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Looking at the month ahead, Something Curated highlights six of the most exciting art exhibitions taking place in New York this December. 


Levant, at MINI/Goethe-Institut Curatorial Residencies Ludlow 38 || Paul Maheke, Ligia Lewis & Melika Ngombe (Until 15 Dec 2019)

Levant is an installation by French artist and choreographer Paul Maheke incorporating a video made in collaboration with dancer and choreographer Ligia Lewis and experimental musician Melika Ngombe Kolongo, aka Nkisi. Focusing on what is left untold, unseen, and absent, Maheke is specifically interested in embodied memories and knowledge. Translucence and a blurring of the field of vision are at the heart of this work, which oscillates between visibility and erasure. Concise repetitive gestures and sounds, mumbled words akin to spells being cast, ambiguous objects, spectral shadows, and long echoes serve as strategies to build a poetic and penetrating space.


Reunion, at Galerie Perrotin New York || Chen Fei (Until 21 Dec 2019)

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🌵 Chen Fei's paintings, currently on view at Perrotin New York, are embedded with aesthetic references from different historical periods and cultures. In ‘Big Model,’ which is set against a meticulous Baroque background, the model is portrayed with a flatness heavily influenced by Japanese as well as European and American comic books, with the graphic patterns on the model’s skin signaling the prevalence of tattoo culture. In contrast to ‘Big Model,’ ‘Studio Portrait’ is painted in a manner atypical of Chen’s practice. The headgear is depicted with chiaroscuro, a painterly technique developed during the Renaissance period; while the portrait on the headgear is devoid of solid and thicker lines found elsewhere on the canvas. Instead, it makes use of sfumato, achieving a more realistic result with blurry, drawn lines. Moreover, these complementary works reflect the significance of counterpoint, a feature intrinsic to traditional Chinese culture. Counterpoint manifests in the two paintings through the use of corresponding elements: the depiction of flowers versus grass in the background; the use of male versus female subjects; the incline and the levelness of the wooden floor in the foreground; and the directions of the light source from beyond the canvas, bottom left versus top right. — Chen Fei: 'Reunion' 📍 Perrotin New York 📆 On view through December 21, 2019 — #ChenFei #Reunion #PerrotinNewYork #Perrotin — 1) Chen Fei, Studio Portrait / 工作室的肖像, 2018. Acrylic on Linen, 290 x 200 cm | 114 3/16 x 78 3/4 inch. 2) Chen Fei, Big Model / 大模特, 2017 Acrylic on linen. 114 3/16 x 78 3/4 in / 290 x 200 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin.

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Over the past three years, Chen Fei has developed an artistic practice focusing on two genres: portrait and still life. Utilising a unique visual language and perspective, Chen superimposes contemporary signifiers over art historical symbolism, resulting in paintings that function as containers of meaning rather than mere representations. A prominent figure in China’s post-1980s generation, this exhibition marks the artist’s first major presentation in the Americas. In this new body of work, Chen speaks to the philosophies of two disparate cultures, as well as the localised rendition of Western art in the Chinese context, by embedding a spectrum of art historical references.


Since Last We Met, at Simon Lee Gallery || Anna Betbeze, Mike Kelley, Eric N. Mack, Robert Morris, Robert Rauschenberg & More (Until 21 Dec 2019)

Simon Lee Gallery, New York, presents Since Last We Met, an intergenerational group exhibition organised by Debra Singer in collaboration with the gallery. The show centres around an imagined set of metaphorical conversations among artists who experiment with notions of materiality. Blurring boundaries between painting and sculpture as well as between craft and fine art forms, artists from three generations are put in discussion with one another, as they transform found and commonplace objects into new works, alternatively reflecting uncanny sensibilities or an embrace of cultural or gendered embodied identities. With works dating from the 1970s to the present, the show reflects eclectic material sensibilities generated from production methods that are alternatively virtuosic and handcrafted, on the one hand, or industrial and ad hoc, on the other.


Anish Kapoor, at Lisson Gallery || Anish Kapoor (Until 20 Dec 2019)

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Opening this week in New York, Lisson Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition with Anish Kapoor, one of the most celebrated artists of his generation. Having represented Kapoor since 1982 – and held seventeen exhibitions of his work across London and Milan – this will be Lisson Gallery’s first exhibition with Kapoor in the United States. This dual exhibition of new works will extend to both New York spaces, showing new and recent sculptures, both wall-based and freestanding. One of the defining languages of Kapoor's oeuvre is indisputably his manipulation of space, and the mirrored surface as a material in this endeavor can be seen internationally through his major public commissions. These highly reflective works combine a painterly subtlety with a powerful monumentality, contrasting the stillness of a flawlessly polished surface with an ever-oscillating echo of its environment. A major new mirror work, Tsunami (2018), will sit at the core of the Lisson Gallery exhibition. This large-scale, mesmerizing sculpture derives its form from the projection of a circle onto an hourglass, a historic symbol connected to the sign of infinity and the endless time of a Möbius strip. These intertwining curvatures come together into a seamlessly fluid shape, wondrously transcending the boundaries of volume, and capturing a metaphorical infinity within its surface. The raised edge of the sculpture invites the audience to gaze into a self-reflecting void where their reflection descends into an ambiguous limitless space. The area beneath the sculpture becomes, like in many of Kapoor’s works, a negative one, a void. Simultaneously dominating the terrain and dissolving into it, this massive form hovers gracefully on the ground at two precise points, miraculously poised and balanced. Join us for the Opening Reception on Wednesday October 30, 6-8pm. Lisson Gallery, 504 W 24th Street and 138 Tenth Avenue, New York. The exhibition continues through December 20, 2019. #AnishKapoor #LissonGallery #AnishKapoorTsunami @dirty_corner

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This dual exhibition of new works by Anish Kapoor extends to both of Lisson’s New York spaces, showing new and recent sculptures, both wall-based and freestanding. This exhibition follows recent shows this Spring: at Lisson Gallery and Pitzhanger Manor, London, and at Fundación CorpArtes, Chile. One of the defining languages of Kapoor’s oeuvre is indisputably his manipulation of space, and the mirrored surface as a material in this endeavour can be seen internationally through his major public commissions. These highly reflective works combine a painterly subtlety with a powerful monumentality, contrasting the stillness of a flawlessly polished surface with an ever-oscillating echo of its environment. A major new mirror work, Tsunami (2018), sits at the core of the Lisson Gallery show.


La Nueva Fotos, at haul gallery || John A. Rivas (7 Dec 2019 – 12 Jan 2020)

John Rivas’​ paintings are primarily influenced by his family. Working from an archive of personal photos, he depicts his upbringing in a Latino household and community. Incorporating found objects near his home in Newark, NJ – and often painting in the living room of his family’s apartment – Rivas constructs a narrative of familial bonds and cultural signifiers, using portraiture as his scaffolding. For La Nueva Fotos, Rivas is showing a collection of photograph-based collage, a first for the young artist. While much of his previous painting begins with a family photo for reference, this is the first time where the photograph is a fundamental visual ingredient. The works on view are small-scale, black and white prints layered with delicate marks of colourful paint, handwritten text, and cut-outs.


To Exalt the Ephemeral: Alina Szapocznikow, 1962-1972, at Hauser & Wirth || Alina Szapocznikow (Until 21 Dec 2019)

The visceral, playful, and uncanny aspects of the human bodily experience lay at the centre of Alina Szapocznikow’s oeuvre. Born in Poland to a Jewish family in 1926, the artist survived internment in concentration camps as a teenager during the Holocaust. After the war, Szapocznikow trained as a sculptor in both Prague and Paris, returning to Poland in 1951. By the 1960’s she was radically employing sculpture to render an intimate record of both her memories and her own body in the present. Pioneering in its use of new and unconventional materials, from tinted polyester resin and polyeurethane foam, to everyday items such as pantyhose, newspaper clippings, and grass, Szapocznikow’s art amounts to a powerful meditation on what she once described as “a fleeting instant, a trivial instant … our terrestrial passage.”



Feature image: Reunion, Chen Fei at Galerie Perrotin New York. Installation view. Running until 21 December 2019. (Courtesy Perrotin)

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