* "Paper A-Z" @ Sue Scott Gallery / 1 Rivington St. A quite literally A-Z representation of over 75 multigenerational artists based in the states (from Olive Ayhens to Michael Zahn) and their various processes of working with paper.
* Friedrich Schroder-Sonnetstern @ Michael Werner Gallery / 74 E 77th St. The first major U.S. exhibition of works by the Lithuanian-born German outsider artist, whose fantastical and bizarre compositions have ostensibly never been seen here, like ever.
* "Audition" (dir. Takashi Miike, 1999) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center at 65th St (1 to 66th St), part of "Shinjuku Outlaw", 9:30p. The film that gets under your skin like piano wire. The blood-chiller that has consistently ranked in my Top Five scariest films EVER — and that's after I've conquered New French Extremity. The dating game gone so terribly wrong. The picture that made me fall in love w/ quixotic actress Eihi Shiina, even as she continues to trouble my nightmares. Mayjah? You bet.
* Noveller @ The Stone / 16 Ave C (F to 2nd Ave), 8p/$10. Sarah Lipstate's solo guitar project Noveller is class-act dope, spanning ethereal chords and droning noise assault in one epic set. She augments tonight's performance with film projection, feat. her experimental and hand-painted/manipulated films.
* Carlos Giffoni & C. Spencer Yeh @ The Stone / 16 Ave C (F to 2nd Ave), 10p/$10. If I were you, I'd stay for both sets, first Noveller's then this classic matchup, b/w noisician Giffoni and experimental violinist Yeh, working off amplified objects. If Lipstate's set left you a bit lulled — doubt it — these guys will snap your consciousness back into sharp relief.
* Kenneth Noland @ Mitchell-Innes & Nash / 534 W 26th St. A reverent grouping of the pivotal post-war painter's early geometric works, cementing his prowess in composing the circle, stripe and chevron, from the watery edged "Askew" bullseye to the super-duper stretched-out and striped "Via Imbound", at nearly 260 inches in length.
* Marcia Kure "Dressed Up" @ Susan Inglett Gallery / 522 W 24th St. A new body of work by Kure: photomontages of hip-hop avatars and historical haute couture. This follows and is concurrent with her exhibition of new works on paper at BravinLee Programs at 526 W 26th St, whose "Fashional Hybrids" (see CURRENT SHOWS) evolved from the Inglett gallery works.
* Marc Handelman "Geological Sketches at Home and Abroad" + Elizabeth Neel "Leopard Complex" @ Sikkema, Jenkins & Co / 530 W 22nd St. Handelman situates landscape painting w/in various manipulated contexts, from a foreground-less "matte painting" film loop to and large-scale framed paintings of dimension stones. Meanwhile, Neel (who had a solo exhibition in Long Island City's SculptureCenter last year) also works between paintings and 3D objects in a visually arresting installation.
* Claudette Schreuders "Close, Close" @ Jack Shainman Gallery / 512 W 20th St. A continuation of the Cape Town-based artist's figurative sculptures, focusing on her personal experience as a white descendent of colonists in Apartheid-era South Africa. A new monograph on the artist accompanies this exhibition. Of note: Schreuders is included in MoMA's upcoming "Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now" exhibition, opening on MAR 23.
* "Never the Same Twice" @ DC Moore Gallery / 535 W 22nd St. The inclusion of Whitfield Lovell in this six-person group show means I'm definitely attending, and it also features Mark Innerst, Pat Lipsky, Barbara Takenaga, Darren Waterson and Jane Wilson.
* Gary Hill "of surf, death, tropes & tableaux: The Psychedelic Gedankenexperiment" @ Gladstone Gallery / 515 W 24th St. The pioneering multimedia artist returns, manipulating sound, speed and sequence in his concern over homogenized video culture and creating a very sensorial experience.
* "Shinjuku Triad Society" (dir. Takashi Miike, 1995) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center at 65th St (1 to 66th St), part of "Shinjuku Outlaw", 4:30p. I thought I had this early Miike great — his first of the "Black Society Trilogy" — in my Netflix queue, but no actually I've got "Full Metal Yakuza" (think "Robocop" meets Japanese thugs) and the genuine article is out of print stateside! We get the hardboiled vs. an ultraviolent gay Triad leader (played incredibly by Tomoro Taguchi, aka "Tetsuo") in a guerrilla-filmed romp through the dirtiest, deviant-est back-alleys of Kabukicho.
* "13 Assassins" (dir. Takashi Miike, 2010) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center at 65th St (1 to 66th St), part of "Shinjuku Outlaw", 7p. In Miike-san's latest(?) and most polished, he adapts Eiichi Kudo's '63 original into a sprawling nonstop fight-scene, with stalwart actor Koji Yakusho leading his ragtag band of samurai against the decadent masses. They're destined to lose, but not before decapitating a whole mess of bad guys!
* "A Yakuza in Love" (dir. Rokuro Mochizuki, 1997) screening @ Japan Society / 333 E 47th St (E/M to 53rd/Lexington, 6 to 51st St), 7:30p. Hell, a Yakuza's gotta love, right? It says so in the title! In this international premiere, we'll see how long it lasts b/w a low-ranking thug and the naive waitress he falls for.
* "Fudoh: The New Generation" (dir. Takashi Miike, 1996) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center at 65th St (1 to 66th St), part of "Shinjuku Outlaw", 10p. Miike-san's early Yakuza film apparently combines the ultraviolence and sexual deviance of like his entire later catalogue, which makes it 100% unmissable in my book.
* "Bye Bye Kitty!!! Between Heaven and Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art" @ Japan Society / 333 E 47th St (E/M to Lexington/53rd, 6 to 51st St). Contemporary Japanese art that's NOT cute: hell, I'm all for it! And that's not just the sicko in me who prefers Takashi Miike and Yoshihiro Nishimura over Hayao Miyazaki and the Japanese equivalent of sappy rom-coms. My point is there is a wide spectrum of artists eschewing Takashi Murakami's toothy flowers (which can slant creepy as well) and Sanrio ephemera for…well, difficult stuff, adult stuff, sometimes disturbing and sometimes downright obscene. You give me Makoto Aida, and you've got me sold. This cross-media exhibition also includes Hiraki Sawa (whose riveting sensory installation "O" is currently at James Cohan Gallery in W.Chelsea), Chiharu Shiota (tangled black hair freak you out??), photographer Rinko Kawauchi, Yoshitomo Nara (the punk rocker everyone should know by now) and a dozen more. So essential it hurts.
* Robert Mangold "Ring Paintings" @ The Pace Gallery / 32 E 57th St. Brand bloody new mixed-media paintings on shaped canvas!!! What the hell else do you need? Sunny lemon yellows and metallicky grays and browns? OK Mangold brings that too.
* Lynne Woods Turner @ Danese / 535 W 24th St 6th Fl. Turner's cleanly geometric style, both oil on linen compositions and on paper, stood out in the gallery's immense drawing group shows, so I'm stoked to see a solo exhibition devoted to her new works.
* Sascha Braunig @ Foxy Production / 623 W 27th St. The young Portland, Maine artist's debut NY solo exhibition, of bracing, iridescent color patterns against female forms.
* Isaac Julien "Ten Thousand Waves" @ Metro Pictures / 519 W 24th St. Julien's latest photo series, a static component of his nine-screen film installation at last year's Sydney Biennial, was taken throughout rural and urban China following the 2004 Morecambe Bay tragedy.
* "Ryuji" (dir. Toru Kawashima, 1983) international premiere screening @ Japan Society / 333 E 47th St (E/M to 53rd/Lexington, 6 to 51st St), 7:30p. A singular chapter in the oeuvre of Japanese gangster films, feat. a young actor succumbing to cancer who joins a real Yakuza gang to tell the story of a guy trying to leave the underworld for his wife and daughter.
* "Ichi the Killer" (dir. Takashi Miike, 2001) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center at 65th St (1 to 66th St), part of "Shinjuku Outlaw", 8:40p. Few actors beyond the charismatic Tadanobu Asano could play the sadomasochistic antagonist in this ultra-ultraviolent little bijoux and continue to be crowned the Johnny Depp of Japanese cinema.
* "Taxi Driver" (dir. Martin Scorsese, 1976) @ Film Forum / 209 W Houston St (1 to Houston, ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). A quintessential noirish NY film, from the yellow-cabs and dodgy 42nd St grindhouses to Robert De Niro's iconic Travis Bickle, wiry and mistrustful and eventually mohawked and violent. The new 35mm restoration of this urban classic retains every bit of grime and alienating squalor from Scorsese's original.
* David Altmejd @ Andrea Rosen Gallery / 525 W 24th St. The NY-based super-sculptor's last solo show here, a collective of frost giants and environmental nymphs back in 2008, riveting me and all the girls I took to the show. So you can bet I'm super-stoked to see what Altmejd has installed in the gallery this time.
* "Elemental" @ Paula Cooper Gallery / 521 W 21St St. A tidy grouping from the gallery's roster of my favorite Minimalists etc, feat. Carl Andre, Jennifer Bartlett, Donal Judd, Sherrie Levine and Sol LeWitt.
* "City of Lost Souls" (dir. Takashi Miike, 2000) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center at 65th St (1 to 66th St), part of "Shinjuku Outlaw", 6:15p. Where to begin w/ this one: the Bonnie & Clyde-esque rollercoaster plot (w/ Michele Reis, HELLO), the "Matrix"-inspired CGI cockfight scene, the seriously twisted humor amid the bloodshed. This one's nearly impossible to find stateside, too.
* "Agitator" (dir. Takashi Miike, 2001) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center at 65th St (1 to 66th St), part of "Shinjuku Outlaw", 8:40p. Another out-of-print Miike epic, something like Fyodor Dostoevsky's "Demons" told through a sprawling Yakuza lens. I am so stoked for this one.
* "Yakuza Wives" (dir. Hideo Gosha, 1986) U.S. premiere screening @ Japan Society / 333 E 47th St (E/M to 53rd/Lexington, 6 to 51st St), 5p. A welcome response to typical Yakuza chronicles — I mean, the festival title is "Hardest Men in Town" — revolves around the strong women in the gangs, ruling the lot when their husbands are imprisoned and generally kicking ass and taking care of business.
* "Outrage" (dir. Takeshi Kitano, 2010) NY premiere screening @ Japan Society / 333 E 47th St (E/M to 53rd/Lexington, 6 to 51st St), 7:30p. Few contemporary directors have a handle on the Yakuza genre like Kitano-san, and he returns to form with this turbulent, ultraviolent film worthy of its Dostoevskyian legacy. Revenge is continually one-upped with every scene, as the body count grows and terse one-liners explode like hot lead. I consider myself a resilient film buff and still had to catch my breath multiple times during this outrageous film.
* "Shangri-La" (dir. Takashi Miike, 2002) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center at 65th St (1 to 66th St), part of "Shinjuku Outlaw", 4:30p. This humanistic comedy of a homeless utopian shantytown outside Tokyo is still pretty daft but it eschews Miike-san's recurring violence. Instead we get Sho Aikawa in a blond wig and a cast of unlikely familiar faces set on teaching the corrupt CEO a lesson.
* "Crows Zero II" (dir. Takashi Miike, 2009) @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center at 65th St (1 to 66th St), part of "Shinjuku Outlaw", 8:50p. Here's the thing you've got to know about Miike-san and sequels: sometimes they're actually part-twos to their previous incarnation ("Zebraman 2"); sometimes they're entirely unrelated to past installments (the "Dead or Alive" trilogy). And sometimes they're "Crows Zero II", a "true" sequel in that it recaps the 2007 film before launching off into extremely complicated manga-world mayhem. Meaning: it's big-budget Miike made for the big-screen, and it's a hell of a lot of fun.
* "Lay it On: The Present and Future of New York Painting" @ Housing Works Bookstore Café / 126 Crosby St (BDFM to Broadway/Lafayette, 6 to Bleecker St), 7p. Modern Painters’ Senior Editor Scott Indrisek moderates a roundtable discussion on painting in New York. Jules de Balincourt, Hope Gangloff, Ryan Schneider, and Chuck Webster will discuss the tribulations and rewards of the city’s art scene, w/ a follow-up Q&A. As an aesthete, I feel the climate for painting is stronger than ever. Webster's got a wicked exhibition on now at ZieherSmith for another week, while Schneider represented Priska Juschka gallery at this past VOLTA NY by installing part of his studio in the booth. Gangloff's latest wonderful exhibition just concluded at Susan Inglett Gallery, while Jules de Balincourt held one of Deitch's penultimate exhibitions in NY, whilst moving from Zach Feuer Gallery to Salon 94. Let's hear what the artists have to say about it.
* Cristina Iglesias @ Marian Goodman Gallery / 24 W 57th St. Iglesias' mind-bending sculptures defy categorization, steeped in architecture and best suited in room-filling installations, joggling our perception as they transport us somewhere else. The Madrid-based artist hasn't had a solo show in NY since 2005 (nor a solo show period, in Milan's Fondazione Arnaldo Pomodoro, since 2009), so she's had ample time to concoct something truly special.
* Jamie Woon @ Glasslands / 289 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8:30p/$10. Jamie Woon, the slinky Londoner playing a PopGun-curated show at (le) poisson rouge in town days (w/ blokes Mount Kimbie) leads the fray, accompanied by beat-minded FaltyDL and Mux Mool.
* Glenn Ligon "AMERICA" @ Whitney Museum / 945 Madison (6 to 77th St). This is essential. Glenn Ligon's textured, language-imbued works encapsulate the experience of growing up Black in America, specifically a Black male in America (and even more specifically, a gay Black male in America), and bridges this nation's troubled cultural history from the slave-owning Old South to President Obama, w/ special emphasis on race relations in the '90s. The Bronx-born, NY-based Ligon begins the experience w/ a huge silkscreen "Hands" (1996), a truncated image from the previous year's Million Man March. Think about that time period for a moment: I was in middle school, the Republican Party had overtaken the House during Pres. Clinton's first term, economic disparity and unemployment for African Americans were at terrible heights, and there was an alarm of the media's fixation on O.J. Simpson and Mike Tyson and the ensuing Black male targeted image. I was young but I realized there was a hell of a mess going down. Ligon felt that exponentially more acutely, and this one striking, almost abstract rendering of a sea of outstretched hands beneath a twilit horizon acts like a flag and snapshot of what's to come w/in his exhibition. His early text-only painting "Untitled (I Am a Man)" (1988), recalling the famous placards carried by Memphis sanitation workers in '68 — which, incidentally, Sharon Hayes recreates as part of her "IN the Near Future" (2009) slide-project installation at the Guggenheim (their "Found in Translation" multi-artist show) — is evident of his manipulation and control of words and texture. The type is shrunken in its heavily enameled backdrop and the leading (space between lines) is spaced out, punctuating the words: "I AM - A - MAN". The next room is lined with door-sized canvases from 1990, each roughly painted white and filled w/ repeated stenciled sentences, like a massive typewriter gone haywire. The sources range from Jean Genet's incendiary play "The Blacks", as Ligon's work "I'm turning into a specter before your very eyes and I'm going to haunt you"; to Jesse Jackson's poem "I Am Somebody" and it's neighbor "I Was Somebody" (the only one w/ white-on-white type); to Zora Neale Hurston's essay "I feel most colored when I am thrown against a sharp white background"—they read over and over ad infinitum, 'til the letters bleed black. I read the placard in the next room, installed w/ four shipping crates, for help: Ligon combines his '93 series "To Disembark" (based on a 19th-century account by a slave named Henry Brown, who escaped by mailing himself to Philadelphia in a wooden crate) w/ actual crates emitting the soft refrains of Billie Holiday ("Strange Fruit", her anti-lynching anthem) and KRS-One ("Sound of da Police") and frightening, stylized fugitive slave 'wanted' posters w/ Ligon as the fleeing subject. It's a full-on, sensorial, visceral installation that exemplifies his deftness in conveying a pan-generational Black experience, from colonial days to early '90s police brutality, in one focused gut-punch. More from Ligon's Million Man March series follows, plus a room of images from Robert Mapplethorpe's complicated and provocative "Black Book" publication, notated w/ a melange of critical commentary (both pro and con). He calls a broader scope of Black male imagery into play: whether you're "turned on" or offended by Mapplethorpe's sexually charged (or exploitative?) subject matter, whether you find traditional film roles and typecasting (the hyperbolized comedian, the sullen action hero, the sole Black guy who dies w/in 15 minutes of that slasher film etc etc) significantly troubling or you're ambivalent towards them — the "correct answer" is indeed infinitely more complicated. His series on James Baldwin's 1953 essay "Stranger in the Village" — the writer's experience staying in an Alpine hamlet that had never seen a dark-skinned person before — soaks Baldwin's chilling words in black paint and coal dust, turning "the world is white no longer, and will never be white again" into impenetrable, twinkling darkness. One of these works even represents Ligon's self-portrait, as he excised stenciled text from one, leaving a black and amorphously bordered void. Finally there's the neon, one striking installation of three imperfect neon signs spelling out AMERICA, in backward letters, in flickering tones and a third painted over in black, coolly retaining the power of the word. Sit amongst these for a few moments and let the experience of the previous rooms settle in: America's a dazzling place but mixed up, still not on the righteous path for all its people. America flickers like a caution sign, America's at half-power, struggling to get back on track. America's a big place and a symbolizes an epic many things, success, freedom, power and plight. What does it mean to you?
* "Malevich and the American Legacy" @ Gagosian / 980 Madison Ave. I'm not entirely sure this visually- and cerebrally-pleasing (and, yes, museum-worthy) exhibition would benefit from installation in one of Gagosian's downtown galleries, i.e. all on the same floor. By breaking it up over three levels in their uptown domain, we get these focused bursts of creative couplings and inspiration, some of which transcend others. I'm missed the loftlike 6th Fl the first go-round (oops! don't skip it) and was pleased to see the greatest quantity of Kazimir Malevich works here, four beguiling floating geometric compositions, even as they felt sucked into the massive, sinister Mark Rothko color-field adjacent to them. One wing of the 5th Fl was delightful, placing Malevich's magnificent little "Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying" (1915) opposite Donald Judd's multi-colored Plexiglass w/in Cor-Ten steel boxes — it's not just the colors, but the shapes and somehow lightness of the two works, or Malevich adding buoyancy to Judd, that works so well. Including a textured Richard Serra paintstick work and Charles Ray's ink-filled liquid "monochrome" is just delightful. The 5th Fl's larger gallery hosts ONLY inspired artists: another colorful (and somehow dangerous, w/ the taut steel cable construction) Donald Judd Plexiglas box, a shiny black Banks Violette (big as the Rothko, but holds itself better in this context), a suitably room-filling Dan Flavin. The 4th Fl includes one more great Malevich/Judd pairing, in the same room as a super-waxy Brice Marden triple-monochrome — urging out Malevich's essence — and a copper and steel Carl Andre, but then I love Carl Andre. Nice one and definitely a destination exhibition.
* Rudolf Stingel, curated by Francesco Bonami @ Gagosian / 555 W 24th St. If pressed, I prefer Stingel's metallic paintings, specifically the gold canvases bearing countless hours of scuffs and imprints from their original locations on his studio floor; hung on the wall, almost like reliefs, they bear accidental histories of the artist's movements and work process. But I appreciate his photorealistic portraiture, of himself in this exhibition, a trio of ginormous, practically identical grayscale paintings that appear to be mere blowups devoid of brushwork from a distance. They are the only element in the front gallery, as the gold canvases are in the back larger gallery, connected by a narrower room of silvery carpets. So maybe an exhibition of ONLY Stingel's samesie portraits could go from meditative and subtle to monotonous and headache-inducing. The gold canvases are incredibly big, but spaced out to occupy one wall each, and ostensibly monochromatic and lightly, organically patterned with paint-can hemispheres and footprints to gently catch the eye w/o getting too invasive. Perhaps some couches for further contemplation might be in store?
* Tara Donovan "Untitled (Mylar)" @ The Pace Gallery / 545 W 22nd St. Donovan's last large-scale installation in NYC was in 2007 and also involved shiny Mylar sheets and crawled across the walls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her latest is immediately more visually dynamic, a sprawling and undulating field of Mylar soap-bubble bouquets, or Mylar cells zoomed 100000x via some invisible microscope, or Mylar coral reefs, Mylar confectionary sweets reflecting crystallized sugar. The fact it's all totally banal BoPET film, found in yoghurt lids, solar sails and tacky celebration balloons, is yet another instance of Donovan's deft alchemy from mundane to magnificent. Plus, her pin "drawings" exhibition, closing this Saturday at Pace's 510 W 25th St space, provides a rare opportunity to see two of her disciplines at work, the flexible, sculptural and shiny w/ the tiny, stiff and amassed. Don't miss this one.
* David Wojnarowicz "Spirituality" @ PPOW / 535 W 22nd St, 3rd Fl. The uproar last November over the removal of a less than well-known Wojnarowicz short film "A Fire in My Belly" from the National Portrait Gallery's "Hide/Seek" exhibition brought much attention to this integral downtown NYC artist. PPOW had worked with Wojnarowicz for years and represents his estate now, and they were one of many institutions that provided an outlet to view his censored work. Fittingly, the gallery stages a cross-media exhibition, spanning eleven years and focusing specifically on recurring religious and spiritual imagery in Wojnarowicz art — it was, after all, ants on a crucifix that ignited the religious right's philistine takedown at the Smithsonian. That ants-on-a-crucifix reappears here as a gelatin silver print from his "Ant Series (spirituality)", along with the sliced and sewn loaf of bread from the film, plus an early photocopy of the Madonna with child and the later majestic "Mexican Crucifix", five panels of collage and contrast-color acrylic that he created after "A Fire in My Belly" and is evident of his ongoing pursuit of a personal spirituality, after his disappointment with the Catholic Church's homophobia and its refusal to promote safe sex. PPOW has done admirable work in culling together this show. Now I'm going to take it there and hope this is the beginning of a full career retrospective, with one eye on the New Museum to lead that charge.
* Gary Baseman "Walking Through Walls" + Andy Kehoe "Strange Wanderings" @ Jonathan LeVine Gallery / 529 W 20th St. Both these guys transport you somewhere, via their environmentally-charged figurative styles. LA-based Baseman moves you through the walls, whether that's an old house or social boundaries, via his somber and spooky set of paintings and mixed media works. Protagonist "Lil Miss Boo" figures throughout, culled from a vintage b&w photograph and repeated here, even reflected (stand with your back to "The Unveiling of La Petite Mort", a large silkscreen of our girl on a cotton shroud, and stare at gallery's glass doors. You'll see what I mean). His crowded acrylic paintings veer from "The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror" tension to that suicidal Mickey Mouse vibe, deceptively cartoonish. Definitely not for kids. Pittsburgh's Kehoe plunges you straight into America's national parks, in a set of stunning small and mid-size paintings on wood panels. Call it Teton mythology, Sequoia folklore, images of forest spirits ("Under the Gaze of the Glorious") and huge-ass acorns ("Forest Elder", peering out of a grove of goldenrod trees), each with exquisitely rendered foliage and glowing translucent hues. I love 'em.
* Miriam Cahn @ Elizabeth Dee / 545 W 20th St. This important Swiss artist last exhibited in NY in 1984, coinciding with her representation at that year's Venice Biennale. We've got a hell of a lot catching up to do, so luckily Dee's culled together a wonderful survey, from Cahn's raw '80s charcoal works on paper to brand-new mixed media diptychs. Let's make up for lost time: her handling of various mediums in her compositions is excellent: the sooty charcoals and whitish backdrops radiate this primeval, folkloric power, while her nuanced introductions of color are totally Fauvist, like planting yourself against your favorite Matisse canvas. Her figuration's superb, too, from a blocky pseudo-Cubism to sharply naturalistic in the more colorful works, wispily framed throughout the charcoal drawings. One large watercolor in the project room, titled "Atomic Bomb" and dated '88, echoes both the American Abstract Expressionists doing that soaked-canvas thing (especially Helen Frankenthaler) whilst conveying the wicked strength of that weapon.
* Rirkrit Tiravanija "Fear Eats the Soul" @ Gavin Brown's Enterprise / 620 Greenwich St. If that's the case, as the wall-tall black spray-painted words convey, then Tiravanija returns with some antidotes. He's installed a plywood-built trailer-sized t-shirt shop (hours 10a-6p THU-SAT) in the empty gallery, with some two dozen texts hand-screened on jersey T's while you wait. The type is stark Sans Serif and to-the-point: "less oil more courage", "free china from tibet", "ne travaillez jamais", "no country for old prime minister", the eyebrow-raising "i have doughnuts at home". And recalling his debut NY exhibition "Pad Thai" over 20 years ago, Tiravanija hosts a soup kitchen adjacent to the t-shirt shop (menu of March 10-12 was chicken tortilla), w/ the vibe that the existentialist messages on the t-shirts will take their time to soak into your conscious, but that rumble in your gut is immediate and should be sated a bit more literally.
* "Proofs and Refutations" @ David Zwirner / 519 W 19th St. Art and math. An exhibition promising something like equations would have me headed straight for the door, you'd think, but I'm always up for a challenge. And of course it's brilliant, to the point I'll boldly state it's accessible for both left-brainers and right-brainers. Take Al Taylor's fantastic "Odd Vows (Bern)" (1992), a rickety Mobiüs-like band of painted wood suspended on rebar-sized metal rods. On one side of these boards he's painted letters A-Z, on the other numbers 2-26 (evens only). Somehow they're ordered to flow together seamlessly, adding this perpetuity to the structure. Likewise the other big works in the room, Bruce Nauman's "Dead End Tunnel Folded Into Four Arms with Common Walls" (1980), off-white plaster forms morphing from triangular prisms to rectangular prisms and back again and Dorothea Rockburne's "Set" (1970), paper and chipboard nailed to the gallery wall in roughly mirrored arrangements, tied together by an electric tape plus-sign. That's all the "easy" stuff, that and perhaps Sigmar Polke's headache-inducing "Lösungen V" (1967), his unsolvable arithmetic rendered menacingly in lacquer on burlap. The exhibition includes four prints from VALIE EXPORT's "Body Configurations" (1972-82) series, documenting the artist physically maneuvering her body around surrounding architecture (wrapped against a pillar in "Vertikal Gel", 1976, for example). And RH Quaytman's duet "Conical Wedge" (2011) w/ "caption" comes from a mathematical model, though the way she's rendered the smaller wood panel, with its triangular black form, to fit keyhole-like into its larger neighbor is particularly impressive.
* John Chamberlain @ Paula Cooper Gallery / 534 W 21st St. Walking amid Chamberlain's beautiful crushed-auto sculpture, spanning four decades of his career, reminds me that — though I've got to get back upstate to Dia:Beacon — having his works in close proximity to my flat is the next best thing to taking the train up the Hudson. I am quite impressed with the array exhibited here and their relation w/ one another. That the gallery shows "Wylie's Island 1" (1997), one of Chamberlain's creepy muslin-wrapped urethane sculptures (think a tank-sized ghost) is awesome — Dia:Beacon has one too, in their basement, and it never ceases to freak me out. Chamberlain's smaller twisty relief "Druid's Cluster (Swish)" (1975) hangs above "Wylie's Island 1", like a big-game trophy over a sofa. Adjacent to that is "Bacchanalia Regalia" (1992), its steel glittering in oil-slick colors. I dug "Marilyn Monroe" (1963), too, its jet-black carapace augmented by convex mirrors.
* Karen Kilimnik @ 303 Gallery / 547 W 21st St. The chandeliers return for Kilimnik's 10th exhibition at the gallery, though one is purposefully shattered in restating her pretty awesome '89 installation "The Hellfire Club episode of the Avengers", a properly punk and goth tableau of xeroxes (of Emma Peel and John Steed), mirrors, swords, crushed velvet curtains and blackened drawings of British manor houses. She accompanies this w/ some more smallish size recent paintings, of sheepdogs and an ivy-covered pub in Scotland, and contrasts a new grayscale portrait "the Ragamuffin of Kiddington hall" w/ some fashion-y crayon and pastel works on paper from '87.
* Fahamu Pecou "Art History NeXt" @ Lyons Wier Gallery / 542 W 24th St. The Brooklyn-based artist figures into all his works, his angular face, asymmetric hairdo and razor-sharp shades riffing off and commenting on 20th C. art and pop. Take "The Treachery of (media) Images", with Pecou clad in a gunmetal-colored power suit, the words "Ceci nest pas Fahamu" echoing Rene Magritte's iconic "This is not a pipe". It's neighbor "Whatcha (don't) see, is whatcha get…" has the artist chomping down on a green apple, referencing the great Belgian Surrealist's "The Son of Man" whilst retaining that mid-'80s synthpop imagery.
* Nick van Woert "Breaking and Entering" @ Yvon Lambert / 550 W 21st St. The first solo stateside exhibition by this young Brooklyn-based artist is visually stunning and technically beguiling. There are a few singular works, the drenched words "We're In This Together" drizzled like candle-wax on a metal plane, a hulking spectre hanging from the ceiling and colorized like a 64-count Crayola crayon box (w/ built-in sharpener!) left in the Phoenix sun for like three days, for two. But the majority feat. riffs on classical figurative religious sculpture, perforated by holes and saturated w/ crystallized pools of resin. A Madonna with child hidden in a cloud of Antifreeze blue begins the experience in the main room; a whole slew of busts gnashing at and struggling against that same ooze in a plethora of sickly hues greets us in the side gallery.
+ Charles Sandison "Body Text". I dunno, seeing a slo-mo LCD animation of millions of tiny colored numbers floating out against a black expanse to slowly, algorithmically reveal the naked back of a Finnish model is, ah, hot.
* 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 and a major blindspot for this writer. I like 'em: I stayed for the brief animated vignettes out of "Shapes", amorphous pseudo-figures preempting Amy Sillman's style, dancing and dissolving to a harpsichord soundtrack.
* Anna Ostoya @ Bortolami Gallery / 520 W 20th St. The Krakow-born, NY-based artist approached this exhibition with a time limit, completing 28 collaged canvases throughout the month of February. The glut of output mimics the newsiness of her subject matter, layered imagery of conflicts, strife, pop culture and historical imagery culled from Internet news sites and newspapers, intermingled w/ gold leaf and acrylic. She conceals and reveals further with grids of vertical lines incising the surface, or contrasting newspaper bits with rough expanses of textured paint. Info overload that's too beautiful to not stare at.
* Marcia Kure "Fashionable Hybrids" @ BravinLee Programs / 526 W 26th St #211. A visually tasty array of abstractedly figured works on paper, combining kolanut pigment, watercolor and either egg tempera or colored pencil to stunningly precise effect. Kure's stylized, amorphous female forms combine Nigerian body-painting, haute couture and what reminded me of a Vaughn Bode softness. Her control of those various mediums to create crisply delineating lines and watery color melanges (a la Egon Schiele) is masterful.
* Robert Barry, Peer Bode, Nikolas Gambaroff, Raymond Hains & Ryan Sullivan @ Nicole Klagsbrun / 526 W 26th St, 2nd Fl. So the matter-of-fact, listing exhibition title conveys something about this five-artist group show, but unless you're very clear on your modern and contemporary art history, you'll miss how dope this collection actually is. I loved it: pairing Barry's ruby red slab (absolute flatness on a gallery wall) w/ Ryan Sullivan's wildly textured mixed-media paintings and Nikolas Gambaroff's newspapered panels and bureau. For necessary ambience we get a single early photographie hypnagogique from Hains, a spiky and shattered pane from the artist perhaps best known for his Neoist Dada torn-poster collages, and two super-trippy videos by Bode, a pioneering genius in American electronic video art.
* Ivan Navarro "Heaven or Las Vegas" @ Paul Kasmin Gallery / 293 10th Ave. Confession: when I think of "Heaven or Las Vegas", I hear the Cocteau Twins' iconic '90 album. Navarro has other things in mind w/ his mirrored and neon-ed relief sculptures, describing the footprints of various Vegas landmarks whilst conveying one-liners ("Shelter", "Decay", "Surrender") in their impossible depths. Pretty stuff, but w/o that familiar thrill of his neon fence installation at this year's Armory Show.
* "The Parallax View", curated by Manuel Gonzalez @ Lehmann Maupin / 540 W 26th St. This is definitely one of those shows where you need to see it in person, walk amidst the art, see how one relates to or plays off another — even across generations, b/c while the bulk of this is those mesmerizing light and space minimalists (Robert Irwin, Dan Flavin, Robert Smithson…uh, Robert Morris, to add another "Robert"), the situation transforms into something refreshingly different here. Like: I am coming around to digging Teresita Fernandez, really, despite my earlier bad experiences w/ her too-shiny, too-precious art. Her untitled 1997 work, which I swear looks like a perfectly still pool of water but is actually a floor-set mirror and scrim bordered in wood, plays well off Smithson's "Island Maze" (1971) drawings, which are then echoed in shape by Morris' serene lead and steel "Observatory" (1972), which is doubled by Eva Hesse's brilliant, textured plate and tubing. The side gallery provides a brilliant combo, Flavin's green fluorescents from 1975 shimmying up the wall, against spiky metal "Dibujo sin Papel" frames by Gego: her physicality and danger balance Flavin's colored gas, in an unlikely but totally perfect match.
* Tara Donovan "Drawings (Pins)" @ The Pace Gallery / 510 W 25th St. Donovan has really achieved something brilliant here in these "drawings" composed entirely of thousands of steel pins, which resemble textured reliefs up close (or substitute pins for pixels, and think of super-enlarging a low-res web image) and slightly fuzzy gradients and soap-bubble patterns from a distance.
* Los Carpinteros "Rumba Muerta" @ Sean Kelly Gallery / 528 W 29th St. The Cuban duo return to the gallery w/ more transformative works involving really neat materials, w/ perhaps "Cuarteto" the most immediately obvious. It's a salsa band — drums, congas and upright bass — "melted" into brightly colored pools on the floor, recalling both an energetic performance and a psychological breakdown. "Sala de Lectura Ovalada", filling the back gallery w/ its skeletal MDF framework, is an empty reading room taking its shape from panopticon prisons. The glare off "Luces del Estadio del Pueblo", meanwhile, reflects both Havana's PanAmerican stadium's lights and the acute financial crisis that followed afters its realization in '91.
* Josh Smith @ Luhring Augustine / 531 W 24th St. What is painted, what is silkscreened and what is printed versions of the original works? Smith continues blurring that line in his extensive, exhaustive output of similar-sized abstract canvases and panels, luxuriously painted (or not?) with fiery maple leaves and medieval skeletons, plus some recurring fish and of course his name. A few instances include grids of works apparently assembled that way, then painted, creating overlapping swaths of color and imagery throughout. Plus, Smith's added oversized enamel-on-aluminum renderings of stop-signs, perhaps an echo of his prodigious output or a call to the viewer to slow down and look closer: as "same" as these paintings may appear, there's a lot of compositional refinement occurring just beneath the surface.
* Geoffrey Farmer "Bacon's Not the Only Thing that is Cured by Hanging From a String" @ Casey Kaplan Gallery / 525 W 21st St. I found this Vancouver native's NY gallery debut infinitely clever, far overshadowing my initial fears of the intended, uh, puppetry. Think of photocollage but 3D, equally fragile and feverishly meticulous. That's the beginning of his cheekily titled installation "Pulling Your Brains Out Through Your Nose", a forest of Pop-referential cutouts taped to cut coat-hangers occupying two gallery walls plus a bit more. Or his grouping of faux "lamp posts", these battery-powered LED posts painted then outfitted with a slew of dinky little cut and printed oddities, fabric and found objects (hats, shoes, purses, glasses) that slowly reveal themselves as you cycle about them.
* Liz Larner @ Tanya Bonakdar Gallery / 521 W 21St St. Larner's debut at the gallery is a beauty, a methodical investigation into the formative practice of sculpture with Michelangelo Antonioni's modernist classic "The Red Desert" as reference. Everything is dope about this. The show itself works seamlessly as an installation, with each autonomous work purposefully placed and holding court in reference to its kindred. From the indeterminate sunset hues of vinyl coating the floor and snaking up the gallery walls and ceiling, to the cracked slabs of resin-y black, to the wall reliefs "Blue and Green" and "Lentous Rust", undulating, organic ceramics. Indeed, color is at much at play here as form and space.
+ Jason Meadows. Time for some fun. Meadows offsets the theory and focus of Larner's downstairs grouping w/ a sculpture of his own, "Weekend Project", which looks sort of like a Mustang engine (had to look that one up!), replete w/ actual wrench. He diffuses this ultra-macho display w/ riffs on Peanuts characters and "Holly Golightly", a suspended melange of tartan-patterned geometric planes, evoking the "Breakfast at Tiffany's" heroine and fashionistas today.
* Terence Koh "nothingtoodoo" @ Mary Boone Gallery / 541 W 24th St. Koh opened his solo exhibition by slow-circling an enormous hill of rock salt, shuffling on his knees, clad in requisite all-white. There was a spotlight on him and the room was full of rapt, bewildered and magnetized onlookers (some sharing these characteristics). He's still circling that salt mountain. There's been little change in this durational performance as it takes a toll on Koh's legs and the salt level drops, just a few yogic stretches and then he's off again. Just don't peek in and leave if you don't see him: his revolutions are in extra-slo-mo, so he may well be hidden behind the salt's rise, shuffling along.
* 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?
* "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.
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* Olivier Mosset @ Leo Koenig, Inc / 545 W 23rd St. The ceaselessly intriguing Conceptualist assembles 38 same-size black paintings covered in glossy truck-liner paint! Hell yes.
* Stefano Cagol "Stockholm Syndrome (always with you)" @ Priska C. Juschka Fine Art / 547 W 27th St. Ahead of Cagol's solo project "Concillo" during the 2011 Venice Biennale, he presents cross-media works examining blended national identity. His "Evoke/Provoke (the border)" video, shot on location in Norway during his residency there, manages to evoke riots and unrest in about the most beautiful, serene landscape still existing on earth, thanks to his blowtorch in the distance, waved about like a Molotov cocktail against the icy terra. His other video "Always (with you)/With you (always)" has the artist on a blustery Manhattan rooftop, the Empire State Building in the distance, as he waves a Cuban flag across the blue sky. That's like three minutes of the video; the other nine feature a hypnotic, undulating Cuban flag on a featureless field, bisected and mirrored, and you stare at that long enough and you'll see the American flag w/in it. Maybe he's saying we're not so different or divergent?
* Alyson Shotz "Wavelength" @ Derek Eller Gallery / 615 W 27th St. The Brooklyn artist returns w/ a gorgeous viewer-interactive exhibition, grounded in the wall-spanning "Standing Wave", a thousand dichroic acrylic strips attached in stepped increments, creating this aurora borealis effect on the gallery wall that is among the baddest-ass installations I've seen in awhile. Her huge drawing "Sine", composed of yarn and pins, is an intriguing conversation-point to Tara Donovan's exhibition at The Pace Gallery, as this one too looks more physical (i.e. in ballpoint) than it actually is.