Inspired by the rhythm, grace and aesthetic of Chinese calligraphy, Vivian Springford’s color stain paintings are a dazzling journey into the sublime. Resurrected by Almine Rech Gallery from near obscurity and only recently endowed with a monographic catalogue by art historian Alexandra Schwartz, Springford was among a diverse group of talented female Abstract Expressionist painters living in New York in the 1960s who fought to be heard amongst their male peers. Applying approaches from color fielders like Helen Frankenthaler and the nature-based abstractions of Georgia O’Keefe, Springford’s airy washes of color bloom outwards from a nucleolus that itself seems to disappear into a divine void. Poetic overlapping waves of misty colors merge with the canvas and create luminous chromatic vibrations of such exquisite weightless depths that they inspire blissful escapes into stillness and contentment. At Almine Rech through October 20.

Before Paul Mogensen starts a painting, he carefully deliberates on what not to paint. Methodical reduction is, of course, the basis of every mathematical equation and by extension the basis of Mogensen’s spatial compositions. An exhibition at Karma is divided into what appears to be two distinct progressive pattern figurations. The main room features seven recent bi-chromatic works of expanding squares that organize into self-propelling spirals. In the back room nine smaller works are built on the infinity concept of the line. Here, Mogensen arranges Staccato-like dashes into visual rhythms that recall Morse codes or the versification of computer coding. Mathematical concepts decide the sequencing and placement of Mogensen’s patterns and take them away from the canvas into perpetuity. Add a serious understanding of surface materiality through the clever manipulation of color and texture of paint and one logically arrives at what Lissitzky called ‘the system of universal validity’  where a series of interconnected relationships form the basis of all art. At Karma through November 4.

As a founding member of the Japanese avant-garde movement Mono-Ha (School of Objects), Lee Ufan has developed an oeuvre that is based on the rejection of traditional Western forms of representation in favour of a focus on the relationship between materials and perception. Ufan’s new work evolves from the artist’s decade-long Dialogue Series and consists of familiar serene white canvases illuminated by expressive patches of paint each comprised of a maelstrom of tiny brushstrokes which are said to be executed in tandem with the artist’s breath. What sets these recent works apart is a new focus on chromatic propinquity that intersects with the Japanese aesthetic concept of yohaku (the use of unpainted space), specifically in how the works relate to the wall and architectural space and the calligraphic way the brush tapers off into emptiness. More experiential than visual, Lee Ufan’s minimalist works demand reflection on the relationship between seeing and reality. At Pace Gallery through October 13.

Treading a fine line between the pervy, vulgar, and absurd, Sarah Lucas’s practice is gloriously oblivious to the ordained norms of polite society. Part of the illustrious group of Young British Artists, Lucas first attained the attention of the artworld in the early 1990s with her sexualized Bunny sculptures made from stuffed nylons. Headless and sheathed in suffocating nylon hose, her figures slouch on wooden chairs, legs provocatively spread. A survey of Lucas’s 30-year career at the New Museum examines her pre-occupation with the anatomies of the female body and its often-fraught relationship with the male counterpart. It includes iconic works such as “Two Fried Eggs and a Kebab”, “Au Naturel” (which is also the show’s title) as well as an army of nude half-figures cast in resin which Lucas first introduced at the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2015. Some with legs brazenly akimbo, others chastely demure, they interact with domestic furniture such as toilet bowls and refrigerators and, for good measure, sport cigarettes in their vaginas or anuses. Lewd, confrontational, and unapologetically belligerent, Lucas’s in-your-face feminism serves as a fortifying bulwark against a ferocious new tide of present-day misogyny. At the New Museum through January 20.

Pope L.’s website “The Black Factory” opens with an image of, well, a black factory. Click on it and you’ll get a blank white screen, click again and the screen turns brown, click one more time and the screen turns yellow asking you “Is this black?”…. Long a thorn in the side of the powerful and connected, Pope L.’s socially engaged practice uses performance, installation, video and collage and goes beyond click-bait to engage with questions on race, class, poverty, immigration, and the environment. “I am a fisherman of social absurdity, if you will…. My focus is to politicize disenfranchisement … to reinvent what’s beneath us, to remind us where we all come from.” (Source: Radical Presence). At Mitchell-Innes Nash through October 27.

On the heels of her acclaimed exhibition at the Whitey Museum of Art, Toyin Ojih Odutola is continuing with a series of drawings based on the lives of two fictional Nigerian aristocratic families. “When Legends Die” is comprised of portraits of elegant family members in various forms of play. Rendered in pastel, charcoal and pencil, and often shown from dramatic angles, Odutola’s subjects inhabit a dreamy, surrealist world. Once again, it is the skin, the artist’s trademark, that narrates her work. Their sinewy patterns often meld with the surrounding landscapes or interiors and create an uncanny sense of movement. This makes Odutola a special kind of story-teller: one that transcends continents and ancestral histories and who gives a new identity to the black figure. At Jack Shainman through October 27.

To appreciate Katherine Bradford’s paintings, one needs to examine them from an abstract perspective. Formally, Bradford owes a large debt do Louise Fishman and Mark Rothko. Large soft-edged fields of color, achieved through carefully layered brush strokes on frontal compositions, create texture and light and her large-scale format allows the viewer to become part of the work. When Bradford sets her mind on a color, she goes all out. In her current exhibition, Friends and Strangers at Canada, pink rules. Blocks of orange pinks, magenta pinks, and purple pinks, open spatial relationships that lead to enigmatic corporeal figurations. The bodies that emerge are often rendered ambiguously detached so that in the end it is not narrative that hold them together but the emotional impact of the color relationships within. At Canada through October 21.

 

The South-African artist Liza Lou is inaugurating the new Peter-Marino-designed flagship of Lehman Maupin in Chelsea by delving into the ephemeral world of clouds. The self-styled queen of beads, who rocked to art-world fame with her life-size glass bead installation “Kitchen” at the New Museum in 1996, focuses her labor-intensive process on several nebulous constructions as well as the monumental wall piece “The Clouds” which consists of 600 beaded cloths and takes up one entire wall of the exhibition space. But it is her smaller sculptures in the gallery’s 22ndStreet location that shine. Here, bulbous masses of tiny glass particles preplace water molecules and morph into luminous and poetic constructions of such seductive beauty that inspire fanciful meditations on the fleetingness of life. At Lehman Maupin through October 27.

Whimsical and joyous, B. Wurtz’s small-scale sculptures nevertheless pack a deliberate and cerebral punch. Under Wurtz’s careful direction things that ordinarily end up in the rubbish bin, morph into elegant and poetic assemblages. Shoelaces, buttons, plastic bags, socks. Wurtz elevates the ordinary into the extraordinary and blurs the line between high art and craft, collector and hoarder, decoration and design. At Metro Pictures through October 20. Don’t miss the artist’s Public Art project “Kitchen Trees”, a playful exhibition of seven arboreal sculptures fashioned from kitchen utensils. At City Hall Park through December 7.

Mary Weatherford’s new neon paintings conjure up a West Coast road trip along rugged landscapes interspersed by colourful city neon and lines of bright red taillights that snake through hilly terrain. Her often dense compositions combine sweeping brushwork with patches of washed out Flashe paint and open up to small areas of drippy mark-making. Flesh coloured pinks, burnt-oranges, and brilliant sapphires are the peripheral visualization of a drive through the dense green forests of Western Washington, the leathery scenery of the coastal mountains, and to the brilliant oceans of Southern California where misty fogs give way to a radiant yellow sun. Formally her neon tubes read as additional lines but subjectively they speak of the amalgamation of nature and technology, urban and rural, and the space in-between where man must come to terms with solitude and progress. At Gagosian through October 15.

WordPress Image Lightbox Plugin