3×300: McPherson, Sibony, Connors

In his new serial ‘3×300’, writer Brian Fee reviews gallery events in the New York Art scene on a weekly basis. Check back at NYAB’s blog for more of Brian’s coverage.

poster for Tara McPherson

Tara McPherson "The Bunny in the Moon"

at Jonathan LeVine Gallery
in the Chelsea 20th area
This event has ended - (2010-10-23 - 2010-11-20)

poster for Gedi Sibony Exhibition

Gedi Sibony Exhibition

at Greene Naftali Gallery
in the Chelsea 26th area
This event has ended - (2010-10-22 - 2010-12-04)

poster for Matt Connors

Matt Connors "You Don't Know"

at Canada
in the Lower East Side area
This event has ended - (2010-10-22 - 2010-12-12)

In Reviews by Brian Fee 2010-11-11 print

Tara McPherson’s lunar-toned figures are still open to the vulnerabilities of love, though the gaping cartoon hearts in their chests have nearly disappeared. I am alluding to McPherson’s previous solo show at Jonathan LeVine Gallery in 2008, “Lost Constellations”, and her contributions to the group exhibition “Sometimes I Just Want a Hug”, a warm and fuzzy affair back in late 2005 and my first up-close encounter with the artist’s bold representational approach. Those dark-lipped, springy-haired avatars all bore that heart-hole in their chests, like an integral missing puzzle piece. Now they have transformed into this lithe Adam and Eve (or perhaps more appropriately the star-crossed Romeo and Juliet), holding heart-topped arrows against paper pinned to each other’s chests, their bodies bathed in the moonlight of a nocturnal grove. This painting, The Bunny in the Moon (2010), echos the exhibition title and the blend of folklore present in the other works. There is The Snow Bride (2010) (recalling the soul-stealing Yuki-onna of Japanese literature, down to her icy pluming breath) and the female and male panels Trapped in the Narcissus Gaze (both 2010), here rendered against gold leaf mirrors. And despite my terminology of ‘lunar-toned figures’, McPherson’s humans don’t feel bloodless at all. She balances a palette of cool blues and greens with the warmth of pinks and reds, tweaking their proportions throughout like hot and cold taps, producing sumptuous results. Have a look at pinup figure Bunny Girl (2010) in her frilly leotard as she locks eyes with you, and tell me she isn’t flesh-and-blood. Perhaps McPherson is telling us there remains pitfalls in the path to love, referenced in the vengeful snow bride and the self-absorbed narcissists. Yet still her figures persevere, and the reclamation of their hearts breathes life anew.


Gedi Sibony returns with his particular breed of discreet intervention to Greene Naftali Gallery, after his last solo show two years ago. This experience is akin to detective sleuthing. A glimpse of The Cutters (2010) straight off the lift and down the hallway sets the episode into motion. It is a sensorially disrupting effect: a new doorway, partially shrouded in either a taupe-colored curtain or raw canvas (hint: this is Sibony, so go with the latter), on a partially painted wall. The knobless door is propped beyond, against the far gallery wall. Is the exhibition still being installed? This is credit to Sibony’s skill: he uses recycled materials that mimic the environments they will reside within. The wall fragment in The Cutters is actually from his studio, though it could easily have been resurrected from the gallery itself. The media used in this piece, as plainly stated in the gallery guide, are ‘canvas, paint, wall’, which sounds in print like the simplified definition of an exhibited painting, i.e. painted canvas hanging on a wall. Indeed, the wall itself bears nail holes from possible previous such hangings (maybe the several framed, reversed drawings elsewhere in this exhibition), though Sibony leaves us to draw our own conclusions to their origins. The aforementioned door is part of a different installation, its elements (matted drawing reversed in frame; green thick-pile carpet, also reversed against the wall; white vinyl, practically the same shade as the wall it rests against) lined up like a deconstructed cocktail from your favorite downtown restaurant. Combined, they may have created an interesting assemblage, but by highlighting their complementary textures (the underside of the carpet, the spinal crinkle down the center of the vinyl, the door’s woodgrain), Sibony draws out a curious semblance that may not have otherwise been obvious.

The new exhibition of meta-abstract paintings and works on paper by Matt Connors at Canada is titled “You Don’t Know”. Well, with the MoMA’s expansive “Abstract Expressionist New York” as a jump-off point, let’s see what Connors is dissecting and updating now. His previous solo show at the gallery, “Enjambment” from spring 2008, reminded me a bit of German artists Imi Knoebel and Blinky Palermo, in the geometric planes of color and the arrangement of works, including some against brightly colored walls. I find instances of Abstract Expressionist language throughout Connors’ new works, from the immediacy of Action Painting to the brooding glow of “soak stain” techniques. Yet the end effect is playful, lyrical, rooted in homage but maintaining Connors’ particular lexicon. Note Vocals (2010), a riot of squiggles and dashed-off lines over a field of blue, like greatly enlarged idle scribblings, and related Multi-track Fill (2010), colored pencil lines and pooled acrylic on paper. The latter is hung adjacent to two other scribbly “Fills” of roughly equal size, and one can image the sequence animated. I extracted a Helen Frankenthaler (or overall Color Field) essence from Correspondences (2010), a bloom of reddish and bluish firework acrylics seeped into raw canvas, outfitted with Connors’ designed fire-engine red frame. The diluted paint runs just enough to achieve this staining effect, also evident in the creeping green of DBCWMCV (2010). His previous show alluded to Ellsworth Kelly in the press release, but I see that more obviously here, in a tongue-and-cheek sense, with Lisp (Tomato) and Lisp (Green) (both 2010), two digital C-prints of ostensibly flat, unadulterated color (red-orange and vegetal green, respectively), rolled up like posters and set precariously on the gallery’s floor. Hardedge yet paper-thin and flexible: that in a nutshell is Connors’ twist.

Brian Fee

Brian Fee. Brian Fee talks art by day, sees Brooklyn bands by night, and speaks Japanese during in-between hours. His alter ego is feeslist.blogspot.com, which includes a weekly rundown of only the dopest NY-based art/film/music events. » See other writings

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