New York Art Week may crescendo with this weekend’s frenetic art fair activity (not least The Armory Show), but there’s still plenty to see once it’s all calmed down. Owen Duffy selects ten shows to see in the coming weeks...
Tom Holmes, Untitled Arrangement, 2014–17, oil, acrylic ink, graphite on inkjet printed canvas, 238 x 443 cm. Photo: Dario Lasagni. Courtesy the artist and Bureau, New York
Tom Holmes: L’Eggo My Eggo®, Bureau, through 19 March
There’s little appetising about Eggo waffles, those frozen staples of the nuclear family’s morning ritual. Worse, perhaps, is the prospect of their cardboard texture somehow enhanced by the beguiling addition of confetti ‘flavouring’. But Tom 'Texas' Holmes, who works in Tennessee, manages to transform a monumental graphic of this breakfast object’s box into a profound work of art in his latest outing at Bureau. Somewhere between Warhol and Twombly, furious scribbles and images of Powerpuff girls synergise with Eggo’s brand to become an elegy to the middlebrow. In front of this painting, foil-covered bricks outline the form of a grave plot, ominously marking a death, but of what?
Sascha Braunig, Untitled, 2016, oil on Arches oil paper, 41 × 29 cm. Courtesy the artist and Foxy Production, New York
Sascha Braunig: Free Peel, Foxy Production, through 2 April
After an impressive show at MoMA PS1, Braunig presents a no-less haunting selection of new paintings at Foxy Production. The squishy, obsolete flesh of humans is replaced by highly rendered outlines of people, made of what seems to be an assortment of fencing and wire. These silhouettes bend, droop, and contort with mind-bending grace, and live in non-places surrounded by stage curtains and two-tone gradients. Weird and unsettling, they ask viewers to work through stunning leaps of visual logic.
Peter Acheson, Eva Hesse, 2011–14, acrylic and collage on canvas, 30 x 40 cm. Courtesy the artist and Brennan & Griffin, New York
Peter Acheson, Brennan and Griffin, 8 March – 2 April
Modest in scale, Peter Acheson’s paintings delight with their intimacy and sincerity. Now living in upstate New York, Acheson came of age with more well-known painters like Chris Martin and Katherine Bradford, who saw Williamsburg transform into faux-bohemia. His messy paintings, with chunky surfaces and the odd scrap, undercut their own cavalier attitude by virtue of being earnest odes to the medium itself. Acheson also makes the occasional tribute painting, with direct nods to such art history giants as Eva Hesse. They are like small gifts – refreshing ones at that – in an era when so much blue-chip painting demands impersonal and larger-than-life scale.
Marisa Merz: The Sky Is a Great Space, 2017 (installation view). Courtesy the artist and The Met Breuer, New York
Marisa Merz: The Sky Is a Great Space, The Met Breuer, through 7 May
This long overdue survey of Marisa Merz further proves that the Met Breuer has quickly become a preeminent destination for modern and contemporary art in New York. In Marisa Merz: The Sky is a Great Space, the queen of Arte Povera deftly showcases her flexibility and skill with a wide array of humble materials. Twisting, knotted masses of aluminum, stapled together, converge to become Merz’s famous Living Sculpture (1966), which hugs the ceiling like a metallic formation of clouds. This memorably contrasts with the gnarled knit letters of Merz’s daughter’s name, B-E-A, pierced by the needles that made them.
Cedrick Tamasala, How My Grandfather Survived, 2015, chocolate, 38 x 21 x 24 cm. Photo: Kyle Knodell. Courtesy the Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise; Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam; and KOW, Berlin
Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise, SculptureCenter, through 27 March
Marx tells us that profit is simply workers’ unpaid labour. The artists in the Congolese Plantation Workers Art League (Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise or CATPC) know this well; they all work on plantations or once did, cultivating resources for multinational conglomerates. Inadequately compensated for their wage-labour, these artists have found a way out through the white cube, and cast moving, affective figure sculptures out of chocolate: idiosyncratic art collectors, family members, and self-portraits, which are joined by the several artists’ ink drawings. As many of our anxieties about economic inequality remained unmitigated, this heartening exhibition at Long Island City’s SculptureCenter presents rightly problematises what we call contemporary art.
Gina Beavers, Before and After, 2015, acrylic and wood on canvas on panel with painted wood frame, 79 x 79 cm. Courtesy Pratt Institute, New York
A New Subjectivity: Figurative Painting after 2000, Pratt Manhattan Gallery, through 12 April
Rising from the ashes of the so-called Zombie Formalism, the works of such individuals as Jackie Gendal, Katherine Bernhardt, Katherine Bradford, Gina Beavers, Liz Markus, and Rose Wylie have spearheaded compelling new forms of figure painting in recent years. Curated by painter and critic Jason Stopa, A New Subjectivity: Figurative Painting after 2000 brings together works by these six individuals to hypothesise that this new painting is fundamentally performative, harkening back to various early twentieth-century Expressionisms while incorporating contemporary narratives about who we purport to be. Bold, quirky, and art-historically savvy, the diverse modes of figuration in A New Subjectivity project a palpable and convincing sense of harmony.
Kader Attia, Reason's Oxymorons, 2015, 18 films and installation of cubicles, 140 x 666 x 1189 cm. Photo: Max Yawney. Courtesy the Artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong
Kader Attia: Reason's Oxymorons, Lehmann Maupin, through 4 March
For those of us art workers who might wish to obscure our less-than-glamorous nine-to-fives, Kader Attia’s installation at Lehmann Maupin, Reason’s Oxymorons, creates a familiar dystopia. There’s a sea of cubicles, sure, but this corporate grey environment, with eighteen sets of desks, monitors, office chairs, and headphones cedes to deeper content, especially for those of us who yearn for sophisticated research-based practices. Attia offers us a video library of eighteen interviews conducted with psychiatrists, patients, and philosophers, who together make clear the trauma of colonialism and western hegemony on the personal and cultural psyche, as well as the ongoing path to wellbeing.
Anoka Faruqee, 2016P-02 (Circle), 2016, acrylic on linen on panel, 114 x 114 cm. Courtesy the artist and Koenig and Clinton, New York
Anoka Faruqee: Rainbows and Bruises, Koenig and Clinton, through 8 April
Unabashedly formal, Anoka Farquee’s erudite paintings dazzle in their prismatic opticality. Faruqee applies and scrapes multiple, carefully computed layers of paint on linen-covered panels that result in ‘rainbows’ and ‘bruises’, as the show title suggests. The sheer radiance of these paintings, occasionally marred by the minor surface ‘bruise’, demonstrates a rarely seen technical understanding of paint and what it can become. Faruqee’s uncanny visual noise and Technicolor distortion mesmerises, all the while simultaneously resisting and surrendering to the painting’s inevitable afterlife as a photographic image.
Leonhard Hurzlmeier, Robber Baroness, 2016–17, oil on canvas, 160 x 120 cm. Courtesy the artist and Rachel Uffner, New York
Leonhard Hurzlmeier: All New Women, Rachel Uffner, through 23 April
in his first solo exhibition in the United States, Leonhard Hurzlmeier furthers his trademark oeuvre, characterised by abstracted women, flat and geometricised. The Munich-based artist‘s endearing portraits invoke modernism’s best graphic posters, as well as the likes of Picasso and Malevich. The simplicity of Hurzlmeier’s style is alluring. A particularly notable painting is Drunken Beach Queen (2016–17) in which a nude woman reclines with a martini in hand, while a cubist-looking breast (or ear) levitates beside her head. Her hair cascades over her shoulder, falling down her body to create the beach on which she rests.
Sojourner Truth Parsons, Perfume on the Sun, 2017, canvas, acrylic, flashe, glue, 183 x 183 cm. Courtesy 11R Gallery, New York
Sojourner Truth Parsons, Sean Steadman, Veronika Pausova, 11R, through 26 March
Eschewing lofty curatorial pretensions, 11R presents a group show of three young painters who simply belong together. Steadman’s abstractions collage thickly layered oil, smooth flourishes, and paper with a smattering of starbursts throughout. Parsons’s massive and splashy scene of two friendly dogs with bright pink tongues commands serious presence amid the show’s suite of relatively small works. Pausova stands out, with her playful paintings that depict mysterious scenes in which highly rendered spiders, tetras, and tulips float in colourful geometric fields.
Published online on 3 March 2017