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by Max Henry
|Hellzapoppin'! The line snaked around the corner for the opening of "Greater New York," with 3,000 or so people passing through the corridors of P.S.1. Along with the College Art Association at the Hilton Hotel, the Art Show at the Park Avenue Armory and the Armory Show at the Javits Center, Sunday capped what has been a boot-camp week of openings and cocktail parties on the circuit blast -- it's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.
The P.S.1 show out in Long Island City, done in collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art, went off without a glitch, with an evenly spaced installation of works by 149 artists spread throughout the building. It's not nearly as edgy as one might have imagined, but the quality of work is consistently good. It looks like the curators' massive quantities of studio visits paid off.
Standouts include Julian LaVerdiere's mixed-media installation First Attempted Trans-Atlantic Telegraph Cable Crossing (Memorial, Model) (2000), which features cinematic lighting and a brooding techno score by Wolfgang Voigt. An f/x expert who showed sculptures of sunken vessels at Andrew Kreps in December, LaVerdiere has devised a nine-foot-long clipper ship in a casket-sized vitrine, displayed on a mausoleum-like platform with gauzy black curtains.
Paul Pfeiffer's John 3:16 (2000) is a digital video loop of a basketball player in flight, focusing on movement of body and ball, complete with moody musical sound effects. The image is grainy and tweaked, and suggestive of a Gerhard Richter painting. Pfeiffer shows with the Project in Harlem, and is included in the Whitney Biennial 2000.
Steven Brower's Steven Brower Action Prototype (1999) is a hilarious set of action figure self-portraits. Ricci Albenda's excellent Action at a Distance (2000), a sleek rhomboid room made out of fiberglass and drywall set in the low ceilinged rustic basement, is cool and cerebral. Olav Westphalen contributed the wry Smokestack (2000), a tower of Styrofoam bricks topped by an amusing pink styro cloud.
Ernest Jolicoeur gave hope to abstract painting with the work New Fruit (1999), an acrylic and enamel on wood, canvas and Formica that challenges the conventions of the form. And everyone liked Do-Ho Suh's Seoul Home/L.A. Home (1999), a life-size sewn model of a room done in green silk and hanging from the rafters of the large third-floor gallery.
If anything, "Greater New York" provides a look at the vast talent pool in NYC, a deep one indeed.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Wow Neo Wow -- Neo Rauch (that must translate as smokin') was born in 1960 in the former East Germany and his eight large canvases, on view at David Zwirner in his first U.S. show, have the undeniable feel of Socialist Realism.
Bright propaganda colors and Khruschev-era fashions afflict these figurative paintings, which are like giant World's Fair postcards overcome by an Orwellian surrealism. Rauch's absurdist dramas of lugubrious proletarians -- Rauch alter egos? -- at work and at home, teaching and being taught, strike an inexorable, melancholic chord. The people may be as inanimate as plant life, but Rauch's show marks a major-league New York debut. Major, indeed -- as all the works are marked sold in a price range of $20,000 to $25,000.
The rascally pathos of Belgian painter Jan Van Imschoot is everywhere evident in the paintings and drawings in his current show at Bonakdar Jancou, which is titled "How to Sell Your Wife -- Confessions of a Painter." One picture is a copy of Velasquez' Las Meninas with a later, older version of the princess also added in. A work on paper shows a male and female nude, surrounded by impish personifications of the Zodiac.
Van Imschoot implies a world of unconventionality and irony, with a punning sensibility not unlike that of Marcel Broodthaers' and a sense of humor akin to Martin Kippenberger's. Life is absurdly serious and van Imschoot knows when to take it for what it is and when to fuck with it.
Rauch and Van Imschoot, along with the Iranian-born, Berlin-based painter Nader (who shows with Martin Klosterfeld), indicate that there is room in painting for subject matter that exists on a philosophical level, the triumvirate forming the nucleus of an influential group of emerging artists on the global scene.
Chelsea dealer Andrew Kreps has let photographer Liz Deschenes loose in his gallery, where she has organized "Photography about Photography," a gem of a show featuring 13 artists reflecting on the medium itself. The esthetic ranges from the sharp-focus realism of Thomas Ruff to the sublime myopia of Uta Barth, from a concentric, golden sunburst by Adam Fuss to a royal blue monochrome by Donald Moffett. Hopefully the exhibition will travel.
So you've made it to the big town and are living large in the height of nouveau riche decadence, Olympic Tower, with a fabulous view of Saint Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue. What to decorate the pied-a-terre with? Perhaps you'd be interested in the photographs of 25-year-old Daniela Rossell, a New York artist originally from Mexico City who is showing two series of works -- "Ricas y Famosas" and "Olympic Tower" -- at Greene Naftali.
Rossell's subjects include the sexy stepdaughter of Mexico's notorious exiled president, Carlos Salinas, as well as a teen prostitute seated by a rooftop jacuzzi and a nubile high school girl in a tennis outfit. Weaving society portraiture, theater and Orientalism into a contemporary Baroque, the photographs are over-the-top depictions of people living in a real-life fantasy world. Rossell has smartly enticed them to pose in these preposterous environments, embracing the clashing décor -- ornate gilt-framed mirrors and chandeliers, colorful patterned rugs and velvet throws, religious icons and garish portrait paintings.
A recurrent theme is not just the money, but the projections of women as powerful deities, the high priestess or Goddess. It's a bold move to show these works frameless and taped to the wall, as unapologetically resplendent as their inhabitants.
Assorted Flavors is a group show at the newly opened Catherine Moore Fine Art, located at 140 West 30th Street. It features work by Charles Andresen, Amanda Church, Jenny Hankwitz and Andrew Chesler, all abstract painters. Chesler in particular makes a techno splash with his nod to Color Field painting. A devotee of Gary Stephan's sublime stain technique, he adds muted Starburst colors and race-car detailing to convey an ambient world. The familiar shapes are based on traffic signs, blankly suggesting futuristic cities and digital design.
MAX HENRY writes on art from New York.