacts, their ink- and gouache-markings seeping through to the other side. Her non-representational representation, as it were, is saturated, stained, cleaved and practically obliterated. But it's beautiful, searching through those layers for the figures within.
* Kenny Scharf "Naturafutura" @ Paul Kasmin Gallery / 293 10th Ave. Scharf achieves a brilliant depth in these new large-scale paintings, based off his coastal studio in Bahia, Brazil, a mix of flat and textural oil, acrylic and enamel so that you have to visually part the meandering blue and gold kelp of "Vivagua" (2010) and the goofy Jurassic fronds of "Bear Jungle" (2010) as your eyes trace back into the mist and the layered background critters and flora. His very large "Oil Painting" (2010), painted in reaction to BP's Deepwater disaster, actually looks like Scharf splashed crude on the linen, a shimmer of varnish and gooey black specters sloshing about the otherwise pristine blue water.
* Jennifer Bartlett "Recitative" @ The Pace Gallery / 545 W 22nd St. Walking amid Bartlett's largest-scale, eponymous painting, a color celebration over 372 steel plates and 158 feet, spanning three gallery walls, is like a journey through modern and contemporary art history. I encourage you to explore this mammoth from a clockwise direction, beginning at the show-title near the gallery doors and guiding along toward its stunning denouement. That "art history" description has a two-prong meaning: Bartlett mines Minimalism, filtering notions of Jasper Johns (the warm foresty-colored chevron patterns), Sol LeWitt (orderly primaries), Brice Marden (a kinetic whiplike form in black enamel — though its movement over multiple plates reminded me of Elizabeth Murray, too) and Gerhard Richter (in a brilliant "color-chart" array near the "end") through her own unique visual language. She also recalls some of her other seminal wall-works, MoMA's "Rhapsody" (1976, first exhibited at Paula Cooper Gallery) and Cleveland Museum of Art's "Song" (2007) (their media accompanies "Recitative", which is cool to see the recurrence of those orderly primaries, that whiplike black enamel form, plucked from their prior incarnations). It's an animating experience, walking forward and backward around this snaking piece, acting as a visual palimpsest to the power of color, the energy of reduction and reintroduction.
* David Hammons @ L&M Arts / 45 E 78th St. The thought-provoking and elusive New York artist returns to the gallery from his spare and brilliant 2007 fur-coats exhibition with a show literally shrouded in mystery. Wildly colorful — or even garishly, tackily colorful, if you want to go that far — abstract paintings hang like in just any gallery exhibit, except Hammons' has concealed them in layers of torn plastic, or burlap, or drop-cloths. An antique dresser is shoved up against one, and what looks to be wetly-applied garbage bags climb up another. Two works upstairs are actually JUST plastic, one a ghostly, translucent layering, the other augmented by shiny black…but don't be surprised if you catch yourself contemplating these closely. Hammons upends boundary of art as hung and displayed and trash on the curb, hinting at the "beauty" wrapped within while maintaining a sly artsiness to the enveloping elements.
* Juan Navarro Baldeweg "Pintar, Pintar" @ Marlborough Chelsea / 545 W 25th St. It's particularly notable that the Spanish artist behind these vividly colored paintings is also a renowned architect, b/c spatial representation figures heavily in his angular semi-abstract renderings, particularly the diamond shaped canvases of figures pouring paint into line crisscrossed rooms.
* James Rieck "Enter the Dragon" @ Lyons Wier Gallery / 542 W 24th St. Uh, I like this. Look, it's cheeky on the surface: Rieck comments on ironic T-shirts by emblazoning Bruce Lee film stills (replete w/ double-entendre titles) across truncated girls' bosoms ("Low Blow", "Cock Block" etc). But beyond the adrenaline-arousal, there's Rieck's technique, the soft-focus realism of his figures, the superimposition of film stills to cottony fabric, the candy-pastel palette. Sure it's sexy, but it's a beautiful execution, too.
* Robin Williams "Rescue Party" @ PPOW / 535 W 22nd St, 3rd Fl. My initial thoughts upon viewing Williams' spring-fresh renderings of youth was John Currin's gentle grotesquerie crossed w/ Lisa Yuskavage's hot-hues palette. That aside, these are very accomplished works for the young artist: her capturing of shiny surfaces (like in the flower wrapped "Tired Prince" ) blends well w/ the dreamy haze permeating the majority of the works. Plus, instances like "Cabbage Patch" break the perspective, revealing this serious diagonal action that I felt totally worked (and it's got bunnies). She expands on the works shown at that pretty dope group show "The Antidote" at Claire Oliver last winter (which also included personal faves Aaron Johnson, Jesse McCloskey and Ulf Puder — who I've been writing about).
* Sophie von Hellermann @ Greene Naftali / 508 W 26th St 8th Fl. Lyrical dry-application acrylic on canvas paintings by the Munich-born, London-based artist. By that I mean Von Hellerman is even looser w/ her brushstrokes, permitting knifelike slashes of raw canvas into heady compositions like "The Shooting of a Violinist" and "Soul Wrenchers". A darker, Gogol-ian lot overall, w/ their tinges of folklore and fairytales, but I like that kind of stuff.