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02/24/15 2:19pm
02/24/2015 2:19 PM |

A peek at the abundant nebulosity—both conceptual and physical—currently lingering at Signal.

Befuddlings, bedazzlings and noisy bewilderments in these new art picks.

FISSURE: FOG
Signal Gallery, 260 Johnson Ave., through March 8th
You can read curator Bennet Schlesinger’s description of this group exhibit featuring eight multi-media, multi-disciplinary artists. You can examine closely the ten 2D and 3D works on display and inform yourself as to their titles and constituent materials. You can make a few connections and cross-associative observations, and maybe even alight upon a near affirmation about some aspect of this variably multi-faceted show. Look hard. Think hard. Have fun. For the whole affair is a most engagingly wrought, enjoyable cipher. Nebulous in theme and content, not to mention in its very space-bedecking atmospherics—quite true, in etymological terms—this show about “disjuncture” and “cultural obstruction” most certainly lives up to its titular fog. Also certain is that its perhaps resolutely unresolvable puzzles are a joy to attempt to solve. Featured artists are Kayla Guthrie, Graham Hamilton, Valerie Keane, Ryan Kitson, Aidan Koch, Daniel Peterson, Nikholis Planck and Augustus Thompson. Featured materials include fish tank tubing and German Shepherd hairs.

SCULPTURE IN THE AGE OF DONATELLO
Museum of Biblical Art, 1865 Broadway at 61st St., through June 14th
This very special exhibit is also, evidently, the last one for the museum before vacating its current location. Fret not, however. While the museum’s primary institutional cohort of sorts, the American Bible Society, is preparing to move to Philadelphia later this year, MOBIA will remain with us in NYC. For certain, then, Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces from Florence Cathedral will prove to be quite a magnificent way to bring things at 1865 Broadway to a close. An exceptional culling of works by Donatello, Luca della Robbia, Brunelleschi, Nanni di Banco, and a number of other artists and architects who collaborated—directly and otherwise, not unlike a grand Florentine arts collective—on outfitting Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence’s Duomo, with finalizing structural accoutrements and sculptural embellishments, this exhibit is a very physically real pop-up textbook of which Renaissance aficionados outside Italy might never have dreamed. That, by the way, is quite true, since most of the 23 pieces on view have never left Italy at all. Make haste to see MOBIA’s sonorous swan song before it becomes the entry-inhibitive toast of the town.

The trappings of some splendidly aggravating acoustics at Knockdown Center.

ZIMOUN: [KE]3
Knockdown Center, 52-19 Flushing Avenue, Queens, and other venues, closing dates variable through March and April
Preparing for one solo show is generally a significant task for any artist, so it’s likely that having three solo exhibits all at once—or one huge one spread over three venues in three boroughs an ocean away—gave Swiss installation artist Zimoun quite a lot to gear up for. Nonetheless, gear up is precisely what he does, and gear lots of things up is precisely what he did in grandiose installations combining rudimentary, rugged and even throwaway implements with almost exaggeratedly intricate systems of motors and pulleys, ropes and wires. His masterpiece of cacophony and bewilderment at Knockdown Center, for instance, consists of several hundred kilos of wooden roof laths dangling with almost menacing precariousness from lofty ceiling rafters—and thus in a vertical orientation rather foreign to such lumber—all hung within a foot or so of one another, reaching ever so barely all the way, or almost all the way, to the floor. When the motors start up and send things swaying just a tad, prepare—or rather, gear up for—a most splendid symphony of meticulously crafted delirium that might eventually drive you nuts, but will likely make you smile at first. Then take a strangely pleasant stroll in the midst of it all. This viewer contemplated running from one end to the other, dodging wooden danglers as much as possible, but perhaps that’s best left as a thought experiment. It’s in a sort of gallery, after all, even if the mores and modes of white cubes will feel very far away while you’re experiencing this third of [KE]3. Other venues include the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, at Stony Brook University, and Bitforms Gallery—the exhibitional endorser of these shows of Zimoun’s works—on the Lower East Side.

JOYCE PENSATO: CASTAWAY
Petzel Gallery, 456 West 18th St., 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.

You can 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