1. JACK PIERSON @ Maccarone
A selection of ten large-scale paintings made between 1997 and 2002 bring together familiar motifs for the artist from celebrity imagery to the flora of the natural world. Using devices of beauty and the everyday to draw the viewer in, a melancholic ambiguity emerges in our struggle to determine meaning. By looking to the process—the use of billboard technology to transfer photographic image to canvas—we get a sense of images that are wrestling nostalgia with corruption and perhaps probing disillusionment. In this way, the works have an interesting tie-in to the greater conversation about the new abstraction and its focus on process-based approaches to painting. The images are seductive enough to invite unbridled and simplistic viewing pleasure and yet there is a mystique about them that ignites a waterfall of interpretation and speculative meaning.
2. CALL AND RESPONSE @ Gavin Brown’s Enterprise
Hung salon style and including almost 60 emerging and mid-career artists, Call and Response is a survey of contemporary art (perhaps stronger than MoMA’s current attempt with Forever Now). Joe Bradley, Matt Connors, Charline von Heyl, Michael Krebber, Michael Williams and Fredrik Vaerslv, among others, are smashed together with an energy and diversity in a format reminiscent of a MFA show. Bradley, Connors, von Heyl and Williams were also included in the Forever Now show at MoMA and unsurprisingly had all sold. In true GBE fashion, this show is consistent with the gallery’s reputation for introducing promising new talent while maintaining a maverick approach to exhibition design and curation. Here, it is the decision to showcase artists represented by the gallery (Joe Bradley, Bjarne Melgaard, Laura Owens) with others that are not, in order to serve a faithful cross-section of contemporary art.
3. LEIF RITCHEY @ The Journal Gallery
For the artist’s second solo show with Journal, Ritchey presents large-scale paintings engaged with a transfer process of applying paint onto wet unstretched canvas. The element of chance informs the outcome of Ritchey’s process—a concern many new abstractionists share. Value in unexpected results and the pastel palettes speak to the unabashed love of a colorist. Along with the bright colors, the horizonless space of these paintings results in a special treat for the eye, particularly in the freeze of February in New York. Fun titles like “Rain Taxi’’ and ‘’Peach Jam’’ also add to the playful quality of the works, ultimately inspired by the idea of change.
4. LET’S TALK POSTMODERNITY @ Robert Blumenthal
Curated by Ludovica Capobianco, Let’s Talk Postmodernity presents five artists from Robert Blumenthal’s personal collection: Luke Diiorio, Ryan Estep, Daniel Heidkamp, Antoine Puisais and Chris Succo. The gesture of abstraction is present in all but the painting by Daniel Heidkamp, which is admittedly my least favorite in the group. The two Succo paintings have special presence not only because of their scale (the largest works in the show), but also because a similar painting of his achieved three times the high estimate in Phillips’ Day Sale in London earlier this month. Ryen Estep also had a piece sell for above the high estimate in this sale. But market favorability aside, this is an intimate and enjoyable show on contemporary painting practices.
5. PETRA CORTRIGHT @ Foxy Production
For the artist’s New York debut, ily (an abbreviation for ‘’I love you’’) contains works painted in Photoshop that are then transferred to reflective Plexiglas through digital printing—a rather fitting choice of media for the artist who became famous for her self-portrait videos. Incorporating girlie emoji classics like ribbons, flowers and blackberries with intense brushes of color, the resulting work is fun, energetic and full of visual punch. Yet her work is not all light and bright; a post-Warholian deadpan quality also exists in this body of work that seems to celebrate our selfie, emoji-driven, virtual culture of expression. Perhaps Cortwright indulges these modes in order to find out: Do these new channels of expression add to our pleasure and the dimensionality of feeling or do they limit them? Or is it enough to say that creative production that is generic in its destination is, frankly, an element of contemporary practice today? We might also acknowledge that these paintings hit two of Alain Badiou’s points on the future of art: that it will be a) more impersonal and b) less about the object and more about the process. Of its time, playfully curious and digitally rich, I love the Wonderland feeling of her new work. Having just been honored alongside Paul Chan at the Rhizome benefit this month and now with her successful NY debut, Cortright is without question a rising star, to admire, to follow, to collect (ArtRank buy-now approved). (Yes, 7 sentences here, but what is art if not about breaking the rules?)