With an ever-growing number of galleries scattered around New York, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Where to begin? Here at A.i.A., we are always on the hunt for thought-provoking, clever and memorable shows that stand out in a crowded field. Below is a selection of current shows our team of editors can't stop talking about.
This week we check out Jules de Balincourt's latest dramatic, jewel-toned canvases at Salon 94, Mickey Smith's darkly poetic photos of a deserted library at Invisible Exports and Goshka Macuga's censorship-themed tapestries, photos and upholstered furniture at Andrew Kreps.
Jules de Balincourt at Salon 94 Bowery, through Jan. 13
In "Ecstatic Contac," Jules de Balincourt's show of recent large-scale paintings, the French-born artist comes across as a brave tightrope walker. He teeters not only between abstraction and figuration but between fantasy images and those ripped from today's headlines. There's a feeling of celebration in the spectacular fireworks display, Illuminated, and a sense of fearful anxiety in Off Base, an arresting group portrait of wide-eyed soldiers.
Goshka Macuga at Andrew Kreps, through Dec. 22
For her second show at Kreps, London-based Goshka Macuga dug into the archives of Warsaw's Zacheta National Gallery of Art, where this show was recently on view. Bisecting the gallery is a wall on which Macuga hung a tapestry depicting a photo of a recently staged protest (Macuga's event was based on a happening Warsaw organized by another artist in 1967). "Untitled" also includes chairs upholstered with fabric that incorporates letters and clippings culled from Zacheta and framed photos depicting blacked-out curators and artists who have been subject to censorship in Poland.
Mickey Smith at Invisible Exports, through Dec. 9
Since 2008, Mickey Smith has been photographing objects she discovered in an abandoned library. Her latest series, "Denudation," includes sumptuous photos of an abandoned ladder leaning against an empty shelf, a discarded scrap of spine labeled "Wil. to Win.," a dented metal step school and other eerie images documenting things left behind.
Peggy Cyphers at The Proposition, through Dec. 16
After an extended hiatus from the New York gallery scene, which included travel to China, Peggy Cyphers returns with "Animal Spirits," an intimate show of recent paintings. These airy abstractions, most in a quatrefoil format with textural flourishes of sand and gold leaf, seem inspired in equal measure by natural phenomena and ancient Chinese painting.
Wendell Castle at Barry Friedman LTD, through Jan. 26
Wendell Castle, famous for his elegant and playful sculpture-furniture hybrids, turned 80 this month. To celebrate Barry Friedman is organizing two exhibitions (this is the first; the second opens at Friedman Benda on Jan. 10) of his new chair and tables, all stained woods like ash, walnut finished with a glossy coat of oil.
Jesus Rafael Soto at BOSI Contemporary, through Dec. 2
This is the last chance to see an installation of five classic works by Jesús Rafael Soto, produced between 1968 and '71, which have not been exhibited for some 40 years. The show features a strong selection of Soto's hard-edge compositions, constructions and mesmerizing kinetic pieces for which the late Venezuelan abstractionist is best known. Also not to be missed here is Soto, a recently discovered film of the artist at work and in conversation, shot in 1968 and playing continuously in the gallery