JIM DRAIN @ GREENE NAFTALI
A Jim Drain creation wants to be loved. And perhaps even more than other sculptures, quietly begs to be touched. The artist invokes his manly inner crafter by using weaving, stuffing, nailing and sewing to build exaggerated constructions bearing titles such as “Scribble” and “Vagabond” (both works 2007). The fabrics and their textures engage in loud dialogue, circles seem to battle squares and the forms themselves bend and stretch and generally attempt to become comfortable in their own psychedelic skins. They’re stationary works, but seem mobile, as if caught in mid wiggle. Despite the successful “elevation” of humble materials a few of the works fall short of the elegance that they aspire to. Still, whether manic portraits or overzealous potholders, Drain’s installation at Greene Naftali Gallery is engagingly trippy.
In the smaller room of the gallery the artist’s die-cut photographs of Iggy Pop’s undies and shirts mounted to metal bring to mind Wolfgang Tillmans’s poetic laundry shots; Drain’s are just as personal and fetishistic and add a clever take on Rock obsession.
Until 13 October
508 West 26th Street
T: +1 212 463 7770
ADAM HELMS AT MARIANNE BOESKY
Adam Helms utilizes Mylar, silkscreen and black ink to create a memorable portrait of man’s history of forgotten rebels, modern terrorists, vaguely familiar gunslingers and archetypal thugs. For Helms, an identity can reside within anonymity itself. Though the draftsman artist’s process is complex, his intervention consists of a simple gesture rendered poignant and creepy. Inky hoods on rescued images evoke shame and punishment as well as piety and pride. The eyes of the artist’s hooded soldiers appear resigned to their fates, as if possessed of a steadfast resolve for that generalized “bad” behavior. They’re convicted, so to speak. History in Helms’s world is stripped of context but remains emotionally loaded no matter which side of the moral fence you happen to be located. The nameless, impotent bandits make it clear that crime and judgment are integral–and irresistible –to humankind.
Don’t miss the shanty-like constructions/outposts in the back gallery, they’re a 3-D coda to Helms’s landscape drawings, and come complete with a full-sized stuffed buffalo as a still-regal stand-in for America’s Wild West history and the victimized everywhere.
Adam Helms: Hinterland
Until 6 October
Marianne Boesky Gallery
509 West 24th Street
T: +1 212-680-9889
LARRY CLARK @ LUHRING AUGUSTINE
At the opening of Larry Clark’s exhibition this week, the artist stood exhibiting his signature public ennui and accepted congratulations from the likes of Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, and Terry Richardson while Ryan McGinley hovered as if attached to Clark’s elbow. His newest exhibition is a return to what he does best: a fawning chronicle of a handsome adolescent male photographed shirtless, pant less and spilling attitude all over the camera lens. In this case Clark’s obsession is a Latino kid from Los Angles named Jonathan Velasquez who was the inspiration for the artist’s 2005 film “Wassup Rockers.” The current book-like show of large portraits and diptychs marks the final distillation of Clark’s three clearly complicated years spent with the urban youth and his crowd. Clark’s detractors are here given ample reason to wonder whether exploitation is a dated concept in our post-privacy, look-at-me world. I overheard an art world editor proclaim, “It’s one thing to photograph your friends, but an old man descending yet again on underage hotties?”
Yet Clark does consider these kids his friends. And his subjects’ suppressed excitement for being looked at is undeniable. The dishonesty, if it is there, comes with the coy and pervasive disdain for the white elephant in the room: male/male attraction. Clark arguably disguises the colors of longing as documentary or composition. (This evokes an interesting contrast with Clark disciple Terry Richardson, for example; the mad heterosexual will gladly be photographed with a cock in his mouth or cum on his face just for the sake of making an image.) Putting aside sexuality, it is Clark’s self-marginalization–through envy for being young and cool–that is the true subject here. Viewed through that lens, the photography raises more interesting issues. These photographs look like Larry Clark photographs precisely because the person holding the camera is the largest figure in each picture.
Until 13 October
531 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10011
T: +1 212 206 9100
PETER SCHUYFF @ NICOLE KLAGSBRUN
After an absence from the New York art scene, Amsterdam-based painter Schuyff returns with a quietly magnificent new body of the most painterly paintings. His found paintings and drawing are given a treatment which gently pokes at them while somehow contributing to their grandeur. The color canvases in the main gallery are portraits and landscapes altered by the additions of Schuyff’s trompe l’oeil, abstract circular shapes. The elements he places on the originals can resemble buttons, bugged-out glasses, buttholes or bull’s-eyes. Schuyff’s black and white found drawings in the smaller gallery are festooned with (black and white) attachments from grids (as in “nederland2″ 2007) to amoeba-like bubbles (“fart1″ 2007.) All the works use a sense of humor and painterly chops to provoke a compelling dialogue between illustration and art, as well as then and now. If you’re in New York, don’t miss this show.
Until 13 October
526 West 26th Street
T: +1 212 243 3335