Fertilities deeply organic and variably mechanical ground this set of art picks from our 6/19 issue.
DAVID PAPPACENO: PSYCHIC BIRTH
English Kills Art Gallery, 114 Forrest St., through June 23rd
Pappaceno continues to mine the visual riches of two rather less than readily associable sources: robustly chromatic and explosively scaled Tartan patterning; and a most canonically embraced and ever-embraceable fertility symbol, the Venus of Willendorf. Of trivial import is their cross-relevance; of dazzling impact is how Pappaceno deploys them. Perched atop variable heights and types of ostensibly tower-phallic plinths and pedestals, the Venuses—from fetus-size to the girths of big infants, and in ranges of varicolorfully embellished plasters and glittering resins—engage viewers in a state of tomb-guard-like stoic poise, though the hair weaves on some and fluorescent accents on others effectively animate their peaceful quietude, which is yet further activated by their here backdropping, there undergirding Tartan complements in brilliant girl-pinks and boy-blues. Crossing patterns, genetics. Fertility symbols, progenitorial. Pappaceno's curiously sourced brainchild, by now so indubitably his spawn, is almost self-inseminatingly procreative.
Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Ave., through October 6th
From the extensive Matisse show at the Met some months ago to the tighter and more recent Degas display at The Frick, and now to this new Hopper exhibition at the Whitney, 2013 has given us ample opportunity to glimpse the exploratory inputs and preparatory procedures behind the works of several modern greats—and it's nearly impossible to grow tired of such displays. You'll see here an Edward Hopper both quite surprising and very familiar: more fluid, whimsical and character-driven in many sketches and studies; increasingly staid, eventually characteristically-cum-existentially so, as works advance and decades pass. Ever an important venue for Hopper fans due to their vast holdings, the Whitney offers up another rich spread for devotees to relish, while the range and wealth of items on the table this time around—from most casual pencilings to iconic masterpieces—might well render on-the-fencers into happily sated converts.
Mitchell-Innes & Nash, 534 West 26th St., through June 29th
Lured and attuned to the simulative properties and potentials of a rather curious range of materials and mechanical processes, Lefcourt creates works—call them objects, call them items, call them paintings—that leave viewers questioning how much deeper or more detailed their envisioned origins might run, how much further their eventually depicted apertures might open, how many more machines and manual 'modelings' could be incorporated into the artist's procedures of representation and simulation. They beg such questions, of course, because they are themselves so alluring, themselves finely tuned, though not without a fair share of grit. That certain of the artist's works can be labeled something like, ultimately, 'paintings on canvas' becomes thus all the more beguiling.
Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, through July 7th
You have yet time to glimpse firsthand Mike Ballou's extensive, peculiar menagerie, which happens to include a cascade-like spread of canine heads. Known for variously theriomorphic works that have popped up around Brooklyn over the years, Ballou still has a great deal of fun crafting all sorts of sculptures of all sorts of animals—the more the merrier, and the bigger the better. Now that the Brooklyn Museum, as part of its Raw/Cooked series, has given the Williamsburg-based artist free reign, if not free range, he has filled up various types of gallery spaces with his faunal curiosities. Light and sound installations are part of the zoo, too, as are some collaborative efforts with a number of different fiction writers.