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03/10/15 1:09pm
03/10/2015 1:09 PM |

One of Romberg's more recent works currently on view in "Color Studies." Image courtesy Henrique Faria Fine Art.

OSVALDO ROMBERG: COLOR STUDIES, 1970-2015
Henrique Faria Fine Art, 35 East 67th St., through March 28th
With a taut selection of works bridging a chronological expanse of nearly five decades of the artist’s storied, almost bafflingly itinerant career, Romberg’s compact retrospective of sorts is a keenly introspective, historically reflective, chromatically inflected examination of seeing—not merely as act, but also as feeling, as sensation, as associatively layered experience. Romberg approaches his variably color-theory-based works—comprising here drawings, paintings, collages and sculptures—like a whimsical clinician, probing and intervening in a manner that is at once ordered and scattered, categorical and metaphorical, indirectly beautiful yet aesthetically candid. His studied breakdowns, so to speak, of pink and beige are also chromatically exhaustive arrays; his homages to, and formal reconfigurations of Malevich, Pollock and Piero della Francesca are both patently reverent and felicitously innovative. All that said, the balanced charms of pieces like Astor and Dirty Geometry are enough to render quite beside the point Romberg’s particularly analytical underpinnings. That, likely, is precisely the point—or at least very close to it, right next to the mark.

MORE THAN WORDS: ILLUSTRATED LETTERS FROM THE SMITHSONIAN’S ARCHIVES OF AMERICAN ART
Liza Kirwin, Princeton Architectural Press, paperback edition released March 10th
Touching and funny, intimate and flippant, and at times perhaps a bit voyeuristic, this new volume is a visual and lexical feast that promises to immediately render despairingly banal that smartphone in your pocket or tablet in your tote, along with all their sundry modes and platforms of cloven communication that have us all constantly checking in while only rarely taking proper note—and even more rarely, of course, composing proper notes. Here, such proper notes are in fact doubly composed: as letters of so many sorts, and as artworks that illustrate or embellish their featured words. Landscapes rural and urban enliven further already lively travelogues; wittily inserted pictures render written witticisms all the wittier; lovelorn longings are heartened and softened by companion drawings. If you ever manage to put it down, you’ll continue to re-read and re-savor this exquisite gathering of endearing missives and artworks for quite some time. Many of the artists in its pages will be familiar, others not so much, yet one and all will win you over. And if you’ve ever wondered what a young Warhol’s brief bio might look and read like, your curiosities will be sated here in a most amusing way—and you’ll be reminded that most NYC artists worth their historical salt have seen their share of rotten times in this city that so often illustrates, and composes notes to, itself.

Still image from Warhol's "Outer and Inner Space," soon to be screened at Anthology Film Archives.

WHITE CUBE / BLACK BOX: FEEDBACK LOOPS
Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Ave., screening Saturday, March 14th
Curated by Anthology’s own Ava Tews, WHITE CUBE / BLACK BOX is a splendid exemplar of most welcome conceptual frankness, one that meta-spatially juxtaposes the euphemisms for galleries and cinemas so as to house the one within the other—while illumining the other with the one. In this forthcoming edition of the series, Tews’s aim is to showcase how a few artists in particular were exploiting video-enabled feedback loops when the technology was still quite nascent. The bill features film works from the 60’s and 70’s by Richard Serra, Joan Jonas and Andy Warhol, along with some footage from the 1964 World’s Fair. Think doubled personas and echoes of selves, visual overlaps and conceptual interlays—not even remotely irrelevant to the housing of a gallery within a cinema, one could say.

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.

Follow Paul D’Agostino on Twitter @postuccio

02/12/15 2:33pm
02/12/2015 2:33 PM |

A glimpse of what might be called an unwritten prologue. Duane Zaloudek at Robert Henry Contemporary.

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.

"Woman With Gun," an example of the 'manic snippets' that will factor into Pensato's show at Petzel. Image courtesy Petzel Gallery.

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.

You can follow Paul D’Agostino on Twitter @postuccio