Paul Glabicki’s ‘Accounting for…’; Rosemarie Fiore’s ‘Pyrotechnics’; Celeste Boursier-Mougenot at Paula Cooper


A Japanese ledger from the 1930s, filled with entries for an unknown business, may be an unlikely inspiration for art—unless it lands in the lap of experimental animator and Japanophile Paul Glabicki. Best known for frenetic animations of geometric images, Glabicki became so fascinated by the ledger’s daily arrays of numbers and letters, which mirrored his own sequenced work, that he found himself wanting, as he writes, “to continue the ritual.” He transcribed the Japanese characters of the ledger’s individual pages onto separate sheets of paper, and then added, in cloud-like masses, fragments of his own personal information: correspondence, architectural sketches, multiplication tables, geometric doodles. Each work, drawn in both ink and pencil with Glabicki’s trademark precision, presents a storm of data—snapshots, perhaps, of the artist’s brain. Objects appear to tumble along the guiding lengths of arcing and zigzagging lines; light touches of color, often placed along a ragged circumference, convey the sense of swirling motion. East meets West, the past collides with the present. The clutter doesn’t quite approach that of horror vacui, but clearly the drawings have emerged from the heavy labor of obsession—which makes their graceful energy all the more marvelous. Kim Foster Gallery, 529 W 20th, 212-229-0044. Through May 9.

Rosemarie Fiore: ‘Pyrotechnics’

She has fashioned an amusement park ride with buckets of paint so that it would draw enormous colored loops, and she’s outfitted an Evel Knievel pinball machine with vellum, mapping the paths of oil-covered balls as she racked up points. So it’s no surprise to find Rosemarie Fiore in her Bronx backyard wearing a gas mask and stooped over clouds of yellow smoke: Now, she’s painting with fireworks. The adventurous Fiore has lately been taking explosives composed of colored particulates—smoke bombs, monster balls, and magic whips, to name a few—and setting them off inside buckets inverted on thick paper. The technique, no gimmick, produces circles of sulfuric color in gradations of intensity. Sometimes, magician-like, she’ll make strokes and streaks with sparkling fireworks tied to the end of a wand. She then collages the best effects onto large sheets of the same paper—creating works, exhibited for the first time here, that are like op art visions of the cosmos.

Vivid circles of different diameters, given dimension by their varied shading and multiple layers, appear as planets or moons in a crazy sky. Tube-shaped sections containing colored rings (cut from the trails the bucket makes when pushed in one direction) suggest shooting stars. Sooty crusts, where the surface burned, form black craters. Discarded matches and gunpowder marks float in the background like interstellar dust. It’s a wild ride to the outer limits of paint and paper. Priska C. Juschka Fine Art, 547 W 27th, 212-244-4320. Through May 16.

Celesté Boursier-Mougenot

Artist and composer Celesté Boursier-Mougenot has an immense talent for producing music from unexpected sources. In past installations, harmonicas attached to the ends of vacuum cleaners created a kind of low-tech organ and, in another, sparrows alighted on the strings of amplified guitars. Here, the source is more familiar, or so it seems. In the center of the room, an automated grand piano continuously plays what might be a spare elegy by György Kurtág—single notes separated by silence, occasional atonal chords. But they’re actually produced on the fly; a sophisticated algorithm receives text routinely typed by the gallery’s employees on their computers and translates characters into sequences of pitches, as well as instructions for tempo and dynamics. When someone hits the spacebar, for example, the piano plays a chord from several preceding notes.

As you listen, what at first seems delightful—office work transformed into musical expression—begins to unsettle. The mood, after all, is somber: Boursier-Mougenot’s program is not translating the dashed-off text (most of it probably mundane) into waltzes. And, unlike the artist’s other work, there’s no visible process here, no charming interaction. This is machine-to-machine communication, and that black robotic piano—surrounded by a number of black-on-black silkscreens bearing patterns of video interference (i.e., art a machine might love)—sits there as a cold, imposing presence, especially with its closed lid and covered keys. The experience is thoroughly engaging, if dissociative, but human appreciation seems almost beside the point here. The audience, you’ll notice, gets only three chairs. Paula Cooper Gallery, 534 W 21st, 212-255-1105. Through April 25.

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