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 Sven Kroner’s environmentally conscious landscapes, Julianne Swartz’s finely balanced sculptures, and Brent Green’s homespun animations.
Muntadas at Kent, through June 15
There is still time—though not much—to catch this lively, tightly curated survey of 11 works in various mediums by the video and installation pioneer. Muntadas is not afraid to bite the hand that feeds him, as he often critiques the art world. Take, for instance, a new photo-mural, Ordeal of Picasso’s Heirs (2012), which shows Picasso’s kids with their teams of lawyers around a table at an estate meeting. It recalls the boardroom of some billion-dollar corporation, which, of course, it is.
Sven Kroner at Marc Straus, through June 17
A ship breaks through Arctic ice as penguins look on; a bolt of lightning illuminates the lowlands near the Rhine River, a tiny tent pitched in the middle ground; a run-down shack stands amid fields of wheat marked with obscure crop circles. Large, bold, richly colored landscapes by German artist Sven Kroner recall Jacob van Ruisdael and Caspar David Friedrich, but with modern irony. They may nod humorously to Thomas Cole as well, particularly his “Course of Empire” series. 3012 AD shows a caveman with an office chair.
Julianne Swartz at Josée Bienvenu, through June 23
Julianne Swartz’s latest sculptures are delicate balancing acts—literally, in the case of several subtle works involving elements held up by wires and magnets. Three vaguely anthropomorphic pieces are made of stacked cement-and-mica blocks with clocks embedded inside, so that they tick with passing time. A metaphor for the bare act of living, they are titled “Surrogate,” and are the sizes of the artist, her husband and daughter.
Cheyney Thompson at Andrew Kreps, through June 23
The large abstract paintings featured in “Sometimes Some Pictures Somewhere” are vastly different from Thompson’s typically reserved serial pieces. At first these acidic gestural compositions look like Nth generation Ab Ex canvases, above-the-sofa paintings of the 1960s, or worse. But suddenly, unexpectedly, the paintings begin to command the space and penetrate the brain. Thompson has a way of using subtle gradations of (garish) color, nuanced layering and just the right painterly touch to make these babies sing.
Brent Green at Andrew Edlin, though June 23
If you stand around on the sidelines you’ll completely miss the sculpture and animated film in “To Many Men Strange Fates are Given.” Sit behind a scrim-like partition outfitted with polarizing lenses or stand at a peculiar, podium-like contraption with wooden horn-shaped speakers to look through the lenses and see a frantic but elegant animated film re-projected on yet another screen made of deconstructed and reassembled LCD screens. The DIY technology is decidedly funky and folksy, but with it the artist manages to convey a sense of awe and even majesty that Pixar would envy. And that’s all before you’re mesmerized by the story in the voiceover about the woman who sewed the spacesuit for Laika, the Russian space dog.
Bernard Childs at Jason McCoy, through June 29
Living in Paris in the 1970s, American expat Bernard Childs (1910–1985) painted a series of elegiac abstractions in response to bad news from ecologists. Far from grim, however, these pastel-hued canvases, rocketing from insects to heavenly spheres, and bathed in the summer solstice light that flummoxed him in Sweden, are visionary masterpieces. The chance to see them is rare; McCoy has five on view.
Kim Chun Hwan at Ethan Cohen, through July 14
In his first New York solo, Korean artist Kim Chun Hwan (b. 1968) offers bright painting-like abstractions made from myriad wads of folded paper. Repurposed from packaging, fliers and other commercial sources, the paper here takes on the character of impasto, as Kim creates his own versions of everything from hard-edge geometric forms to the sputtering flow of van Gogh’s famous night sky. Clearly influenced by the older Chun Kwang-Young, Kim, who has long resided in France, adds consumerist satire and a hint of Gilles Deleuze’s time-and-space-bending “fold” theory to that formalist legacy.