Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Chelsea Gallery Notes: Mark Bradford at Sikkema Jenkins, Jason Brinkerhoff at Ziehersmith, Eberhard Havekost at Anton Kern, Huang Yong Ping at Gladstone, Mark Barrow at Elizabeth Dee, Charles Ray at Matthew Marks, Olafur Eliasson at Tanya Bonakdar

Two weeks after Hurricane Sandy passed through New York, I was anxious to see firsthand the effect it had on the galleries located in Chelsea. Most are located no more than 1 or 2 blocks from the Hudson River and were at risk for flooding. Although those closest to the river generally seemed to suffer the most, there appeared to be an almost random pattern to the damage as one gallery was open for business while its neighbor was still in the process of replacing drywall and electrical repairs.

This summed up what a lot of people were feeling.

Damaged drywall was common.

Inside those that were open, people spoke in rather hushed voices with the conversations between visitors and gallery staff focused on the flood as well as speculation on what the long term impact on the art market might be. The smell of silt, damp concrete and for lack of a better word, wetness, was everywhere. Despite streets lined with dumpsters, pumps, and every other gallery closed for repairs, it was heartening to see how many places were able to reopen so quickly, some with impromptu shows and others with a modified exhibition schedule.

Dumpsters  lined  the streets.

Of the shows that were open, one of the highlights was Mark Bradford at Sikkema, Jenkins. Bradford's work suggests systems of urban cartography and processes of excavation and decay. The paintings are derived from collages of weathered advertisements, taken from his South Central Los Angeles neighborhood. I love the scale of this work, as well as its tactile and layered nature. 

Ziehersmith  showed a collection of drawings and paintings by Jason Brinkerhoff. Brinkerhoff abstracts the female form in a serial manner, referencing prior styles and artists in the process. Even so, the work is fresh and full of life, and not academic in any sense. I noted references to Picasso, surrealist automatism, and even Modigliani. 

Anton Kern showed paintings by German artist Eberhard Havekost, who works the edge between photographic representation and painterly abstraction.

Apparently I was wrong about the taxidermy movement in art being over. Gladstone showed a installation by Huang Yong Ping. The symbolism here is both overt and obvious.

And the installation as a whole seems too similar in its structure to one by Mario Mertz, shown in the same gallery in 2008.

I'm fascinated, but still unsure about the modestly scaled paintings and drawings of Mark Barrow, shown at Elizabeth Dee. I like the understated and dignified feeling of the work, as well as what seems to be a labor-intensive process. I think too much is made of the concept behind the work, which has to do with a deconstruction of color theory, weaving, and perception. However, they are interesting to look at.

Charles Ray at Matthew Marks.

Olafur Eliasson at Tanya Bonakdar. Shown were grids of photographs of volcanos, hot springs, and isolated cabins, taken during the past two years in Iceland and an installation of obsidian.