BOB (aka Bag of Beliefs) is a sentient digital creature sprung from the imagination of New York-based artist Ian Cheng and fed, nurtured and controlled by army of real-life developers. BOB’s mutations are entirely composed of users of BOB Shrine (, a smartphone app that lets patrons assume a digital interface of BOB and manipulate its activity through multiple agencies of artificial mindsets that play out against each other. The resulting metamorphosis is visualized in real time via a grid of digital screens in the gallery. As the app creator, Cheng did provide a framework via a reddish-orange color scheme and basic snake-like forms but has little control over its compositional fallout. Far from a clever subterfuge, BOB announces a radical mode of art making by introducing art that has its own nervous system, that learns to adapt and develop on its own and which floats the subversive notion of absolving the artist from the consequences of his own creation. It profoundly changes the relationship between artwork and viewer, expands on the idea of the ready-made object, introduces the element of infinity and chaos into an artwork, and re-defines the traditional engagement between the artist and public. At Gladstone Gallery through March 23.

Working effortlessly across collage, photography, sculpture and film, the British-American artist Penny Slinger is largely situated within the outlines of Feminist Surrealism where mysticism, eroticism, and sexual repression are mined from the while-hot cauldron of the subconscious. Although the artist’s “50%-the-Visible-Woman” photomontage series owes a large debt to Max Ernst’s legendary collage masterpiece “Une semaine de Bonté”, it has firm footing in present-day feminism as it relates to reproductive rights, gender equality, body anxiety, and violence against women. Like her Modern predecessors, Singer mines the dark hierarchies of the inner self through an acerbic fusion between dark humour and stark violence. A series of conceptual self-portraits entitled “Bride’s Cake” morphs the traditional wedding cake with erotic pop-out-confections and simultaneously takes on the institution of marriage and food porn as tools of patriarchal oppression. It is a stark reminder that the daily spectre of violent erotic fantasies and other oppressive savageries, amplified through social media and sanctified by commerce and state, are first and foremost missives from the id. As such, Singer joins the distinguished company of brilliant women Surrealist artists like Leonor Fini, Dorothea Tanning, Lola Alvarez Bravo, Remedios Varo, and Leonara Carrington who recognize the omnipotence of the subconscious in the construction of institutions that inhibit freedoms. At Fortnight Institute through March 17.  

Georg Baselitz returns to Gagosian Gallery with a suite of paintings based on the self-portraits of fellow artists. Rendered in his idiosyncratic Neo-expressionist style, inverted heads, illuminated by a bright halo of fine mist, float on mid-night ground. When seen side by side in the cavernous front gallery, it feels as if art history is gliding through space. Measuring exactly 165 x 100 cm, the canvases hold impressions of Cecliy Brown, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Tracey Emin and many more. Only their initials give clues as to their identity, for the memory is Baselitz’s own and so are his interpretations. Tinkering with perception and the role that time plays on the fragmentation of mental imprints, he re-animates these recollections with energetic patchworks of impastoed paint, so disfigured and raw that often the only reference point remains the outline. What sets these portraits apart, however, is a new, affable color palette that ranges from rosy pinks and sky blues to auburn reds. For an artists that has often thrived on shocking the public, these portraits feel tender, almost loving which tempt the reading that, like a fine wine, even Herr Baselitz may mellow with age. At Gagosian through March 16.

Film as an art form has always tried to differentiate itself from its more commercial cousin The Movies where profit margins and the appeal to a mass audience often dilute the artistic or experimental value of visual communication. A fascinating group exhibition organized by Bruce W. Ferguson is trying to find common ground in both by considering the work of eleven artists working in painting, photography, video and installation. Setting the mood is Sayre Gomez’s fictional Hollywood storefront “Behind Door #9” whose cheerful seediness simultaneously summons the thin veneer of Monty-Hall-like television shows and the quiet despair of the many dreamers who never make it inside the golden doors of fame. Two spectral black-and-white photographs by David Deutsch that expertly make use of spot lighting to evoke the crime scene genre make the perfect antipode to Walter Robinson’s bedsheet painting “Strange Journey” – a humorous take down of the louche-glamour of pulp fiction. In the downstairs gallery, Klaus vom Bruch deconstructs the formulaic trope of the Hollywood kiss in his video work “Relatively Romantic” and Elliot Jamal Robbins takes the white out of Disney’s Snow White by overlaying her face with drawings of a black boy in the video “Master Study: Snow White Clapping”. Veering between facetious and self-searching, the show also includes Jennifer Bolande, Yul Brynner, Meg Cranston, David Deutsch, Jack Goldstein, Teresa Hubbard/Alexander Birchler, Walter Robinson, and Kerry Tribe and could have been underwritten by Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe who once famously declared that “Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.” At Magenta Plains through February 17.

For the late Dutch conceptual artist Ger van Elk, representation was a mirage construed from a stew of untrustworthy emotive, political, and cultural influencers. Considered a bothersome gadfly and enfant terrible even by highly permissive 1960s standards, van Elk sprinkled a good dose of humour onto a multi-disciplinary art practice that culled from Arte Povera, Pop, and Dada. Nature, particularly the Romantic version of the sublime, became an irresistible target. To that end, camping tents made from delicate white lace, fun with traditional Dutch landscape genres and the manipulation of painting and photography to expose its phony realism are examples of his deeply ingrained scepticism towards the classical art historical canon. In the video work “The Rose more beautiful than Art, but Difficult, therefore Art is Splendid” (1972), the artist continuously re-arranges flowers in a vase to unmask the highly deceptive illusionism of Dutch Flower Painting and declares that without movement, chance, and time these arrangements do not reflect reality but instead are exposed as crude showcases of the patron’s wealth and the braggadocio of the painter. At Grimm through March 2.

Skillfully and wilfully dodging categorization, the German artist Günther Förg was an ideological agitator who made it his life-long mission to upend the traditions of modernism. Everything was up for grabs. Architecture and space, with their innate characteristics of restraint, were often the genesis of his oeuvre. To that end, windows, doors, and walls became the crossbars with which the artist explored color, form and spatial relationships. Moving effortless across a multitude of mediums and working with a variety of materials, Förg set out to systematically distil each category to its particular idiosyncrasies and then unite them in matrimony or ruthlessly play them out against each other. Large-scale photography of well-known architecture, particularly the minimalism of early Bauhaus structures, morphed organically into monochrome wall paintings and architectural structures. In the mid-1990s explorations into the non-color grey lead to a series of elegant blackboard paintings that seem to mourn his spiritual firebrand Joseph Beuys with a respectful nod to Cy Twombly. Another sharp U-turn towards the end of his life, produced his highly popular, large-scale paintings of colourful brushwork patches. That these should be the legacy of a brilliant and diverse art career seems hardly fair – a concern that the new custodian of his estate should attempt to correct. At Hauser & Wirth through April 6.

Before selfies, postcards used to be the braggadocios way to let the world know which exotic locales you visited. They relate to selfies in that they advertise a digitally enhanced and stylised world that has little to do with reality. With a nod to the advent calendar, the radical German artist and filmmaker Ulrike Ottinger mounted numerous postcards, that were sent to her by friends and family, onto the back of old-fashioned pull-down world maps typically used in German history and geography classes during the 1970s. The resulting windows-to-the-wold show a manufactured reality that glosses over poverty, natural disasters, genocide, discrimination and greed. They point to the ethnographic falsehoods about cultures and distortion of histories that lie at the core of many of our cruellest past and present conflicts. Lining these perverted world maps is a kaleidoscopic arrangement of Ottinger’s photographic output. It is a hodgepodge of often bizarre portraits and scenes that in their totality speak of our primordial desire to make sense of a senseless world. At Bridget Donahue through March 3.

Long considered an artist’s artist who has eluded well-deserved fame, Brenda Goodman has been expanding the strictures of painting with art that is at once playful, material, and cerebral. In a new series of work, Goodman returns to using linoleum cutters on wood to carve lines that alternately read as delicate drawings, furrows of skin, or the craquelure in oil paintings. Although her configurations appear to be planned, Goodman proceeds intuitively – a process where each choice in color and form leads organically to another. Curvaceous forms glide, collide, imbricate, and morph innately into spatial compositions that suggest biomorphic bodies but may have no need for figuration at all. Occasionally they are aided by swaths of thick impasto, dynamic markmaking or kaleidoscopic fragments. Goodman is a wizard with color. Leafy greens, dynamic oranges, and flashes of brilliant blues and yellows alternate with earthy tones that get grounded with weighty patches of black. Most of her symphonious paintings bear bulbous outlines that give them a keyhole quality and add to their condition as hidden expeditions into the sublime. At Sikkema Jenkins through February 23.

“Hands can convey so much”, Henry Moore once said, “they can beg or refuse, take or give, be open or clenched, show content or anxiety”. For an artist, the hand signifies evidence of authorship and indicates individual expression. During much of his four decade-long career McArthur Binion has made auto-biographical documentation part of his artistic signature. In a new series of works, the artist considers his own hand as emblems of individuality, identity and place of origin. Methodical grids of the artist’s handprints form the base of these paintings which are obscured by a latticework of lines rendered in his idiosyncratic crayon and oil stick. Optically, Binion’s palm prints on grounds of amber, mahogany and graphite morph into a hypnotic kind of abstraction that evokes the texture and materiality of some woollen fabric or the patterns of a well-worn carpet. Anthropologically, they are documentations of individuality and coherence and directly counter Glen Ligon’s repetitious language grids as patterns of erasure. As such they are not cautionary tales of handing over one’s identity but instead go hand in hand with cataloguing the essence of history. At Lehman Maupin through March 2.

With its emphasis on domesticity and process, one might be tempted to view Richard Slee’s ceramic practice from the perspective of craft. Nothing can be further from the truth. Instead, Slee’s highly finished ceramic objects often find themselves in the company of found objects, get folded into conceptual installations or play a supporting role in performance art. See, who continuously tests the boundaries between functionality and uselessness, routinely makes ceramic objects out of things that cannot possibly related to clay. His on-going “Hammer” series reveals an obsession with DIY objects and humorously explores the futility of a blunt force instrument made from a fragile material. A keen understanding of color and form are the underpinnings in the transformation of the art of the everyday into lively three-dimensional compositions. See’s low-tech, hyper realistic objects play out on an instinctual level and place See’s work conceptually closer into the vicinity of Neo-Pop sculpture albeit without the monumentality and vain gloriousness of a Play-Doh sculpture but with a sly transgressiveness that percolates under the veneer of normalcy. At Hales through February 23.

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