* Phyllida Barlow "siege" @ New Museum / 235 Bowery (F to 2nd Ave, 6 to Spring St). The debut NY solo exhibition by the British sculptor, activated as a site-specific installation of found objects from the street (scaffolding, security fences, fabric) shacking up on the museum's fourth floor.
+ Nathalie Djurberg "The Parade". The young Berlin-based multimedia artist's most ambitious installation to date, and that's saying something, considering her repertoire of stop-animation figures and related mixed-media dioramas. Djurberg presents five animations, set to a soundtrack by her collaborator and partner Hans Berg, plus a menagerie of bird sculptures formed by painted canvas, clay and wire. Significantly awesome. See it at the New Museum's 231 Bowery space.
* Pablo Picasso "Picasso and Françoise Gilot, Paris-Vallauris 1943-1953" @ Gagosian / 980 Madison Ave. One more museum-worthy Picasso show for the art-adoring populace. Gagosian brings the action uptown in this fourth iteration, feat. a visual and conceptual dialogue b/w the modern master and his (then) 21-year-old muse, who was an artist herself when she met Picasso. Gilot's own paintings (imbued with Picasso contemporary Georges Braque) will be shown in concert w/ Picasso's postwar innovations. One word: mayjah.
* Liam Gillick "Scorpion and und et Felix" @ Casey Kaplan Gallery / 525 W 21st St. Karl Marx's early unpublished manuscript "Scorpion and Felix" (don't worry, I haven't read it, either!) is the jump-off to Gillick's decidedly cerebral show, drawing ideas like writer's block and semi-autonomous abstraction.
* Dana Schutz "Piano in the Rain" @ Friedrich Petzel Gallery / 537 W 22nd St. I've come around to digging Schutz, whose brutal figurative style and garish palette definitely ain't for everyone. In her latest works, she begins w/ unstable narrative dilemmas (like the show title) and produces abraded, physically worked-over paintings feat. characters who are maybe just a bit TOO relatable.
* Jutta Koether "The Fifth Season" @ Bortolami / 520 W 20th St. The title: get it? Koether references her ethereal paintings on glass panels, which take inspiration from Nicolas Poussin's cycle "The Four Seasons" (1660-64) and are installed at the Whitney Biennial. A huge part of the reason that worked so well is natural light and the Whitney's big-ass windows. I wonder how these large-ish works will relate to Bortolami's white-box interior and concrete floors.
* Philippe Decrauzat @ Elizabeth Dee / 545 W 20th St. The Lausanne-based artist produced a perception-tweaking array at the gallery back in 2009, and now after several exhibitions around the globe — including such knowing titles like "screen-o-scope" at Praz-Delavallade, Paris; and "on the retina" at House of Art Ceské Budejovice — he returns. Think he's going to mess with us some more? Next question.
* "Paintings and Jugs", curated by Gianni Jetzer @ Swiss Institute NY / 18 Wooster St. The curious exhibition title hints at the matter-of-fact juxtaposition happening here: large-scale paintings with reductive palettes by Linus Bill and Adrien Horni, plus ceramics by FLAG (aka Bastien Aubry and Dimitri Broquard) – all with a heightened sensibility to collaborative production.
* Lower Dens (Baltimore) + Air Waves @ Glasslands / 289 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8:30p/SOLD OUT. Baltimore brings the fuzz (rock). I'm real stoked about Jana Hunter's hypno-punk outfit Lower Dens, which accents nicely w/ singer-songwriter Nicole Schneit's indie stalwarts Air Waves. w/ Twisted Wires
* "Emanuelle in Bangkok" (dir. Joe D'Amato, 1976) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E Sixth St, 9:45p. Because YOU asked for it! Wait…didn't you? I mean, you must know Laura Gemser, right? The model-tall force of nature playing globetrotting detective Emanuelle, who gets up to all kinds of sexy adventures while beating the bad guys. I wonder what she'll find in Bangkok?
* TADZIO + Hair Stylistics, DODDODO, Hirakuta Decorder etc @ Unit / B1F 1-34-17 Ebisu-Nishi, Shibuya-ku (JR Yamanote/Hibiya Line to Ebisu Station), 11p/3000 yen. This is an inspired pairing, noise-rock grills TADZIO w/ noise collagist Masaya "Hair Stylistics" Nakahara. Add Kansai-area electroacoustic siren DODDODO to the mix and things just got a helluva lot more interesting. w/ original "jet-rockers" Guitar Wolf and a bunch more acts.
* bira + ミダリ + ni-hao! @ Heaven's Door / 1-33-19 Sangenjaya, Setagaya-ku (Den-en-toshi Line to Sangen-jaya Station), 7p/2300 yen. Ever been to a "zombie lolita" show? The pure visual/sonic/psychological onslaught delivered by "Midari" and new zombie lolita band bira (one of the girls wears a skull mask) is thankfully tempered by Kansai psych-rock girls ni-hao!
* Lucio Fontana "Ambienti Spaziali" @ Gagosian / 555 W 24th St. Hold everything: I know Frieze NY is about to go down, but THIS is the must-see show in NYC. The gallery reconstructs six of Fontana's innovative environments (from 1949 through 1968) in what sounds to be a truly transcendent exhibition. You may know him for his "Concetti spaziali", where Fontana cut into canvas, but his more elaborate installations, feat. illuminated papier-mâché, gouged forms, and lots of surfaces w/ holes in 'em, make for a much fuller appreciation of this modern master.
* Will Cotton @ Mary Boone Gallery / 745 Fifth Ave. Get yr sugar fix at Cotton's new array of unctuous candy paintings and cast-plaster cake sculpture, riffing off his artistic direction on Katy Perry's "California Gurls" video. Dig in.
* Kimberley Hart "Promise" @ Mixed Greens / 531 W 26th St. New Martin House-inspired birdhouses built to Amish specifications and colored-pencil drawings in the Americana vernacular constitute Hart's third solo at the gallery.
* Lara Favaretto "Just Knocked Out" @ MoMA PS1 / 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City (E/M to 23rd St/Court Square, 7 to 45th Rd/Courthouse Sq). The debut survey of the curious conceptualist, feat. 15 years of disintegrating confetti sculptures, found paintings, recycled installations, moving assemblages, and more, replete w/ an extensive archive of Faveretto's source materials and inspirations.
* "Trauma" (dir. Dario Argento 1993) screening @ MAD Museum / 2 Columbus Circle (CE/123 to 59th St/Columbus Circle), 7p. When I call this Argento film "weird-ass", you really must believe me. I know the man's work very well, and I still consider this a verrrry strange Argento film, feat. his young daughter Asia as an anorexic in a perpetually raining city chased by a madman with a homemade garrote (charmingly dubbed the "noose-o-matic" by SFX king Tom Savini).
* Light Asylum (LP release party) @ (le) poisson rouge / 158 Bleecker St (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St), 11p/$15. Shannon Funchess saved '80's soul-house. She and Bruno (the bloke behind the decks) will get that body grooving in no time flat, all right, but it's Funchess' formidable vox that rule the night. w/ oOoOO and Black Marble
* Fusebox Festival: Max Warsh & Vanesa Zendejas @ Sofa at Rosewood / 1319 Rosewood Ave, 7-9p. NY-based Warsh pairs photography to LA artist Zendejas' sculpture, as the pair investigate abstraction and built spaces. I am poring through "RUINS" (edited by Brian Dillon, part of Whitechapel Gallery's "Documents of Contemporary Art"), and find the timing of this exhibition just perfect. ALSO SAT-SUN, noon-5p
* "King of Alternative" @ Heaven's Door / 1-33-19 Sangenjaya, Setagaya-ku (Den-en-toshi Line to Sangen-jaya Station), 3:30p/2000 yen. An all-day primer on the local indie scene, feat. garage-pop girls Merpeoples, sunny punks CHARLTON, sludgy lovelies Oh my God you've gone, these girls called – uh – "breast" (乳) , plus The Loyettes, ampcharwar and like a half dozen more. Insane.
* Sturtevant "Rock & Rap /C Simulacra" @ Gavin Brown's Enterprise / 620 Greenwich St. Ah, Elaine Sturtevant, a superlative chameleon in the art-making world, equally adept in painting, sculpture, film, photography, performance, and her "copies" of other artists' works is nothing short of incredible. She currently carries the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement (54th Venice Biennale) and the Kurt Schwitters Prize for Lifetime Achievement (Sprengel Museum, Hanover). The advert to her new solo show at the gallery is a closeup of a sex doll. Mull over that one for awhile.
* Richard Avedon "Murals and Portraits" @ Gagosian / 522 W 21st St. An exhibition of the classic modernist photographer's legendary photographic murals and related portraits, presented in a dramatic spatial composition designed by super-cool architect David Adjaye — because if you're gonna do it, Gagosian, you'll do it up all the way. Nice.
* Rachel Harrison "The Help" @ Greene Naftali Gallery / 508 W 26th St 8th Fl. Though this Brooklyn-based artist was one of the heavyweights in "Neoassemblage", the New Museum's inaugural show in its Bowery location, I think it's time we drop that whole "neo" bit. It's too ephemeral and transient, and Harrison's not going anywhere. She has cobbled a signature style of complicated-ass sculpture that can be as humorous as it is thought-provoking, and I am psyched for her solo return to the gallery.
* Chantal Joffe @ Cheim & Read / 547 W 25th St. I think the last time I saw a bunch of Joffe's angular portraits in the same temporal space as her senior, NY-based kindred Alice Neel was in their group show "The Female Gaze, Women Look at Women" at this gallery. Now David Zwirner stages a survey of Neel's late-period works, while Cheim & Read turn to Joffe's recent portraiture. Disarmingly beautiful.
* Yan Pei-Ming "Black Paintings" @ David Zwirner / 519 W 19th St. The title hints at some of the subject matter behind the Dijon, France-based artist's latest works: Francisco Goya. Interesting thing is, Yan goes beyond his acclaimed darkly monochromatic color palette in rethinking Goya, drenching the work in blood red. The other works, recalling Picasso and the Arab Spring, find Yan in his famed, inky hues.
* Alice Neel "Late Portraits & Still Lifes" @ David Zwirner / 533 W 19th St. Fluidic, brightly colored portraits and still lifes — the latter I've NEVER seen before — from the final two decades of the NY-based artist's life.
* Kristin Baker "Illume-Mine" @ The Suzanne Geiss Company / 136 Grand St. Full disclosure: I was NOT a fan of Baker's hi-octane, Nascar-ish abstract paintings back in her Deitch days. But I'll give her the benefit of the doubt here, as her large works take on increasing notions of shattered photography and super-futurist subject matter.
* Giuseppe Penone @ Marian Goodman Gallery / 24 W 57th St. Neat: Gagosian's major installation of Lucio Fontana is matched here by the gallery's survey on Arte Povera sculptor Penone, who has some 40+ years of prints and figure-infused sculpture behind him but remains fairly underrepresented in the States. He's participating in dOCUMENTA (13) next month, plus will contribute a commissioned work for Madison Square Park in Autumn 2013. NYers, get to know him now.
* "An Accumulation of Information Taken From Here to There" @ Sperone Westwater / 257 Bowery. Yep, that sounds like a Lawrence Weiner quote. This exhibition highlights American and European artists from the '60s and '70s who were trying new things, like Arte Povera (ahem), Minimalism, and Conceptualism. Feat. Weiner, Carl Andre, Alighiero Boetti, Giulio Paolini, Mario Merz, Joseph Kosuth, and a bunch of other artists I really dig.
* Anish Kapoor @ Gladstone Gallery / 515 W 24th St. Yeah, I caught Kapoor's super-shiny show here like four years ago. He now trades some of that finish-fetish stuff for heaped concrete and looming Cor-Ten, a physicality all the more sinister.
* Xiu Xiu + Dirty Beaches (Montreal) @ Bowery Ballroom / 6 Delancey St (F/JMZ to Essex/Delancey), 8p/$18. Feels so bad it feels good. Meet Alex Zhang Hungtai, aka Dirty Beaches, whose stripped-down guitar rock and machismo comes straight outta an early '90s Wong Kar-wai film. Then Xiu Xiu conquer all: matching abrasion w/ "Always", perhaps their most sickly positive LP yet.
* 2012 Drawing Annual @ Tiny Park / 607 1/2 Genard St. This ain't your mom's drawing show: the gallery flexes and pushes the concept of drawing with five innovative artists, like recent MFA graduate Miguel A. Aragón, who may sooner drill holes in structures to convey mark-making; and NY artist Stephanie Serpick, whose works on paper convey a startlingly 3D haze. Also featured are David Culpepper, Leah Haney (her solo exhibition at AMOA-Arthouse just concluded), and Rob Lomblad.
* Fusebox Festival: Dashiell Manley + Math Bass performances @ Lora Reynolds Gallery / 360 Nueces St, 7p. This four-LA-artist group show (see my review under CURRENT SHOWS) left you craving more awesomeness? Performance is an intrinsic part to Bass' oeuvre, and it figures in Manley's practice as well. Each should be illuminating, set in situ to their exhibition at the gallery.
* Fusebox Festival: Joan Jonas "The Shape, The Scent, The Feel of Things" @ UT-McCullough Theatre / 2375 Robert Dedman Dr, 8p/$19. Just major: the pioneering video and performance artist re-stages her 2004 production, drawing from Noh and Nordic theatre, classic fairytales and storytelling, creating a cosmic and ultimately very humanistic experience. ALSO SAT, 8p.
* "The Avengers" (dir. Joss Whedon, 2012) @ Alamo Drafthouse S. Lamar / 1120 S. Lamar. An over-the-top comic book action film that actually pulls it off…that's what I've heard, anyway, and the ensemble cast here (snarky Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, suave Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, and Mr. Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, amid others) is on par w/ "X-Men: First Class", my favorite Marvel film by far. See this one in 2D.
* "Lady Vengeance" (dir. Park Chan-wook, 2005) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E Sixth St, 11:30p. The final film in Park's harrowing "Vengeance Trilogy" could begin with "Oldboy"'s snow, in the way "Lady Vengeance"'s palette de-evaporates from b&w to color. Just in time for the killing! Yeong-ae Lee plays bravely a young woman wrongly accused of something unmentionable here…and sets her on a course to catch the murderer and make them suffer something good. ALSO SAT
* Fusebox Festival: CHRISTEENE @ Fusebox Festival Hub / 1100 E 5th St, 11p/$5. I hesitate to laud CHRISTEENE (aka glamorous Rebecca Havermeyer, né Paul Soileau) as a performer in the live-music sense, as her lewd choreography and vile rapping works really well in the performance ART sense. That's half thanks to PJ Raval, cinematographer for CHRISTEENE's music videos and a solid moving-image artist in his own right. But it's appropriate this sexy and shameless soirée occurs late at night.
* DODDODO + Makoto Inada + Shinji Wada (DMBQ) @ Minami-ikebukuro Music.Org / B2 1-20-11 Minami-ikebukuro,Toshima-ku (JR Yamanote/Tokyo Metro lines to Ikebukuro Station, West Exit), 6:30p/2500 yen. What's iller than Kansai noise-sprite Namin Haku, aka DODDODO? A: almost nothing, but pairing her w/ bassist Inada and DMBQ drummer Wada turns her fractured kineticism into a full-on band.
* Tauba Auerbach @ Paula Cooper Gallery / 521 W 21st St. The young NY-based trompe-l'oeil abstract artist continues pioneering her "Fold" paintings, exhibiting the powdery works alongside new "Weave" paintings shown for the first time stateside. Auerbach's drawings appear in "Ecstatic Alphabets/Heaps of Language", on view at MoMA.
* Hélio Oiticica "Penetrables" @ Galerie Lelong / 528 W 26th St. Tis the (gallery) season for restaged, multi-sensorial installations! That's the case w/ Lucio Fontana's "Ambienti Spaziali" at Gagosian (sorry, I cannot hype this awesomeness enough), and it's happening at Lelong. They feature three of the late Brazilian avant-garde artist Oiticica's rarely-seen, colorful installations, including the dazzlingly mazelike "Penetrável Filtro" (1972), made of multiple corridors and curtains of color, whose journey ends by having the participant "drink" the final color (orange juice). Dope, right?
* Thomas Demand @ Matthew Marks Gallery / 522 W 22nd St. So the Brice Marden show(s) next door are totally stealing all the thunder — a slew of new paintings! on marble! he hasn't done that in…30 years! — MMarks still has much else to show us. Like perception-distorter Thomas Demand, whose highly ambitious film (yes: FILM) "Pacific Sun" takes his telltale cut-paper dioramas and ANIMATES them, 2,400 frames of constructed paper following the video of a cruise ship caught in a storm on the Tasman Sea.
* Gary Hume "Anxiety and the Horse" @ Matthew Marks Gallery / 523 W 24th St. Seven of Hume's signature bright enamel on aluminum panel paintings — they're all totally abstract, but he says "it just looks like anxiety, and a horse….that's exactly what they are." OK, if you say so, Gary!
* Loris Gréaud "The Unplayed Notes" @ The Pace Gallery / 534 W 25th St. Tick off ONE MORE exhibition centered on "site-specific, multi-sensorial installations". Though this makes total sense w/ Gréaud, who is very into investigating altered realities, so his ashen corridor (made from actual ashes of previous works) and monumental, photosensitive panels fit quite well in the mix. Plus, this exhibition comes before the artist's big new solo project next year, a joint collaboration between the Musée du Louvre and the Centre Georges Pompidou.
* Amie Siegel "The Black Moon Project" @ AMOA-Arthouse / 700 Congress. How to make classic sci-fi scarier? Set it ambiguously in the present day, and amp us the dystopia. That grounds Siegel's film "Black Moon", which partially remakes Louis Malle's '75 original but juxtaposes abandoned real estate with women wordlessly navigating a desert wasteland. She includes a two-channel work "Black Moon/Mirrored Malle", a shot-by-shot comparison of an interview with Malle and a new version, with Siegel playing the director.
+ "Texas Prize 2012: Jamal Cyrus, Will Henry, Jeff Williams". Texas-based professionals nominated these three contemporary artists for an exhibition, then another panel of jurors pick one for a significant award. Me, I'm pulling for Cyrus, for his outstanding work at the New Museum's "Alpha's Bet Is Not Over Yet" and the literary workshop "Book Club" at Project Room Houses in Houston, TX's Third Ward (w/ collaborator Steffani Jemison). Though Henry's West Texas minimalism and Williams' site-specific sculpture could be dope, too.
* America Martin @ Wally Workman Gallery / 1202 W 6th St. New large-scale figurative paintings – I'm detecting Leger-level intensity and Picasso-bright boldness – by the LA-based Colombian-American artist. Stoked? Very much yes.
* Fusebox Festival: Tamy Ben-Tor & Noah Simblist @ testsite / 502 W 33rd St, 5p. Writer/curator Simblist invited one of my favorite performance artists to Austin. Already, this is dope. Ben-Tor unleashes her culturally salient oeuvre, incl. video-performance "Time and Space" and her new development "AVNER". In other news: Ben-Tor just staged a performance at NYC's Zach Feuer Gallery, in conjunction w/ her new show there.
* Fusebox Festival: Barry Macgregor Johnston performance @ Fuxebox Festival Hub / 1100 E 5th St, 7p/FREE. As much as I dug Johnston's objects and banners in "This Is It With It As It Is", the four-LA-artist show on now at Lora Reynolds Gallery (see my review under CURRENT SHOWS), it's only two-thirds of his practice. That fated third, performance, apparently includes "hardcore music, tragic theatre, and dance", all of which I sincerely hope figure into his off-site performance at Fusebox Hub. Unmissable.
* Ellen Altfest "Head and Plant" @ New Museum / 235 Bowery (F to 2nd Ave, 6 to Spring St). The NY-based artist enjoys her debut museum show, presenting a group of extremely physical, figurative paintings.
+ Tacita Dean "Five Americans". Multimedia pioneer Dean comes off a very successful and innovative commission at the Tate Modern's Turbine Hall ("FILM") with her most substantial NY presentation to date. The Berlin-based artist shows "moving portraits" of Merce Cunningham, Leo Steinberg, Julie Mehretu, Claes Oldenburg, and Cy Twombly.
+ Klara Lidén "Bodies of Society". I don't expect any Christmas trees this time, like at Lidén's wonderful installation this past January at Reena Spauldings Fine Art. But I've not doubt the young Swedish art has some tricks up her sleeve to activate and change the cold museum space into something altogether physically and psychologically NEW.
* Kehinde Wiley "An Economy of Grace" @ Sean Kelly Gallery / 528 W 29th St. Wiley's debut solo at the gallery coincides with his first instance of focusing only on women as his portraiture subjects. He collaborated with Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci, who designed six long dresses for Wiley's models, so you know this is going to be mad fierce.
* "Better Off Dead" (dir. Savage Steve Holland, 1985) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E Sixth St, 10p. After "Sixteen Candles" but before "Stand By Me" comes John Cusack as a very tall high-schooler in this extremely un-PC teen comedy. Even better: Diane Franklin (Cusack's "foreign-exchange" love interest in "Better Off Dead", plus the "totally '80s" sister in "TerrorVision") attends this screening!
* Keiko Ajito 「夢違」 @ Span Art Gallery / 2-2-18 1F Ginza, Chuo-ku. (Yurakucho Line to Ginza-Itchome Station). The title of Ajito's fantastical exhibition is just perfect, if nearly untranslatable in English: "a prayer so that a bad dream does not come true"…something close to that. Her illustrations of fitful sleep illustrate Riku Onda's brand-new, award-winning novel of the same name.
* "Miracle Mile" (dir. Steve de Jarnatt, 1988) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E Sixth St, 10:30p. Few films have utilized phone booths and "realtime" to such diabolical, disgusting degrees as this apocalyptic cult film. Feat. a young Anthony Edwards as the receiver of bad news: there's gonna be a nuclear war in less than an hour! Oh, and this was nominated for "Best Film" at 1989 Sitges Film Festival…chew on that for awhile.
* Patrick Taberna "Au Fil Des Jours" @ Gallery TOSEI / 5-18-20 Chuo, Nagano-ku (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line to Shin-Nakao Station, Exit 1-2). Gorgeous square-format photographs detailing Taberna's journeys and the smaller, finer details of life. This series was collected in a monograph in 2004.
* "This Is It With It As It Is" @ Lora Reynolds Gallery / 360 Nueces St. LA-based artist Eve Fowler created the titular work behind this four-person exhibition, a poster-sized panel of glittering, asphalt-colored letters on fluorescent yellow. The words are derived from Gertrude Stein, but the lettering design was determined by the poster-making company: so Fowler's hand in the work is more that of guiding rather than dictating. I sense a little of her in the other three showing here, all youngish cross-media Los Angeles artists who either know or have worked with Fowler in varying degrees. Probably her closest neighbor is multidisciplinary artist Math Bass, who collaborated on a performance/sculpture/photography project with Fowler at Easthampton's Fireplace Project last year – though Bass eschews her own text-derived work in favor of these sphinxlike, watery ink drawings. Their ambiguous portraiture gives up almost exactly zero, but they hint at Bass' overarching oeuvre and her upcoming performance for Fusebox (MAY 4, check back!). Likewise Barry Macgregor Smith's objects and painted banners, both taking on different modes than their initial intent. I found Dashiell Manley's two-sided framed works the linchpin to the show and the antipode to Fowler's text paintings. While Manley's contributions – painted canvas on one side, painted and smeared glass on the obverse – are covered in numerals, many of the silvery digits are flipped into their mirror images (like they're seen from the painting's opposite side) and as a result resemble roman letters. It is this breakdown or blurring of language and communication, like Bass' representational transience, that I find really super interesting.
* Colin Doyle "An Inquiry Concerning" @ Courtyard Garden, AT&T Center / 1900 University Ave, 2nd Fl. This handsome photography presentation by young Austin-based artist Doyle left me hungry for more. And that was after staring for like an hour at the five well-sized prints, each focusing crisply on a single object or several related elements on a non-fussy, usually monochrome backdrop. I felt an intriguing kinship b/w Doyle's compositions and those of camera-geek Christopher Williams, some 30 years Doyle's senior. Both capture the purportedly mundane or banal, boosting that image into something quite beautiful and thought-provoking. Though Williams gets a bit funny sometimes with his bisected cameras and lengthy titles, while Doyle features only one funny print of five, "Picture For Maggie", the oldest work in the show. Compare this— the red funnel, enlarged to bucket proportions and topped off with white powder, floating tuliplike on a just-there clear test-tube—to "Three Lines", both a gigantic staple and three finger-sized black lines forming a most elementary shape. The former feels almost excessive and flashy now, yet it is practically as elegant as can be. Ditto "Six Bricks", a Carl Andre-style array that speaks both to preschool-age counting exercises and my favorite style of Minimalism. Couple these with the blinged-out "Triangle" and the graceful curves and bright colors of "Sum Sum" (refrigerator magnets?), and you have a whole reductive visual language. You might be surprised at how long you spend looking at them.
* Leif Low-beer @ Okay Mountain / 1619 E Cesar Chavez. I was pretty stoked to hear that Brooklynite Low-beer—who I'd met at Astoria, Queen's Socrates Sculpture Park last May (his array of brightly colored objects and forms was a highlight of that group exhibition and turned notions of "public sculpture" on its ear)—was inaugurating Okay Mountain's new space. I was doubly stoked when I arrived and found one of Low-beer's beguiling arrays (I think titled "Olive pit pedestal") crowning off an exhibition including sculptural/mixed-media hybrids and works on paper. Agglomerations including painted bead-like stacks, geometric interventions and what resembles Haim Steinbach's signature "dog chew-toys" rearrange themselves depending on POV, retaining the artist's presence and hand much as his collaged drawings and spatially distorting photography.
* EVOL "Repeat Offender" @ Jonathan LeVine Gallery / 529 W 20th St 9th Fl. I got tuned into Berlin-based artist EVOL's transcendent interventions—meticulously layered stencils on used cardboard, morphing them into startlingly realistic street scenes—at VOLTA NY 2010. Then LeVine picked him up for one of their legendary summer group shows in 2010. Now they stage EVOL's debut solo stateside exhibition! Mad stoked.
* Kathy Ruttenberg "The Earth Exhales" @ STUX Gallery / 530 W 25th St. New, disturbing ceramics in Ruttenberg's debut at the gallery, including woodland creatures, humans, and the forest itself blurred into wild amalgams.
* Conrad Bakker "Untitled Project: RECORD SHOP [45s] @ Lora Reynolds Gallery / 360 Nueces St. I visited Tokyo indie gallery eitoeiko during New City Art Fair in NYC and noted they were showing artist Masaru Aikawa, whose signature style includes hand-painting CD-sized squares of canvas to expertly replicate CD artwork, only in obviously painterly style. Bakker is also re-presenting music as art, in this case rough-hewn wooden "45's" painted to mimic album jackets, but his execution feels uniquely Bakker-ish. Meaning: he doesn't go as far as Aikawa in the trompe-l'oeil effect, so his artwork, while clearly resembling LPs (Depeche Mode and Phil Collins here, Bob Marley and Joni Mitchell there), more accurately look like little paintings, down to their respective quirky, handmade essences. (ENDS SAT)
* Andy Coolquitt "chair w/ paintings" @ Lisa Cooley / 107 Norfolk St. Even in Lisa Cooley's new gallery space, Coolquitt's assemblage-style sculpture is guaranteed dense and intense, as his discarded and chosen-object groupings gravitate to and play off one another.
* "The Crystal Chain" @ Invisible-Exports / 14A Orchard St. Matthew Porter and Hannah Whitaker co-curate this photography group exhibition, coinciding w/ Blind Spot magazine's issue 45. Feat. several historical photographers (Eliot Porter, Ellen Auerbach, Josef Breitenbach) plus more recent works by Matthew Brandt, Kate Costello, Boru O'Brien O'Connell, Erin Shirreff and others.
* Charles Dunn "hell on earth" @ Number 35 Gallery / 141 Attorney St. Apocalyptic possibilities enrich Dunn's vibrant color palette in his paintings and enrapture his Plexiglas and wood sculpture. Hell, if the world's going to end in 2012, might as well go for broke. Year of the Dragon. Carpe Diem.
* "Memento Mori" @ Grayduck Gallery / 608 W Monroe Dr. I've been working off a mortality tip in these Austin-area galleries. First Tiny Park, now Grayduck. This group exhibition, w/ Suzanne Koett (photography), John Mulvany (painting), and Cherie Weaver (mixed media), features local talent adept at locking humanity in a historical context. Mulvany, Irish-born and Texas-based, achieves this by painting figures from the Irish Civil War as beatific spirits looming over the sun-bleached Hill Country landscape. Retaining the figures' sepia-toned palette against the vistas' blues, greens, and earth-tones—plus the ornate retablo/devotional halos crowning them—Mulvany comments on the cyclical presence of his subjects. As in: the recurrences of war and religious movements. Weaver utilizes a ton of vintage cabinet cards in her ageless works, but they tend to be linking points or jump-offs to larger or multi-part dialogues, like the almost titular "Momentum Mori" and its pools of sumi-e echoed in the photograph's checkerboard floor, or her composites on translucent unstretched linen. I first began digging Koett's photography at this Austin-area artist group show at Gallery Black Lagoon last year, thanks to her bracing "Sabbat" series. She includes works from "The Study of Aloneness" here, ghostly composites of same-looking girls levitating in a forest's fog ("Power For Power") or in a Brutalist garage ("Rejoice, We Made the Right Choice"). It's like her "twins" are the guides for this exhibition's ideas and imagery, ushering us between consciousness and unconsciousness, life and death, to contemplate our respective existences.
* Ay-O "Over the Rainbow Once More" @ Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo / 4-1-1 Miyoshi, Koto-ku (Hanzomon/Oedo Lines to Kiyosumi-Shirakawa Station). The "Rainbow Artist" and Fluxus member's full-spectrum career arc, depicted in full color. Featuring a large, participatory installation (as Ay-O's oeuvre is typically multisensory), plus a new large painting, classic other paintings and videos.
+ Atsuko Tanaka "The Art of Connecting". Define MAJYAH. The first major Tokyo retrospective of the foremost female member of Gutai Art Association, the postwar avant-garde artist group. This includes Tanaka's famous "Electric Dress" but includes loads else, like paintings, collages, and video records of her performances. (ENDS SUN)