the usual suspects/mar 7
I've been very busy lately and haven't been seen as much art or had time to post. So, very briefly, here's a few things I saw a couple of weeks ago. I started out at Gavin Brown's Enterprise (620 Greenwich St. at Leroy). The gallery had a double installation of Udomsak Krisanmis and Franz Ackermann (jan 20 - feb 17). Krisanmis's paintings have used this collaged "o" as a structural form for going back at least the seven years I have seen his work. I liked this piece the most.

  Franz Ackermann is an artist who at times I have greatly admired. However, most recently I find it interesting but somewhat difficult to connect with. He has some wonderful elements in a vocabulary built around urban systems and architecture (see the detail two pictures down) but in some way the work in this show isn't adding up completely.

  On my walk up through the far west village to Chelsea, I passed this construction site near the High Line. The High Line is an old elevated freight railroad bed which extends 1.5 miles from the West Village up to W33rd Street, and is being turned into a park. The adventurous architecture firm of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (also involved in the current Lincoln Center grounds revamping) along with a group called Field Operations is overseeing the redesign. While on the one hand I think it is an exciting project, I also expect it will accelerate the gentrification of the Chelsea gallery district. And of course those changes will probably eventually doom the neighborhood as a gallery area. While I first thought what I saw (below) was work on the park, now I'm thinking it is gentrification coming in anticipation of the park. It hard to imagine what area is left for galleries to go to if they leave West Chelsea.


Mark Grotjahn / Anton Kern Gallery / 532 W20 / jan 19 - feb 28
This show came with the title "Blue Paintings Light to Dark One through Ten," and added something of a curve ball to Grotjahn's series of roughly pinwheeled designs. Grotjahn formulates the work as about pure perspective. Up until now they have used clearly contrasting stripes. Here contrasting hue and value has been eliminated leaving just brush lines in paint to establish the composition. The lines reveal themselves intermitantly as one moves in front of them and reflections shift on the surface. While I think this is an interesting progression, I have been a sucker for his previous use of strong color arrangements and ability to at times generate a vertiginous sense of space, so I felt some small disappointment at this shift.


  Sarah Morris / Fredrich Petzel / 537 W22 / feb 10 - mar 17
Yet another artist, I have posted on admiringly, Sarah Morris has new work up, and here too, there is a shift. Usually utilizing schematic architectural forms in perspective, here she uses orgami and rings as a starting point. While visually engaging, I find the shift in subject seems to cause the work to loose some urgency.

  feb 6
  A page I did several months ago of some favorite artists working with interesting pattern and arrangement.

  more chelsea / jan 21
  Sergio Prego / Lehman Maupin / 540 W26 / dec 1 - feb 10
This is an artist I was unfamiliar with before this show. I loved one of the three pieces, a three minute film loop which documents staged explosions in the artists large studio space. As I understand it, he has set up a large number of still cameras (30 or 40?) in a circle around the spot where the explosions were set off. He then assembled them in sequence on film, so that the result lets the viewer circle the event, seeing the cloud form in 360 degrees. It's a great idea and fascinating to watch, which I did through several repetitions.

  Jeppe Hein / 303 Gallery / 525 W22nd / jan 6 - jan 27
This is a group affair called "Brave New Year", the title referencing the Huxley book. There were a number of good pieces here, noteably a large Jane and Louise Wilson photograph, and a small Stephan Shore image — a classic dreary food shot. What captivated me most was a mirrored sculpture by Jeppe Hein, "Mirror Angle Lamellae" This is an interesting contrast to the John McCracken work (see the "Outdoor Sculpture entry below). Whereas the McCracken piece is seductive and beautiful, this piece is disorienting and severe. As you look at and through a set of mirrored slats with equal sized space between them, you struggle to get a bead on what's reflected and what's not. The piece is simple, elegantly executed and powerful in it's ability to alter one's visual perception.

  Bruce Brosnan / Feature / 530 W25 / jan 13 - feb 17
I want to at least briefly mention another good show. This is the first I've seen this artist's work. He has meticulously crafted these objects out of MDF (a composite wood material a bit like masonite). The objects include a structure as well as a form which replicates the structure's shadow. Only gradually as I looked at the pieces did I become aware of what was going on.


jan 13 / west village & chelsea
I started off the day by heading to the West Village to see the Laura Owens show at Gavin Brown's Enterprise. While I don't know her work well, for awhile I've sought it out because of her lively involvement in questioning the conventions of painting. In general I have found the work interesting, and often very likeable. Here, however, I can't help but dislike it. I leave, but keep thinking about it. Figuring out my negative reaction is what's thought provoking. The paintings have a somewhat naive style, with loose — sometimes almost lackadaisical — brushwork, and the color varies from garish to heavy on pale pastels to plain and functional. Quite a few depict mythical characters. It's sort of Marc Chagall meets the Fauves. I can't quite make sense out of the casual look. Is it intended to be beautiful or funny or sweet? Curiously, when I look at the catalogue on the way out, I find the work much more attractive in that format; there's a lovely intimacy in the beautifully designed small book.


Christopher Garret / White columns / 320 W13th / jan 9 – feb 10
Mostly I was attracted to this one piece of Garret's in this "White Rooms" show (solo exhibition for artists who have not previously done that in NYC). It's on the order of five feet across, and composed of thrift store paintings that have been cut-up and put together into a labyrinth configuration. Cool.

In the main space, there is a group show curated by Rita Ackerman, "The Perfect Man" which is edgy and very good.

  christopher garret at white columns

  Diana Cooper / Postmasters / 459 W19th / jan 6 – feb 10
Diana Cooper's work has remained very consistent over the almost ten years she has been showing here. There are manic doodles in pen and marker, with felt and flimsy paper constructions glued and tacked on. I find it very likeable without every having a very clear sense of what it amounts too. One show, a piece did strike me more emphatically; it incorporated the words " ;music saved my life", which really struck a cord; it meant something concrete that I had contemplated myself. In this show, one piece distinguished itself from the others for me; it has a small photo of subway seat incorporated in it just off center. The photo gave me a point of reference, a suggestion about how to read the rest of the drawing. The overall consistency in her work is a curious footnote to me because I was acquainted with her in graduate school in the early nineties, and the few pieces of her work I saw were nothing like now. I remember a painting on canvas with dark amorphous shapes and thinking I don't see much here. So then it was very surprising to me when I encountered this work a few years later, so intensely focused and fully formed.
  diana cooper at postmasters

  "Outdoor Sculpture" / David Zwirner / 519 W19th / nov 13 – jan 27
This show is in a beautiful new space Zwirner has added on the same block as their existing W19th Street gallery. The installation includes pieces by Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt, Mark di Suvero, Franz West, John McCracken and Robert Gober. I think the McCracken piece, "Beauty", is the same one that was show in his solo exhibition a couple of months ago. I was enthralled with it then, and I couldn't resist this time either. The striking dislocations and subtle distortions its reflections produce make it so wonderful to gaze at and photograph. I also loved the Rober Gober piece. This show is perfectly mated to the space with its windowed roll up door filling the room with light, and the slightly rough concrete floor complementing the strong forms of the artwork.

  Pamela Fraser / Casey Kaplan / 525 W25 / jan 12 – feb 10
I really wanted to document these paintings. I hadn't seen her work in awhile, but when I first saw her work five or six years ago it made a big impression. It was the kind of experience where I said to myself "I want to paint like that." The larger portion of the work here is composed of thin linework in color on either white canvas or paper, and my point & shoot camera with gallery light produced horribly yellowed images where they should have been bright white. I will post one image done on black paper (although the camera image is too brown) to give some idea of her work. Go see it.

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Sept-Dec 06
Summer 2006

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