Welcome to TRIBECA, where the art world is making it their new home. Soho is all retail stores, Chelsea is too expensive and becoming more residential, and the lower east side ceiling heights are too low to hang the incredible sized sculptures, and pieces.I had the pleasure of attending a private art tour with Natasha Schlesinger -a Barnard graduate- who educated me on some of arts newest and brightest stars. Included are a few of the best new galleries that are a must see. – xxKKB
PPOW: Ppow presents 1981–2021, a two-person exhibition featuring the paintings of Brooklyn-based artist Aaron Gilbert and the late Chinese-American painter Martin Wong. Sparking an intergenerational dialogue, this exhibition focuses on two artists whose practices amplify the societal pressures of both their private lives and the New York communities they inhabit. Spanning over 40 years, their work chronicles a continuum of life within a city under siege. From long abandonment compounded by the gutting of public resources, to the mass displacement of black and brown communities, and ultimately bookended by two distinct pandemics, AIDS and COVID-19, both Wong and Gilbert offer windows into the lived realities of their time to reveal transformative potential in the face of societal precariousness.
WONG: Despite the recent resurgence of figurative painting, few artists working today match the nuanced poetry and symbolic density of Wong’s singular vision. Wong first moved to New York in 1978, eventually settling on the Lower East Side, where he turned his attention exclusively to painting. From there, he set forth to depict urban life and through his diaristic approach, built a landscape of stacked bricks, crumbling tenements, closed storefronts, fingerspelling and more. Describing his choice of subject matter, Wong said, “Everything I paint is within four blocks of where I live, and the people are the people I know and see all the time.” More than an artist, Wong was a “documenter of the constellation of social life” during his lifetime. This description, written for Wong’s renowned Exit Art exhibition in 1988, could just as easily be said of Gilbert now.
GILBERT: His quietly charged, domestic scenes circumvent the boundaries imposed by a capitalist society to unearth complex emotional terrains in the presence of crisis. Much like Wong, Gilbert directs his own idiosyncratic lens to his home, neighborhood and surrounding community. Both of these deeply personal and poetic artists turn narrative convention on its head by illuminating historic moments through the private lives of those around them, rather than lauded public figures. This intentional inversion lays their unique visions of the world bare in order to usher in the possibility of new ones. And yet, for Gilbert, the historical significance of Wong’s work is still yet to be fully recognized. Describing his own connection with Wong’s work, Gilbert says “Wong created a new template for what we could ask and expect from figurative painting. I felt I had found someone whose personal relationship to his work was genuine. He wasn’t performing his world for another audience, he was capturing what he loved in the sincerest way, and freezing it in that special perpetual moment that great paintings seem to live eternally in. His work invites us to enter his world and inhabit it on its terms.”
1981–2021 pairs a selection of works by the late artist with Gilbert’s ongoing series. Collapsing time with influences ranging from Early Renaissance painters such as Fra Angelico, devotional retablo painters, to Martin Wong himself, Gilbert honors the profound transformational power of human beings, even in the moments that feel most jarring or unsettling.
Taken together, Wong and Gilbert’s works distill meaning and love amid the darkness of our age to reveal the latent beauty in fundamental human existence. 1981–2021 will be accompanied by a catalogue with essay by scholar, writer, and curator Rich Blint. As the Assistant Professor of Literary Studies and Director of the Program in Race and Ethnicity at The New School, Blint has a vocational dedication to the revolutionary potential of innovative humanities practice.
Peter Williams at Freight and Volume
Freight+Volume is thrilled to announce that we are launching a new space in Tribeca on March 27th, beginning with Peter Williams‘ Black mExodus – his first solo exhibition with F+V.
Located at 39 Lispenard, a historic street known for its architecturally significant buildings and cast-iron facades, the two-level, 2500 sq ft. space has beautiful high tin ceilings, southern light, and exposed brick which will allow us to better promote our artists for the next decade.
The paintings included in Black Exodus have the aura of a lucid dream. Whimsically depicting the exodus of an Afrofuturist people into unexplored climes in outer space and parallel dimensions, Williams also demonstrates how our presence to others, and to history, is mediated by technology. While his personal take on Afrofuturism often comes off as childlike and humorous, the viewer can read into his otherworldly vistas the labors that will have to be reckoned with to realize a new collective identity and freedom.
Space travel is essential to Williams’ Afrofuturist vision. Nevertheless, his figures have an ambivalent relationship with spacesuits, which sometimes seem to hamper their freedom even though they provide an opportunity to live in a new utopian atmosphere. In a painting like Astronaut II, the woman depicted exists apart from her spacesuit; on her face, one detects more than a hint of annoyance at the fact that she has to cover her body with an interplanetary suit.
Williams’ characters often struggle against their environment to realize their destiny; the details of this struggle are recounted in the form of open-ended tableaux. In a painting like Birdman, the frightening mouth which consumes the central figure has a folkloric grandeur about it. The man soon to be engulfed by the mouth has no recourse other than to submit. But is he even aware that he’s being swallowed? There’s a contemplative stillness to this seated figure’s face—as though the metaphysical abstraction swallowing him is really an extension of his own being, which only appears monstrous as an alienated entity.
While decidedly celebrating the birth of a new counterculture, Williams’ works feel somewhat restrained, even stately. At the same time, he doesn’t shy away from flirtations with the prospect of lysergic messiness. Portraying different media and technologies (flying cars, musical instruments, spacesuits, and more-than-tellurian communication tools), Williams shows how these might help shape a collective ideal rooted in Afrofuturism. To the extent that the people of the future people will be dependent on technology to express themselves and survive, Williams tends to highlight the less-than-stellar limitations of space-age instruments, foregrounding the clash between ethics and technological determinism. Peter Williams (b. 1952, Nyack, NY) chronicles current and historical events, interspersing pictorial narratives with personal anecdotes and fictional characters to create colorful paintings about the diverse experiences of Black Americans. With boldness and humor, he often tackles the darkest of subjects including, but not limited to, police brutality, lynching, slavery, mass incarceration, and other realms of racial oppression. Williams uses cultural criticism to form new creation myths, retelling the history of America from fresh and cosmic perspectives. He recently retired from his position as Senior Professor, Fine Arts Department, University of Delaware and taught at Wayne State University for 17 years prior.
Elias Sime, James Cohan
James Cohan is pleased to present TIGHTROPE: ECHO!?, an exhibition of new work. This is Sime’s fourth solo exhibition at James Cohan. A new chapter in the Tightrope series, the wall-based works in this exhibition feature megaphones that have been embellished and affixed to the surface of the picture. The inclusion of this new element points to the artist’s interest in the way information can be successfully or unsuccessfully transmitted. Megaphones are used in large communal gatherings—both by activists demanding their rights and by law enforcement controlling the crowds—to project a message. Yet the series title, ECHO?! questions which voices are amplified.
Sime explains, “As technology connects people virtually and physically from one end of the world to the other, unfiltered and sensational speeches are spread creating confusion and doubting the truth. Each one of the Tightrope: ECHO!? is about what I am witnessing now. I leave the interpretation of the pieces to the viewers. The basic idea is how humans are easily manipulated by individuals and rush for conclusions that they often regret when the truth begins to surface.” One of the joys of working with Elias Sime is going through his endless collections of things. When I say things, I mean anything and everything. He has piles of old silver keychains, coins, untouched banknotes from different eras, buttons, musical instruments, toys, books, medals and of course mountains of electronic components. Among the collections, his studio corner is piled with different megaphones. He said, “This is what I am working on now. It is time to pull them out.” I was not sure what he was going to do with them until he showed me colorful and uneven panels of wood assembled like puzzles with megaphones in the center. Both the panels and the megaphones were covered with electric wires. What struck me was not just the intensity of the wires but the placement of the megaphones. The protruding megaphones on the assembled colorful panels of wood gives them a surrealistic appearance, where sound can be visually imagined. The power of art is its ability to take the mind into a new unimaginable realm. Megaphones are made to be held by one person and amplify ideas or announcements to a captive audience. Often, the ideas are echoed without questioning their motive. This is a worldwide phenomenon. Megaphones have evolved over time from simple cone shaped amplifiers to a more sophisticated waterproof electronic device. As he has often done with his Tightrope series, Elias, has dissected a few of the megaphone interiors and exposed them on the surface. The title for this body of work is Tightrope: ECHO!?Elias’ art has always been about the moment, and today the greatest challenge for humanity is Coronavirus. Invisible to human eyes yet powerful, this virus has exposed our strength and weakness. It continues to attack with new strains. Unlike its divided host, it seems to be focused, organized, and united. A hundred years ago, when the Spanish Flu infected 500 million, one third of the world population, there was an active and anti-mask movement. Just like today, they used freedom to justify their cause. On the flip side, there were those who wore masks and washed their hands.Elias’ Tightrope: ECHO!? works are about this dichotomy, hope and fear of repeating history. He expressed these feelings in Tightrope: ECHO!? YELLOW, the megaphone is amplifying in the center and Elias colorfully constructed the sound with a yellow and brown form. Elias has said “The form is a speech bubble. Some speakers amplify hope. During stressful times, hope can capture the majority. Because we are overwhelmed with lies and innuendos, we tend to doubt the hopeful truth. I added the brown to show a diluted hope. What keeps us moving forward is hope even when we question it.” The red portrait-like figures on each side of the megaphone seem to eagerly pay attention to what is being said. Elias said, “Depending on the messenger and the message, mega-phones can be useful tools. They are simple and mobile often used during political rallies, religious events, and the likes. They are meant to amplify individual ideas and influence thoughts. The loudness of the sound and the frequency of the speaker’s chosen words, can be influential thus expanding the echo.Elias’ recent solo exhibition at the Saint Louis Art Museum includes two large, inverted half globes, covered with woven electrical wires. One of these half globes is entitled Tightrope: EYES and EARS of a Bat (2020). He said, “Bats hang upside down. To a casual observer, this unusual standing position is discomforting. To the bats, it is their natural position. I often wonder if the hollow shape of the caves’ interior is what gives the bats a sense of comfort. Similarly, the ideas amplified through megaphones can be comfortable to some and disturbing to others.” These half globe pieces, influenced by the Native American Cahokia Mounds and the St. Louis Gateway Arch, are about humanity’s urge to let the future generations know that they were there. Just like these monuments, ideas amplified through the megaphone can impact many generations into the future. Elias has never used computers or email or social media. He uses his smartphone only to take photos, receive, and make calls. Yet, during the last ten years, he has been dissecting electronic devices, carefully and methodically transforming them into astounding works of art. The time and cost spent to collect his art material then construct and finish his artwork cannot be easily quantified. For Elias, time and space are irrelevant. Boundless ideas stretch through his brain because he is a keen and analytical observer of everything he sees and touches with sensitivity. The subject of his compositions varies from personal stories to self-analysis or reactions to specific events and places. Over the years, he has been making art about insects, plants, sounds, astronomy, socio-politics, and love. His art rarely expresses anger. Tightrope: ECHO!? is his observation of the current worldwide tension, our reaction and how we can move into the future. Elias’ art has been analyzed and its meaning quickly assumed by many writers. He is often bewildered by narratives about his art, particularly when the focus is on his race and place of birth. He said, “When I think about how my art is often interpreted, I think about the megaphone. Just like the person repeatedly amplifying a certain set of ideas until it is believed, my art needs to keep on evolving to change perspectives. What fascinates me about the human mind is its stubbornness to embrace beliefs regardless of the truth. It is my great hope that the audience will see and analyze Tightrope: ECHO!? not through my body but connect with the art through their unbiased pre-conceived notions.” The power of art is its capacity to go beyond time and space. I once asked Elias how long he will continue working with electronic components and he replied, “The best part of technology is its ability to stretch and adapt to new situations. I am not sure, but for now, I am addicted to all the latest versions of electronics. I am also curious how far it will evolve or if humanity will ever get tired of it.”
Eric Shaw at The HoleThe Hole is proud to announce our first solo exhibition in Tribeca by Eric Shaw. His last solo show with us was cut short by the pandemic and was up when we went dark. A year later as we emerge from the haze and grow into a new second gallery space, we do so with joy and color and PURE MODE.For this exhibition Shaw will exhibit ten vibrant new acrylic paintings throughout our new 1800 sq. ft. gallery. This body of work made during the fall and winter of pandemic times will bloom into spring on fresh walls at a fresh address! To go with our more modestly-sized space, and in accordance with our more delicate proportions, these paintings are petite and perfect. Mostly 2-3ft in size, the bulk of the show is not bulky: zippy with implied motion and exuberant in color activity, these paintings provide fresh exercise for your eyeballs.Inventive shapes drawn from street signage, logos, biological diagrams and even his grandmother’s paintings, these canvases are pungent lozenges of activity. The artist chose “Pure Mode” to express his approach to painting “with no real plan and working through it with a natural instinct and knowledge of my own unconscious idiosyncrasies.” If you scan the QR code on the card you can hear the mix of new age and adult contemporary music that he listens to in the studio.Eric Shaw is a self-taught painter whose bold geometric abstraction draws from the rich visual environment of New York City. Elements of graphic design found in street signs, logos, and advertisements are stretched and skewed as Shaw sketches out what he sees using a drawing app on his phone. The sketches are further copied, pasted and shifted using image editing tools, and then translated onto canvas by hand with acrylic paint. The final work, often incorporating several of the digital sketches in one composition, is a complex conversation between lines, shapes, and color shaped by the functionalities of the imaging tools he implements. His acrylic on canvas paintings are both highly improvisational and painstakingly precise.
Oscar Tuascon at Luhring Augustine
Oscar Tuazon Zome Alloy, 2016
Installation view June 2016 © Art BaselEngaging different methods of construction, Oscar Tuazon frequently uses wood, concrete, glass, steel, and piping as materials to create his structures and installations. His works have roots in minimalism, conceptualism, and architecture, and have a direct relationship with both the site in which they are presented, as well as with their viewer, often through physical engagement.
Oscar Tuazon (b. 1975, Seattle) lives and works in Los Angeles. Recent solo shows include Oscar Tuazon: Fire Worship at the Aspen Art Museum; Oscar Tuazon: Collaborator at Bellevue Arts Museum; Oscar Tuazon: Water School at MSU Broad Museum; and Oscar Tuazon: Bonfire at Dépendence, Brussels, Belgium in 2020, as well as Oscar Tuazon: Hammer Projects at the Hammer Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles in 2016; Studio at Le Consortium, Dijon, France in 2015, and Sensory Spaces 1, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He has been commissioned for numerous public art works including Growth Rings for Central Wharf Park in Boston in 2019; a large-scale installation Une colonne d’eau in the Place Vendôme, Paris in 2017; and Un pont sans fin for Nouveaux Commanditaires, Belfort, France in 2016. Tuazon was also recently included in the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial and the group exhibition In Plain Sight at the Henry Art Gallery in 2020.
Trees are embodied water, bodies of water, petrified fire, water on fire. A tree is a sculpture with no author, a sculpture of water.
— Oscar Tuazon
Luhring Augustine is pleased to announce PEOPLE, a presentation of all new sculptural works by West Coast-based Oscar Tuazon, marking the gallery’s second exhibition of the artist. The conflagration of minimalist abstraction and natural elements in these works embody constantly changing morphologies, addressing notions of the natural systems of growth and decay.
Tuazon is fascinated by wood as a living material that is in a state of continuous becoming: “changing from seed, to plant, to tree, to log, to board, to frame, to building, to pulp, to paper, to ash, to dirt, and back again.” The sculptures in PEOPLE arrest this process in critical but formless moments of the material’s ever-developing transformation. Oil City is comprised of four sculptures arranged in a circle, their burnt wood represents fire petrified and references the charred, salvaged remnants from burn piles, the byproduct of industrial clear-cut logging found near Tuazon’s home in Washington State. Tree of Smoke, a cast iron column that directly mimics those found in the gallery’s architecture, is transformed into a post of smoke through the artist’s addition of a functioning stove at its base.
The column’s function as a supporting element is poetically underscored in a major new sculpture in the form of a dəqʷaled or carved house post. The dəqʷaled is a uniquely pivotal object that exists in Coast Salish tradition in the threshold between the human and the supernatural worlds. A dəqʷaled is both sculpture and architecture, domestic and utilitarian; it functions as a stand-in for the owner of the house, a commissioned spirit portrait. The sculpture is a collaboration between Tuazon and the poet Cedar Sigo (Suquamish), deeply inspired by the work of Chief William Shelton whose posts are discursive, inviting performance and audience response in the tradition of Salish storytelling. During the course of the exhibition, Sigo will perform a poetic ceremony with the sculpture while it is on display.
Also on view in the exhibition will be Natural Man, a functioning bronze and concrete fountain cast from a black oak trunk. The sculpture captures the tree at the moment the water flowing through it began to produce new growth; in this sense, it recalls Meret Oppenheim’s magisterial Tower Fountain, an ecosystem embodied in one single sculpture. The maquette for this new edition work, that included the original black oak wood from which the bronze was cast, was shown in the 2016 exhibition, Hammer Projects: Oscar Tuazon at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.
Oscar Tuazon has had major public installations at the Place Vendôme, Paris; Central Wharf Park, Boston, MA; and Nouveaux Commanditaires, Belfort, France. He has presented recent solo exhibitions at the Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO; Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue, WA; Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at MSU, East Lansing, MI; Dépendence, Brussels, Belgium; and the Hammer Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA. The artist will be included in the 34th Sao Paulo Biennale later this year. Tuazon’s work is in renowned international collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; the Kunsthaus Zürich; the Migros Museum of Contemporary Art, Zürich; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris.
CAROLINE WALKER AT Grimm gallery
Caroline Walker’s paintings are a lens for the everyday lives of women, and her portraits of diverse subjects tell their story through the spaces they inhabit. Each of Walker’s series conveys a distinct sense of time and place: from the undisguised luxury and class dynamics of beauty parlors in her series Painted Ladies, to the humanistic portraits of refugees and asylum seekers in Home, to scenes of anonymous women at work framed by the architecture of London in service. For her upcoming exhibition at GRIMM, Walker turns her focus to her immediate surroundings. She explores the boundary between being an observer — that is preserving the “objective” eye of an outsider – and magnifying the experience of a place which has become part of the fabric of her life. Walker’s new series of paintings were conceived as a reflection on community and how the anonymous people we encounter become characters in our own stories. Her subjects include a neighbor working in her garden, the local drycleaner and a pharmacy sales assistant, all of whom are connected within a discrete area of the sprawling London metropolis. Walker describes small movements of daily existence and encapsulates the corners of life which are often overlooked but nonetheless vital, written and erased from history over and over again. They also serve as a kind of self-portrait by recording the artist’s journey through the places she frequents.
Walker has received wide acclaim for her portrayals of women as works of social commentary, although it is her ability to distill viewpoints from familiar settings and her talent as a colorist that first impact viewers of her paintings. The complexities of her subjects’ lives filter through to the surface and coalesce in images that both fulfill the senses and speak to poignant moments of human experience. This exhibition will be Walker’s fourth solo presentation at the gallery and the inaugural solo exhibition at GRIMM’s new Tribeca space in New York.
Caroline Walker’s largescale canvases and intimate scenes depict anonymous women in settings that blur the boundaries between public and private. Her paintings hint at the narrative possibilities of the women pictured in different settings, but their stories are never fully revealed to the viewer. Initially Walker’s process involved hiring models and staging domestic scenes which she photographed and used as the source material for her paintings. Walker meticulously determined the position of visual signifiers in these psychologically charged spaces, subverting archetypes of gender and relationships. In 2016, she adopted a more documentarian approach, stepping out into the streets of London to profile women at work in restaurants, nail bars, hair salons, and hotels. As a commission for Kettle’s Yard (Cambridge, UK) Walker collaborated with the charity Women for Refugee Women in 2017 to make a series of paintings of women refugees and asylum seekers. This experience deepened her interest in the invisibility of female-dominated professions, such as retail, hospitality, and cleaning, and labor that is often undervalued or taken for granted. Walker has broadened the scope of her paintings to include women working in a wide range of positions, with a sensitivity to the figure’s role within the space and work environment. A sense of distance remains between the viewer and Walker’s subjects, pronounced by the seemingly voyeuristic framing of her compositions. At times, the countenance or body language of her subjects reveals a sense of discord between their surroundings and their thoughts and emotions. As a cohesive body of work, Walker’s paintings explore the performance of gender identity, femininity, and question the norms of depicting women and the female form across a range of socio-economic contexts.
Caroline Walker (b. 1982 in Dunfermline, UK) currently lives and works in London (UK), where she completed her MA at the Royal College of Art in 2009.
Maria Fragosa at 1969
1969 Gallery presents El jardín entre tus dientes, María Fragoso’s first solo exhibition at the gallery, featuring six new paintings and 13 new works on paper by the 25-year old artist. In Seeding, Fragoso presents the viewer with a doubled portrait, as two figures raise gloved hands, water spouting from their mouths. Their elbows rest on a clothed table littered with objects such as pomegranates, snails, and a conch shell—an arrangement evoking the ritualesque—as Fragoso’s twin subjects perform an ambiguous act in an undefined space. In the foreground, two more red latex gloves enter from out of frame, suggesting the ceremony’s significance may lie beyond the scope of the representable.
To mouth presents the bodies of two masked figures interlocked amidst flora and fauna. Shells and fruits are once again strewn across the foreground, signaling that Fragoso’s canvases share a common, illusory setting. This landscape becomes subject in Decadencia, un solo sabor a fruta madura, a not quite still life in which snails slither amongst bruised apples, cracked egg shells, and tie-dyed oranges. In Fragoso’s work, notions of realism and naturalism are eschewed for the surreal, as the artist engenders a space of pure symbolism, where fantasy and the uncanny can take form. Such a space privileges the personal over the universal, as Fragoso mines the subconscious for fears, desires, and their representations. Fragoso’s smooth, fleshy forms are rendered with considerable depth, and each scene is meticulously framed, allowing for full absorption into the artist’s evocative dreamscapes.
María Fragoso (b. 1995, Mexico City) lives and works in Mexico City. Her paintings depict many aspects of the myriad of coexisting identities in Mexico; celebrating Mexican culture, while also trying to offer a critical look into Mexico’s conception of gender, sexuality, human relations and national belonging. Drawing upon the rich history of Mexican Surrealists, Fragoso’s work carves out a place for itself as a contemporary counterpart to these artists through her use of color and symbolist language.
She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College Art (MICA) in Baltimore. Her residences include Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Yale Norfolk School of Art, Vermont Studio Center Fellowship and Palazzo Monti. She attended the Studio Arts College International (SACI) study abroad program in Florence, Italy.