The northern lights scribble across a night sky; an owl drops silent and heavy as an anvil—death from above for some hapless creature scurrying across the fog-shrouded ground. Uttech paints mysterious forests, their bare, scraggly trees and heaps of glacial boulders conveying a sense of foreboding that brings to mind the German romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich’s ruined Gothic cathedrals. But instead of robed monks, howling wolves and rearing bears hold dominion over the swamps and wild meadows. All these works were painted during the last two years and possess a formal beauty: Green lily pads provide dotted counterpoint to the broad orange sweeps of a sunrise reflected in a pond; lakes and towering pines are obscured by clouds of birds, scattered as densely across the surface as Pollock’s splatters. All manner of beasts stampede in one direction—what are they fleeing? Or pursuing? As every city slicker knows, the woods are paradise—just don’t get caught in them after dark.
Ursula von Rydingsvard
This German-born artist uses a circular saw to chop stacks of cedar lumber into fluidly elegant sculptures. The freestanding, 13-foot-tall Wall Pocket (2003–04) is a gnarled column, open on one side and hollowed out like a rotted tree trunk. The broad surfaces are striated like sediment, and the roughly carved butt ends thrust unevenly from the gaping maw. Often the pieces are marked with quick pencil lines and scrawled letters, guides for aligning the hundreds of cut-down timbers, lending a sense of engineered rigor to her raw, undulating forms. Galerie Lelong, 528 W 26th, 212-315-0470. Through Oct 21.
Walker has executed scores of small paintings of the Maine coastline on old bingo cards that he found in his studio, a former Quaker meeting house. Roughly 7 x 5 inches, they feature fuliginous clouds in pink skies, roiling green water, and ocher slabs of beach. The underlying printed texts, game grids, and decorative borders occasionally peek through the thickly daubed oil, shifting the scale from deep vista to pop flatness. Knoedler, 19 E 70th, 212-794-0550. Through Oct 28.
These untitled sketches in various media, all from the 1940s and ’50s, reveal many of the themes this 94-year-old artist has long pursued: figures, often female, trapped in surreal environs, such as a penciled nude covered in shadowy scales or four disembodied heads flying away on wings of long hair. Many of these drawings, modeled with carefully contrasting strokes of ink, have an illustrative charm that belies their creepy, enigmatic narratives. Peter Blum, 99 Wooster, 212-343-0441. Through Nov 4.
Using bent sheets of plywood, Oppenheimer turns a typically bland gallery cube into a human Habitrail. The wood, lit by incandescent bulbs, fills the space with a warm, yellow light, while a long tunnel lets in blue daylight from the windows. Suddenly, banal support columns, ceiling joists, and scarred concrete floors become noticeable, their physicality revealed anew by the intrusion of warping elements into what is usually open space. P.P.O.W, 555 W 25th, 212-647-1044. Through Oct 7.
This group show is engaging and didactic, making a connection between Jasper Johns’s 1961 life-size bronze of a lightbulb and socket (with the deadpan title Bronze) and Robert Gober’s 2006 Untitled, a five-inch-high crumpled cylinder of lead crystal painted to resemble a battered can of white enamel. Dieter Roth’s 1969 ziggurat made of yogurt, chocolate, and other perishables is as chancrous and decayed as the massive pyramids painted by fellow German Anselm Kiefer, while Vija Celmins’s fur-lined box enclosing an abstract Plexiglas puzzle conjures allusions to the furry teacups and “portable museums” of an earlier avant-garde. Matthew Marks, 523 W 24th, 212-243-0200. Through Oct 28.
Working from a high scaffold, Muniz used a laser pointer to direct Brazilian art students in piling swathes of junk into huge re-creations of famous paintings. The resulting eight-foot-high color photos run a gamut that includes Goya’s Saturn chomping the head off his own son and Caravaggio’s 1596 Narcissus; both the rampaging god and the self-absorbed youth are cobbled together from discarded tires, rusty metal drums, broken fans, car doors, and other detritus. Muniz has copied the masters before, in chocolate, dust, caviar, and other offbeat materials, but now he is truly recycling art history. Sikkema Jenkins, 530 W 22nd, 212-414-0370. Through Oct 14.
A rangy hound stares directly into your eyes, one front paw blurred as if beginning to spring; an animal fetus lies in long grass as a chicken bends to peck at it. Taken from their subjects’ low vantage point, these photographs of livestock and dogs on small Argentinean farms are unsparing—a bloody cowhide hangs like a heavy, gelatinous drape; two inverted hogs’ heads are wired to a wooden post—and the powerful compositions and raw colors remind us of William S. Burroughs’s “frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.” Yossi Milo, 525 W 25th, 212-414-0370. Through Oct 14.