Once a month I take a half day to walk two to three streets in Chelsea looking at art.
I compile a list of galleries, search for artists I like and look forward to discover new talent.
In November everyone was talking about the de Vinci, the most expensive art sold at auction to the tune of half a billion dollars. It was time to check what art is being shown at the galleries.
I decided to start my tour with the most talked about art show that opened in town. People are lined up for more then two hours to see the Yayoi Kusama show at The David Zwirner Gallery.
A few months ago I saw an incredible installation at the Hirshhorn Museum of ten Kusama rooms. It was like diving into the rabbit-hole to Alice in wonderland. Here at the Zwirner gallery there were three rooms which were mirrored installations of balls. When I peeked through a window I could see myself on the other side. The highlight of the show for me was a room of recent works that looks like an a aboriginal work from New Zealand with African-like masks designed by Kusama who lives and works in Japan. The colorful display makes you feel like you are in a field of flowers. You want to take each painting, transform it into a scarf and wrap yourself in these colors.
At The Jack Shainman gallery, Nina Chanel Abney works are full of abstract color but on second look one can discover the story behind the images. She touches on contemporary issues as race, politics, religion and art history. You feel drawn into the images that jump up from the collage-like art.
Cecily Brown’s work at Paula Cooper gallery with the title A Day! Help! Help! Another Day! is again full of references to art history’s iconic paintings such as The Raft of the Medusa by Eugene Delacroix and Shipwreck by Theodor Gericault but on closer inspection you can find a burka clad women, which transports us back to the present.
William Villalongo at The Susan Inglet Gallery was a refreshing exhibit. I had not been previously aware of this artist but his cut-paper work with images of the black male figure lurking from among the cutouts conjures spaces of sensuality, humor and history.
The last two stops were a true surprise. I walked into The Hauser and Wirth Gallery to re-discover the sculpture of David Smith. I have been to Storm King and seen the outdoor sculptures but here in the space of the gallery were pairings of Smith paintings (or rather studies) with miniature sculptures. They were so delicate, yet strong . The show is called Origins & Innovations. The art indeed reflects the subject.
Last stop was Richard Avedon Nothing Personal show at Pace Gallery which gives us a glimpse into the past. The photographs and archival materials are taken from a collaboration with James Baldwin. The two met in high school and throughout their writings dealt with issues of race, mortality or as Avedon wrote “the future of humanity”.
I chose to highlight one photo of an iconic person – Marilyn Monroe. We see her without the glamour we usually associates with her image. It’s like we can read her thoughts.
There are many more shows to see but for now I will leave it to others to explore.
In today’s complex world the colors in the paintings bring a smile and fills my heart with the hope that although contemporary art represents the state of the world today, which is not always bright, there is a a ray of hope in all those red dots, yellow lines and blue skies.
This images was taken at the Gagosian Gallery. Alex Israel Flying Pelican and Jeff Wall California Landscape.