M The New York Art World ®"All You Need To Know."
M The New York Art World ®"All You Need To Know."





    Thordis Adalsteinsdottir, Stephen Stux Gallery >>
    by Lily Faust

    The Anxious Image, The Painting Center >>

    by Mary Hrbacek


    Chad Attie, Wooster Projects >>
    by Nicollette Ramirez

    Adolph Gottlieb, Pace Wildenstein  >>

    by Nicollette Ramirez

    Jennifer Coates, Rick Levinson, Luxe Gallery  >>
    by Joyce Korotkin

    Nancy Rexroth, Robert Mann Gallery  >>

    by Joel Simpson


    Richard Vaux, Alpan Gallery  >>
    by Lily Faust


    Jim Dine, Joan Miro, Pace Prints  >>

    by Nicollette Ramirez

    Trong Nguyen, Elana Rubinfeld, Roger Smith Hotel  >>
    by Mary Hrbacek

    Raghubir Singh, Sepia International  >>
    by Joel Simpson

    Auction Season in New York:An Overview  >>
    by Nicollette Ramirez

    "Zush to Evru", Haim Chanin Fine Arts  >>
    by Joel Simpson

    Virgil Marti, Elizabeth Dee Gallery  >>
    by Joyce Korotkin

    Nicholas Kahn, Richard Selesnick,  Yancey Richardson  >>
    by Joel Simpson

    Sydney Chastain-Chapman, Kravets/Wehby Gallery  >>
    by Nadja Sayej

    Roger Fenton, National Gallery of Art  >>
    by Lola Sherman


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    Thordis Adalsteinsdottir, Stephen Stux Gallery
    by Lily Faust

    Icelandic artist Thordis Adalsteinsdottir's tantalizing, quirky paintings hint at a sophisticated manner of perceiving and interpreting the world around her. Her images, constructed in stylized awkwardness, hover on the verge of reality, dropping clues about a world that is both enticing and off-putting. In these meticulously organized representational works, the underlying sense of alienation and anxiety is lightened by a sly wit that injects humor into compelling scenes.

    For example, Woman Awake depicts a woman lying at the edge of her bed. She also appears to be at the edge of her consciousness, staring out at the viewer, as if in a trance. The composition is spatially calculated; the upper section, which shows the woman’s body, takes up a third of the canvas, balanced by two thirds of nearly empty space, painted pale Nile green, at the bottom. Her fingers, like tentacles, hang over the edge of the bed, compositionally connecting the narrow upper section to the expanse of pale green of the floor. Punctuated only by a remote-TV-control, and a single ashtray, containing three cigarette butts and some ash, the ground is ominously empty. The formal, Zen-like arrangement of the painting brings the viewer to the threshold of personal mayhem. It is as if the woman has nothing to do except stare out, with the TV-remote and cigarette butts to keep her company.

    A profound sense of isolation seeps through the sheets into the rug. At first glance, it appears as if these flatly painted, immaculate surfaces are free of any trace of the artist’s hand. Upon a closer look, however, one notices idiosyncratic details, such as the tiny gray hairs on the woman’s leg, painted meticulously, one hair at a time. Her right leg, with the minute brush strokes of dark gray hairs, intimates a neglected, perhaps even carefree appearance. Her foot is smudged in dark gray, as if dirty from walking bare-foot. In a painting that is crisply, meticulously painted, the dissonance of a single, gray smudged foot introduces a quirky humor into the idea of painting; something along the lines of the notion that "Dirty feet are smudged, while clean skin is not."

    The sheets are richly patterned in sets of triple dots, which serve to contour her body, and articulate the folds. The pictorial flatness contrasts with the emotional depth that is implicit in the woman's face. Her hair, summarized in less than twenty strands, falls in nervous lines across her face and forehead. Eluding a strict interpretation, this work teases the mind, tugging at the eye to enjoy its inherent mischief.

    In a series of twelve small oval paintings, Adalsteinsdottir depicts scenes from the Bible, with Biblical passages that relate to the image copied in long hand at the back of the canvas, as if to set the stage for the story.

    In one of these, titled, Abram with Donkey, Sarai with the Pharaoh, Genesis 12:10, lonely Abram is paired with the donkey, while the pharaoh pleasures himself with Sarai. A slender, vertical line divides the painting into two compartments, representing Abram's world severed from Sarai's. Upon closer inspection, humorous details emerge. Sarai's buttocks and back, and the pharaoh's knees are smudged in red, suggesting soreness from prolonged sexual activity.

    In other paintings in the show, the empty interiors in which the figures are placed serve as neutral backgrounds. The colors are toned down into the quietude of monochromatic grays, occasionally accented by bursts of subtle brightness, occasional red and pink smudges. The muted palette is keyed into the cooler shades of gray blues and pale greens, further conveying the work's sense of isolation. The figures are condensed into stylized flatness, reminiscent of figures of Egyptian and early Greek art. Adalsteinsdottir's work is centered on observation of the other, with the understanding that one can never get close enough to the subject. She resists revealing too much about her characters, allowing for an anxiety and loneliness that is akin to them.

    The exhibition also has a video component, which is presented in a room at the back of the gallery. Titled Woman Sitting in the Bathtub, Talking Like a Dog, the work pivots on the un-intelligibility of the woman, who happens to be the artist, herself, mouthing words in her Icelandic tongue. Digitally altered, the sound is muffled, with the artist's voice masculinized to a very low pitch. The life-size image is situated at a corner of the rear gallery where a bathtub would likely be placed if there had been an actual bathroom. There, surrounded by white tile walls, is the image of the woman, shoulder deep in water, speaking heatedly on matters of apparent importance and equal mystery.

    Her expression communicates the intensity of her concerns, but the words sound like gibberish, leading the viewer to re-consider the correspondence between language and the visual world; a link that is ordinarily taken for granted. The artist's tools for expression are the movements of her countenance, her eyes and mouth, the angle of her head, all of which articulate the depth of her argument without the words. As in her paintings, the narrative is limited to visual clues, expressing a sense of alienation and a loss for communication. Without the aid of words, the viewer comes up with personal associations related to the woman and her mysterious speech, such as being alone in a room, where the noise of one's thoughts rings louder than the sound of words.

    Through 1/8/05.


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    The Anxious Image, The Painting Center

    by Mary Hrbacek


    Fourteen artists are tasked to explore the theme of anxiety in this group exhibition of diverse, skillfully crafted paintings curated by David Sharpe and Jimmy Wright. Standouts include Olive Ayhens' From the Underground (oil on linen, 1986) which evokes the discomfort associated with city life lived at a rapid pace, while Roger Brown's surreal piece He Has Started Out To That Which Has Come Full Circle (oil on canvas, 1986) presents an isolated human silhouette, situated within a huge musical note.

    Martha Diamond's Façade (oil on canvas, 1981) presents a building entranceway that transforms into a honed black human form, in a clever metaphor for a social mask. The cartoon-like Girl with High Heels (oil on wood, 1996) by Bonnie Lucas shows a pre-pubescent girl on roller-skates roping a huge pair of spike-heeled shoes that symbolically pierce the girl, creating the stain of a menstrual cycle.

    Here the girl confronts the dangers and difficulties of incipient womanhood. In a distorted over-the-top airbrushed image Untitled (acrylic on canvas, 2004), Peter Saul creates a tilted Picasso-like woman's face grafted to a hairy male cheek, in an image that evokes the schizoid tension arising from gender confusion.

    Jeff Way's Grid Heads VIII (acrylic on canvas, 2004) shows painted, grid-like brain-waves that undulate hectically, evoking the tensions inherent to the age of technology. In Ganesh (oil on canvas, 2001), a colorful work by Charles Parness, the artist identifies with Ganesha, the Hindu Lord of New Beginnings, by growing an elephant's trunk; his frantic dance suggests a manic gaiety.

    In these revealing paintings, diverse environmental or personal sources of fear and psychic discomfort resonate with each individual, tapping their particular vulnerabilities. The expressive potential realized in each work depends on the intensity of feeling that the artist chooses to reveal.

    11/2 through 11/27.

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    Chad Attie, Wooster Projects 
    by Nicollette Ramirez


    Chad Attie's drawings, monotypes, paintings and assemblages all share one thing in common; passion. There is an intensity that manifests itself in these scratched surfaces, often outlining the feminine form in rough hewn abstraction.Using a variety of materials found in everyday life, Attie creates a world of wild beauty. The Box Girls, a collection of paintings on boxes, are both sculpture and assemblage.

    Attie has etched the indelible image of a woman on the cover of the boxes, which contain a variety of things; books that have been drawn on, mutilated with female forms, sheets with sketches of women, crushed balls of paper, rubber erasers, pens, pencils and dirt.

    In his mixed media on canvas Attie adopts the same method of imposing on the female form a fierce treatment that punctures the canvas. Lemondropgirl(2004) balances this violence of the torn canvas with the repeated motif of yellow flowers, the type Andy Warhol used in his flower prints, rendering the black torn outline of the female form less painful.

    The emotion elicited by these marks extends to the painted surface as well.
    Scratches in the surface of the paint brings to mind a prisoner scratching on the walls of his prison cell. Lollipop (2003) has a deceptively innocent name. The canvas is dominated by a flood of blood

    red paint, through which a bit of white seeps. The slim, long-limbed female figure in the painting is on her knees, arms at her side.

    Attie's treatment of color is never wimpy. He goes at the canvas with his paintbrush, in the same intensity he uses to slash the works on paper with markers, pencils and pens. In The Swing Set (2004), a brown girl's hair splays out all along the top of the canvas, and the swirling tones of beige and brown capture the effect of movement on the swing. In Malibu Girl (2004) the build up of green paint at the base of the canvas looks like moss, while at the top a smoother application of paint balances the two halves of this scratches and torn canvas.

    For those who still murmur about "the death of painting" this work offers compelling evidence of the medium's evolving vitality.

    Through 11/18.


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    Adolph Gottlieb, Pace Wildenstein

    by Nicollette Ramirez

    This is the first exhibition in ten years of the "pictographs" of Adolph Gottlieb. Spanning a decade of the artist's career(1941-1951) these thirty oil paintings form part of a body of work created by the New York School of artists that helped pave the way to Abstract Expressionism.

    Gottlieb's use of the grid and images seemingly unrelated are noted in these works. In T-1950, the grid is superimposed over tones of white, flesh pink, beige, green, yellow, red and black. Within the grid are images of circles (filled in with black or just the outline), a cross, an asterisk, a swirly snake-like mark, a man winking, an eye like that of an Egyptian figure and the letter T. The work, E-1949, suggest a bunch of codes related to Albert Einstein's theories; black letters and symbols dominate this otherwise spare work.

    Against a predominantly yellow background a column of symbols in black stands like a totem next to a stick woman whose torso is red in Symbols and a Woman, (1951). Her arms and legs on the left side are denoted by arrows. A white grid on the left side of the canvas is filled in with images that look like a bird, the scientific E, a penis and boxes of color, green and blue.

    More stick figures and arrows dominate the center of Plutomania (1951), in which a white grid is painted over swathes of orange, brown, beige and grey.
    Straight and curved brush strokes add another dimension to the work. Around the head of the black figure is a circle of radioactive color, two shades of red forming a halo.

    The smaller, earlier works are less abstract, with more easily identifiable tribal iconography, though the grid is still dominant. Generally the paint application is smoother and the color palette more muted in these early work. With his pictographs, Gottlieb created a language for himself and his peers that defined the School of Abstract Expressionism, and this show serves to make these connections abundantly clear.

    Through 12/23.

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    Jennifer Coates, Rick Levinson, Luxe Gallery
    by Joyce Korotkin


    In her first solo show in New York, Jennifer Coates creates a fantastical world of imaginary pseudo-landscapes evoked by a combination of figurative elements (such as horizon lines and vaguely grassy plains) combined with purely abstract geometric and organic patterns, vivacious, intense colors and bursts of sparkling lights.

    Coates traverses a lot of formal territory in these works, wandering from the playful ebullience of Hatching Stars and Swamp Fizz, to the darker implications of Replicator; veering as well between the low art of kitsch and the high art of classicism. Her imagery is at one and the same realistic, abstract, painterly, refined, expressionist and almost cartoonish.

    A master of the incidental moment, Coates animates her surfaces by allowing bits of the history of their making to show in some areas, even as she tightly renders others. Painterly moments thus become visual hot spots that bring the works to visceral life; a bit of intense turquoise here, for instance, peeking through a glaze of yellowed green, imbues the surface with radiant color that keeps the eye bouncing, or a scumbled expressionist passage suggestive of landscape might be found in juxtaposition to almost illustrative controlled squiggled lines that suggest internal organs or mazes with no end.

    Coates' mixed metaphors allow high art and the low art of kitsch to collide in her more playful works that use spangled lights straight out of fairy tales and childhood fantasies. These intermix the enchantment of magic wands with the spectacular light shows of fireworks as well as nature's own brilliance (shooting stars, the Milky Way, the Northern lights and such). This is most evident in Blackboard Twinkle & Hatching Stars, with its dazzling stardust effects.

    Referencing geometric abstraction in another work, Coates repeats a seemingly endless pattern of polychromatic triangles that co-mingle, connect and disconnect against a communal flat ground to form, or perhaps to separate from, a greater whole. Entitled Replicator, darker interpretations are implied than the seemingly innocent imagery with its decorative patterning and delicious colors would at first suggest.

    In the the gallery's Projects Room, Rick Levinson's mesh and wax suspended sculptures of abstracted faces cast astonishingly life-life seemingly 3-dimensional shadows on the walls. The interplay between shadow and light; in which the shadow seems more dimensional and real than the mesh that casts it, conjures a startling inverse of reality, and invokes psychological associations to the inner versus the outer self. The works thus operate as metaphors for the personality as a constructed

    identity, versus the unrevealed, multi-dimensional but truer self contained within.
    Through 12/31.

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    Nancy Rexroth, Robert Mann Gallery

    by Joel Simpson


    Photographed from 1970 to 1976 mostly in Ohio, these uniform square black and white images in black mats were taken with the rather primitive Diana camera ‹ a plastic toy 120 millimeter camera produced in Hong Kong during the 1960s and 1970s and marketed in many forms (flimsier and less sharp than the Holga). At first glance, these images appear to be conventional snapshots, but looking closer we realize that they do not present the usual snapshot subjects ‹ poorly framed portraits of relatives and friends.

    Instead we see partial pictures of beds, of pieces of houses, of winding empty roads, of an old Coke machine in shadows, of the photographer's mother spreading her arms as if flying, of children playing at a distance, of a boy lying with his St. Bernard, of a blurred overexposed muzzle of a cow, of her mother's knees, of children playing dress-up on a porch ‹ lines are not distinct, blur is a constant, lighting is mostly drab, but the camera's vignetting makes the centers glow. The ordinary becomes exceptional.

    The Diana camera's uncorrected lens and wobbly focus transform any scene into pure atmosphere. The square format and black mats reinforce the sense that we are looking at pages from an album of memory and revery. Rexroth has managed to transform present day Ohio into evocations of the melancholic Iowa of her childhood, utilizing this humble camera. The feeling is palpable.

    Through 1/8/05.

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    Richard Vaux, Alpan Gallery 
    by Lily Faust


    Landscape painting is the first step in considering Richard Vaux's oil paintings and works on paper.

    His point of departure is nature; the land, the sea, and the sky. In many of these paintings, the sky is depicted as a cloud filled void; the sea, as a multi-colored expanse of subtle contrasts; and the land, a distant element out on the horizon. Hyper-charged in intense colors that dramatize nature, his forms are effectively minimized to horizontal planes of shifting color. The compositions integrate abstraction and representation to convey a sense of pure visual pleasure.

    Sonata Series VI, a 12 x 12 inch oil painting which depicts a vividly colored stretch of horizontal form (the land) anchored against the cool blue stratum of a quiet sky, presents in the foreground, clusters of shapes in varying sizes resemble clumps of weed, treetops and boulders. A foggy band of autumnal colors in the upper half settles over a wet expanse of yellow; dotted with green, pink and orange. The word "pastoral" comes to mind, relating to idyllic charm. The painting, tinged with the essence of a sunny afternoon, orchestrates surface rhythms of color, mass, and subtle depth.

    In another painting, Quintessence Series, the visual world is abstracted into simpler forms, saturated in vibrant color. In this large work, (48 x 80inches) Vaux concentrates on the sky, awash in tonal values that dissolve into the distance. The horizontal organization of the composition juxtaposes layers of intense reds and yellows, suggesting depth. A series of wavering, fluid lines on the upper left burst into what could be interpreted as cloud formations. At the base of the pictorial plane, darkened shadows hint at land, veiled in fog.

    Employing a variety of painterly techniques, Vaux creates sensual landscapes. Layered in washes of light filled hues, these works capture atmospheric shifts and the high drama of the evening sun.

    Overreaching the materiality of the physical world, they reflect an almost primordial conception of the natural world.

    Through 12/11.


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    Jim Dine, Joan Miro, Pace Prints

    by Nicollette Ramirez


    In the main gallery space Pace Prints presents an exhibition of recent prints by Jim Dine, made in 2004. Titled Jim Dine's Garden, the work includes a quirky selection of pieces based around the theme of plants.

    Papyrus, From Egypt shows the buds, roots and thick leaves of the Amarillis as a lythograph over the vertical and horizontal reeds of papyrus. The papyrus adds another dimension to the work, in terms of both color and texture. Three large format watercolors of the same flower are painted in bleeding pinks, reds, mauves, green over brown-black earth and roots. These imposing buds are depicted close up to the picture plane, while an arching blue sky hovers.

    In the lithograph Me and You Dine has created a diptych, one half of which is black with an all-white Amarilis, the other half white, with an all-black Amarillis. The two are not mirror images of each other, but individual works. The black lines of the flower on the white background are more blurred while the white on black has cleaner lines. Where there is shading and shadow on the white surface, none can exist on the black surface. Dine's preoccupation with plants adds to an intriguing oeuvre.

    In the second gallery space, the early prints of Joan Miro are on isplay.
    These works come from the period of the1930s through the 1950s and show in brilliant color and black and white, the playful, surreal images for which Miro became famous.
    For example, Untitled for Cahiers d'Art (1934), a small print with a diagonal line separating the top part in black and the bottom in blue, depicts white abstract figures, somewhat like the caricature of a ghost in a sheet, float over the surface. More color dominates Femme au Miroir (1957), a lithograph on paper in which vibrant reds, blues and turquoise comprising graphic, surreal shapes, are punctuated with figures and symbols. A simple streak of black, with a red circle, suggests the mirror in front of which the woman stands.

    Portrait de Miro, (1938), an etching, shows the artist's face, rendered with a Daliesque twist (the left eye is a star), behind a web of lines. Images of flowers, tribal figures and writing, complete the work.

    On a more serious note, Miro designed posters against the dictator Franco's rule, one of which from 1937 is shown here. Titled Aida L'Espana, this work gives some insight into the artist's social and political awareness. The pairing of these artists' work, Dine and Miro, suggests an aesthetic narrative that probably wouldn't otherwise come to mind. In this context, however, one seems to illuminate the other.

    Through 12/11.


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    Trong Nguyen, Elana Rubinfeld, Roger Smith Hotel
    by Mary Hrbacek

    A mysterious aura pervades this collection of work, presented in the penthouse of the Roger Smith Hotel in New York. In the playful spirit of Marcel Duchamp, Private View: The Collection of Rick Haatj pretends to be a collection of high-class stolen originals; by artists such as Edvard Munch, Marcel Duchamp, Picasso and others. These works are actually meticulous copies made by Trong Nguyen, a co-founder with Elana Rubinfeld of Art Hijack, a combination of art collective and promotion firm.

    Intended to confound viewers in order to stimulate public dialogue on themes of attribution, originality, art preservation and ethics, the exhibit raises questions on the very nature of collecting; what determines the perimeters of a coherent collection and why are these limitations so often narrowly defined. The clever bluff teases viewers and tests their sense of the absurd. Two original pieces by Trong, both silhouette portraits etched on vintage mirrors, obliquely explore self-identity and the artist's perception of the other.

    The iconoclastic spirit behind the "Haatj Collection" (an anagram for Art Hijack), raises ethical issues probing the regulations that apply to an installation of works so perfectly recreated. Copies
    are frequently to be found in the art marketplace. The potentially thorny process of determining attribution was explored some years ago in the Rembrandt: Not Rembrandt show at the Metropolitan Museum. Signatures protect artists from unlawful duplication, with the result that unsigned works, perhaps unfairly, command lower prices. In the juncture where art and commerce converge, art may be a commodity, but it is not unprotected. Artists' rights groups have fought for laws making the deliberate alteration or destruction of an artwork illegal.

    The expectation that serious art should be viewed exclusively in galleries and museums has been supplanted by the proliferation of independent art fairs in recent years. In this context, Art Hijack, with its novel exhibition concept, provides artists with yet one more creative alternative to get their artwork shown before a critical, engaging audience.

    Through 12/30.

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    Raghubir Singh, Sepia International 
    by Joel Simpson


    India has long been a provocative photographic subject. Its human diversity, natural lushness, dramatic rituals and architectural magnificence alongside the extreme conditions of life in a country which daily fails to feed, house, clothe and provide basic sanitation to a large sector of its population, have attracted scores of photographers since independence in 1947. Most have applied basic principles of photojournalism to capture the particularities of the Indian landscape and population. Just leaf through Aperture's India: A Celebration of Independence, 1947­1997 to survey the styles of 24 photographers working the country, starting with Sunil Janah and Henri Cartier-Bresson in the 1940s and ending with Sabastião Salgado in the 90s.

    Raghubir Singh, who died in 1999 at the age of 57, offers a distinctly different perspective. His approach is most striking in the series of photographs where he places a car window or car-door window of the Indian-made Ambassador automobile, in the picture between the viewer and part or all of the subject. This clever conceit reminds the viewer both of the photographer's presence as observer and his ‹ and our ‹ inevitable distance from his subject.

    Especially when in the same image he shoots both past an open car door and through its window, he seems to be making a contrast between "direct" and mediated observation, possibly suggesting that direct observation is really impossible, that the "exotic types" of conventional Indian photography merely play roles in the viewer's imagination.

    Singh tries to get beyond that fascinating "otherness" to insist by various means that we really can't know the people he photographs.
    In Pedestrians, two pre-adolescent boys on a street are divided by a car door; the one to the left of the door is directly seen but gazes away from the camera towards the center of the photograph. The other, seen through the car-door window looks plaintively at the camera. The photographer's, and by extension the observer's, distance from the subjects is illustrated in its two extremes. The one that looks away is caught directly; the one that appeals to the photographer is separated by glass, a ready symbol of the separation of the observer and the impossibility of true empathy across class lines.

    Singh uses this device in several other contexts to equal effect, but not always in the same direction. In another image, a long-haired young woman in the foreground looks angrily into the car, while we watch a man speak to his donkey in the background through the car door window.

    Yet another image shows a poor couple some distance away emerging from the woods, protecting their heads from the rain with a sheet of plastic ‹ the whole image seen through the rolled-up car window. We would be driving cozily through the rain, when we quickly pass them, but Singh preserves that moment, and our conscience rather than merely pinched is squeezed and held.

    In other images we see an abandoned red bus through a car window, a castle reflected in a car window, a red-and-white intercity bus loading passengers through two car windows, one inside the other. A pair of images has the car door with its window rolled down in the exact same position; in one the door divides the people in scene on a hilltop overlooking a city. In the other the same door with no window divides a people-less scene of grasses overlooking a vast valley. The car door has become a seeing device, a stand-in for the camera itself.

    Once sensitized to the framing, partitioning, distancing, self-announcing function of the car door, the viewer notices different framing, partitioning devices in other photographs. A movie poster on its side occupies nearly the entire right half of a photograph otherwise showing a poor rickshaw man with a passenger; six red window frames parse an industrial street scene depicting an Ambassador auto, a man hauling a covered load, and an orange truck; a green frame of a mirror seen from the side divides the interior of a coffee shop.

    The device multiplies and becomes more dynamic, provocative and nigmatic; the display in a mirror shop shows people in different sizes and perspectives, the crowded street chaos is excerpted and rearranged within a simpler randomness; seated men before a non-descript concrete building, the whole cast in intense red, is dramatically highlighted by a bright blank white television screen, perched on a high stool in the foreground; a woman under a dark but transparent veil, that functions as a kind of screen, proudly shows off her child; a gossamer blue fly-protector is turned upside down and colors part of our view of Victorian train station; an orange cart with a painting of a brama bull partially obscures a real brama bull in the background; three turbaned bearded men wander through the rows of frames of a Sikh portrait gallery with one luminous window.

    And the most surreal one of all; a four-armed bare-breasted stone Kali statue, her tongue sticking out, is both partially framed by the hand and leg of a closer statue (the hand broken and in a splint while the glue dries), and in turn frames a barber intent on shaving his client on the right, and a man in a tank top, distractedly scratching his chest on the left.

    Singh has captured the disorder of Indian life; its exuberance, anger, and pathos; its unintentional, unnoticed relationships of juxtaposition and simultaneity, while managing to avoid any sense of exoticism, local color, or "fascinating types." (And his only swami or sadhi, a de rigueur icon of the Indian human landscape, is ironically shown sleeping on concrete steps of what we presume is a public building, in unconscious accommodation to his material condition.)

    Singh has revealed us an India that is neither a tourist destination nor an occasion to lament the fate of the poor, but rather an India that is simply home to its people of all means (mostly modest), where they live, make do and get by.

    Through 12/30.


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    Auction Season in New York:An Overview 
    by Nicollette Ramirez

    A survey of auctions from these past couple of seasons show a change in the buying habits of the art world. One collector asked, "Where is all this money coming from? Who are these people buying art? They must be new collectors." New money and new collectors are shaping auction results today.

    Amid vigorous bidding, the old favorites ‹ Lichtenstein, Warhol, Basquiat ‹ are being passed over, in favor of more contemporary artists like Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Marlene Dumas and Maurizio Cattalan. The old is getting older fast and the new is selling for record breaking prices, catapulting them to the top of the art world and securing their place there, at least for now.

    This drop off in interest in old favorites does not mean, however, that these works don't sell. In fact those distinctive treasures from artists like Warhol fetch high prices. The people buying these works are often the old guard collectors. At Christie's last contemporary and post war sale Mustard Race Riot, a two panel silkscreen print of Charles Moore's 1963 photographs taken during the civil rights movement, fetched $15.1 million from German collectors. With weak dollar, Europeans were buying in force.

    Eli Broad bought a towering Lichtenstein sculpture, Brushstroke Group for $3 million. At Sotheby's a telephone bidder bought Rothko's No. 6 (Yellow, White, Blue over Yellow on Gray) for $17 million. What we are seeing however is art buying as fashion buying. Big name artists are like the high end fashion labels ‹ Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton ‹ and just like fashion, from season to season, things change.

    What was hot last season, Asian artists like Murakami and Nara, are not so hot this season; they are replaced by those high profile artists who are currently in the spotlight, either recently having had a museum show, or a big gallery show, or a recent record-breaking auction sale or for some other reason find their names in the news.

    This is the case with artists like John Currin, recently shown at the Whitney and signed with a new gallery, Gagosian. The same with Ed Ruscha, recently shown at the Whitney and Gagosian and then selected to represent the U.S. at the next Venice Biennale. Matthew Barney drew record numbers to his show at the Guggenheim in 2003. Andreas Gursky had a highly successful show at Matthew Marks recently and Damien Hirst had an auction solely of his works from the restaurant, Pharmacy, in October at Sotheby's in London.

    Favorite art stars like Jeff Koons seem to be perennially in the spotlight; almost anything he shows sells. His Bear and Policeman sold for $2.6 million at Phillips de Pury & Co. Marlene Dumas, too, shares this special privilege; her sexy, haunting, evocative works are often sold for hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of dollars amid heated bidding.

    Those spending the money and therefore controlling the market because they control the cash, are still in a large part men. More than half the people filling the auction rooms are men and most of the works up for auction are by male artists. A change in this phenomenon may not occur for some time, though more and more female collectors are bidding and buying works. A hotly contested work among women at Phillips de Pury & Co. was Martin Kippenberger's Terrorist/Touristin, a colorful diptych showing the fashionable Burberry's scarf hiding the face of a male terrorist and female tourist.

    In spite of these observations it can be safely conjectured that what one can expect at auctions is surely the unexpected. Like the stock market, trend-spotting and market analysis can only go so far.

    At the end of the day, the discerning collector knows that he or she should buy only what they like; not expecting then to make a profit from the work in the future, but enjoying the work for what it's worth to the buyer.


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    "Zush to Evru", Haim Chanin Fine Arts
    by Joel Simpson

    Born Alberto Porta in Barcelona in 1946, the self-taught artist who became known as Zush, morphed into Evru, a new identity, at the start of the new millennium, with a new mental landscape. This exhibition generously documents the transformation in Zush-Evru's many media, including pencil drawing, mixed acrylic-pen-and-ink, large-format wax and ink, bronze bells, and an interactive graphic computer program. The whole constitutes an illustrated internal world peopled with benign-grotesque cartoon-like characters with misshapen bodies, some with a single eye made of a black bead affixed with wax, variously sporting tails, horns, oblique grins, skin textures resembling patterns of neurons, random hairs etc.

    At first glance the show appears naive-bizarre. There is often a spareness reminiscent of Klee and Miro. But once one enters the artist's world, and accepts the visual language, a fascination takes over. Design motifs seem to come from the worlds of seed-pods, dried florals, cytology and graphology.

    There is even a one-off rough-papered book with multi-media works on every page, that the viewer can leaf through. An artist with the ambition and audacity to create a complete world of forms devoted only to his own interior landscape is asking a lot. But the fertility of Evru's imagination rewards a careful visit, and one is even willing to indulge his illegible crayon captions scribbled on the wall.

    Through 12/18.


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    Virgil Marti, Elizabeth Dee Gallery 
    by Joyce Korotkin


    Mixing 1970's pop culture with a wide range of art historical references, Virgil Marti's oversized wall sconces, black-lit fluorescent wallpaper room installation and immense striped candle sculpture create a curiously hybrid, decadently fin de siecle environment that is at once Rococco, Symbolist, psychedelic, and heavily laced with the lurid science fiction of grade-B films. Marti's works straddle the edges between disciplines and defy categorization; fusions of his interest in interior design applied to fine art, as interpreted through a kaleidoscopic, very trippy pop lens.

    The wall sconces are Baroque oddities that break down the boundaries between applied art and fine art. Wedding form to function, they are not quite light fixtures although they emit light, and not quite sculpture because they are sconces. Appropriating their forms from the enlarged shells of Russian tortoises, they are mirrored inside, each containing a silver-plated cactus, mirrored bulbs and colorful resin flowers that cast prismatic reflections of sparkling lights. Adding to the melee of crossed references are the titles, which refer to films, such as The Lady From Shanghai, or characters from films, such as Sissy Spacek's "Pinky Rose."

    The tackily flocked, psychedelic wallpaper likewise is a conglomeration of colliding styles. Entitled Landscape Wallpaper with Star Border and Shrooms and Flame Dado, it takes its format from classical bordered wallpaper patterns and its imagery from drug culture. This allusion is enhanced by the darkened room and black lights that make the colors fluoresce.

    Ode on a Paul Smith Bag, a lit candle sculpture, is something of an anomaly in this environment of otherwise functional works. Neither furniture, wall covering nor lighting fixture, it sits in the center of the gallery, a mysterious form emitting the scent of leather and bearing Smith's signature polychromatic stripes; an object of silence like the famous monolith in Stanley Kubrick's 200l: A Space Odyssey, that despite its decorative nature suggests a portent of doom as it slowly melts.

    Through 11/13.


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    Nicholas Kahn, Richard Selesnick,  Yancey Richardson 
    by Joel Simpson

    Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick (both born in 1964, the former in New York, the latter in London) have been collaborating since 1986 to produce fictitious panoramas of "scientific" scenes, all very believable. Unlike Robert Parke Harrison, whose platinum prints suggest a time in the past for his comically doomed scientific fantasies, Kahn/ Selesnick's images have an immediacy, a literality and a mock-seriousness that almost convince the viewer they're real.

    This exhibition is premised on the charming fiction that 1960s US astronauts on the moon discover a lost mission of Edwardian-era space explorers when they arrive. It consists of seven large-scale panoramic photographs, a life-size moon rover looking its 1910 vintage, eighty small mixed-media drawings, and a text-log of the whole enterprise, whose visionary tone alludes to their predecessors' conceiving of themselves as "visiting gods."

    A charming fantasy whose meticulous realism and detailed alternative historicity sustain a comic undertone, the work is strangely relevant to an age in which "creationism" is taken seriously in certain quarters and supported with supposed evidence ‹ it is even alluded to in Kahn/Selesnick's text. One is led to wonder how this marvelous show would play in certain "red" states.

    Through 12/4.


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    Sydney Chastain-Chapman, Kravets/Wehby Gallery
    by Nadja Sayej


    A haughty woman with tar black hair sits on a plastic lawn chair, wearing orange gloves and a jelly purple jacket, amidst a desolate green field. The clouds echo in the background with severe concrete buildings that, curiously, have no doors to enter them.

    Chastain-Chapman's paintings suggest a distorted fairy tale, where trendy rock stars lounge with children's book characters. The work occupies a tangy, undefined space where adolescence meets adulthood, sort of.

    This Hunter College MFA student has a peculiar taste when it comes to constructing her characters, an assortment of misfits who lead us through dramatic tales of unresolved angst. Fashion in painting can be superficial, but we soon realize that the clothing on these sexy beasts create an embellishing confidence. Hockney patterns meet soap opera drama in oddly inventive combinations, where the women's attitudes seem at once shy and defensive. The vast emotional spectrum of the subjects are explored here, as a thwarted, would-be superwoman leans against a garbage can with her arms crossed, spying out of the painting with her evil eye.

    This first solo show is one of a paradoxical diligence. The emotionally descriptive faces depicted here are reminiscent of cartoon characters and glossy fashion models; seemingly bored, yet strangely entertaining.
    Through 12/4.


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    Roger Fenton, National Gallery of Art 
    by Lola Sherman


    Roger Fenton is acclaimed for his many and varied contributions to the infant field of photography in the 19th century; one of the first war photojournalists, he dragged his cumbersome equipment to inhospitable battlefields during the Crimean War; he introduced and taught the new medium to the Queen of England, Victoria, and her consort Albert ("Mr. Fenton explains everything ") and became the royal family's portraitist; he photographed objects in the British Museum as visual records, and
    participated in the formation of a professional photographic society, elevating the new technology to higher levels of prestige; and, not least, he joined other new photographers in visually exploring the landscape and architecture of England and elsewhere in Europe All of these activities he performed conscientiously.

    Yet the approximately 90 works in this thoroughly researched exhibition are suffused with a general blandness; no matter the subject, sepia image after sepia image floats past, each conveying the same homogenous, hushed, unmoving atmosphere, achieved through a lateral disposition of forms combined with gentle contrasts of light and dark; no image intrudes that could disturb the viewer's tranquility.

    Fenton's photos are very still; an absence of movement pervades even when figures are meant to appear to be moving (Rievaulx Abbey, Doorway, North Transept). Snapshot techniques (such as the cutoff view) which his colleagues utilized to convey immediacy are nowhere to be glimpsed in Fenton's scenes (viz., Robert Cornelius's Self-portrait as an Experimental Chemist). His style "stands out" (if such a phrase can apply to a manner as genteel as Fenton's) in its avoidance of surprise; even when compared to works by contemporary photographers who, like him, were held captive by the influence of mid-19th century European painting.

    Fenton's customary traits are revealed in his Crimean War photos as well as other explorations of Russia. Compositional elements are neatly balanced.Vantage point is from a respectful distance, with most of the forms arrayed along a single horizontal recessional line; no sharp diagonals hurtling back through space for him. Cookhouse of the 8th Hussars shows about twelve figures neatly assembled side by side in various neoclassical poses.

    Banks of the Dnieper; Distant View of the Forts and Low Town of Kief is an appealing example of Fenton's usual approach. A well-defined horizon line separates a uniformly lit sky from a smooth expanse of still water broken only by a single dinghy and a few horizontal wooden boards. It conjures serenity of the 19th century Luminist paintings, such as those by Sanford Gifford.

    Another Russian photograph, Moscow, Domes of Churches in the Kremlin, upends Fenton's standard formula, creating far more drama than is usually found in his work. The roof of a Russian church, its round arches topped by emphatic onion domes, thrusts itself at the viewer from the lower right corner. The dome theme is echoed on the left through a repetitive pattern of smaller domes topped by lacy Orthodox crosses. Here, Fenton appears to appreciate shape and pattern for their inherent properties.
    Fenton depicted a bloodless sobriety in his scenes of the Crimean war, in sharp contrast to his letters home which described abysmal conditions at the front. Portraits of military leaders show them gazing off into the distance, seemingly contemplating the gravity of war (Captain Lord Balgonie, Grenadier Guards). However, the evocative Valley of the Shadow of Death, while it does not display the horrors of war, comments tersely about its tragic impact.

    Hundreds of cannonballs lie strewn about a rolling plain which is superposed by an absolutely blank sky. Nothing else; no vegetation, not a living creature, permeates the scene. The effect is one of deadly, sterile desolation. Minute figures are almost always present in Fenton's landscapes. Perhaps he intended that they function as the viewer's surrogates. Or perhaps they allude to the immensity of Nature and the insignificance of humanity.

    Fenton's lens captures hills or clumps of trees whichobscure the middle distance, effectively stopping the eye from encompassing panoramic vistas (Pont-y-Pant, on the Lledr, from Below). Landscape with Clouds is a magnificent exception; a dim, undifferentiated strip of land sits below a pale, limitless sky (reminiscent of Turner, though that painter's clouds would probably be stormier). Most photographers of the period had bad luck rendering clouds, which tended to be overexposed.

    Fenton discovered that a negative exposed for the ground resulted in the sky's overexposure, so he exposed his negative based on the light of the clouds.The museum wall text speaks approvingly of how he "....devised ingenious solutions to cope with harsh daylight shadows" in photographing museum objects out of doors. One wishes that a few of those harsh shadows had crept in and lent some vivacity to the photos.

    Fenton's still-life photographs are extraordinary photographic facsimiles of 17th century Dutch painted still lifes. The objects are assembled in the same manner, and they acquire the same tactile richness; every ridge, ruffle, luminosity, transparency of the objects is explored and exploited from a very close distance (Flowers and Fruit; Decanter and Fruit, 1860).

    Notwithstanding photography's ease in reproducing natural appearances, not often is one confronted with such a hyper-realistic representation. One still life is astonishingly modern; an intense close-up of a white cross enclosed within a back circle set in the center of three boards, the sort of minimal abstraction contemporary photographers turn out in great numbers, produced in 1860. This anachronism is explained when one sees the title, "The Queen's Target."

    Through 1/2/05.


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