Aesthetic inquiries under the aegises of cities and collections, hallowed frescoes and broad spectrums.
MULTIPLICITY: CITY AS SUBJECT/MATTER
NurtureArt and other venues, through August 27th
In this initial segment of what will ultimately amount to a four-part exhibition distributed among three gallery spaces (NurtureArt, Mixed Greens and Invisible-Exports) and a screening venue (UnionDocs)—most of which will remain on view through late August—the seeds of a variably researched, robustly mediated exploration of urban visions have been firmly sown. Or rather, the seeds have just begun to sprout: this first part of the show is in a basement space, after all, and a number of the works on view are projected or propped just above the floor. Here, contextually complementary video pieces by Nicholas Keogh and CPAK Studio—the former a frank sequence of stages and modes of dilapidation and destruction, the latter a glimpse of the production of a most delicate form of illumination—provide conceptual bookends, in a way, for a show featuring also photographs, sculpture, painting and texts. Marco Antonini and his curatorial collaborators—Catalyst Arts, Hila Cohen-Schneiderman, Khoj International Artists' Association, Eriola Pira and Magdalen Wong—have given their ambitious project a sturdy footing. Try to check it out in all its polyform, polyptych modalities.
PENTECOST, BY DAVID EDGAR
Potomac Theatre Project at Atlantic Stage 2, 330 West 16th St., through August 10th
At the structural core of this story of art historical, political, spiritual and ethnic intrigue is a recently discovered object of aesthetic reverence and immediate dispute—a 13th-century fresco whose formal qualities threaten to upend long-tenured academic assumptions regarding not only the earliest practitioners of pictorial modes that would eventually blossom into the Renaissance, but also their place of practice. What if stylistic and perspectival techniques attributed to the likes of Cimabue, Giotto and Masaccio were actually developed slightly earlier by an unknown master in an anonymous town in Eastern Europe? What's the meaning of such aesthetic concerns and intellectual disagreements in a present tense defined by political upheaval and ethnic conflict? What to do when the reverential object and its enthralled company are taken hostage? While this play's probing of cultural divisiveness and historical fissures might have been particularly potent when David Edgar wrote it in the early 1990's, that doesn't mean it's not similarly provocative today. Certain operative metaphors, for better or worse, still seem as nearly ineradicable as pigments embedded in plaster.
SHAPING A COLLECTION: FIVE DECADES OF GIFTS
Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Ave., through October 19th
Now that Jeff Koons is collaborating with H&M to market some sort of mall-tastic signature product that will likely pan out to be only slightly less creatively engaging than your average pair of Euroslim cargo pants, The Whitney Museum, the soon-to-move institution housing Koons' current retrospective, is deflecting a share of attention from his show—intentionally or not, of course—by mounting a far more fitting farewell exhibition in their fifth floor galleries, a select survey of works from their permanent collection that have been gifted to the institution over the years. With rooms ranging from artist-specific to period-centric, this show is not only a great way to say goodbye to their current location before vacating it in a few months, but also a clever plan to build a conceptual bridge to their new one, as their first exhibition there is slated to be a much more spatially cohesive, grandiose version of the same.
COLOR AS STRUCTURE
McKenzie Fine Art, 55 Orchard St., through August 2nd
Of the many ways in which to explore artists' uses of color from a curatorial perspective, opting to examine them from an array of angles seems to be a most logical solution. In this large group show at McKenzie Fine Art—featuring works by Don Voisine, Alain Biltereyst, Jason Karolak, Rob de Oude, Richard Garrison, Kate Shepherd, Deborah Zlotsky, Cordy Ryman, Holly Miller, Richard Roth, Maureen McQuillan, Elise Ferguson, Paul Corio, Martha Clippinger, Richard Caldicott and Mel Bernstine—the same solution proves also to be a most visually pleasing one. Here you'll find works in which colors are determined externally or procedurally, internally or compositionally, as their properties are variably exploited as both means and ends. From chromatic kinetics to spartan balance, from grids and reliefs to embedded referents, the spectrum of works on display is both multifaceted and simply brilliant. Even a smallish, slightly uncharacteristically beaming work by Voisine toward the back of the gallery will seize your eyes from across the street.
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