4 Surprises in New York Galleries This Summer
Summer is the “off season” for the contemporary art galleries, which means weekend closures, group exhibitions, and surprising gems! Here are 4 exhibitions worth cutting out of work a couple hours early:
Paola Pivi’s “Free Land Scape” at Perrotin New York
The third floor of Perrotin New York in the Lower East Side invites visitors to crawl, walk, and recline in Paola Pivi: Free Land Scape – a 100-foot-long blue denim tunnel. The interactive work is on display in conjunction with two other exhibitions of the artist – one is at the Andy Warhol Museum featuring her famous brightly-colored feather-covered polar bears, and another on the High Line featuring a 16-foot altered Statue of Liberty.
For the blue Free Land Scape at Perrotin, visitors over 12 years old (sorry, kids) sign a waiver, remove their shoes, zip into an optional white Tyvek suit (to avoid blue stains on white clothes or friction on exposed skin), and spend up to 10 minutes alone on the denim sculpture. Visitors are surrounded by blue in an experience that’s half hammock and half swimming.
Pivi explains in her own words “Free Land Scape creates a little magic for the adult who climbs on it: suddenly the body becomes one of a child again, fearless of falling, swimming in denim, exploring space and movement in a fluid and weightless way”.
“Wave” featuring Jesús Rafael Soto at Marlborough New York
Group exhibitions are a great opportunity to uncover new curatorial visions and discover hundreds of artists in an afternoon. One of the best titled “Wave” at Marlborough Chelsea that explores “a range of post-war geometric abstraction and kinetic art,” combining historically significant artists with contemporary works by Ugo Rondinone, Keith Sonnier, and Kenneth Snelson.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is a rare opportunity to walk through a 1999 work by Venezuelan artist Jesús Rafael Soto titled “Penetrable Azul de Valencia.” Created from thousands of dangling blue plastic cords, visitors are invited to slowly navigate through the work – like an alien field of tall grass. The work is inviting to enter but slightly ominous once inside, as space becomes tactile and the blue tentacles drag across your shoulders with every step, enveloping you into the work.
Guy Brett said it best in an 1969 essay: “Brushing through, there is an extraordinary feeling that one’s physicality is diffused, and other peoples’ also, so that people no longer abutt upon one another like objects, as they do in the street.” I highly recommend experiencing the work with a friend (or a stranger).
“Universes 5” at The Hole
There are two underground exhibitions (!!!) in Tribeca. The Hole presents a circus-like exhibition titled “Universes 5” conceived by curator Saša Bogojev. This is the 5th version of the “Universes,” each taking place in a different country. The first “Universes” was in Imola, Italy in 2018, then Amsterdam in 2019, Hong Kong in 2020, and most recently Paris in 2021. “Universes 5” is the largest in the series so far, bringing a selection of 26 artists.
The tent-like first floor is a a cornucopia of humorously bizarre sculptures and paintings, and the basement will leave you questioning your own eyes. In a dark room, an animated projection showcases multiple works of art by French artist Kévin Bray, but only 4 of them are “real.” A projection mimics a moving spotlight that highlights various works with realistic shadows. A projected door reveals a surreal landscape before curtains billow out and catch on fire. The video loop is about 1 minute, but I stayed at least 5 loops and discovered something new every time.
Portia Munson & “Made to Be Broken” at P.P.O.W Gallery
A double-exhibition at P.P.O.W. Gallery offers a great solo exhibition and access to a space the public has never before entered. On the main floor, an exhibition by Portia Munson titled “Bound Angel” features sculptures composed of hundreds of white objects that the artist collected from second-hand stores, yard sales, and flea markets – primarily porcelain angels, but also “classic nudes,” sexualized gag gifts, and more. Visually connected by their whiteness, they’re also literally bound by the cords of the lamps and additional string. The effect is beautiful, fun to explore, and darkly unsettling. The gallery produced this 5-minute studio-visit video with the artist worth 100% of your time.
The gritty basement exhibition “Made to be Broken” curated by artist Corey Durbin is on view Thursday andFriday through July 29th. You must ask the front desk to see the basement exhibition, and someone (the curator if you’re lucky) will escort you downstairs and through the rarely-seen storage area (it’s worth walking slowly), and into a wonderfully gritty basement space filled with an intriguing group exhibition of equally bold artists. “Made to Be Broken” includes work by Daniel Barragán, Caroline Boreri, Corey Durbin, Yves B Golden, Carly Mandel, Hayley Cranberry Small, and Cameron Spratley. My personal favorite was the ceramic work by Brooklyn-based artist Hayley Cranberry Small, whose vessels echo the body’s natural beauty and imperfections (see more of her work, including her “pierced” ceramics on her website).
Portia Munson “Bound Angel” is on view on the main floor of P.P.O.W. Gallery (392 Broadway, New York) through August 19th. “Made to be Broken” curated by Corey Durbin is on view in the basement Thursday-Friday from 4-6pm through July 29th.