Gallery Crawl: Chelsea, 24th & 25th Street

The galleries in Chelsea seem to have better than usual crop of exhibitions this month. Here are some of the works that are on display.

My first stop today was actually Greene Naftali on 26th Street: Bjarne Melgaard‘s messy and riotous painting and sculture installation, The Synthetic Slut: A Novel by Bjarne Melgaard.  I generally do not read press releases, but I have to say that I like this exhibition much better after reading equally all encompassing and messy press release of this show.  Aside from usual political and conceptual standing similar to that of Thomas Hirschhorn, I like the energy and visual bravado of this show.

On 25th Street, Cheim and Read is showing Ghada Amer’s first solo show at the gallery. I admire Amer’s embroidery thread feminist paintings in general, but this show was disappointing in the sense that she seems to be stuck making exactly the same work that made her famous. The pieces that I liked the best were the ones where threads were more clustered and abstracted obscuring her now famous provocative female figures.

In Jeff Bailey Gallery (511 W. 25th, on 2nd floor), a three person group show called All This and Not Ordinary peaked my interest. I especially liked Fabienne Lassere‘s multifarious sculture, Thing to Thing, and Joseph Hart‘s graphite and acrylic drawing (Shitter Shadder Study) that was reminiscent of Jaspher Johns pieces.

Julie Heffernan‘s solo show, Boy, O Boy at P.P.O.W. features male figures for the first time in her paintings.  For this series of paintings, she has loosened her painting style a little, but still in classical style.  Despite the universal admiration for her painting skills, I find her painting style pretty dull and belabored, and this show was not an exception.  The allegory involving adventurous boys and the nature of human society seemed too obvious as well.  Still her subtle color sense and the modeling of the figures were admirable.

At Claire Oliver Gallery, Judith Schaechter‘s stained glass painting show Beauty and the Beef stood out.  She states in her press release that “[she is] trying to be as cliché, sentimental and decorative as possible, not as strategy for ironic commentary about sentimentality but because this is the stuff that time and time again I am drawn to, obsessed with and that I have faith in.”  I was conflicted by this sentiment as I do think that the artists should pursue the thing what interests them regardless, but I also think that the artists, as social, cultural and political being should be reflecting their ideas about the society and culture in general.  I did like the intensity of her work, but I was a little put off by the closedness of the world she creates in each images.

On 24th Street, there were many worth while exhibitions in all the blue chip galleries (Karla Black and Nate Lowman at Andrea Rosen, a mini retrospective of David Salle at Mary Boon, Johannes VanDerBeek at Zack Feuer, Trudy Benson at Freight+Volume, etc). But I was in love with Roy Lichtenstein‘s Still Lifes at Gagosian Gallery.  This museum quality show brings together more than 50 still life paintings and sculptures that Lichtenstein made from 1972 through the early 1980s.  These paintings were vibrant and whimsical yet rigorous.  Despite his set style of printed comic strips, Lichtenstein shows that preciseness can be playful and fluid through the usage of color, the choice of subject matter and composition.  In his paintings, the dots that shade the light and darkness does not just function as a device for 3D rendering but patterning that shatters the careful pictorial orderliness.

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