New Museum 2018 Triennial: Songs For Sabotage until May 27
This fourth New Museum Triennial has reached far afield from rarefied New York galleries, introducing twenty-six artists between 25-35 years old from nineteen countries. The show is an eclectic and reflection of the current political upheaval, as well as a visually exciting exhibition.
Highlights include Wilmer Wilson’s stapled paintings, intertwining American black experiences with thousands of glittering patterned staples. Russian Zhenya Machneva’s social realistic works are traditionally embroidered in a weirdly industrial palette. Thirty-four haunting and headless sculptures by South African Haroon Gunn-Salie commemorates the striking miners who were killed by local police. England is represented by second-generation Sikh, Hardeep Pandal who explores race and sex in his music video, “Pool Party Pilot’s Episode.” His painting. “Black by Day, Red by Night” combines colonialism with graffiti-like vigour. Another British artist, Lydia Ourahmane’s installation presents Algerian oil barrels, which she likens to refugees from her native country.
Nathaniel Mellors: Progressive Rocks at The New Museum until April 15
British born Nathaniel Mellors works between Amsterdam and Los Angeles and has written, directed, edited and produced an absurdist environment that occupies the museum’s entire South Gallery. Animatronic sculpture and multi-channel video installations portray a rambling philosophical interview with a telegenic Neanderthal, who was first conceived as a project for the Finnish Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale. The installation introduces an adorable talking egg and a humanoid figure with a cardboard box head, who are engaged in a deep and quizzical discussion. Related paintings and sculptures featuring the same characters intertwined throughout the darkened gallery. On a recent weekend, the space was crowded with onlookers, spilling onto the floor in orderly circles, immersed in a fantastic satire of contemporary society.
Trevor Winkfield at Tibor De Nagy until March 25 “Saints, Dancers and Acrobats”
Renowned as a poet’s painter, Trevor Winkfield arrived in New York almost five decades ago. “I came on a visit in 1969 and stayed.I was at Royal College right after Hockney and Kitaj.” The Leeds born artist creates dreamscapes that combine psychedelia and pop with meticulous draftsmanship. The ten new canvases in this show focus on totem-like humanoids in surrealistic tableaus. Winkfield’s hard edges and brilliant palette make his work immediately recognizable. Along with his many close collaborations with literary legends like James Schuyler and John Ashberry, Winfield has extensively and brilliantly written about art.
When I asked the debonair Mr Winkfield if he had the message for England in the midst of these Trumpian times, he smilingly replied, “I miss you. And if it gets too difficult, I can always go back home.”
Peter Hujar: Speed of Light at the Morgan Library until May 20
I had the brief pleasure of meeting Peter Hujar through my friendship with the Cockettes, a gender-bending theatre troupe that performed in New York City, California and Europe. He was photographing my friends, both in his East Village loft and a rented communal Victorian house in upstate New York. In my twenty-year-old eyes, Peter was charming, accomplished, and in the epicentre of cool gay NYC. His black and white prints eloquently captured a specific moment of true downtown bohemian life.
In this first comprehensive NYC show, viewers see a smaller, shabbier, city and intimate portraits of outliers and cultural heroes. Many of the portraits are prone, a pensive Susan Sontag, Fran Leibowitz in her childhood bedroom, the impossibly glamorous T.C. who I never saw after those early seventies days. Hujar also documents the birth of gay liberation and captures a healthy looking William Burroughs. His affair with the young David Wojnarowicz helped lead the artist on to the development of his stellar and subversive practice. His 1987 death from AIDS ended Hujar’s brilliant and romantic career. The Morgan exhibition presents 160 images of a major photographer whose work truly embodies his own words, “I compose the picture in the camera. I make the print. It has to be beautiful.”
Judy Chicago Powerplay: A Prediction until March 3
Immortalized by her iconic feminist and collaborative work, “The Dinner Party”, (1974-79) Judy Chicago created these portraits of men more than thirty years ago. Prescient as ever, Chicago’s powerful canvases recall Soviet realism and Mexican murals, while depicting men in unappealing moments. Whether pissing on nature, angrily grimacing, or pulling a woman’s hair, these men are angry. One blows a stream of blood into the air. How is it possible that these paintings, especially the smaller ones, bare an eerie resemblance to our current porcine president? Ever a pioneer, Chicago reversed the male gaze to create monumental and beautifully rendered patriarchal visions. The fact that these works feel crucial, fresh and necessary is a telling reflection of America’s troubled times.
Words: Ilka Scobie © Artlyst 2018 Top Photo: Judy Chicago Rainbow Man, 1984 Sprayed acrylic and oil on Belgian Linen