Nina Hartmann: Soft Power at Silke Lindner
A proverb says that a good name is better than silver and gold. Or should we say, good taste? Since opening her new space in Tribeca, Gallerist Silke Lindner has not failed to show challenging and beautiful art that pushes against the dogmatic boundaries of its medium. At the opening of this season, the gallery showcases artist Nina Hartmann with a series of wall mounted sculptures. The objects are seductive, with a shiny surface, made of materials with different levels of opacity. This work is sexy, introverted. The objects are colorful but not too bright, with a certain timeless archival look to them. These mysterious shapes hold images that have a concrete history, but in this case the origin of the pictures doesn’t matter that much. It’s the energy they are charged with that makes its way to the viewer. Just like the information about the images is out of place, so are the titles of the objects and of the show, which seem to be lagging behind the intelligence of the work.
Peter Hujar: Echoes at 125 Newbury
Sometimes I see a show not to ask questions or learn something new, but to feel good and be surrounded by beauty. Peter Hujar is one of these feel-good artists who brings his visitors to a more balanced mental state. Echoes is a cult show as it presents familiar photographs from different currents in Hujar’s work. It provides much needed comfort in the manic chaos of wine-washed events that open the fall art season. Thanks Pace! But why the awful presentation? Whose idea was that strip of cheap brown paper on the wall? What’s wrong with just hanging work in white frames?! Hujar is a sentimental artist whose photographs illicit sentimental responses in the viewer that might originate in memories of the AIDS epidemic, their sexuality, or their grasp on loneliness. The brown paper feels like an unnecessary reference to nostalgia, an ill that the artist should not need to suffer.
Kathleen Ryan: Shell at Karma
Kathleen Ryan became famous for making abject sculptures that imitated the decay of fruit being consumed by mold. They were Instagrammable and easy to sell. In a surprising turn of events, Ryan has now reinvented herself. Shell is a legitimately exciting sculpture, not by way of leaning on gore but rather by being tempting. Karma made a clever and rare decision to show only one large object, and it is one that deserves all the attention. Ryan made a shell-like sculpture of steel from used car parts, in different shades dictated by the severity of rust on their surface. The inner part of the shell is made with smooth, soft-looking baby pink quartz. This object takes upon itself the challenge engrained at the root of sculpture making: it’s made to be seen from all sides. Even more, Ryan made Shell to be seen also from within, from various angles. As a result we get something rich and intriguing, full of contrasts, and quite gripping.