Lucy Mink at Barney Savage Gallery

Art review by Suzanne Unrein
Published in Delicious Line

Lucy Mink's paintings hide meaning in architectural playgrounds. Crowded arrangements of forms move you inwardly through the composition while your mind attempts recognition of individual parts. Textile patterns tame nature and offer fragments of homeyness to the rabbit hole of warping perspective.

"On Top of It" (2018) is an expert's game of color and arrangement. A subdued yet vibrant red, shaped like Matisse cutouts, weaves confidently through patterned planes and remnants of construction. The space is seen from above, a staircase leading internally, with the open landscape far away. Like all of Mink's paintings, there is a specific mood here, a feeling that memory and psychological schisms are in play. Multiple thoughts and ideas simultaneously vie for space – integrating and competing, overlapping and maneuvering.

Titles like "Talking," "If You Want It" and "Fall In" nudge at hidden connections to these visual mysteries.

 Lucy Mink "On Top of It," 2018 oil on canvas 24" x 20" at Barney Savage Gallery

Lucy Mink
"On Top of It," 2018
oil on canvas
24" x 20"
at Barney Savage Gallery

Per Kirkeby: Paintings and Bronzes from the 1980s at Michael Werner Gallery, Upper East Side, NYC, 28 February through 5 May 2018

Art review by Suzanne Unrein
Published in Delicious Line

Per Kirkeby is a painter, a poet, and a maker of cosmogonic maps. His layers crash, collide, and build while underlying structures hold the pieces together.

Herbstbaum III (1985) has two steles holding court in a mystical forest by a river. A few marks suggest spacious surroundings outside the picture frame. A yellow totem attempts to stand erect while tipping off of its pedestal. An unflappable partner stands solid in spackled strokes of brilliant light blue.

In Untitled (1981), a landscape becomes a world, and the world becomes a language of mystery. Charcoal marks render the construction, then falter, losing their momentum. Scratches of deep blues mingle with green-blue blacks, while a pinkish gray creates a dim, diffused light that recalls Edvard Munch and the artists of Denmark's Golden Age.

Referring an earlier career in geology, Kirkeby uses his knowledge of sedimentation and stratification to forage for an inner truth, taking clues from the outside world.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Longer version:

Per Kirkeby is an artist, a poet, a maker of cosmogonic maps.  Walking into the exhibit of 1980’s paintings and bronzes at the Michael Werner Gallery is being transported into a world of lost relics.  Unchartered lands set up shop in your psyche.  Underlying structures organize an undecipherable language that speaks loudly and persistently.  Layered marks crash, collide and build.  A symphony climaxes as it disintegrates.

"Herbstbaum III (Autumn Tree III),” 1985, is the first painting to insist on attention.  Two steles hold court in the foreground of a mystical forest by the side of the river.  A few marks suggest this spacious surrounding outside the picture frame.  The yellow totem stands erect while disintegrating, it’s unflappable partner solid in thick spackled strokes of brilliant light blue. The title suggests a portrait of a tree, the painting a signpost to another world.

In “Untitled,” 1981, a landscape becomes a world becomes a language of mystery.  Charcoal marks render the construction, layer upon layer, then falter, losing their momentum.  Deep bluish greens turn into dark umbers, thick slabs of white take the limelight and then bow to the surrounding darkness.  Nearby layers of scrawls like underbrush, rise and fall, thick and thin, awaiting their moment in the dim, diffused light.  The secrets of the universe are revealed and then gone.  Memory has disintegrated in erased marks. 

The bronzes are slabs that once marked sacred territories, forlorn yet stoic on their isolated pedestals.  The heaviness of their material seems like knights in armor.  Only when their forms are transported into the paintings in rich purples and greens and black blues do they become fluid.   Animated and butting against each other, they are more expressive in brushstrokes and plays of light.  

While Kirkeby, 79, began his career under the influence of Fluxus, Cubism and Pop Art, his early expeditions as a geologist are the impetus for these 1980s works.  His underlying knowledge of stratification and sedimentation curates the orchestra of layers and motion.  Outside current art movements, Kirkeby feels unique in this contemporary world; yet in the larger context of Scandinavian art, the lineage to Edvard Munch, Asger Jorn, and the artists from the Danish Golden Age are relevant and substantial in their subdued lighting and fluidity.  What makes this show remarkable and timeless is Kirkeby’s foraging for an inner truth with clues from the outside world.  In an interview with Tom Van de Voorde for Bozar Literature in 2012, Kirkeby says, “I have often had the feeling that there are moments when, with the aid of my own paint, I really see the world in all its reality.”

 Per Kirkeby "Untitled", 1981 Oil on canvas 78 3/4 x 94 1/2 inches at the Michael Werner Gallery

Per Kirkeby
"Untitled", 1981
Oil on canvas
78 3/4 x 94 1/2 inches
at the Michael Werner Gallery

7 NYC Art Exhibits to ward off the blues

Spring is here and I fight the blues.  The forecast is filled with dropping temperatures, sleet, rain and snow.  Daydreams of Caribbean islands take hold as I nurse a lingering cold and look askance at my thinning winter coat.  To ward off the onslaught of mother nature, seven art exhibits offer refuge around the city, giving the appearance of Spring through visionary eyes.

1. "Zhang Enli: The Garden" at Hauser & Wirth, 548 W 22nd Street, January 25- April 7, 2018.  These oil on canvas works are explosions of juicy, scumbling pigments materializing from thinned out layers of wash in nearly disintegrating colors of sky blue and pale yellow.  While Enli finds inspiration in the gardens around Shanghai, images of underwater worlds of earthly reflections and the origins of the universe also come to mind.  Resembling enormous (most around 98 x 117 inches) Chinese brush paintings, the scrumptious deep violets, rich earthly greens, and crimson reds all contribute to the exuberance of blooming nature created on a grand scale. 

 2. “Allan Kaprow, Paintings New York” at Hauser & Wirth, 38 E 69th Street, February 1 – April 7, 2018.  As you enter the exhibit, a wall quote welcomes you: “OH THE PLEASURES OF PAINTING . PLAYING IN MUD . THESMALL CHANGES IN TONE . LIKE MUSIC TO MY EYES . PAINT IS YOU . PAINT IS ME . SUCH A PLEASURE TO PAINT . TO PAINT IS TO LIVE . A MISTAKE . A RONG TURN . A SLIP. IMPOSSIBLE . NOT IN THIS RELM . THE JOY . HAPPINESS . THE PLEASURE OF PAINTING . TO CREATE THINGS LIKEGOD . TO DISTROY AT WILL A WORLD OF MY OWN. TO EXPERIMENT IN A PHALS FALSE WORLD . WHERE NOTHINGCOUNTS . AND EVERYTHING COUNTS . IT BRINGS ME CLOSER TO TRUTH . TRUTH DOES NOT EXIST . PAINTINGDOES . GOOD PAINT . BAD PAINT . RIGHT PAINT . WRONGPAINT . NEVER TOO MUCH . TOO LITTLE . TO BIG . TO SMALL . IT IS . THAT IS WHY I LOVE TO PAINT . I WILLALWAYS BE A PAINTER . OF SORTS’
– Allan Kaprow “
While in the 1940s and 50s Kaprow created New York cityscapes and art studio interiors, the true subject here is the act of painting itself.  Created with bold, expressive brushstrokes of ease and joy, these transformative pictures capture the aliveness of city life while teaching how to delight in the process. 

3. "Sue Williams: Paintings 1997-98" at Skarstedt Gallery, 20 E 79th Street, February 22 – April 21, 2018.  From a distance these lyrical semi-abstractions look like colorful flowery doodles on white slick backgrounds. It’s only when we take a closer look that the connection to her earlier images of dark, subversive figuration take hold.  Not so graphic here, the sexual organs and grabby hands and feet turn into loopy flowers and clouds.  Gestural abstractions are made to please as they warn of darker secrets.

 4. "Francesca DiMattio: Boucherouite at Salon 94", 243 Bowery, March 06–April 21, 2018. The gallery’s main room welcomes with three cartoonish sculptures that appear to belong in a fun house if it weren’t for the meticulous and beautiful craftsmanship referencing art history, children’s books, cartoons and pop culture.  The mishmash of color and styles, along with the combining of animals and blooms - a porcelain dog covered in painted flowers becomes an appendage to a clay torso covered in porcelain flowers - make these works a visual smorgasbord of delight.  Make sure you don’t miss the two paintings tucked in and out of the office that offer fragments from Velasquez and Disney held together by thickly painted textiles.

 5. "Cy Twombly: In Beauty it is Finished Drawings 1951–2008" at Gagosian Gallery, 522 W 21st Street, March 8- April 25, 2018.  This career-spanning exhibit of drawings and works on paper are poetic and mythological meanderings, symphonic rhapsodies, illegible Dear John letters, and abstract landscapes created with scrawling gestural lines in color pencils.  Seeing decades of his work all together is to meditate on his timeless language of lyricism while marveling at the nuances created by years of experiential mark-making. 

 6. "Before/On/After: William Wegman and California Conceptualism," The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th Avenue, January 17–July 15, 2018.  1970s photographs and drawings by Wegman and his contemporaries make up the majority of this intimate exhibit, but it’s his videos that have audiences outright laughing.  With meditations on the mundane, he entertains himself – and us - by talking to the camera in repetitive phrases, creating mismatched mirror images, filming his palatine uvula dancing as he grunts and groans, and attempting human understanding with his Weimaraner, Man Ray.  Man Ray’s expressions change from excitement to exasperation to trepidation with every failed attempt to smoke, speak, or move a ball, offering hilarious insights into our own confusions about connecting.  It’s these uncanny observations and finding joy in the banal that make Wegman a teacher in life’s potential effortlessness. 

 7. "Streams and Mountains without End: Landscape Traditions of China," The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th Avenue, August 26, 2017–August 18, 2019. This transcendent exhibit of small paintings, wall scrolls, porcelain objects and handscrolls transport you into magical paradises capturing the infiniteness of nature.  With handscrolls over 10 feet long, these landscapes literally move you through time, a wonderful metaphor for the impermanence of nature.
 Installation Shot "Francesca DiMattio: Boucherouite" at Salon 94, 243 Bowery

Installation Shot
"Francesca DiMattio: Boucherouite" at Salon 94, 243 Bowery

"Andy Woll: Western Wear" at Denny Gallery, February 15-March 25, Lower East Side, NYC

Art review by Suzanne Unrein
Published in Delicious Line

Andy Woll's "Western Wear" at Denny Gallery is an orgy of muscular, slippery paint. The eight works on canvas and paper, inspired by Mount Wilson and the Santa Ana winds in Los Angeles, are motifs for Woll's robust dance of color, movement, and form.

In Mt. Wilson (Santa Ana II) (2017) a thin, rusted red pigment slides over a light bluish gray ground, suggesting a hint of smog. The peak is choreographed with thick, drizzly pinks, magentas, and yellows amid a fluid structure of browns and blacks.

The large abstraction, Santa Ana (2017), is a effusive, confident work, the paint let loose from a binding structure. Wind is made visual. Brushed on and scraped off, pigments slink, slide, crash, and mingle. Juicy reds and oranges counterpoint rich, brilliant blues. Bursts of yellow peek out of green mush. The undulating grays hold the piece together with a rhythmic freedom. The exhibit is a refreshing, dynamic rhapsody of intuition.
 

 Andy Woll Santa Ana, 2017  oil on canvas 78 x 54 inches at Denny Gallery

Andy Woll
Santa Ana, 2017
oil on canvas
78 x 54 inches
at Denny Gallery

"Leon Golub: Raw Nerve" at the Met Breuer, February 6- May 27

Review by Suzanne Unrein
Published in Delicious Line

"Leon Golub: Raw Nerve" at the Met Breuer is a selected survey of his work from 1940 to 2004. Inspired by political and pornographic photos, classical art, and mythology, Golub sources a wide variety of images to create his aggressive and timely works. Interrogators sneer. Mercenaries torture. Good ol' boys posture with cruel authority. Pummeled on and scraped off, the paint mimics the crudeness it depicts with a visceral impact.

While known for his enormous paintings of political violence, Golub created later works that offer a despairing, sublime beauty. Small oilstick drawings of sex workers beckon the viewer as they fade in palimpsestic marks of bright red and blue. Bite Your Tongue (2001), an apocalyptic landscape, is deftly painted with large brushstrokes. Golub portrays the dog and decapitated head using subdued hues. A colorful banner to the left offsets the somber mood, announcing "Loyalty Discipline Renewal," a warning sign about our collective mortality.

 Leon Golub "Bite Your Tongue", 2001 at the Met Breuer

Leon Golub
"Bite Your Tongue", 2001
at the Met Breuer