Through Oct. 21. Yancey Richardson Gallery, 525 West 22nd Street, Manhattan; 646-230-9610, yanceyrichardson.com.
Anthony Hernandez, born in Los Angeles in 1947, is highly esteemed in the photographic world, but relatively little known outside it. His first retrospective, now at the Milwaukee Art Museum, isn’t scheduled to come to the East Coast, and his current show at Yancey Richardson Gallery is, astonishingly, his New York solo debut.
It’s a beauty. Mr. Hernandez, a child of Mexican immigrants, grew up in the Boyle Heights section of East Los Angeles, and first picked up a camera in high school. Drafted into the Army in 1967, he worked as a medic in Vietnam, an attitude-shaping experience. After being discharged, he took up photography again to stabilize himself. He approached the medium on the model of street-photography, as practiced by older contemporaries like Garry Winogrand and Diane Arbus, taking Los Angeles as his subject.
Of two groups of pictures at Richardson, the city is viewed panoramically in the 1979-80 black-and-white series called “Public Transit Areas,” in which isolated figures stand, under a beating-down sun, at unsheltered bus stops in working-class neighborhoods. Exquisitely composed, the views have the classical lines of Renaissance perspective and the mood of Desolation Row.
In the 1980s, Mr. Hernandez switched to color, experimentally in a series focused on the luxe life represented by that city’s high-end shopping strip, Rodeo Drive, and poetically in a second great body of work called “Landscapes for the Homeless” (1988-91). Images from this series, shot at deserted encampments under Los Angeles freeways, are in the show: a chair improvised from broken slabs of drywall, a pollen-bejeweled jacket hung from a tree, a length of indented earth that could be a bed or a grave.
The complete series is one of the most moving in contemporary American photography, and is absolutely pertinent to the present moment of debates about immigration and border crossings. It’s a shame that the retrospective found no berth in New York to let us see that. The Yancey Richardson show gives us a cogent sense of what we’ve missed.
Through Oct. 28. Luhring Augustine, 531 West 24th Street, Manhattan; 212-206-9100, luhringaugustine.com.
Tom Friedman’s effortlessly brilliant “Ghosts and UFOs: Projections for Well-Lit Spaces” covers all its formal bases. To put it another way, he uses the show’s eight short animated loops, all of them projected onto the gallery’s bright white walls, to make as many different jokes as their form allows.
In “Wall,” a pale, greenish hand with glowing fingertips is inside a wall pushing out, as in a supernatural thriller. In “Pong,” two unmoving paddles encapsulate the meaningless but addictive busywork of the digital age with an interminable game of catch. And in “Proteus,” a few mutating colored blobs abstracted from Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly performing “The Babbitt and the Bromide” in “Ziegfeld Follies” make a gentle mockery of any attempt to read anything too clever into the work: The song, audible on portable headphones, is a satire of empty small talk that belies its own ostensible point by using its bubbly lyrics as a medium for rhythm, melody and mood.
But the best two pieces — “Shaky Window” and “UFO” — invest the gallery walls with a magical presence as delicately surprising as an unexpected kiss. “Shaky Window” is a triangular patch of what reads as the passing reflection of some otherwise unseen window, across which passes, every now and then, the silhouette of an intriguing but safely distant man. And in “UFO,” what looks like a similar patch of light slowly turns and shrinks as it drifts from right to left and then suddenly, in a blink, zips away. It raises the tantalizing possibility that the aliens are already here, winking in plain sight.
Through Oct. 29. MILLER, 17 Essex Street, Manhattan; millercontemporary.nyc.
Where many fiber artists in the 1960s and ’70s were intent on ditching the traditional weaving loom, the current generation of young artists treats it like a D.J.’s turntable: a starting point for mixing and remixing elements and creating a bricolage art form. Julia Bland’s “Things to Say at Night,” at MILLER gallery is an excellent example of this.
Ms. Bland’s works, packed into this tiny second-floor storefront gallery, hang from the walls and the ceiling, resembling those endless drugstore receipts. Some look like long, colorful scarves; others, funky place mats or deconstructed textiles in which grids made of threads are plainly visible. Sharp geometric forms such as arrows or chevrons give the works a witchy or ’80s heavy metal look. Titles like “Crow,” “Wicked Listen” and “The Kettle Black” amplify this effect.
Ms. Bland uses wool, linen and canvas, as well as denim, ink and dye, and weaves, stretches and even burns her materials. If some of her peers — Josh Faught, for instance — are more ironic and winking in their approach to fiber art, distancing it from its earthy, hippie associations, Ms. Bland comes across like a sincere devotee of the fiber/weaving tradition. In a statement for the gallery, she says that the show “pursues darkness,” the time at which “edges soften, lines are crossed, secrets flow.” She concludes that “these works seek night as the equal half of day,” a poetic flip-flop that serves as a canny descriptive metaphor for works that are filled with positive and negative spaces, light and shadows cast upon the walls and the floor.
Kahlil Robert Irving
Through Oct. 29. Callicoon Fine Arts, 49 Delancey Street, Manhattan; 212-219-0326, callicoonfinearts.com.
Kahlil Robert Irving’s tabletop assemblages of broken ceramic look, at first sight, like simple piles of sandy rubble, but they reveal to even the most briefly lingering gaze an incredible profusion of color, texture and imagination. Aside from a few warped and bulging bricks and some melted gravel, he makes all their porcelain and stoneware constituents himself, slip-casting paint cans, crumpled paper, takeout containers and other everyday objects, firing everything dozens of times both separately and together, and adding accents of paint, glaze, gold and silver luster, custom-printed decals of newspaper headlines, and stick-on blue flowers from the famous porcelain works in Meissen, Germany.
The headlines, many of which Mr. Irving cuts up and collages into a kind of concrete poetry, all relate to the shooting death, in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014, of the unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. This results in pieces that function simultaneously as core samples of recent American history — with its rigid collisions of unexpectedly fragile social structures and its seemingly endless supply of killings and massacres — and as a vivid reminder by analogy that some of the things we’ve been conditioned to regard as disposable are quite the opposite.
But the topical self-reflection reaches its peak in “Seven Pack — Memorial edition, 2014 (RIP)” which, contrary to the title, contains six cast ceramic soda bottles. Colored solid yellow or green, they look like recycled paint containers borrowed from someone else’s studio.
Source: New York Times – Art and Design