by Howie Chen and Andrew Lampert
by Sam Bloch
at House of Gaga
by Gaby Cepeda
I encountered Julien Ceccaldi’s work on social media long before ever seeing it in person. A few years ago, his manga-inspired comics, in which exaggerated figures—either hyper-fit or thin as rails, with conical chins and clusters of wildly lashed, wet eyes—undergo personal dramas, started to appear all over the English-speaking corners of my Twitter timeline and Instagram feed. Recently, I clicked “like” on an ad campaign Ceccaldi produce
d for the über-trendy Berlin-based fashion brand Ottolinger. Given his enthusiastic reception by the New York art world, whose influence inevitably travels south—and north, west, and east—I was not at all surprised when the young artist landed at House of Gaga for his first solo show in Mexico City.The seven oil paintings on canvas and two painted sculptures in the exhibition (all 2019) depict an emaciated, balding, androgynous man named Francis, the protagonist of Ceccaldi’s self-published comic “Human Furniture” (2017), which follows Francis as he obsessively pines after the swole Simon and has anonymous sex. The show was titled “Sex Is Work,” and indeed the paintings suggest the emotional labor that accompanies the act. In Out the Window Towards the Bavarian Castle, Francis—fully naked, with spindly, elongated limbs—floats in a pink sunset sky toward a castle, the q...
at Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
by David Ebony
Sikkema Jenkins & Co.’s recent Vik Muniz exhibition featured works from two stunning new series: “Surfaces” (2019), composed of large-scale photo-based works that resemble paintings, and “Museum of Ashes” (2019–), comprising photographs and sculptures. On view in the foyer and main space were fifteen pieces from the former group. Muniz pays homage here to abstract or quasi-abstract paintings from the early and mid-twentieth century,
mostly by United States and Latin American artists. The series has a rather personal significance for him. The artist, who divides his time between New York and Rio de Janeiro, was born in São Paulo in 1961, and in his youth came to know modern art only through reproductions in books. In “Surfaces,” he depicts paintings that inspired him during this early era, by artists such as Stuart Davis, Hans Hofmann, Milton Avery, and Carmen Herrera....
at Luxembourg & Dayan
For his most infamous work, The Nazis (1998), the Polish artist Piotr Uklański, based mostly in New York since the early 1990s, compiled an archive of filmic depictions of the Third Reich—or, more precisely, images of actors wearing Nazi costumes in films, drawn largely from promotional stills circulated by movie studios. The work consists of 164 glossy headshot-style crops of these stills displayed as a deadpan frieze, one handsome Hollywood Him
mler after another. Uklański may not have anticipated that the Polish actor Daniel Olbrychski—who appears in character within this array—would go so far as to vandalize the installation by slashing his own depiction with a sword when the work was exhibited at Warsaw’s Zachęta National Gallery of Art in 2000, but it’s hard to imagine that eliciting hysterical outrage was not, on some level, his intent. Provocation can be an effective societal mirror: to decry Uklański’s work for glamorizing its dark subject, as many furious viewers did, means admitting that you think Ralph Fiennes looks pretty sexy in an SS uniform. ...
British painter Michael Simpson studied alongside David Hockney and R.B. Kitaj at London’s Royal College of Art in the 1960s and exhibited steadily, if infrequently, over the next six decades, but his work has become increasingly visible since he joined Blain|Southern’s roster in 2016. The thirteen recent paintings in this exhibition represented the artist’s three core motifs: benches, confessionals, and leper squints, the small windows cut in
to the facades of medieval churches so that lepers and other social outcasts could view sermons from outside.Simpson worked exclusively on his “Bench Paintings” between 1989 and 2009, before embarking on the ongoing “Squints” series in 2012 and the “Confessionals” in 2015. He renders his motifs as clean, elegant geometric forms against flat monochrome grounds or within spare architectural settings, typically using a restricted palette of black, white, and gray, with occasional dashes of muted color. The formal asceticism of the paintings invites comparison to Minimalism, but Simpson’s most enduring influence is Vermeer, as seen in his crisp, exacting way of situating objects in space and his striving for coherence with maximum economy....