“Aspects of Abstraction”, a rewarding group show currently on view at Lisson Gallery brings together four superb but vexingly underrated colorists. Marina Adams’ masterly paintings and gouaches fuse uncomplicated, supple biomorphic forms with sophisticated color compositions of burnt orange, brilliant aqua blues and soothing olive greens. Paul Feeley’s alluring watercolors follow along the same lines with a less dramatic but equally refined effect. Crisp and energetic, Joanna Pousette-Dart’s imbricating lines morph into bulbous forms that expertly play with light in soft color compositions of vanilla, pale blues and earthy browns. Bold, Mondrian-like yellows, blues and reds define the geometric color compositions of the late minimalist Leon Polk Smith whose riveting shaped canvas “Constellation C” from 1969 is the undisputed showstopper of this exhibition. At Lisson through August 11.

Mercifully lacking a contrived theme, the summer group show at Petzel Gallery simply features a fine selection of deftly executed figurative sculptures by six gallery artists. Greeting the viewer at the door, Jon Pylypchuk’s sculpture “allright I guess I can’t be sincere to you anymore” is simply the sum of its parts: a figure on a pedestal made with tennis rackets and lightbulbs for eyes; Keith Edmier’s “Medea” is cast from pink dental stone and rises from the exploded kiln of the late artist Lowell Grant;  Sean Landers’ casts a beautifully menacing god Pan; Heimo Zobernig‘s take on the classical contrapposto is a 3D composition of three sculptures; bulky, elegant and graceful, Georg Herold’s “Brown Betelgeuze is a beautifully imagined bronze of the second-brightest star of Orion. Here is Nicola Tyson’s two graceful dancing figures made from pieces of hollowed out firewood. At Petzel through August 4.

Brought together under a vaguely literary pretext with apocalyptic undertones, some of the works assembled in Metro Pictures summer group show “A New Ballardian Vision” are nevertheless worth a visit. Under the direction of Shanghai-based curator Leo Xu, artists are strictly divided by gallery affiliation: Meto-Picture artists command the larger downstairs space and Leo Xu Project gallery artists are shown upstairs. The show opens patriotically with Robert Longo’s shiny warped aluminium mirror flag from 2015, moves along Trevor Paglen’s ominous color study of the San Quentin State Prison from 2016, stops by Jim Shaw’s Hanging Legs with Toes Bitten Off, turns to three works in Cindy Sherman’s ill-boding Disaster Series from 1987, takes a funny detour with Camille Henrot’s Study For Nightmare from 2017, before heading upstairs to explore the angst and misery of our Chinese compatriots. Here the calamitous push towards a new tomorrow and the resulting take-no-prisoner urban development is brilliantly explored by a set of Cui Jie’s painting and sculpture of impersonal high rise developments, whereas Pixie Liao’s photograph “In One Dress” laments the loss of individuality as a price for progress. The show lingers briefly on those left behind by the boom in Cheng Ran’s single channel HD video before ending with a ray of hope in Cheng Wei’s monumental photograph “Light Box”. Here is Martin Kippenberger’s “Lonely American in the corner who is not allowed to speak”. At Metro Pictures through August 4.

In

There was more than a fair share of adults at the recent opening of Alexander Calder’s “Hypermobilty” at the Whitney, despite the fact that the artist once famously said: “My fan mail is enormous. Everyone is under six.” Calder is, of course, more than just whimsy and fun. Aside from the technical and mathematical intelligence, his “Mobiles” demonstrate an unsurpassed poetic communion with nature, color, weight and balance. Also on display are several of Calder’s motored objects. Newly restored and operated by specially trained handlers several times a day, they lack spontaneity and improvisation – a reason why Calder preferred autonomously moving designs where air or a slight touch determines their visual effects. Some of the more arresting pieces are hovering delicately above the crowd – a few parts touching each other ever so slightly activated merely by a breath of air or an imagined human touch. At the Whitney Museum of American Art through October 23.

 

“Dream Machines”, a summer group show currently on view at James Cohan gallery, brings together a group of artists that employ politics, the body, and the mind to explore the boundaries between the real and the imagined. On par with our current political climate and its proliferation of fake news, the show opens with an 18-minute-long video loop by Omer Fast featuring CNN anchors speaking one single word which morph into increasingly urgent personal pleas. Perched in a corner, and the lone artwork in an otherwise empty gallery, the video reminds of the inescapable tyranny of the 24-hour news cycle with its bewildering burden of sifting facts from fiction. OMER FAST, CNN Concatenated, 2002, Single channel video. At James Cohan through July 28.

Josef Albers looms large in Julian Stanczak’s work. The late Polish artist, who escaped the horrors of the Soviet Gulag and ended up in Albers’ class at Yale University, took to geometric abstraction with a passion that rivalled his teacher’s. Eventually, Stanczak ventured beyond the rigid square format of his master and started to explore more complex color relationships within parallel lines, waves, and grids. Stanczak’s was a master of nuance – some of his best works contain a myriad of shades eliciting the most personal emotional responses and that decidedly humanize his paintings, like an old friend you know well. Lines, shapes, colors, and materials “should know about each other,” Albers once famously said, “they should pay attention to each other.” Just as friends should. At Mitchell-Innes & Nash through July 14.

There are only a few works on view in Ceal Floyer’s elegant new exhibition at 303 gallery but they nevertheless bag a real punch. Floyer toys with simple objects, changing their innate perception into something vexing. A typical small desk balance ball meant to relieve stress is knotted up into a discombobulated mess – the stress relief withheld for the viewer. A row of dominos set up to be knocked over in to a cascading elegance is unsatisfactorily set up too close – the yearning for action denied. Try to reach the back gallery and find your way blocked by a menacing saw blade cutting a hole through the floor – a hint of caution, perhaps, for an overly eager collector. Floyer’s best work is her video “Plughole”, prominently projected onto the back wall of the gallery. A stream of water is precisely repositioned to fill each hole of an ordinary drain but the water does not comply and emerges back through the other holes – a cunning reminder of irritating people, things, thoughts and feelings that just don’t want to go away. At 303 gallery through July 14.

A delightful show that traces Betty Parsons’ artistic trajectory from the 1920s through 1981 is currently on view at Alexander Gray gallery. The survey is divided into five parts “Becoming an Artist”, “The World as Inspiration”, “Embracing Abstraction”, “Rendering the Invisible Presence” and “Assemblages” and shows Parsons incredible mastery of a variety of styles and media as well as her tremendous savviness as a colorist. Parsons’ embrace abstraction emerged from a desire to capture feelings and mood in the natural world and morphed into soft biomorphic abstractions during the 1970s that remained her most enduring legacy. Here is “Bird in a Boat” from 1971. At Alexander Gray through July 14.

Restless, unconventional and marked by impulsive stylistic shifts, the oeuvre of the late Belgian artist Philippe Vandenberg defies characterization yet is revered precicely for its inability to tick a particular formal or aesthetic box. The thin loose thread that runs through his countless experimentations, U-turns and impulsive about-faces illustrates Vandenberg’s immense indignation at urgent social concerns and exposes a fierce passion for literature, art history and language. The last years of Vandenberg’s artistic output were marked by intense investigations into the intersections of language, text and color that produced multi-layered and rich drawings, paintings and book projects and are now part of a titillating exhibition curated by the director of the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, Anthony Huberman. Particularly compelling are Vandenberg’s word play drawings that manage to simultaneously fuse symbolism, language and text into brilliant abstract compositions. At Hauser & Wirth through July 28.

Tomorrow is the last day to see the intoxicatingly silly dance extravaganza “Whipped Cream” produced by Alexei Ratmansky and performed by the stellar American Ballet Theater at the Metropolitan Opera House. With a re-discovered score by Richard Strauss and a fantastical set design by Mark Ryden, the ballet centers around a young boy with an irresistible sweet tooth. For those who are missing the show, there is still a chance to see Ryden’s dazzling drawings, sketches and paintings which he created in preparation for the sugary dance. In Charlie-and-the Chocolate-Factory meets Wayne Thiebaud, Ryden overindulges on pink pralines, tiered vanilla cakes and candy-colored confections, plunging the viewer into a meticulously illustrated fantasy world of pink ballerinas, wizards and kitschy sugar-coated fairy tales. At Paul Kasmin Gallery through July 21.

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