Art picks featuring a hermit (or hermits), variable metallics, reiterated oneirisms and, of course, milliner’s jerky.
DUANE ZALOUDEK: NOMAD SONGS
Robert Henry Contemporary, 56 Bogart St., through March 8th
It won’t take you long to cursorily take in the reined in suite of works that constitute Nomad Songs—there are only so many there, the room is only so big—but it will take you quite a while to actually see them. This is particularly the case with the three new paintings on display, each an almost formally vacant entity of all-but-utter yet somehow softened whiteness in which something along the lines—or to be more precise, something within the lines—of interloping gray marks that seem never to start or finish will seize your gaze, then make you step closer, then make you blink hard to reset your capacities of sight, then just disarm you while making you wonder, perhaps, if it isn’t a bit unfair for such ostensible spareness to be quite so transfixing. Far more formally complex and dimensionally plectic, yet displaying a similar economy of palette and means, is the series of seven seemingly sun-baked cowboy hats—a reference to the ‘six thinking hats’ of decision making, perhaps, plus a seventh for thinking without thought?—Zaloudek’s deft craftings of stained sheets of watercolor paper into some sort of dried-leathery, toothsomely supple milliner’s jerky. For this viewer, experiencing the show felt a bit like meditating on the unwritten prologue for a Cormac McCarthy novel that doesn’t yet exist. Anyway, go, take your time, see—then really see—what you wish.
JASPER DE BEIJER: MR. KNIGHT’S WORLD BAND RECEIVER
Asya Geisberg Gallery, 537B West 23rd St., through March 14th
De Beijer employs a self-ascribed mode of vicariously self-reflexive, or rather alter-self-introspective imagination in this series of works inspired by the story of one Christopher Knight, a less-than-accidentally errant loner—known also as the Maine Hermit or the North Pond Hermit—who retreated, in 1986, into the solitude and comparative silence of the woods for almost three decades. For de Beijer, one of the most compelling aspects of this ‘lost’ fellow’s outlandish, so to speak, narrative is that his lone form of access to news of the outside world was simply a radio—’simply’ a radio, that is, during the very decades in which visual and audio transmissions of so many other forms have come to govern, convey and perhaps drown the rest of us. As such, de Beijer attempts to not only put himself in Knight’s place-qua-setting via material craft, but also to put himself in Knight’s mental place by envisioning reported events as Knight himself might have, a conceit that is cleverly paralleled in the artist’s practice of photographing sculptures that he makes, at least in some part, out of his own drawings. Lots of notions of inner, outer, free and ‘other’ realms to ponder in this show. Take a hint from Knight—if not also from de Beijer, and vice-versa—and go see it alone.
JOYCE PENSATO: CASTAWAY
Petzel Gallery, 456 West 18th St., February 19th through March 28th
Pensato’s often messily frenzied representations of pop icons are as immediately recognizable for their source material as they are for the Brooklyn artist’s bold, energetic marks, smears and splatters that render her subjects at once effulgent and visually subdued, humorously frazzled and frankly dark—rather than merely comic, heroic or cute, as they’ve ranged from Homer Simpson to Felix the Cat, from Disney standards to certain stalwarts of the DC Comics pantheon. Pensato always seems to be having a blast in her works, but her newest pieces suggest that she’s been having more fun than ever in the studio; more vivid chromatics, including variable metallics, are now in the mix, via which her compositions have become even more rife with burst and shriek. Drawings and paintings in Castaway are accompanied by photo-collage-like digital prints of glimpses of the artist’s studio walls, snippets of the mania and fun that are the trappings of the exhibit.
KENNY RIVERO: I CAN LOVE YOU BETTER
Shin Gallery, 322 Grand St., through February 28th
Now nearing the end of its multiple-month run, Kenny Rivero’s captivating solo exhibit is full of surprises that are not exactly stunning, terrors that aren’t really scary, notes of humor that aren’t necessarily funny, fantastical figments that are actually just real, and barely nightmarish murmurs that hum, also, in tones of just-awoken awareness, such that the dream is at once active and over. I Can Love You Better, that is, amounts to a wonderful walk through the fanciful normalities and quotidian strangenesses of dreams—or of the blurred focus and liminal discomforts of what it looks and feels like to be dreaming. Encompassing paintings and drawings in various material formats and states of completeness, as well as sculptures and detail-enhancing, habitat-crafting installations, Rivero’s excellent show is billed as evocations of and meditations on childhood experiences, but it doesn’t feel at all quite so insularly personal. And that’s a good thing. Go with eyes wide open and let the works lure you in while lulling you deeply into some cognitive elsewhere. But watch your step. Those very real shards of glass will wake you all the way up.
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