The Biggest Picture

A group show takes a trip through grand visions and imaginary universes

This better-than-average group show of eight young artists, several of whom are still in graduate school, was curated by the gallery's two directors, Candice Madey and Tairone Bastien. The exhibition identifies artists who, to one degree or another, either deploy systems of material dispersion or create art that is structured and ordered without being overtly systematic.

Tommy Hartung's visually rich video depicts tracking shots and close-ups of scrap metal, concrete blocks, circuitry, orange peels, and other detritus. It turns into a fascinating microscopic journey of what feels like another world or the Terminator's mainframe. Xylor Jane, one of the better under-known artists out there, makes grid paintings that are Yayoi Kusama and Alfred Jensen crossed with a prisoner marking time on a jail cell wall. These works are filled with daubs, glitches, and flashes of weird consciousness.

Kerstin Brätsch's intriguing New York debut at Derek Eller Gallery a couple of summers ago consisted of a series of prismatic paintings of faces or spirit guides. Here, she installs a large diamond configuration of black-and-white Xeroxes of nothing. Over these she has mounted her painted faces, making this work oscillate between the coolly conceptual and a talismanic object.

19th-century Indian Gyanbazi
photo: Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York
19th-century Indian Gyanbazi


James Cohan
533 W. 26th Street
Through February 10

In addition to good works by Shinique Smith, who makes sculptures out of old clothes, and Clifford Owens, who has re-created performance pieces by Benjamin Patterson, "the only African-American member of the Fluxus group," there's the poignant video by Uri Aran. A combination of the local news, a Caravaggio painting, and cry for help, this video depicts New York construction workers at night in the freezing cold. A man stands in front of them pretending to be a newscaster while a voiceover has Aran reading a love letter. The effect, like the show itself, is fairly intense.

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