Must-See Shows in New York by William Corwin

Wandering around Chelsea late morning on a Friday, I found myself in the big room of Gagosian, staring at the giant oversized Hirst dot painting, the really big one.  I did feel quite medicated, with the cheerful calming paster colors and reliable geometric formations, and it was all mine for that brief moment.  There are a healthy dose of big names on exhibition right now; Shirin Neshat, Ai Wei Wei, even some late Dubuffet and Matta.  But there are some artists showing that finally seem to be getting their due, or some that should.

There also are a crop of shows that either bluntly, or through the folds of the thick curtain of academicism, seem bent on commenting on contemporary culture and the art world.  Whether it’s the “Blind Cut” at Marleborough  referencing the current crisis in appropriation, or the Austrian Cultural Forum taking on Wall Street with “It’s The Political Economy, Stupid,”  the art world doesn’t seemed entirely wrapped up in itself  or completely blind to the criticisms often leveled at it.

Go and see the David Hockney exhibition “A Bigger Picture” if you’re in London, and read my interview with Hockney in February’s Brooklyn Rail:


Batman Returns
Joyce Pensato at Friederick Petzel,  through Feb. 25

Joyce Pensato’s up-close and personal portraits of cartoon characters and animated matinee idols for the under twelve set-meaning cartman, Elmo etc etc. are immediately recognizeable both as not cute, and not in any thrall to comics or cartoons.  Her drip-heavy enamel paintings are more of an investigation into the attachment we still feel for the demigods and  animal spirits of pre-monotheism that just refuse to go away, and which we still need to s certain extent. “Living in the shadow of the rat” as Reverend Billy Talen would say.  You can listen to my interview with Joyce Pensato on Art International Radio right here:


You Are Nature
Greg Lindquist
Elizabeth Harris Gallery, Through March 10

Lindquist’s faded panoramas are simultaneously disdainful of humankind’s intervention in the landscape and muted dirges to the loss of something possibly never to be regained.  Capitalizing on the simple geometry and often abstract forms of modernist and communist architecture, Lindquist plays his aesthetic dichotomies cleverly and well, pitting positive and negative space against each other, and natural forms off of industrial installations.  He crafts abstract poetics out of   carefully, but very simply manipulated representational imagery.


Regina Rex
Through February 26
A three person show of Brice Bischoff, Joe Brittain and Katy Fischer.  The unknowable seems a frequent topic of consideration at Regina Rex.  In their exhibition this past summer, Art Blog Art Blog, the gallery took on reproducibility and simultaneity within the universe and an in conjunction with an artist’s craft.  This exhibition focuses on artists whose work encompass “boundless forms.”

Blind Cut
Through February 18

With all the fake Pollocks and Motherwells in circulation right now, this exhibition on authenticity is spot on, albeit through artistic appropriation, imitation and sampling–so nobody call the Feds–this is sanctioned deception.  Curators Jonah Freeman and Vera Neykov explore the idea of fiction in art, or more accurately self-conscious and acknowledged fiction, as opposed to the basic fiction that is all art.  Not surprisingly, there is a heavy Dada presence, several photographs from Mike Kelley’s “Reconstruction” series, Ed Ruscha and Cindy Sherman, and two lovely graphite pieces by Adam McEwen, among many many others.

Bosiljka Raditsa
The Painting Center
Through February 25

Raditsa is the antidote to anyone who is sick of video art, conceptual art, performance art or perfectly executed dot paintings.  She crafts an intelligent, gorgeous and gently riotous panoply of color on a small and precious scale.  She’s a practitioner of Gorky-esque abstraction, deftly combining shapes and colors into a relevant yet purely abstract whole, with a truly delicate touch.  The color gouaches are intelligently interspersed with spidery sketches of vines that offer a brief respite before diving yet again into the tight and meticulous color works.
Also featured at the gallery are  exhibitions of painters Susan Post and Elizabeth Yamin.

It’s The Political Economy Stupid
The Austrian Cultural Forum
Through April 22nd

Curated by Gregory Sholette and Oliver Ressler, this is a good old political exhibition, full of sarcasm, hope, protest, and information.  Lots of information.  Dread Scott wanders around Wall Street singing and burning money, and Tommy Mintz, of the Institute  for Wishful Thinking, has made Topps style trading cards of the heroes and villains of the Great Recession, just depends on what side you’re on.  The great thing about shows like this is predicting which works will make sense, or hold up in a few years.Artists include: Linda BILDA, Zanny BEGG / Oliver RESSLER, Julia CHRISTENSEN, Yevgeniy FIKS / Olga KOPENKINA / Alexandra LERMAN, FLO6x8, Melanie GILLIGAN, Jan Peter HAMMER, Alicia HERRERO, INSTITUTE FOR WISHFUL THINKING, Isa ROSENBERGER, Dread SCOTT

Greg Wilken
Cue Art Foundation
Through March 10

Curated by Sharon Lockhart
Apparently the old road wending its way along the Pacific coast was referred to as “The Road of a Thousand Wonders.”  Who knew.  In true postmodern fashion, photographer Greg Wilken has followed this road, and captured sites along the way, many of which are far from traditionally wondrous, but are beautiful in their decrepitude or suburban banality, a la Stephen Shore.  Among the artist’s portfolios left out for perusal is a wonderful book of images of the Old Calvary Cemetery, now defunct and creepily repurposed, in LA.


Candy Canyon
The Clocktower
Through June 1

This is another iteration of the Michael Stipe/Alanna Heiss crusade to rescue the dying art of the music video.  Filmmaker and producer Mike Anderson has teamed up with the hip-hop electronic band Javelin to produce a work of video art that is both a narrative and a vehicle for enjoying Javelin’s new western-themed album.  The massive room that constitutes the main exhibition space of the Clocktower Gallery has been transformed into a winding soundscape that is both Natural History Museum diorama and a carnival haunted house.  After emerging from the craggy paper-mache canyons and chilly nightime Arizona desert, one is treated to Anderson’s film-noire and Javelin’s dulcet tones.  Listen to Javelin here:

Mike Ballou

Feb. 29 through Apr. 11.
Rosenberg Gallery, Hofstra University

A selection of  Mike Ballou’s disturbing animal heads will find themselves displayed in the Rosenberg Gallery at Hofstra University, replete with beat up and partly gilded studio rug, and elk chandelier.  Half shaman, half hunter, it is impossible to pin down Ballou: the animal heads are masks and taxidermied heads (in foam and acrylic–no animals were harmed in the creation of this show) at the same time, both fearsome and lovable.

Noriyuki Haraguchi
Works From Yokosuka
McCaffrey Fine Arts
Through March 17

Haraguchi grew up in Yokosuka, site of an American airforce base, and the location from which much of the Vietnam war was launched.  Not surprisingly this lead him into an anti-war stance, and one which influenced his artistic practice, leading him to re-create pieces of American military aircraft.  There is a tradition of non-flying aircraft being created by artists (Anselm Kiefer’s lead Melancholia come immediately to mind) and Haraguchi’s Corsair II fits into this symbolic lineage, which is fascinating in terms of the depth of its meaning and power versus the relative newness of the symbol in the human visual vocabulary.


About the author

William Corwin
Will Corwin is a sculptor and writer from and based in New York City. He shows with George and Jørgen Gallery in London, and will have an exhibition there from March 15-April 2nd 2011. He writes regularly for the Saatchi Online Magazine as well as ArtPapers, Frieze and BOMB. He will be doing an artist residency at the Clocktower Gallery in New York City this spring and summer.


  1. Donna Silver says:

    Enjoying your work from afar – in Goshen NY


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