Overview: Fall Highlights

Sheila Hicks @ Sikkema Jenkins & Co
On view through November 28

Veteran fiber artist Sheila Hicks works equally well in large-scale sculpture and expansive installations as she does in her “minimes”—modest weavings created on a small handmade loom.* This excellent exhibition of recent works displays both the intimate and immersive facets of her work. White River (Fleuve Blanc), 2013-14, is an installation of knotted and twined yarns and linens in various shades of white that cascade down from the ceiling to collect in a cloudy pile on the floor. Hicks continues her study of monochromes with several woven and spooled “canvases,” in which she creates subtle variations in color and texture with different weaving patterns. Several sculptural works, which feature colorful fibers tightly wound around bamboo rods and bundled together, are titled to reference movement across borders (i.e., The Right of Entry and Perpetual Migration).  These could reference the artist’s own travels to procure materials and learn about processes, but as a resident of Paris, Hicks is undoubtedly bringing attention to Europe’s current immigrant and refugee crisis.

530 W 22nd Street  |  Chelsea

*A small exhibition of Hicks’s “minimes” is concurrently on view at Davis & Langdale through December 23.

Top: Installation view with White River (Fleuve Blanc), 2013-14; Bottom: Installation view with Agreed Upon, 2015, and Perpetual Migration, 2014-15; “Sheila Hicks,” Sikkema Jenkins & Co., NY. (All photos by Chris Murtha unless otherwise noted.)

Keith Myerson @ Marlborough Chelsea
On view through December 23

With “My American Dream,” Keith Mayerson continues his thorough chronicling of American culture, a project he previewed in last year’s Whitney Biennial. After making your way through a “Prologue” of two galleries minimally adorned with seemingly anonymous paintings of skylines, mountains, and seascapes, the viewer is confronted by a floor-to-ceiling salon-style installation of over 150 paintings created over 25 years. Mayerson’s vision of America flirts with cliché and conventionality—superheroes, movie stars, and politicians are well represented—but personal snapshots and special attention to rebels, dissidents, and gay icons instill an underlying sense of “otherness.” A series of paintings that tackle abstraction (his Iconscape series) and art history (most notably El Greco’s Vision of St. John) help offset and anchor the painterly photo-realism of many of Mayerson’s works. In this ongoing and cumulative project, the political, cultural, and personal are all one and the same.

545 W 25th Street  |  Chelsea

Top: High School Senior Portrait, 1984, 2014, oil on linen, 44 x 35 inches; Bottom: Installation view, Keith Mayerson, “My American Dream,” Marlborough Chelsea, NY.


Camille Henrot @ Metro Pictures
On view through December 12

The French artist Camille Henrot’s first gallery show in New York is a humorous collection of interactive sculptures, large-scale watercolors, and a zoetrope, all of which needle at human dependency and abuse. Installed in a butter-yellow room, the pale watercolors, which are full of visual puns and populated by anthropomorphic and hybrid figures, are reminiscent of New Yorker cartoons, specifically the work of Saul Steinberg (who was included in a recent exhibition Henrot co-curated for SculptureCenter). In the diptych titled Bad Dad, a pelican surveys his imploring (and perhaps too gullible) offspring in one watercolor and consumes them in the next. In the first gallery, playfully cumbersome telephones connect the viewer with despondently absurdist self-help and support hotlines. Written in collaboration with the poet Jacob Bromberg, the hotline menus mockingly address issues such as infidelity, undependable fathers, and misbehaving pets. Printed on the backside of a “Lack of Self Confidence” hotline card, which is available at the gallery’s front desk, is perhaps the best encouragement Henrot can offer: “You’re not all that bad.”

519 W 24th Street  |  Chelsea

Top: Is He Cheating, 2015, three-dimensional resin print with video and telephone components, 37 7/8 x 9 1/2 x 3 1/4 inches; Bottom: Installation view, “Camille Henrot,” Metro Pictures Gallery, NY.


Keith Sonnier @ Maccarone
On view through December 19

Keith Sonnier’s current exhibition, “Portals,” features eleven new neon sculptures that resemble doors and passageways, along with several associated drawings. The works reference classic architectural forms but undercut that allusion with a colorful palette and phallic protrusions. The portals are also scaled down from their architectural referents to relate more closely to the human body. There are several drawings of abstracted heads that allude to two neon works, titled Circle Portal, which are closer to emoticons than passageways. One work, Wall Portal B, operates more as a line drawing than a sculpture, but it works nicely with the preparatory sketches in the two drawings, Multiple Portal Drone Study A and B. Whereas most of the neon works are mounted flat against the wall, two “Wall Extension” pieces are particularly successful as they extend the light drawings out into the gallery space, changing our perception of the work while becoming the most literal pathways in the exhibition.

630 Greenwich Street  |  West Village

Image caption: Top: Installation view with Syracusa Portal (2015); Bottom: Installation view, Keith Sonnier, "Portals," Maccarone, NY.

Jennifer Bornstein’s fourth exhibition at the gallery, “New Rubbing and Psychological and Performance Tests,” is a tribute to her father. In a series of blueprint-colored rubbings installed across the gallery’s largest wall, Bornstein captures trace images of her father's possessions, including clothing, cameras, books, and watches. The rubbing technique, called frottage, creates flat artworks that retain a sense of three-dimensionality—images of bodiless jackets and shirts are particularly evocative. Because of the indexical nature of their installation, Bornstein’s rubbings call to mind natural specimens or archaeological fossil rubbings. The connection to science continues with a series of plaster and wire sculptures that resemble mazes and testing apparatuses for lab mice, which, as confirmed by a captivating video piece, is exactly what they are. In fact, the mice that navigate Bornstein’s sculptures in the video were genetically engineered by her father, a scientist, to be exceptionally flexible and nimble. Watching the augmented mice navigate the structures—struggling to stay upright on the axle of a spinning wheel, using their tails to shimmy across a tightrope wire, or simply sniffing along the edges of a wall—one imagines Bornstein developed these structures specifically to test or challenge her father's achievement.

291 Grand Street  |  Lower East Side

Top and bottom: Installation views, Jennifer Bornstein, “New Rubbing and Psychological and Performance Tests,” Gavin Brown's enterprise, NY.  (Photos courtesy the artist and Gavin Brown's enterprise.)

Zach Harris @ Feuer/Mesler
On view through December 19

This exhibition is something of a departure for Zach Harris, who is known for intricate paintings on carved wood. Pattern and psychedelic geometries are still central to his work, but in these recent paintings Harris also incorporates narrative and pictorial imagery. Full of mythological figures and apocalyptic scenes, the finely drawn images are tucked into the spaces between the incised patterns and sometimes carved into the wood as well. The works continuously reward close inspection—in several pieces Harris has included tiny handwritten texts along the margins and within the elaborate patterns. Many are just notes about the formal elements that would normally be removed or painted over, but others help to narrate or decipher the elaborate imagery: “Nuclear herbivoricost;” “Take off money mask to relax face;” and “Color goes backwards in time when after image shines = fireworks.” Thankfully, the exhibition’s title, “Must Chill,” gives us a hint as to how we should process all of the violent and volatile imagery in Harris’s new work, and perhaps the world at large as well.

319 Grand Street  |  Lower East Side

Top: Grand St. Boogie Woogie, 2014-15, water-based paint, archival ink, graphite, and wood, 82 x 60 inches; Bottom: Linen Last Judgement (V) / Saltan Sea (detail), 2015, water-based paint, archival ink, graphite, linen, and wood, 72 x 54 1/2 inches; Zach Harris, “Must Chill,” Feuer/Mesler, NY.

"Overview" posts provide recommendations for current exhibitions.