Chelsea Triple-header

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Post by Brent Burket, artblog New York correspondent

Zach Feuer is giving Mary Boone a run for the title of Hardest Eye On 24th Street.

Columbia grad Dana Schutz is the most celebrated star here. As much as she lived up to her hype, for me the Tom McGrath show that followed hers was even stronger. Feurer has kept the pressure on since then, without a single false step. I really can’t recommend this gallery highly enough. (As a bonus I have it on good authority that Feuer is a class operator who treats his artists with a high level of respect and fairness. Imagine that.)

When I’m gallery hopping in Chelsea I usually find myself drawn back to this gallery for a second look before heading home. In the gallery’s last show, the upside-down no-side-up sex depicted Tim Lokiec‘s work was refreshingly sexy. (top image is “Untitled” 2005, mixed media by Lokiec, and right is detail) It’s the exact opposite of a Cecily Brown experience. Even when Lokiec isn’t overtly displaying the sex it’s hinted at or hoped for. Art that turns my libidinal crank (Rothko, Karin Davies) is always welcome. Maybe it was just the Spring talking but one thing is for sure: at Zach Feurer (LFL), blooming seems to be the only option.

Feigen, no wait, Shainman

This Saturday, I went to see the new group show at Feigen Contemporary on 20th Street, but before I got there I was distracted in an almost miraculous way by a show at the Jack Shainman Gallery.

It was the last day of a 3-person show, and I noticed the name of John Oswald who is best known for his plunderphonic sound experiments. He’s transferred his attention to video art and in doing so has created one of the best works I’ve seen this year, “Chronophotic.” (image above left)

I find so much of video art to be, in the end, disappointing. Jeremy Blake changed my mind about the possibilities of the genre this year, and now Oswald has brought it home. Oswald has always been a master of layering and juxtapostion. He took one of the most boring rock bands in the world, The Grateful Dead, and made their work thrilling with his release, “Grayfolded,” a collage of 100 separate performances of their epically static Dark Star.


None of his gift for the graft has been lost in this move to the visual realm. Ironically, the basis for this video piece is still photography. Two photographs were taken of each subject, one nude and one clothed. The artist shows each image at varying degrees of visibility, overlaying over 100 of the subjects on the screen at the same time. People appear and disappear slowly, their two images cross-fading with each other and simultaneously with the other subjects going
through their own set of shiftings. Like a good painting the more I looked at it the more engrossing it became. (detail of Oswald’s Chronophotic)

In a perfect moment (And I swear I’m not making this up.), just as tears had come to my eyes, I was approached by the artist who happened to be in the gallery. Artist feedback should always be this good. In discussing my reaction I told him how much bad video art I’ve seen and how this work is one of the bright spots in a long, dimly lit hallway. He told me that this was reason he created “Chronophotic.” When viewing video art he always found himself thinking I’d rather be looking at a good painting.‘ Yes! And there we were, doing just that. I would love to comment on the other two artists in the show, Michael Snow and Pascal Grandmaison, but I wasn’t even able to look at their work after all that wonder. Sorry about that, but not really.

Feigen, no wait, Feuer, no really Feigen

Staggering out into the sun I made my way down to Feigen Contemporary to see the aforementioned group show, Life and Limb. I’m almost always pleased with what I find on the walls here, and this time was no exception. A painter from the Zach Feurer Gallery, Ridley Howard, had a fine painting right inside the door. All those hard lines around soft things. I was off to a good start. (image is a Howard painting)

There were two gloriously twisted Inka Essenhigh silkscreens. Another highlight in the show was the creepy and gorgeous pastel by Nicky Hoberman. (image right is a pastel, “Untitled (Chair and Owls)” by Hoberman and below is detail) When visiting this gallery I always go downstairs where they show works by gallery artists that are separate from the current shows. At the bottom of the stairs there were four smart and funny drawings by David Kramer. Another predictably excellent Jeremy Blake C-print stretched across the north wall. Come to think of it, these two artists couldn’t be less alike and it’s a good example of one of the strengths of this gallery.

When I first started to visit Feigen I thought their program was all over the place, but then I woke up and realized that it’s just one thing: good. And that takes nothing but focus on the part of everyone that works there. The gallerists at Feigen have a passion for their artists that is refreshingly not muted by the pretention that I so often find in Chelsea. Come to think of it, you could say that about all three of these galleries.

And I do.

Next up, a little pity for the filthy rich and a visit to the edge.

–Brent Burket is an art collector and writer who lives in Brooklyn.

Tags

chelsea, features & interviews, reviews, triple-header

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