Leonhard Hurzlmeier’s women are active, funny, and absurd creatures who are made of geometric shapes and live amid a background of solid color. They bike, do yoga, spy, protest or play hockey. Hurzlmeier brilliantly retains an illusion of three-dimensionality and movement through a keen grasp on form, color, and light. The limited color palette and simplicity of forms belie the artist’s complicated moda operandi: Hurzlmeier’s meticulously crafted oil paintings are in fact complicated, layered compositions of a limited number of fixed geometric forms that gradually morph into human bodies in motion. At Rachel Uffner through April 23.

Sputterances is a delightful paintings exhibition organized around a poem by René Daniëls of the same name. Sputterances are hybrids between an utterance and a sputter. For visual artists that signals the struggle of negotiating the spontaneity of an idea with the technical difficulties of execution, brilliantly visualized in works like Allison Katz’ Elf-Esteem, where a naughty pixie dog-whistles at a female nude; or Amelie von Wulffen’s more sinister Untitled work from 2016 in which bugs rule a haunted house; or Milton Avery’s Mother’s Boy from 1944, where a mother struggles from underneath the weight of her oversized son. Beautifully organized by the distinguished artist Sanya Kantarovsky, the paintings invite to linger and admire a range of exemplary painting practices from a diverse group of accomplished artists. Here is Charlene von Heyl’s vibrant harvest painting Untitled from 1992. At Metro Pictures through April 22.

Olafur Eliasson makes shiny, beautiful things. Rainbow Bridge, currently on view at Tanya Bonakdar, is a meticulously executed series of crystal spheres mounted on metal rods at eye-level height that change color as one walks around them. The work delights in artistry, symmetry and elegance and would be a fantastic addition for a Miami condo lobby or the beach pad of a hedge fund manager. Eliasson likes to work with illusion as it relates to space and light perception. His larger installation in the back gallery invites the viewer to step into giant half rings which employs vast mirrors to create the semblance of infinite looping hoops. If the main idea is to awe, it succeeds. At Tanya Bonakdar through April 22.

It’s springtime but Enrique Martinez Celaya cannot let go of winter. In his new series of paintings, currently on view at Jack Shainman, Martinez Celaya lingers on frozen lakes, snow globes, and wintery landscapes sheathed in icy whites and steel greys with only an occasional faint ray of sunlight allowed to peek through. Melancholic and somber, the works are devoid of irony and patronizing pretense but instead emanate a quiet restraint and simple morality in an overbearing and loud world. At Jack Shainman through April 22.

The sexually suffused paintings of German artist Johannes Kahrs come with an unsettling violent undertone. Like other photo-based painters, such as Gerhard Richter, Marlene Dumas and Luc Tuymans, Kahrs’ methodology deals with figurative subject matter overlaid with a haze of ambiguity. Like his European compatriots, Kahrs works within the deceptive domain of memory and estrangement. His works invite multiple readings and challenge a restaging of events that is based solely on the individual cognizance of the viewer. At Luhring Augustine through April 22.

At a recent overly-crowded tour by Hilton Als of Alice Neel’s stunning exhibition “Uptown” at David Zwirner, an elderly woman showed me a painting on her phone of a small girl sitting in a large chair wearing a blue and white ruffle dress. The woman proudly whispered: It’s me – painted by Alice! It turned out that the woman’s mother was a neighbour of the artist in Spanish Harlem, and one day invited the little girl to sit for her. Alice Neel was as unmoved about art trends as she was unconcerned with the celebrity status of who sat for her. During her life in Upper Manhattan, Neel painted friends, neighbours, artists, and people of color that often did not receive recognition on or off canvas. It is the deep humanity and empathy with her sitters that separates Neel from other portraitists of her time. For Neel, it was not enough to capture a likeness – she was after the psychology of her sitters and that required a deep-seated humanity and empathy that allowed her to form a bond with her subjects. This is beautifully apparent in Anselmo from 1962. The dancer’s languid, graceful body is wedged into a horizontal space, yet he is completely relaxed. The moody blue color palette underscores the self-assured repose – a feeling of complete fealty and ease with the painter. At David Zwirner through April 22.

On the heels of Damian Hirst’s commercial underwater spectacle in Venice, Lawrence Weiner comes to the rescue to remind us of one of art’s essential credos: “1. The artist may construct the work. The work may be fabricated. 3. The work need not be built. Each being equal and consistent with the intent of the artist, the decision as to condition rests with the receiver upon the occasion of receivership.” Weiner published this manifesto in 1968. It makes no mention of money, sales, art investment strategies, or auction results. Instead, the godfather of American conceptual art, exonerates us with a visual expression that is about clarity and authenticity: Language as linear renewal, transported directly onto the viewer. At Marian Goodman through April 22.

Trees are deeply rooted in the German psyche. German poets, composers and painters have long explored the forest as a place of longing, authenticity and dependability. For the past thirty years, German painter Albert Oehlen has been probing into the myths and symbolism of trees as it relates to the formal, historical and thematical aspects of painting. At Gagosian, Oehlen’s confines his Baumbilder (Tree Paintings) to mostly red and black (both colors are part of the German flag – symbols of blood and earth.) Bright, solid, blocks of red, overlaid with black recalcitrant surrealist “branches” on pristinely white Dibond, create tension and opposition via ebullience and self-containment. Like the rest of his exceptional oeuvre, Oehlen’s Baumbilder prove his technical prowess, color awareness and compositional dexterity and firmly cement his place among Kippenberger, Richter, Polke, Immendorrf, and Baselitz as one of the great German Post-War artists. At Gagosian through April 15.

At first blush Olaf Breuning’s ceramic sculptures appear like unaffected playdough creations of a preschooler. Simple, playful, and with a sly sense of humor, Breuning’s small figures inhabit a world of plain colors and little ornamentation. They are confined to a stage made of a rolled-out piece of thick oval dough, deprived of any added context. Look closer, however, and the scenes become psychologically foreboding. They trigger a disquieting cognizance that belies their mostly carefree presentation. Shown with Breuning’s pared down drawings, they leave a queasy aftertaste that stays long after you leave the gallery. At Metro Pictures through April 15.

Sue Williams’ new paintings are messy bursts of bright colors on neutral backgrounds that are highly abstracted forms of body parts, fragments of memory or complex political communiques. Scraggly lines often end in sharply executed graphic contours and are interrupted by thick smudges of aqua blue, seafoam green or Pepto-Bismol pink. Moving away from her earlier, denser compositions, Williams’ new undertakings allow more breathing room for dynamic orchestrations that seem to float on canvas. Yet the beauty, rhythm and harmony in these works defy the urgent social message in Williams’ long-time practice that counsels vigilance amidst political chaos and corruption. At 303 Gallery through April 14.

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