The Lookout: A Weekly Guide to Shows You Won't Want to Miss
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 Amy Cutler's portraits of downtrodden yet festively attired women at Leslie Tonkonow, Martin Soto Climent's appropriated windshield sculptures at Clifton Benevento and Ragnar Kjartansson's nine-channel regret-themed video at Luhring Augustine.
Ragnar Kjartansson at Luhring Augustine, through Mar. 16
Having called irony "the most human way to express yourself," the 37-year-old musician and prankish durational performance artist, who represented Iceland at the Venice Biennale in 2009 with a 6-month on-site painting marathon, now presents a nostalgic, visually sumptuous 9-channel video installation on the theme of regret. Viewers wander among large screens showing hip, semi-catatonic young musicians, each isolated in a different part of a decaying 200-year-old mansion in upstate New York, playing instruments and repeatedly singing a lost-love lament. The single most memorable segment of The Visitors, titled after the Swedish group ABBA's 1981 breakup album, features Kjartansson himself mournfully strumming a guitar and crooning in a soapy bathtub.
Martin Soto Climent at Clifton Benevento, through Mar.
Up-and-coming Mexican artist Martin Soto Climent employs a similar conceptual approach as well-known compatriots such as Gabriel Orozco and Damian Ortega. Like his predecessors, Climent "tweaks" ordinary found objects, transforming them into quite extraordinary things. In "Mariposas Migratorias" (Migratory Butterflies), he reconstitutes car windshields, leaning them against each other or stacking them in compelling configurations. Some were accidently broken during installation, but the artist-as well as the viewer-relishes these works for their intricate patterns of cracks, at once a reference to Duchamp's Large Glass and our reckless car culture.
Marin Majić at Marc Straus, through Feb. 8
Frankfurt-born, Berlin-based painter Marin Majić walks a very fine line between comedy and mystery in his show of paintings, mostly based on found images, and in almost all cases he gets it just right. Why is the young girl in Hundstag I holding that dog so awkwardly? What in the world is the meaning of the bouquet of birds held aloft by the young girl in Küken (Chicks)? Majić combines found and invented imagery in surreal scenes reminiscent of the New Leipzig School, but wonderfully odd in their own right.
Amy Cutler at Leslie Tonkonow, through Mar. 9
For her sixth show at the gallery, Amy Cutler pares down her trademark multi-figure, fairy tale inspired paintings to present 19 portrait busts women who all look tired, run-down and decided over it. The gouache-on-paper works in "Brood" vary in the wonderfully patterned shirt fabrics, the way a few strands of hair slip out of a loose bun, or the extent to which each woman's lips are pursed or tilt into a frown. The look of disdainful resignation on each face is more or less the same.
Suzanne Treister at P.P.O.W., through Feb. 23
The gallery's main area shows Treister's hand-colored prints based on tarot cards (each one represents a person or idea that shaped 20th-century history), while in the back room Treister calls out each person who attended the Macy Conference (a series of meetings from 1946 to '53 whose purpose was to study the workings of the human mind) with a print showing a photo of the participant, his title, profession and a biographical text.
Hosook Kang at Sundaram Tagore, through Feb. 23
The traditional Eastern approach of striving to convey not the outward appearance but the inner spiritual essence of natural subjects takes spectacular form in the richly colored abstract paintings of this Korean-born, New York-based artist. Against mottled, semi-monochrome backgrounds, various bright forms—resembling flames, waterfalls, nebulae and microcosmic organisms—sweep or swirl (and sometimes explode), each covered with a subtle net of lines that give the surface the eerie effect of skin cells. Here, the entire universe seems alive.