* "The Eye" (dirs. The Pang Bros, 2001) screening @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St), 7p. Along w/ such simply titled J-Horror classics as "The Ring" and "The Grudge" came this chilling powerhouse from Hong Kong, whose literal title "Seeing Ghosts" pronounce the plot a bit too literally. Forget the 2008 American remake (I did!) and see the scary original, of a young violinist whose cornea transplant has her seeing vengeful specters everywhere!
* Jack Smith Program 4: "I Was a Male Yvonne DeCarlo" (1967-70s), "Song for Rent" (1969), "Hot Air Specialists" (1980s), "Cobra Woman" (dir. Robert Siodmak, 1944) @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St), 6:30p. This fourth iteration of the underground avant-garde iconoclasts films includes the "novella-length" "Cobra Woman", which despite involving a different director starred frequent Smith collaborator/muse Maria Montez and the high-larious late work "Hot Air Specialists".
* An evening with Don Hertzfeldt @ Alamo Drafthouse S. Lamar / 1120 S. Lamar, 7p. The Sundance Film Fest winner, Oscar nominee and über-creative Hertzfeldt has more animated awesomeness in his left pinkie than most of us in our entire bodies. No offense, but Hertzfeldt's a phenom. He presents his entire 35mm "Bill" trilogy, the older works "Everything Will Be OK" and "I Am So Proud of You" plus debuting "It's a Beautiful Day", along with other shorts and a guaranteed insightful Q&A and discussion. ALSO THURS
* Plaid @ ND at 501 Studios / 501 I-35, 9p/$12. Warp Records-led IDM (and actually Nothing Records, too — remember them??) released this pivotal UK duo's classic "Not for Threes" back in '97, a very happy time for glitchy music. I admittedly fell off 'em around 2001 and "Double Figure"…but I never forgot 'em, and I am terribly stoked that they've not only got a new LP out, the sometimes genius "Scintilli", but they're ALSO here, live.
* Real Estate + Big Troubles @ The Parish / 214 E 6th St, 8p/$15. Ridgewood NJ's surf-tinged mellow-men Real Estate released the cutest video for new single "It's Real", that if you're a dog lover you'll instantly melt for and if you're not, unless you're made of like granite, you'll be moved. It's telling of their warmly inviting style, as appropriate at the beach as fireside, when the temperature drops. Their Bushwick brethren Big Troubles open w/ soul-searing rock.
* SUNDAYS @ Club Que / B2F 2-5-2 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku (Inokashira Line to Shimokitazawa Station), 6:30p/2500 yen. This tough-as-nails Tokyo power-pop quartet SUNDAYS (propelled by firecracker vocalist Fuyumi Kobayashi — think a cute girl version of Mick Jagger) celebrate their ripping new single まるいとんがり that'll rock your socks off. w/ KINGONS
* Alexander Tinei "Dark Pearl" @ Ana Cristea Gallery / 521 W 26th St. I've been a massive fan of the Moldova-born artist, whose darkly glamorous oils somehow combine Caravaggio and Goya with Hedi Slimane to scintillating effect, since his barnstorming at VOLTA 2010. He returns in his second solo show here, washing out his subjects' skin and illuminating them seemingly from within. Sounds delicious.
* Esther Kläs "Nobody Home" @ Peter Blum Chelsea / 526 W 29th St. The German artist focuses on the strength and independence of sculpture, i.e. their physicality and illusion of movement, in her debut at the gallery. That Kläs sticks to industrial elements like resin and concrete amid more traditional clay and plaster keeps the lots visceral.
* Richard Mosse "Infra" @ Jack Shainman Gallery / 512 W 20th St. Mosse pairs discontinued military surveillance technology — the color infrared Kodak Aerochrome — with images of rebel groups and ongoing conflicts in East Congo. His previous exhibition here of abandoned aircraft and vehicles in desiccated environments was moving, but "Infra" could double that intensity.
* Howard Fonda @ Mixed Greens / 531 W 26th St. Fonda's been on a search for sincerity and truth in mark-making, and in his fifth solo exhibition at the gallery and this new array of vividly colorful abstract oil paintings, he just may have locked in on it.
* Laura Ortiz Vega "Cosmografiti" + Cayce Zavaglia "Multiple Stitches" @ Lyons Wier Gallery / 542 W 24th St. Vega adapts and abstracts her own photography of graffiti in her native Mexico City with traditional artisanal techniques, while Zavaglia embroiders portraits in a hyperrealistic, "modern pointillism" style.
* A Celebration of George Kuchar: Rambunctious Rarities, Moody Masterpieces @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St), 6:30p. American underground filmmaking legend Kuchar passed away earlier this year. I had the esteemed pleasure of meeting him in March and lemme tell you: he's a helluva storyteller. That should prove true in an evening celebrating his video works, from the early "Mosholu Holiday" (1966) to the absolutely bonkers "Temple of Torment" (2006) and the classic "Statue in the Park" (1996), honoring his frequent collaborator, twin brother Mike. Plus longtime friends Trisha Donnelly and Bruce Hainley attend to discuss Kuchar's life and oeuvre.
* "Tears of the Black Tiger" (dir. Wisit Sasanatieng, 2000) screening @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St), 4p. This psychedelic-toned, stylized Thai Western was a HUGE splashy debut for Sasanatieng, which was rightly lauded at Cannes 2011, Vancouver International Film Festival…and then Miramax purchased it for distribution and SHELVED IT. Lucky for the world, there's Magnolia Pictures, who resurrected this outlaw romantic drama and brought it in limited release to U.S. cities. See it on the big screen.
* Heliotropes + Strange Rivals @ Cake Shop / 152 Ludlow St (F/JMZ to Essex/Delancey), 8p/FREE. Are you here to rock? I want to see you lose your minds!!! Strange Rivals will unnerve you with psych-tinged dissonance before the women of Heliotropes lovingly maul your skulls with the pinnacle of doom-pop coming outta Brooklyn (or anywhere, really). w/ No Fun + Lead Stones
* Balam Acab (PA) @ (le) poisson rouge / 158 Bleecker St (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St, 6 to Bleecker St), 11p/$16. The intense, fractured beauty of this very young Pennsylvanian producer's watery "chamber dub" puts him one rung firmly above the witch-house pack. w/ Trust and True Womanhood
* Thee Oh Sees (San Fran) + The Beets @ 285 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$12. The tireless, tatted skronk-punks Thee Oh Sees may have satisfied legions w/ their stirringly melodious psych-folk LP "Castlemania" this summer, but they have ANOTHER album dropping like now, "Carrion Crawler/The Dream", and tonight's the night to celebrate. w/ Jackson Heights' finest garage-rockers The Beets and Aussie synth-punks Total Control.
* Jonathan Faber "Idle" @ Champion / 800 Brazos St. Landscapes refocused through the prism of memory and lucid dreams, revealing multiplanar environments, shifting grounds and chaotically abstracted structures. I approach this show with "immersive" whispered on my lips.
* Holy Ghost! (NYC) w/ Jessica 6 (NYC) @ The Parish / 214 E 6th St, 8p/$17. I'm well aware Austin can handle electropop w/ aplomb, so this pairing of DFA funk-meisters Holy Ghost! ("Hold Your Breath" and the New Order-ish "Do It Again") w/ dark disco divas Jessica 6 (led by absolute hottie Nomi Ruiz, trust me "I know") should be, ah, perfection.
* Atari Teenage Riot @ Liquidroom / 3-16-6 Higashi, Shibuya-ku (JR Yamanote Line etc to Ebisu station), 7p/5500 yen. Digital hardcore-core-core!!!!!!! Original Berlin-area electro-punks ATR have been keeping it real and noisy for years, and now with Nic Endo front and center you best believe they can rile a crowd to action (or at least very sweaty slam-dancing!). w/ Tokyo ultra-punks 9mm Parabellum Bullet
* Karen Arm @ PPOW / 535 W 22nd St, 3rd Fl. The Brooklyn- and Shelter Island-based artist moves her intensely process-driven abstract painting style to intimately scaled works on paper, but don't think the contrast will do anything to lessen her technique: a gradual, effervescent accumulation of dots that echo sunbursts, splashing water, fog and other near-intangibles.
* "Last Life in the Universe" (dir. Pen-ek Ratanaruang, 2003) screening @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St), 4p. This surreal crime thriller, half set in neon-drenched Bangkok and half set in the dreamy, dusty beachside, is among my most favorite films, ever. That's a big statement from a cinema buff like me, so take my word. The tentative friendship b/w troubled Japanese businessman Kenji (a superb, understated Tadanobu Asano) who just may be a former Yakuza thug, and trippy, mourning barmaid Noi (Sinitta Boonyasak), communicating in a pastiche of Japanese, Thai and English, is just magical. Highly recommended!
* "Tyrannosaur" (dir. Paddy Considine, 2010) @ Angelika NY / 18 W Houston St (BDFM to Broadway/Lafayette). Back this spring, the co-presentation of "Tyrannosaur" w/ New Directors/New Films went for the jugular. It's Considine's debut full-length, about a violent and self-destructive bloke named Joseph in Leeds falling for a charity worker named Hannah, whose got her own devastating secrets, and about damn time it gets a proper screen-run.
* Shonen Knife (Japan!) + Heavy Cream (TN) @ Bell House / 149 7th St, Gowanus (F/G to Smith/9th St), 8p/$12. I'll be honest with you: I think this venue is a bit too tidy for a sweaty, fierce Shonen Knife show. But no worries, the ladies of the original "Osaka Ramones" will tear it up, accented by local Azn riot-grrrls Hard Nips and Nashville garage-punk cuties Heavy Cream. Get wild.
* Parts & Labor @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/. Brooklyn's penultimate noise-rockers are ticking off performances before their 10-year anniversary and retirement next Feb. Tonight they tackle the classic "Mapmaker", what with its thunderous "The Gold We're Digging" that got music geeks from here to Sweden drooling over 'em. w/ Knyfe Hyts and Antimagic
* "Part One" @ Visual Arts Center / UT Art Building, 23rd St at Trinity. The Department of Art and Art History at UT Austin shows their mettle in the first of a three-year, three-part show. This first iteration focuses on the Studio Art wing and 10 faculty-artists, including Margaret Meehan (who just concluded an awesome solo exhibition at Women & Their Work Gallery), photography by Lawrence McFarland and Elizabeth Chiles, plus printmaking by the department's interim chair, Lee Chesney.
* Melancholia" (dir. Lars von Trier, 2011) @ Violet Crown Cinema / 434 W 2nd St + Alamo Drafthouse S. Lamar / 1120 S. Lamar. The denouement of "Melancholia", which rightfully earned a best actress award at Cannes for Kirsten Dunst's role, had me contacting friends in NYC and Tokyo with promises of visiting them as soon as possible. It's the end of the world, beginning with a wedding reception for Dunst and teasing out her…complicated relationship w/ her sister, played pitch-perfectly by Charlotte Gainsbourg, ending w/ among the most emotionally devastating conclusions in my filmic history. Deserves to be seen on the big screen.
* Pterodactyl (Brooklyn) @ Emo's / 603 Red River, 10p/$10. Brooklyn's fiercely indie thrash-rockers Pterodactyl hit the Hill Country on their two-month tour (culminating back home in mid-Dec) w/ a new LP "Spills Out", and if lead track "Nerds" is any indication — high melodiousness and percolating rhythm, plus an upped fuzz factor — it's gonna be DOPE. w/ Daniel Francis Doyle
* Maiko Haruki "view for a moment" @ Taro Nasu Gallery / 1-2-11 Higashi-kanda, Chiyoda-ku (Sobu Line to Bakurocho Station). The Ibaraki-born photographer exhibits from her boldly over/underexposed b&w body of work that induces an interesting degree of participatory "seeing". She is also participating in Vol 10 of contemporary Japanese photographers at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Ebisu (opening Dec 10).
* cyclo (Ryoji Ikeda + Carsten Nicolai) + Nisennenmondai @ WWW / 12-17 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku (JR etc to Shibuya Station, Hachiko Exit), 10:30/4000 yen. The live-house celebrates its first anniversary in a HUGE way, headlined by the awesome sound-artist duo Ikeda and Nicolai as cyclo, accented by Tokyo's kraut-infused math-rockers Nisennenmondai, O.N.O. and duo NUMB + Masato Tsutsui.
* Jason Middlebrook "A Break From Content" @ DODGEgallery / 15 Rivington St. Middlebrook highlights his series "planks" in his debut solo exhibition at the gallery, merging internal cuts of various woods with repeated geometries in saturated pigments.
* Otomo Yoshihide + Christian Marclay "The Art of Noise" @ Japan Society / 333 E 47th St (E/M to 53rd/Lexington, 6 to 51st St), 5p/SOLD OUT (discussion), 8:30p/SOLD OUT (concert), both/SOLD OUT. This is HUGE: experimental music heavies Otomo-san (the loudest free-jazz virtuoso around) and Marclay (beyond "The Clock") take turntablism eons further. Do it up: take in their electrifying lecture on the Japanese experimental music scene and non-music movements worldwide, then stick around for a ferocious live concert.
* Jasmyne Graybill "Home Sweet Home" @ Women & Their Work / 1710 Lavaca St. Graybill highlights notions of natural growth and decay, plus the ecosystem balance therein, with her realistic installations of sculpted fungus, lichen and mold. I.e. the kind of science-y exhibition I can really get into.
* East Austin Studio Tour @ various East Austin venues, 11a-6p/FREE. Some 300 E. Austin artist studios and indie venues open their doors for this 10th anniversary, two-weekend artsy bash. All YOU need to do is show up. This is my first E.A.S.T. since returning to the city, so I have some major planning to do, but check the website for an exhaustively detailed PDF map: http://www.eastaustinstudiotour.com/. Better yet: pick up a free E.A.S.T. catalogue from any Austin public library and tack its massive enclosed map to your wall. Thumb through pages of galleries and artist studios and sort out what you want to see and when. Looks like beautiful weather this weekend. See you there? ALSO SUN.
* Lisa Choinacky "Reality is Only a Rorschach Ink-Blot, You Know" @ Co-Lab / 613 Allen St, 7-11p. Choinacky created a life-sized diorama in the style of that iconic, amorphous psych-test, collaged with mirror images of basketball players in motion but reflecting our own focused (and at times blatantly brusque, violent) movements within the world. (on view throughout E.A.S.T.)
* Melt-Banana (Japan) @ Mohawk / 912 Red River, 8p/$12. EEEYUHH! Melt-Banana will rock your face off!!! At first I thought it was funny psych-electro bands Prince Rama (NYC) and Indian Jewelry were on the roster, but they're playing inside whilst grindcore legends Melt-Banana (with 400 Blows!) tear up the larger outdoor stage. That's more like it.
* The Ghost Wolves @ Beerland / 711 Red River, 9p. Local gritty juke-joint blues duo The Ghost Wolves are best enjoyed LOUD and live. Their debut LP "In Ya Neck!" only hints at their swagger. Don't miss this.
* Sumiyo Ito "child's play" @ Nanzuka Underground / Shirokane Art Complex 2F, 3-1-15 Shirokane, Minato-ku (Namboku/Mita subway lines to Shirokane-Takanawa Station). Ten new figurative sculpture works, steeped in childhood memories, mythology and free creativity, from the Nagano-born artist.
* 「天使突抜六丁目」 (dir. Masafumi Yamaha, 2011) @ K's Cinema / 3F 3-35-13 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku (JR etc to Shinjuku Station, East Exit). Umm…so Noboru (Taku Manabe), fall-guy in a corporate bankruptcy, finds himself transported one day to neighborhood in Kyoto he's never heard of, called "Tenshi-Tsukinuke-Rokuchome" (like the title), and he grows angel wings and hits it off w/ some weird winged girl named Miyuki (eerie cutie Natsumi Seto). Oh an a bunch of old-school actors (anchored by the infallible Akira Emoto) show up too. Exclusive premiere at K's!
* 「ネムリユスリカ」 (dir. Katsumi Sakaguchi, 2011) @ Imageforum Theatre / 2-10-2 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku (JR etc to Shibuya Station, East Exit). Called "Sleep" in its successful premiere at the Chicago International Film Festival 2011, "Nemuri-Yusurika" focuses on nomadic Kotono, victim of a rape 17 years ago, and the daughter Natsume born from that rape, plus their respective bonds and motivations for living on the road.
* lemon's chair + DJ Twee Grrrls Club @ Fever / 1-1-14 Hanegi, Setagaya-ku (Odakyu Inokashira Line to Shindaita or Shimokitazawa Stations), 7p/4000 yen. Tokyo's ferociously loud shoegazers lemon's chair and the ever-effervescent Twee Grrrls Club DJ contingent support Stockholm lovelies Sad Day for Puppets on their Japan tour. w/ sugardrop and Shelling
* Hair Stylistics + GENOCIDE etc @ Meguro RockMayKan / B1 1-5-17 Meguro, Meguro-ku (JR Yamanote Line to Meguro Station), 5:30p/4200 yen. I wish I were in Tokyo NOW for this furious showcase, feat. GENOCIDE's epic, old-school metal and Hair Stylistics' sound-collage noise assault. w/ SIGH and DORAID
* "All About Lily Chou Chou" (dir. Shunji Iwai, 2001) screening @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St), 2p. Iwai's singular dream-like film "Lily Chou-Chou" eerily encapsulates the high-school experience of contemporary Japanese youth: the bullying, the pop-idol worship, the grip of Internet message boards and the peer pressure to do unspeakably evil things. To watch this is to be immersed in Iwai's story, grounded in the pop ethereality of Lily herself.
* "The Yellow Sea" (dir. Na Hong-jin, 2011) screening @ Museum of the Moving Image / 36-01 35 Ave, Astoria (R to Steinway St), 4p. This breakneck cross-Korean thriller is like an out of control bullet train of mob hits, police chases and shattered bones. Na's film screened in the Un Certain Regard section of 2011 Cannes, plus it was a box office hit in S. Korea and overwhelmingly lauded at the NYAFF and diverse other film festivals.
* 住所不定無職 @ THREE / B1F 5-18-1 Daizawa, Setagaya-ku (Inokashira Line to Shimokitazawa Station), 7p/3000 yen. I am terribly addicted to this charmingly titled trio, which in English literally means "no fixed address nor job" — which can mean either a transient or your typical post-high school badass. Plus I'm a sucker for lead-singer drummers, as Yurina totally is, and even more so for double-necked bass-guitarists who ALSO sing, which cutie Yoko TOTALLY is. Take single "Magical Night Rock 'n Roll" (and other single "I Wanna Be Your Beatles") as clues to their awesomeness.
* "Springtime in a Small Town" (dir. Tian Zhuangzhuang, 2002) screening @ MoMA / 11 W 53rd St (E/M to 5th Ave, 6 to 51st St), 7p. Tian's acclaimed return to the camera was his remake of Fei Mu's '48 film, the rekindling of a love affair that began a decade before the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War.
* Japan Seminar: "What is Black Literature and Can You Write It In Japanese?" @ Meyerson Conference Room, WCH 4.118, UT Austin Campus, 4p. Intriguing: a talk on postwar Japanese authors who read, translated and ultimately incorporated African American literary techniques into their own literary discourse as mode of protest on cultural hegemony, beginning with Kenzaburo Oe, Kenji Nakagami and Eimi Yamada as points of departure.
* the milky tangerine @ Club Que / B2F 2-5-2 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku (Inokashira Line to Shimokitazawa Station), 7p/2300 yen. Love love LOVE local indie-rock quartet the milky tangerine — to me they're like The Brilliant Green of 2011, sweetly strong female vox around lots of guitars. LIST recommended!
* FOUR GET ME A NOTS @ NINESPICES / B1 2-1-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku (JR etc to Shinjuku Station, East Exit), 7p/2300 yen. The definition of live music-going masochism, is scheduling two of my favorite indie bands, Tokyo's the milky tangerine (see above) with Chiba power-punks FOUR GET ME A NOTS. Shoganai, as it goes in Japanese, can't be helped!
* Mark di Suvero @ Paula Cooper Gallery / 534 W 21st St. The preeminent American artist presents a new monumental steel sculpture that furthers his skill in making colossal and torqued steel beams appear ethereal, plus a huge painting of explosive color overlays.
* "Infra-Man" (dir. Shan Hua, 1975) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E 6th St, 9:45p. AKA "Chinese Superman" (it's original Hong Kong title, seriously!), which would hide the brilliantly bonkers pairing of kung fu action and "henshin", monster/robot costume action. Notable for being China's first superhero movie, and IMO equally famous for lead antagonist "Princess Dragon Mom", the stage-name of a Michigan-based harsh noise duo.
* THE APRILS @ Koenji High / 4-30-1 Koenji-Minami, Suginami-ku (Chuo Line to Koenji Station), 6p/3000 yen. Tsukuba retro-futurists THE APRILS celebrate the release of their "Magical Girls" EP, an almost French-pop array of wheezy synths and crystalline guitars (with coed vocals!) and a helluva fun time. w/ DJs from Shibuya Girls Pop
* Richard Serra "Junction/Cycle" @ Gagosian / 555 W 24th St. Shame on us jaded art-goers who approach a Serra installation w/ tired expectations, believing there'll be just some big-ass weathered steel to navigate and it's a been-there, done-that sort of thing. No big deal. Shame on us, b/c this duet of mazelike monoliths is singularly amazing, a Zen-like wandering through soaring sheets of steel streaked with sunlight, mottled with either undersea shadows or the primordial gasses of some distant nebula. My favorite Gagosian-installed Serra exhibition, and easily rivaling his MoMA retrospective in sheer interactive bliss. Do not disregard it.
* Rene Magritte "Dangerous Liaisons" @ Blain-DiDonna / 981 Madison Ave. Define 'dream come true'. If you're a surrealist buff like yours truly, then seeing a swath of your personal hero Rene Magritte's oeuvre up close and personal is just that: overwhelmingly emotive and sheer art-viewing perfection. The gallery inaugurates its presence above the Waldorf-Astoria with a survey of 30 oil paintings, gouaches and drawings by the Belgian Surrealist, the largest Magritte show in NYC in years (decades?) and culled almost entirely from private collections. It leads off w/ "Cinéma Bleu", aka Magritte's first mighty plunge into dreamland's embrace and includes such heady offerings as "La Mémoire" (the marble head w/ her bloodstained temple), "L'Empire des Lumieres" (one of his massive twilit dwellings beneath a blue sky) and "Cosmogonie élémentaire" (where his familiar skittlepin imagery becomes a fire-belching odalisque). Also: the titular painting, a seductive nude whose reflection turns the opposite direction in a mirror and gouaches of the bowler-hatted man with a green apple floating in front of his face and that famous pipe-not-a-pipe. Now define 'mayjah'.
* Michaël Borremans "The Devil's Dress" @ David Zwirner / 525 W 19th St. "Moody", "creepy", "dramatic" — or better yet, "cinematic" — are apt describers to Borremans' murky, ageless portraits and ambiguously staged scenes. He doesn't make the going any easier for us, in this new series of paintings w/ purposefully subtle/sinister titles and a variant three-part work on paper.
* Neo Rauch "Heilstaetten" @ David Zwirner / 533 W 19th St. I had a significantly belated psylocibin flashback upon experiencing Rauch's latest. The social realist (and subtle surrealist) unveils new oils (in both large-format and intimate flavors), plus a bronze sculpture "Falknerin". Spatial perceptions dissolve in multi-figure renderings like "Ware", w/ seemingly giant men (with greatly distended arms) intermingle w/ reduced figures, and in the much smaller "Rota", where either a Golden Age UFO or carnival ride breaks up an otherwise typical country landscape. Heavy, lovely works.
* Bianca Beck "Body" @ Rachel Uffner Gallery / 47 Orchard St. I've encountered this young NY-based artist's intriguing, very physical oeuvre (gestural, abraded abstract mixed-media paintings, small painted-wood sculpture) in group shows only, so I'm totally psyched to see a larger showing of it. In her solo debut here, she includes ripped canvases in "body colors" (makes me think of Ana Mendieta), small-scale sculpture and works that incorporate sculptural and 2D elements. The figurative elements imbued in these, whether a rough-hewn wood block like a feminine torso, or a burned oil on panel.
* Nan Goldin "Scopophila" @ Matthew Marks Gallery / 522 W 22nd St. This is Goldin's first solo exhibition in NYC since 2007 (not counting, obvs, her dreamy/sinister contributions to "New Works" at this gallery last year), and it's a biggie. She unveils the titular slide installation — stay with me here! it's doper than it sounds! —, commissioned by the Louvre Museum last year, nearly a half-hour of over 400 photographs from Goldin's life intermingled w/ classic Louvre paintings and sculpture. Beyond that, she includes a bunch of image pairings, reclining "Odalisque" versus her own nudes, "Veiled" figures decadent and dreamy, for an entirely intoxicating encounter.
* Mike Bayne "Kingston Spring and Muffler" @ Mulherin + Pollard / 187 Chrystie St. Simply breathtaking little photorealist oils on board, remarkable both for their respective small (even very tiny) scales and their incredible, natural realism. I'm talking both portraiture and snowy urban vistas, populated with graffiti'ed buildings, banal adverts and automobiles.
* "Looking for a Fight" @ Visual Arts Center / UT Art Building, 23rd St at Trinity. Three studio art undergrads and members of the all-female Deluscious Group, Lucy Parker, Isabella Burden and Layne Bell, split this cross-media exhibition highlighting gender discourse and their respective feminine identities in a continually male-prone society. Each takes an ultrafeminine approach (think lots of pink, frilly cloth materials and truncated womanly forms) to hook us in and cerebrally wallop us to attention, as there's depth in all the surface-level cuteness. Bell walks the figurative tightrope most deliberately, suspending two pairs of scissors over an inflated balloon in "Emptied IV" (the fourth of a series of subtly simple assemblages, which also included the aforementioned frilly cloth elbow gloves and a Tooth Fairy-sized sewn pillow clothespinned to a wooden tray) and naming another "All Tits and Legs" after like a Bravo plastic surgery reality show stereotype. Though with this one, a pair of vaguely ghostly forms surmounting barstool legs, I got Rene Magritte vibes (both the Belgian surrealist's penchant for masking his figures and painting lingerie with erogenous zones plainly visible), but then I thought of Rebecca Horn's "Finger Gloves" performance from the early '70s, particularly in the elongated 'stems', as it were. In any case, Bell's assemblage is topped by sewn multicolored beads as the titular 'tits'. Burden included both video/sculptural assemblages (her "Upskirt Series"), augmenting cropped body parts with distended branchlike physicality, and two photographic prints (her "Tongue-in-Cheek Series"). The prints struck me more deeply, as I was reminded of both Ana Mendieta and Adrian Piper's very physical, conceptual oeuvres. Though the one artist she directly references is Joseph Beuys, the granddaddy of conceptual and philosophical performance, via the icky sculpture "Boys, Beuys, Boys!!!", combining a loglike beaver muff with glistening, white lard, tangentially recognizable to Beuys' style while superseding him in pronounced decadence. Parker unveils only two works, but this editing makes their underlying force that much stronger. The one, "Suspended Bean Bag Chair (after Bruce Nauman)", is an older work, the titular smallish pink chair stretched painfully in four directions overhead by metal accoutrements, is like Nauman's own self-portrait face-pulling, highlighting artificial elasticity and how the gesture can easily twist from affectionate to torturous. Her other, "Funk Trunk (including artist as Vito Acconci)", begins with Parker's disembodied voice emanating from a coffin-sized box. Kneel down and peer inside, and amid bedsheets and acid-pink fluorescent lighting is a video projection of Parker reenacting Acconci's perversely intimate "Theme Song" in her own spin on 'pillow talk'. "You could be anybody out there, but there's gotta be somebody watching me. Somebody who wants to come in close to me…Come on, I'm all alone..I'll be honest with you, OK. I mean you'll have to believe me if I'm really honest…" Parker-as-Acconci monologues, shifting on her bed as she stares straight into us.
* Bradney Evans "Still" @ Lora Reynolds Gallery / 360 Nueces St. I sense that LA-based artist Bradney Evans is an alchemist with paper, viz. earlier work "Phoenix" as the titular mythological bird folded origami-style from magician's paper (i.e. quick-burning, no ash). He pulls a hat-trick in his debut in the gallery's Project Room, in a suite of three works on paper that ostensibly "look" like torn packing paper (that fibrous brown workhorse) with bits of light emanating from behind them, viz. "Constellation", "Eclipse" and personal favorite "Sunset". Thing is, they're each stunning, meticulous trompe-l'oeil renderings in acrylic, each "tear" and "crinkle" the result of some laborious brushwork. Same deal w/ the "light". The effect is like a combo between Tauba Auerbach's beguiling "rippled" Op-art paintings and Robert Gober's lovingly articulated household recreations, perhaps slanting even closer to Gober's style. Evans instills an intensity to these three works, as if the light were really pushing through the "torn paper", as the paper tenuously attempts to hold the illumination back. Displayed with these is an earlier single-channel video "Exposure", spotlit owls, with a sound element, disjointed page-turnings and an occasional sub-bassline that sounds like it's coming from another room.
+ Colby Bird "Dust Breeds Contempt". Bird's exhibition, his first solo at the gallery, has definitely become "funkier" since the opening in September. Stuff that I witnessed then, incl the look of certain sculptures, have indeed added the titular, intentional dust. He's highlighting the mutability of artwork, from its creation and display to its adaptation in the hands of a collector (or in storage, wherever it goes after its taken off the wall or out of the gallery). Most of his sculptures, like the candy-colored "33", mounted on two misshapen wood pillars that count as part of the assemblage, include "dust" as a medium, anticipated on the work's variously flat and angled surfaces as the exhibition continues through this month. Explicit instructions for the staff to not Swiffer that dust away. It's like Walter de Maria's "Trilogies" exhibition that at Houston, TX's Menil Collection: his "Channel Series" had to be literally dusted off from storage for the exhibition. Not the case w/ Bird. He's got a single framed print on view, rotated throughout the show at irregular intervals by staff (I saw this happen at the opening, as it shifted from "Howdy" to "Keira" and strongly encourage watching it), which becomes pretty gnarly looking w/ dust bunnies on its display table and grime on the print's glass.
* Josh Keyes "Migration" + AJ Fosik "Time Kills All Gods" @ Jonathan LeVine Gallery / 529 W 20th St, 9th Fl. Two flavors of animalistic awesomeness, in these Pacific NW-based artists. I was pretty psyched for Keyes' contribution, as I'd dug his solo debut here last year, but he extended his photorealist technique of animals in odd predicaments (here coexisting, either benevolently or tentatively, in human-empty environments) with a set of graphite work drawings that each contain his high level of artistic integrity and detail. Shadows, ripples in the water and reflections all recur in sharp contrast. But Fosik's addition (after seeing his absolutely stunning rendering for Mastodon's latest LP) was just too sweet. His lovingly, exhaustively hand-crafting of these locally sourced wooden animal busts and figures into wildly psychedelic, seemingly extra-dimensional beings is like a strong acid trip without the recurring flashbacks. At least that's what I think, since I just saw the show. Too early to tell if there will be flashbacks (but I wouldn't mind 'em, really).
* Rebecca Campbell "A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing" @ Ameringer McEnery Yohe / 525 W 22nd St. I consider this a bit of a departure for the gallery, though a welcome one, as they switch from modernism abstract, Abstract Expressionist and installation artists (think Al Held, Morris Louis, Judy Pfaff) to a younger, figurative painter who imbues her works with gestural, though dreamily realist, touches. Big brushy renderings of nudes and clothed figures, plus portraits and some color-streaked abstracts, like the strokes grew and just obliterated what realism used to be there.
* Katsuhisa Toda "Imaginary Books" @ Span Art Gallery / 2-2-18 1F Ginza, Chuo-ku. (Yurakucho Line to Ginza-Itchome Station). Acrylic paintings and drawings of Toda's telltale books, now rendered unleashing their innate dreamworld powers.
* Naomi Okubo "It seems like a dream" @ Gallery MOMO / 2F 6-2-6 Roppongi, Minato-ku (Hibiya/Toei Oedo Lines to Roppongi Station). In Okubo's third solo at MOMO, she reveals stunningly rendered acrylic and oil paintings of young women within gorgeous, patterned interiors.
* Kaoru Usukubo "Brightness falls from the air" @ Taimatz / 1-2-11 Higashi-Kanda, Chiyoda-ku (JR Sobu Line to Bakurocho Station, Toei-Shinjuku Line to Bakuro-Yokoyama Station). Brand spanking new gallery inaugurates its program w/ a suite of gorgeous, glossy figurative paintings by Usukubo. She's also participating in the 2011 Yokohama Triennale "Our Magic Hour".
* Kazumi Kurigami "Hi to Hone II" @ Taka Ishii Photography / 2F 6-6-9 Roppongi, Minato-ku (Hibiya/Oedo Lines to Roppongi Station). Kurigami has some 4+ decades of independent, commercial photography behind him. This exhibition focuses on his Polaroid SX-70 and spans nearly his entire career, magnifying the emotive "unrealness" of the Polaroid. (ENDS SAT)
* Yoko Asakai "Northerly Wind" @ NADiff a/p/a/r/t 1F 1-18-4 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku (JR Yamanote Line/Hibiya Line to Ebisu Station). A series of Asakai's new landscape photographs, who explored Aomori Prefecture on foot and by car this summer during her artist residency there. This is a departure from her usual portraiture. Also: this is an INCREDIBLY DOPE art bookstore. (ENDS SUN)