* Wonderpuss Octopus "Reliquary" @ 200 Ave A (L to 1st Ave), 8-10p. AD Projects have transformed the former Superdive hellhole into a temporary exhibition space of awesomeness, under the series "Reliquary/SUPERDARK". Wonderpuss Octopus (aka PJ Linden) kicks off the fun w/ Alief trainers and Canon 7Ds covered in rainbows of 3D paint that would make Takashi Murakami blush, pus other contemporary "sacred" ephemera. SUPERDARK consists of Friday night performances (coming soon!). This is a quickie, as Octopus' objet only last through SAT.
* Prince Rama + PIKACHU-MAKOTO (Afrirampo/Acid Mothers Temple) @ Monster Island Basement / 128 River St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$10. Can you hang?? May I introduce PIKACHU-MAKOTO, aka Pikachu the drummer/vocalist from seminal Osaka punk sisters duo Afrirampo. I want to meet her BAD — plus Makoto Kawabata, the axe-slinger and founder of Osaka psychedelic soul collective Acid Mothers Temple. Put these two super-creatives together and you'll literally lose your mind and be happy for that. Which is fine to have your mind all fried when Prince Rama takes the stage. w/ Mugu Guymen
* Louise Bourgeois "The Fabric Works" @ Cheim & Read / 547 W 25th St. Awesome fabric "drawings" and assemblages from the last decade of this ineffable artist's life, running parallel to her well-known knitted sculptures.
* Mary Henderson "Bathers" @ Lyons Wier Gallery / 542 W 24th St. Hyperreal oil paintings and some gouaches of youth on summer vacation, referenced initially from composite images on photo-sharing websites.
* Simon Evans "Shitty Heaven" @ James Cohan Gallery / 533 W 26th St. Evans amps up the text-based drawings and floor-maps, unveiling his personal next world as a planned suburban community, which sounds like hell to me. Plus his exploration of the nine circles of Hell in "Lite Evil" and moleskin pages covered in plans.
* "In Our Time" (dirs. Tao Dechen, Edward Yang, Ko Yi-cheng, Chan Yi, 1982) screening @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 6:15p. Taiwanese New Wave cinema basically originated from this four-director opus (incl Edward Yang, of "Yi Yi", in his directorial debut here), w/ each working off different generations and backgrounds to depict a realist Taiwan.
* PIKACHU-MAKOTO (Afrirampo/Acid Mothers Temple) @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$7. Oh I FULLY abide by this show. If you missed PIKACHU-MAKOTO at Monster Island or had some conflict in your schedule or whatever, you must make DbA. You've heard of contact highs? This promises to be a sonic contact high of the headiest, "kine bud" sort. w/ PC Worship, Mugu Guymen and more
* Alice Aycock + E.V. Day @ Salomon Contemporary / 526 W 26th ST #519. Wow. Aycock's oeuvre of kinetic, labyrinthine sculpture and installations make her a living legend in my book. She introduces a new wall relief "Twist of Fate" and drawings from her series "Sum Over Particle Histories". Day I know for her installations of hanging, modified garments (think "Exploding Couture", from 2000 Whitney Biennial). Her "Butterfly" comes from her broader "Divas Ascending" series and recalls the wedding kimono worn by Cio-Cio San in the NY Opera's production of "Madame Butterfly".
* John O'Connor "What is Toronto???" @ Pierogi Gallery / 177 N 9th St, Williamsburg. What is Toronto, indeed! Is it ultra-detailed graphite and colored-pencil freakouts, like Mandala portals to some alternate universe?
* Matthew Porter "The Undefeated" @ Invisible-Exports / 14A Orchard St. Porter investigates Jane Fonda's and John Wayne's legacies as simultaneous political actors and Hollywood icons.
* "Ploy" (dir. Pen-ek Ratanaruang, 2007) screening @ Asia Society / 725 Park Ave (6 to 68th St), 6:45p. Anybody remember that awesome Thai Takes film festival, which hasn't been here since 2007? Asia Society incredibly stages a mini survey of their own from now into June, bookended by the international masters of contemporary Thai cinema, Pen-ek Ratanaruang and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. The fest begins w/ Ratanaruang's surrealist super-sexy drama "Ploy", an absolute must-see coming from this writer. Followed by a Q&A w/ the director!
* "Hesher" (dir. Spencer Susser, 2010) @ Angelika / 18 W Houston St (BDFM to Broadway/Lafayette). A grieving suburban family in somewheresville early '90s collides with a metalhead guardian angel/devil — the bare-chested, long-haired burnout effortlessly played by Joseph Gordon Levitt — who compels them, esp. the pre-teen protagonist, via death-threats, light beatings and advice on girls (i.e. Natalie Portman) to confront their emotions.
* "A Serbian Film" (dir. Srdjan Spasojevic, 2011) @ Cinema Village / 22 E 12th St (NR/L/456 to Union Square). Tread lightly, dear readers, if you intend to watch this most disturbing of disturbing films. Think you know torture porn, like literally? I am amazed, frankly, that a stateside cinema would give this devastatingly brutal film a proper screening, even at NC-17 (the original cut is a well-deserved unrated and nearly 10 minutes longer). Plus it's screening ONCE per night. Mind you, I've not seen it yet — missed it at SXSW and it's subsequently been very hard to find — but I aim to see it now, even in edited form. However: caution!!!
* "Hausu" (dir. Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1977) midnight screening @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). No teen girl ghost story will ever match the Technicolor mayhem of HOUSE. If the high-school-aged beauties trekking off a painted landscape to old auntie's house don't send you for a loop, the creative savageries (and eye-wateringly intense in-camera effects) that await them totally will. This film is LIST-approved for dopeness. ALSO SAT
* "Foxy Brown" (dir. Jack Hill, 1974) midnight screening @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). A legend of blaxploitation and the watermark for gorgeous ass-kicking women, thanks to the ineffable Pam Grier. Can you handle it?? ALSO SAT
* Darlings + My Teenage Stride + Dream Diary @ Silent Barn / 915 Wyckoff Ave, Ridgewood (L to Halsey, M to Myrtle/Wyckoff), 8p/$7. Another dope indie primer w/ some particularly strong local acts. Feat. fuzz-popstars Dream Diary, indie stalwarts My Teenage Stride and my faces Darlings, who really are darling and rock really hard, too. w/ ROAR (AZ)
* Dirty Beaches + Pterodactyl @ Glasslands / 289 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$10. So Dirty Beaches play an "early show" Thursday at Mercury Lounge (before John Vanderslice, srsly), so take it from me, you want to see this crazy cat Alex Zhang Hungtai, w/ his room-shaking baritone and his minimalist, yesteryear looped soundscapes, channelling both "Fallen Angels"-era Wong Kar-Wai and Graceland? Come to this Popgun show instead, it's way fiercer.
* Rebecca Chamberlain "…Wouldn't it be sublime…" @ DODGE Gallery / 15 Rivington St. Chamberlain wowed me and a bunch of people at VOLTA NY 2010, w/ her gorgeous pen and ink compositions of 20th C. interiors. She works w/in modernism but w/ an edgier dynamic this time, creating diptychs and triptychs of stairwells, mirrors and railings, contrasted w/ decorative closeups.
* Timothy Tompkins @ DCKT Contemporary / 237 Eldridge St. Recent paintings from Tompkins' "Reenactment" and "Explosion" series, working off digitally altered photographs and then painting them with commercial enamel on aluminum.
* "There/Not There" @ Number 35 / 141 Attorney St. A group show on illusion, memory and permanence — which despite the vague parameters can lead to some sublime results. Feat. Daniele Genadry, Adam Hayes, Alexa Kreissl, Christian Nguyen, Carlos Sandoval De Leon and Voshardt/Humphrey.
* Jack Smith "Thanks for Explaining Me" film screenings @ Gladstone Gallery / 515 W 24th St, 4p. Penny Arcade, the teenaged Superstar who co-formed The Plaster Foundation to archive Jack Smith's work after his passing, presents this round of Smith films. Feat. vignette "Hot Air Specialists" (1980s) and longer works "Jungle Island" (1967), "Yellow Sequence" (1963-5) and "I Was a Male Yvonne DeCarlo" (1967-70).
* "Blissfully Thai: A conversation w/ Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Pen-ek Ratanaruang" @ Asia Society / 725 Park Ave (6 to 68th St), 2p. The two forerunners in Thai cinema's contemporary renaissance, the Cannes champion Weerasethakul and the untouchable Ratanaruang (his "Last Life in the Universe" remains one of my favorite films, ever), in conversation w/ the series' curator, La Frances Hui of Asia Society.
* "Montag" (dir. Doze Niu, 2010) screening @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 8:15p. A glossy and messy Triad film and among the newest in this festival, though it's set believably in '80s Taipei. Also: when it opened in Taiwan last year, its weekend gross was higher than that of the "Avatar".
* Oberhofer + Widowspeak @ Coco 66 / 66 Greenpoint Ave, Greenpoint (G to Greenpoint), 8p/$8. Captured Tracks lovelies Widowspeak are playing a bunch of shows over a few days. I suggest this one, pairing 'em before the stripped down post-punk of ultra-charismatic Oberhofer. Winning!
* "Rebels of the Neon God" (dir. Tsai Ming-liang, 1992) screening @ Walter Reade Theatre / Lincoln Center @ 65th St (1 to 66th St), 6:15p. I really dig this early film from Taiwanese New Wave's urban poet. Tsai so boldly conveys the alienation of teenagers within Taipei's neon-drenched nightlife, propelled by the thudding Detroit techno-ish soundtrack.
* Vivian Girls @ 285 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 9p/$10. Big thing as local garage-rock trio Vivian Girls are, it's extra dope they play a DIY venue on their home turf. Even cooler: Captured Tracks' Widowspeak share the bill. w/ Colleen Green (check "I Wanna Be Degraded")
* Francis Alÿs "A Story of Deception" @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St) + MoMA PS1 / 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City (E/M to Court Sq/Ely Ave, 7 to 45th Rd/Courthouse Sq). The Belgian-born Conceptualist, who's been based in Mexico City for decades now, is currently enjoying a two-armed mid-career retrospective at both museums across the Queensboro Bridge. In my memory this hasn't happened since Olafur Eliasson, and while I loved Eliasson's dual-borough exhibition I believe it works even better with Alÿs. Or at least Alÿs' "Modern Procession" (2002), a Public Art Fund-sponsored production that documents MoMA's temporary relocation to the Long Island City former schoolhouse during its 2002-4 expansion, is the centerpiece of PS1's excerpt, so there's something relevant and self-referencing in that. I encourage you to do sorta like that parade and take the E from the MoMA to PS1, catching both shows in an afternoon.
MoMA's portion is a big time-waster, at least on a first visit, because Alÿs' style is time-based videos (both in their respective durations and how long it took for him to complete them, usually a span of two years or more), which distract you to the point of transfixing, and scattered ephemera tangentially related to said videos and always riddled with text and explanations. You may well find yourself reading these, dwelling on them — you may well tire quickly and speed through later examples. Sound is an issue here, bleeding through the space from one video installation to another, and I doubt this is purposeful, though it lends a slight disorientation to the exhibition. His big video "When Faith Moves Mountains (Cuando la fe mauve montages)" (2002) contains two projections of that, plus a third video including interviews with some of the 500 volunteers (one pricelessly opines "I don't believe in art just for the sake of art"), the young people marching up a Lima, Peru dune in formation, shoveling away to move the mountain 10 cm. Thus goes Alÿs' saying "Máximo esfuerzo Minimo resultado", or "maximum effort, minimum results" — and don't take it from me, that emblem recurs in this narrow corridor lined with work-tables, transparencies (person walking with buildings strapped to their shoulders), paintings (a car fire), prints, newspaper articles (a lynching in Guatemala), and lots of text. All the while, tolling bells from a video in the opening of the exhibition permeate through, adding an unsettling immediacy to the people shoveling away. Alÿs' little paintings remind me more of another Belgian Surrealist, Rene Magritte, and we get a whole room of 'em in "Le Temps du sommeil" (an ongoing series since 1996), some 111 tile-sized paintings on wood, each a precious moment of weirdness, like windows into some foresty dreamscape. But since the audio element from the opening gallery doesn't carry all the way back here, MoMA installed "Song for Lupita (Mañana)" (1998), a looping filmstrip animation of a woman pouring water from one glass to another, an accompanying turntable's soundtrack melodiously humming "mañana, mañana" — doing without doing, as Alÿs might put it. This odd little piece sums up my Alÿs experience: his aversion to completing stuff, his penchant for drawing things out for years, revising and reconsidering in ever-mutating layers of change. Might as well check out "Tornado" (2000-10) and watch the artist fling himself into a tornado — it's very, VERY loud, and quite frightening, as the dirt around him almost liquifies, whirling around the terrific winds. It's good for a few minutes' viewing. The adjacent video "Politics of Rehearsal" (2005-7) comes with headphones, and it's up to you if you're like me and blow 30 minutes on this grand tease of a striptease. Alÿs filmed it in the LES's Slipper Room, following the perpetual restarts between a pianist (Alexander Rovag), a soprano (Viktoria Kurbatskaya) and a young stripper (Bella Yao) for the night's performance. A voiceover compares the stripper's slo-mo disrobing as a metaphor for Latin America and modernity, always approaching that goal but never quite there. She removes her underwear at least twice. "Rehearsal I" (1999-2001) is funnier and quicker, using the recording of a brass band's practice session to dictate the movements of a car up a sandy hill on the US/Mexico border (they play, the car starts; they screw up, the car stops; they start chattering, the car goes in reverse), plus loads more of requisite transparencies and little paintings.
I found that PS1's open-ended layout, with "The Modern Procession" unofficial centerpiece, worked far better in my Alÿs-going experience. That two-channel video itself, at just 12 minutes long, is a quickie in Alÿs terms, plus its clear start and conclusion and overall narrative — the parade carrying MoMA collection replicas (Picassos "Demoiselles D'Avignon, Giacometti's "Standing Woman", Duchamp's "Readymade") and the real Kiki Smith from 53rd St to Long Island City — make it far more accessible than Alÿs' broader oeuvre. Let the Peruvian fanfare guide you to it — it's one place where I particularly liked the sound carry-over. No videos here rival "The Modern Procession", though "Guards" (2004-5) provides a few unnerving minutes, if you're keen on that. Royal guards clomp about deserted London streets, like straight out of "28 Weeks Later" but much cleaner, their clipped movements linking in succession as they meet their peers. More paintings scattered about, like "Le juice errant" (2011), a fully-conceived version of the character bowing to the weight of buildings strapped to their back (seen in drawings at MoMA) and "Untitled (from Deja Vu)" 2011, a "diptych" on separate walls, a woman carrying a scythe vs a man carrying a hammer. The former appeared on the NYTimes Weekend Arts section, blown up to larger-than-lifesize scale (Alÿs' paintings, this one included, are all like 8x10" or smaller). One brilliantly confusing duplication too, of "Untitled (La Malinche)" (2010), two carved wood figures breaking out of a plastic bag. This work appears twice in the show, in opposite galleries, and its twin is a cheekily disorienting sendoff to the Conceptualist's retrospective.
* Donald Judd @ David Zwirner Gallery / 525-533 W 19th St. Define epic awesomeness with minimalist restraint. If you're thinking Donald Judd's visionary '89 installation at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany…well, you're a clairvoyant b/c that's exactly what I was thinking! But on the real: Zwirner Gallery restages Judd's classic array, the first time this has been executed since its initial realization. And it's a beaut, nine massive floor-mounted anodized aluminum open boxes, i.e. consummate Judd. Approach these slowly, beginning ideally w/ the lone box in the 25th St space's front gallery. Approach and be awed by the contents, vivid colorized Plexiglas in cobalt blue, amber or black occupy some interiors, adding a burst of informed variation. Others are "simply" silvery aluminum but divided at angles in Judd's brilliant vocabulary of angles and dimensions. The pair of boxes in the 533 space's front gallery play off their respective skylights, practically glowing with the orange-y and blue energies contained within. That this is the gallery's inaugural exhibition of this seminal postwar American artist makes me all kinds of stoked for what's coming next.
* Jasper Johns "New Sculpture and Works on Paper" @ Matthew Marks Gallery / 522 W 22nd St. The tireless Jasper Johns unfurls like 20+ years of future experimental opportunities in basically five years of fertile work. His waxy gridded numbers set the standard, and though they're riffs on classics he's been doing for decades, these new reliefs remain endlessly complex. Like he'll add some well-placed thumbprints to one, keys to another, and newsprint all around to form densely intriguing results. One bronzed relief is covered in imprinted pages from a book, while a silvery one is furiously bright. But to really "take it there", Johns made a slew of prints based on experimentation with Shrinky Dinks. Think about that for a minute, he takes that circa early '80s child's toy and, like that unseen oven magic, creates intaglios and ink prints bearing what looks like Picasso's "Guernica" in the spin cycle, silly-faced fish, Greek vases and loads else to Johns' recurring vocabulary of sign language terminology, chevrons and silhouetted figures.
* Georg Baselitz "The Early Sixties" @ Michael Werner Gallery / 4 E 77th St. Before this important postwar German artist was inverting portraits and landscapes, he was mining classical motifs from the past to the tune of Italian mannerism and — as the press release so acutely states — "the art of the insane". This body of work occurred during his move to West Berlin and it'll haunt your dreams. Whether it's the paintings, like the organic, body-horror landscape of "The Painting for the Fathers (Landscape for Father)" (1965) and the flesh-colored (plucked?) birds in "Black Garden" (1964) or the works on paper, like the writhing "Untitled (Whip Woman)" (1964) or the suitably insane "Untitled" watercolor from '63, three measles-inflicted, bent-over figures, you can't escape it. It's as if Baselitz focused all his vigorous disdain for the period's dominant Social Realism styles on these works, and they still pack a wallop today.
* Eric Fischl "Early Paintings" @ Skarstedt Gallery / 20 E 79th St. Fischl's playfully debaucherous angle to suburban Americana breathes life in the traditional imagery — traditional, that is, if you spent your summers nude on a boat or sunning by the pool. The barbecue scene in "Barbecue", w/ the grill-master practically breathing fire, bears some immediacy in its perspective, and "Slumber Party" a lack of pretension b/w the two figures.
* Arshile Gorky "1947" @ Gagosian / 980 Madison Ave. I am fairly certain this extremely late-works survey on the "master of the gesture", paintings and works on paper completed shortly before he took his own life, will NOT receive the hubbub like Picasso's dazzling and romantic exhibition downtown. And that's a shame, I'm telling you now: go see this show. Gorky's late works are brilliant but come from a very different, darker place than Picasso's rosy dozen years with Marie-Therese. You've got to spend time unraveling these, that even the sunny canvases "Pastoral" (1947) and "The Betrothal I" (1947) embody his troubled soul. Compare w/ the graphite and pastel study for "Pastoral", which swaps the yellows and bare canvas for a consuming layer of brown, or the works related to "Agony" — what began as plein air botanicals were abraded and sanded into awesome, even sinister, experimentation.
+ Joel Morrison. If you're averse to things shiny, specifically seeing your warped reflection in the surface of polished stainless steel, I say keep well enough away from Joel Morrison. However, if you're cool w/ it — and you should be, if you're reading this LIST — then dive right in. He's a trip, casting a weather balloon bursting from a fallen shopping cart in steel and titling it "Weather Balloon Trapped in a Shopping Cart". Also riffing off Salvador Dali's "Retrospective Bust of a Woman", swapping her hairdo for wiffle balls and hanging a spoon from her nose ("Wiffle Ball"). Or he'll just throw a bunch of disparate objet (in this case another shopping cart, a stability ball-sized foam orb, and a chop saw) and coat them in glossy black fiberglass, so it looks like a David Choe 'Munko' only supersized.
* Damian Loeb "Verschränkung and the Uncertainty Principle" @ Acquavella Gallery / 18 E 79th St. Loeb's cooked up some super-sexy photorealistic oil on linen paintings w/ juuuust the right degree of cinematic drama. It'll turn you voyeuristic and elicit a physical dialogue b/w you the viewer and they the subject…but swap out "subject" for "Loeb's wife Zoya" and think about that again. The works, like "Say Hello to the Angels" (w/ Zoya sprawled on the unmade bed, illuminated by an unseen television screen) or "Ghosts I-IV" (Zoya in the bathtub, head turned away from us), come from his photographs and show her in various stages of undress, at ease w/ her husband's gaze. Of course this is US staring at Zoya now that Damian's turned them into paintings. Though like w/ "Say Hello to the Angels", she locks eyes w/ him and w/ us, in a staredown that she'll win.
* Jack Smith "Thanks for Explaining Me" @ Gladstone Gallery / 515 W 24th St. Never in my lifetime have I been immersed in a Jack Smith exhibition such as this. PS1 mounted a proper retrospective back in '98, nearly a decade after his passing, but I was a youth then, blissfully unaware of this downtown legend. So for my generation this show is essential — and for those of you lucky to be living in NY in the '60s and '70s, it's also essential b/c it totally encompasses his creative oeuvre. I know him best for his films (they're all here, playing in sequence and in proper restored 16mm screenings on Saturdays), but his sketches, collages and related ephemera fill out the picture of the iconoclastic genius. We may never totally "get" Jack Smith, as there is so much to "get", so much that made him who he is, but Neville Wakefield's curated exhibition is an excellent start. Read on in LISTs like this for the Saturday film screening schedule.
* John Chamberlain "New Sculpture" @ Gagosian / 555 W 24th St. Casual art-goers may well be totally thrown off by the dual — duel? — Chamberlain exhibits in W. Chelsea, the sort of career retrospective swan song at Pace and this one, proclaiming "new sculpture" (crushed auto works from 2009 through seemingly weeks before the show opened). That's a lot of Chamberlain! And not counting Gagosian's Britannia space, hosting the second wing of Chamberlain's new works, after the blue-chip gallery added him to their roster of luminary postwar and contemporary big-names. Here's an easy way to tell a new Chamberlain from an old one: the name. Mind you, he's incredibly adept at naming his sculpture, but "Gangster of Love" and "Infected Eucharist" are oldies, like from the '80s oldies. "TASTYLINGUS" and "TAMBOURINEFRAPPE" — those are new! The all-caps and shoved together words are a clue. That's if you're not even looking at the works, which do signal a rift b/w the older Chamberlains and the brand-new monumental sculptures. His array at Gagosian bears an overall aggressive vibe, crushed and contused muscle cars twisted into even meaner shapes. Some are exceedingly shiny too, one consisting totally of chromed bumpers like the ribs of some Decepticon, but there's a good bit of rough-and-tumble, rusted and used steel still figuring into Chamberlain's modus. The ultimate for me goes back to the polished, a brand-new "Cloverfield"-sized monolith called "C'ESTZESTY" that's less like the other Chamberlains in the room, yet still retains the artist's irreverent sense of humor.
* Gillian Wearing "People" @ Tanya Bonakdar Gallery / 521 W 21st St. I spent a good long while transfixed by Wearing's seven-channel "Snapshot", an incredible homage to still photography and portraiture via an "actual" timeline of women, from a girlish cutie playing the violin (in contrasty b&w) to a grand-dame in her easychair, seemingly digitalized. Spend some time w/ this one, listening to an anonymous narrator on the provided headsets (culled from Wearing's many interviews and not specifically related to the seven women onscreen) as she recounts a fascinating monologue that, though personal to her, could apply to any of the seven portraits — or all of them. Besides the kid and the elder woman, there is a pretty teen (seemingly uncomfortable and delighted in her own skin), a beauty recalling Antonioni's screen muses, a '50s-era mother with baby, a perma-smiling mature woman (hot mom?), and an older woman alone in her automobile. The faceless narrator's words strike a different cue as you focus on each framed figure. Without ever having met any of them, I sensed their histories and their inherent awesomeness.
* Keith Haring @ Gladstone Gallery / 530 W 21st St. The gallery explores Haring's early drawings, culled from sketchbooks around his enrollment in SVA in '78, from impulsive penis drawings (preempting "Superbad") to mesmerizing inked geometric abstracts. Page after page of what would become Haring's fluidic vocabulary, graphic and graffiti-like but uniquely his. Plus three mural-sized works on paper from '82, created in conjunction with Bill T. Jones performances at The Kitchen.
* Katy Moran @ Andrea Rosen Gallery / 525 W 24th St. A breathless new body of work from the British artist, small-scale gestural abstract paintings in various treatments and washes on MDF board. Several instances incorporate collage with Moran's intense brushwork and reductive mark-making.
* Garth Weiser @ Casey Kaplan Gallery / 525 W 21st St. I've been a Weiser fan since his 2007 summer trio show here, and each subsequent time he's stunned me w/ his exacting geometries and optical crosshatchings. He furthers that visual vibe with a mix of mediums, sometimes as simple as just oil paint on canvas ("Unimark Unlimited", a moire ripping out of a field of hazy circles), others incorporating copper leaf ("Drawing #26", looks like a rattlesnake's skin up close)and dimensional fabric paint, like "Grinder" and "Jam Network", featuring scrawling non-patterns incised into layers of paint, revealing colorful layers beneath.
* Martin Kippenberger "I Had a Vision" @ Luhring Augustine / 531 W 24th St. I'm coming around to Kippenberger. Skarstedt Gallery's exhibition of his "Eggman" paintings this past spring helped, so now I can wade into the broader and weirder side of this German artist. Namely his mixed-media sculptural work, shown here as partially reconstructions of two large-scale exhibitions from the summer (San Francisco) and fall (an unused tunnel b/w two Vienna subway stations) of '91. There's some swapping around for space constraints, like pairing "Broken Kilometer" (1990), a Plexiglas rainbow on stilts, away from its mate "Carousel with ejection seat" (1991), a sort of circular train-track rainbow, and in the same space as the Vienna work, a cast-resin suited guy on a moped. Which makes me wonder what the original San Fran show was like, a wickedly perverse theme park by the looks of the original installation images.
* David Salle @ Mary Boone Gallery / 541 W 24th St. Salle follows up last year's exhibition of classic '80s paintings w/ new canvases revisiting his depictions of iconic women. Expect the usual deft pairings, as Salle mirrors a woman's contorted posing in bed with "The Mennonite Button Problem"'s two angled deck chairs. Their push-pull exertions echo or precede this boat imagery, a newer thing for the artist adapted from George Caleb Bingham's 19th C river scenes. Another long canvas bisects the woman's movements below with a network of black kelplike lines and actual lightbulbs, like a field of stars overhead.
* Ashley Bickerton "Nocturnes" @ Lehmann Maupin / 540 W 26th St. Rhetorical question: can Ashley Bickerton's oeuvre get any more acid flashback-y? Obvious answer: hell yes. Welcome to "Nocturnes", his slice of sexy nightlife from some tropical far-future clubland, decked in carved-wood frames (bearing 'Bickerton', shiny decal-style). I'm talking "Neon Bar" and "Red Scooter Nocturne", where tattooed and face-painted PYTs cavort w/ blue-skinned fatmen, the city a neon smear behind them. Or "FITNW3", a portrait composed of many, many 3D prints, bursting from an spiky coral base like fungi. Makes his usual ultra-colorful mixed media paintings look positively calm.
* "Idée Fixe" @ Winkleman Gallery / 621 W 27th St. A group show of black and white drawings created from intense, time-consuming gestures, ranging from Man Bartlett's fields of wee circles, repeated freehandedly infinitum, to Astrid Bowlby's seductive dark gardens. Bowlby's duo were my favorites, but Joan Linder and Daniel Zeller eschewed the allover approach for incredibly detailed central objects, a weed for Linder and an organic spiny cross-section for Zeller.
* Ivan Witenstein @ Derek Eller Gallery / 615 W 27th St. Continuing his political and cultural imagery with Witenstein's takes on "jazz diplomacy" circa WWII, imbued w/ confrontational pop imagery. He's crowded the gallery w/ clashing figures, neo-expressionist paintings hung salon-style and carved oak and poplar sculptures bearing two figures each, in symbiotic embraces.
* Li Songsong @ The Pace Gallery / 534 W 25th St. This is the debut U.S. solo exhibition of the Beijing-based artist, whose style is heavily impastoed and abstracted large-scale paintings recalling photographs and film stills. Though I dare you to make out even half the subject matter, buried as they are under like cake-frosting layers of somber paint. That said, Li works deftly b/w figurative compositions (like "Couple", half-hidden in a blocky test-pattern of black and gray rectangles) and graphic renderings, like "Escape", obviously taken from an airplane disaster training booklet.
* Sean Landers "Around the World Alone" @ Friedrich Petzel Gallery / 537 W 22nd St. I hope you like clowns! Because you're getting clowns, an entire room full of 'em in apparently the prolific artist's 50th solo exhibition. Landers evokes his signature buffoon on a lifelong journey at sea, clown on a rowboat, clown steering a ship on troubled waters, over and over and over again.
* Richard Tuttle "What's the Wind" @ The Pace Gallery / 510 W 25th St. In my understanding of Richard Tuttle's oeuvre, this lot of "space frame" free-standing sculptures feels very un-Tuttle to me, though it apparently synthesizes decades of his work. Take "System 4, Hummingbird", for me the most Tuttle-esque due to the stretched fabric hanging in the middle of the work like a kidney-shaped kite amid a laundry list of media (painted Styrofoam, aluminum wire, birch plywood, monofilament). Or "System 3, Measurement" in the back gallery, some grouping of misshapen balloons covered in rice paper and suspended over a loose grid of white-coated steel. Their overall vivid fragility is VERY Tuttle, however.
* Laurel Nakadate @ Leslie Tonkonow Art Projects / 535 W 22nd St. Maybe you've been to PS1 to see Laurel Nakadate's exhaustive 10-year survey? You should! Her 2010 series "365 Days: A Catalogue of Tears" is an unescapable presence: some hundred same-size 40x50" prints cover the 2nd Fl walls, effectively placing us w/in her captured sadness. She photographed herself crying each and everyday of 2010, in the morning, at night, nude, fully clothed, all over the world. It's but one facet of her PS1 exhibition but it's almost the entire subject of her latest solo exhibition at Tonkonow Projects. The images are smaller here, each 8x10", but it's the full 365, a concentrated blast of forced and actualized emotion running in a grid across two walls. While you could say some of their intensity is lost in the smaller scales, the sheer number of individual, unique prints and the understanding that Nakadate did this daily throughout 2010 is quite overwhelming in its own. She accompanies these with a new video work, "Lost Party Guest", of her blindfolded and groping about empty reception rooms in the Park Avenue Armory. It's a disconcerting vignette but, with "365 Days" behind her, perhaps it signals a reprieve from the sadness.
* Aaron Young "Built Tough" @ Bortolami / 520 W 20th St. Young christens the show w/ more Americana, approaching the U.S. flag as Minimalist faded silkscreens on thick belts of linen. They hang regally, some as folded triangles, others as those triangles w/ a bare expanse of raw linen occupying the rest of the rectangle. The adjacent smaller gallery is crowded with seemingly ash-colored child sculptures (coated in winterstone, a mixture of concrete and something), each bearing some war-mongering poster. Dystopian?
* Robert Greene @ Robert Miller Gallery / 524 W 26th St. New textural abstract paintings and works on paper, composed on acid-free vellum and mounted on thin aluminum panels. Some like "Luc" and "Jed" are feverishly reductive monochromes, composed entirely of repeated scratchings (the fully colorized "Doug" will force your eyes crossed if you stare at it). Others blow the grid up to inch-sized increments, incorporating dashes of color here and there like he took his old Arcadian landscapes, cut them up, and remixed them to total abstraction.
* Jaume Plensa @ Galerie Lelong / 528 W 26th St. I realized that in encountering Plensa's four-story-tall "Echo" sculpture in Madison Square Park that I FAR enjoy his timelessly futuristic figures outdoors. Something about them, their anonymity, their impossibility suits them to be among trees and a very natural landscape. So for those expecting that gut-punch in his latest gallery show, you're headed for a letdown. What he's created is a series of mixed-media portraits (I have no idea the media, they appear to be almost photographic from a distance but slippery and multilayered up close) that he debuted last year at the Musée Picasso in Antibes, France. They are admittedly part of his broader body of work (including drawings and etchings) that I'm way less familiar with, so taken together w/ the park's "Echo", I dig it.
* Leon Kossoff @ Mitchell-Innes & Nash / 534 W 26th St. This is a very calming and contemplative show considering its neighbors. The British artist reveals new landscape paintings from the last decade, executed in a mottled, textured style and focusing on this old cherry tree in his garden. He offsets every two paintings or so by a smaller-sized portrait on board.
* Almagul Menlibayeva "Transoxiana Dreams" @ Priska C. Juschka Fine Art / 547 W 27th St. The Kazakh artist turns her lens from her native Steppe to the sickeningly arid Aral Sea, which might sound like a misquote but that region — Aralkum — is so devastated from past Soviet irrigation policies that it's practically a desert. There's an animation on the Aral Sea's wikipedia page that is absolutely haunting: the water is literally sucked away between like the '50s and today, to where despite new damming and replenishing efforts it's expected to totally dry up in a few years. Menlibayeva's new film shows the aftermath via folklore, a young girl imagining her fisherman father's odyssey across the desolate land to the sparkling sea, seduced along the way by beautiful women "centaurs" (mimicking the legend of ancient Greeks mistaking Steppe nomads for the mythical creatures). In accompanying duratrans prints in lighboxes and lambda prints on aluminum, her usual cast of lovely figures set against rusted wrecks and concrete blocks, the horizon extended threateningly in all directions, embody an even weightier immediacy and impending dread.
* Yuki Onodera @ Yossi Milo Gallery / 525 W 25th St. Onodera introduces her debut solo stateside show w/ two classic ongoing series. Her "Transvest" began in 2002, featuring silhouetted (yet recognizable) figures, created via a multistep process of finding iconic images, photographing them against strong back-lighting, then collaging their nondescript interior w/ fragmented media and printing it. The thing to keep in mind with "The Eleventh Finger" (from 2006 onward) is Onodera's spontaneity, shooting street-style w/o using the viewfinder, then manipulating the images with lace overlays in the printing process.
* Ruud van Empel "Wonder" @ STUX Gallery / 530 W 25th St. Mural-sized super-sharp and color-saturated groupings of a veritable UN of cute kids that'll bring tears to your eyes. It's like I KNOW they're photographs, ostensibly, but they're surreally exacted, like they're going to jump off their Plexiglas backings. Van Empel's included some more utopian world imagery, too, with one or several kids set within an almost primordial jungle, thick with shadows, sunlight and an almost palpable humidity.
* Razvan Boar, Christian Schoeler, Alexander Tinei, George Young @ Ana Cristea Gallery / 521 W 26th St. Four youngish male European artists disinterested w/ conveying traditional masculine art. That get you going? That's not to say Londoner George Young and Bucharest's Razvan Boar don't create incredibly sexy paintings — incl. Young's entirely on paper tacked to the wall. Or Tinei's acuity with cropping for maximum impact, like his nearly abstract "Blue Feet". I was introduced to Schoeler's sun-drenched work at VOLTA NY 2011, and his soft-focus, tousle-haired young men resemble mirrors back to the artist himself.
* Nyoman Masriadi @ Paul Kasmin Gallery / 293 10th Ave. Hulking, hyperreal superhero types in the Indonesian painter's debut stateside, each rendered with differing degrees of homoeroticism, depending on your take on those skintight jumpsuits.
* Sarah Frost "Arsenal" @ PPOW / 535 W 22nd St, 3rd Fl. "I fly like paper/get high like planes" — no, but really, this is awesome. Frost took impetus from a series of instructional YouTube videos on paper gun-making, created by a group of boys, and crafted an installation of painstakingly detailed (and entirely paper-made) weaponry, from Western pistols to sci-fi assault rifles. The end result, a dizzying array of fragile faux weaponry, shown only at last year's Great Rivers Biennial in St. Louis, is both a celebration of craftsmanship and ingenuity and a meditation on violence, politics and everything these guns signify.
* Idris Khan @ Yvon Lambert / 550 W 21st St. Idris Khan "The Devil's Wall". Khan represents the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and stone-throwing at the Jamarat walls in two cerebral flavors. He's removed the three-wall essence for one, leaving three glistening aluminum bowls in their wake, etched with words that disappear as they're sucked into the bowls' respective voidlike interiors. Even more effective, Khan represents the inward contemplation of the pilgrims in his drawings "21 Stones", each a rhythmic stamping of his own thoughts and wishes on paper, blurring phrases like "God is great" and "I wish I knew my mother" into metaphysical echoes of sculptural bowls.