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