Chelsea Gallery Shows
I spent more than three hours last Saturday hopping Chelsea galleries, mostly from 26th Street to 20th. Here's a few of the exhibitions I liked most. As always, click on any image to enlarge.
One of the great rewards of gallery-going is discovering someone whose work instantly speaks to you... and for me, on this day, that someone was Yayoi Kusama. Yes, I know now that she's been internationally renowned since the 1960s, but she was new to me on Saturday, and I loved everything I saw. The two mirror boxes were fun and engaging and made me wish I had been to some of her mirror rooms I found pictures of later online. Her neon pieces were great, too, especially Ladder to Heaven. But what I REALLY loved was her Infinity Net paintings and drawings: beautiful, obsessive works that apparently stem from her childhood hallucinations of nets and dots and flowers covering her entire world.
At the Robert Miller Gallery, 524 W26th Street. Ended November 25.
These six big collage-y looking paintings are, according to the gallery's press release, "inscribed, carved through gesso-soaked paper on canvas." I'm not really sure what that means—I guess he lays down a color on canvas, puts paper over that, cuts through the paper, then paints over everything—but I do know that I liked the palette, the composition and the playful feeling of Alexis's works.
At the Stephen Haller Gallery, 542 W26th St. Through December 12.
This is pretty intense stuff. Laurel Nakadate has made a career of exploring the sexual effect she, and women in general, have on men, and vice versa. Her installation at Danzinger Projects, A Message to Pretty, centers on two continuous projections: one shows us Nakadate's erotic but ultimately numbing reenactments, in various settings and stages of undress, of the fake-orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally; the other features middle-age, unattractive men who, though only asked by Nakadate to "address the camera as if it were a woman they once loved", effortlessly, almost subconciously, spew out the worst forms of misogyny and desires for violent revenge. For the first video, you're invited to watch while sitting at an old wooden school desk; for the second, one of those coin-operated riding horses.
A side note: about four years ago I posted something stupid on Craigslist about how I had a plum here that was totally ripe and did anyone want it? I got many more responses than I imagined I would, but by far the most appealing and flirtatious of them was from—you guessed it—Laurel Nakadate.
At Danzinger Projects, 521 W26th St. Ended November 25.
For this series of eerie, almost abstract photographs of Los Angeles in 2004, David Maisel took to the air, used black-and-white film, and then printed the images in negative. The results have a distinctly post-apocalypse feel (the show is called Oblivion, after all), but at the same time are also strangely, undeniably beautiful.
At the Von Lintel Gallery, 555 W25th St, through December 23.
Five energetic, bright, splashy paintings, two of which I liked quite a bit, and all which reminded me in some way of Basquiat. The show is called "Le peintre n'est pas la," which, since I don't understand French, I'm guessing refers to the artist's self-imposed palette limit of seven colors: pink, yellow, green, red, brown, black, white.
At the Zach Feuer Gallery, 530 W24th St, through January 6.
I wasn't a huge fan of these large, anarchic, twisted, cartoony landscapes, but I did spend a while looking at them, so on some level I must have found them compelling, and I know Bo and Co would have liked them.
At the Andrea Rosen Gallery, 525 W24th St., through December 9.
I love when I walk into a gallery with no idea what's behind the (often frosted glass) door, and stumble upon something like Greg Smith's very pink, very chaotic, definitely slightly insane installation, complete with an unusually engaging video inside that cardboard box structure. I have no idea what it all means (themes include animal husbandry, Nebraska, surveillance, moving images, space vs. constriction, among others), but I was smiling my whole time there. Again, this sort of interactive, puzzling, thoroughly contempory art is one of the things that what makes my kids enjoy gallery hopping as much as I do.
At the Susan Inglett Gallery, 534 W22nd St. Ended November 25.
This was perhaps the most visually stunning, most purely entertaining piece I saw all day. First, some backstory: Allan McCollum has apparently come up with a system whereby he can create (and keep track of) a wholly unique shape for every person on the planet. The project, though technically and artistically possible, is too massive for him to ever hope to complete in a lifetime, so for now he has set aside 214,000,000 of these shapes for creative use and experimentation. One such use: the 7,066 individually framed examples (sold in lots of 144, if you're interested), meticulously arranged on possibly a hundred or so ascending ledges. Even setting aside the enormously cool idea behind the project, this was fantastic just to look at, purely as a piece of art. Your visual perspective of the work totally changes as you move through the gallery space, or whether you see it as a whole, or focus on the individual frames. Not to mention that it makes for an excellent photo-op backdrop.
At the Friedrich Petzel Gallery, 533 W22nd St., through December 23.
My final satisfying discovery of the day was Nathan Carter's thoughtful, visually engaging stand-up and wall-mounted sculptures, collages, and typographic treatments. Using only blues, reds and blacks, his pieces somehow manage to be both whimsical and slightly menacing. I thought his subway map series (of London, shown above, as well as Paris and New York) was particularly clever.
At the Casey Kaplan Gallery, 525 W21st, through December 22.
One last note: I also really liked and totally recommend the massive Andy Warhol show (including, among many other iconic works, several self-portraits, a few Maos, a few cows, The Last Supper, and the great Hammer and Sickle pieces), at both Chelsea Gagosian galleries, on 24th and 21st Sts., through December 22; as well as Ellsworth Kelly's mostly black-and-white exhibition at the Matthew Marks galleries (I especially liked the drawings), on 24th St.