December 11, 2018, 4:12

Art to See This Weekend |

Art to See This Weekend |

Courtesy Sally Ross and Fergus McCaffrey

Sometimes, the world catches up to an artist. Kathe Burkhart has been
making a spectacle of Elizabeth Taylor since the nineteen-eighties—in
big, brash mixed-media paintings loosely based on movie stills. (The
American artist considers the pictures self-portraits, a seed planted
when Burkhart’s mother told her she had a “child’s mind in a woman’s
body,” a line that Taylor had coined to describe herself.) But the
series has never looked more of the moment than it does now: a chorus of
eight nasty women assembled a block from Trump Tower. Underscoring the
pictures’ pop-punk tone of rude-girl defiance is the series of phrases,
most of them expletives, emblazoned across the canvases like closed
captions for the outrage-impaired. Still, as powerful as Burkhart’s
feminist politics are, they’re not the main draw here. That would be the
tautly extravagant compositions, which play the essential flatness of
acrylic paint against collaged elements, in a campy palette of gold,
crimson, and teal—and, of course, Liz Taylor-eye violet.

Through Feb. 24th. (Boone, 745 Fifth Ave., 212-752-2929.)

Courtesy Catherine Murphy and Peter Freeman, Inc.

Sometimes, an artist catches up to herself. When I walked into Sally Ross’s opening at Fergus McCaffrey last week, I was sure that I had the
wrong show: these ambitious, muscular abstractions bore zero resemblance
to the quirky neo-surrealist still-lifes that the New York painter was
making a decade ago. There’s an old-fashioned word for what happened in
Ross’s studio: a breakthrough. And, in a sense, these are old-fashioned
paintings, disinterested in life lived onscreen. They’re about taking
apart the engine of abstraction and reassembling it, to see if it can go
any faster. Ross has reified that idea by making paintings and then
cutting them up, suturing the elements back together into rough-hewn
mosaics with visible stitches, as if to remind us that paintings are
bodies in space. Ross makes unabashed reference to some big-league
heroes: Jasper Johns, Sigmar Polke, Lee Bontecou. With this show, the
fifty-two-year-old artist joins the majors herself.

Through February 24th. (McCaffrey, 514 W. 26th St., 212-988-2200.)

Courtesy Kathe Burkhart and Mary Boone Gallery

These are just two of the passel of painting shows that have opened in
the city in 2018. Some others that merit attention: the New Jersey-born
phenom Jamian Juliano-Villani, at JTT, who has never sourced a weird
image she couldn’t make weirder; the septuagenarian realist Catherine Murphy, at Peter Freeman, in whose hands back-yard banalities offer
glimpses of the sublime; and the mid-career German Ellen Gronemeyer,
at Anton Kern, whose work put a storm-cloud spin on Paul Cézanne’s
quote “We live in a rainbow of chaos.” Below are three more painting
reviews, hot off the presses, from the January 29th issue of the
magazine.—Andrea K. Scott

Carla Klein

The subject of the Dutch painter’s new show is greenhouses, but her
imagery evokes haunted houses as well. Strict gray lines delineate
transparent architecture with illusionistic precision. The tropical
plants—a dashed-off bromeliad, a lushly rendered fern—serve as a
reminder that paint is itself a kind of haunting. Klein has long worked
from photographs, incorporating accidents of the darkroom into her
elegant paintings. You may find yourself asking if the ectoplasmic
irregularities here originated with smudges on negatives or with the
dirty glass walls that they document. But such questions don’t break the
spell of these entrancing scenes, in which a coiled heating unit assumes
the otherworldly aspect of a flying saucer.

Through Feb. 15. (Bonakdar, 521 W. 21st St., 212-414-4144.)

Katherine Bernhardt

Slices of watermelon, Nike swooshes, bug-eyed Garfields, rolls of toilet
paper, and Coke bottles, outlined in spray paint and filled in with
drippy areas of color—no one could accuse this talented painter of
holding back. Bernhardt renders her boisterous images with pictographic
consistency and appealingly messy abandon. “Laundry Day” is the
monochromatic outlier: it shows a Day-Glo Pink Panther, with tube socks
floating around him, disappearing into a background of muddied fuchsia.
As funny, and even festive, as the paintings are, look with care and
you’ll notice their critical streak. In “Dole + Darth Vader,” bananas
hover around the Stars Wars villain—part Storm Trooper commander, part
Carmen Miranda. Through Feb. 11. (Canada, 333 Broome St., 212-925-4631.)

Arcmanoro Niles

A supernaturally bright cadmium orange dominates the portraits in the
twenty-eight-year-old painter’s show, titled “Revisiting the Area.” The
area is the neighborhood in Washington, D.C., where Niles grew up. In
his dreamy compositions, he exalts his subjects with hair styles and
beards dense with glitter, while populating their surroundings with
spectral figures and menacing creatures. In “A Safe Place Since Birth
(Sisters),” two middle-aged women—one appears serious, the other
beatific—stand in front of a brick wall. At their feet, a ghoulish baby
wields a shiv—the predominant mood is a far cry from safe. A similar
demon attends the five young men portrayed hanging out on the stoop of a
housing complex in “Where We Played as Kids.” That figure and the fiery
palette lend a jittery edge to a scene that might have otherwise felt
nostalgic. Through Feb. 25. (Uffner, 170 Suffolk St., 212-274-0064.)


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