Angela Dufresne & Louis Fratino at Monya Rowe Gallery

Written by Suzanne Unrein
Published by Delicious Line

"Glazed" combines salacious pleasures with robust sensuality in this exhibit of fresh, modestly sized paintings by Angela Dufresne and Louis Fratino.

Dufresne tantalizes and summons with comic, crazed faces that look out from brilliant, abstract backgrounds with erotic familiarity. Enticing body parts and facial features are accentuated with swaths of surprising hues while restless fingers play at sexual diddling. The rousing compositions are unified in a masterful partnering of frenetic movement and rhythmic color.

Fratino's portraits are stylized, languorous, and romantic with solid, sculptural forms that are reduced and simplified. A slow dance of flat planes and undulating forms surround geometric, contented faces rendered in deep lilacs, rusts, and grays. When not delighting in his decorative patterning of blankets, tilted picture frames and personal objects, his doodles and scratches offer a visual playground for more abstract delectations.

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Marlene Dumas at David Zwirner Gallery

Written by Suzanne Unrein
Published by Delicious Line

Marlene Dumas is at the top of her game at Zwirner with pictures, some of them monumental, of voyeuristic intimacies. Painted thinly in oil, they are ephemeral and disturbing.

The large-scale canvases are around 118 x 39 inches, creating confined, coffin-like spaces for full-length figures. These portraits of vulnerability throw a gut punch. In Spring (2017) a woman, her face in shadow, pours liquid down her crotch. Her black panties cut into her rust-red legs as she balances over a lime-green stage in front of a bleak background.

In Awkward (2017) a couple stands uncomfortably toe-to-toe. Red edges force them together while the white negative space between them creates compositional tension. Their blue color makes the encounter feel powerful but fleeting.

Near the back of the show are wet-on-wet ink washes illustrating a recent edition of Shakespeare's Venus & Adonis. Dumas is in her element with the tragedy and tenderness of unrequited love.

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Ursula von Rydingsvard at Galerie Lelong

Written by Suzanne Unrein
Published by Delicious Line

Ursula von Rydingsvard's new, fierce, undulating sculptures take on a courageous vulnerability in these towering works (and a few smaller ones) in cedar, bronze, paper, and resin.

The cedar works are carved, sliced, bruised, and then re-constructed into ferocious pieces that haunt with fragility. In Nester (2016), eleven feet high, the wood inherently recalls the landscape. Yet its formation conjures up a caterpillar's measured crawl or an animal's tail raised in fright. The gaping holes utter silent chatter, as the rhythmic motion of the carved details relieve the overpowering mass.

The majestic, tree-like bronze of Z Boku (2017), with its lacy tendrils, appears to timidly reach for the sky, projecting strength and tenderness in equal measure.

Burrows begin tentatively at the top of Oziksien (2016), while becoming larger and seemingly louder as they plummet downward, reaching an all-out crescendo at the floor. It offers reverence to nature's power.

 Ursula von Rydingsvard Nester, 2016 cedar 131 x 55 x 54 inches  

Ursula von Rydingsvard
Nester, 2016
cedar
131 x 55 x 54 inches
 

Trude Viken at Fortnight Institute

Written by Suzanne Unrein
Published in Delicious Line

Through virtuoso brushstrokes, scrapes, and smears in Trude Viken's exhibit of self-portraits and couples, hidden emotional states ooze externally. Thick pigments sculpt monstrous faces in unearthly, ashen umbers with shocks of yellows, reds, and pinks. The paint is urgent and frenetic in Ensor-esque proportions.

A hundred twelve-inch canvases make up the Diary Notes series, a visual daybook of the clandestine side of the human psyche. Painted with deftness, the horrific and impotent connect through tantalizing smirks and penetrating stares. Slits of human eyes beckon for understanding as whirls of thick paint obliterate surrounding features. A head slips down a picture frame, losing its footing among a sea of acidic, calamitous, green-gray marks that offer a lifeline.

In Couples and Ghosts, anxiety is heightened with twosomes melding together in otherwise roomy compositions. Only their dissolution offers a respite from their neediness and angst.

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Angelina Gualdoni at Asya Geisberg Gallery

Written by Suzanne Unrein
Published in Delicious Line

Angelina Gualdoni's "House of the New Witch" revels in the power of the female mystique, the roles of sorceress and creator, while constructing compositional disorders through spatial mashups. Interiors and still lifes mingle with shapes from the works of female artists of the past that are painted on the back of unprimed canvases and seep through as an inherited visual language. Bewitching worlds turn seemingly ordinary household objects into tools for secret ceremonies, and ancient Peruvian ceramics into magical anthropomorphic creatures.

In Cabinet Painting (2018) the stains ooze out of the walls and floor, creating an eerie and dominating lineage. A cabinet of curiosities is dimly lit in a box of emerald, blue, and violet while its doors have a warped perspective that lends form and confuses. A flattened female Moche figurine is freed from the architectural concerns and the secret world of the human-like objects, appearing as a feminist rebellion to the ancestral spirits.

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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.

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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

"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