Saturday, August 7, 2010

Lower East Side Review

Rivane Neuenschwander, a still from the video The Tenant, 2010.
Image courtesy of the artist, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; 
Galeria Fortes Vilaça, São Paulo; and Stephan Friedman Gallery, London.

Video is so ubiquitous in the Lower East Side that it's become a ludicrous cliché. I find most of it boring, self-indulgent, and annoying in that it's so damn controlling. Yet video was by far the best thing I saw yesterday.  In an otherwise lightweight and simple-minded mid-career survey of Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander (b. 1967) at the New Museum, there was a lovely, mesmerizing and funny video, The Tenant (2010). The video tracks a soap bubble as it meanders through a deserted apartment. What really makes this simple video fun, and even dramatic, is a soundtrack that subtly plays with our expectations.

Also at the New Museum was the first U. S. retrospective of the eccentric Surrealist/Beat painter, performer, poet, and writer Brion Gysin (1916- 1986). His recent claim to fame is that he never achieved the fame of his most prominent collaborator, William S. Burroughs, or of the many people he influenced (John Giorno, Brian Jones, David Bowie, Patti Smith, and Keith Haring, among others). It goes to show it's possible to be influential without being very good. It's frankly a pretty lame and repetitive show. About the only thing with any guts is his wall-sized, collage-like, films. 

Lesley Heller (54 Orchard Street) has a show of Israeli videos by young (20's and 30's) artists curated by Lilly Wei. Stills of the videos are on the gallery walls, and you can request to see whichever you want. Some of the most powerful are by Oded Hirsch.
Oded Hirsch, still from the video 50 Blue

As to the other LES galleries, Roberta Smith observed there's a lot of Abstract Art being shown. (BTW, this is yet another confirmation of the uncanny phenomenon that some subject, medium or style seems to predominate in the galleries at any one time. It's as if there's a theme for the day or something, and this time it was abstraction.) But her article strangely left out what is probably the most relevant show, Creeds, Colors and Combinations at Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, 21 Orchard Street. Work by Louise Despont in particular offers a fresh approach to abstraction with her intimate, complex drawings that relate to Indian Tantric drawings but without the hippy, psychedelic connotations. 
Louise Despont, Winter Drawing, 2009, 
Graphite, colored pencil and ink 
on antique ledger book page, 
24 x 18 inches

Despont will be the next show at Nicelle Beauchene, so we'll get to see how her works hold up in quantity.

Rightly praised by Roberta Smith is Markus Linnenbrick's disorienting environmental installation at numberthrityfive Gallery, 39 Essex Street. 

NOTE: Small A Projects, 261 Broome Street, is now the Laural Getlen Gallery - same gallery, it's just that the owner, like Stephan Stoyanov (formerly Luxe) 29 Orchard St, decided to eschew cleverness and use their own name.  Maybe numberthirtyfive will follow suit soon. 


Rona Conti said...

Ouch on the Brion Gysin though I admit it made me feel far better that I had missed the exhibition. Would the author of said post tell me how to reach him "off-line" as it were. I am better with my brushes than virtually.
I wish to relate some information about Gysin and The Beat Hotel as an aside, but the mission is to convey a seed concerning The Rose and Carl Belz.

Charles Kessler said...

The right sidebar has our email address:

I look forward to you planting that seed.