At Paul Kasmin (both the 10th Ave. and 27th St. spaces): the sunflower-yellow-painted, dimly lit space is tricked out with a bright red, winding dock-like walkway and pungent hay strewn on the floor. Surrealism, yes; inspired by a 1947 show, “Bloodframes,” organized by international arts gadfly-gallerist Alexander Iolas (google), here “Revisited” by head-art-hipster-publisher of The Brooklyn Rail, Phong Bui, as curator (through August 15).
Amazingly (in this environment), every seemingly randomly placed piece included, across myriad mediums and sensibilities, stands out. Red has a strong (but not exclusive) presence; exuberant monochrome quill-textured paintings and a giant signature rose sculpture by Will Ryman; a squiggly-surfaced wall “tumor” by Lynda Benglis; a realist roses painting by Alex Katz; an Op Art, sloganized Frank Stella by Deborah Kass; and a quintessentially disturbing, Tinguely-like contraption by Daniel Joseph Martinez, with a provocatively ponderous, politicized title, that culminates in a (Beuysian?) dead hare/human hand sculptural mash-up, which apparently has generated a simulated blood-bath all over a gallery wall.
In the same (large) universe as the Martinez, is Roxy Paine’s
neon man being beaten with a stick-object – an obviously Naumanesque, time-lapse sequence in forward and reverse, however, journalistic in its flashing violence and without the dark humor and dialectics of his predecessor.
One of a few cooler-temperature pieces is, ironically, an oven; however in ghostly replicated form, by Do Ho Suh: sheer fabric pulled taught around a representational frame, encased as a kind of 3-D diagram.
Down-rent on Bowery at The Hole (*autonomous pun*): a plastic-draped and taped space, floor to ceiling – was the gallery undergoing some sort of maintenance? But paintings were hung over the covering. Turns out the show, “Go with the Flow,” (through August 23rd) surveys recent spray painting, and this is what the work spaces of many practitioners look like, since the particle mist created through the technique fans out all over.
I first visited The Hole to see the “toys for adults” art of fab colab team, Friends with You in 2011 (from Miami; now based in L.A.). Founded by former director of Deitch Projects, Kathy Grayson (after Jeffrey D. split for his ill-fated adventure at MoCA, LA), the gallery’s tendency with installations retains its parent’s cultivated slacker / carnival / pop-ish cutting edge aura that the current survey epitomizes—and atomizes—with diverse, interesting examples.
Surprisingly, I found the installation gimmick (yes) refreshing and enthusiastic on the part of the gallery (the clear, thin sheathing remains both relatively unobtrusive and always perceptible), in contrast to much of art world central’s (aka Chelsea’s) expensively, oppressively dour or omnipotent (or both) ambiance. Flashback: Fun Gallery / East Village ‘80s – with old school graffiti transformed by new nozzle gadgetry as well as real or simulated digitization, and MFA incubating instead of tagging on trains.
The shaped psychedelic sunset of Greg Bogin is among others that strive for mesmerizing, seamless gradations, sometimes with markings in various New Age-y challenges to 1970s abstraction.
Others project computer-like cartooning (Austin Lee), cross-breeds of Pop art and anime (Michael Dotson), photo-florescent silhouetting (Rosson Crow) and trompe-l-oeil drips-on-white-on-white that recalls the patterning of Tauba Auerback (Michael Staniak).
I am sorry to have botched reference photos of works by two woman artists that particularly caught my attention, a Lichtenstein-like paint-strokes scribbling by Trudy Benson, and Wendy White’s diptych-type juxtaposition of a blurry- screened photo of a fallen athlete with a washy abstraction.
In a back room of The Hole (*autonomous punning about to get worse*) is a presentation of a kinky, not-quite-kitschy, slickly photographed and obliquely tongue-and-cheek ad campaign by Toronto-based artist Bruce LaBruce. There’s some kinship with American peer David LaChapelle.
The marketed product, Obscenity Perfume, was produced the artist and is for sale in the gallery—a unique multiple, and perhaps cultural comment on a debauched, easy-money craze for celebrity fragrances.
The featured beautiful black man and bleached-white woman, in various Catholic vestments and outré, gender-bending attire, are punctuated with idiosyncratic elements as well as archetypal, even throwback sexual symbolism in highly staged images.
So, (the work begs the question) what is obscenity? This is an appealing cross-over display (in more ways than one), enhanced by the palpable presence, just steps down the block, of legendary House of Field HQ (Patricia Field’s four-decade- plus, subterranean boutique known as much for its glam-fetish wear as for the fashionista wardrobe of SITC’s Carrie Bradshaw). Not surprisingly (if you didn’t know beforehand), LaBruce has a connection with the porn industry, namely as a respected film director (one facet of his artistic activities). Judging from what’s here, I imagine he’s very good at it.
Addendum, 7/13/15: A selection of his “avant garde” films, related in subject matter, were recently screened at MoMA: Bruce LaBruce: April 23-May2, 2015.