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280 articles written by heikemoras

Outrageous Fortune: Jay DeFeo and Surrealism is a superb look at the late artist’s work through the lens of surrealism. The ghosts of Man Ray, and Hannah Höch stalk DeFeo’s collages of body parts and plants which flirt with Dada as much as they represent a synthesis between abstraction and realism. For DeFeo who, in much of her varied oeuvre, has had an intense fascination with her own body and the cultural repression of sexuality, surrealism provided a door into the unlocking of the subconscious and the uncanny. Conspicuously absent from this fine selection is DeFeo’s seven-foot-wide drawing “The Eyes” from 1958, now in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art. It is a haunting depiction of a set of penetrating eyes with Freudian notions of the mind’s eye as manifestations of the supernatural and the human disinclination for self-examination. At Mitchell-Innes & Nash through April 7.

A gallery assistant stands guard at the edge of a steep trapdoor at Matthew Marks Gallery. This is America, after all; the land of 1-800-lawyer. The artist is, of course, Robert Gober. The trap door hails from Gober’s exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 2001 and riffs on the murky symbolism of a church cellar door and the mystification of the unknown. Long fascinated with doors, windows, and legs, Gober presents a series of beautifully detailed torso drawings which reveal complicated inner lives locked in by prison windows. The real draw, however, is the room full of Joseph Cornell-style boxed tableaus. Within simple white wooden boxes await arrangements that range from a plaster heart on Victorian-type wallpaper; three small robin-egg blue eggs on a diaper framed by silkscreened paper of cherries and hydrangeas; the force cup of a plunger on cherry print; a stick of butter on a rolling landscape; or a sculptured ear with a dried leaf on flowery background. Trying to make sense of it is futile. Best to take it in without reservation and analysis – just like the artist intended. At Matthew Marks through April 7.

Mostly known for his pioneering role in dramatizing spatial relationships and subjectivity in performance art in the 1960s, Allan Kaprow’s painting practice was rooted in the muscular expressionist style championed by his friend and mentor Hans Hofmann. Kaprow’s painterly language began to evolve dramatically during the 1950s when, after immersion into the experimental downtown arts scene of New York, the artist began to play with spatial relationships, texture, collage and the introduction of different materials that eventually led him away from the canvas and into a life-long devotion of melding life with art. A small but cerebral survey of Kaprow’s painting and drawing practice, currently on view at Hauser & Wirth, demonstrates the artist’s unmitigated affection for his hometown New York. Color, form, and texture underline the dynamisms and energy of a city that, in Kaprow’s mind, must make no distinction between the richness of daily life and the art that is displayed in its museums. At Hauser & Wirth through April 7.

Paul Feeley’s most important artistic output can be distilled into the short decade between 1955 and 1965, landing him squarely in the heyday of Abstract Expressionism which aesthetics he resolutely rejected. Focusing on the earlier part of this time span, Garth Greenan is currently showing a beautiful suite of paintings and water colors that show the artist’s emblematic mastery of figure/ground relationships and a keen understanding of color theory. Feeley’s works from this period owe more to Helen Frankenthaler than Myron Stout, a contemporary whom he is often mentioned with. Abstract but warm, formal but free, Feeley’s fluent biomorphic forms blur into delicate color stains that rouse a mesmerizing lyricism which is hypnotic as it is palliative. At Garth Greenan through April 7.

Zhang Enli’s majestic reflections on ‘The Garden’ is an unapologetic invitation into a world of beauty. Hazy washes of velvety browns, yellows, and mossy greens give way to feathery amorphous forms, delicate tendrils and clusters of flora. Zhang’s deliberate painting style borrows heavily from Traditional Chinese Painting and the inspiration for his newest body of work may well be the classical gardens of Shanghai. But the tightly cropped perspective and big intimacy of his work, owe a substantial debt to the muscularity of Abstract Expressionism and Jungian psychology. Luminescent color, a reverence for the sublime and unwavering gestural confidence materially embody the life-force of nature itself. As Thomas More once aptly observed, “The soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden. If you don’t want paradise, you are not human; and if you are not human, you don’t have a soul.” At Hauser & Wirth through April 7.

Weeds are plants that grow in the wrong place. In a new series of work, Sarah Crowner tames the urban sidewalk intruder that spring up uninvited on sidewalks and empty lots in her New York neighbourhood into highly abstracted vibrant collages. Mimicking Matisse’s cut-outs, Crowner sews together biomorphic shapes into elegant compositions that expertly meld striking colors with an amorphous sculptural presence. Ascetic but bold, Sarah Crowner’s weeds speak of a dedicated commitment to shape and color, clarity of form and restrained chaos – virtues that the real-life counterparts have yet to learn. At Casey Kaplan through April 21.

For the past twenty-five years, Kay Rosen has been splicing, distorting and untangling text with the singular aim of coaxing out hidden meaning. Through clever manipulations of font, color, placement, and words, Rosen explores the visual impact of text and language in our daily discourse. Like many artists in these politically fraught times, her newest work delves into the minefield of text/image transference in the daily onslaught of partisan sloganeering through television, print, and social media.  In this context, the disruption of language’s symbolic order becomes an indictment of the disruption of our political order. As, for example, a T-shaped wall painting spelling “trickle down” becomes “trick” and the green-blue “Triumph” is reduced to the fading last name of our current president. After all, Rosen knows that like all text art, the ultimate job of encoding falls to the viewer who, like many politically concerned Americans, are increasingly seeing the writing on the wall. At Alexander Gray through April 7.

Otis Jones’s art is neither elegant, polished, refined, sophisticated, delicate nor exact. And that is a good thing. The Dallas based artist, who has been challenging traditional notions of modern painting since the mid-1970s, is finally getting a serious look. In a beautifully installed exhibition at Marc Strauss, Jones’s minimalist shaped paintings challenge classic distinctions between art as object or surface through a meticulous condensation of material, color and form. His moda operandi consists of stapling raw canvas over crude, shaped frames which he then stains, paints and reduces, Robert Ryman-like, to a semi-monochrome effect. He produces extraordinary spatial tension by judiciously adding one, two or three small circles or short lines within a color palette that never eclipses a natural beige or a warm red. The result is a radical art form that is sincere, kind, intelligent, direct, unaffected and uncorrupted. At Marc Straus through April 1

“The difference between art and equipment is that [the latter] functions reliably”, Mike Cloud once said. Clothing, one of the three basic needs, functions, of course, reliably as protection against the elements. Once clothing becomes art, that charge dissolves into a multitude of psychological, social, and didactic agencies. Cloud’s painted clothing series are beautiful assemblages of unused children’s clothing on raw stretchers that the artist “decorates” with paint, text or images. In essence, they are true representations; the artist is literally presenting something for the second time. They add a searing emotional component to an exceptional painting practice that, despite interpretations to the contrary, works largely aesthetically versus conceptually. At Thomas Erben Gallery through March 31. (Cloud’s geometric cutie catchers and new compelling work is also on view on at the Logan Center Gallery at the University of Chicago.)

A quiet force amongst his more famous and muscular Abstract Expressionist peers, Milton Resnick nevertheless holds a significant place in a group of Post-War process-based artists whose primary goal was to see the canvas as a force field of spontaneous psychological confrontation. Starting in the early 1980s, Resnick embarked on a series of earth-toned, heavily impastoed works. Limiting himself to rectangular boards measuring 40 x 30 inches, the artist, then already in his mid-sixties, sets the mood with a heavily encrusted monochromatic all-over color palette but then gently cracks the surface allowing flashes of red, yellow and greens to break through. These works reward prolonged viewing. They journey the viewer into a gentle melancholy that comes with the stillness and solitude of a summer dusk or the mournfulness that a drifting cloud can bring on a fair day. In the words of the artist: “The Soul is a vacuum. Let it be filled.” At Cheim & Reid through March 31

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