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Elizabeth Buhe

Elizabeth Buhe is a critic and art historian based in New York.

Donald Judd: Maker, Baker

Crisp, clean, cool, no-frills, matter-of-fact—these and similar adjectives constitute a familiar lexicon for the work currently on display in Judd, the appropriately tight, monosyllabic title MoMA has given its Donald Judd retrospective, the first in New York in over 30 years.

Abstraction in the Black Diaspora

A signal feat of Abstraction in the Black Diaspora and other similar efforts that draw attention to formally adjacent but culturally distinct iterations of artistic practice is that they dislodge entrenched hermeneutic methods that are part and parcel of the dominant narratives themselves.

Harold Cousins: Forms of Empty Space

Nearly fifty works—metal sculptures, unique pieces of jewelry, and works on paper—at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery amount to a mini retrospective of American sculptor Harold Cousins’s work. Collectively they show the sweep of a career open to brave experimentation and Cousins’s searching eye for the power of simple forms found in surrounding culture.

Courtney Childress: Fuzzy Logic

A playful line, cutting around and across abstract constellations of squares, tiny stars, or triple helixes, is consistent throughout Courtney Childress’s seven new works on view at Deanna Evans Projects. The line takes up various guises, as a knotty string, chain links, an incomplete halo, or a very long wave that snakes back and forth across the front of the canvas in horizontal stripes. Unlike the continuity of a drawn line or the coherence of a gestural brush mark, Childress’s twists and translucent fields are made by using barbed needles to meticulously push colored wool fibers through an unprimed canvas, or by tacking hand-felted yarn down onto that same surface.

Clare Grill: At the Soft Stages

Clare Grill’s nine new paintings on linen at Derek Eller are breathtaking in their expansiveness. Usually I don’t foreground my own embodied responses to art in my writing, preferring instead to extrapolate an observation that surfaces as interpretation. But my actual gasp before these paintings was so visceral that it warrants mention.

Light from Water: Heidi Howard & Esteban Cabeza de Baca, with Liz Phillips

Stepping into Light from Water at Wave Hill in the Bronx is a little bit like time travel, or space travel, or both. Artists Heidi Howard and Esteban Cabeza de Baca present a different worldview than the one that fuels New York City’s supertall buildings, logic of accumulation, and newly-shellacked Tribeca galleries.

Lumin Wakoa: In Time

Lumin Wakoa made all of the 17 paintings on view at Deanna Evans Projects this year, beginning many at outdoor sites—including her own front garden—near her home in Ridgewood or her nearby Bushwick studio. This was in part occasioned by the pandemic, which made commuting via public transit inadvisable. The result is a body of work self-confidently located within the tradition of plein air painting,

Shawanda Corbett: To the Fields of Lilac

If we understand the world Corbett’s art builds through the pressure of fingers and brush to extend beyond the gallery’s reach, we find a powerful model for problem-solving poised to yield an ever-adapting environment flexible enough to accommodate needs that are, as of yet, unknown.

Maureen St. Vincent: Ripple Hiss

Maureen St. Vincent’s six pastel drawings (all 2022) now on view at Hesse Flatow are surreal, grotesque, and seductive. Amoebas squirm and snails slide. In Biancabella and the Snake, a slender onyx serpent winds through a landscape of puffy pink or yellow biomorphs, its body cleaved improbably by an undulating vulva hovering at compositional center. In Price’s Daughters, a braided umbilical cord penetrates a six-fingered shell while its twin’s upper lobe bears a butterfly-shaped hole. Through this puncture an orange-trimmed background spills forth its blue insides, confounding the laws of space. Here, base organisms are pristine: nowhere do we find a slime trail’s glimmer.

Rose Nestler: too bad for heaven, too good for hell

The ten fabric sculptures on view in too bad for heaven, too good for hell at Mrs. prove that Rose Nestler is an exceptional artist, able to align the formal manipulation of her materials and the conceptual contours of her message so closely that the result is both wholly her own and wholly convincing.

Ellen Lesperance: Velvet Fist

The title’s synecdoche—in which something modestly sized stands for something larger—resonates throughout the exhibition, whose unassuming scale belies the ambition of the work, which extends beyond the museum’s walls and reaches into both the past and the future.

Aliza Shvarts: Purported

Shvarts’s work engages a remarkably capacious set of considerations: the interpersonal and the institutional, the practical and the theoretical, a historical act and its circulation. These concepts expose the systems that structure our societies, revealing their inequity while encouraging us to imagine how our own bodies are already ensnared within them.

Leilah Babirye: Ebika Bya ba Kuchu mu Buganda (Kuchu Clans of Buganda) 

Entering Leilah Babirye’s show at Gordon Robichaux feels like walking into a solemn space loaded with gravitas—a regal court of yesteryear or, at least as I imagine it, Brancusi’s studio. This is another way of saying that the 39 wooden and ceramic works and the handful of monotype prints on view here command an extremely powerful sense of presence.

The Symbolists: Les Fleurs du mal

With Baudelaire’s compendium as their touchstone, gallerist and artist Karen Hesse Flatow and guest curator Nicole Kaack show that Baudelaire’s chief concerns remain productive terrain for an emerging generation of artists whose diverse work is gathered in The Symbolists: Les Fleurs du mal at Hesse Flatow.

Deb Sokolow: Profiles in Leadership // Drawings without words

From anecdotes relayed in “Profiles in Leadership,” we learn, among other things, that David Copperfield has been employed by a political campaign to disappear candidates about to commit verbal self-sabotage, that Vladimir Putin has prepared muffins from the flesh of a shark he single handedly overpowered, and that Fidel Castro categorically evaded women to avoid being poisoned.

Emily Mason: Chelsea Paintings

In looking at the canvases of Emily Mason now on view at Miles McEnery we sense not so much a relation to a certain place or thing, but a lifetime of visual experiences put down onto canvas through a keen process of filtering. The result in Mason’s work is necessarily nonspecific yet points nonetheless toward layers of feeling: light reflected off a rippling canal, a gleaming gold surface, flowers in mid-summer.

Huguette Caland: Tête-à-Tête

One of the questions posed by Huguette Caland: Tête-à-Tête (Head to Head) at the Drawing Center is how the artist’s works link embodiment with experience of the built environment—or how they are, as one wall label notes, “at once bodies and maps.” Both of these terrains have been subjected to the kind of seeing, measuring, and regularizing that is the inheritance of colonial modernity, but Caland reorders this logic through soft, sensorily evocative form, winding continuous lines, and layered mark-making that yields densely hatched thickets vibrating with electric poppies.

Katelyn Eichwald: Never

There is a wicked alchemy to Katelyn Eichwald’s work. Her modestly-sized paintings of ordinary subject matter—piled rope, a gleaming white turret, a shadowy clockface—bewitch us, like scrims, portals, or talismans might.

Lily Stockman: The Tilting Chair

Stockman’s project reads as epistemological rather than ontological in orientation. She queries not what painting is, but how it is what it is and, especially, how we come to know this.

Samara Golden: Upstairs at Steve’s

Unlike those in which we find the Rückenfigur, that singular figure of the romantic sublime, Golden’s vast landscape is not a verdant expanse unperturbed by human hands but something like its opposite: the apparent site of both personal and natural disaster. Yet evacuated of human presence, the narratives suggested here remain open to our imagination.

Sanam Khatibi: An hour before the Devil fell

The show at PPOW consists of 22 paintings and two wall-bound sculptures (all 2019). Five large paintings depict reposing, peachy-porcelain nudes arranged on shallow, tree-framed outcroppings, surrounded by the detritus of extravagant feasts: dishes loaded with fruit, meticulously-crafted cakes, chalices alight with flames, even an oyster shell full of pearls. This bounty, however, is haunting.

Astrid Terrazas: La Jardinera

The eleven paintings and single sculpture in Astrid Terrazas’s first solo show at P·P·O·W encompass far-reaching spatial and temporal terrain through powerful, graphic figuration.

Adebunmi Gbadebo: Remains

Adebunmi Gbadebo is an extraordinary artist, capable of manipulating, with rare intelligence, carefully-selected materials that align closely with her works’ affective power.

Lily Stockman: Seed, Stone, Mirror, Match

Under deceleration’s magnifying glass, our deliberate politics of self-care is extended, in Stockman’s hands, to the odds and ends that surround us. The artist’s meditation on these circumstances in the Moffett paintings takes her work in a new direction, while still tethering it to her familiar language of softened geometric forms.

“Pleasures and Possible Celebrations”: Rosemary Mayer’s Temporary Monuments, 1977–1981

Mayer’s exhibition is contemplative and compact, a deep dive into a body of work not seen since it was first exhibited in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Loie Hollowell: Plumb Line

Body is vessel in the nine new paintings by Loie Hollowell that make up Plumb Line, the artist’s debut show with Pace. With a strong, centrally-placed vertical line as her organizing principle, Hollowell delivers human forms distilled into a succinct vocabulary of curved shapes: bisected disks, almonds, and ovals, plus stacked rows of half-circles crowned by a glowing orb.


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2023

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