5 art gallery exhibitions you must see now
Until May 30. Five Myles, 558 St Johns Place, Brooklyn; (718) 783-4438, fivemyles.org.
Of the 44 artists featured in the 2020 “Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration” exhibition at MoMA PS1, most have produced work while serving prison sentences. Rowan Renee was an exception. Renee, who identifies as genderqueer and uses non-binary pronouns, is the child of a prisoner. Their father was a convicted pedophile who died in prison, and Renee’s installation, “No Spirit for Me,” consisted almost entirely of legal documents from the court and the police which the artist had painstakingly recomposed into lithographs on hand-woven fabric panels. Together, the panels revealed the official story of one crime, but only hinted at the story of another, namely the abuse Renee suffered as a child at the hands of their father.
A new installation at Five Myles, “That Day We Looked Happy,” picks up this personal story. In the center of the room are, once again, woven documents, in this case family letters that Renée inherited after the death of their father. But the main documentary material here is photographic: album snapshots of Renee’s father seen posing with his wife and child. Some photographs have been modified by the artist, cut out or stained. Most have been incorporated into frames of molten glass, making them look like relics of a cosmic fusion. Where the previous installation was implacably sepulchral, this one presents, in the photographs and the glass, spots of color and light. It continues this artist’s intensive discourse on personal trauma with a complicated new mix of compassion, bitterness and regret. HOLLAND COTTER
Until May 28. Candice Madey, 1 Rivington Street, Manhattan; candicemadey.com.
Darrel Ellis grew up in the Bronx without his father, an amateur photographer who was killed by police shortly before Darrel was born. But when Darrel was 20, his mother gave him an archive of his father’s family photos. He spent the next 13 years, until his death from AIDS at the age of 33 in 1992, examining them, as if searching for the key to a lost connection. He copied them in ink and brush, and rephotographed them, sometimes modifying them first by projecting the negatives onto small plaster ziggurats.
“A composite being,An exhibition of paintings, photographs and works on paper from Ellis to Candice Madey, includes several magnificent self-portraits made towards the end of her life. Their precision is astonishing: in one, the artist’s expression is concentrated but slightly suspicious, as if his own attention baffled him. In another, he’s distant but vulnerable, a person who keeps getting hurt but keeps showing up. Still, it’s clear that what interested Ellis most about the ink were the tones it offered, from shimmering black to smoky gray. It made a good substitute, that way, for love or heartbreak – emotions too dense to be felt when they occur, but which inevitably fade and dissipate. WILL HEINRICH
Until June 19. Jane Lombard Gallery, 58 White Street, Manhattan; 212-967-8040, janelombardgallery.com.
Lu Yang’s work did not appear frequently in New York City, which is surprising since she is rather internationally known. (She was included in “Micro Era: Media Art from China” in Berlin from 2019-20, for example, which featured prominent artists from China.) Her new exhibition, “Doku: Digital Alaya ”, at Jane Lombard, looks more like a coda than an introduction. Where previous videos like “Uterine man”(2013) and“ Lu Yang Delusional Mandala ”(2015) sent viewers on hallucinatory journeys exploring the human body both through digital reality and traditional Buddhist ideas, the latter being simpler.
Doku is a non-binary avatar who appears in a series of stylish lightboxes and videos, dressed in a jazzy bodysuit with a design that resembles computer circuit boards or veins and arteries. Six different environments surround Doku, each representing a rebirth realm in Buddhist reincarnation, but updated. The “animal” domain, for example, is an industrial meat processing plant. The show also includes a behind-the-scenes video showing how Lu Yang creates his work, with the help of hosts, scientists and performers.
None of it is quite as mind-boggling, as let’s say “Lu Yang Delusional Mandala,” in which the artist – or his digitized digital image – underwent radical physiological transformations, including death. “Doku: Digital Alaya” could be a point of rest, before Lu Yang embarks on another posthuman odyssey, exploring human bodies and worlds altered by digital technology and commerce. MARTHA SCHWENDENER
Until May 28. Bortolami, 55 Walker Street, Manhattan; 212-727-2050, bortolamigallery.com.
In the early 2000s, the influential and lawless IRAQ graffiti team courted stylistic innovation and nihilism in equal measure (the name comes from “racking”, or shoplifting), becoming a lodestar into New York street culture and a landmark of a wilder version of the city that has now been largely smoothed out. Its members and associates have either moved on to respectable artistic careers (Ryan McGinley, Dan Colen) or self-destruct (Dash Snow, deceased at 27).
In recent years, Kunle Martins, who founded and led the cohort, has moved away from branding, making delicate graphite and charcoal portraits of friends, often on found cardboard, creating an intimate assemblage of half a world from downtown. For his new show, “S3ND NUD3S”, Martins asked his friends for nude selfies, the most modern mediation of the self-portrait, which he translated into tender, attentive but not idealized evocations, like a particularly faithful rubbing, or a Tom of Finland given a cold shower. Here, they are life-size or blown away, their rubbed resemblances vibrate between harshness and a half-recalled dream.
The humility of the cardboard, sometimes glued in a larger plane, recalls the assemblages of Ray Johnson, who favored dry-cleaning inserts, and Kurt Schwitters, whose radical creative freedom found beauty in the trash. This material also refers them, spiritually, to graffiti – making visible what is ignored, and connecting its subjects – Colen, Jack Pierson, a pregnant Chloë Sevigny – both to the courage of street life and to the ephemeral nature of the city itself. MAX LAKIN
Until May 29. Mitchell-Innes & Nash, 534 West 26th Street, Manhattan; 212-744-7400, miandn.com.
Each of the 12 large-scale paintings in Keltie Ferris’ exhibition “FEEEEELING ” is set in a handmade frame, and all of them were made within the past year. Taken together, the paintings constitute an inventory of innovative techniques used by the artist over the past decade. A series of looped monochrome compositions made with graphite gives way to compact geometric assemblages, interspersed with multi-layered paintings made by printing a canvas on a canvas. It’s Ferris’ trip down memory lane, but the works still look fresh. Drawn directly on the Sheetrock that spans the back wall of the gallery is a new site-specific drawing, “Xstatic Being Xstatic” (2021). Read this as an index to all of Ferris’ practice. Crafted with graphite, its dense agglomerations of curves and straight lines are filled with smudges, cues that prove that learning the artist’s process is integral to appreciating the final product.
Ferris’ discourse on the transportation possibilities offered by drawing – what Paul Klee called “taking a line for a walk” – shows how a sense of movement can be conveyed through artistic compulsion. Rejecting a harsh disciplinary line between drawing and painting, Ferris revel in this more exhilarating space that emerges between mediums, which allows instinct and intuition to take the lead. “S = t = r = e = a = m = s” (2020-21) highlights the thrill of this mid-zone, its sinister combination of layered electric blue and bright red paint with sculptural thickness and a range of brushstrokes that alternate geometric shapes with hard edges against a checkered background. . Variations of these gestural abstractions crop up throughout the exhibition, each painting carrying a loose but decisive legacy to post-1980 German and American abstraction, which still excites because it has removed the most underhanded rules of abstraction. . Ferris’ ingenuity, however, is more a self-critical expansion of his own techniques than a look back at the barrel, making his style decidedly one of a kind. TAUSIF NOOR