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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

01/28/15 6:45pm
01/28/2015 6:45 PM |

One of the photographs in Alexa Hoyer's show at Fresh Window Gallery. Image courtesy the artist and Fresh Window Gallery.

ALEXA HOYER: TARGETS
Fresh Window, 56 Bogart St., lower level, through February 6th
Visually bound to one another by consistently placed horizon lines, centerpieced subjects, and commonly littered, almost audibly crusty earth-scapes stretching from full-focused foregrounds to hintermost hinterlands, Alexa Hoyer’s large, pristinely presented photographs allow one to behold with absolute proximity a range of devastated objects that anonymous others had previously beheld at considerable distances—perhaps through scopes, one eye shut tight, all stillness and composure, and all the while breathing long and steady before exhaling into the rocketing blast of a fired bullet. These objects, in other words, are discarded gun targets, and their setting is the blissfully bleak desert lands circumscribing Las Vegas. Intimate, becalming, cinematic and slightly amusing, these images are also ever-so-slightly unsettling as one imagines the inherent perils, however vanished, of their circumstances. To be sure, this body of work takes a very hard look at variable notions of looking hard. And to be sure, Hoyer’s eye and aim, with Targets, are right on point.

A glimpse of Rivero's show at Shin Gallery.

KENNY RIVERO: I CAN LOVE YOU BETTER
Shin Gallery, 322 Grand St., through February 28th
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.

Big turnout for the opening of another big show at BRIC.

OPEN (C)ALL: THE ARTIST’S STUDIO
Gallery at BRIC House, 647 Fulton St., through February 8th
It might not exactly be BRIC’s official mandate to consistently and dramatically outperform the Brooklyn Museum when it comes to embracing, promoting, celebrating and showing Brooklyn art, but it seems they have a certain tendency to do so. Their new BRIC Biennial series, for instance, is more or less conceived thusly; launched last year, its democratic aims and claims of eventual borough-wide inclusiveness are both apparently sincere and patently promising. Another great example of BRIC’s unstated modus operandi is their first show of 2015, OPEN (C)ALL: The Artist’s Studio, in which all of the artists in the BRIC registry were invited to submit work. From the look of things, they might well have included it all, as the range of mediums, means and, in qualitative terms, levels of expertise run a very broad gamut. But such massive range, broadly interpreted, is essentially what they’re going for here, and there’s much to be lauded about that—and there are many strong works filling up their space thanks to precisely the same approach. Ignore the clunkiness of the title, enjoy the chunkiness of the show.

A work by John Singer Sargent on view at The Frick. Image courtesy Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh © Trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland.

MASTERPIECES FROM THE SCOTTISH NATIONAL GALLERY
The Frick Collection, 1 East 70th St., through February 1st
Comprising works by Botticelli, El Greco, Velázquez, Watteau, Gainsborough and Constable, among others, this touring exhibition—one intended to morph slightly as it travels along to San Francisco and Fort Worth early next year—is housed very well, for now, at The Frick, where the ten pieces on loan, whose dates of production span nearly half a millennium, are displayed with a sympathetic coterie of works by the same and other artists selected from the Frick’s permanent collection. A certain John Singer Sargent work alone might entice you to see the show, for instance, as it’s long been close to your heart thanks to the cover of a Henry James paperback you’ve had since middle school. Or perhaps the Botticelli—the first piece by the Florentine artist to ever be shown in these rooms—will lure you to the museum with its lore. Per the press release, his Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child has never been seen “on public view” in the US. One wonders, then, where and when it might have been seen in private. A fine bit of intrigue, that. This special show has been up for a few months at this point, but you still have a few days to see it—or rather, to be sure not to miss it.

You can follow Paul D’Agostino on Twitter @postuccio