Judy Fox's Snow White, El Museo's Bienal, and Antony Gormley's 'Blind Light'

Recommendations by R.C. Baker

In this paltry newspaper space there's no way to do justice to this terrific group show, so, like an Academy Award winner interrupted by the orchestra, I apologize to those left out. Augusto Zanela's huge black-and-white target—painted over walls, ceilings, doors, air ducts, and light fixtures—greets you even as it fragments around you. Sebastián Patané Masuelli's narrow corridor filled with yellowed pages from the 1945 Congressional Record, a truncated bed, and videos of birds is as febrile a dreamscape as you'll encounter this side of consciousness. Alejandro Almanza Pereda deftly mixes moods and materials with his lightbulb and cinderblock sculptures; Jessica Lagunas's video The Better to Caress You With frames a pair of hands applying so much red nail polish that the fingers resemble bloody stalactites; and Tamara Kostianovsky's fabric sculpture of a beef carcass uncannily evokes bone, fat, and gristle. Politics are handled with trenchant élan in Alessandro Balteo Yazbeck's black, Calder-esque mobile, which schematizes the complexities of Iraq's oil infrastructure, and Oscar Oiwa's surreal, perspective-warping painting of meat formed into national maps; neither artist allows his metaphors to outstrip visual aplomb. Humor and pathos collide in Andrés García Peña's paintings of arenas in which ghostly, angel-winged bulls (often smoking and drinking) cheer the gory deaths of flailing matadors; Dulce Pinzón's photos of manual laborers and nannies in superhero garb wittily document workaday steadfastness. We'll end this feast with Sandra Valenzuela's photos of vegetables like broccoli, turnips, and squash suspended in colorful knit bonnets. By simply displaying her images upside-down, she turns them into soaring balloon armadas, a magical-realist escape from whatever ails you.


Kanishka Raja

These 18 small canvases initially appear to depict the same vaguely modern space: suspended orange light fixtures, bookshelves, a big TV screen, a pair of doors. But differences quickly become apparent—floor tiles are laid at divergent angles, televisions transmit changing pictures, lights blaze at varying intensities. Raja executed the paintings over a period of three years, each without looking at the previous versions, delivering a dissonant frisson. Similarly, in a larger canvas featuring a mirror-image view of an airline terminal filled with empty cots, the center join is misaligned, like imperfectly married pages in a magazine spread. Tilton, 8 E 76th, 212-737-2221. Through November 17.


Super-nanny: Dulce Pinzon's Catwoman, 2005
courtesy of Dulce Pinzon
Super-nanny: Dulce Pinzon's Catwoman, 2005

Michael Mogavero: 'Interludes'

Energetic couples—their poses culled from porn websites—are obscured by ornate grilles, as if glimpsed through the windows of a New Orleans brothel. In Mogavero's oil paintings on paper, these lascivious vignettes are juxtaposed with interlocking arcs of drippy abstract passages that echo the filigreed scrollwork. When the humps of naked backs and curving thighs come into focus and hook up with the flourishes of brushstrokes, the compositions become less a rehash of David Salle's overwrought '80s pastiches than a wry and lively take on Brice Marden's austere—and at times overly precious—abstractions. 511 Gallery, 529 W 20th, 212-255-2885. Through December 1.


Antony Gormley: 'Blind Light'

Enter this huge glass room and you are instantly enveloped in thick white mist. Hold out your hand and it will seem to dissolve; other visitors loom as gray blobs before coming into fuzzy focus and then fading away; disembodied voices surround you. Though disorienting, the effect is also soothing, heightening your awareness of your own body, but also of its integration with this seemingly endless vista. It's Limbo for the living. Sean Kelly, 528 W 29th, 212-239-1181. Through December 1.


Berlin Wall Segment

As our own nation builds a wall across the Southwest to keep desperate foreign workers out, it's instructional to contemplate a barrier designed to keep citizens in. The huge, bug-eyed heads on what was the western side of this Berlin Wall segment were spray-painted in the mid-'80s by Thierry Noir and Kiddy Citny (who fought for royalties when the wall fell in '89 and East German bureaucrats, with uncharacteristic capitalist insight, auctioned off slabs of it). Although massive cracks now interrupt the garish cartoons, the decay feels almost celebratory in comparison to the spiritless concrete blank of the once east-facing side. This blast from our Cold War past is a blunt reminder of how fearmongering warps a society. Plus, it's just steps from Fifth Avenue shopping, if you want to do your part in the War on Terror.Adjacent to 9 E 53rd. Permanent.


Judy Fox: 'Snow White and the Seven Sins'

A hyper-realist, life-size Snow White lies unconscious atop her glass coffin, ebony braids reaching to her knees, rosy nipples and lips contrasting with milky skin. Smaller sculptures surround her—all purples, scarlets, and yeasty browns, they're dwarf-size manifestations of the seven deadly sins. Here's Gluttony sporting folds of flabby flesh and pendulous testicles, like an obese puppy; there's Anger, inflamed vaginal lips erupting from an indigo carapace; and Pride, with Dolly Parton–scale breasts swelling from a labial cloak. Gorgeously decadent, this pungent tableau ain't your Uncle Walt's fairy tale. PPOW, 555 W 25th, 212-647-1044. Through November 24.

 
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