Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Memorial Day Weekend, NY, 2018 part 2

Day 3

First time at the Brooklyn Museum, we're here to see a show we missed at the Hammer Museum in LA – Radical Women: Latin American Art 1960-1985. This is not the first time this has happened. It works in reverse too – I was in no hurry to see last fall’s Laura Owens retro at the Whitney, since it’s going to be at MOCA this fall, assuming MOCA is still a thing this fall. The install of Radical Women greets the viewer with an amazing piece of film footage of Afro-Peruvian artist Victoria Santa Cruz. The film flickers and chants on a screen overhead in one of the main gallery spaces, part of the universe of history on display. That history includes the beguiling Envolvimento paintings by Brazilian artist Wanda Pimentel, highlighted by a sharp, striking flatness and ironic distance. Bonus round: Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party is permanently installed at the Brooklyn Museum.


From the Envolvimento series by Wanda Pimentel at the Brooklyn Museum
A Lyft driver named Quayvon takes us to Bushwick. Quayvon is about to have his first child with his opera singer wife. TSANY, Transmitter and Underdonk were closed, but Microscope was open. Therein lay an installation of works by Kevin Reuning that I was not particularly struck by while in its presence, but the memory of it now invites more consideration. The work employs digital technology and the clever byproducts of its misapplication. There is an interactive component that only requires more looking, which I appreciated beings that I am generally loathe to interact with art works and generally consider such conditions indicative of a weakness within the work (with some notable exceptions). At 56 Bogart St., some things were open and some things weren’t. The Border was open, and offered an inviting vision with a group exhibition called Intricate Neighbors, curated by artist and space founder Jamie Martinez. Through festoons of variable realness on the walls and underfoot, I find a ferocious orgy of color and material presence by artist Hyon Gyon. The Border’s mission is focused on immigrant artists, and was begun as a response to the current political climate. Also at 56 Bogart we see the work of Len Bellinger at David & Schweitzer Contemporary. Bellinger's is an interesting story, an insider with outsider habits, qualities the work seems to somehow inhabit. A painting called thug boggles with slathered layers of earnestness, completed over a 3 year period between 2015 and 2018. Down the hall and around the corner at VICTORI + MO is Meetinghouse, by artist Amie Cunat. Cunat has reimagined the works of the Shakers, an American religious cult known for their furniture and not having sex. The result places the viewer in a primary-colored cartoon environment, all lovingly hand-made out of paper, the functionality of the objects swapped for immersive vibrancy and chromatic surreality. 


Hyon Gyon at The Border
Thug, Len Bellinger, David &Schweitzer Contemporary

Meetinghouse by Amie Cunat at VICTORI+MO

Meetinghouse by Amie Cunat at VICTORI+MO
Day 4

Leon Golub: Raw Nerve explodes off the walls of the Met Breuer. Leave your bullshit at the door. Whether its a face, a dog, a skull, or an abstract form, Golub’s world is flayed and exposed. Every piece exists in a state of alert, unstretched shrouds throwing off the trappings of fastidious preciousness. Demonic, masculine golems of paint crowd the canvas of Giantomachy II, the central work of the exhibition. Golub both historically and prophetically channels the necromasculine urge – to war, to violence, to oppression, to subjugation – by slashing, smashing, scraping his figures together. They exude a weary, unidealized nakedness. That nakedness is present in his dictator portraits, where the scrubbed renderings of these men of death smolder against the banality of their expressions. A composition from 1994 titled All Bets Art Off gets down to the realness. A panting dog eyes death like a bone, face down and vulnerable. An old-fashioned tattoo graphic floats above, the unstretched linen and yellow ochre reading as skin. Our world is a hungry dog, hungry for death, salivating in its presence, more permanent than any tattoo, something for the maggots to look at, I guess.

It was the last day for Golub at the Met Breuer but right in the middle of the run for Like Life: Sculpture, Color, and the Body (1300–Now), an ambitious, gobsmacking wallop of an exhibition. You think Westworld is creepy? I dare the Met to host sleepovers for this. Like Life reveals how in 700+ years, we still can’t reconcile with the revelation that we’re just haunted meat. We’re all “still life” someday, though perhaps not like Jeremy Benthem, I hope. 


Giantomachy II by Leon Golub at the Met Breuer

All Bets Are Off by Leon Golub at the Met Breuer
Day 5


Memorial Day. Brunch on 5th Ave at the Church of Heavenly Rest. Behind us is Central Park. Two blocks to our left is the Jewish Museum, one block to our right is the Guggenheim. Chaim Soutine: Flesh at the Jewish Museum rounds out the trip’s themes of corporeality, figuration, and death. Soutine is a name I recognize from every big museum with a room full of old European painting that I've ever been to. His paint handling anticipates Golub, Bacon, Guston, Brown, Lassnig and more. Anxious, searching, passages evoke sensations as much as associations in these works. Among the Jewish Museum's holdings on display, an early self-portrait of Lee Krasner gazes back with casual defiance. Krasner painted this work in 1930, age 22, in her parents backyard in Long Island. In tone and style, the work is somewhat reminiscent of Paula Modersohn-Becker. Despite the safe environs it actually represents, the effect of the background places the young Krasner alone in the wilderness, the wilderness of the path ahead, fixed upon by her scrutinizing countenance. 


Chaim Soutine at the Jewish Museum

Lee Krasner, Self-Portrait, 1930, at the Jewish Museum

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