Each of the twelve five feet by seven feet paintings in Terry Winters’s new show are pure visual delight. Cellular forms, cosmic organisms, and biomorphic shapes coil into scrolls or float ambiguously on seas of particles or fields of tiny squares that morph into patterns of infinite possibilities. Set on color schemes of sea foam, midnight blues, and flaming orange, these forms summon the kind of mysterious motion that fuels spirituality and the calm that underlies rhythmic vibrations. Beautiful, emotional, and cerebral, they hint at the wonders of science and the unexplained beauty of the human existence. At Matthew Marks through June 16.

Carroll Dunham’s new works delve into the world of joint locks, pins, and grappling holds. That these and other traditional wrestling moves are performed in the nude and set in lush, vibrant settings add to the ambiguity of the subject matter as it relates to entertainment vs competitive sport, pleasure vs. pain, and brutality vs. virtue.  Composition, color and texture vie, like his sparring partners, for the ultimate superior position. At Gladstone through June 16.

A Várzea forest is a seasonal floodplain forest inundated by whitewater rivers in the Amazon biome. Echoing the titanic expanse and magnificence of this natural spectacle, “Várzea”, a new exhibition by Brazilian artist Marina Rheingantz, fills the gallery space with four monumental canvases of semi-abstracted flood plains, horizon-less topographies, and lush tropical landscapes. Intensely material, almost sculptural, Rheingantz works from the top down. Thick layers of paint are scraped, sanded and prodded to cast mountains, riverbeds and ocean tides where human traces like utility poles, flags, tents and remnants of roads are swept up by the vast and relentless force of nature. At Bortolami through June 2.

The multi-disciplinary practice of Scottish artist Lucy Skaer is primarily concerned with the subjectivity of imagery and the manipulation of mental imprints of images through mass media. Albeit a difficult visual leap, a new series of abstract highly polished copper sculptures are based on the animal illustrations in the beautifully illustrated medieval hunting book Le Livre de Chasse by the French count Gaston III (an important manuscript, pages of which can be viewed at the Morgan Library). Instead, their flattened, sharp forms remind of elegantly executed snares and traps with which the wild creatures were captured. Elsewhere, Skaer jazzes up old floorboards and windows of her old childhood home with precious materials and expensive processes and thereby blurs the boundaries between personal memories and the luxury items with which we often try to preserve nostalgia. At Peter Freeman through June 2.

Objects, either hand-made or store-bought, have long formed the aesthetic and conceptual vertebrae of Nancy Shaver’s forty-plus career. Hers is a democratic, almost socialist idea. Traditional, indigenous blouses vie attention with cheap mass-produced t-shirts; elegant evening bags sit side by side with rusty plumbing parts and carefully embroidered little baby hats from Uzbekistan. That objects invariably lead to their owners, handlers, sellers and tenants leads to the question of how and why we accumulate things which in turn underlie many of our political and ethical conundrums. That is perhaps why the title of her show “a part of a part of a part” owes so much to Gertrude Stein’s “rose is a rose is a rose is a rose, loveliness extreme.extra gaiters,loveliness extreme.sweetest ice-cream. pages ages page ages page ages.” At Derek Eller Gallery through May 27.

Harmony Hammond has an uncanny ability to coax meaning out of materials. At times angling towards the psychological, proto-feminist aura of Eva Hesse, other times incorporating Neo-Dada ideas into Rauschenberg-like combines, Hammond uses Arte Povera materials such as straw, hair, rubber and rope to corral a raw physical presence with an unsettling undercurrent of unexplained violence. The underlying conflicts of queer and feminist struggle percolate Hammond’s art – occasionally she hides a second dimension on the underside of her sculptural paintings; implications of things suppressed or of secrets not revealed. At Alexander Gray through May 26.

Rhode Island-based artist Nadia Haji Omar makes beautiful chromatic abstractions. Drawing from her Syrian, Indian and Sri Lankan heritage, Omar’s practice is informed by rigorous studies into Islamic and traditional Chinese art and the decorative and religious symbolism and architecture of her childhood home in Sri Lanka. Sticking to a mild, washed-out pastel color palette, Omar weaves tiny, meditative mark-making into elegant Tamil and Sinhalese symbols and letters. Her works convey a wonderful sense of materiality and lightness that underlie the artist’s spirituality and devotion to the preservation of traditional mythology. At Kristen Lorello through May 25.

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith is a Native American painter, printmaker and sculptor whose tireless work as teacher and activist reaches beyond the confines of the studio to cultivate a contemporary understanding of Native American history and culture. At the forefront of her current exhibition at Garth Geenan lies her pre-occupation with the bifurcations of trade relations between New World Europeans and Native American tribes. Ostensibly set up as an act of friendship and benevolence, most barter transactions produced decidedly one-sided economic benefits and instead often became agents for dependency and decease. Brimming with imagery and symbolism, Quick-to-See’s monumental Trade Canoe paintings weave traditional narratives into contemporary moral admonitions that place the ethical treatment of animals, humans and our planet above the pursuit of profit and power. At Garth Greenan Gallery through May 19.

There is a lot going on in Keltie Ferris’ expressive abstract paintings. Amorphous forms writher across canvas getting roped in by looping black lines which in turn want to find their own bulbous shapes. A scattering of pixeled dots appears but is negated by thick grey erasures as if, by a carefully constructed pattern, the concrete wall was allowed in. Elsewhere, small chunks of oil paint mixed with marble dust build up to a topography that allows the eye to re-adjust from intermittent smudged blurriness. The color palette in this focused show veers from phosphorescent reds and blues to serene pastels and earthy ambers; altogether a vivacious and deeply rewarding visual adventure. At Mitchell-Innes & Nash through May 19.

The Met Breuer is celebrating its new gift of Leon Golub’s breath-taking epic Giantomachy II with an exhibition of a fine selection of the artist’s paintings and works on paper. Perhaps no other post-war artist has consistently exposed the depravity of war and the corrupting violence that it begets with such ferocious savagery. Crude and direct, raw and unrefined, Golub’s dense and meaty lacerations of victims and oppressors of conflict hit all-too close to home. Sinewy wrists, blood-shot eyes, flayed skin – these are testaments of conflicts past and present – they tell of the physical and psychological torment of conflict, the innate cruelty of man and his apparent inability to learn from history. Here is a haunting early charcoal drawing from 1947 where, in communion with Jean Dubuffet, Otto Dix, Käthe Kollwitz and Georg Grosz, Golub declares that any physical attack is also an irreparable assault on the mind.  At Met Breuer through May 27.

WordPress Image Lightbox Plugin