Category Archives: Exhibitions

Eccentric Installations, High (Paul Kasmin) and Low (The Hole), and a Back-Room Bonus

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

Roxy Paine, "Incident/Resurrection" (2013)
Roxy Paine, “Incident/Resurrection” (2013)

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.

Do-Ho Suh, "Specimen Series: Stove, 348 West 22nd Street, Apt. New York, NY 10011, USA" (2013)
Do-Ho Suh,
“Specimen Series: Stove, 348 West 22nd Street, Apt. New York, NY 10011, USA” (2013)









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.

Installation at The Hole, with Zane Lewis's paintings
Installation at The Hole, with Zane Lewis’s paintings

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.

Greg Bogin
Greg Bogin






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).

Austin Lee
Austin Lee
Michael Dotson
Michael Dotson






Rosson Crow
Rosson Crow















Michael Staniak
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.b_labruce3

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.Bruce_perfume

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?b_labruce2  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.

Sculpture: Minimalism (Sperone Westwater) / Maximalism (Nancy Rubins at Gagosian)

“Sculpture”; Sperone Westwater (Bowery), through August 15.

“Nancy Rubins: Our Friend Fluid Metal”; Gagosian (21st Street), through September 15.

If Koons’s flawless shine fetish has fascinated the masses and cognoscenti alike (for the most part), dominating art-social media-NYC this summer in an endless flood of fun-house selfies, a mirror ball of another ilk—namely an equally gleaming, though pockmarked moon by Not Vital, has landed at Sperone Westwater.

Not Vital, "Moon" (2011; stainless steel)
Not Vital, “Moon” (2011; stainless steel) [click to enlarge]
Gazing at this fallen celestial orb feels very different than clowning into a Koons, although, it compels, likewise, to take that side-long self-glance, if not a money shot of our narcissism. The work rests in a sublime installation on the third floor of SW’s Gagosian-challenging new-ish Bowery HQ; which also includes a vermilion-lacquered, half-stairway to … oblivion, or a fourth dimension behind the wall, by Wolfgang Laib (2002), a ritualistic circle of puzzle-piece rock fragments by walking artist extraordinaire, Richard Long, and a heavy wood abstraction in the shape of an inverted tau, which also suggests an altar, by Carle Andre (pace Andre’s distaste for content association—true, as well, it couldn’t be more formally Minimal).

Third fl. installation view, Sperone Westerwater; with "Moon," a R. Long (1996; granite) and a Carl Andre (1992; cedar timbers)
Third floor at  Sperone Westerwater (partial view); with “Moon,” a R. Long (1996; granite) and a Carl Andre (1992; cedar timbers)

Each floor of this group show has similarly intriguing juxtapositions as well as engaging specific works by an inter-generational, international roster; with more mirroring on the ground floor in the proto-disco assemblages (one, kinetic) of Heinz Mack, c. 1960.

Heinz Mack, "Kleiner Stelenwald" (1960; brass, with motor)
Heinz Mack, “Kleiner Stelenwald” (1960; brass, with motor)

Back then, the reflective surface was just taking off in pop culture and contemporary art, après Brancusi (prominent in works by many emerging NY-based artists at the time, including R. Smithson, R. Morris, Y. Kusama, L. Samaras).


Nancy Rubins was a memorable hit at the 1995 Whitney Biennial with a floating, twerked and bound mattress installation featuring creamy supermarket cakes smushed into the crevices, evoking a post-industrial Tiepolo. (Digression: bed and mattress show, dedicated to R. Rauschenberg’s famous MoMA Bed 1955, with Rubins, Guillermo Kuitca, Tracy Emin, Sarah Lucas, Pepon Ossorio . . . ?)*  In the interim, Rubins got into heavy-metal assemblages that also defied gravity, with the origins of the fragment components more and less discernible—rambunctious off-spring of later Frank Stellas. Twenty years hence, the three works currently on view at Gagosian are again bouncing off the ceiling, as well as walls and floor—dense clouds of recycled junk (Shinique Smith is one heir), including a proliferation of defunct, old-school springing playground or low-rent carnival rides in the form of sea-foamy-tinted, kitschy-toy, zoomorphic cross-breeds.

Nancy Rubins, at Gagosian Gallery, 522 W. 21st St., summer 2014
Nancy Rubins, at Gagosian Gallery, 522 W. 21st St., summer 2014

. . .  Abandoned, twister-blown, small-town toddler amusement park gracefully re-coagulated, tumbles and hovers into the white cube.

Nancy Rubins, detail
Nancy Rubins, detail

*Re: “bed show”; update (11/1/15): I was unaware,  when I posted this, of the comprehensive exhibition at 21er Haus, Vienna, “Sleepless: The Bed in History and Contemporary Art,” (Jan.-June 2015), including several of these artists.

Charles Gaines, SMH and MoMA

Obsessive, artistic madman (I mean that in the most revered art-sense of the term) Gaines has a show stopper in the current MoMA show,  “Sites of Reason: Recent Acquisitions”: a multimedia installation including sound, video with text, and visually appealing, large-scale, hand-drawn sheet-music with lyrics.  Gaines devised a system to create  four related “scores” that equated and translated words of four political manifestos into corresponding musical notes (a la Sol Lewitt and an acknowledged influence, Hanne Darvoben, as well as Dadaist sound-meister John Cage).    At the Studio Museum in Harlem, “Gridwork” traces the genesis of Gaines’s self-perpetuating stylistic modus operandi  in dizzying, puzzle-like compositions from the mid-1970s-mid-1980s that recall the “counting” art of Roman Opalka as much as the Zen-focused detail of Buddhist mandalas, another acknowledged influence.  The few with color also anticipate the pixilated “bit” mosaics of the pending (at the time) digital age.

Sugar Hill Show

Sugar city this summer, with Kara Walker’s mountainous mama at Domino;* including two pieces in the Sugar Hill (nabe) show, “If You Build It,” a group exhibition at a new apt. (main architect, David Adjaye) at 155th / St. Nich. Ave., organized by   (One is illustrated below; the other is a diorama-like, mini-metropolis of the sweet stuff by Irish duo, Brendan Jamison and Mark Revel, all over the web).

I picked up a signed multiple ($10!) by the esteemed Nari Ward – a “canned smile” — created in conjunction with a street project / “happening” documented in a video on view in the show – love it!

nari_wardLots of very interesting work.  Loved the timely, poignant “monument” to immigrant journeys by Scherezade  Garcia (below).

Through 8/10/14.

Detail of installation dealing w/ baseball and the Dominican Republic (cast glass bat over sugar).
Freddy Rodriguez,  Detail of installation dealing w/ baseball and the Dominican Republic (cast glass bat over sugar).
Radcliffe Bailey
One of Radcliffe Bailey’s “shipwrecks” from the Diaspora-focused Atlanta-based artist.
Scherezade Garcia
Scherezade Garcia (painted rubber tubes; airport/travel stickers)

*Kara Walker, A Subtlety, installed May 10 – July 6, 2014; organized by Creative Time.


Jeff Koons / Yayoi Kusama?

Re: Jeff Koons at the Whitney Museum:  Has anyone mentioned Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden of mirrored balls on a lawn at the 1966 Venice Bienale (to which she had not been invited)?*  For $2 each, she hawked them–“on sale: your narcissism”–until chased out by officials.  (The piece has since been revisited and installed in various contexts by the amazing octogenarian, Kusama.)   Narcissism is the great common denominator, as Koons’s not at all uninteresting bloated Brancusis remind us–and just as he predicts–Koons_1 (2)over and over.

[Left: Snapping myself at the  Whitney.]

*Images of the original Kusama in situ are copyrighted, though still in wide circulation on the web (google).