Verne Dawson at Gavin Brown's Enterprise

Published by Delicious Line
Written by Suzanne Unrein

Bucolic landscapes give way to mysterious narratives, myths, and rituals in these latest grand and intimate paintings by Verne Dawson. A bound Prometheus, an alluring mermaid, and a crucified Jesus are instantly recognizable. Other subjects arouse only a fleeting memory.

In the show-stopping The Theft of Fire (2019), a couple steals fire from a prehistoric era while others go about their ceremonial solemnities, holding unidentifiable objects among modern architecture in the same expansive setting. Time and space are a continuum as the pleased skeleton in the foreground holds court over the contemplative characters. Dawson paints the rhythm of the natural world swiftly and fluidly, laying thick marks over thin gestures in a no-fuss manner. Rough-hewn lines and smudges create the narrative, magically conveying the turn of a foot or the terror of a duck with seemingly little effort.

A concurrent exhibition of Dawson's work is at Galerie Eva Presenhuber, with an emphasis on numerology and astronomy, and an elegy to a most likely extinct bird.

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Lynette Yiadom-Boakye at Jack Shainman Gallery

Published by Delicious Line
Written by Suzanne Unrein

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye's contemplative works, fictitious black figures painted life-size and larger in minimal spaces, make up this two-gallery exhibition at Jack Shainman.

Thin bright whites, yellows, lime greens, and peaches are sparingly covered up by a dance of deep umbers, blue-blacks, and grays. The underpaint highlights the whites of eyes, the contours of facial features, and the outline of clothing. The figures appear silent even with outward smiles. An insistent inward gaze complements their elegant postures. Their essence is depicted with such timelessness of clothing and spaces that it produces a hologram-like remoteness.

In The Ever Exacting (2018), a man looks skeptically at an owl that looks equally suspicious of the viewer. His white-socked foot reaches out as if to move while mimicking the owl's threat to fly. Both sock and owl are painted in rich white-grays. Yiadom-Boakye is at her best here - hinting at forms with virtuoso brushstrokes, playing vibrant hues off ochres and browns - while conjuring the mysteries of paint and her imaginary subjects.

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Shari Mendelson at UrbanGlass

Published by Delicious Line
Written by Suzanne Unrein

Bar codes emerge out of filmy surfaces that recall ancient Roman and Islamic glass vessels in the form of animals and mythical figures. Blending observation, memory, and invention, Shari Mendelson creates spin-offs that charm and delight while conjuring histories and collective memories. She constructs them from repurposed plastic, lending a contemporary, disquieting edge.

In Deer Askos (2018), the hoofed mammal becomes an ancient vessel with inward gaze and legs sensitively tucked under a curved torso. A "best by" date is branded on its rear end, a reminder of the environmentally hazardous material that formed it.

A feline appears more house cat than lion in Sphinx with Bar Code (2018). Its human face looks wary. Its wings are clipped. With fragile front legs and a heavy top, this mythical creature seems both vulnerable and heroic in its modern form.

"Glasslike" is a reminder of objects left behind, from the artifacts of ancient civilizations to plastics that refuse to break down.

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Jane Fine at Pierogi Gallery, NYC

Published by Delicious Line
Written by Suzanne Unrein

Rendered in the style of pre-tech, 1970s cartoons, Jane Fine's paintings of groovy symbols, political imagery, and abstract doodling are a disquieting mix of innocent fun and a darker, Trump-era subversion.

The smaller works evoke 4-color pens with red, blue, brown, and black playing over metallic backgrounds. Flat, rounded planes break up the space while black shapes block out messages. "Sad," "Secrets," and "No" multiply and frolic in puffy lettering. Crossed out swastikas and money signs float among flowers and nonsensical speech bubbles.

In the larger So Much Winning (2018), flags tear and melt while their white stars freed from their confines shine brightly. A torn-apart fence hovers. (Good fences make good neighbors?) A partially concealed Statue of Liberty crown is smeared with red and blue. Missiles and toppled buildings pop out of abstractions. The imagery creates an ominous message amid a dynamic composition of exuberant paint on a powdery pink background.

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Dr. Lakra and Mezcal Los Dos Amigos at kurimanzutto, Mexico City

Published by Delicious Line
Written by Suzanne Unrein

Mexican surrealism meets sumi-e ink washes in 77 mashups by the artist and tattooist Jeronimo Lopez Ramirez, aka Dr. Lakra.

Lakra's fluid and masterful drawings combine Japanese iconography with mythical dream states. They skillfully traverse cultures and emotions in a singular vision. A monkey sees, hears, and speaks no evil while a dubious skull lies underfoot. An argyle sweater-clad fusion of snake and shriveled penis portrays the absurdity of impotency. In the poignant Yoru no hotaru (2018), an oni clutches a club in the existential darkness while peering out at fireflies bathed in their hopeful yet minuscule light.

Accompanying the exhibit is Lakra's collaboration with Abraham Cruzvillegas, Mezcal Los dos Amigos. Labels on mezcal-filled recycled liquor bottles become the canvases for the artists to conduct a dialogue through sketches and appropriated images. The project provides a wonderfully homegrown, expanded context for the sumi-e drawings.

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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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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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Mary DeVincentis: Dwellers on the Threshold at David & Schweitzer Gallery

Art review by Suzanne Unrein
Published in Delicious Line

Mary DeVincentis's paintings percolate at their own speed. Her cosmos gives a virtuoso performance while its enchantment sweeps up diminutive creatures. Its static effervescence rouses and intoxicates, drawing the viewer into various scenes. In one, an artist wields a paintbrush under electric currents. In another a zebra contemplates existence at the edge of a cliff. Elsewhere a tiger tries to touch the sky.

The slick Yupo surface and fluid acrylic brushstrokes of Day Dreamer (2017) create an otherworldly luminosity. The dreamer hovers between conscious and subconscious states, in a bed of lilac flowers or aqueous reflections, the heavens overhead summoning the earth. Blankets of supernatural yellows and greens seduce with their acidic tranquility while suggesting clouds and sea. Pink ears hear the calling of a distant flowering tree, while arms and legs signal death and resurrection.

In DeVincentis's worlds, dreams and personal myths spark a universal recognition.

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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

"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