Odili Donald Odita: Third Sun; through Feb. 10 at Jack Shainman, 513 W. 20th St. (Chelsea)
Robin Rhode: The Geometry of Color; through Feb. 24 at Lehman Maupin, 536 W. 22nd St. (Chelsea).
Kelley Johnson: Slow Hum; through Feb. 4 at Freight & Volume, 97 Allen St. (LES)
A key theme in the group of recent abstract paintings at Shainman by Odili Donald Odita is celebration (according to the press release). Yes. Odita’s sharply juxtaposed, color spectrum-spanning, slices and shards pop back, forth and across these flat pictures as viewers approach and recede. Odita has already mastered this post-Minimalist terrain, climactic in his public murals; he continues here to mine its infinite potential when it comes to visceral variation–especially with nuanced chromatics. With each work momentarily mesmerizing, collective dynamics include: tension between perceived patterns and their disruption: illusionistic spatial shifts, algorithmic autonomous patterning, and attention to color theory; plus, not least extra-formalist design inspiration (e.g., textiles; architecture). Above all, the presiding staggered-dagger motif sets the body, as well as the eyes, abuzz.
Robin Rhodes also creates outdoor murals with geometric foundations; however, in socially subversive contexts. Namely, on city walls in Johannesburg (S.A.)—a la authentic graffiti, with which he then interacts in performances. At Lehman Maupin, these projects are completed (as it were) as art photographs. The painted backdrops recall, variously, point-to-line-to-plane Kandinsky, Sol Lewitt’s systematic faux-frescos, and, occasionally, simplified archetypal symbols as embedded in local traditions of façade decoration in the region. The superimposition of Rhodes’s own silhouette in various poses conjures Banksy and Bauhaus mashed into absurdist street ballet. Collectively, the framed up rhythmic arrangements bind together, bounce, and juggle such myriad associations.
Flip side to Odita’s crisp-cut partitioning by trading on related geometric coin are the recent airy works of Kelley Johnson at Freight & Volume. Johnson has left tape strips and over-stepped masking edges intermittently and strategically around his striped and scaffolded compositions, through which white space peaks in, often in sectional, horizontal bands. To use the sonic metaphor of Kelley’s exhibition title: a distillation of Odita’s big band to a low (as well as slow) hum. Leavening classic Minimalist monochrome with pop-neon color and, in a few sculptures, more fragile structure for which kites were Kelley’s inspiration, the hand-tinged element tempers his neo-geo modality with somewhat ironic, off-beat charm.