heikemoras

323 articles written by heikemoras

Joan Mitchell: Paintings from the Middle of the Last Century, 1953 – 1962 is a fine exhibition of works of one of  America’s leading Abstract Expressionist painters. Notoriously difficult and prickly, Mitchell nevertheless distilled poetry, nature, and music into daring compositions of boundless energy. In this Untitled work from 1958 bold horizontal brushstrokes interplay with patches of light and dark to expose figure and ground and scarlet red joins with forest green and marigold into a blustery autumnal outing… This marks the last exhibition for Cheim & Read of Mitchell’s work. The eminent gallery lost the estate of the artist to David Zwirner. It is preceding a major retrospective of the artist in 2020 at the Baltimore Museum of Art which will travel to the SFMA and the Guggenheim Museum and which will surely unleash an unbridled market frenzy that Mitchell would have thoroughly disdained. At Cheim & Read through November 3.

When you push a broom, you move forward, collecting the dirt and debris underneath and making room for a renewed surface. If you are a careless cleaner, the act of cleaning becomes an exercise in distribution. Ed Clark is such a cleaner. Pushing the ideas of abstract expressionism forward through relentless experimentations with materials, color and form, Clark has been instrumental in building on the foundations of Pollock and quietly shaping ways in which we now view gestural abstraction. By taking the broom to many lofty AB-Ex concepts, Clark exposed the subversive elitism of action painting, showed new approaches to materiality by fusing impasto and translucency, and helped pioneer the possibilities of the shaped canvas. That he has been widely left out of the art historical discourse of post war abstraction is an oversight that a current survey at Mnuchin Gallery seeks to address. The exhibition demonstrates that Clark is leaving behind a legacy of daring and innovate work – one that is at once perceptive and brainy – and one that leaves future generations of artists a bedrock to build on. At Mnuchin Gallery through October 20.

Ann Truitt’s paintings are as remarkable as her better known slender totemic sculptures. Minimalist’s only true studio artist, Truitt’s bold paintings are austere but sensuous. “I regard [my paintings] as inflections of sculpture”, Truitt once said. Instead of subtracting volume, her paintings create space when the eye scans the surface for interruptions that generate depth. Truitt had a keen sense of proportion and her tool was the hand-painted line, as sure-footed and razor sharp as a knife. She used color intuitively: bold but emotive her chromatic dualities play with memory and perception. Simplified in form and color, Truitt’s elegant paintings have quietly withstood art history’s pull towards a more muscular male minimalism. At Matthew Marks through October 27.

Nature takes center stage in Ugo Rondinone’s sepia drawings. Immersive, tormented compositions where trees are the main protagonists are as radical in today’s world as they were in the days of Caspar David Friedrich. Rondinone’s visual quality transports a primordial spirituality that tethers on the line between the poetic and the surreal. His sceneries are landscapes of the mind rather than actual physical places and fully embrace romanticism’s challenge to rationality in favour of emotion  and intuition. Yet Rondinone’s compositions happen in the studio as if piercing together a fantastical inward dream. Channelling Immanuel Kant’s “Critique of Judgement”, Rondinone makes a clear distinction between the beautiful and the sublime, and uses the dual-chromatic nature of ink, the absence of open spaces as well as the enormity of the canvas to coax us beyond aesthetic beauty into the realm of mystery and ineffability. At Gladstone through October 27.

Inspired by the rhythm, grace and aesthetic of Chinese calligraphy, Vivian Springford’s color stain paintings are a dazzling journey into the sublime. Resurrected by Almine Rech Gallery from near obscurity and only recently endowed with a monographic catalogue by art historian Alexandra Schwartz, Springford was among a diverse group of talented female Abstract Expressionist painters living in New York in the 1960s who fought to be heard amongst their male peers. Applying approaches from color fielders like Helen Frankenthaler and the nature-based abstractions of Georgia O’Keefe, Springford’s airy washes of color bloom outwards from a nucleolus that itself seems to disappear into a divine void. Poetic overlapping waves of misty colors merge with the canvas and create luminous chromatic vibrations of such exquisite weightless depths that they inspire blissful escapes into stillness and contentment. At Almine Rech through October 20.

Before Paul Mogensen starts a painting, he carefully deliberates on what not to paint. Methodical reduction is, of course, the basis of every mathematical equation and by extension the basis of Mogensen’s spatial compositions. An exhibition at Karma is divided into what appears to be two distinct progressive pattern figurations. The main room features seven recent bi-chromatic works of expanding squares that organize into self-propelling spirals. In the back room nine smaller works are built on the infinity concept of the line. Here, Mogensen arranges Staccato-like dashes into visual rhythms that recall Morse codes or the versification of computer coding. Mathematical concepts decide the sequencing and placement of Mogensen’s patterns and take them away from the canvas into perpetuity. Add a serious understanding of surface materiality through the clever manipulation of color and texture of paint and one logically arrives at what Lissitzky called ‘the system of universal validity’  where a series of interconnected relationships form the basis of all art. At Karma through November 4.

As a founding member of the Japanese avant-garde movement Mono-Ha (School of Objects), Lee Ufan has developed an oeuvre that is based on the rejection of traditional Western forms of representation in favour of a focus on the relationship between materials and perception. Ufan’s new work evolves from the artist’s decade-long Dialogue Series and consists of familiar serene white canvases illuminated by expressive patches of paint each comprised of a maelstrom of tiny brushstrokes which are said to be executed in tandem with the artist’s breath. What sets these recent works apart is a new focus on chromatic propinquity that intersects with the Japanese aesthetic concept of yohaku (the use of unpainted space), specifically in how the works relate to the wall and architectural space and the calligraphic way the brush tapers off into emptiness. More experiential than visual, Lee Ufan’s minimalist works demand reflection on the relationship between seeing and reality. At Pace Gallery through October 13.

Treading a fine line between the pervy, vulgar, and absurd, Sarah Lucas’s practice is gloriously oblivious to the ordained norms of polite society. Part of the illustrious group of Young British Artists, Lucas first attained the attention of the artworld in the early 1990s with her sexualized Bunny sculptures made from stuffed nylons. Headless and sheathed in suffocating nylon hose, her figures slouch on wooden chairs, legs provocatively spread. A survey of Lucas’s 30-year career at the New Museum examines her pre-occupation with the anatomies of the female body and its often-fraught relationship with the male counterpart. It includes iconic works such as “Two Fried Eggs and a Kebab”, “Au Naturel” (which is also the show’s title) as well as an army of nude half-figures cast in resin which Lucas first introduced at the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2015. Some with legs brazenly akimbo, others chastely demure, they interact with domestic furniture such as toilet bowls and refrigerators and, for good measure, sport cigarettes in their vaginas or anuses. Lewd, confrontational, and unapologetically belligerent, Lucas’s in-your-face feminism serves as a fortifying bulwark against a ferocious new tide of present-day misogyny. At the New Museum through January 20.

Pope L.’s website “The Black Factory” opens with an image of, well, a black factory. Click on it and you’ll get a blank white screen, click again and the screen turns brown, click one more time and the screen turns yellow asking you “Is this black?”…. Long a thorn in the side of the powerful and connected, Pope L.’s socially engaged practice uses performance, installation, video and collage and goes beyond click-bait to engage with questions on race, class, poverty, immigration, and the environment. “I am a fisherman of social absurdity, if you will…. My focus is to politicize disenfranchisement … to reinvent what’s beneath us, to remind us where we all come from.” (Source: Radical Presence). At Mitchell-Innes Nash through October 27.

On the heels of her acclaimed exhibition at the Whitey Museum of Art, Toyin Ojih Odutola is continuing with a series of drawings based on the lives of two fictional Nigerian aristocratic families. “When Legends Die” is comprised of portraits of elegant family members in various forms of play. Rendered in pastel, charcoal and pencil, and often shown from dramatic angles, Odutola’s subjects inhabit a dreamy, surrealist world. Once again, it is the skin, the artist’s trademark, that narrates her work. Their sinewy patterns often meld with the surrounding landscapes or interiors and create an uncanny sense of movement. This makes Odutola a special kind of story-teller: one that transcends continents and ancestral histories and who gives a new identity to the black figure. At Jack Shainman through October 27.

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