New York Summer Group Show Season: Part III - Art Collector

From left, Jason Middlebrook, The Green and White Warbler, 2008. Walnut, steel, cast concrete and paint 46 x 16 x 18”; Ernesto Caivano, Habitants, 2015. Ink on paper 20 x 90”. Courtesy: the artists and Magnan Metz Gallery, New York

By Jess Holburn

This month Magnan Metz Gallery in Chelsea opened A Weekend in the Country, a group exhibition curated by Paul Laster featuring Jude Broughan, Ernesto Caivano, Anthony Goicolea, Ellen Harvey, Jason Middlebrook, Donna Moylan and Spencer Tunick. Nature is a conduit for metaphysical explorations, depicted as an abstraction, or rather as an extension of technology. Each artwork feeds into the next with aesthetic ease. Middlebrook and Caivano in particular juxtapose one another well; Middlebrook with his geometric tree carvings nestle beside Caivano’s exquisitely meticulous drawing Habitants, both artists suggestive of a relationship between the natural and the artisanal, materiality and symbol. Art Forum writer Chinnie Ding writes of Middlebrook: “This work nearly quakes in its dizzying concentricity, as if evincing that the book of nature is both fathomless and intensely near.” And artist Dustin Yellin writes of Caivano as: “A seer whose magnetic inner experience catalyses elemental vapors, transforms ordinary paper into a map of hidden lands.”

Each artist attracts attention from collectors and curators alike. Moylan’s work has been acquired in the collections of the Whitney Museum among others; Middlebrook’s work also resides at The Whitney as well as MoMA and the New Museum as well as numerous others. Middlebrook has a solo opening early August at Peters Projects, Sante Fe. Caivano is also in the permanent collections of MoMA and has exhibited solo shows at MoMA PS1, Pioneer Works and White Cube in London and currently has another panoramic piece on show at the Storylines exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum, curated by Katherine Brinson. Goicolea has an extensive public collections profile in the collections of the Guggenheim, MoMA, Whitney Museum and the Brooklyn Museum.

Spencer Tunick’s large-scale nude landscapes are immediately recognisable, in this show we see orchestrations along the Dead Sea, Nevada and Herefordshire, and Peel Park, England. Sydneysiders might recall Tunick’s installation at the Opera House Forecourt as part of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 2010. New Zealand-born, Brooklyn-based artist Broughan and Harvey both have held several international solo shows and commissioned projects. Harvey’s solo exhibition at the Barnes Foundation opens September this year in Philadelphia.

Nongirrnga Marawili, Baratjula, 2014. Paint on board, 240 x 120cm. Courtesy: the artist, Adam Reich and James Cohan Gallery, New York and Shanghai

There is an intelligible synergy between Laster’s curatorial evocation and curator Tina Kukielski’s vision for All Watched Over, a group show at James Cohan Gallery, only a few doors down from Magnan Metz. Featuring Doug Ashford, Shannon Ebner, Iman Issa, Josh Kline, KRIWET, Paul Laffoley, Margaret Lee, Lee Mullican, Brenna Murphy, Michael Portnoy, Michael Riedel, Gabriel Sierra, Roman ŠtÄ›tina and Australian Indigenous artist Nonggirrnga Marawili. Where Laster uses Rob Marshall’s 2014 musical film Into the Woods as a point of departure, in this show Kukielski refers to the techno-utopia evoked in Richard Brautigan’s 1967 poem All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace. In this show we have the likes of Lee Mullican’s cosmological abstract painting from 1972 and visionary artist Paul Laffoley’s garish psychedelic zodiac formations from 1973. Laffoley was a feature artist in the Outsider Art Fair in New York earlier this year, in which Priscilla Frank of the Huffington Post writes: “His transdisciplinary canvases appear to be the product of a computer, despite the fact that their entirely handmade using ink, paint and stick-on letters. The multicolored mandala-inspired works, land somewhere between a mystical altar and a conspiracy theory pamphlet.”

Brenna Murphy continues the psychedelic aspects of the show with her archival-pigment prints of fantastical virtual landscapes are also on show. “I add and carve until the arrangement is balanced in a way that creates a perfectly cohesive, vibrating ecosystem,” Murphy says of her process. The painting by Nonggirrnga Marawili is a continuum of ancestral visual codes corresponding to the land. In the context of this show, the optical patterns of her painting
Baratjula conjure in the mind some version of a Voronoi diagram. New York Times arts writer Martha Schwendener wrote a favourable review of the show, and while you may find this selection of artists to be a little more jarring on the eyes than the works of A Weekend in the Country, these are two solid summer group shows that are closing next week. Don’t hesitate.

A Weekend in the Country, curated by Paul Laster at Magnan Metz runs from 7 July – 7 August, 2015.

All Watched Over, curated by Tina Kukielski at James Cohan Gallery runs from 25 June to 7 August, 2015.

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