Pulp Valhalla


This mashup of Teutonic bombast and lurid pop culture begins with a dimly lit gallery of sketchy oils in clashing colors and mismatched frames. Mounted on wooden posts like some ersatz Black Forest, the paintings feature fanciful figures (is that Tarzan amid snowy peaks? a smoldering volcano behind those assembled birdmen?) and are anchored by judicious strokes of black, as if Max Beckmann had drawn comic books. Hulking nearby like a reject from Bruce Wayne’s underground lair is a dark armoire sporting massive bat wings. The next room offers a mix of heraldry and totalitarian aesthetics: One wall is covered with bold, black crosses, birds, and arrows on gold-painted newsprint; the opposite displays a huge white relief of muscular figures, one with a jet-plane head, another composed of geometric blocks, the third a curvaceous, though fragmented, woman. The German-born Hofer is a master of scale—the absurd grandeur of mythical gods and their pulp descendants is captured in a vitrine featuring a human-size horned headpiece, a gray orb, and toy dinosaurs. And he’s adept at evocative collisions of content, as in the blazing skull looming over a Nazi architect’s rendering of an autobahn bridge. With such portentous titles as “The Day Is Ending To Die” scrawled across his paintings, Hofer’s improbably dazzling installation suggests that the puerile fatalism of teen angst is of a piece with fascist visions of all-powerful ubermenschen.

Daniel Dove

Above an expanse of evergreens is a web of twinkling lights; even higher up, the sky appears occluded by a diaphanous membrane through which the moon shines. Or perhaps it’s a transporter beam and those Christmas trees are about to be abducted by aliens? Dove’s paintings are strange enough to prod outlandish imaginings, yet are exquisitely balanced on the knife’s edge dividing representation and abstraction. Volcano (2006) depicts a pyramid of abandoned signs propped against each other, orange splatters running down their surfaces and spreading across the floor of a basement crammed with industrial pipes. Surrealism contributed to abstract expressionism; these striking canvases return the favor. Jack Shainman, 513 W 20, 212-645-1701. Through April 14.

Nicola Durvasula

No Front Line, one of Durvasula’s deft gouache drawings, juxtaposes a Stealth bomber–like black triangle with a small white bird on the wing; both are passing idyllic snow-capped peaks, but the scarlet sky portends a grievous outcome. In a witty group of sculptures, this British-born artist, who spends time in India, has wrapped household-cleaner bottles in blue, red-trimmed cloth to form conical robes. With their red spray nozzles jutting out, they exude an absurd gravitas, like a convocation of minor gods. Thomas Erben, 526 W 26, 212-645-8701. Through April 21.

‘From Revolution to Republic in Prints and Drawings’

The rough ‘n’ ready American colonies had no time for the refined artistry of Old World culture; hence it is a British officer’s darkly ominous watercolor of the moon over New York harbor that evokes the coming drama of the 1776 Battle of Long Island. A print of the Boston Massacre by colonist Henry Pelham (which Paul Revere pirated and made famous) is stiff and flat, but its blunt portrayal of Redcoats firing point blank into a crowd of protesters proved a propaganda boon for the revolution. After the war, it was the French who portrayed Washington with the smooth, classical modeling once reserved for European royalty, while an 1868 Currier and Ives print of the first president as a Mason is wooden and vaguely sinister. Even when the American Gilbert Stuart pulled off a Washington portrait that could challenge European prowess, he neglected to copyright it; British bootleggers got fat off the engraved copies. New York Public Library, 42nd and Fifth Avenue, 212-592-7730. Through July 7.

Dotty Attie

Attie derives the imagery for her small paintings mostly from vintage photos: There’s the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in the glare of a flashbulb, looking old and frail, their faces etched with the ugliness of their pointless lives. Elsewhere you can almost hear the clank when two World War II–era civilians in gas masks attempt to kiss. Attie intersperses each grouping of photo-paintings with repeated phrases that, according to the press release, are meant to ask, “When do social behaviors appear both positive and negative within the same context?” A canvas of a cigar-chomping Weegee hefting his Speed Graphic, the huge flash promising remorseless details of the living and dead alike, reminds one of the ancient superstition that graven images steal a piece of your soul. PPOW, 555 W 25, 212-647-1044. Through April 14.

David Shapiro

This eight-foot-square model features a Spinal Tap–esque backdrop proclaiming “ROCK IRAQ.” The stage wings are emblazoned with scores of corporate logos (including that of this newspaper, smack above the Shell Oil emblem); the tiny drums, sound monitors, and guitars are detailed right down to the jacks on the effects pedals. There are no musicians, only their leavings: butt-filled ashtrays, crumpled beer cans, half-eaten catered food. Backstage, racks of flamboyant costumes are arrayed near Barbie-size Porta-potties, while an audio loop blares soundchecks instead of music, musicians thanking the audience, and an encore-craving crowd roaring “More!” It’s Live Aid for Iraq, dude—coming soon to an arena near you. Pierogi, 177 North 9th Street, Brooklyn, 718-599-2144. Through April 16.