New York's Best Exhibitions to See, February 2024 | Feature

Source Credit:  Content and images from Ocula Magazine.  Read the original article - https://ocula.com/magazine/features/new-york-must-see-exhibitions-february-2024/

Surveying New York’s thriving, ever-expanding gallery scene, we focused on five exhibitions on view throughout February. From experimental abstract paintings by Ross Bleckner at Petzel to Jennifer Guidi’s imaginary landscapes at Gagosian and Cindy Sherman’s performative photographs of collaged characters at Hauser & Wirth, these are the must-see shows.

Ross Bleckner, Advice for Starting Over (2022). Oil on linen. 182.9 x 243.8 cm.

Ross Bleckner, Advice for Starting Over (2022). Oil on linen. 182.9 x 243.8 cm. Courtesy the artist and Petzel. Photo: Thomas Barratt.

Ross Bleckner: Mashber
Petzel, 520 West 25th Street
18 January–9 March 2024

Expect: sublime paintings that blur the boundary between abstraction and representation.

Among the first artists to confront the AIDS crisis through art, Ross Bleckner has used painting to address social issues since the 1990s. A student of John Baldessari and teacher of Dana Schutz, he started as an abstract painter, later adding realistic elements to his paintings, including birds traversing striped canvases and monochromatic fields.

At Petzel, Bleckner carries on the conceptual thread of his earlier works, with paintings of entangled flowers and abstract brushwork woven into patterns inspired by brain scans of people with schizophrenia and drug addiction. ‘The idea that the body is so perfect, until it’s not perfect. It’s a fragile membrane that separates us from disaster,’ Bleckner explains.

Experimenting with painterly techniques, he ignited the paint on several canvases, including Afraid to Think About Death (2023), to create the hazy, ghostly effect of life fading. For others, he concocted a big brush and applied poured paint to pay homage to Willem de Kooning and Helen Frankenthaler—two acclaimed abstract painters of Long Island’s East End, where Bleckner continues to work.

Exhibition view: Cindy Sherman, Hauser & Wirth, Wooster Street, New York (18 January–16 March 2024). © Cindy Sherman.

Exhibition view: Cindy Sherman, Hauser & Wirth, Wooster Street, New York (18 January–16 March 2024). © Cindy Sherman. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Sarah Muehlbauer.

Cindy Sherman
Hauser & Wirth, 134 Wooster Street
18 January–16 March 2024

Expect: theatrical images of expressive women with a Frankensteinian twist.

Photographing herself for nearly 50 years, Cindy Sherman has created a colourful cast of characters that remarkably reflect the mediated world we continue to inhabit.

Working alone in the studio with a camera, lights, and an assortment of wigs, costumes, make-up, and prosthetics, the celebrated Pictures Generation artist has mirrored stereotypical women from films and fashion ads and editorials, everyday people and ageing socialites, and art historical figures and freaky clowns.

Tasked to create a new body of work for her 2023 summer solo show at Hauser & Wirth in Zurich, Sherman almost cancelled because she didn’t know what to do. Revisiting an abandoned idea for making patterned wallpaper from parts of her face, she saw a new potential for her figures when she turned the imagery from colour to black-and-white.

Working with a singular portrait as the base, she digitally joined cut-out facial features to construct rough, Picassoesque pictures with a playful, Frankensteinian twist. Producing the original, updated portraits at a smaller scale, Sherman added a group of larger, delightfully strange characters that dramatically draw from a marvellous mix of art and life.

Jennifer Guidi, Let the Light Fall Gently (2023). Sand, acrylic, oil, and rocks on linen. 152.4 x 121.9 cm. © Jennifer Guidi.

Jennifer Guidi, Let the Light Fall Gently (2023). Sand, acrylic, oil, and rocks on linen. 152.4 x 121.9 cm. © Jennifer Guidi. Courtesy the artist and Gagosian. Photo: Brica Wilcox.

Jennifer Guidi: Rituals
Gagosian, 541 West 24th Street
17 January–2 March 2024

Expect: radiant Neo-Pointillist paintings that transform the architectural white box into a lively realm of contemplation.

Trained as a figurative painter in Boston and Chicago in the 1990s and exhibiting her representational art in Los Angeles in the 2000s, Jennifer Guidi gradually turned to abstraction after a 2012 trip to Morocco.

Returning from North Africa with handwoven rugs, she photographed their undersides and began making monochromatic drawings and paintings, which were equally inspired by colourful walls in L.A. scenes she documented on Instagram. Recalling works incorporating sand by Modernist masters she admired, such as Picasso and Dubuffet, Guidi next added the earthy texture to her paintings and then integrated immersive mandalas, which quickly became her signature style.

For her recent paintings at Gagosian, the artist covered the surface of each stretched linen canvas with wet sand and scored it with a wooden dowel—starting from a centre point and working out. Letting the canvas dry, she used it as an armature for meditative, imaginary landscapes painted with a mixture of oils and acrylics. Pigmented with a vibrant palette, her transcendental mountains and spiritual sunsets vibrate with joyful, glowing energy.

Exhibition view: Theaster Gates, Hold Me, Hold Me, Hold Me, White Cube, New York (26 January–2 March 2024). © Theaster Gates.

Exhibition view: Theaster Gates, Hold Me, Hold Me, Hold Me, White Cube, New York (26 January–2 March 2024). © Theaster Gates. Courtesy the artist and White Cube. Photo: © White Cube (On White Wall).

Theaster Gates: Hold Me, Hold Me, Hold Me
White Cube, 1002 Madison Avenue
26 January–2 March 2024

Expect: conceptual artworks in dialogue with Black histories.

Theaster Gates began his creative career as a performance and installation artist in his hometown of Chicago in 2007, after studying urban planning and ceramics at Iowa State University, pottery in Japan, and fine arts and religion at the University of Cape Town.

Interest grew in his socially engaged art following his inclusion in the 2010 Whitney Biennial, the same year that his Rebuild Foundation—an organisation dedicated to preserving Black neighbourhoods and histories while creating jobs—gained non-profit status. Utilising materials salvaged from the foundation’s seven building projects and former businesses in Chicago, Gates has subsequently fashioned meaningful art for museums and galleries worldwide.

Titled after a refrain from Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack’s 1972 song, ‘Be Real Black for Me’, Gates’ solo show at White Cube’s newest space is tied to generational history. A piano preserved with tar and roofing materials rests above a marble plinth to commemorate the profound duet and Gates’ recently deceased dad, who was a roofer.

Nearby, a pair of landscape paintings rendered in roofing materials and enamel paint from Gates’ local hardware store reiterate the dualities explored in other works, while upstairs, three installations made with vestiges from the Johnson Publishing Company—which published Ebony and Jet magazines—capture moments that the artist feels are sadly slipping away.

Exhibition view: Oda Jaune, Miss Understand, Templon, New York (11 January–9 March 2024).

Exhibition view: Oda Jaune, Miss Understand, Templon, New York (11 January–9 March 2024). Courtesy the artist and Templon. Courtesy the artist and Templon, Paris, Brussels and New York. Photo: © Charles Roussel.

Oda Jaune: Miss Understand
Templon, 293 10th Avenue
11 January–9 March 2024

Expect: new paintings, nearly 50 intimate watercolours, and a living space of an imaginary woman contemplating how women are perceived today.

A student of the legendary German artist Jörg Immendorff at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Oda Jaune is fascinated with the human figure—and what’s hidden inside. Jaune’s solo American debut centres a woman who cannot be understood, yet wants to understand the world.

A visionary painter, Jaune was born in Bulgaria and lived in Paris (where she has shown with Galerie Templon since 2009) before relocating to London. Interested in freedom in art and the idea of humans as more-than-human, Jaune sources the subjects of her seemingly surreal paintings, sculptures, and drawings from the internet and personal photographs.

Paintings like M for Milk (2023), which shows a hairy body with a breast dripping milk, and M for Mother (2023), highlight the loving aspect of a woman’s life. Contrastingly, F like Flame (2023) depicts a nude female being burned alive, in the way that women who stepped out of the norm were once torched as witches.

Looking to ask questions rather than provide answers, Jaune lovingly presents her downstairs installation as a living space for Miss Understand, with everything in it created in unusual ways. —[O]

Source Credit:  Content and images from Ocula Magazine.  Read the original article - https://ocula.com/magazine/features/new-york-must-see-exhibitions-february-2024/