Best in Show: Color Scheming at Postmaster's Gallery

Arranging works of art according to their predominant colors might sound like a kids' game, but at Postmasters, where hijinks are a specialty, this rainbow scheme actually lends some order to a sprawling, end-of-season survey of the gallery's artists.

Hung with salon-style clutter, the show begins with red, where you'll find one of Diana Cooper's pencil-and-marker abstractions of dense and jagged geometry; like a child's impression of an overwhelming city, the drawing sets the mood. Nearby, playfully examining their own replacement, married couple Jennifer and Kevin McCoy present a photographic series of "self-portraits," in which friends don wigs and costumes to appear as the others' spouses. Over in the yellow quadrant, another angry, anti-establishment screed from William Powhida (actually a trompe-l'oeil painting) skewers art-world legalese. Right beside it, starting the green wall, a low-budget video by Guy Ben-Ner once again investigates family dynamics; the artist leads his wife and children, dressed as ostriches, around Riverside Park in a mockery of PBS nature shows. Flung around by the juxtapositions, your brain cells start to feel like pinballs.

Off-rainbow, in beige, you'll find sexualized flesh. In Monica Cook's painting Succi—taking cues, it would seem, from both Dutch Renaissance and Carolee Schneemann—gleaming octopus tentacles wrap around an erotic tangle of bare female limbs. Agata Bebecka's fearsome female satyr (a gouache cartoon) leads to explorations of gender identity from provocateur Katarzyna Kozyra, who films and photographs young men dressed only in pink, vagina-like jockstraps.

Seafood tonight? Monica Cook's Succi
Courtesy Postmasters
Seafood tonight? Monica Cook's Succi

Details

'Colorific! We Make an Art Rainbow'
Postmasters Gallery
459 West 19th Street
212-727-3323, postmastersart.com
Through August 19

Even when color disappears, as it does in the back room, the visuals overwhelm. Here, among abstractions and impressions of Iraq, two competing videos complete the madcap tour. Anthony Goicolea's Septemberists has vaguely fascistic boys performing a cultish ritual that ends with a floating coffin, and a raging Rainer Ganahl furthers his studies of language, shouting English profanity printed on ceramic cubes before hurling them at a wall.

'Glutton for Punishment'

If you find yourself cheering the abasement suffered on the game show Wipeout, then Janosch Parker might be your idol. He is, in any case, the masochistic star of this fun little video-only show about acts of excess. An endurance artist, Parker has become known for subjecting himself to rather elaborate mechanical abuse. Here, in Primordial Ooze Ensemble Act VII (Assembly Line), he hangs upside down while homemade contraptions blast his body with sugary goo, crumbled cookies, whipped cream, and flour, then finally package him in plastic—a lampoon, in the end, of processed food.

Opposite, in Fast Supper, satirist Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung brings the blasphemous wit and cutout animation of Monty Python to Da Vinci's The Last Supper, bloating Jesus with junk food until he explodes in a shimmering rapture. Around the corner, echoing Paul McCarthy and Mike Kelley's early 1970s performances of abjection, Kate Gilmore, making Sisyphean attempts to climb an inclined plank wearing roller skates, tries to reach a decorated cake and fouls her skirt with flowing, shit-like chocolate sauce. Lastly, Marilyn Minter offers both an erotic and revolting form of abstract expressionism, filming (underneath plate glass) a succession of mouths and tongues pushing around sparkly fluorescent syrup. The art isn't profound, but it leaves you sated. Ramis Barquet, 532 W 24th, 212-675-3421, ramisbarquet.com. Through August 19

'Don't Quit Your Day Job'

The images in this quiet show—all produced by gallery owners who considered but abandoned careers as photographers—won't exactly knock your socks off. But intriguingly, what emerges from this collection, piece by piece, is a composite picture of the artist manqué. A sense of brooding dominates; shadowy nature scenes and dreamy erotica alternate with solemn interiors and stark architectural shots. A resignation to banal fate creeps into Sasha Wolf's moody black-and-white moments, while Jeffrey Fraenkel's formalist, near-abstract views of an ordinary curtain eliminate artistic ambition altogether; the frames were taken by a photo-booth camera.

Elsewhere, Steven Kasher's conceptual arrangements—faces in close-up, each overlaid with a small, circular picture of an object—suggest repressed desire. Tellingly, perhaps, the most accomplished works here are several portraits, beautifully composed by David Fahey with subtle drama, of renowned photographers. Hasted Kraeutler, 537 W 24th, 212-627-0006, hastedkraeutler.com. Through August 19

 
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