Thursday, October 24, 2019

Michael Wang's Extinct in New York

Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) in partnership with the Swiss Institute presented Michael Wang’s Extinct in New York,  the artist’s first major solo exhibition in the United States, at LMCC art center on Governors Island.

 Four giant greenhouses stand in the middle of a laboratory-looking exhibition space. The greenhouses contain selections of living species of plants, algae, lichen that used to be common in the natural environments of New York City, but no longer exist in the wild anymore. The plants, the greenhouses, and the care of from the staff from Art center become an artificial ecosystem that gives a peek at the process of reintroducing these organisms back to where they used to live. The exhibition is also accompanied with photos and watercolor paintings of the exhibited species in a scientific illustrations highlighting that the audiences can only see these species through presented reproductions.

 It is an paradoxical that the plants that once existed, now can only survive in greenhouses under human maintenance. Although with all the staff and volunteers’ care, some parts of the organisms in the greenhouse still look quite wasted. The fragility of these species remind us the act of human intervention and irreversible outcome of extinct in New York.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Beyond Geographies: Contemporary Art and Muslim Experience at BRIC Arts

BRIC Arts presents art pieces by artists with immigrant family backgrounds from Muslim countries. The exhibition displays paintings, sculptures, and installations. Viewers first face the large wall painting, Orientation (2019), by Nsenga Knight. The work contains a gleaming silver pentagon with black triangular shapes in the four corners of the canvas, evoking minimalist geometric wallpaper. On the ground near the artwork, a red rug, A Disappearing Garden of (2019) by Asif Mian, creates abstract line drawing with check pattern garment pieces sewn on. 

One of the most colorful and eye-catching installations, 1001 Migrations (2018) by Mona Saeed Kamal, shows 1001 paper boats that are folded like Japanese traditional Origami. The papers are painted with innumerous colors, which invites viewers to observe more closely to inspect their patterns and color combinations. With the colorfully painted patterns, the boats make a dynamic scene, forming a huge color gradation. Using diverse drawing and traditional craft techniques, the artists express how their Muslim family history and culture impact on their identities.  

Friday, October 11, 2019

Roy DeCarava at David Zwirner

Roy DeCarava
Wall Street, morning, 1960
"Light Break" is a simple and beautiful show of 119 eleven-by-fourteen-inch silver gelatin prints from the estate of photographer Roy DeCarava (1919–2009). Portraits of jazz musicians, scenes from sidewalks and parks, natural landscapes, and abstract shadows sit harmoniously side-by-side in DeCarava’s soft and emotional language of shifting grays. DeCarava disdained the trends of high-contrast flash photography, opting instead to shoot with whatever light he happened upon. The work’s charmingly sentimentality is made potent by its formal ingenuity, and the range of work on view provides an opportunity to gain insight into the subtleties of DeCarava’s technique. Wall Street, Morning (1960), showing a strikingly quiet city street, is even now a fresh take on the old trope of light at the end of a dark path. Two People Sitting, Bangkok (1978) depicts two figures seen from behind on separate sidewalk benches. Its formal composition establishes a rhythm of duality that sits in an enigmatic tension with the isolated contemplation of the figures. These themes of hope, loneliness, and other old cliches are made meaningful and beautiful again. This show is a revitalizing experience, and reminder of the emotive potential of the modestly sized photograph.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Rafa Macarron’s Fluorescent Routine presented at Allouche Gallery

Upon entering Allouche Gallery, the eye is bombarded with bright neon pinks, oranges, and yellows coming from the clean white walls of the space. Yet despite the vivid color palette, the art of Rafa Macarron welcomes the viewer with a nostalgic and child-like energy coming from the simplified and fantastic shapes of the figures. The show features a mix of paintings, sculptures, and wall fixtures that fall somewhere between, all connected by a common style with screaming color and metallic figures. 

Each work skews what is to be expected from figurative painting in a delightfully lively way. The works are inspired by the artist's readings of different philosophies as well as the bright Madrid landscape outside of his studio window play with the sense of proportion and perspective. Each figure swells and shrinks, some with large, bulbous, painted fingernails, some with a long, stringy neck, or a stretched face and bulging upper jaw.

The paintings invite one to come closer and inspect them and the viewer is rewarded with unexpected sculptural elements like spiny arm hairs, or gibbous and shiny eyeballs. Standing sculptures break up the space, encouraging movement while bringing elements from the paintings out onto the floor. 

Walking around the gallery, one feels as if they are not just walking around the space viewing the art, but actively engaging with the pieces. The works interact with the space as a visitor interacts with the work; both in communication with the other and driven by curiosity.