What better escape from the heat wave lashing New York this month than an air-conditioned, soul-nourishing art exhibition? Our selections this month are concerned with love and beauty, past and future, form and material. They include Pepón Osorio’s theatric installations at the New Museum, Gego’s kinetic sculptures at the Guggenheim Museum, Susan Chen’s ode to the Purell hand sanitizer at Rachel Uffner Gallery, and much more. Enjoy, and don’t forget to hydrate.
For this glorious summer show, curators Vera Iliatova and Sarah Peters brought together artists who struggle with the notion of love in their own work, specifically their “yearning to grasp at something in their work that remains forever outside of their reach,” according to the curatorial introduction. The results are mostly small objects that reflect on that devotion.
Ann Agee’s gorgeous little “Raised Curtain Madonna” (2020) is one of those objects that just “works,” if you know what I mean, and I found myself examining and reexamining its composition and unexpected magnetism. While Shari Mendelson and Ohad Meromi both create sculptures that appear to self-reflect on the act of their own making in peculiar ways, it’s all very invigorating. I’m not sure if the concept comes together perfectly (I love it regardless), but this is a great opportunity to see a collection of good works in dialogue with one another. Other standouts include works by Craig Kucia, Rema Ghuloum, Dennis Kardon, John Newman, and Julia Kunin. This is a show with a strong love of materials. —Hrag Vartanian
Nathalie Karg Gallery (nathaliekarg.com)
291 Grand Street, 4th Floor, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Through July 20
Denzil Hurley: To be pained is to have lived through feeling
If I were to tell you, in this day and age, that a show of largely monochromatic canvases is absolutely worth your time, some of you might roll your eyes. But the works of the late artist Denzil Hurley would give Clement Greenberg — the critic who notoriously argued that Minimalism was gimmicky and dispassionate — a run for his money. Hurley, who died in 2021, infused emotion into his oil on linen paintings by arranging them into strips, setting them on worn wooden elements, or subtly marking their surfaces; the result is a quiet but powerful visual vocabulary of humanity and feeling. —Valentina Di Liscia
Canada Gallery (canadanewyork.com)
60 Lispenard Street, Tribeca, Manhattan
Through July 22
Júlia Standovár: I Am Kinky Concrete
Concrete, we can all agree, is an unlikely medium for sexual exploration. And yet, the Brooklyn-based Hungarian artist Júlia Standovár has embraced the material’s particular characteristics — hardness, density, brittleness — to plumb the depths of sensuality. Inspired in part by conversations with her mother, Zsuzsanna Bede, a sex therapist, the artist combines concrete with found objects, photographs, and contrasting elements such as delicate crystals in sculptures that are simultaneously absurd, uncanny, and profound, much like human relationships. —VD
Radiator Gallery (radiatorarts.com)
10-61 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, Queens
Through July 22
Stereo Sights and Sounds
A solid concept is the core of this show, which presents works that consider sound as a material. It’s the kind of show you can get lost in while exploring its various threads.
Reneé Stout’s selection of Gil Scott- Heron is perfect, while Ben Godward’s choice of an Elvis Presley song was unexpected but lovely, particularly paired with his gloriously colorful new work that plays with transparency and form more than ever. It’s a wide selection and will help you see the work of JJ Pinckney, Hermann Nitsch, Michael Brown, Marie Watt, and others in new ways. While music and sound may often be invisible partners in the creation of art, here their role is highlighted and I hope this concept is developed into a larger and more expansive show. —HV
Marc Straus (marcstraus.com)
299 Grand Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Through July 30
Rachel Rossin: SCRY
There’s a hypnotic quality to the small, circular display screens placed throughout Rachel Rossin’s latest exhibition. Covered in thick cast-glass lenses and mounted on metal clamps, they evoke submarine portholes peering out into an unknown abyss — a shapeshifting matrix of animated forms, biomorphic characters, and infrared imagery born of Rossin’s experiments with brain-computer interfaces. The objects reference the practice of scrying, a method of divination dating as far back as Ancient Babylonia that involves the perception of signs and symbols in reflective surfaces and other mediums. Installed centrally on the ceiling, Rossin’s lenticular LED screen work “The Maw Of” (2022) steeps the quasi-abstract paintings on view in an eerie warm light; the show is a haunting meditation on the future of technology. —VD
Magenta Plains (magentaplains.com)
149 Canal Street, Chinatown, Manhattan
Through August 11
Susan Chen: Purell Night & Day
In the spirit of Susan Chen’s playful paintings of hand sanitizers, allow me to introduce her show with a limerick poem:
Just when you thought, no more pandemic
And your very last Purell a relic
This delusion is tainted
By the bottles Chen painted
Cause of all our ails, apathy is the most pathogenic.
Rachel Uffner Gallery (racheluffnergallery.com)
170 Suffolk Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan
July 18–August 13
A Greater Beauty: The Drawings of Kahlil Gibran
On the centenary of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, this show wishes to acquaint audiences with the Lebanese-American poet and essayist’s far lesser-known artistic practice, particularly his drawings. Inevitably, it will lead you to contemplations about beauty. As you walk through the show, let these sage words from The Prophet guide your way:
People of Orphalese, Beauty is life when
life unveils her holy face.
But you are life and you are the veil.
Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.
But you are eternity and you are the mirror.
The Drawing Center (drawingcenter.org)
35 Wooster Street, Soho, Manhattan
Through September 3
Gego: Measuring Infinity
Born in Hamburg as Gertrud Goldschmidt and trained as an architect, the artist better known as Gego escaped Nazi persecution in her late 20s to settle permanently in Venezuela at a time when Geometric Abstraction was rising to prominence. Though embracing tenets of Kinetic Art and Op Art, such as a concern for mobility and dynamism, Gego’s works stood out for their levity, ethereality, and use of humble materials, exemplified by her airy, suspended steel and wire constructions known as dibujos sin papel — literally “drawings without paper.” This major retrospective contextualizes Gego’s practice as radical in both form and concept, representing a departure from state-sanctioned art forms that prevailed in Latin America at the time. —VD
Guggenheim Museum (guggenheim.org)
1071 Fifth Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan
Through September 10
Pepón Osorio: My Beating Heart/Mi corazón latiente
“Badge of Honor” (1995), one of many works by Puerto Rican artist Pepón Osorio included in this much-deserved survey, is the kind of art that stays with you forever. Osorio, known for his theatrically staged environments that recreate public and private spaces to tell lesser-known stories, filmed a dialogue between an incarcerated father and his son by traveling back and forth between a New Jersey prison and the child’s home. The footage is projected on the walls of two adjacent spaces: One is the child’s bedroom, plastered in baseball cards and posters and other memorabilia of teenage joy; the other is a starkly empty jail cell. Like so many of Osorio’s installations, this one proves that socially engaged art can help us feel the impact of oppressive systems, such as mass incarceration, in ways other works can’t. —VD
New Museum (newmuseum.org)
235 Bowery, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Through September 17
Erika Verzutti: New Moons
Erika Verzutti’s first survey show in the United States encompasses more than 60 sculptures that speak to the Brazilian artist’s technical craftsmanship and boundless imagination. Recurring motifs and textures, like the distinctive fingerprint shapes that dot what are perhaps her most recognizable wall reliefs, are visited and revisited across a wide spectrum of materials — from wax and ceramic to papier-mâché and oil pigments. Verzutti is not afraid to go high and low, covering some surfaces in bronze and encrusting others with eggshells. Invoking art historical references from the Venus of Willendorf to the paintings of Tarsila do Amaral, she creates a visual language that is wholly personal, down to the visible trace of her hands and fingers immortalized in clay. —VD
Hessel Museum of Art (ccs.bard.edu)
33 Garden Road, Annandale-On-Hudson
Through October 15
More Recommendations From Our Summer 2023 New York Art Guide: