RIAD ART TOUR: FEBRUARY 2015

RIAD ART TOUR: FEBRUARY 2015

Written by Merrily Kerr of New York Art Tours.

New York galleries are gearing up for the big Armory Show art fair this weekend,

and have already opened with some of the best shows of the season. We beat back

the winter blahs last Saturday with a colorful sampling of the standout exhibitions in

Chelsea, including two immersive installations, vibrant paintings and a twisted

update on street photography.

Art-critic-turned-painter Julia Dault’s sizzling colors greeted us at Marianne Boesky

gallery, where her pattern-based abstractions literally jumped off the canvas and

onto the walls, which were hand-painted with a textured roller. Known for putting

down layers of pure color, then cutting through the surfaces to selectively blend the

paint, Dault also throws pleather and spandex into the mix, combining ready-made

pattern with her own inventions.

At our next stop, video and filmmaking icon Charles Atlas wowed us with giant

projections of gorgeous sunsets shot on a residency in Florida in one gallery and a

size XXL video of legendary drag performer Lady Bunny gently decrying U.S. politics

in the back room. Titled ‘The Waning of Justice,’ Atlas creates an end-of-an-era

metaphor as a count-down clock at the center of one room notes the final 18

minutes before the sun finally dips below the horizon and Lady Bunny pounds out a

disco number before the gallery goes dark.

Israeli artist Ori Gersht also offers beauty with a hint of political anxiety in

photographs at CRG Gallery that feature photos of flowers as reflected in mirrors

that are breaking. Inspired by Jan Breughel the Elder’s early 17th century flower

paintings – themselves impossibly perfect renditions of flowers at the peak of their

beauty – Gersht’s camera arrests the moment that serenity and perfection ends.

 

Saya Woolfalk’s continued meditation on what a utopian world would look like

came as an uplifting interlude across the street at Leslie Tonkonow Artworks &

Projects. Building on work she’s presented in the past, Woolfalk shows supposed

artifacts from an empathetic civilization that has hybridized itself, blending

characteristics from different races and ethnicities and mixing human and plant life.

Tongue-in-cheek products like the ‘Avatar Download System’ offer ways to be more

understanding…without having to endure the messy life experiences that build

character.

Next door, the lives of others became cause for wonder, as witnessed by Hungarian

artist Adam Magyar’s enticingly strange, elongated street photos shot in NY and

Hong Kong. His homemade slit-scan camera, a combination of camera and scanner,

records streams of passersby morphed into Weegee-like semi-abstractions.

In the back gallery, mesmerizing videos of commuters standing on platforms in New York,

Berlin, Mumbai and Beijing were shot from a train as it entered a station, then

slowed so that a 12 second clip turns into 12 minutes. Caught in unguarded

moments of private thought, each face on the platform tells a different story.

 

At our last stop, young Swiss artist Claudia Comte enveloped us in an immersive

installation that playfully quotes from and remixes art history – black walls incised

with a power tool recall Frank Stella’s Black paintings, while carved wood

sculptures riff on Noguchi or Brancusi. Alternating black panels and yellow-striped

walls packed an optical punch in this handsome show that questions how art history

can become subject matter and to what end. Not bad questions to ponder as we

wrapped up another inspiring gallery outing.