What to See in New York City Art Galleries This Week

What to See in New York City Art Galleries This Week


The Peter Blum Gallery has moved to a space on the Lower East Side that is so much like its previous one, on 57th Street, that it seems simply to have slightly expanded its space in all directions. The architectural resemblance can make you laugh, but “Stars Without Distance,” John Zurier’s show of new paintings here, may take your breath away.

Mr. Zurier has devoted over two decades to making increasingly engaging monochromatic paintings that are not quite monochromes. Their delicate fields of blue, mint green, pink, yellow or smudgy white are airy and semitransparent. Their brushwork is thin-skinned, and there is much else going on: thin lines often border these fields or cut through them. Small boxy marks — dabs from a narrow brush — pace off distances at the sides or sneak into the fields where they sometimes resemble stars in the firmament. The paint moves into corners, creating irregularities that reveal other colors. These elements are especially clear in “Taktur,” a deep blue surface edged in lighter blue, with a wire-thin line crossing the field top and bottom. Each line has a white mark above and below it. These arrangements add intimations of quietly sparkling moonlit views at sea.

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Mr. Zurier’s “Taktur,” from 2017.

Credit
Courtesy the artist and Peter Blum Gallery, New York

Mr. Zurier’s paintings are acts of full disclosure; you see every decision, gesture and mark that went into their making. This is true of many foundational postwar painters, especially Jackson Pollock and Robert Ryman. But Mr. Zurier’s process is more intuitive and personal. No detail of a painting determines any other; you absorb each, oddity by oddity, fitting them into the whole, and into the experience of really looking.

ROBERTA SMITH

Genesis Belanger

Through Nov. 4. Mrs., 60-40 56th Drive, Maspeth, Queens; 347-841-6149, mrsgallery.com.

Surrealism and Pop Art were concerned with mass production, consumerism and the psychic impact of living in a world flooded with objects. Genesis Belanger picks up this thread in “Cheap Cookie and a Tall Drink of Water” at Mrs.

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“Cheap Cookie,” 2017.

Credit
Mrs. Gallery

Ms. Belanger’s sculptures, made with stoneware, porcelain and concrete, allude to recognizable objects and yet blur their references. “Cheap Cookie” (all works are from 2017) is an Oreo grasped between two human fingers, rounded into a nearly abstract circle. “Dog in Heels” is a hot dog eased into a sandal and “Big Yummy” looks like a minimalist concrete slab, but actually represents a piece of chewing gum wrapped in foil paper.

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“Big Yummy,” 2017.

Credit
Mrs. Gallery

Part of the attraction of Ms. Belanger’s work is how it conjures art history: Salvador Dalí’s lobster phone; Meret Oppenheim’s fur-covered teacup; Claes Oldenburg’s soft sculptures; Man Ray’s objects wrapped in felt; and pieces by Evelyne Axell, Marisol, Niki de Saint Phalle, Tom Wesselmann, Brian Calvin, Al Hansen and many others working in the Pop idiom.

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“Dog in Heels,” 2017.

Credit
Mrs. Gallery

Where earlier artists were focused on the uncanniness of new electronics and mass-produced food, however, or stripped them down to a midcentury malaise, Ms. Belanger takes a middle path. Her sculptures, with their rounded surfaces and pastel hues, reflect an era of postmodern design, of so-called “user friendly” electronics and “relatable” experiences. Gadgets have become more prosthetic than ever and everything from hot dogs to cigarettes can be “organic.” Rather than filling us with Freudian angst or existential terror over this situation, Ms. Belanger’s sculptures feel like emotional support animals: comforting creatures (or biological “interfaces”) that ease our way through a difficult and confusing world.

MARTHA SCHWENDENER

Craig Kalpakjian

Through Nov. 5. Kai Matsumiya, 153 Stanton Street, Manhattan; 646-838-9595, kaimatsumiya.com.

In the early days of digital photography, Craig Kalpakjian was among the first artists to make images that depicted entirely artificial spaces: rooms and structures that did not exist anywhere except as pictures or in software programs. Now that these phenomena are commonplace — particularly in video games, but also in architecture, design and other fields — Mr. Kalpakjian has moved on to thinking about the digital in other ways, like surveillance and control, as he does in this show at Kai Matsumiya.

In one series of images here, Mr. Kalpakjian remakes Josef Albers’s famous “Homage to the Square” paintings, giving them depth and an eerie feeling of space — but also basing his images on the temperature of light rather than using Albers’s focus on the interaction of color.

Mr. Kalpakjian’s latest project, “Intelligence” (2016-2017) ratchets up these stakes even higher. In a series of black and white images with text, he juxtaposes excerpts from a manual for the Sony AIBO robotic dog with declassified C.I.A. and Army Intelligence interrogation manuals. Psychology (or “affect,” to use a current art buzzword) is paramount in both how humans can be “cracked” to how they can bond with a robot animal companion programmed with “feelings” and a “personality” (according to the Sony manual).

Elsewhere in this dense and potent exhibition are mirrors and a robotic arm suspended from the ceiling, which suggest both how we view ourselves and are viewed by others in a technology-saturated world (or what the philosopher Vilem Flusser called the “photographic universe”). For some, the mirrors are clearly a selfie-op; for others, they’re a reminder of how cameras, software and digital imaging have altered our way of being in the world, and perhaps our very existence.

MARTHA SCHWENDENER



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