Weekend Update: 04.05.2024

By Peggy Roalf   Friday April 5, 2024


Friday, April 5, 6-8pm: Paul Sevigny | Recent Work at Freight&Volume

The recent paintings of reknown nightlife impresario Paul Sevigny have a sophistication about them that accords well with the artist’s dealings in music and finance, as well as nightlife. The works on view present a colorful motley of textures and patterns, which, however pleasing to the eye, pull no punches when it comes to experimenting with the greater potentials of paint and pigment.

Ranging from pixelated anti-portraits, to landscape-like constellations of line and color, Sevigny’s measured minimalism and exploded abstraction shows how color can be used to give an impression without depicting anything directly. What’s essential is that the overall impression of a painting feels constructed from many parts through which one can view each gestural aspect of Sevigny’s works, every determination of color, line, and texture, as a kind of signature that speaks to the integrity of the whole.

Despite the abstract nature of his work, there’s also something of a figurative bent detectable across his canvases. This movement between abstraction and representation is not so much a site of tension as a dynamic source of dramatic life. Sevigny’s paintings are both playful and adventurously nonobjective. Viewers’ eyes can trace the outlines of his storied, puzzle-like blocks into the scenes of an open-ended mosaic—intimating situationships, or the contours of a face. 
Freight & Volume, 39 Lispenard Street, New York, NY Info



Opened Thursday, April 4: Matthias Merkel Hess | Loot at Morgan Lehman

In this new body of work, Merkel Hess continues his ongoing investigation into how objects are valued, the distinction between high and low art, and the meaning and purpose of ceramic vessels in culture. Merkel Hess is known for his playfully witty reimagining of everyday plastic vessels in glazed ceramic. These new pieces on display take that conceptual premise even further, and are imbued with imagery found on looted ancient ceramic artifacts.

Much of the imagery in Merkel Hess’s latest work is derived from ancient Greek vessels that had been collected by New York-area museums. The journey of these objects started thousands of years earlier: Greek ceramics were once collected and venerated by the Italians, who had placed the vessels in their tombs as objects of significance for the afterlife.

Rather than exactly recreating the looted vessels themselves, Merkel Hess has repurposed those vessels’ imagery on his own works as low-relief drawings. The vessels in the exhibition take the forms of ceramic copies of plastic containers such as 5-gallon buckets and bucket lids, and Rubbermaid Brute-style trash can lids

Considering the importance of the original objects that these designs came from and the low nature of the plastic containers, Merkel Hess poses a question: how do we decide what should be valued and collected? With this latest body of work, the artist mines both the act of image-making as well as cultural and transcultural mythology, asking us to rethink how we define the ordinary, everyday, and disposable.

Morgan Lehman Gallery, 526 West 26th Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY Info


Saturday, April 6, Last chance to see: Tom Burckhardt | Ulterior Motif at Adams

Tom Burckhardt’s work explores the intersection of abstraction and figuration. Through the skillful use of a diverse range of marks, Burckhardt encourages the viewer to discern distinct forms and figures within his layered abstractions. This play of perception, where seemingly random patterns give rise to recognizable images, is referred to as pareidolia—a concept Burckhardt has been consistently engaging with in his work.

Writing for Hyperallergic, John Yau said, “One of the interesting things about Tom Burckhardt is that he remains unclassifiable, even several years into his career. He has made trompe l’oeil installations of an artist’s studio and other environments completely out of cardboard and black paint; reworked and painted secondhand books and pages; and created abstract paintings on molded plastic forms with uneven surfaces and edges. He has moved between figuration and abstraction with an ice skater’s grace, seemingly driven by the materials he has at hand. 

“For his latest body of work, he used rolls of canvas and tubes of premixed paint he found in the studio of his mother, artist Yvonne Jacquette, after she passed away. Long interested in pareidolia, which is the guiding principle of Rorschach ink blot tests, and the imagination’s desire to reshape abstract images into familiar ones, Burckhardt’s past works are mostly in portrait-sized formats. Working on a large scale, the best of his new paintings, go beyond the border between abstraction and figuration. Through form and line, flat areas and shading, he summons weirdly lit worlds. “

George Adams Gallery, 38 Walker Street, New York, NY Info



Continuing: Thomas Nozkowski | Everything in the World at Pace

Focusing on the artist’s practice during the 1970s and 1980s, this presentation, titled Thomas Nozkowski: Everything in the World, will include the artist’s signature, intimately scaled 16” x 20” canvas compositions alongside several large-scale paintings that have not been publicly exhibited in decades and three painted wood sculptures. The artist, who died in 2019 at age 75, is known for his richly colored and textured abstractions inspired by his memories, everyday experiences, and encounters in the landscapes surrounding his longtime home in upstate New York. In this way, he developed a distinctive visual language of forms, symbols, and notations grounded in his own reality while defying obvious legibility

Writing for Hyperallergic, John Yau said, “Starting his career in the early 1970s, at a time when Minimalism was dominant, and large-scale paintings were the rage, Nozkowski decided in 1974 to work on 16-by-20-inch prepared canvas board and always base his work on a personal experience. This thoughtful rejection of the prevailing orthodoxies, assumptions, and tastes resulted in one of the most influential bodies of painting to be made in the United States during the past 50 years. 

“In Everything in the World, we see his beginnings as an artist, when he made his decision to go, as poet Frank O’Hara would have said, “on his nerve alone.” Three painted conical sculptures from 1979 and four large, previously unexhibited paintings, about which I believe the artist harbored strong reservations, round out the show. Beginning with an abstracted waterfall, a motif to which he kept returning, Nozkowski moved increasingly into a territory where the connection between subject and paint dissipated. This is where his inimitable paintings begin to transport us. “

Pace Gallery, 540 West 25th Street, New York, NY Info



Fridays and Saturdays: Robert Irwin at Judd Foundation

This new exhibition, Robert Irwin, is comprised of AS GOOD AS IT GETS (2023) and “C and C” (Complex/Coherent) (2021), two works from Irwin’s unlights series, and Sculpture/Configuration 2T 3L (2018), a column of layered acrylic units. Organized in partnership with the Estate of Robert Irwin and Pace Gallery, it is the first posthumous presentation of Irwin’s work in the United Staes.

Public exhibition hours are on Fridays and Saturdays from 1:00 to 5:00pm. Advance reservations are required for guided visits. This exhibition is made possible with support from Pace Gallery.

Judd Foundation, 101 Spring Street, New York, NY Info