Monday, April 25, 2016

Shows to See – Maggie Lee, Lutz Bacher, David Hammons, Omar Fast

Maggie Lee at Real Fine Arts

Maggie Lee at Real Fine Arts

Maggie Lee is an, ‘it’ art girl but not in the boring Chloe Sevigny way. She is cool while also being aloof but that’s not what makes this show (her first solo) at Real Fine Arts worth seeing. It is her sensitivity and unabashed sincerity that makes Fufu’s Dreamhouse worthy of the trek to the edges of Greenpoint. There are hand made slit pedestals and on them are displays, mostly in fish tanks, featuring Jenny dolls, popular in the 80s, in makeshift other worlds and mini bedrooms. They are bemusing in their slapdashness which perhaps is overly self-conscious, but that doesn’t take away from a sense of tenderness and fun that they posses. Sometimes the gesture of just creating things that makes one happy is sufficient to excavating emotions through art. Does Lee’s uber cool aura assist in her being paid more mind then others who do this as well? Probably, but it stands on its own two feet, even if they are super glued down.

Lutz Bacher at Greene Naftali Garage

What a weird show! What a weird thing to come upon especially when it is nestled in one’s old neighborhood. Tucked away in a small garage (small as in residential not a giant warehouse thing) in Williamsburg’s northern edge is a show full of Bacher’s bizarre objects and tableaus. Commercial plastic strips a la car washes in florescent orange and clear bands announces that you are entering a special zone. Inside there is a large hanging film like sun creating background and barrier. In front of that barrier is REEBOK (2015), which is a scatter of basketballs and other balls with cartoons like Angry Birds. On the other side is a table with shaggy chairs and beyond that two squat rooms, one with a maniacal ginger bread man acting both creepy and facile. The show is utterly Bacher. So cool that is hurts but also so irreverent that it feels refreshing. I’m not sure how I feel about this whole Garage endeavor but if it brings the likes of Bacher to this side of the river then I’ll take it. Also, basketballs. I simply love them and that trend is bouncing (terrible pun but hey) around art so much that one can’t help but notice.

David Hammons – Mnuchin Gallery

Elusive is the adjective for Hammons and in this five decade, mostly self-directed, retrospective in an elegant multi-level town house in the Upper East Side makes that adjective even more precise. There are some wonderful things in there; the decapitated hood of a sweater hung high, the chandelier basketball hoop, the taxidermy cat on a drum. All fantastic to see but there is a sparseness that pervades. It is a selection and one that feels specific but perhaps this also reveals that the grip of the artist on this show might be a bit too tight. Basically, I wanted to see more and while I appreciated the mixing of decades and mediums in its non-chronology, there felt like gaps. But perhaps, (probably), that’s the fault of me as a viewer. We have become greedy things and we want to see it all and then demand more, more more. Hammons doesn’t say no, but rather looks at you dead in the eyes and seems to be asking, ‘what do you really want from me.’ It’s not a question but a statement and this show feels like that stare and I respect it more then I was even aware of.

Omar Fast at James Cohan

If you are planning to see this show (which you should) be prepared to stay a long time and to perhaps take breaks in between. Featuring three films, 5,000 Feet is the Best (2011), Continuity (2012), and Spring (2016), they are dense and long-ish (40 mins at times) so bring some water and wear loose clothes. I was unfortunately not prepared so I didn’t see all three and only saw about 20ish mins of the ones I did but still they stuck with me. Fast is a very specific type of artist. He makes video but it’s not about being a “video artist” he is a storyteller and the concerns for him are about how story, perception, memory and the direction, authorship and narrative of that can be manipulated, unpacked and reshuffled. He works in themes of complex politics like drone warfare and the Middle East but he also works with the interiors of nuclear families. Fast is not for surface dwellers. He goes deep - fathoms deep - in his works and it leaves you both more intelligent and unmoored.