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





    Ai Weiwei , Robert Miller Gallery  >>
    by Jessica D. K. Park

    Ellen Phelan, Ameringer Yohe Fine Art  >>

    by Mary Hrbacek


    Will Cotton, Mary Boone Gallery  >>
    by Joyce Korotkin

    Dewitt Godfrey, Black & White Gallery  >>

    by Lily Faust

    Lucy Williams, McKee Gallery  >>
    by Mary Hrbacek

    "Riddim Driven", Eyejammie Fine Arts Gallery  >>

    by Nicolette Ramirez


    Williamsburg: A Survey of New Shows  >>
    by Joel Simpson


    Wim Wenders , James Cohan Gallery  >>

    by Lily Faust

    Richard Deacon, Marian Goodman Gallery  >>
    by Mary Hrbacek

    Alessandra Sanguinetti, Yossi Milo Gallery  >>
    by Nicolette Ramirez

    Kenro Izu , Howard Greenberg Gallery  >>
    by Joel Simpson

    Stephen Sack , Ariel Meyerowitz Gallery  >>
    by Joel Simpson



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    Ai Weiwei , Robert Miller Gallery
    by Jessica D. K. Park

    Contemporary Chinese art has garnered serious attention among mainstream art institutions in the West, particularly since the early 1990s. International art journalism has shown a special interest in Chinese "political pop" art, which, because of the Chinese government's notorious censorship policies, could not be shown in China. Chinese conceptual artist, Ai Weiwei, born in Beijing in 1957, has been at the forefront of this art movement. This show, the artist's first exhibition in New York since 1988, focuses on the artist's recent work, presenting a comprehensive selection of his paintings, sculptures, photographs, and installations.

    There is a rebellious core at the heart of Weiwei's work that rejects Chinese authority and questions assumptions based on logic. He often conveys his ideas by manipulating his country's cultural artifacts. For example, in the combined installation called White Wash and Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, he lines up dozens of gray colored vessels on shelves mounted to the wall, along with series of black and white photographs. The photographs document the artist's dropping one of the jars onto the ground, smashing it into pieces. The viewer is shocked to learn that this jar was in fact a thousand-year-old Chinese antique treasure, which Weiwei had colored gray, so that it looked like an ordinary clay vessel, before destroying it.

    The show includes only one of Weiwei's furniture installations, titled BENCH. For his furniture works, the artist utilizes beams from ancient Chinese temples, built hundreds of years ago. His furniture is crafted according to the same techniques of classical Chinese construction, requiring months of handcrafting, and though he gleans remnants from a past existence, these elements take on new life here. The harsh friction between the past and the present are joined together in the tangible form of smooth wood that shows its structure and grain on the surface.

    Weiwei's creations appear calm and peaceful, despite the many tensions that inform the work. Sometimes his attempt to challenge the symbol of political and national authority, and cultural imperialism, can seem frivolous, however. He rebels against everything, pointing a finger at symbols as diverse as the White House, the Eiffel Tower, the Reichstag and the infamous events of Tiananmen Square in Beijing or painting the word, FUCK in four separate large canvases. Where did the soft-outside, but strong-inside kung fu master go? In this regard, Weiwei's small works in this show convey have more power than the larger, physically imposing installations.

    9/9 through 10/9.


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    Ellen Phelan, Ameringer Yohe Fine Art 

    by Mary Hrbacek


    In these new paintings, some twenty-two canvases, Ellen Phelan reveals her personal life in candid, evocative images of herself and her immediate family depicted in casual situations at home. At first glance, the shadowy frames resemble daguerreotypes, stressing their photographic underpinnings.

    Shadow and light alternate and mingle subtly in a carefully modulated baroque interplay in which a still life or vase of flowers is suffused with light, while family members are present but remain partially hidden in shadow. The flickering still-lifes suggest lush opulent influences within the family relationships. In these quietly bold works, Phelan handles paint delicately, leaving blurred images that draw the viewer in for a closer look at surprisingly abstract, economical forms.

    9/9 through 10/9.

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    Will Cotton, Mary Boone Gallery
    by Joyce Korotkin


    Art historical reference and the inclusion of the figure have taken on an increasing importance in Will Cotton's meticulously painted candy-scapes of forbidden desire. Two works are of particular interest in this regard. With the simply ravishing Cotton Candy Cloud, the artist reaches a stunning new level of seemingly effortless painterly brushwork. Within a hotbed of roiling pink sugary thunderclouds, reclines a sultry, beckoning Titan-haired nude, as dramatically painted as a Carravaggio, as pellucid as a Turner or Hudson River Landscape sky, and as overtly sexual as a porn magazine centerfold.

    Pre- or post-coital, her pink-tinged skin recalls the lavender powder of John Singer Sargent's scandalous Madame X, and is as cloyingly sweet and edible as the cloud itself. A latter day Olympia, she is a visual feast, inciting lust for the two most primal and rigidly repressed human needs and desires: food and sex. Food, specifically a naughty indulgence in the forbidden sweets that release endorphins, has long been Cotton's signature metaphor for seduction. Like dancing with the devil, in these works Cotton opens the door wide and invites the temptress in.

    In earlier works, the figures were additions to the candy-scapes, almost as if they were another form of candy to be savored. Here, the figure and ground, as it were, are wedded seamlessly, but the figure, as in classical painting, takes precedence. This is evident in his image of an Odalisque, referencing those of Ingres and Magritte, who sits with her back to the viewer, slathered in what appears to be scoops of melting vanilla custard. Hung directly across the gallery space from Cloud, the two paintings engage the viewer in a dialog with art history that covers theoretical issues, such as subject matter, as well as formal issues of technique and style, in a manner that is at once witty and profound.

    9/11 through 10/23.


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    Dewitt Godfrey, Black & White Gallery 

    by Lily Faust

    By flexing and systematically bolting lengths of steel sheets into fluid round forms, and stacking them carefully on top of each other, Dewitt Godfrey creates delightful, airy wall sculptures that simultaneously contain and negate space. His piece, Picker Sculpture, is presented in two versions.

    The indoor version, a floor-to-ceiling work that consists of ten vertically stacked open steel cylinders of varying sizes, is bolted securely together, extending from wall to wall and blocking entry to the back. Viewers have to walk through the piece, feeling the tensed steel crunch underfoot, in order to reach the other side. In the back of the gallery, in the outdoor courtyard, we find the outdoor version. Larger than the work in the main gallery, this piece loosely mirrors the indoor version.

    Both pieces converge on the balance of absence and presence, weight and airiness. The cylindrical steel forms appear linear and spatially open when viewed from afar. Secured steel shapes that hold nothing, they define and confine space, constituting a lofty wall. Although made of steel, the work appears weightless and light, reminiscent of a magnified, three-dimensional cross-section of porous matter. Approaching and walking through it, however, the viewer responds to the potential tension contained within the lengths of metal strips that are kept in place with nuts and bolts. The interplay between tension and resilience, hinged on the steel's flexibility, is articulated to the viewer through the experience of walking, conveying a floating sensation while being weighted to the ground.

    The sculpture's individual elements, the compositional geometry of circles and ellipses that make up the whole, vary in size from about a foot in diameter to several feet across. Ovoid, circular, or consisting of an asymmetrical combination of both, these forms interact with one another other, enhancing the visual excitement inherent in the work. The smaller forms fit precisely within the gaps between larger loops. The positing of space is an important property of this sculpture. If space can be defined as the expanse of "nothingness" within the three-dimensional field, then Godfrey's sculpture plays out the rhythms between something and nothing.

    Fusing open forms with the weighty liquidity of metal; creating shadows, depths and voids by overlapping steel loops, Godfrey's sculpture sets off a playful exchange between presence and absence that incorporates emptiness as a tangible factor, almost visible in the mind's eye inside of the metal.

    Through 10/18.

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    Lucy Williams, McKee Gallery
    by Mary Hrbacek


    In her new series of mixed media wall reliefs, Lucy Williams creates buildings, interiors and outdoor municipal spaces that combine the accuracy of architectural renderings with a super-realism that is infused with a magical feeling of unspoken narrative.

    The textural elements Williams meticulously layers and manipulates give a surprising warmth to the unused lounges, swimming pools, skating rinks and ski slopes, possibly inspired by dioramas. In sharp contrast, the cold neutral tones and predominant whiteness of her paper elements establish a relationship with the pure esthetic that is typically found in Japanese miniatures and Zen gardens.

    Her inventive highly detailed application of "real" materials (needlepoint skies, cut-paper leaves, intaglio and bas-relief interior furnishings) lend convincing presence to these imaginative precision images of public and private structures.
    9/10 through 10/9.

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    "Riddim Driven", Eyejammie Fine Arts Gallery 

    by Nicolette Ramirez


    This group photography show brings to life the musical history of VP Records. VP Records is to dance hall reggae what Def Jam Records is to Hip Hop. Started in Kingston Jamaica, the company is now based in Jamaica Queens, New York. Portraits of founders Vincent "Randy" Chin and Pat, with Fats Domino at their flagship store in Jamaica, Randy's Records, are shown next to contemporary reggae stars such as Sean Paul, Buju Banton and Beenie Man, set against urban backdrops, stages, nature and in the studio and dance hall.

    Several photographs capture the atmosphere of the close-knit record company, VP Records, and the dance hall reggae scene. For example, Ajamu Myrie's West Indian Day Parade, New York City, 1999, shows a crush of dark bodies, in the colorful clothing and head ties of the Jamaican and Trinidadian flags, flowing below the moving sea of green leaves on surrounding trees. The VP Records 20th Anniversary Float is peopled with performers and dancers rousing the crowd with their music.

    Another photograph by Ajamu Myrie of a performance by the musical group, Elephant Man, in New Jersey in 2000, shows the gleeful faces of the mostly female audience as the star and a female performer, her breasts exposed, cavort on their backs on stage. Here is unapologetic, raucous fun at its best.

    The words, Dub Room One Love, are seen written on a metallic door that leads to a recording studio. This photograph also indicates the roots of dance hall music. At the other end of the spectrum, Reggae Show Sign, NYC, 2002, by David Corio, shows the darker side to the dance hall lifestyle. Here, the handwritten poster on the metal door reads: "No guns, No knives, No Bottles, No Sticks, No Fireworks, No Alcohol or drugs, No Animals." The music scene in Jamaica from the 1950s until now is vividly documented in this show. Dance Hall Queen at the Opening of Don Lett's Dance hall Queen, 1995, by Adrian Boot, shows women in wigs with crimped extensions, wearing bright red and yellow outfits and platform shoes, dancing with their legs spread, arms extended and their rear ends protruding provocatively. In a similarly themed shot, Wayne Tippet captures Wendy, Dance hall Queen, Kingston, 1994. In this two-tiered composition we see Wendy, clothed in a white robe with an assortment of candy colored wigs around her on a bed. In the lower half of the composition she is shown in her white bikini with high white vinyl boots and white fishnet stockings, her ample flesh protruding brown and thick through the apertures.

    Many of these images depict the musical stars performing, but some show another side to the artists. Out of the tough guy role, in a more tender moment, the photographer called Afflicted captures Sean Paul having his hair braided in Jack's Hill, Kingston, 2003.
    Lee Perry in the Swiss Alps, c. 1990, by Adrian Boot, shows the legendary musician sitting regally against the backdrop of a snow-capped mountain range. He is dressed in a heavy red cape, lined with white fur. His crown is gold and red and he holds a scepter in one hand. A Swiss flag, red with a white cross waves in the wind next to him. Kings of dance hall they may be, but these men and women offer a view of a free and easy existence, grounded in music and laughter and fun.

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    Williamsburg: A Survey of New Shows
    by Joel Simpson


    On the third Friday of each month, most of the galleries and art related venues in Williamsburg hold their evening openings. These shows generally remain on view for about three to five weeks after that. Last month, this date was moved up to the second Friday, September 10. An evening's stroll around the art neighborhood, facilitated by an M / Williamsburg map (book-marked on page 32 of last month's issue), produced a crop of whimsical surprises. What follows is an overview of some especially notable shows, many of which still can be seen this month.

    LUNARBASE (see Williamsburg Listings)

    Planet Pajamaja, Savako Gallery owner Yuko Kawase-Wylie has dedicated her gallery to what she calls "characterism", by which she intends a critique of escapist popular culture.

    Her means appear to be artworks which both satirize and embrace the cute and cartoonish. This show, dubbed Planet Pajamaja by the single-named Japanese artist Savako, offers an elaborate illustration of her approach. Savako has constructed a fanciful, utopian sci-fi world that comes right out of 1950s comic books of molded, painted plastic creatures and their environment.

    Flash Gordon, watch out!
    But all of these creatures are benign. Pajamaja, it turns out, is a retro-futurist carnavalesque planet dedicated to Love and Peace, populated with Fisher-Price toys on steroids. Gaily colored hard plastic blob forms, in various sizes, some red with three vertical eyes, others with antennae on ovoid heads, surround a central platform where a creature whose two eyes face in opposite directions holds court.

    Is this cultural critique, or harmless fun? The subtext is not entirely clear, other than nostalgia for naive futurism. Still, Savako must be praised for the elaborateness of her installation, which really does transform the gallery space into a charming Other-world.

    PIEROGI (see Williamsburg Listings)

    Pierogi à Go-Go: Brooklyn Gravity Racers The big crowd at Pierogi's suggested more than the usual opening, even by Williamsburg standards. Indeed, the gallery is celebrating its ten-year anniversary by staging an innovative race for wooden gravity-driven race-cars, made by some 300 contributing artists.

    The "Pinewood Derby" kits, designed for Cub Scout use (a five inch long block of wood, with four plastic wheels and mounting pins), are lined up in rows, each one more imaginative than the other. There are cars shaped like recognizable objects such as a banana, a rat, a fly, a nude human figure, a coffin, a slice of lasagna, a sailing ship, a stuffed baked potato; or bearing familiar cultural objects, including a mousetrap, Snow-White and the Witch in Pez dispensers, medical vials, monster eyes on springs, house plants, a MacDonald's French fries bag with insulation foam spilling out...

    Then there are the high-concept ones: an ichneumon-like chassis, a partially carved block with the wood scraps still attached and ready to roll, a large nail mounted in two eye screws ready to pierce a sitting egg on impact, labeled "politics of the future." The actual race, to take place along a sixty-foot curving track, will be held early this month, October 6. Meanwhile the gallery offers an overflowing inventory of peeks into the fervid fantasies of local carving artists.

    BLACK AND WHITE GALLERY (see Williamsburg Listings)

    Picker Sculpture, DeWitt Godfrey Imagine gigantic, different sized bracelets of flexible steel (technically Cor-ten steel, that seals itself rusty by weathering), piled on top of each other across a walled-in space like so many truncated bubbles.

    This is what DeWitt Godfrey, sculpture professor at Colgate University, has done both outdoors and indoors in this pair of works called Picker Sculpture. The flexible rings of steel measure from between 2x2 feet to 9x9 feet, and they bend into a variety of rounded loops ‹ ovals, kidney shapes ‹ as they accommodate each others' weight. In contrast to the stark, industrial feel of Richard Serra's massive steel constructs that rigidly partition space along odd angles, Godfrey uses the medium in communicative, more humorous ways.

    His steel ensemble becomes a jumbo bubble-comb of viewing frames through which the people on each side see each other. Meanwhile the figures' massive scale and provisional stability inspires awe.

    GALLERY BOREAS (see Williamsburg Listings)

    Janel Swangstu: Janel Swangstu's series of photograms (camera-less images on photosensitive paper) was a nice discovery. She places a transparent grid of square receptacles over photo paper and adds small amounts of colored liquid to each square. The result is a limited-color palette pattern of liquid shapes that contrast with the regular geometry of the squares that contain them.

    These enigmatic, intriguing variations on the same same theme, in shades of light blue and mustard, suggest something you might find inside a medical laboratory, albeit with some imagination.


    235 South 1st Street
    Treasure Hunt, Nicholas Gaffney
    (through Oct. 11)

    Nature photographer Nicholas Gaffney unleashes a witty commentary on both nature purists and junk food addicts, alike. Ironically titled Treasure Hunt, Gaffney photographs Marshmallows, Hershey's Chocolate Kisses, Spam and Hostess' Twinkies (Yes, they still make Twinkies...) among other items, in the wild. The most compelling images look as though the unwrapped products had grown there, like a new species of mushrooms, or seed-pods. Others are less well integrated, suggesting the mischievous hand of the photographer, but Gaffney is onto something, drawing comic attention to the unwholesome nature of these consumables. Tasty, though.


    173A North 3rd Street
    Small Towns, Janice Caswell
    (through Oct. 11)

    Caswell's elaborate designs using plastic-topped pins, which she calls Small Towns, have an appeal similar to that of wire sculpture; modest linear means in extravagant shapes that sometimes evoke objects, sometimes not. The lines curve and swirl, often intersecting, like so many ants following their capricious leaders, and casting shadows that make them look much more substantial than they really are.

    Williamsburg has certainly come a long way in a remarkably short period of time. Where once crack viles had littered the streets, and memorials to murdered gang-bangers were painted on the sides of foreboding warehouse buildings less than a decade ago, today real estate agents mix it up with mom & pop shop owners, aspiring art dealers and emerging artists in an endless sea of young talent. It's no longer a walk on the wild side, but maybe that's not so bad after all.

    Ed Note: The DeWitt Godfrey exhibition at Black and White Gallery is discussed at further length in is this issue, by Lily Faust, on page 10.


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    Wim Wenders , James Cohan Gallery 

    by Lily Faust


    This critically acclaimed filmmaker, whose work has found its niche over the years in the hard to define territory between the commercial feature film and the seemingly uncompromising art film, with such releases as Paris, Texas (1984), Wings of Desire (1987) and the documentary, Buena Vista Social Club (1999), presents here an austere selection of ten photographs; still life visual observations from his travels in Japan and Australia. Panoramic in scope, the images center on the desolate terrain of the Australian Outback, and on the quiet intensity of Japanese forests that yield clues to the transformative effects of time. Unlike his films where the images and words drive the narrative forward, Wenders' photographs hold on to corners of a quiet planet visited by a sagacious pilgrim (himself), capturing views of sparse lands.

    In the photograph, Dust Road in West Australia (1988), a dirt road disappears in the expanse that lies against an impersonal blue sky. The tawny red of the earth mutates into the blue of the sky, in mid-horizon. The solitary road bisects the land. It appears that the last visitors to this site had veered to the right, leaving only tire tracks as evidence of human presence. The lens captures the topography's grandness; the large format of the color prints conveys a sense of the earth's true face. Wenders focuses his gaze out into the land, nudging the viewer to confront craggy hills and a verdant forest. Meteorite Crater, West Australia, and Rock with Inscriptions, Japan articulate the landscape's natural rhythms through the repetitive configuration of crags around a crater, and the local climate's incremental effects on the rocks. The images reveal patterns inherent to the land, with allusions to classical Chinese ink drawings.

    This show also includes three extraordinary portraits. One depicts an insect, the praying mantis, while the other two portraits are of wooden statues that represent a monk and another holy figure, both from the Toshodaiji Temple in Nara, Japan. Ganjin Statue at the Toshodaiji Temple (2000) depicts Ganjin, a blind monk who introduced Zen Buddhism to the Japanese court in VIII. Century A.D. The statue is made of wood, which has aged to a very dark hue over time. Wenders apparently used a long exposure and a penlight to illuminate the sculpture from below. The monk seems to be illuminated from within, emanating a gold light that dramatically alters the look on his face. The light radiates downward from underneath his brow, as if shedding light from his blind eyes, his nostrils and around his chin.

    Ganjin's serene expression evokes the image of god. Wenders avoids the reportorial here, reaching, instead, for the spiritual. There is a heart-crushing delicacy to the image, suggesting an implied mystery of the divine.

    In Holy Figure (2000) the holy man's gaze is disengaged from his immediate surroundings. We see the texture up close, the grain of the wood along with its discoloration and cracks. The photograph's proximity to the subject, and hence to the viewer, and the large format of the print (close to 119 inches high) have the effect of holding the viewer in the holy man's visual and meditative realm.

    Here, as in Wenders' films, details matter. Focusing on the often-overlooked fragments of an under-observed world, his Praying Mantis (2000) shows a delicate creature, remarkably distinct and self-possessed despite its diminutive appearance. Isolated on a pristine wooden surface, with a sliver of sharp green visible near its wings, the tiny figure is perched elegantly its four legs of thread. The geometry of the solid diagonal slab in the background contrasts with the insect's mechanical, angular body. This work is remarkable for its nuance, focusing on one aspect of one moment that Wenders manages to delineate into an eternity.

    Through 10/16.


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    Richard Deacon, Marian Goodman Gallery 
    by Mary Hrbacek

    Richard Deacon's new large-scale wood and metal sculptures combine a highly crafted, skillful use of materials with a playful, imaginative, intuitive feeling for flowing, undulating forms. The ambitious size of the two-part Red Sea Crossing that fills the front space of the gallery allows Deacon a free hand to create intricate, complex linear movements that suggest roller coasters, expressway overpasses and large farm implements.

    Characterized by loops, twisted wooden boards, folds, curves, and tunnels that multiply and repeat; the energetic, surprising rhythms become all the more diverting when one ponders how these wave-like un-encumbered forms that flow like malleable wire sculpture were fashioned from twisted, bolted boards.

    9/8 through 10/7.


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    Alessandra Sanguinetti, Yossi Milo Gallery 
    by Nicolette Ramirez


    This series of color prints by Argentinian-American, Alessandra Sanguinett, dubbed The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and the Enigmatic Meaning of Their Dreams raises several questions pertaining to the nature of the relationship between the two girls depicted. Their physical contrasts, one girl is obese, while the other is slim, suggest a possible sexual connotation. Beauty, friendship, and the psychological role-playing that comes with adolescence are some of the themes that seem to inform this work.

    Sanguinetti photographed the girls, who are cousins, over a five year period, starting from when they were nine and ten years old, into adolescence, against the backdrop of the Argentinian countryside. Combining arranged and spontaneous scenes, Sanguinetti explores the youthful dreams, fears and fantasies of children becoming adolescents. Utilizing theatrical costumes, stage props and make-up, the cousins, Guille and Belinda, act out mostly their adult photographer's fantasies.

    In an image called The Necklace, 1999, Sanguinetti has the girls dressed up in colorful prints, lipstick and jewelry. The obese girl admires the necklace of her slim cousin who stares, knowingly, into the camera. In another role playing scene, The Couple, 1999, the slim girl appears in drag, as a shirtless man with a mustache, while her obese partner, wearing only underwear, hugs the butch caricature.

    Physical contact is an integral element to these girl's relationship, as depicted here. Such whimsy does not preclude sophistication, however.

    Sanguinetti's photographic skills are remarkable. The quality of light captured in these prints enhances the fleshiness of the girls' skin, skillfully exaggerating their blossoming beauty. The contrast of light and dark, and the marbleizing effect of light on the skin, suggests a Georges de la Tour painting.

    Other members of the girls' family, as well as local men and women, play a role in these photographs too, drawing the adult, outside world into the intimacy of the girls' semi-private universe. But in the end, this is really an adult fantasy vicariously lived out in the camera's eye.

    9/9 through 10/23.


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    Kenro Izu , Howard Greenberg Gallery 
    by Joel Simpson

    Kenro Izu has acquired a well-deserved reputation as the consummate platinum photographer of ancient stone temples. Toting a giant 14x20 inch view camera to the Angkor Wat and other sacred places around the world, Izu has captured their solemn dignity with thoughtful, often astonishing compositions that integrate skies, bizarre flora (such as the prodigiously engulfing banyan trees), and the structures themselves. Look at a postcard or any tourist brochure from one of these places, and you are struck by the aesthetic distance Izu had to travel to fashion his monochrome platinum images of these archeological subjects seemingly out of the grey air of patient centuries.

    In this exhibition, Izu turns his gaze to the human form, a gaze that we have come to expect will be charged with a profound meditation on its subject. The nineteen images of a nude female subject,14x20 inch platinum/palladium with cyanotype, are deep blue, barely visible in their dark blue field. The theme is intimate privacy ‹ one of the most successful thematic uses of the inevitable blue of cyanotypes.

    In eighteen of the nineteen images the subject faces away from the camera.
    The viewer feels the lens prying into a dark, private corner of the subject's existence, one that she seems to want to keep pure and hidden. Is Izu violating something by taking us there? Even the possibility of this is a masterstroke of atmospheric evocation and implicit drama. He takes us, however, only to the liminal brink of observation, and until the very last image we see only shoulders, back, thighs, arms, buttocks, hands. Finally, at the end, her body faces the camera, but not her eyes. We have encroached on her privacy, but not her spirit.

    Even the framing adds mystery: the contact images are mounted on aluminum and protrude about half an inch out from their black mats. The effort that it takes just to see the barely illuminated, but classically appealing forms draws the viewer into the darkened room, and one almost feels like apologizing to the model in the end.

    Through 10/26.


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    Stephen Sack , Ariel Meyerowitz Gallery 
    by Joel Simpson

    New Jersey native, Belgian-based Stephen Sack has apparently discovered a new source of ancient, stylized imagery, similar to that found on rock art in the American West. Abstract faces, phantom beasts, fragmentary architecture ‹ all strong, compelling images in lustrous settings.

    Sack's highly magnified photographs, mostly of ancient coins that came from a wide variety of sources (Roman coins from Alexandria, Gaul and Judea; Indo-Greek coins from Afghanistan; medieval Islamic coins from Iraq and
    Turkey) show the transformative effects of chronic corrosion and considerable handling. These effects serve to stylize the images and frame them in the brilliant colors and random patterns of centuries of oxidation.

    Some images depict simple, unadorned figures, like the one of the faceless king Apollodotus on the Indo-Greek coin found in Afghanistan. A study in golds, bronzes and coppers, the irregularities of the metal surface offer a chaotic background against which the figure clearly, but equally pocked and striated with wear, emerges. In the photograph titled Gallery with Six Rowers and Helmsman, from the period of the emperor Hadrian, one only barely descries the ship against its splotchy background, which makes it all the more remarkable. An Indian elephant is a copper silhouette against a verdigris background with dots of more intense green. A mournful Gallo-Belgic face in dark blues on an iron-age coin from the 1st Century BCE actually evokes more recent Keltic iconography as found in stone sculptures in Brittany. The Third Century Roman emperor Postumus has himself depicted as Fides, god of loyalty, between two standards adorned with stylized stars in dark grey against moltely white and bright green. And a dark reddish brown palm tree silhouette tops a primitive Hebrew inscription commemorating the second revolt against Rome in 132 CE amid a riot of reds, oranges, acquas and whites.

    Sack has discovered another angle on the Romance of Ruins. By lifting these images out of their numismatic context he presents them as what might be called ³metaloglyphs²‹ striking traces left over from a wide variety of extinct cultures, whose art never looked as contemporary as this.

    9/7 through 10/30.


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