Paul Insect (Opera Gallery) “Out of Chaos” 2012
Seldom does an artist kapow! you with a glammed-up optical blitz as cheeky, shocking and smart as British conceptualist Paul Insect. Often touted by Damien Hirst (who collects/owns much of his work) and much inspired by Banksy, Insect depicts the range and reach of capitalist ideology and symbology using pop-iconography and advertising as a metaphor. Blending jolting visuals with political, consumerist and surrealist statements, his paintings, sculptures, street art and installations exude sheer aesthetic gall and witty, wacky weirdness.
Julia Randall (Garvey Simon Gallery) “Bubblegum” 2011
Julia Randall makes imagery that is at once comical, erotic, gross and gorgeous. Her hyper-real photos of flesh and bubblegum make conceptual art more optical, visceral and snazzy. Her work is laced with pomo theory, social consciousness and raw material derived from disembodied anatomical objects (like saliva, lips and tongues). Yet Randall creates a kind of awe-inspiring anti-art, looking at the world of representation and saying, “Everything can actually be art.” By breaking down visual conventions and playing with perception, she makes viewers squirm and smile at the same time, wondering what’s real and what’s feigned in her delightful, double-coded provocations.
Latoya Ruby Frazier (Michel Rein Gallery) “Homebody Portraits” 2012
A darling of America’s venerable Whitney Museum, Latoya Ruby Frazier’s black and white photos display a rainbow of emotions and show a revelatory narrative that shakes you awake and makes you contemplate the plight of the downtrodden and disenfranchised. With her own family as her subjects, Latoya’s monochrome lens reveals the alarming inner architectonics of the world’s wealthiest country and the marginalization of many communities (including hers) as they struggle for economic justice and social mobility. A powerful, personal emotional tour de force!
POP-UP: Maison Kitsuné x ALCHEMIST
Keeping the fashion tribe on their toes, Miami’s hipper-than-now retailer ALCHEMIST collaborates with Parisian music house/cult-clothier Kitsuné to deliver a spanking-cool range of niche goodies, tees and one-offs.
Julie Mehretu (White Cube Gallery) “Renegade Delirium” 2002
Ethiopian esthete Julie Mehretu makes big, gestural paintings that are constructed through layers of acrylics on canvas overlaid with pencil, ink and thick globs of viscose paint. Her work conveys a dynamic compression of time, space and place and reflects radically pure abstractions, Suprematist statements and geo-political leitmotifs. Her irregular forms flip-flop in your brain from super-flat to isometric and make you feel an exhilarating sense of vertigo and arrhythmia.
Faile (Opera Gallery) “Wolf Within” 2012
Faile (pronounced “fail”) are Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller, two American whippersnappers known for their mega-cool sculptures and multi-media blitzes. They blend street-art, subliminal smarts, sneaky-wicked appropriations and relational aesthetics deployed in videos, collage, stencils and prints. Their spell-bounding, miasmatic work is highly original and slaps you right in the jaw. More please!
Colby Bird (Fitzroy Gallery) “House Lamps” 2012
Chain smoking, hip hop addict Colby Bird makes art that is a multifaceted journey into the id. Witnessing his chimeric decor makes your neurons fire-off on all cylinders and induces awesome, emotional excitation. Bird’s deeply contemplated concoctions (here made of bulbs and wood) are like majestic, imagistic poems; the sheer size and conceptual grandeur is brilliant and evokes optical fields that resonate with fizzy-like amorphousness and luminous energy.
Kadar Brock (The Hole) “Deredemiuwizii” 2012
Talk about the beauty of simplicity, retreating to the cosmic womb, and ethereal, soft Romanticism and voila, you get the excellent work of Kadar Brock. He channels subtle occult themes and conjures primal spirits with soft psychic energy floating through the universe on meditative diaphanous bubbles. His hypnotic, incantatory abstractions are done in layered oil/acrylics (and then sand-blasted to perfection) and empower you to think BIG thoughts about scale, size, the visual field and the meaning of art and life.
Yue Minjun (Saatchi Gallery) “Symbolic Smile Series” 2007
Chinese ‘Cynical Realist’ Yue Minjun (岳敏君) paints lighthearted, ontological ‘existents’ that fuse freaky figuration with cultural signifiers. Like cute mutants living in an alien world, his subjects are estranged and never really themselves. He depicts garish, greasy-glossy, ’self-ironic’ characters engaging in comical acts and exist in the ‘spiritual vacuum and folly of contemporary China.’ A pioneer of political Pop art, Yue’s compositions balance a zeitgeist of angst with a Zen-like ethos. His droll abstractions are a response to China’s turbulent transition-dynamics and pushes boundaries around taboo, neo-conceptualism and cartoonish beauty.
Leonardo Drew (Sikkema Jenkins Gallery) “Number 135” 2009
Installation maverick Leonardo Drew implements slick agglomerations, cacophony, disorientation and all manner of mind-boggling madness to achieve his aesthetic aims. Inspired by organic materials and behavioral-psychology, this multifaceted sculptural strategist delivered a wall-to-wall wallop of metaphor, craft and exuberance. His cerebral work is a vortex of material, motion, imagery and memory and serves as an allegory of the human condition.
Katrin Sigurdardottir (Eleven Rivington Gallery) “Ellefu Series” 2012
Famed Icelandic precisionist Katrin Sigurdardottir formulates neat narratives, revives bygone eras, and weaves subplots that may be fanciful but are architecturally and intellectually novel. Channeling Neo-Classical references, Lilliputian reconstructions and interesting personal historiography, she implements sublime installments with meticulous detailing, rigor and conceptual suggestiveness.
Martha Friedman (Wallspace Gallery) “Ladies Room” 2011
Surrealist sculptor Martha Friedman creates magical structures and bimorphic masses that convulsively propel her inventiveness. Her relentless contortions bring into view her revolutionary system of seeing, depicting and building. Using quotidian objects and rubber material as her expedients, her grand, manic manipulations ooze (literally!) color, novelty and giddy optimism.
Veronica Lee (Gallery MPD) “Guns & Butterflies” 2012
Her confected conglomerations, scatological mash-ups and ectoplasmic ornaments explore the substrata of experience and knowledge. With a dark wit and deft sculptural hand, Lee blends user-friendly political themes with trippy abstractions that are part Pop Surrealism, part Marcel Duchamp, and part saccharine soft porn. Her sublime ready-mades crafted from handguns, prosthetic limbs, barbed-wire and butterflies are semi-psychotic double-edged metaphors that pulsate with beautiful hybridity and zesty imagination.