NYC Art Week 2013
CONTRA’s resident Art Critic, Cody Ross
NYC’s ‘Art Week 2013’ got underway last Wednesday, triggering the art tribe’s ritualistic week/weekend of showboating, schmoozing, champagne imbibing, impulse buying, sexual sublimating — an all-out whopper of a celebration. Always the unpredictable storm of money, marketability, ego, decadence, instant gratification and infinite inspiration, Contra Mag put on our galoshes and winter mitts and popped by the fairs and solo shows to check out what was poppin’ at New York’s art-world feeding frenzy. With way too much talent to report on here (there were over 500+ galleries and exhibitions), we were lost in a cosmic labyrinth and drenched in stimuli.
We peeped-out the big daddy of the week—the Armory Show—but also dropped by Scope, Fountain, Spring Break, Volta and a few galleries and guerilla shows, all of which contained a multitude of fully loaded, visionary and relentless artists. Here are six highlights:
Todd James (The Hole Gallery) “Figurative Painting Series” 2012.
Todd James (aka REAS) is the New York-based conceptualist, street artist and creator of the Beastie Boys’ Brooklyn Dust Elephant logo. His exuberantly colored, largely formatted paintings are wonderfully absurd and display a hefty dollop of frivolity and fun. James explores the psychological complexities and social archetypes of our age, exposing external appearances and their inner, often vulnerable conditions. His fervid imagination has produced an endless stream of heroes and anti-heroes, fun figuration and inventive, awe-inspiring color-ways. We’re basically bonkers for his work!
Kyotaro Hakamata (MA2 Gallery) “People in a Skit” 2012.
Hailing from Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, Kyotaro Hakamata creates installations and orphic ornaments depicting mass culture, sexuality, anxiety, gender boundaries and identity politics. His prismatic, surreal sculptures embody a compelling discourse between art, object and home décor and swell with corporeal and sensory notions.
Adrian Ghenie (Pace Gallery) “The Devil” 2010.
Berlin-based Adrian Ghenie is a contemporary master of the grotesque and tends to show the darker side of life in semi-Freudian style. His gripping compositions slip almost imperceptibly between paint and depicted form, figuration and pure abstraction. His stuff is hardcore, deep, menacing and magical, and we love his angsty, existential and often disturbing propositions.
Wang Gongxin (Tang Contemporary Art) “Until the End of the World” 2012.
Wang Gongxin is China’s premier digital doyen and Beijing’s most fascinating freak-star. He makes art depicting the beautiful and the ugly at once and creates associations that exude a visceral, scatological and magical fascination. “Until the End of the World” is a spellbinding source of visual grotesqueness (picture honey bees flying around a gilded skull and flies feeding off a jittery slab of decaying meat), and one of the juiciest video pieces we saw all week. We love!
Jesús Rafael Soto (Marlborough Gallery) “FL II” 1973.
Jesús Rafael Soto’s dizzying sculptures with mystic geometries, popping colors and trance-inducing techniques blew our brains out. His perfectly engineered materials and euphoric mediums hijack your cognition and make you have to look away to regain your sense of balance and train of thought. Deep, disorienting and ultra-cool.
Scott Ewalt (Participant Inc.) “Back in the Night” 2013.
NYC artist and nightlife freak Scott Ewalt engineers installations derived from the spirit of pop art, saccharine soft porn and alienated urban life. His newest installation—inspired by pre-gentrified Times Square—is filled with paintings, sculptures, found objects, etc. and is designed to take you back to the heart of gritty NYC before the Giuliani reforms. Think vice, ‘psychotronic culture’, Teaserama posters, hobo culture and NYC punk.