New York Postcard: Palpable Determination

Art Life , Stuff Jul 11, 2018 No Comments

A man in a deep sweat, George Shaw reports from the summer city…

Sometimes circumstances conspire in ways that demand and distract with the result of a deadline being dishonoured, even when the timeframe is self-imposed. As a result, this Postcard From New York features three exhibitions that closed just recently, because what made them stand out is not going to change any time soon. Or as Machine Gun Fellatio observes in the song Summer, “…because sunshine doesn’t justify itself to the moon.”

Carroll Dunham, Green Hills of Earth (1), 2017


Carroll Dunham, Any Day, 2017


Carroll Dunham, Dusk (A Wrestling Place 6), 2017


Carroll Dunham, Left for Dead (1), 2017


Carroll Dunham, Mud Men, 2017


Carroll Dunham paints ‘gronks,’ visceral, grotesque male figures that inhabit lurid, technicolour environments devoid of any human intervention, except perhaps for the odd wooden club. While the settings may seem paradisical at first, in Dunham’s Wrestlers at the Gladstone Gallery, they are far from it with violence and sexuality as their defining themes. After years of painting gnarled and distorted female figures, Dunham switched to depictions of maleness and masculinity in 2014, choosing to investigate those themes through the lens of wrestling, an ancient pastime that resonates with universal stereotypes.

Mernet Larsen, Situation Room (Scissors, Rocks, Paper), 2018


Mernet Larsen, Drawing Hands, 2017


Mernet Larsen, Cabinet Meeting, 2017


Mernet Larsen, Cabinet Meeting (with Coffee), 2018


Mernet Larsen, Cup Tricks, 2018


In Situation Rooms, Mernet Larsen’s exhibition at the James Cohan Gallery, ideas about power, protocol, and hierarchy are given form in a world that is hard to recognise, in which almost everything you see is distorted and/or appears upside down. Pretty much like today’s ‘everyday.’ It takes a moment or two for the brain to make sense of Larsen’s reverse perspective with its constructivist compositions, and geometric people; all blocky heads and plank-like limbs. The canvases are large so there is a genuine playfulness that draws the viewer into the work.

Ursula von Rydingsvard, NESTER, 2016


Ursula von Rydingsvard, Oziksien, 2016


Ursula von Rydingsvard, DWA, 2017


Ursula von Rydingsvard, Torn, 2017


Ursula von Rydingsvard, Elegantka II, 2013-14/2016


In viewing Ursula von Rydingsvard exhibition at Galerie Lelong, ‘fierce’ is an easy adjective that describes the artist’s palpable determination, as well as the work’s physical mode of construction. von Rydingsvard famously chainsaws her way around giant cedar trunks that are reconfigured first into thick beams, to create rough-hewn, monolithic sculptures reminiscent of otherworldly outcrops or growths. However, the works also often depict common objects such as shoes or shovels. At Galerie Lelong, the fierceness is laced with movement and softness, as the works express themselves outwardly rather than inwardly.

George Shaw

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