Sugar and Vice

Recommendations by R.C. Baker

According to his bio from "Little Boy," the 2005 breakout exhibition of young Japanese artists, Mr. (né Masakatsu Iwamoto) is a "genuine 'lolicom' (Japanese shorthand for 'Lolita complex,' and those possessing it)." Hence, the saucer-eyed nymphets bounding across the 24-foot-wide canvas Ah, Akihabara (2007). In bonnets, waitress uniforms, knee socks, and witch's regalia, these gamines cavort through Tokyo's bustling anime- and manga-obsessed otaku district. Should the occasional panty- exposing tumble feel more prurient than it does here? If not, a series of smaller, vertical paintings in which cartoonish lasses lift their tops, preen in French-maid outfits, or are simply nude and framed by hairless thighs and scrotum, fit the bill, even while Mr.'s spermatozoa-like signature implies a masturbatory distance from his fantasy objects. Elsewhere, he ventures directly into the mind of a Humbert Humbertian dream-—Strawberry Voice is a massive sculpture of a disembodied head with pontoon-size red pigtails and an eye propped open like a hatch, exposing a dollhouse interior of pink-patterned fabrics and plush toys. Mr.'s pop-art colors, sleek finishes, and witty, manga-inspired compositions coolly complement such fanboy fevers.

Neo Rauch
It's fascinating to see these paintings in a setting where Rauch's myriad influences can be studied up close: The figures and thrusting, ivy-covered wall of 2007's Waiting for the Barbarians echo the hikers and rich, contrasting landscape in Balthus's The Mountain(1936), which is directly downstairs in the Met's permanent collection. Rauch's characters are dream folk, one with rubbery, cartoon hands, others melding into each other like freak-show twins. These images move beyond stock surrealism, with slabs and washes of color that cause the backgrounds to oscillate between realism—or, considering Rauch's East German youth, socialist realism—and vibrant abstraction. Metropolitan Museum, 1000 Fifth Avenue, 212-535-7710. Through September 23

Erick Swenson
What manner of fish lies here, dead and decaying? All that remains is a tooth-studded jaw attached to a gelatinous slab of thick, white skin, which sprawls like a discarded overcoat across jagged rhombuses of breaking ice. The guts are gone—a fishermen's catch? A polar bear's meal? Or a victim of unknown forces originating at the other end of the world? This huge resin sculpture covers the gallery's entire floor, and its mix of desiccated, bleached curves against rich blue geometries of cracking ice achieves a desolate beauty. James Cohan, 533 W 26th, 212-714-9500. Through June 30.

Manga fever: Mr's Strawberry Voice, 2007
photo: Courtesy of Mr./Lehmann Maupin Gallery
Manga fever: Mr's Strawberry Voice, 2007

Details

Mr.
Lehmann Maupin
540 West 26th Street
Through June 23

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Assume Vivid Astro Focus
Upon entering this multimedia extravaganza, don the 3-D glasses and wander amid the objects—chairs, tools, and ladders, among others—that this Brazilian artist has wallpapered with sheets of blue and red type laid out like Robert Indiana's famous LOVE design. Words such as SICK, BOMB, GRIM, HELL, HATE, SHIT, and that new four-letter fave, BUSH, seem to jut out at you. Next, gaze through wig-lined portholes at a strobing disco dystopia of writhing revelers, fluorescent outlines, and sirens. And still the treats keep coming—follow the booming music through a trapdoor and down the steps into a black tunnel ribbed with flashing neon synchronized to a rollicking synth track. The colors and throbbing beat wash over you; get up close and it seems to hurl past. For just a moment you might feel like Jack Kirby's hallucinogenic Silver Surfer. John Connelly, 625 W 27th, 212-337-9563. Through June 30.

 
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