Crichoues Indignation - Caitlin Cherry
The Hole NYC - 312 Bowery, New York, NY - Showing until November 15, 2020
The HOLE NYC honestly takes it up a notch with every artist they showcase. Upon visiting this gallery, I was shocked to see that The HOLE had transformed entirely, with crisply painted walls, a huge amount of incredible new works and a fresh take on their whole space. Transforming the gallery for Cherry after Cubed, their previous group show (14 international artists) that utilized the space in an entirely different means, allows viewers to understand just how important looking at art is right now, how passionate The HOLE is and how on board their team is with highlighting the current climate of technology and social media running rampantly hand-in-hand with civil unrest, the upcoming election and dismantling (or establishing) social hierarchy in 2020.
Cherry’s oil on canvas works are engulfing in their larger than life scale, confronting th eviewer in a familiar digital landscape with Black Femme figures at the foreground, her gazes highlighting the way social media appropriates this community’s body image, sexuality and style without highlighting their skill set or expertise. An image-run, surface level and vapid Instagram-esque landscape is expressed through Cherry’s undulating use of fluorescent colors, shapes and installation techniques. The artist’s hyper-sexualised characters are based on dancers, bartenders and Instagram models working at cabarets and as online influencers.
I would recommend seeing this show for an impressive take on its online origin (a misspelt tweet that Kanye West made) that expands into a gooey, delicious and psychedelic series of abstract paintings. Cherry also includes a very large paintings vault, housing several canvases that gallery goers can engage with. The vault speaks to the value of archiving digital works (or lack their of) playing with online’s ubiquitous sugar-coating methods and the over-arching authenticity in the art world today.
PS. The HOLE also has a show on by Anders Oinonen
Vantage Points - Letha Wilson, Sonia Almeida, Heidi Norton and Claudia Peña Salinas
GRIMM Gallery, 202 Bowery, New York, NY - Showing until November 14, 2020
Although the gallery is dominated by a vast amount of captivating and rich work by a male painter, Tjebbe Beekman (Symbiosis), if you get to the middle of the gallery and turn to your left, you will see a small door leading to a descending staircase that you can go down for a refreshing take on (finally) an all women's show!
The work deals with the natural world, conceptually and physically, as the artists criss-cross and mingle with the use of plants, grass, fibre, wax, metal and paper presented in a range of autonomous sculptures, paintings and installations in their final form.
The work in this show is presented on the ground, wall, floor and even corners of the building, challenging conventional installation techniques that demonstrate how space can be manipulated by both delicate and less delicate forms. Nature versus structure, hard versus soft, digital versus organic, etc.
Wilson, Almeida, Norton and Salinas' work compliments each other as much as it highlights the differences in each piece. The most compelling work for me was Reverse timeline (2019) by Sonia Almeida, made out of printed fabric, screen print, fabric pen, cotton, polyester and wool hung from the ceiling, and The Museum Archive by Heidi Norton made out of five panels of glass, resin, plants, beam splitter glass, photo gels, photographic prints, film and an aluminum stand. This is GRIMM Gallery’s final show before they move to Tribeca.
Total Running Time - Jibade-Khalil Huffman
Magenta Plains - 94 Allen Street, New York, NY - Showing until December 16, 2020.
Having stumbled across Magenta Plains awaiting the results of the election, my mood was tense and suspended. I was cynical and in urgent need of a distraction, but entering this gallery gave me so much more than that. I was elated by what I saw the second I walked into the almost disguised gallery space on Allen Street (refer to photos to avoid missing it entirely).
The atmosphere was moody and engrossing. Neons, vocal soundscapes and jolted light flashings from unconventionally hung projectors filled the 2 storied gallery space. Total Running Time presents a multi-faceted insight into the practice of inter-disciplinary artist Jibade-Khalil Huffman, a successful writer and poet working with text and imagery to re-imagine and challenge semiotic hierarchies. His object making involves the re-contextualisation of text presented through densely layered video pieces, light work, moving imagery and digital stills.
The exhibition includes photographic light boxes and digital photo-collages printed onto transparencies that are manipulated and scrutinised by looped video projections. Layering visuals for Huffman intentionally speaks to conversations and language pertinent to race and visibility. Upon looking at a projected transparency work, you’ll find yourself becoming confused about what is printed and what is projected, while being completely mesmerised by the piece and its much larger light leak onto the back wall. The prints are saturated with color and cartoon graphics, making for an almost psychedelic and explosive experience.
Huffman’s work confronts serious subject matter while colliding loose and dated graphics together such as Tom and Jerry depictions, paint by number motifs, images from TV guides, classic television stills, advertisements from the 60’s and iconography from various American comic books.
His work embraces contemporary interests such as the degradation of digital media while also saluting recognisable imagery to draw his viewers in. Because of the ephemeral nature of Huffman’s work , I suggest Total Running Time be a show you visit more than once. Whether his pieces juxtapose illustrations with video or projections with digital prints, his work looks and feels different with every photographic iteration, video capture and sensory interaction.
Cotton Mouth - Tschabalala Self
Eva Presenhuber, 39 Great Jones St, New York, NY - showing until December 19, 2020
Cotton Mouth presents as a formal critique on projected viewings (or constructions) of Black bodies in America. This show is physically and figuratively in your face, hitting the nail on the head with what needs to be addressed socially and artistically right now.
The demand of this politically charged work is potent with its use of scale and installation method especially. Cotton Mouth is striking, hard-hitting and an exciting insight into the trajectory of young artist Tschabalala Self (1990, Harlem). This is her first solo show at the gallery.
As you walk into the beautiful space that is Eva Presenhuber on the historically rich Great Jones, you will quickly find yourself surrounded by mixed-media paintings made out of materials such as fabric, thread, charmeuse, silk, velvet, paper, pigment, acrylic and canvas that completely dominate the space.
Cotton Mouth also features sculptures, drawings and an audio work spread across the two gallery floors.
The title of the show and Self’s making process simultaneously speak to slavery, and the mutually exclusive relationship that cotton has with the African-American experience.
The act of these characters stitched and painted into the canvas by hand carry an emotional and personal significance to Self, while also speaking to the historical devastations of Black slave labor in America. Each constructed character holds power over their self-presentation and external perception unapologetically, an act of power that Black people in America are denied daily.
The work is so hard not to touch based on the array of different fabrics used and sewn together. What was hard for me to believe is that through stitching and constructing, Self has made characters that undeniably hold their own presence and somehow even look different in age and personified life experience.
Self has impeccably built each and everyone of these characters from scratch whether it be Lil Mama 2 with her plaid and tulle fringed pants or the two lovers in Sprewell that kiss in front of an incredible photo transferred TV. One of the characters even wears the artist’s actual jeans.
Self’s practice marries her interests in the psychological and emotional effects of projected fantasy with her sustained articulation of Black life and embodiment. Seeing every hand stitch in Self’s work shows the viewer how painstaking and timely it is to create. The labor in each stitch holds affection, memory and protection according to the artist, and I feel as though the painted hands directly applied to the gallery’s walls touch on this too.
NYNY2020 - Melissa Brown
Melissa Brown's work is an equally refreshing and dystopian take on the year of severe global chaos.
The upheaval of all normalcy has forced us to take a step back — can we even remember how we lived before the pandemic wiped out our rituals and routines? What has COVID-19 made us bereft of or even worse, adapt to?
NYNY2020 highlights the beauty in the banal and takes viewers into atmospheres that seem so out of reach in 2020.
Zoom, New York’s subway system and famous art museums are subjects shown glorified throughout Derek Eller Gallery’s latest show. It was the first space I had visited that had more than two people in it. All wearing masks of course, but the irony of the work's commentary rang true during my physical encounter at the gallery.
How do we safely look at art anymore? Especially when these seemingly cheerful paintings take a while to figure out.
Brown’s distortional collages are created with layers of oil paint, stencil, airbrush and screen printed digital photography that undulate with reflective mark makings and contrasting textures. Brown’s use of light is also unique as it ranges from natural to digital, illustrating how ubiquitous the glare of a screen has become for us as our world turns increasingly virtual.
NYNY2020 is somewhat of an optical illusion in that it turns ordinary objects into surreal terrains. The intimacy of portraying commuting, being in an office or heading to a virtual work meeting displays the new set of demands our society faces, particularly in what was once the world’s epicenter.
Another interesting feature of the work is that it occasionally involves a human hand, suggesting that this work is in fact about us. Our consumption, our surveillance, our addiction to our cellular devices. The world is still in our hands during this pandemic, but the way in which we see and control it will be altered tremendously ... and forever.
This show is so uncomfortably relevant that it is almost scary to think how else 2020 in New York City will be depicted in the future. Melissa Brown’s work forces you to slow down, to stop and think about this year and to understand our home with an entirely different appreciation.
NYNY2020 by Melissa Brown is showing at Derek Eller Gallery until Dec. 19
edenchrome for all - Michael Assiff, Valerie Keane, Lacey Lennon, Luke Libera Moore, Evelyn Pustka, Andrew Ross, Darryl Westly and Damon Zucconi.
ASHES/ASHES, 56 Eldridge St.
ASHES/ASHES presents a group show that grapples with the ineptitude of the internet’s search engines, algorithms and the navigation of 2020’s digital rhetoric. A wilderness of hashtags, symbols, phrases, redirection notices, surveillance, data, disguises, conspiracies, no results or too many results.
The sculptures, videos and paintings in edenchrome for all have surrendered to the information age, admitting there is no going backwards.
Eight artists have produced works for this show that plays with ideas of certitude in an age where literally anything is searchable. Our accessibility to questioning and answering has unfortunately become abusive. With advanced abilities like never before, the idea of truth and fact are not mutually exclusive, but more malleable instead.
With the 2020 election arguably presenting as the most dividing campaign in Western history, conspiracies about the far-left and far-right over saturate our cell phones, presenting ideologies so far-fetched and comically irrational that they seem to stick.
The experience of walking into the gallery itself was eccentric and blinding. Coming from an early sun-down November day and flinging yourself into the severity of the brightest of white walls totally sets the tone immediately.
ASHES/ASHES steals your attention, almost precisely like a screen. Suddenly in a brand new world, whether you like it or not you won’t be able to look away.
Artistic agency and digital anonymity were visual propositions externalized through the combination of analog and digital techniques. The hand squeezed mark-making by Michael Assiff, to the fine, unconventional cuts around the edges of Black Friday Sale, 2:43 PM: November 29th, 2019; Poughkeepsie, NY, 2020 blur the reality of what it means to be a mark maker in the contemporary space.
Laser-cut sculptures can start as scribbles, and 3D objects are re-rendered out of funky and/or trashy graphics from an old-school computer game. Paintings can be digital drawings with thousands of filters applied and almost anything we see hanging in a gallery is professionally deceptive.
Machine making is limitless within an artistic capacity, as is its power to manipulate our digital community. Machine takeover ... well, that’s now up to us.
If you are interested in less conventional techniques in painting, sculpture, multimedia and video art, then this is the show to see before the year is out. Easily the most notable show of the year for me, ASHES/ASHES has transformed their gallery into a garden of confusing, confronting and calculated objects — some that would take hours of surveying to appreciate every nuance.
The standout pieces for me were spangle maker by Valerie Keane, a laser-cut sculpture hanging from the ceiling, Party in the USA, a video work that re-imagines Miley's famous anthem by Evelyn Putska and WEEDS (WDFY04 Vidia Purple / WDMN02 Pink Bow Beauty) a painting on cotton by Michael Assiff.
edenchrome for all is showing at ASHES/ASHES until Dec. 19.
Nosegay Tornado - Ambera Wellmann
Company Gallery, 88 Eldridge St.
One of the many tokens of pleasure during the pandemic I have come to find is stumbling across an incredible art show by accident while on my way to another. I suffer from option paralysis, a serious-sounding faux disorder that makes it difficult for me to commit to choosing only one gallery to go to at a time.
Even as COVID-19 continues to impose itself, there is still so much new artwork to see and for that, I am bountifully grateful. I urge you to go out and explore for yourself too. There is nothing quite like seeing artwork in the flesh.
Regardless of prior planning or research, the sensation of walking into a gallery you’ve not even heard the name of before is something exciting in and of itself. When a body of work appears so forceful in its serendipity, you can’t help but wonder if the paintings were in fact waiting for you to appear this whole time. Who cares how you got there, the point exists in your arrival.
Company Gallery was by far the best pit stop of my whole week.
Ambera Wellmann presents her first solo show, Nosegay Tornado in this hidden gallery on Eldridge Street. Walking down a dauntingly long hallway to arrive at the show (on your right), Company is surprisingly welcoming and warm for a large white space. This feeling was most likely caused by a combination of witnessing more and more people visiting shows (some seemingly had the same gallery route as me), mixed with the maturity of Wellmann’s use of paint.
The paintings throughout the space represent the last six months of Wellmann’s studio time. Using inspiration from the romantically distorted and anamorphic bodies of William Blake’s apocalyptic work, these paintings are vibrant and undeniably sexy. There’s narrative, lust and confusion in the room, brought to life through oil paint and soft pastels.
Nosegay Tornado presents paintings that embody alternative and perhaps conflicting narratives. Whether it be the choice to construct internal (oil on linen canvas) and external (painted frame) structures (The Unicorn Captivity) or in creating a scene where a sinister figure voyeuristically watches two lovers reach ecstasy (Nox Tendencies), her canvases home a level of uncertainty within them.
Wellmann’s vibrant colors bleed into animals and ornaments, blurring forms with shapes and patterns. Figures softly turn into abstractions and the combustion of needs and desires portrayed in these paintings emit a kind of sexy, kind of serious but definitely catastrophic steam that demands the viewer’s attention. The work dramatically (and dreamily) deals with ideas of fluidity in sexuality and gender, the psyche, and queerness.
Nosegay Tornado extrapolates the potentiality of who we are as animalistic creatures and romanticizes the idea of what human desire looks or feels like beyond any and all of its confinement.
Nosegay Tornado is on show at Company Gallery until Jan. 9.
In the Woods - Sally Saul
Rachel Uffner Gallery, 170 Suffolk St.
In the Woods showcases a packed room and a half of new ceramic sculptures created with a sense of humor, anxiety and down-to-earthness from Sally Saul in her second solo show at Rachel Uffner Gallery.
The array of sculptures within the space play and interact with our senses of familiarity and comfort while also introducing us to a "new normal." A new struggle, a new challenge, a new moment and a new movement. This show forces us to understand that one way to deal with this shitshow of a pandemic is well, to embrace it. (While wearing a mask, please).
During the last several months of living amidst the coronavirus and its subsequent social sorrows, Saul (married to the incredible Peter Saul) reflects on this confusing but unavoidable new world through her detailed expressions and use of finer details as a ceramicist. The work to me almost felt like a personal chronicling of the artists' time in lockdown, a documentation of pandemic experiences and a tribute to the American lives lost.
Sally Saul consistently incorporates the everyday into her sculptural practice, and this time is no different. At In the Woods, we get to surround ourselves with her forest of birds, flowers and the natural world too, which we can understand as her refuge over the course of this work being created.
Taking time to find enjoyment in the smaller pleasures, Saul's sculpture garden at Rachel Uffner Gallery remains light-hearted but is also question-provoking owing to its sophisticated documentative style.
Will artists who are alive in 2020 continue to make reference to the pandemic we currently occupy? Will self-portraits include protective gear as political or apolitical symbolism? What sort of art history are we forming or moving away from?
But forgetting about all of the more serious stuff, the works bulky form and playful undertones are also cause for a much deserved and maybe overdue giggle. This show has all of the right ingredients in it to make you forget about the weight of the world ... just for a moment.
In the Woods is showing at Rachel Uffner Gallery until Jan. 30.
Mrs. Evan Williams - Jamian Juliano-Vilani
JTT Gallery, 191 Chrystie St.
The New Jersey raised and hilariously edgy painter Jamian Juliano-Villani showcases 11 paintings in Mrs. Evan Williams, her third solo show at JTT Gallery.
After getting to know Jamian through her online presence and impressive list of press, her paintings speak for themselves and indulge in her wacky sense of humor, unpredictable juxtapositions and to me establish her presence in the New York art scene — her career has only just begun.
Seeing how she works, laying down surfaces with paint, then projecting onto the canvas to compose her pieces and then repainting again and so on and so forth builds a crass narrative that’s psychologically challenging and morbidly personal.
She makes these works while getting through a pack and a half of smokes a day, another attribute to the painter that bleeds into her work. I know it sounds weird, but this artist looks and sounds like the paintings in her show — that might just be my take.
While discussing her modes of making and navigating her studio, she describes herself as a vessel. In one of her more graphic works, Replace Phosphates Without Compromising Functionality, a Relief ; I believe her diagnosis is visualized. This work is the first large scale piece you will see in the main room of the gallery and is recommended to soak in on an empty stomach.
The work depicts a slender female object crawling out of the most magnificently painted pink toilet in a pastel themed bathroom. You can put 2 and 2 together from my photography, but the stare from the subject is absolutely mesmerizing and, of course, off-putting.
The painting has turned a private moment into a torturously grotesque, almost animated and caricatured hell-ride. It was by far my favorite work in the show and one of the few pieces that included a sculptural element, leaving a foldable step-stool in front of the canvas, presumably for the relief to be relieved of its nasty journey.
This show includes works that are intervened with, as described above, smaller paintings, non-conventionally framed works and a whole back wall of the gallery wallpapered as an office/board meeting scene. This show is mostly flat but plays with other tools to include sound, light and the internet through QR codes, suggesting that the artist is branching out with her materials and sculptural play.
Another work, Origin of the World, highlights the artist’s nod to the revolutionary Courbet work from the 1800s. Highlighting the problematic nature of the work, the painter throws shade by creating her own hodge-podge of nonsensical, penis-bearing creatures.
Jamian Julaino-Villani again places uncomfortably confronting subject matter directly in the eye line of the viewer (I am 5’4 for reference), which the gallery has described as sophomoric in nature. I, however, feel as though it is weirdly sophisticated, especially with its gorgeously decorative border and terribly calculated composition layout. Another winner for me.
This show will get you excited about contemporary painting that is graphic, bold and not shy about being absolutely vile to look at. For a giggle and gag and everything in between, Mrs. Evan Williams will be on show at JTT Gallery until Jan. 23.
Home Alone - Group Show
ATM Gallery, 54 Henry St.
Going rogue and off-map seeking out ATM Gallery, I was highly appreciative of taking a friend's advice on visiting. The exhibit was a fresh send off to the weirdest and saddest year possible, lining the walls with young artist's work that mixed painterly, graphic and illustrative practices under one young roof.
Having only opened this past September, ATM Gallery is a space that oozes vivacity as soon as you walk in; from the artwork, the attitude and the engagement from its founders. Not only is a congratulations in order, but also a watchful eye needs to be kept on this space.
The excitement in the face of the gallerists as they spoke about their curation process, exhibiting artists and general views on artistic sustainability blew my mind — it was clearly way beyond a passion project for William and Madeline who I spoke to on my visit to HOME ALONE.
It was also extremely encouraging knowing that there were spaces run by passionate and proactive people, focused in their pursuit to showcase young artists popping up on the Lower East Side. The exhibition highlights work from 15 artists living in different places locally and globally, celebrating the gallery's community of respected artists and friends who were dedicated in their support throughout such an unprecedented (but also arguably incredible) year for art-making and makers alike.
Be warned, it is a hard show to want to leave. This is perhaps because of the shared and dire experiences depicted by these artists that most viewers can relate to right now, but, I assure you it also offers much-needed ease. The work's materials, visual connections and formative expressions in HOME ALONE are as diversified as the experiences that each artist had while preparing for the show during the onslaught of COVID-19.
Together, Anna Park, Mike Lee, Eliot Greenwald, Roby Dwi Antono, Koichi Sato, Mark Ryan Chariker, Caleb Hahne, Michael Kagan, Alexis Ralaivao, Luisiana Mera, Thomas Radin, Matt Leines, Sun Woo, Ji Woo Kim and Juilo Anaya Cabanding share documentations of their time living globally, separately, isolated and alone.
HOME ALONE will be running until Jan. 17 at ATM Gallery, 54 Henry St.
Moko Moko Doki Doki - Misaki Kawai
Double Happiness - Caroline Larson, Roxanne Jackson
The Hole, 312 Bowery
The Hole, as I have previously relayed, takes the idea of transformation passionately and excels in this. Yes, this highlights the gallery's talented team, but more important, it provides a climactic show for both artist/s and gallery go-ers.
Whether you enjoy the experience or not, there's no way that you'll be able to forget The Hole's first two shows of 2021. A cacophony of color, form and touch (that thing we've all forgotten about), Misaki Kawai presents Moko Moko Doki Doki filling the main floors in the space, while Double Happiness occupies the back room with luscious wetness and optical illusion from Caroline Larson and Roxanne Jackson.
Moko Moko Doki Doki sets the tone all the way from the opposite side of Bowery — you can start to spot large mounds of purples and yellows and furry sculptures that will make you skip all the way to the front door. Moko Moko or "fluffy" colliding with Doki Doki or "excited heartbeat" literally describes the work perfectly.
You're immediately made aware that you can pet the sculptures and feel as though you've traveled back in time to kindergarten, where words aren't really necessary anymore, but smiles, giggles, touching and enlivening your immature senses is of utmost importance.
The sensations in my body and face as soon as I saw the array of fluffy and excited heartbeats were something unique to me — it has been a while since I've been physically affected by artwork. I was grateful to blush and laugh around these sculptures, stroke one and fight the urge not to cuddle the hell out of them all. I was suddenly 6 years old.
Kawai is an internationally renowned artist, most famous for her all-ages, immersive work that is bold and playful. A talented painter and illustrator, her new text-based works lace the walls of the show, presenting an interesting iteration of her G-rated sculptures while staying classically true to her repetitive use of emoji-esque motifs. This is her fourth solo show at The Hole since 2013.
The darkish vibrance of Moko Moko Doki Doki's walls made the whole gallery look like miniature maze toys or building blocks. It kept you there, simply because it felt like there was so much to see and do, to play with and to pet.
But in a lime green distance, there was a space I admittedly made a beeline for. Double Happiness took me to a level of speechlessness. Honestly, please do yourself a favor and visit this show. The name for me does not do it justice. I know it sounds corny, but seeing Caroline Larsen and Roxanne Jackson's work really tripled, quadrupled and I will go as far as to say it quintupled my happiness.
This special two-person exhibition showcases new bodies of oil painting and ceramic sculpture. The two artists engage in ideas like doubling, mirroring, pattern, reinventing/invigorating craft and pushing the limits of historical/ traditional techniques.
Across the room, vases are positioned on mirror-topped plinths that host oil marks in their reflection. The sexy interventional designs of Jackson's vases proliferate as you navigate within Larson's multiplying paintings that surround the exhibition. There is color, design, form, meshing and merging absolutely everywhere. It's as nauseating to walk around the space as it is to stand still in this environment. You totally forget about the literal gestures here — flowers and vases.
How these artists have conceived Double Happiness is doubly acerbic and commendable. The way Larson's delicious-looking paintings warp and skew and mess you up while you’re walking around delicate vases, so ready to smash (accidentally) proposes an optical challenge definitely worth trying out.
Moko Moko Doki Doki and Double Happiness will both be showing until Valentine’s day at The Hole.
Farbe - Paige Beeber
Freight + Volume Gallery, 97 Allen St
I had initially thought these were oversized textiles. Crazy in composition and almost panicked in their abstraction, as I drew closer to Beeber’s mixed-media canvases, a clear and painterly dialogue seeped through her strategically applied pallet of wet media, paint and found objects instead.
Ink splotted, cross-hatched and heavily patterned, what I enjoyed most about this show was how reminiscent of a studio scene these works exuded. It was almost as if all the paintings had kicked up a fuss about being transported to the gallery. It is immediately clear from their proud experimentalism that every work has a life of its own. Farbe (German for color ) felt like it was incredibly fun to put together and is an evocative showcasing of Beeber’s vibrancy and growing talent.
Beeber’s works operate as frames of time, snapshots of external and internal circumstances articulated and crafted by the artist. She has investigated ideas like order and chaos, which can be seen on her canvases through controlled, more orderly mark-making amongst the more frenzied and fluid gestures. The draw to these works is found within their multitudinous layers. Countless mark-making techniques that have managed to survive within the constraints of a canvas —how she has not run out of room I do not quite understand.
What Beeber’s work does successfully is a call for contemplation from her viewer, as there is simply too much to comprehend from one glance.
The scale of these works aid in this as well. As each work in the gallery towers over you, they demand some kind of attention and calculation — are they puzzles? A game of snakes and ladders? Painted knitting swatches? It is definitely not a case of what you see is what you get.
Aside from the brilliant choice in showcasing Beeber’s paintings, I learned that Freight and Volume publish beautifully designed catalogs for each of their exhibitions. For a gallery that is dedicated to providing opportunities for emerging visual artists, an incredibly unique resource such as this — so kindly extended to their artists — is rare enough to be highlighted.
Paige Beeber’s Farbe at Freight + Volume Gallery will be on view until Feb. 21.
First Draft - Sei Smith, Caslon Bevington, Dylan Reitz
Ki Smith Gallery, 197 E. 4th St
After walking past one of the first iterations of First Draft, I was intrigued to know more about Ki Smith Gallery and its seemingly unique approach to the contemporary art space, curatorial programming and general history.
What strikes first about this space is its small fish/big pond boldness — you can see certain works before you walk in and in most cases see all works at once when you are inside. The interior to me is experimental, testing and quite obviously full of potential.
I had the pleasure of being taken around the work of install_1, the first of three parts in First Draft by its curator Sei Smith (pictured in the middle above, and brother of Ki Smith). Speaking to the works of art and about the show as an art form in and of itself, Sei’s confidence and strong sense of adaptability between both artist and curator presented me with a wealth of knowledge and, naturally, a long list of questions.
I didn’t want to leave, but since when has a gallery show been something dying for certainty or resolution? I had accessed more information about how each artist and curator worked with materials, while maintaining my curiosity around why Sei had curated his share of the show the way he had.
What did he want his audience to take away from hanging Bevington’s referentially digital painting next to Reitz’s recycled paper sculpture? Why were pieces hung at jarringly different heights? What time of the day could you watch certain works change in color? What would the show look like next if all of the same work would be in the same room? How does it feel for a viewer to engage with the artworks in such an intimate setting?
“The synchronicity lies not in the aesthetics of the art objects, but in the artists’ treatment of material as subject to create subversive “paintings” that embody the inescapable harmony of minimalism.” (Read the press release here.)
Harmonizing Ki Smith Gallery until Valentine’s Day, three young artists who were supposed to show at Art Toronto found themselves in conversation about how their practices ebb and flow, fit with and depart from each other’s.
After being hit with a pandemic and needing to exhaust different resources, Caslon, Dylan and Sei dug into finding meaning in solitary art making for the benefit of collaborative showcasing.
This show is fantastic in the sense that all three artists who hold reputable qualifications had the decency to deliberately exclude theoretical and institutionalized guidelines from their curatorial processes. Instead, they have relied on the work itself, their tastes, instincts, and respect for their fellow artists. This show is real and makes the work so much more raw. East Village… can we have more of this please?
The artists and revolving group of curators include Bevington, who works with resin, concrete, acetate and polyurethane. Her work bridges between hypothetical and physical through the use of paint, pixels, words and fabric. My favorite of hers was the acrylic on panel Photograph of Orange Rose, 2020.
Another stand out work for me was Rills, 2020. Made from handmade paper by Reitz who has a background in stock animation film. He is currently studying Integrated Digital Media and has seamlessly married an organic analogue material with a mechanically digital format.
Both his animation and in-real-life works are memorable purely because you’ve probably never seen something recycled both physically and digitally quite like this. Extremely impressive.
And of course, the curator of the first installation of First Draft, Smith studied painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has shown his work both locally and internationally. I personally felt an instant draw to Sei’s work because of its reflective surfaces, fluorescent, iridescent and transient in their formal finish.
His work in First Draft grapples with the substantiality and appearance of wet paint, dry paint, adhered surfaces and deliberate mistakes in the process of layering various materials. His work changes each time you walk into the space, creating differing sensations for each viewer. Made from acrylic and iridescent film on panel, his best work for me was Half Iridescent_Paint Subjects, 2020.
You can find all work from First Draft and many other works from Caslon Bevington, Sei Smith and Dylan Reitz on the Ki Smith Gallery website.
First Draft will be travelling through two more iterations, curated by Reitz (install No. 2 ending on Sunday) and Bevington (install No. 3 from Feb. 3-14) at Ki Smith Gallery, 197 E. Fourth St. between Avenue A and Avenue B.
And a special thanks to Sei Smith for showing me around the space.
Dissecting the Cyborgian Swamp Thang - Group Show
Super Dutchess Gallery, 53 Orchard St.
Super Dutchess gallery is the type of space that makes me miss my small city back home where artwork is hung respectfully, curated purposefully and in existence with the intent of discourse. This, of course, exists in New York City — it is just that much harder to come by. Small shows in artist-run spaces usually pack a big punch and this one was no different.
The gallery’s current display delivers a succinct response to a moment in art history, a shift in dialect and questions on what it means to be operating in our often inoperable, ever-shifting and sometimes torturously vague conditions.
Andrew Woolbright unpacks the very idea of thingness in Dissecting the Cyborgian Swamp Thang, curating artifactual relationships that speak to the notions of organs, organisms, organizing and organizational methods.
The word organ, pre-Francis Bacon was essentially granted to anything, with no clear qualifying distinction. A flower that lived was an organ, much like a hammer was literary ephemera or a dead bird. They were all organs. Organ in today’s language most usually implicates the human body or more directly a heart, lung or liver that is operational or, in effect, alive. But if you applied this historic linguistic to 2021’s ubiquitous matter (think digital spaces, algorithmic patterns, AI, AR, laser technology, robotics and technological intervention) these all become organs themselves.
So what are THOSE if this is the case, what are WE as bodies and how would artwork begin to extrapolate, accommodate or question thingness?
The work in this show is optically challenging and deceptive, colliding the more referential with the abstract, the melted and porous with the solid and polished. The hybrid nature of the work is perplexing, confusing but satisfying once the show’s ideology presents itself.
Without knowing what the show is about, it is still extremely seductive, much to do with (in my opinion) Cherubim, a plaster and steelwork protruding from the spaces far wall created by Justin Cloud.
There is also Randy Wray’s work, which situates the center of the space with his paper-mâché, sewn canvas, quartz crystals, wire, acrylic, oil, resin and mica sculpture. I responded to Chapter and Verse viscerally, perhaps because I walked around it and understood that the work was living in its own right. It had human-like fangs made from viciously planted crystals, fleshy tones and an organic shapeliness. It also looked extremely heavy, which I will never be certain of, offering a new dimension to the show’s hanging treatment and conceptual play.
It wasn’t long into my visit that I asked Andrew about his choice to not include any video inside of the space. I was made aware in his response that Dissecting the Cyborgian Swamp Thang had a digital element and life online through Emmett Mettier’s captivating and looping Bodily Collapse. The work is more grotesque than the physical works in the gallery and situates and informs the other artist’s works.
Through the use of case silicone and pigment and iridescent plastic film, Mettier has offered the show color as a formal experience, something in which the physical show is stripped of. The video work includes sound and light which syncopates with your heartbeat.
When I was watching Bodily Collapse, it made me freak out about my own stomach and desperately wonder why it was in such abrupt and massive distress. It took me a second to realize, with huge amounts of relief, that it was Mettier’s audio element and not my own body. Scary, uncomfortable, extremely realistic while also sheeny, hue-y and delicious. The work is available to watch here.
Other artists in the show include Alexander Ross with Sketchbk98 Overlap Squish, a digital collage and ink-jet print, and Naomi Nakazato with her screen-printed, polyurethane and plexiglass works A Soft Spot for Rupture and Spoil.
Dissecting the Cyborgian Swamp Thang will be showing at Super Dutchess gallery, 53 Orchard St. between Grand and Hester, until Feb. 18.
A kind thank you to Andrew Woolbright for curating an inspiring show and for allowing me an extremely informative visit.
Friend Zone - Group Show
Half Gallery, 235 E. 4th St.
Friend Zone, curated by Vaughn Spann, consists mostly of contemplative figurative paintings. Some carry a sense of unease and vagueness through their figure’s expressions and body language (Elliot by Sarah Ball), others celebrate passion more directly (Lovers by Taylor Simmons) and some are just downright quirky (One liner — Lambullghini...produce/reuse by Jan Gatewood).
The age-old conventions of friend-zoning suggest that one person is in love and willing to engage with someone who does not reciprocate these feelings at all. Upon extrapolating the push and pull of this awkward and somewhat painful notion, the 44 artworks in the show appear to embrace reminiscent ideas like uncertainty, longing, and in some cases, torment.
Seeing works through this lens serves as an enjoyable experience immediately, allowing for creative narratives to form around visualized characters and situations.
My favorite work in the show was Brianna Rose Brook’s oil and airbrush on canvas called God bless this kitchen. Two figures play against a crazed kitchen scene where items have been chopped up and strewn across a table, a stovetop has been left on and maybe hair is being dyed at home? Is the dynamic between the two strained or suggestive? Sexy or struggling?
The uncertainty of the relationship is such a seductive tool in this work, something that is consistent throughout the young artists practice. For more of her incredible paintings, you can visit her website.
All American Girl, aka: Cowboy of Ohio was another work I could not stop thinking about from Friend Zone and I am grateful, as it has lead me to discover more of Oscar yi Hou’s works, which is honestly just to die for. If I could use swear words to exaggerate, trust me there would be a long list of them here.
The artist’s seemingly deliberate and frisky exuberance can be seen through multiple layering and building of form through strong strokes of oil paint. Themes of diaspora and the slippage between Western and Eastern culture seen in this painting could be evocative of America’s friend-zoning of everything that is other or sadly not white, but for the artist’s intention, I cannot of course be certain.
Their exemplary use of contrasting and complementary colors creates a character that is sexy and charismatic, a palette that has been adopted throughout an extremely impressive body of work that you can find here.
Friend Zone is packed to the brim with works that force us to examine the importance of human bonds and relationships we have with each other. The consternation that shadows over relationships that can’t be defined or in some cases do not want to be has exacerbated over the course of our global crisis. Is the world in fact friend-zoning us? Instead of thinking about this too hard, go and see the show instead.
Friend Zone at Half Gallery will be up until Feb. 24.
Time Dilation - Daniel Arsham
Perrotin Gallery, 130 Orchard St.
Walking into this show will leave you star-struck by the (literal) crystallization of time and memory through Daniel Arsham’s grandiose and hyper-realistic sculptures.
The array of resin sculptures lining this beautiful gallery expand on the idea of what has been, or is actively sacred, and how the definition has been shaped by cultural, social and digital life. The screen in which we all know far too well has allowed ancient treasures an elongated life-span, a ploy Arsham somewhat inverts with his use of analog and digital in the making of his Pokémon series. Classical statue meets pop-cultural Japanese mythology. Two sources that inhabit an infinite amount of online heritage explode as resurrected time stamps in Time Dilation, a showcasing of neo-sacrality at Perrotin Gallery.
This show is joyously playful and delusionally dream-like. Time Dilation makes you ponder on what cultural signifiers will exist well beyond the 20s, and what of them will be glorified or worshipped. Will Charmanders one day be Gods? Will Ancient Grecian sculpture be deduced to existing only as kitsch online graphics? Is this what we’ve come to rely on when we see art depicted with rock, crystals, ceramics or marble? Time, labor and love regardless of its historic gravitas?
An extremely popular show, I would suggest visiting the gallery early before it becomes over-powered with keen visitors. Time Dilation is extremely Instagrammable, making it a slightly harder show to navigate but it is definitely worth the effort.
Time Dilation will be showing at Perrotin until Feb. 20.
Heart, Heart - Anke Weyer
Canada, 60 Lispenard St.
Canada gallery presents new paintings by Anke Weyer in a sharp and beautiful exhibition, Heart, Heart.
The crazed, large-scale paintings line the space of Canada on Lispenard, the best gallery on the street. The painting’s grand marks and dramatic compositions speak to the kinetic rhythm of the human organ in which the show is named.
By letting shit hit the fan, Weyer’s gestural abstractions dominate the space and entirely devour members of its audience, chewing them with scribbles and squiggles, swallowing them through the artist’s plastering of exotic color.
The show resonated with me in an almost exclusively corporeal sense. I was aware of how small I was within the grand scheme of the installation. As I moved from one painting to the next, Heart, Heart transformed into an orchestral arrangement playing different rhythms of our most integral organ.
Several paintings looked and felt as though there was more pain and anguish than replenishment and joy, which offered a fresh insight into Weyer’s varied methodologies and larger studio practice. She eloquently responded to her chosen subject matter via nonsensical and heroically bold painted abstractions.
Heart, Heart is showing at Canada gallery until Feb. 27.