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Joyce Pensato

To enter Petzel’s 18th Street gallery is to enter Joyceland, Joyce Pensato’s self-described twisted and beautiful version of Disneyland, where Mickey Mouse, Cartman, Bozo the Clown, Batman, and others greet you in Pensato’s paint-splattered world.

Eddie Martinez: Inside Thoughts

Meaty and heady, Eddie Martinez’s densely packed paintings, rich with associations and imagery—all in the form of quotidian objects, sports paraphernalia, kitchen and dining items, art-history fragments—refuse to commit to a specific time or style.

Tara Donovan: Intermediaries

Donovan’s latest show at Pace represents work made before the pandemic, but the six installations largely satisfy the present need for an art that engages bodies, reveals a sense of self and presence (both as viewer and assertive creator), and encourages a return to social engagement.

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian: Mirror-works and Drawings (2004–2016)

While the artist is not seeking to recreate the places of worship and power from which she draws her inspiration, she instead distills what is most human and irreconcilable about those spaces: the act of “containing multitudes.”


Is there such a thing as outsider photography? The term “outsider” has come to mean either self-taught, outside the art establishment or, in the more extreme version, cut off from many forms of social intercourse by mental illness or incarceration.

Canal Street Research Association: Shanzhai Lyric

In this space just west of Mercer Street, Shanzhai Lyric traces the transitory and ephemeral nature of Canal Street as a site of knockoff production, dislocated trade routes, and gentrification—and the ways in which bootlegging can generate creative disruptions.

Deborah Roberts: I'm

Deborah Roberts: I’m, now on view at The Contemporary Austin, is the artist’s first solo museum show in Texas. I’m features all new work, including figural collage with hand-painted elements and two firsts for the artist: an interactive installation and a grand-scale mural on the building’s exterior.

Eric Fischl: Meditations on Melancholia

Because many of his figures appear in settings with backyard swimming pools or the ocean, a range of blues dominates his works. Frequently, his subjects are more memorable than his technique.

Lindy Lee: Moon in a Dewdrop

Lindy Lee: Moon in a Dewdrop at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Sydney, Australia, is an absorbing, carefully arranged, and highly informative survey charting Lee’s development from fin-de-siècle postmodernist to an exponent of contemporary trans-culturalism.

Jane Freilicher: Parts of a World

Freilicher, a quietly brilliant painter of interiors, is represented here with 15 still lifes that show the full spectrum of her work from the 1950s to the early 2000s. The muted hues of her paintings, combined with a high lyricism for which she was known from the beginning of her career, invests her work with a poetics that can only be admired, on both a thematic and a technical level.

Krištof Kintera: THE END OF FUN!

THE END OF FUN! opened at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery during the Coronavirus pandemic in September 2020, then the largest exhibition of work by Czech artist Krištof Kintera in the UK. Curated by Melanie Pocock, it engaged with topics of environmental degradation, waste, technology and the natural world, although in a mode of compelling ambiguity rather than strident didacticism.

Julia Rooney: @SomeHighTide

The scale and imperfect edges of Julia Rooney’s paintings at Arts+Leisure are remarkable. Affixed to the window, a handmade, colorfully agitating QR code on a two by two-foot square canvas welcomes the viewer into the gallery. Inside the space, the size of the canvases diminishes, but their impact remains.

Martha Diamond: 1980-1989

Martha Diamond’s exhibition at Magenta Plains presents paintings from the 1980s; on view are large canvases in oil at street level and, downstairs, small painted studies on Masonite.

Vida Americana and the Promise of “America”

Vida Americana attempts to reorient art history by exploring how Mexican muralists, through their travels in the United States, influenced artists working in the US.

Mike Ballou: The word of Bird is Cured

In The word of Bird is Cured, the artist doesn’t just manifest his personal idiosyncrasies, he mimics generative rhythms of his own life.

Fernanda Laguna: As Everybody

As Everybody includes works Laguna has made over the past 10 years; her handwritten notes enable the whole exhibition to feel cohesive and particular to its Richmond locale—something I appreciate at a time when seeing art in person is a rarity.

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.

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.


The three artists in Patchwork are Colombian, Chicano, and Oglala Lakota. This matters because they are being grouped here due to their confrontation of a history of fragmentation from the perspective of colonized people. But more widely, it matters because there is a gaping lack of representation for these perspectives in the art world.

Rachel Eulena Williams: Tracing Memory

Williams’s exhibition, titled Tracing Memory, builds on the tradition of apostate picture-makers with such confidence that the fact that this is also her debut exhibition at a commercial art gallery in New York City comes as a surprise. Many of the works on view lack any support structure at all, preferring instead to migrate across the wall with a breezy randomness that belies their precise deployment of shape, color, and materials.

The Asia Society Triennial

The exhibitions We Do Not Dream Alone, the inaugural Asia Society Triennial, and Dreaming Together at the New-York Historical Society bring together works by over 40 artists selected from the collections of both institutions in a thoughtful and very welcome showcasing of the work of Asian and Asian-diasporic artists still underrepresented in mainstream Euro-American contexts. At this moment, when the movement of people and even artworks is difficult, the mere existence of this two-museum show is a major accomplishment.

Rembrandt's Orient

Presented in nine galleries on the second floor of the new wing of the Kunstmuseum Basel, this large display encompasses 120 works, including paintings and works on paper by Rembrandt. It is a visually effective presentation of Holland’s 17th-century colonialist cultural encounters. The “Orient” in this exhibition encompasses the territories on the Dutch trade routes, the Mediterranean sites controlled by the Ottoman Empire, as well as Persia, India, and the Far East.

Aleksandar Duravcevic: Empire

Is Aleksandar Duravcevic overwhelming us with the repetitive thud of the mass-produced or presenting a careworn meditation on the handmade? This is the central question that emerges from the 50 graphite drawings on velvety black paper that make up the project Empire.

Wolf Kahn & Emily Mason

Artists, lovers, life-partners, art-world rivals, benefactors, and luminaries, Emily Mason (1932–2019) and Wolf Kahn (1927–2020) were all of these things—and more. Miles McEnery Gallery has devoted each of its two spaces to the first posthumous solo gallery exhibitions for the couple, who died within months of each other after more than sixty years of marriage.

Felipe Baeza: Through the Flesh to Elsewhere

Baeza’s figurative practice is rooted in the poetics of viewing another body: the depth of layered materials abstracts the image of the body, rendering it partially visible and partially cloaked, and giving visual form to the concept of the fugitive body.

Hiwa K: Do you remember what you are burning?

Hiwa K's debut solo exhibition in Asia and the Middle East, Do you remember what you are burning? at the Jameel Arts Center, features works produced in the last 10 years that overflow into the Center’s outdoor Sculpture Park,

This Longing Vessel

The Studio Museum in Harlem’s 2019–2020 Artists in Residence exhibition, This Longing Vessel, was conceived with an uncanny prescience. Decided upon well before the pandemic threw us into a time that has throbbed with longing, the title summons images of empty objects waiting to be filled.


Nara Roesler Gallery inaugurates the opening of its new Chelsea space with the first installment of an ambitious program: to present a full panorama of Brazilian art. Cross-cuts is curated by the Venezuelan poet and art critic Luis Pérez-Oramas, and delivers the work of nine revelatory artists, seven of whom are currently practicing.

Elizabeth Schwaiger: From the Dark Sea

Elizabeth Schwaiger sets in motion a cacophony of styles, ideas, colors, and movements in this dense show spread out over two floors.

Salman Toor: How Will I Know

Toor’s paintings transition easily from pleasure to violence. Although their narratives are decidedly figurative, it is difficult to fully grasp them. Instead, Toor depicts transitory moments that are rife with potentials at every glance.


Mier’s retreat to the consolations of scrolling, a kind of peripateticism or journeying, led him to devise an exhibition dedicated to the “gest,” that is, a “tale of adventure” or a knightly exploit—from the Anglo-French geste, which means, among other things, “romance.”

Jennifer Packer: The Eye Is Not Satisfied With Seeing

At the heart of Packer’s first institutional show outside the US is the desire to make visible the invisible and do justice to stories like Sandra Bland’s, creating space in which to mourn Black deaths.

Jack Tworkov: Towards Nirvana / Works from the 70s

In both the drawings and the paintings, that process of becoming through painting, using temporality as structure—not descriptive images—evinces Tworkov’s remarkable achievement and his path toward Nirvana.

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Fly in League With the Night

In a world in which Blackness continues to be fetishized and objectified even when it is celebrated—Yiadom-Boakye’s oil paintings carve out a space where Black personhood, “unconstrained by the nightmare fantasies of others,” is finally afforded the luxury to be, to breathe.

Haim Steinbach: 1991 – 1993

Steinbach’s objects, in their adjacencies and juxtapositions, behave like linguistic signs. Their meanings are both inherent and contingent, organized along the structural grammar of figure and ground constituted by his shelf supports. Presented in succession, each item yields new axes for comparison.


What curator Omari Douglin has sniffed out among 11 emerging artists is a yen for the social exchange of the street. Douglin has created a tableau—albeit one in muted tones—with essential elements of the New York agora: fashion, violence, and play.

Martha Diamond: 1980-1989

Such a feather-thin line between fear and delight, that which sucks the soul and that which saves it, is patently New York, and by the transitive property I have realized, patently Martha Diamond.

Helmut Federle: Basics on Composition

The group of paintings that comprise Helmut Federle’s fifth solo exhibition at Peter Blum Gallery originate in a work made in New York City in 1979 after moving from Basel, Switzerland. He would stay in New York City, with some interruptions for four years.

Justin Matherly: Compost

Justin Matherly has positioned two monumental busts of the divine physician Asklepios on either side of the gallery entrance: Eat yourself fitter (2020) and Eat yourself fitter (2019). Six cast modified gypsum statues of Telesphoros, the dwarf-like nocturnal companion of Asklepios, may be found in the corners of each room: T1-T6 (2020).


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2021

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