The New Contemporary Art Magazine

Author: Soojin Chang

In Alex Da Corte’s latest exhibition “Die Hexe,” the comedy of his sculptures turns heartbreakingly grim. His new work is housed together in a dreamlike installation that engulfs Luxembourg & Dayan’s three-story townhouse in New York's Upper East Side.
The difficulties in giving justice to the crossover between music and art as a visual exhibition are clearly evident in “Björk,” MoMA’s retrospective of the prolific Icelandic musician opening in New York City this Sunday, March 8. The show was conceived and organized by Klaus Biesenbach, Chief Curator at Large at MoMA and Director of MoMA PS1, who, beginning with Kraftwerk in 2012, has made ambitious advancements in creating an immersive sound experience in the museum’s physical space.
Kehinde Wiley’s larger-than-life paintings (featured in HF Vol. 29) insert black and brown individuals into the typically all-white history of Western portraiture. His subjects, a majority of whom are urban males, are cast in poses that assertively beckon old master paintings of European kings and emperors. Some gallantly ride horses, while others don regalia. All figures peer commandingly at the viewer in Wiley’s 14-year survey “Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic” currently on view at the Brooklyn Museum.
Thursday night's opening of Alex Gross's "Future Tense" at Jonathan LeVine Gallery in New York's Chelsea district greeted viewers with a heavy dose of consumer culture. The exhibition initially comes off as accessible and playfully reflective of modern addictions, yet the works as a group are rather grim and much harder to swallow than their glossy, candy-colored exteriors would suggest.
Micki Pellerano traverses different media like an alchemist. His work spans from experimental theater, filmmaking, to drawing — all of which transform and combine in a paranormal way to create what seems to be an ever-evolving creative canon. The artist has a show titled “Monoliths” opening on October 19 at envoy enterprises in New York City. Pellerano invited us into his studio to discuss his new body of work.
I moved from San Francisco to New York City a year ago, and one of the many things I thought I’d never miss is the fog. Thick clouds of water droplets suspended in my daily existence are a thing of the past. So going to Fujiko Nakaya’s fog installation “Veil” — an ethereal piece at the Glass House created using fog nozzles that respond to weather conditions — in midsummer felt entirely like a time warp, to my former life in the Bay, and to an impeccably embalmed setting of an architectural triumph in Mid-Century America.
Last Rites Gallery in New York City opened two solo shows — Richard J. Oliver’s “Elements” and Stefano Alcantara’s “Waqayñan," two concurrent interpretations of a journey — this past Saturday. Oliver’s works, which sprawled across the longest of the gallery’s walls, mark a personal evolution of the artist’s practice, specifically, as a departure away from his former foreboding narrative paintings and closer to the ebullience that has come over him in recent years.
Over the weekend at Joshua Liner Gallery in Chelsea, NYC, California-based artist Thomas Campbell opened his solo show “Ampersand,” bringing with him a calm from the Pacific that seemed disorientingly refreshing in a city that breeds anxiety. Campbell, who is as much a painter as he is a filmmaker, skateboarder, surfer, record-label founder and photographer, continues to defy the mainstream pressures of specialization and containment, a shared temperament for many of his fellow artists that emerged in the 1990s — the Beautiful Losers such as Barry McGee, Cheryl Dunn and Harmony Korine.
On Saturday, June 7, the eminent pop surrealist painter Lori Earley opened a solo show at Opera Gallery in Soho, New York, featuring 34 new oil paintings as well as earlier portraiture drawings of her iconic female characters. The exhibition “The Devil's Pantomime” is opulent in its simplicity. The artist beckons an otherworldly beauty by magnifying the intrinsic features of a woman's face, and reaches the sensory-equivalent of how silk stockings, leather, and dewy skin feels in pure, color form.
Without all of the clothes and the accessories of the modern Homo sapiens, human anatomy alone is quite strange and our smug arrogance, rather misplaced. Visualize a baby kitten next to a human infant, and you’ll see how oafish we must appear to surrounding species. New York-based artist Aurel Schmidt goes a step further to highlight our physical oddities by comparing human body parts to not even others mammals, but vegetation, in her collections of drawings titled “Fruits” and "Black Drawings."
From afar, when drifting out of the East River’s fog and closer to the sprightly groomed lawn of Randall’s Island, Frieze New York 2014 looks like a massive wedding party. There is a band playing just outside the 250,000 square foot tent hosted by Naama Tsabar, and Marie Lorenz is along the shore, inviting guests on boat trips. But as you walk a bit farther and see a man contorted into a ball on a fragmented jungle gym, you start doubting human anatomy and remember that you are at an art fair, after all.
Last Saturday at Last Rites Gallery in New York City, Menton J. Matthews III — known as menton3 — opened “KATABASIS,” a solo exhibition that journeys through the folds of the psyche, manifesting the artist's internal struggles through a haunting collection of paintings and drawings. During the intimate talk that the gallery hosted on Friday evening, the Chicago-based artist shared the meditative process behind his practice to a private audience.
For Swoon's latest site-specific installation "Submerged Motherlands," the artist brings together familiar faces of all shapes and sizes in to the open space rotunda of the Brooklyn Museum. Nestled around a staggering 70-foot tree and its many shadowy branches, the colossal aboriginal man from the artist's 2011 show "Anthropocene Extinction" laughs on one entrance point of the installation as the sea goddesses and their oozing capilllaries of "Thalassa" frame an alternate passage. The throng of highly-detailed bamboo, cut paper, linoleum and woodcuts are, at the core, not at all a far departure from the type of work Swoon has been constructing for over a decade, yet the body of works is able to find a virtually revamped context, one that circles around and bleeds out from the idea of the home.
Over the weekend at Jonathan LeVine Gallery in Chelsea, New York, the Brooklyn-based artist Dan Witz opened his solo exhibition "NY Hardcore," a mosh pit series intricately depicted in a hyper-realistic, trompe l'oeil technique with oil and digital media. The displayed works are all so purposely consistent — not just in medium, but through the unbound emotions splattered across Witz's many colliding punk youths. One piece bleeds into another, allowing the viewer to escape into New York City's adrenaline-spiked past.
Toronto-based artist Gosia creates intimate moments with her collection of sculpted busts of youthful subjects. Made of gypsum and polymer clay, Gosia's sculptures leave traditional facial signifiers and theatrical dramatics behind, replacing them with expressions of much gentler subtlety. As if candidly stopped in time, the faces of her sculptures chisel into perpetuity the fleeting moment when a glance is first cast, the downward evasion of one’s gaze as the shade of familiar dismay momentarily prevails.
In his ongoing mask series, Dutch designer Bertjan Pot creates contemporary renditions of folkloric masks by stitching together thin strands of colored rope, giving the human face new textures that are at once otherworldly and familiar. The series began in 2010 when Pot, most notably known for designing “Random Light,” the globe-shaped pendant lamp of resin drained glass-fiber yarn, attempted to make a flat carpet out of knitted rope, but ended up with insistently curvier swatches. The designer decided to use the orbicular patterns as contours of the human face to create a mask, preserving the serendipitous nature found in all of his projects, which are self-proclaimed to be rooted in trial-and-error and his fixation with stretching the possibilities of materiality.
Walking through SCOPE Art Show this past weekend felt very much like navigating through a labyrinth, as this year’s galleries boasted exceptionally creative uses of space at Moynihan Station within the New York City Post Office. With over 68 exhibitors from 22 countries, the booths that particularly stood out were ones that not only featured strong works, but ones that provided the harmonic impression of private mini-exhibitions within the realities of a packed trade show.
The Armory Show 2014 is particularly entertaining for the number of selfie-inducing artworks glittered throughout the massive 208,000 sq. ft. exhibition space at Pier 92/94 in New York City. Gleaming works of polished steel and chrome have been increasingly prominent in art fairs, perhaps most obviously with Rirkrit Tiravanija’s mirrored ping-pong table at NYEHAUS during Basel 2008, but the sheer abundance of literal reflections at this year’s Armory speaks true of what undeniably catches the busy fair goer’s eyes these days. From Olafur Eliasson’s triangular mirrors with frosted tips at i8 Gallery to Iván Navarro’s one-way mirrored neon boxes at Galerie Daniel Templon, the Armory Show reminds individuals to take a moment to reflect inwardly before returning to the sea of engulfing works found in over 200 exhibiting galleries from 29 countries.
This Friday, March 7, the Whitney Museum of American Art will open their 77th Biennial for its final time at the Marcel Breuer building in the Upper East Side before moving to its new downtown location. For the 2014 exhibition, the Whitney invited three curators from outside the museum — Stuart Comer (Chief Curator of Media and Performance Art at MoMA), Anthony Elms (Associate Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia), and Michelle Grabner (artist and Professor in the Painting and Drawing Department at the School of the Art Institute, Chicago) — to explore the loaded question: What is contemporary art in the United States now?

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