Monday, December 31, 2018

Contemporary Art: Best Of New York`s Gallery Shows 2018

(Drivebycuriosity) - 2018 was a good year in the world of contemporary art. New York City, which has hundreds of art galleries, presented a flood of impressive art shows. It was so much fun to discover different styles and ideas and I was impressed by the variety of concepts, styles and techniques. Many exhibitions happened of course in the classy galleries of the Chelsea district, but the rapidly gentrifying Lower East Side is getting more and more a strong contender. I display here  my favorites from New York´s gallery shows 2018, as usual a very subjective selection (here my report from 2017 ).

Gallery Kasmin opened their new flagship space with an exhibition of new paintings by Walton Ford, for me the show of the year (509 West 27th Street kasmingallery). The American artist is famous for his naturalist paintings. Wikipedia writes: "Each of his paintings is a meticulous, realistic study in flora and fauna, and is filled with symbols, clues, and jokes referencing texts ranging from colonial literature, to folktales, to travel guides" (wikipedia).

The show focused on Barbary Lions and was called "Barbary". These majestic cats are dangerous & powerful but also beautiful. The press release explains: "The series is a result of over eighteen years of research by Ford into the iconic Barbary lion. This subspecies—the subject of a long, ongoing cultural fascination—historically ranged across the Atlas Mountains of North Africa, but has been extinct in the wild since the early 20th century after over 2000 years of persecution. The Barbary lion is the lion of the Roman amphitheater, the lion painted by Delacroix, and the lion that roars for the Hollywood film studio MGM".

David Zwirner, one the global art gallery empires, celebrated their 25th anniversary and presented a special exhibition celebrating the artists who have shaped the gallery’s program since its founding in 1993. Above images by Neo Rauch, Lisa Yuskavage and the late German artist Sigmar Polke.

Gagosian, another global art gallery empire, presented: Jenny Saville: "Ancestors". According to the press release she "transcends the boundaries of both classical figuration and modern abstraction in her depiction of the human form.....The immense canvases recall archetypes from religion and mythology, such as the pietà and the Fates" (saville). 

Fredericks & Freiser exhibited paintings & drawings by Zack Smith. The show was called "1001 Nights". Zack Smith is an American artist and adult film performer. According to Wikipedia "Smith's body of work primarily comprises portraits, drawings, and abstract art executed in acrylic and ink" (wikipedia). The artist also performs in pornographic movies under the pseudonym Zak Sabbath.

Magical Abstracts

At Loretta Howard Gallery I saw David Row: Counter Clockwise. I really love these magical abstracts.

The New York Academy of Art ( 111 Franklin Street presented "Figurative Diaspora", containing works of "unofficial art" - subversive, non-state sanctioned art - created by Soviet artists and five contemporary Chinese artists, apparently curated by Mark Tansey one of my favorite artists.  Above you can see "Anti Christ (Glory to God) by Komar and Melamid followed by  Lu Liang`s "Huatugo", Yu Hong`s "Resolution"& "Erik Bulatov - Mayakovsky Square" by Oleg Vassiliev.

At Chase Contemporary  I spotted fascinating large murals by the Chinese artist Liu Shuishi 

Richard Taittinger Gallery, owned and founded by a heir of the French Champagne empire Taittinger (at 154 Ludlow St. taittinger), displayed paintings by the French artist Jacques Monory. Apparently the artist is influenced by cinema, especially by film noir.  Most of the paintings look like movie stills and scenes from stylish thrillers.

Gladstone Gallery showed a fascinating installation  by Huang Yong Ping. The controversial artist was born in 1954 in Xiamen, China, and currently lives and works in Paris (artnet). It is a  20-ton replica of a bank building, comprised of sand and concrete, called "Bank of Sand, Sand of Bank" and represents the former HSBC Bank in Shanghai, built in 1923. During the Chinese Revolution of 1949, this Neoclassical landmark was transformed into the Communist Municipal People’s Government Building, and later became the headquarters for the Pudong Development Bank in the 1990s.

Gagosian also presented a collection of Damien Hirst`s new dot paintings: "Colour Space Paintings". The images there were different from the dot paintings I have seen before. They had many more dots and these dots weren`t as precisely realized as the dots on the older paintings. The economist & art expert Don Thompson described in his excellent book  "The Supermodel and the Brillo Box: Back Stories and Peculiar Economics from the World of Contemporary Art" (driveby) the precision & craftsmanship needed to produce Hirst`s famous paintings.

Summer Of Love

At Seizan Gallery I enjoyed an exhibition with paintings by emerging Japanese artists. The show was called  "Nihonga - New Paintings From Japan".  Above images by Junya Tsubota; Eri Iwasaki & Takashi Kanazawa.

Sperone Westwater Gallery on the Bowery displayed paintings by Malcom Morley. I like the strong colors and the combination of a classical style (like a Renaissance painting) with 20th century expressionism.

 Paul Kamin Gallery had an group exhibition, called "Seed". 

Freight + Volume presented a collection of summery images, often erotic, some explicit, called "Summer of Love". Above you can see "She Is Always The First One In" by Aaron Zulpo

Marc Strauss Gallery displayed work by the Spanish artist Antonio Santin. At first I believed I saw tapestry, colorful rugs in the Persian style. But they are not, what I really saw are paintings, all oil on canvas. According to the press release "Santín’s arresting and highly tactile works with its uncannily realistic application of shadow and highlight tempt the viewer to reach out and run their hand over the rug’s pile, which is after all a two-dimensional painting on the canvas mounted on the wall".

Gallery Henoch showed paintings by Gary Ruddell. The exhibition was called "Daydream Believer". The lovely sculpture - called  "Reflections With Ammonite" (Bronze, 24" x 6 1/2" x 13" (1/10) - is a creation by Don Gale.

I was overwhelmed by quantity & quality of the art work I have seen this year and can present here just a small selection. You can find much more on my blog.

Stay tuned!