Ryan McNamara at Elizabeth Dee
Walking into the gallery I had no idea what I was getting into. Ryan McNamara’s current show at Elizabeth Dee involves visitors, six different canvas backdrops, two large mirrors, costumes galore and is extremely participatory. An ebullient Ryan asked me and Tony, my boss, if we would mind being photographed. We replied no, but timidly moved into position in front of the colorful backdrop. Ryan was immediately taken by my strand of pearls and he knew just what he wanted me to do with them. Unfortunately Tony didn’t make it in the final photo. All of the pictures he takes during his three week stay in the gallery make it up on the Elizabeth Dee website. They will then be used as elements of a collage in other works. It was a very fun way to experience art and now I have my own portrait by an artist, as odd as it may be.
Paul Graham at The Pace Gallery
My favorite show I saw in Chelsea was Paul Graham: The Present at The Pace Gallery. Graham’s new work is the third part of a trilogy that includes earlier series: a shimmer of possibility (2004-2006) and American Night (1998-2002). Included in this show are 16 diptychs and 2 triptychs whose subject matter is life on the streets of Manhattan. Shots appear to be taken just seconds apart causing the viewer to look carefully to see the subtle changes in the urban landscape that Graham so thoughtfully captures. The photographs remind of us how things can change in an instant. One woman walks down the street only to trip in the next frame. The energy of the city, but also its palpable loneliness fill the compositions. Hanging the works very low to the ground gives them a real intensity and power. We, the viewers, feel as though we are there acting as voyeur.
Corinne Wasmuht at Friedrich Petzel
I immediately recognized this artist’s work from the last Venice Biennale. In fact, if you watch my video coverage of the Biennale, I mention that this was one of my favorite works in the Arsenale section. It mixes the squeegee-like abstraction of Richter with figuration. The artist are “generated from an array of abstracted and overlapping photographic imagery that Wasmuht sources form a combination of the Internet and her own personal photographs.” The layers of paint on boards that have been whitewashed and polished give her works a luster and glow. I was immediately drawn to her large-scale paintings and was thrilled to see and recognize her work.
Polly Apfelbaum at D’Amelio Gallery and Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden
Titled, Flatterland Funkytown, Apfelbaum’s show is the first at the new D’Amelio Gallery though she has shown often when the gallery was D’Amelio Terras. The press release states it so much more eloquently than I could, “The installation consists of hundreds of crushed synthetic velvet pieces, all hand-cut, dyed, and laid out across the gallery floor. Always situational, Apfelbaum’s intentional arrangements expose the temporal and improvisational currents running through her abstractions. The flatness that characterizes Apfelbaum’s installation is less about form than it is about horizontality, a structural flattening of hierarchy that can be found in musical forms such as funk and punk rock.”
Contemporaneously, Apfelbaum is showing Flatland: Color Revolt at the fantastic new space Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden. They are doing some of the most innovative shows in Chelsea. If you are not familiar with their gallery, you need to check it out. It’s right next to Jack Shainman’s space on West 20th.
Bharti Kher at Hauser and Wirth
The Bharti Kher show at Hauser and Wirth titled, “The hot winds that blow from the West,” includes pieces unlike the work I have previously seen by Kher which have all consisted of thousands of bindis on objects. The bindi is a signature material for Kher and it is a “loaded symbol.” Not a symbol of marriage or fashion, it actually represents the “third eye” linking the spiritual and real world. Though the staircase on the first level is covered in bindis, the next gallery has a room full or stacked radiators whose function is removed to create something totally new– a beautiful work of art. The second floor includes “Reveal the secrets that you seek.” Made up of 27 shattered found mirrors with bindis in grid formations, it reminded me of Pistoletto where the viewer’s reflection becomes an important element of the work.
Henry Taylor at Untitled
Henry Taylor worked as a psychiatric nurse for ten years and during this time he began painting. Based in LA he paints friends, as well as strangers who visit his studio. In this show, March Forth, an African hut (made of scraps from his studio as well as a trip he took to Ethiopia) is the centerpiece. The thread that links the hut and his paintings is the spontaneity of its creation.
Sam Moyer at Rachel Uffner Gallery
Moyer attempts to “explore the liminal space between the two and three-dimensional” worlds. These are gorgeous works with a great deal of depth that images cannot accurately capture. Unlike Tauba Auerbach’s work which I was initially reminded of, this is not trompe l’oeil but a multi-stepped process. The process involves dying the canvas in India ink and folding it to dry with creases. She then draws on it with a bleach pen, ultimately ironing it and gluing it to wood panels.
Franklin Evans at Sue Scott Gallery
Franklin Evans creates an environment in every show I have seen his work in. You step into his world and in this case, on his world as the floor very much becomes part of the work.