11 June 2011

What's up

Galán's show at the Mexican-owned Ramis Barquet (532 w24th, til July 9) is only 14 paintings, full of a tortured lyricism that rewards comparisons to a Cavafy sonnet. So taken in by this appearance of no comparisons too unfortunate am I that I've made up lineup cards for the Neo-expressionism - Venetian Renaissance masters game:

Basquiat ss
Eliz. Murray 1b
Clemente 2b
Galán lf
Baselitz rf
Cucci cf
M. Dumas c
Paladino 3b
Kitaj p

Tintoretto ss
Bellini c
Titian 1b
Giorgione p
Mategna cf
Veronese 2b
Lotto 3b
Palma rf
Bassano lf

OK, perhaps that's a one-sided game but my point seems to be that while the prolific get on base frequently (1-3 spots), the enigmatic master (batting cleanup) drives the metaphorical art ball further out by a combination of impenetrable subtext and a rethinking of painterly form. Piero della Francesco and Anselm Keifer are both pennant race acquisitions, btw. Though, as I said, small, this is Galán's first gallery show in New York since 2001, and since he hasn't had a museum retrospective since 1994, this is a show you don't want to miss. Galán's posthumous website is also quite good whether or not you can make it to the show.

On 24th the Salvatore Scarpitta tribute should be checked out at Boesky, 509, til June 18.

Marlborough's "Living in Havana" show (525 w25th, til June 18) features a series of conceptual works by Ernesto Rancaño, known around the Caribbean for his exceptional "baroque" paintings. At a show of Cuban art at the UN Office at Geneva in 2005, two nudes were taken down out of Rancaño's paintings, at which time the curator asked him to create a work for the International Labor Organization headquarters. What he came up with was "Noble ser" (left), a shovel covered with thorns, leading to the development of the other conceptual sculptures in this show including a ladder with thorns on it called "Ascension," a rope to escape being a figurine in a suit perched high on an obelisk called "The Escape," a phone with the earphone and microphone on opposite sides called "Wordless," and a horseshoe with a microscope on a man in suit.

Neo-expressionist midlife crisis in Bali (Ashley Bickerton, Lehmann Maupin, 540 w 26th til June 25) v. Neo-expressionist midlife crisis in the Hamptons (David Salle, Mary Boone, 541 w24th St til June 25). The artist in the Hamptons repeats himself more, while the artist in Bali felt enfranchised a few years back to rethink his art, winking at the brand he's now created for the international art market while finding interesting compositional effects in the personae he's turned to. The artist in the Hamptons adds deck chairs to the brand he created back in the day. The artist in Bali is in a shotgun wedding with Gauguin's legacy, having reacted to expat artists' Gauguin kitsch and the inability to "invent" his paradise for the Western mind, referring exclusively to the garish ubiquity of the culture he left behind, the artist in the Hamptons leaves his social surroundings intact.

Tony Shafrazi (544 w26th, til July 30) has some of the orignial R. Crumb drawings for Kafka for Beginners, amongst other things a graphic pep rally for writing in solitude, and quite a lot of Soviet film posters with Potemkin, Earth, and Man With the Movie Camera on a continuous loop. Kafka quotes found elsewhere: "Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself." "I need solitude for my writing; not 'like a hermit' - that wouldn't be enough - but like a dead man." "one can never be alone enough" “It is not necessary that you leave the house. Remain at your table and listen. Do not even listen, only wait. Do not even wait, be wholly still and alone. The world will present itself to you for its unmasking . . . in ecstasy it will writhe at your feet.”

Louise Bourgeois (Cheim & Read, 547 w27th, til June 25) features works of the past decade made out of discarded fabrics, which freed up her color palette and made for other creative re-thinkings to surprise even to those who think they've seen all the LB combinations.

Speaking of fabric shows, Philly has Sandra Hicks this summer at ICA of much greater fabric scale, a fabric scale rarely scaled, with comparable artistry, til Aug 7.

At 535 West 22nd Street 2nd floor, a selection of the American master George Tooker just opened, at DC Moore til Aug 5.

Of course the John Richardson-curated "Picasso and Marie-Thérèse" show at Gagosian (522 West 21st Street, til July 15) is up, the third of what has happily become an annual tradition, and though at 80 works smaller than the "Mosqueteros" extravaganza (sob pout sob), the wide variety of materials makes for a feast even for those who've seen their fill of Marie-Thérèse stone heads and portraits. Uptown Gagosian features Arshile Gorky (980 Madison til July 1), around the corner from Baselitz' work from the 60s (Werner, 4 e77th til June 18).

I enjoyed Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung's parodies of the 2008 US presidential election, but his 10 new digital prints inspired by the Chinese Jasmine Revolution of the past few months provides a rare glimpse into the Chinese resistance, at Postmasters (459 w19th til July 9). Revolutionary dissident Ai WeiWei can be found on one digital print imprisoned in a logo of a chrysanthemum extract powdered drink and as the Buddhist god Guan Yin in another (left). A running theme is the Great Firewall of China, internet censorship including a ban on the word "Jasmine," which is expressed here both in the digital prints and a ping-pong table with the Great Wall in the place of the net. If you go as you should, take the brochure at the entrance in with you which explains the symbols and dark humor of each work.

Galan paintings: blue background: Llegando por mi, 1989; red: Los complices, 1987; maritime: The Black Pearl, 1990.

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