Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Soothing Landscapes and Ravished Canvases

by Drew Martin
Forget about criticism, judgement, and opinion for a few minutes. We are very lucky in this world to have artists who spend their time creating work for us to look at, think about and discuss. And we are fortunate that there are museums and galleries who make it their business to show this work. Personally, I am especially privileged to work in a part of Manhattan, where it is impossible to walk a few blocks without passing a gallery. One nice thing about seeing a show at the end of its run, is that in a short time a new show will take its place and generate a whole new set of emotions, questions, and conversations. Today, I took a quick afternoon break and stopped by two nearby galleries. Gavin Brown Enterprise (GBE) has a very lively show of paintings by the 87-year-old artist, Alex Katz. This show is something of a portal for me. When I am outside New York City, I crave its intensity and density of all things, and while I am in it, I wish for the lushness and serenity of suburban towns. Katz's paintings are big, and simple and cherish the concept of home and the visual richness of nature.

I also went to the Maccarone gallery a few doors down the street, where there is a show called The Hell Bitch by Rosy Keyser.  Let's start with her titles....Music for a Drowned World, Terrestrial Mime, Early Magic, Late Magic, Rebreak the Toe to Set it Right, How Wide an Eye Can Open...to name a few. Who cares what the art looks like with titles like those. But that's just it...it seems like Keyser made a series of paintings just to study our expressions. There is something beautifully ugly about them and I like that, just as I like how scrappy they are. It's like she decided to start from a really messed up state - an incomplete, scrambled, jumble of materials - and worked it all into its own aesthetic.