A good day in Chelsea

We said it before and we’ll say it again, we had a good trip to Chelsea Friday and saw a lot of great stuff. Much of it is in its last week, so run if you want to catch it.

These guys are fantastic.

Robert Colescott
Robert Colescott at Kravets-Wehby

We loved Robert Colescott At Kravets-Wehby for his raunchy straight-ahead sex, lies and Minnie Mouse imagery. Great painter, great compositions. He takes Jim Crow and makes it his own. We are reminded of energy and transgressiveness of Jorg Immendorff and his Cafe Deutchland paintings.

Nick Cave
Nick Cave at Jack Shainman

Nick Cave‘s fashion runway of beaded and boa-ed manikins at Jack Shainman left us breathless with their energy and style. We also love his embrace of all the bumps and knots of the body and wish that Lisa Yuskavage would get over it already and come see this show.

Peter Saul
Peter Saul, Bush at Abu Ghraib, 2006. 78×90″ acrylic on canvas. Leo Koenig Gallery

Peter Saul‘s grotesque visions at Leo Koenig mix politics and the personal with fabulous acidic colors, great dry-brush technique. Unafraid to be funny.

These women are fantastic

Jennifer Steinkamp
Jennifer Steinkamp, Formation, 2006. at Lehmann Maupin

Jennifer Steinkamp‘s sublime waterfall of fabric at Lehmann Maupin reminded us of how ephemeral every day experience is. It saved us a trip to Niagara Falls. The story behind her other big piece, a personal story about the shipwreck death of a family member was riveting. The piece was less satisfying.

Roebling Hall
Melanie Baker, untitled (Indicted), 2006, 91 x 52″, charcoal and pastel on paper

The reason we liked Melanie Baker‘s piece in the group show at Roebling Hall was the surprise of scale, focus and materials. The work — whose meaning puzzles us — puts your eye at crotch level. And the suit is elegant, the image is pasted to the wall and even though it was nothing at all like Steinkamp’s work it had some of the same cloth fluidity thing going on. Like Steinkamp’s work though, it is iconic and ephemeral.

We see reductive abstraction and we like it

Stanley Whitney
Stanley Whitney, Sugar Hill, 2006, oil on linen, 72 x 72″ at Esso

All semester long up at Tyler where we’re co-teaching a class with Frank Bramblett we’ve been hearing the name Stanley Whitney in the same breath as Hans Hoffman. Whitney teaches at Tyler although he’s on sabbatical. We saw his show at Esso and now we want to meet him. We loved the sag in this painting’s grid and his juicy paint and pop-eye colors. Jujubes on the canvas. If Wayne Thiebaud painted abstract he’d make bon bons like this.

Raoul De Keyser
Raoul De Keyser at David Zwirner

Also reductive but more of a storyteller than Stanley, Raoul De Keyser at David Zwirner makes word art without the words. His runes suggest a life full of experiences and an eye focused on the world. He’s living proof that bigger is not necessarily better and that small works can hold their own in a Chelsea cavern.

In a category all his own: the spandex king

Ernesto Neto
Ernesto Neto at Tanya Bonakdar

Ernesto Netoat Tanya Bonakdar has built a playroom from a stretchy carnival tent. He’s the soft and squishy Richard Serra putting your body in a space that overwhelms. We liked his Fabric Workshop piece a few years back a lot better.

The Lord of Empathy

Nick Waplington at Roebling Hall.

More from Roebling Hall. (And see Libby’s post for more on that show.) We didn’t see a lot of photographs in Chelsea but we did see a great Nick Waplington at Roebling Hall. It’s a human tableau that we wanted to compare with great religious paintings. The figures in it could have been a set-up except they weren’t. And the parade of human need and dysfunction was heartbreaking as a result. By the way, Empathetic, a show of works on the concept of empathy, is up at Temple Gallery.

No surprise from Lisa Yuskavage and a small surprise from Ann Craven

Charles RayPaula Cooper, which, because we were expecting a video was a disappointment. Fiore had some large paintings that just didn’t interest us except for some small unexpected passages here and there. Her fireworks drawings were too much process and not enough there there. The highlight at Marclay’s show was a collection of his photos of signs commanding silence. The big news here is that we overheard the gallery attendant tell someone that all the works were sold. Can this be right?