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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