Will Heinrich

On View

‘Natasha Bowdoin: Glyph’ at Monya Rowe Gallery

Bowdoin_Submarine Forest

Like an arthropod ouroboros or giant blue jellyroll, the confection of painted and cut paper that Natasha Bowdoin has mounted against a 42-inch square of pristine white museum board and titled Atom A is coiled with a comfortable tension, ready to unfurl but in no particular hurry. Royal-blue lines undulate across the creature’s midsection like the ocean before God parted the waters, and from the crest of every wave protrudes an almond shape, like a hasty, wine-stained tongue, to form a quick black pupil. Argos was trying to keep his focus when Hermes relentlessly bored him to death, but Ms. Bowdoin’s eyes work like windows in reverse—it’s through their carefully cut away whites that we peer down to the next layer of paper, where reddish-orange swooshes leave some of the waves looking bloodshot. Beneath the swooshes, visible only in glimpses, is what looks like a topographical map. A squiggling white border divides the interior from the hedgehog-like bristle of tangent eyes around the outer edge, and the opaque white half-moon that transforms the whole transparent sea into a single Borgesian aleph was placed on last like a codpiece. Read More

On View

Julije Knifer at Mitchell-Innes & Nash

'MS 09' (1962) by Knifer. (Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash)

It wouldn’t be quite right to say that the Croatian painter Julije Knifer decided in 1960 to paint only the meander, that right-angled undulation New Yorkers of a certain age will remember from their paper coffee cups. Because while Mr. Knifer, who died in 2004, did paint nothing else, his paintings weren’t repeated studies of a lonely motif but the serial exploration of a potentially infinite pattern, a singular (and necessarily unfinished) project. The 27-inch high oil M 24, from 1967, uses a thin, semi-spiraling, vertically asymmetrical white meander to divide syncopated blocks of maroonish brown and black. Nested apostrophes like the yin-yang sign are there if you look for them, but what the shapes really resemble are interlocking telephone handsets, or a crude iron helmet: It’s the narrow space where the raw brutality of primitivism overlaps with the transcendental clarity of high minimalism. That the bottom left edge, and the upper two thirds of the right edge, are left white, where the meander begins and ends, is only, at this point, a hint. Read More

On View

‘The Age of Small Things’ at Dodge Gallery

Installation view of 'The Age of Small Things' at Dodge Gallery. (Courtesy Dodge Gallery)

A snowman walks into a bar. He, his desperado hat and the swinging saloon doors are drawn in a fussy black line on a small piece of lined notepaper by Michael Williams. The size of the drawing—it’s only five-and-a-half inches high—gives it the supple ambiguity and potential of an infant: a black fingerprint in the upper-right corner is as big as the moon. Donald Baechler’s small painting Group, 10 smiley and frowny faces piled in a hill on a clay-colored ground, hangs right beside the snowman, as close as Eskimo sunglasses: a narrow aperture screens out blinding irrelevance. Read More

On View

‘Luke Stettner: This Single Monument’ and ‘Boru O’Brien O’Connell: Draft, Capture, —’ at the Kitchen

Installation view of Stettner's show at The Kitchen. (Courtesy The Kitchen)

Boru O’Brien O’Connell and Luke Stettner use a long, white wall to divide their double New York gallery debut into a stereopticon of bicameral thought. Above the wall, which extends from the back of the gallery right up to an entering viewer’s nose, are a few feet of black curtain, closing the gap between such formal divisions and the Kitchen’s pipe-lined, theatrical ceiling. Read More

On View

‘Lionel Maunz: Deluge’ at Bureau

Installation view. (Courtesy Bureau)

There’s always a moment of apogee in decay, a transitional pause in which it’s difficult to distinguish the forms breaking down from the forms just beginning to emerge. The iron and concrete elements of Lionel Maunz’s “Deluge,” named after Paolo Uccello’s unusually violent fresco of Noah’s flood, arranged in densely significant tableaux just adjacent to clarity and cast from foam models of rotting horse hooves, miniatures of apartments and trailers Mr. Maunz grew up in, an earlier piece not in this show (a sphinx carved out of sulfur), and his own feet, are too brutally heavy to belong to any but an eons-long change. But their formal ambiguity, critically emphasized by rough, patchy surfaces, insists that however finely or slowly we parse it, civilization can’t be separated from its own brutality. Read More

On View

Wade Guyton at Petzel

Installation view. (Courtesy Petzel)

Wade Guyton’s first solo show at Petzel in seven years, which consists of five enormous, untitled ink-jet prints on linen, as well as one solemn replica in walnut veneer of the Carnegie Museum’s coat check counter, looks great. Mr. Guyton takes a 60-foot bolt of raw linen, folds it in half lengthwise and then runs it through an Epson 11880 using a wider version of the same digital black rectangle he had used for his 2007 show. The solid black continues for only a few feet; the remaining white linen is cut off to measure, so that the resulting painting, unfolded and hung horizontally with its shadowy, chalk-line crease at about eye level, will fill a particular gallery wall from edge to edge. The printer’s skips and struggles produce the organic imperfections that would once have needed a human hand: thin, white gaps in the black sections bring to mind fine men’s suiting, while smoky, not-quite-vertical streaks of residue in the white are like cracks in an ivory domino. Read More

On View

‘Janet Malcolm: The Emily Dickinson Series’ at Lori Bookstein Fine Art

'David Todd (from the Emily Dickinson Series)' (2013) by Malcolm. (Courtesy the artist and Lori Bookstein Fine Art)

On the left side of Janet Malcolm’s collage Melbourne, under a crinkly, irregular piece of translucent brown glassine, is a page from Emily Dickinson’s Open Folios: Scenes of Reading, Surfaces of Writing by Marta Werner, a study of the poet’s surviving fragments that includes handwritten punctuation on its typewritten transcriptions. Under a poem about the meaning of “plumb” (“Some region / of rectitude”) is a sensuously exhaustive accounting of the physical details of the fragment that bore it (“wove, white stationery, now measuring approximately 137×128 mm”): granular, electric abstraction resting on evanescently suggestive fact. To the right is a brackishly black square plate from an old astronomy text on which a huge gray ball overset with an off-center, black-hairline X is possessed and made particular—if not befouled like an egg yolk with a blood spot—by a tiny black dot. It’s the planet of love eclipsed against the sun. Read More

On View

‘Stay in Love’ at Laurel Gitlen and Lisa Cooley

Installation view of works by Sebastian Black (painting in hallway), B. Wurtz (painting and sculpture at center) and Kyle Thurman (painting at right) at Gitlen. (Courtesy Laurel Gitlen  and Lisa Cooley)

“Stay in Love,” curated by Chris Sharp into a brief series of Lower East Side galleries (both on Norfolk Street and with trochaic female names), revolves around the late André Cadere’s untitled 1977 “barre de bois rond,” a 32-inch-high stack of what look like wooden marshmallows painted rose, white, yellow or blue—Mondrian meets Willy Wonka. It exemplifies serial art from both directions: The piece’s broader formal parameters are taken up as a means of expression—Cadere stuck to these walking-stick-like pieces for his whole career—but the more particular program is only a jumping-off point, a way of tricking the mind into disgorging its substance. (The colors rotate, in this case, in groups of four, but Cadere introduces an error to make the pattern less immediately intelligible.) Read More