Monday, December 23, 2013

A Picture Show: Isa Genzken at MoMA, Anke Weyer at CANADA

Isa Genzken, Retrospective, MoMA, New York

Do you like a lot of things in a room?  If you so, you will like this show, nay retrospective at MoMA of Isa Genzken’s work.  I like Genzken, how can you not?!  But really, the first half of this ‘retrospective’ is so cluttered it makes you feel dizzy (not in a good way).   The first half is her early work.  Nice wall texts here and there give you background that may or may not mean much to you depending on how much things like studying with famous German males artists means to you.  Her early works look influenced and cautious to a degree but this is how things go most of the time.  Of the early works, her Weltemfänger (World Receiver), 1982, a ready made, was very nice to see as well as concrete repeats derived from this from 1988-89.  She apparently said that, “A sculpture must be at least as modern as the most modern hi-fi systems.” This backs the stage nicely for these pieces as well as others in the show.  

Proceeding along, there is another room full of columnar sculptures.  You think ‘up’ a lot looking at this show.  You are physically looking up at a lot of tall things and you understand that ‘architecture’ is key.  On a set of these tall pedestals there are funny sculptures that begin to reveal some of Genzken’s certified wit.  Wonderfully entitled, Fuck the Bauhaus, 2000, this series is rigged with red and yellow trash cum building structure and facades.  They are a literal F-U but in the most slap-dash obviously considered way.

In the next rooms, things feel better, well at least less cramped.  Here, there are more subtle, poetic, and personal moments that take center stage.  Her Speilautomat (Slot Machine), 1999-2000 is a shrine with a picture of herself on top and a variety of snap shots and Leonardo Di Caprio.  It is a miniature monument in some ways.  Also wonderful is a set of five columns that are stand-ins for people close to her at this time, Kai, Isa, Dan, Andy, Wolfgang, 2000.  Their surfaces, coloration and scale do some sort of magic thing in your brain. 

All in all, this is a must see if you want to know more about, or you want to see more of, Isa Genzken.  The cacophony of the installation seems somehow meaningful, she is and was a tsumani of creative overflow.  I must insist though, that perhaps some hint of the poetry, sadness and weight that is glimpsed in the second half of the show could have been honored a bit more with a little more square footage. 

Anke Weyer, Du, CANADA, New York, NY

The Lower East Side is and has been having a new phase for the past year or so.  Galleries that were once in small (sometimes very small) spaces and in odd cutouts in office or delinquent buildings in Chinatown have made it past puberty and are now full on grown-ups in new spaces with lots of bright lights, more space and an obvious architect’s touch.  One space is CANADA, a beloved of New York’s scrappy because it is smarter then most and has been making the wave it rides versus jumping onto one already going to the shore.  They have a fine new space on Broome Street and it makes me happy to see them so sparkly.

Currently on view is Anke Weyer.  Who’s that?  Most don’t know, nor did I very well, but the show is one to see.  The PR talks the talk of things but getting to the point of it, Weyer is a painter and that’s about all there is to say about that.  She works in large scale, human scale the PR says, and they are color and abstractions with subtle references that key in body parts and mind-visualized characters.  They are bright, crazy, screaming and they are very good.  What makes painting that looks like this sort of painting “good?”  It’s a quality, an assurance, a way of doing it that seems to be the only way possible to make it be done.  They are alive.  They seem like they painted themselves.  This equals something perfect or damn near to it.

With titles like, Out of My Hair, Gravity Idiot, Sweat Tears and Fire, how can you go wrong? The selection is very nice as well.  Not too much, not too little, just the right amount of crazy in one room to make it fun yet a bit scary.

Yes, there is a glut of art out there but coming upon a show like Weyer’s makes you think that somehow, everything will be okay.