Eva Mueller’s photographs, part of “Heliotrope” (Photo by Kavitha Surana)
“To title a piece ‘Black Face’ is going to raise some hairs on the backs of some peoples’ necks [who] find that that’s a derogatory phrase,” acknowledged Ellen Hackl Fagan. Her Bushwick-based gallery, Odetta, is opening the exhibition Heliotrope tonight, showcasing the work of four mid-career artists. German-born photographer Eva Mueller, a New York City-dweller since 1989, has contributed a series of portraits depicting different people coated in dark, midnight-black paint.
“What she’s really aiming for is to show the similarity among us all, if we are all the same color, and explore: What does that mean now?” Fagan explained.
“Gradual Kingdom” at Signal Gallery in Bushwick (Photo: Nicole Disser)
To get a feel for Meriem Bennani‘s work, it’s best to look up @meriembennani on Instagram. After scrolling through the photoshopped weirdness and absurd takes on everything from Drake videos to the avant-garde hijabs of Fardaous Funjab, you’ll find that Bennani is really good at the internet. So good, that the Times was moved to highlight her, qualifying her as a representative “Millennial Artist” fluent in the language of post-Internet. Millennial accusations aside, she’s one of those people who makes the internet weird/smart and not just weird/depressing. In other words, Bennani’s work actually deserves that happy-tears cat emoji.
Gradual Kingdom is the artist’s most significant solo-installation presence yet; now on view at Signal Gallery, it offers an opportunity for people to see Meriem Bennani, for once, in slow motion.
Vaginal Davis (Photo by Hector, courtesy of Invisible-Exports)
Vaginal Davis is undeniably one of the most prolific artists to come out of the ’70s punk scene. The black, inter-sex born, self-declared outsider artist is nothing short of a queer icon. And even though she’s from Los Angeles (South Central, to be precise), she has a special place in New York City, where she’s had a serious impact on contemporary underground culture– the Bushwick drag scene is particularly indebted to her, as Davis is one of the founding mothers of “terrorist drag.”
Next week Kharis Kennedy will unveil a series of new paintings as part of her solo exhibition, Comfort Animals, at The Greenpoint Gallery. Though Kennedy has been living in St. Croix for the last five years, her work is still imbued with trappings of high-society life and obsessive consumerism she picked up on while living in New York City. But a midnight-hued vision of her new home in the tropics is slowly beginning to take over.
Agathe Snow, whose work often blends performance with immersive multimedia installations, is opening a new show, Continuum, tonight. This is the Corsican-born artist’s first solo exhibition at Journal Gallery in Williamsburg. Snow is the ex-wife of the late Dash Snow (they married when he was just 18 years old) whose pal Ryan McGinley has some new photos up, incidentally, in a show called Winter at Team Gallery.
Last night the mask-wielding artists of the Bruce High Quality Foundation opened up the doors of their epic new studio space in Sunset Park. The excuses were a party and an exhibition featuring work inspired by French Baroque painter Nicholas Poussin’s landscapes, while the reason was fundraising for the Bruce High Quality Foundation University (BHFQU), an experimental, non-profit art school that offers free classes and an alternative to the MFA by separating art from careerism. Come January, BHQFU, which has had a home base in the East Village since 2013, will move its operations here to Sunset Park.
I’m not gonna lie, when I heard Wild Torus— the aggressively psychedelic Bushwick performance art duo– would be hosting their “most ambitious event yet” this weekend, I imagined a sweaty, gyrating orgy of disembodied tentacles coated in globs of indecipherable goo, or “Torus Juice” as it’s known (it’s actually corn syrup). Not exactly gallery material. When I first encountered Wild Torus’ cult-like “digital spirituality” rituals at their Bushwick home base, Torus Portus, I had never seen anything like it– and I haven’t seen anything to match it since.
Christopher Stout, founder of Bushwick Art Crit Group, has just opened his gallery in the disputed territory of East Williamsburg, the realization of plans we first heard about in early September. I had a chance to check the place out on Friday, and found that Stout is already keeping good on his pledge to show “subversive art.” The centerpiece of the gallery’s inaugural show, Shepard by Phoenix Lindsey-Hall, is a massive, meticulously crafted porcelain replica of the iconic fence Matthew Shepard (the victim of a notorious hate crime) was bound to before he was tortured and left for dead back in 1998. Not easy-to-swallow material, to say the least.
left, “Ersatz Kiss #1” and right, “Masturbation Painting #9” by Betty Tompkins (Photo: Nicole Disser)
Betty Tompkins spent decades working as, in her own words, “your typical rejected artist.” On and off again since 1969, she’s painted up-close-and-personal images of sex– literally, contact between nether regions, penetration, and other intimate moments. But it wasn’t until more than 30 years later that her work, more specifically her “fuck paintings,” began getting more attention than shame. Recently, the artist has revived the subject that inspired her the most and continues to evolve her process, as seen in her latest work now on view at BHQFU‘s project space and gallery FUG (Foundation University Gallery) in the East Village, as part of Tompkins’ solo show, Real Ersatz.
Royal Young returns to his old habitat (Photo: Nicole Disser)
Royal Young is currently living in his grandparents’ attic in Long Island. While that may not sound like the most inspiring place for a 30-year-old writer and now painter (especially one who’s spent almost his entire life living in the city) the journalist and author of Fame Shark seems to be loving it. “New York City sucks, let’s be real,” he laughed. Royal only recently admitted defeat, something he still seems to have a hard time believing. Nevertheless, his early retirement has been a productive one as evidenced by a series large, colorful paintings, currently on view at Figureworks gallery in Williamsburg as part of Lush Doom.