* Assume Vivid Astro Focus "Cyclops Trannies" @ The Suzanne Geiss Company / 76 Grand St. So this has actually been open since NOV 8 but… you need to totally check AVAF if you've not already. It's in the former Deitch Space, run now by the Projects' former executive director Suzanne Geiss, so that's a biggie. Plus AVAF (a Deitch mainstay) debuted Geiss' first iteration of the company, at 2011 Art Basel Miami Beach w/ their "Acid Flashback" installation. AND they collaborated w/ Lady Gaga in Barneys store windows for the 2011 holiday campaign. Mayjah.
* "Collecting Women: What We Treasure and Why" @ Women & Their Work Gallery / 1710 Lavaca St, 7p. Dr. Melinda Barlow, an Associate Professor of Film Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, leads a lecture and screening in how women have used art, film, found objects, and personal mementos to express aspects of personal identity. An audience discussion follows Dr. Barlow's presentation.
* "Utopia London" (dir. Tom Cordell, 2010) screening @ Arthouse / 700 Congress Ave, 7:30p. Bundle up for the last of 2011's Rooftop Architecture Film Series. Cordell's documentary observes the method and practice of Modernist architects who rebuilt London after WW2.
* Kazuhiro Ito "unknown touches" @ hpgrp Tokyo / B1F 5-1-15 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku (Chiyoda/Hanzomon/Ginza Lines to Omotesando Station). Ito pushes bronze sculpture to even further dimensions, exploring liquid-like abstraction and elongated forms in series "Dear Blind Phantom", "Liquid Golden Baby" and "Starman Loves You".
* "Alpha's Bet Is Not Over Yet: Steffani Jemison and Friends" @ New Museum / 235 Bowery (F to 2nd Ave, BD to Grand St, 6 to Spring St), 7p/FREE w/ RSVP: email@example.com. Way above the hubbub of Carsten Höller's mind-altering "Experience" survey is this fantastic Black history reading room. Co-curator Jemison joins guests Firelei Baez, Mildred Beltre, Aisha Cousins and Zachary Fabri in reading from selections of the displayed periodicals.
* Dum Dum Girls + DIVE @ Brooklyn Bowl / 61 Wythe Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/$10. Just announced! Dee Dee and crew form Dum Dum Girls, the fiercest quartet of '60s girl-group-channelers possibly EVER. Beach Fossils' guitarist Cole keeps DIVE shoegaze-hazy and totally psychedelic. w/ underground locals Xray Eyeballs, tying in the bicoastal thing quite nicely.
* "Part One" artist talk @ Visual Arts Center / UT Art Building, 23rd St at Trinity, 6:30p. Lee Chesney, Interim Chair of the Dept of Art and Art History at UT Austin, moderates this forum and Q&A feat. Sarah Canright, Elizabeth Chiles, Lawrence McFarland, Rob Verf, Susan Whyne and Barna Kantor — all faculty artists and participants in the exhibition "Part One" (see my review under CURRENT SHOWS).
* "Die Hard" (dir. John McTiernan, 1988) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E Sixth St, 7p. Bruce Willis as John McClane is the ultimate '80s tough guy. Like the classic VHS cover tagline screams in this 40-story thriller: "Twelve terrorists. One cop. The odds are against John McClane…That's just the way he likes it." Strap in tight.
* Deerhoof @ Liquidroom / 3-15-5 Higashi, Shibuya-ku (JR Yamanote Line/Hibiya Line to Ebisu Station), 7p/4800 yen. Art-rock vets Deerhoof command one of the tightest live acts I've ever seen…and that's in spite of their almost improv-y sound: Greg Saunier's jazzy drumming, shards of guitar punctuating Satomi Matsuzaki's lyricism. Hard to believe it's been nearly a year since their P-Vine-released LP "Deerhoof vs. Evil". w/ Kirihito
* "Sleeping Beauty" (dir. Julia Leigh, 2011) @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). The Australian novelist's erotic debut feature reflects the titular fairytale in name only (though admittedly I'm more familiar w/ the Disney adaptation than the original Brothers Grimm…which could be totally sinister). In Leigh's, Emily Browning is a uni student who performs the role of "sleeping beauty" to old suitors.
* "Outrage" (dir. Takeshi Kitano, 2010) @ Cinema Village / 22 E 12th St (NR/L/456 to Union Square). Good ol' bruised-knuckle violence in this Yakuza crime thriller as tangled and double-crossing as a Dostoevsky novel. Kitano returns to form from his comedy-film forays as the reliable right-hand trigger-man in a duel between crime bosses for who's gonna be on top…and if that means Kitano has to assume that role, then so be it. Plus: a PERFECT, uncanny cameo from Eihi "Audition/Tokyo Gore Police" Shiina (look out for it!).
* "P^4" @ ART 4.418 / UT Austin Campus, 23rd St at Trinity, 6-8p. A one-night only salon of Painting 4 talent, feat. over a dozen artists including Lucy Parker (one-third of the awesomeness "Looking for a Fight" at the VAC), Nick Griffin, Ashley Collingnon, Allie Underwood, Ally Acheson-Snow, Suzanne Lewis, Jade Abner, Yusuke Ito, Francesca Giamona, Liz Williams, Anne Riley, Christina Macal, Leah Flippen, Sarah Milbrath, Gillian Rhodes and Clayton Westmeier.
* "Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale" (dir. Jalmari Helander, 2010) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E Sixth St, 11p. This is my kind of holiday film. Think all the magic of X-mas, like hard-working widowed dad baking cookies for his son and taking him hunting…only Saint Nick's a naked vagrant with a taste for child-blood! ALSO SAT
* "The Yellow Sea" (dir. Na Hong-jin, 2011) @ Alamo Drafthouse S. Lamar / 1120 S. Lamar. 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.
* Love Inks @ Mohawk / 912 Red River, 9p/$10. Pitch-perfect pop in three-minute morsels, courtesy one of the finest local acts in the scene. w/ Awkward Robot
* Rachael Yamagata + Mike Viola @ The Parish / 214 E 6th St, 8p/$16. Consider this the softer side of Fee's LIST. I.e. an illuminating night of singer-songwriterly talent, with the bluesy Rachael Yamagata and hardest working indie musician Mike "Candy Butchers" Viola.
* Sakan Kanno "Quantize" @ Radium / 2-5-17 Bakurocho, Chuo-ku (JR Yamanote Line to Bakurocho Station). Kanno channels musical improvisation into his visual compositions, beginning with deconstructed templates and then layered with paint.
* Photographer Hal "Flesh Love" @ Gallery Tosei / 5-18-20 Chuo, Nakano-ku (Marunouchi Line to Shin-Nakano Station). Funny (but true) story: I met Photographer Hal at a Kabukicho basement bar called Bikini Machine this past April. He's a total badass, photographing embracing couples in Love Hotels, area bars within their own bathtubs, all in lurid, gloriously saturated color. His new series skrinkwraps his subjects. Intimacy is a plus.
* Mayumi Hosokura "Kazan" @ G/P Gallery / 2F 1-18-4 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku (JR Yamanote Line/Hibiya Line to Ebisu Station). The second floor of this awesome art bookstore and gallery hosts the young photographer Hosokura and her "Volcano" series. She was recently on the cover of the Dutch photography publication FOAM and was in the Fotografia Festival in Rome this September.
* Keiko Matsumoto "Panoramic Bowl" @ INAX Gallery / 2F 3-6-18 Kyobashi, Chuo-ku (JR Yamanote Line to Yurakucho Station). Takes something special to get me all jazzed on a ceramics show, esp. one that promises to be more than "arts and crafts". Enter young glaze-whiz Matsumoto, who combines traditional firing techniques and imagery in very intriguing ways, like that five-story pagoda bursting from a Celadon vase.
* Cut Hands + Incapacitants @ Unit / 1-34-17 Ebisu-nishi, Shibuya-ku (Tokyu-Toyoko Line to Daikanyama Station, JR Yamanote/Hibiya Line to Ebisu Station), 6p/5000 yen. Brutal noise on the eve of my Tokyo trip. I can't believe I am missing this. Pairing veteran Tokyo duo Incapacitants, pioneers of "hard noise" (think hard-bop but with feedback and voice, primarily) with William "Whitehouse" Bennett in his ferocious guise Cut Hands (his new LP "Afro Noise 1" is just so good) means an unmissable show. w/ RAMLEH
* oh my god, you've gone @ Koiwa BushBash / 7-28-11 Minami-Koiwa, Edogawa-ku (Sobu Line to Koiwa Station), 7p/1300 yen. Perhaps Tokyo's finest example of fiercely indie, ultra-dissonant noise-rock is this charmingly named trio oh my god, you've gone. Don't miss 'em! w/ EGO and MEKARE-KARE
* Mark Ryden "Editions" book signing @ Paul Kasmin SHOP / 511 W 27th St, 4-6p. Dress to the Gay Nineties nines and prepare to queue up as subversive illustrator/painter Ryden inaugurates Paul Kasmin SHOP with his signature eerie meats, nymphs and Lincoln heads.
* Winter Formal 2011 & Goth Prom 1986 @ Barnard College / 3009 Broadway at 117th St (1 to 116th St), 7p/FREE. That title might give you pause, or might make you go bonkers with enjoyment, but check this: WBAR Barnard College Radio features four acts that definitely fall along the "Goth Prom 1986" range, like RL Grime, Leather, the fantastic Purling Hiss and hot newish thing Balam Acab, who blissed out (le) poisson rouge last month (hopefully he brings that female vocalist w/ him to this show!). Though keep the first part of the show's title in mind, as dressing to the nines is totally encouraged.
* Mads Lynnerup "Help is on the way" @ Lora Reynolds Gallery / 360 Nueces St. Art object as exercise equipment, intellectual heft vs physical exertion. Lynnerup eschews funnily worded signs for manipulated photography of weight trainers lifting Franz West-ish…stuff…plus collages of shock-bright cut paper and "Demonstration", a video adding some reality to these "virtual sculptures"…plus Lynnerup performs (demonstrates) at the opening. Who's in for some self-improvement?
* "Suzune: Genesis x Evolution" (dir. Ryu Kaneda, 2011) @ Ikebukuro Cinema Rosa / 1-37-12 Nishi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku (JR Yamanote Line to Ikebukuro Station). Twitchfilm is one of my go-to film resources, and their sole blog post for this film had a headline reading "Suzune Battles Sex Parasites With Leather-Bound Cleavage". Rei Yoshii plays the titular bondage-garbed lead (actually a doctor!), fighting off desire-inducing parasites controlled by "Cold Fish" star Megumi Kagurazaka. Uh, see you there?
* "Never-ending Blue" (dir. Takaomi Ogata, 2010) screening @ Shibuya Uplink / 37-18 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku (JR etc to Shibuya Station, Hachiko Exit), 7p. A truly disturbing high-school/family drama, centered on Sushi Typhoon regular Maki Mizui as a too-beautiful girl in up against impossible odds: her classmates tease or ignore her, her father beats and molests her. She's a self-harmer, too. This is Ogata's feature film debut, and he crafts a taut, minimalist thriller uniquely Japanese and harrowing in its realism.
* 「ピザボーイ史上最凶のご注文」 (dir. Ruben Fleischer, 2011) @ HT Cinema Shibuya / 1-23-16 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku (JR etc to Shibuya Station, East Exit). The Japanese title loosely translates to: "Pizzaboy: Most Dangerous Order Ever", but this is just "30 MInutes or Less", that madcap crime-comedy with Jesse Eisenberg as the overly-thinking delivery boy w/ a bomb strapped to his chest, forced to rob a bank with buddy Aziz "Funniest Man on Earth" Ansari or else. Inclusion of Dilshad Vadsaria as Ansari's "twin sister" is reason enough to see this film dozens of times.
* "50/50" (dir. Jonathan Levine, 2011) @ TOHO Shibuya / 2-6-17 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku (JR etc to Shibuya Station, Hachiko Exit). I found this a very thoughtful telling of life on the line, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt the hale young dude diagnosed with a rare, terminal form of cancer, and Seth Rogen in the awkward role of funnyman in a VERY un-funny situation. Both gents pull it off w/ panache. (P.S. even though I cannot stand Anna Kendrick, playing a psychologist here, I still advise seeing this film)
* Black Pus @ Death By Audio / 49 S 2nd St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$7. Brian Chippendale, the manic, masked man-machine drummer behind Black Pus (and one-half of speed-punk outfit Lightning Bolt) will maul your skull with his thrash acrobatics. You will sweat, you will mosh, and you will love it. w/ Witch Hat
* "Gremlins 2: The New Batch" (dir. Joe Dante, 1990) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E Sixth St. w/ Dante in person! Though the violence is increasingly slapstick and the action more cartoon-like and parodying of other films, I still feel this one superior to the far darker original. Hell, Mohawk and crew are scary enough on their own!
* Plastic Girl In Closet @ Fever / 1-1-14 Hanegi, Setagaya-ku (Odakyu Inokashira Line to Shindaita or Shimokitazawa Stations), 7p/3500 yen. Some of the indie scene's best local shoegazers PGIC coat Fever in a gauzy haze of feedback-sonics and ethereal vox. w/ an acoustic set from Shokichi Ishida
* Merpeoples + THE GIRL @ Shibuya Milkyway / 3F 3-7 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku (JR etc to Shibuya Station, Hachiko Exit), 5p/2500 yen. Super-indie Tokyoite grrrls Merpeoples temper their twee affections with great slabs of guitar noise, though their bouncy 2011 cover of classic '80s J-glam-rock sets the bar on scene-making experimentation. Just to make this awesomer, they're joined by girl-trio THE GIRL, Pop Chocolat and kinbaku-bi (rope-bondage artist) Hajime Kinoko.
* Lana Del Rey @ Bowery Ballroom / 6 Delancey St (F/JMZ to Essex/Delancey), 8p/SOLD OUT. So singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey (né Elizabeth Grant) is trendy as hell right now, despite having "just" an EP out, but listen to her smoldering delivery on "Video Games" and "Blue Jeans" and…well…it's obvious.
* Jamie Woon (UK) + Erika Spring (Au Revoir Simone) @ Mercury Lounge / 217 E Houston St (F to 2nd Ave), 6:30p/$12. These nouveau-R&B cats are almost a dime a dozen these days, but Londoner Jamie Woon excels in synth virtuosity and charisma. Expect bittersweet loveliness from Erika Spring, co-frontwoman of keyboard contingent Au Revoir Simone and a dazzling singer-songwriter in her own right.
* Asuka Ito "A Desire/欲望" @ Galerie Sho Contemporary / B1F 3-2-9 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku (Ginza/Tozai Lines to Nihonbashi Station). The young Nara-born artist's debut solo exhibition at the gallery presents her name in two ways, as artist of lushly painted, sexually-charged portraits of flowers and women, and as subject and spectator. She inaugurates her show with a live painting from 6-8p. Yeah, I'll be there.
* "Love Actually" (dir. Richard Curtis, 2003) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E Sixth St, 7p. Normally you can't get me near these wretched holiday ensemble films. See: Garry Marshall's heinous "Valentine's Day" and disgusting upcoming followup "New Year's Eve". No doubt the Brits do it better, but honestly I dig most everything about "Love Actually". I mean, we have über-hotties Keira Knightley (and, if you like, her onscreen beau Chiwetel Ejiofor), Heike Makatsch and Martine McCutcheon. We have Hugh Grant pretending to be the new Prime Minister whilst BILLY BOB THORNTON plays the U.S. President, Martin Freeman is a body double for sex scenes… and Bill Nighy an aging rock 'n roll legend! Sign me up to see this again, seriously.
* "Nightmare City" aka "City of the Walking Dead" (dir. Umberto Lenzi, 1980) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E Sixth St, 10p. A somewhat self-explanatory dose of spastic cinema courtesy the director of cannibalistic lovelies "Eaten Alive!" and "Cannibal Ferox" (aka "Make Them Die Slowly"). Think your favorite low-budget zombie film but a million times more gruesome!
* Kazuma Koike "Repetitions and variants", 2nd half @ Aisho Miura Arts / B1F 2-17-3 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku (JR lines etc to Shibuya Station). Part two of Koike's two-month-long exhibition focuses on transformative methods in three-dimensional works (he's got a BFA in sculpture from Nihon University College of Art) and video.
* Yuka Namekawa "A Place of innocence" @ Art Front Gallery / Hillside Terrace A, 29-18 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku (Toyoko Line to Daikanyama Station). Somewhat interestingly, this is the 2nd exhibition in a row at the gallery featuring cubes forming artwork. In Namekawa's case, she builds up translucent plastic cubes into half-formed structures that both channel this past year's Tohoku earthquake (and anticipate it, since she completed most in 2010) and the potential for rebirth.
* Byron Kim @ James Cohan Gallery / 533 W 26th St. Kim's debut at the gallery exemplifies his exercise of the "abstract sublime". Previous exhibitions (the UN meditations at Max Protetch, his famous "Synecdoche" at MoMA) had a soothing planar regularity, like emotive Ellsworth Kelly or even flatter Brice Marden. Kim's new one, inspired by his viewings of the nighttime sky, is even sparser, moodier, almost impenetrable fields of black or midnight blue.
* 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.
* George Condo "Drawing Paintings" @ Skarstedt Gallery / 20 E 79th St. Condo furthers his aggressively graffiti-like abstracts from his New Museum survey with even wilder, lyrical renderings, piling up cartoonish heads in rubber-stamp formation (or Andy Warhol misguided silkscreen-style), to where they obliterate one another in intermingling colors.
* 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.
* Uta Barth + Jack Strange @ Tanya Bonakdar Gallery / 521 W 21st St. This is the most painterly Barth show I've seen yet. She consistently pushes the envelope on lighting and perception in photography, but by focusing on sunlight and shadow piercing through linen-y curtains, she effectively creates a canvaslike texture to her polyptych works. Upstairs, that trickster Strange immerses a neon FENNEL sign in dirt and iPod Touches feat. animated, talking sea creatures in water-filled baggies, plus acrylic soda-straw rods on flatscreen monitors and cut veggies with headphones.
* Jonathan Faber "Idle" @ Champion / 800 Brazos St. Memory is a tricky thing, subject to re-tweeks and reinterpretations depending on circumstance, outside encounters, time of day. Faber channels this idea vividly in depicting things very natural, like a landscape or a childhood backyard, painting the bare essentials and piling on tangles of brushwork as in the titular work, creating a curtain of swamp-vines that partially obscure the minimalist, geometric form (a boat?) idling in the background. Or he'll add an almost solid, vertical wipe of paint (like a Barnett Newman "zip"), executing a literal blind-spot in the foresty "Blind Spot". Or a grove of graffiti-like renderings that consume a shed?…or some small-frame building in "Veneer", like living language and memories consuming a forgotten dwelling.
* "Part One" @ Visual Arts Center / UT Art Building, 23rd St at Trinity. In a group exhibition showcasing artist-professors from UT's Department of Art and Art History, one might go in w/ some predispositions. Viz. studio art profs probably really know how to draw/paint, photography profs excel at their craft etc. I found some surprises, however, which really clinched this as a dope, worthwhile show. 1) Sarah Canright, contributing easily the earliest works in the show, like a woven cut-paper duet from 1975 and 1977. 2) A veritable array of Conceptualism from Rob Verf going beyond his painterly ways. He has one still-life like painting "the beginning of a Vanitas" that looks like Paul Cezanne crossed with Francis Bacon, plus a collage cheekily titled "Spicy Peach" that (to me anyway) resembles Max Ernst's classic "Ambiguous Figures (1 copper plate, 1 zinc plate, 1 rubber cloth…)" run through a contemporary hardware store, AND a disarmingly addictive video work of pingpong balls in water. Beyond these, I rather dug Susan Whyme's shattered ceramics and torn plastic conglomerates, from her "Perpetuity/Wall Flower" series, and Margaret Meehan's equal deftness with sculpture (butterfly-winged revolvers composed of ceramic and liquid graphite) and drawing media (the modified cabinet card duo "Sugar" and "Shit").
+ "Looking for a Fight". 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.
* Jasmyne Graybill "Home Sweet Home" @ Women & Their Work / 1710 Lavaca St. Ceramics ain't exactly the kind of art that generally gets my aesthetic juices flowing. But Graybill excels in pairing vintage china, decorative spoons and cut-glass platters — like you'd find in the back of your grandmother's servingware cabinet — with methodically applied dabs and patterns of colorful polymer clay. The result is period-piece objects afflicted with sculpted fungus, lichen, and mold, some of which incorporates quite well amid rosebud details or painted flowers, or elsewhere mimics silk in a site-specific wallpaper installation. Graybill keeps the new lot untitled, but a 2008 combo of actual muffin pan with cake batter-colored clay standing in for burned sweets is "Crested Buttercream Polyps", my favorite of the show.
* Georges Braque "Pioneer of Modernism" @ Acquavella Gallery / 18 E 79th St. This retrospective on the co-founder of Cubism, curated by Dieter Buchhart, is filled with two floors and 75% of paintings you've probably never seen before, not even in art catalogues. Because despite Braque's seminal forays with papier collé and mechanical Cubism (in my strong opinion equalling his better-known peer Picasso), his legacy in Fauvism and his lasting impression on the post-Cezanne generations is just not shown stateside. So his more typically Braque-ish works resonate like cannonballs in placid waters, like the stunning "Glass, Bottle and Newspaper" (a collage of charcoal and faux-bois wallpaper on paper) and the vertically-oriented beauties "The Mantlepiece" and "Still Life with Metronome", all shards of awesomeness. Though I was taken by works completed decades after his internationally recognized heyday, like "Woman at an Easel (Yellow Screen)" from '36, texturized with sand and enlightened by figuration, but only just so. (ENDS WED)
* 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'. (ENDS THURS)
* Rashaad Newsome "Herald" @ Marlborough Chelsea / 545 W 25th St. Newsome walks a thin line b/w gaudy and glamorous, but he does so with panache. In his debut w/ the gallery, he unveils a bunch of signature collages — wildly detailed conglomerates of bling and reverence, Rosetta stones of hip-hop culture and neo-Baroque imagery — each in a lavish, customized antique frame. I'm not totally surprised I was drawn immediately to "Black Barbie", for its underlying Nicki Minaj resonance, but in all I think these are Newsome's strongest collages yet. He also contributes a rap video-style animation "Swag" and, to contrast, a fascinating video installation "Herald", shot in b&w at NYC's St. Patrick's Basilica, chronicling the artist's ceremonial coronation.
* Rebecca Horn "Ravens Gold Rush" @ Sean Kelly Gallery / 528 W 29th St. I consider a Horn exhibition an EVENT, perhaps due to her kinetic, gestural ethos. That the show's title references her '86 NY exhibit "The Gold Rush" (which occurred during international financial uncertainty), plus contains a rarely-seen early sculpture alongside new poignant paintings and a large sculptural installation — plus! the N. American premiere of Horn's film "Moon Mirror Journey", playing at the Rubin Museum a few blocks away — means we're in for something very special. (for Rubin info, read on under SAT)
* Llyn Foulkes @ Andrea Rosen Gallery / 525 W 24th St. Wow. This incredible LA-based artist and musician (who came of age w/ John Baldessari and Ed Ruscha, plus played in a band w/ R. Crumb) is almost purposefully indescribable. His early contributions to assemblage and American Pop are as deep as his ever-changing oeuvre. This isn't his first time here, either, as Foulkes' meta-work w/in the Dec 2009 artist/curator group show "The Perpetual Dialogue" is still burned into my memory.
* Sarah Braman "Yours" @ Mitchell-Innes & Nash / 534 W 26th St. Few years back, Braman had a really dope dual exhibition at Andrea Rosen Gallery w/ Joel Shapiro — a tiny one in the side gallery, inspired by a dialogue b/w Rita Ackermann and Rosen. It wasn't my first Braman encounter but I felt it totally worked, her angular, intersecting planes of wood and glass against Shapiro's cascading blocks. I'm interested to see her debut w/ M-I&N, as she deconstructed an entire camper to incorporate it in the other works, mindful of Plexiglas (for light, volume, that pop of color) and cardboard (time, wear).
* 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.
* Diego Singh "Table for One" @ Tomio Koyama Gallery / 7F 1-3-2 Kiyosumi, Koto-ku (Hanzomon/Oedo Lines to Kiyosumi-Shirakawa Station). The Argentinian artist lays on the abstraction, muting his palette in moody blues and grays, a departure from the neon shards in "The Indirect Man", his prior solo exhibition here.
* Kae Higuchi @ Kido Press, Inc / 6F 1-3-2 Kiyosumi, Koto-ku (Hanzomon/Toei Oedo Lines to Kiyosumi-shirakawa Station). The Sendai-based artist's second exhibition here, featuring soft-toned portraits in oil tempera and mixed media on canvas and paper.
* Kazuma Koike "Repetitions and variants", 1st half @ Aisho Miura Arts / B1F 2-17-3 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku (JR lines etc to Shibuya Station). As the title precludes, this is the first half of Koike's new body of work, with this section concentrating on two-dimensional works, vividly executed, textural acrylic paintings on cotton. (ENDS SAT)
* Terry Richardson "Mom Dad" @ Half Gallery / 208 Forsyth. The iconic (and iconoclastic!) downtown lensman celebrates the release of his titular two-volume monograph (launched at Paris' Colette in late Sept) w/ an intimate selection of portraits of his mother Annie and late father, fashion photographer Bob Richardson.
* Jeronimo Elespe @ Eleven Rivington / 11 Rivington St. Ahead of his big solo exhibition at the Centro de Arte Contemporaneo in Malaga, Spain, the Madrid-based artist unveils a set of new small and very VERY tiny, meticulously brushy paintings on aluminum panels. Figures coalesce with and disappear into light-infused fog.
* Okazaki, Onishi, Object (2) @ MA2 Gallery / 3-3-8 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku (Yamanote Line to Ebisu Station). An intriguing collaboration between two incredibly detail-focused trompe-l'oeil sculptors, Kazuo Okazaki and Nobuaki Onishi (some 40 years Okazaki's junior). I am familiar w/ Onishi after he represented the gallery w/ his intricate, resin-based sculptures at VOLTA NY 2010, and look forward to where these two take their mutual figuration.
* Takeshi Abe "幽玄/Subtle Grace" @ Art Front Gallery / Hillside Terrace A, 29-18 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku (Toyoko Line to Daikanyama Station). Abe executes wonderful, figurative "paintings" utilizing a cube grid printed with bits of the subject — think 3D pixels or a 21st century version of Roy Lichtenstein's Ben-Day dots. Abe includes a proper sculpture w/ these 3D prints. (ENDS SUN)
* Shiro Matsui "Like when you miss button your shirt" @ BLD Gallery / 2-4-9 Ginza, Chuo Ward Tokyo (JR Yurakucho Station, Marunouchi Line to Ginza Station). The Kansai-born artist works in vividly colorful silicone rubber, tricking us with his works' sculpted liquidity and mix of flatness and three-dimensionality, whether they intentionally present themselves as "sculpture", "relief" or both. (ENDS TUES)