Count on Fergus McCaffrey Gallery to bring us the best and brightest stars of the Japanese avant-garde. The gallery is now representing the estate of the renowned Gutai artist Toshio Yoshida and is currently showing thirty works made between 1954 and 1983. A founding member of Gutai, Yoshida was often dramatically ahead of his Western peers, particularly regarding the interface between action and painting, and was a tireless innovator of new materials and form. The range of his practice is stunning. Early burn paintings, give way to monochrome minimalist canvases and morph into action paintings and experimentations with bubbles and foam. The word Gutai means “concreteness” and was meant as a counterpoint to abstract painting and a rallying cry to do what no one else had done before. The works on view reflect this mantra and seem as fresh today as they were when they were made some sixty years ago. At Fergus McCaffrey through June 24.

Nancy Spero’s “Maypole” is getting a timely airing. The artist’s installation, first shown as part of the 52nd Venice Biennale, and originally conceived as a protest against the senseless atrocities of the Iraq war, has since become a powerful symbol denouncing any armed conflict. Blood-red ribbons and black chains stream from the top of a maypole and hold cut out heads of anguished women floating body-less in a never-ending purgatory. The double-sided heads are printed on paper and mounted on cut aluminum – their delicacy adding to the symbolic weight. Then and now, Spero’s grotesque dance represents a convincing manifesto against political terror, abuse of power and the senselessness of war. At Galerie Lelong through June 17.

There is a melancholic forlornness about Whitfield Lovell’s works on paper currently on view at DC Moore Gallery. Executed between 1987 and 1998, and rendered attentively with oil stick and charcoal, the works employ seductive symbolism and allow glimpses into touching mementos of personal history. Amid a background of esoteric but elegant colors, Lovell’s drawings evoke a tender humanity and magnanimity of the human spirit that is often elusive in a loud and apathetic world. At DC Moore through June 17.

A sign warns visitors not to touch the artworks In Walead Beshty’s new exhibition “Open Source”. The artworks in question, assemblages of office equipment precariously attached to metal poles, are still barely working in their original technological métiers – a metaphor, perhaps, of the fleetingness of technology. Elsewhere in the gallery, TV screens are split in half and mounted on walls their innards still flickering as if on some heteromorphic life-support. In the main gallery, the artist’s large-format Contact Prints frame five large Copper L-Brackets sculptures reminiscent of hyper-minimalist sculpture. Beshty’s smaller copper works, standard industrial sheets mounted in grids on the wall, are collusively linked by either imprints of drug prescription labels or the fingerprints of their installers. The entire show feels strangely foreboding – as if Beshty wants us as a witness for both the physicality and the pathos of technology through its mangled history. At Petzel through June 17.

The twelve large-scale charcoal drawings by Robert Longo currently on view at Metro Pictures are brilliant but sober studies on political, cultural and sports events as seen through the lens of the American media. Longo’s technique emphasises the meaning of the original image: A snap-shot of beefy football players receives a shiny surface; a riff, perhaps, on the fetishization of the American sports culture. A drawing of the American flag is sumptuous but its majestic grandeur undermined by a split frame. A rendering of blind-folded CIA prisoners being led to a CIA black site is haunting in its blurriness. The star of the show is an imposing triptych of refugees cast adrift in the Mediterranean. The water takes up three-quarters of the drawing, the overcrowded raft just about touching the horizon. The work has the chilling effect of the viewer being pulled down into the depths of the ocean. The show is a masterful tour de force of an American artist at the pulse of American culture and politics, who is able to lift images from the relentless stream of mass media and imbues them with a heightened significance. At Metro Pictures through June 17.

More protest art. This time from LED light artist Jim Campbell. Campbell’s ten new works currently on view at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, are based on recordings from a recent political rally. The largest and most compelling work in the show is a matrix-like composition of blurry imagery of protesters which chillingly underscores state-sponsored surveillance and the ever-tightening snare of digital technologies. Campbell knows that these days someone’s always watching and privacy has mostly become an illusion. He expertly employs technology and light to frame larger questions of perception, high-tech dependency, and privacy in a world where the very idea of limits is slowly melting away. At Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery through June 17.

Ethiopian artist Elias Sime wants to remind us that when we upgrade to the newest model of iPhone, computer, or other electronic gadget, the old ones don’t just disappear. They often end up on enormous waste heaps somewhere in Africa where the fastest and cheapest way of insulating copper from insulated wires is to burn it. The smoke from these fires contain dangerous levels of dioxin, heavy metals and other pollutants that pose extreme dangers to human health. Every day, armies of young men, women, and children, deprived of any other job alternative, work in these toxic environments. Some of these small electronic parts have now found a new home. As part of his ongoing series, “Tightrope”, Sime painstakingly assembles thousands of small electronic components on rectangular panels to arrive at his large, beautifully lyrical abstract compositions. Vibrant colors morph into harmonious collages that remind of water, nocturnal cityscapes, or in a particularly fetching piece, the modernist landscape architecture of the Brazilian artist Roberto Burle Marx. Sime’s work is not only a reminder of our wasteful habits and callous disregard for the environment but also proves that beauty and refinement can be coaxed out of almost anything. At James Cohan through June 17.

Frank Stella continues on his extraordinarily successful artistic streak. Seven large scale sculptures, completed last year and currently on view at Marianne Boesky Gallery, indicate that there is still much more to expect from the ever-evolving abstract modernist. In his new works, Stella continues with his fascination of stars and arching forms and delves into explorations of materials as varied as Corian, aluminium, plywood and elasto plastic. The result is exuberant, joyous, and optimistic – a refreshingly buoyant sensibility of an artist who just celebrated his 81st birthday. At Marianne Boesky through June 17.

Colombian artist Iván Argote is inaugurating Galerie Perrotin’s new sprawling white-cube space on Orchard Street. The focal point of Argote’s exhibition, “La Venganza del Amor”, is presented in form of an immersive film installation and sculpture that seeks to link continents and cultures through personal connections and shared histories and investigates barriers to kinship and integration such as globalization and political ideologies. A son of a militant educator in his native Colombia, Argote’s practice is unapologetically political. He regards public architecture, language, consumerism, and artificial borders as harbingers of estrangement between people but eschews moral pontification and instead finds simple moral and cultural principles that connect us. At Perrotin through June 11.

Home is where the heart is. Becky Suss’ alluring debut at Jack Shainman examines the home as a physical as well as cognitive place. Suss, like Katz, is an unapologetic realist. Her interiors are defined by bold, flat colors; they hold simplified objects encased within clean lines that expertly define uncluttered three-dimensional space and are brilliant studies on geometry. Suss’ paintings have a child-like, amateurish quality to them that nevertheless ask important questions about memory and belonging. At Jack Shainman through June 3.

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