Friday, November 27
Get trapped in a time machine with John Lees and visit Tin Pan Alley through waves of city grime. Lees’s paintings feel chewed up by history and rained on with tears. The pictures of his father call to mind the crusty surfaces of Llyn Foulkes with a dump’s worth more of heartache.
When recent Hugo Boss Prize–nominee Ralph Lemon’s ambitious, fractious Scaffold Room premiered last fall at the Walker Art Center, it was met with delirium. “One of the headiest and most beautiful things I’ve seen in I don’t know how long,” Claudia La Rocco wrote in her review, praising its two charismatic protagonists, Okwui Okpokwasili and April Matthis.
Touchstones for this restive, evolving installation/exhibition/ performance/think-piece include Kathy Acker, Samuel Delany, Amy Winehouse, Beyoncé, and Moms Mabley, a constellation brought together by Lemon’s unique, tenacious vision.
For its iteration at the Kitchen, an installation will be on view October 30–December 5, while a series of readings, refractions, and performances take place November 3–10. Miss it at your own risk.
Ralph Lemon & Others Scaffold Room
The personal is profound, especially in the face of Szapocznikow’s radically deformed figurative sculptures, informed by a childhood steeped in horror within German concentration camps. The twelve works in this exhibition remind one of Adorno’s admonishment regarding poetry after Auschwitz. But Szapocznikow flies in the face of such a warning with an aesthetic that is strangely voluptuous and tender—an ars poetica of gorgeous, merciless life.
There’s a gentle, almost Victorian quality to Jennifer Bornstein’s blue encaustic rubbings on Kozo paper of her father’s personal effects (a winter jacket, rolls of packing tape, odd bits of small junk). It runs counter to the Cathy Guisewite–style of body awkwardness she’s become quite famous for. Perhaps this tenderness is a joke? It matters not, as the result is lovingly beautiful.
Jennifer Bornstein New Rubbing And Psychological Tests
Henrot’s Mad-magazine-meets-Goop approach to disinterring one’s inner anxieties could irritate beyond if she weren’t so damn sharp, chic, and charming. Walk through that lemon-colored gallery with all those wan but pervy paintings and you’ll be gently unhinged, seduced.
Mary Heilmann’s voluptuous take on geometric abstraction never fails to sensualize and seduce. Bubblegum-colored chairs, gloppy squares, and a patio table generously topped with a rainbow of teacups pull us into a kind of urbane domesticity that gently looks over the shoulder at Modernist forms through a beach-crushed lens.
Mary Heilmann Geometrics: Waves, Roads, etc.
Consider that Westermann was a veteran of two major battles of the twentieth century—World War II and the Korean War—and those “charming” little robots and Shaker-style objets that people call “nice” and “cute” suddenly seem a lot more funereal, prosthetic, terrified. Westermann had no problem illustrating the horrors of this dreadful life, but the odd cheeriness of his facture seems to confuse. Take another look—you’ll feel the chill.
H.C. Westermann See America First
Painter Celia Paul’s coal-blackened, lugubrious ladies—arranged by the peerless Hilton Als—feel like something out of Dickens (perhaps drearier sisters of Miss Havisham’s). Installed for the occasion of Verdi’s Otello—and valentines of sorts for the character Desdemona—Paul’s desiccated images terrify and delight.
Desdemona for Celia by Hilton
The apocalypse looks like an exploded testicle via 1950s Hollywood, horror comics, and sickening American suburbia. Throw Freud out the window and indulge yourself in Shaw’s hoo-ha childhood phantasmagoria of weird heterosexual fetish and super-Technicolor LSD-scapes.
Walid Raad is a storyteller par excellence. His poetic renderings of Middle Eastern life—via photography, performance, and video—are gorgeous, generous. His vision, perhaps more than anyone else’s, is absolutely vital in this time of Western xenophobia and scapegoating.
There’s a lot of butch realness going on at 99 Gansevoort Street right now with Frank Stella in the house. Your knees quake, your eyes ache, your head’s cracking wide-fucking-open. All that labyrinthine and crushed heavy-metal craziness is doing to you what you always want art to do. You’re overwhelmed, you’re verklempt, you’re giving in to the spell—doesn’t it feel fabulous?
Frank Stella A Retrospective
Stars, hands, bricks, and bodies: These are some of the symbols and talismans from Martin Wong’s bloody pictorial universe. Here was an artist, like Genet, who was keen on imbuing the downtrodden and cast-off with a busted-lip eroticism that quivers like that famous line sung by 1960s girl group The Crystals: “He hit me (and it felt like a kiss) . . .”
Martin Wong Human Instamatic
Uneven, Brobdingnagian, and utterly nuts, this fourth iteration of MoMA PS1’s madhouse art bazaar pushes you into the drunkest cocktail party in town. Curators Peter Eleey, Thomas J. Lax, Douglas Crimp, and Mia Locks—with guest curators Mark Beasley and Jenny Schlenzka—pull out all the stops to showcase everything that is all at once right now in New York City, 2015.
Greater New York