Suppose that Vivid Astro Focus
Until July 9. Tibor de Nagy, 11 Rivington Street, Manhattan; (212) 262-5050, tibordenagy.com.
It’s been seven years since the duo known as the Assume Vivid Astro Focus performed in New York City. But that exuberant comeback effort, “Hairy What? hairy how? with Tibor de Nagy, it’s also a first solo. His four large semi-abstract paintings and a painted table – all sumptuously fringed with woolen threads and surrounded by numerous small fringeless pieces – are the work of Brazilian artist Eli Sudbrack, half of Assume Vivid Astro Focus. He formed it in New York in 2001 with Christophe Hamaide-Pierson, French artist. Today, the duo works both independently and together, but still under the collective name. It confuses, but makes sense: Both sensibilities are rooted in the hallucinatory, multi-style, and multi-media multimedia environments that they have concocted around the world for nearly two decades.
The extravagant bangs widen the paintings, flowing from all four sides to the floor, evoking craftsmanship, fashion, dance, ritual objects and exaggerated interior design. The yarn always matches the contagious palette of percolating compositions – a mix of Walt Disney, magical realism and South American abstraction that somehow shines with freshness. Shapes can be solid or graduated colors, fading to white like on the silver (or computer) screen. The color and shape transitions cause sudden pockets of space and cloudy levitation. Elsewhere, parts of the body are more than implied. The show recalls the sensory overload of past Assume Vivid Astro Focus environments. Compressed in this showcase space, the works can be read as a whole, in particular through the fully glazed facade of the gallery.
‘Field of view’
Until July 30. Peter Blum Gallery, 176 Grand Street, Manhattan; 212-244-6055; peterblumgallery.com.
I started the five artists’ elegant exhibition “Field of Vision” with “Maghreb Drapery” by Kamrooz Aram, a pale green diptych filled with wax crayon arabesques. Because these patterns carry such different weight in American abstraction and Islamic design, but Aram so clearly refers to both, I couldn’t quite put my mind to it. How could I decide if the job was good? And what did that say about my standards that the very qualities that made his paintings so pleasing to the eye – coarse brush strokes, extra pencil lines, flat blocks of color that don’t quite reach their edges – could also, in a different context, just be proof that they were incomplete?
It turns out that tweaking the pretensions of American painting is a great way to implement the work of four other American painters who flirt with the line between art and design. With large colorful scribbles like musical silences, Patricia Treib plays a game similar to Aram’s, placing large ambiguous scribbles that almost resemble musical silences – or asterisks, lilies or a number of other signs – on off-white background. Sarah Crowner and Rebecca Ward sew together pieces of painted canvas – brightly colored for Crowner, muted for Ward – and let the seams form the hard edges of their patterns. Three Suzan Frecon coins, filled with sifted and burnished red gold, confidently cast aside the heavy shadow of 20th century abstraction and just shine.
Until July 30. Miguel Abreu, 88 Eldridge Street & 36 Orchard Street, Manhattan; (212) 995-1774, miguelabreugallery.com.
Miguel Abreu’s summer group exhibition presents his 18 artists as poet-engineers, and I love money. The cliché that artists are poetic runs the risk of conceiving them as sensitive dreamers; Redesigned as engineers, they present themselves as rigorous, highly skilled professionals who dig deep into complex problems – who think at least as much as they feel. Art becomes infrastructure, not a scented thrift store.
At Abreu, Scott Lyall presents one of his “Nanofoils” (2018), a modest little aluminum foil whose surface has been etched under a microscope to diffuse light in subtle colors that could never be achieved with pigments. artists. (Butterfly wings get their much bolder effects thanks to similar “engineering” from Mother Nature.)
Nairy Baghramian’s “Big Valve” (2016) is a strange, high-head craft made from a sheet of clear plastic bolted to some sort of galvanized hinge. It is located at the junction between two rooms of Abreu and seems able to somehow catapult the spectators from one space into the other, or prevent their passage.
The objects of Yuji Agematsu’s 2018 “Zip” project seem less technological. For years, Agematsu has collected tiny pieces of intriguing garbage from the streets; he presents the handful of everyday finds as a sculptural assemblage, displayed in a “display case” made from the cellophane of a packet of cigarettes. Agematsu’s materials may be low-tech, but the research at the heart of his method is reminiscent of a mining technician’s sampling. It is the exploration deployed by all poet-engineers as they dig deep for good art.
There are many tech art exhibits that focus on the technology itself and the super cool things it leads to. Abreu’s works are more reticent, sometimes even opaque and unpretentious. They model the complex process that leads to good art; they don’t show a salable product which is the end result.