Three especially rewarding exhibitions closing in Chelsea on February 7 generate much of their meaning from the improbable numbers of signs and images they encompass. These clutters of artworks tell the stories of both their subjects and their authors. As with Louise Bourgeois, each new work tells us something about the individual who produced it and the society in which they live, and as the works accumulate the personal and social portraits become more detailed.
The exhibition of early black and white street photography by Japanese artist Nobuyoshi Araki at Anton Kern Gallery tells of a nation modernizing with fits and starts, and a young photographer's eye sharpening over hundreds of prints. Photographs taken in the streets and subways of Tokyo throughout the 1960s show pedestrians wearing kimonos, business suits and short skirts as they pass each other below modern skyscrapers and in front of traditional architecture. Though the aesthetic recalls contemporaneous New York urban photography by the likes of Robert Frank, Araki foregoes working class subjects to focus on Tokyo's women. This leads to the exhibition's final series of intimate erotic images that anticipate Araki's subsequent work.
Pace Wildenstein's 25th Street space, meanwhile, has become a warehouse for the display of a different private narrative. In Jim Dine: Hot Dream (52 Books), the artist's collected works from a year of producing one book of art per week occupy every surface the labyrinthine gallery has to offer. The mix of audio installations, sculpture, photography, painting and drawing isn't unlike the cavernous warehouse in Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York. One gets the sense of entering into the artist's life and looking back out at the world through his art. Judging by all the mutilated Santa Claus figures and proliferation of Pinocchios in Dine's visions, the world outside seems caught up in its own illusions.