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)
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cultures, as well as the localised rendition of Western art in the Chinese context, by embedding a spectrum of art historical references.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)
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)