5 Must-See Gallery Shows: Birdie Lusch, Mark Hagen, and More | BLOUIN ARTINFO
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5 Must-See Gallery Shows: Birdie Lusch, Mark Hagen, and More

(L-R): Birdie Lusch's "untitled" (1973) at Kerry Schuss, New York, Louis Cane's "Toile découpée" (1970) at CANADA New York, Tris Vonna-Michell's "Postscript III (Berlin)" (2014) at Metro Pictures, New York, Sam Moyer's "Zola" (2014) at Rachel Uffner Gallery, and Mark Hagen's "“To Be Titled (Ramada Chelsea #3)" (2014) at Marlborough Chelsea.
(Courtesy of the respective artists and galleries)

Birdie Lusch at Kerry Schuss Gallery, through June 29

Lusch’s collages of flower arrangements are pitch perfect; sliced-and-diced magazine pages become the fodder for vases and blooms in whimsical yet refined compositions. The artist, who died in 1988, made this portfolio of 26 pieces in the summer of 1973. Here they’re arranged and framed sequentially — Karma is publishing an accompanying book — demonstrating the range of Lusch’s curious vision. In one collage, a cut-out version of Rodin’s “Thinker” ponders a baby-blue arrangement of flowers, its vase an excised image of power lines. In others, brightly patterned words and Lusch’s own penciled words provide an enigmatic context for the series: “Were there no beginning there’d be no ending / Were there no entrance there would be no door.” Some may find this all a bit twee — especially after noting the artist’s “signature,” which is a tiny cartoon of a bird — but Lusch’s compositional inventiveness pushes these simple pieces to the next level. It wouldn’t surprise me if Jonas Wood was looking at Birdie (as well as Matisse’s cut-outs) when making paintings like this one.

Supports/Surfaces” at Canada, through July 20

You know what would be a cruel experiment? Gather 50 or so working artists in Brooklyn, blindfold them, and deposit them in the center of this survey of the Supports/Surfaces movement on the Lower East Side; record the expressions of dismay and heartbreak on their faces as they register the breadth and quality of the experimental, abstract work; and then, after an appropriate pause, remind them that it was all made by French artists, mostly in the early ’70s. These “paintings” — made from dyed rope, textiles, cut vinyl, gauze, and other materials — explored territory that continues to be mined, inadvertently or otherwise. Fun game: Compare this Patrick Saytour work in the show with Joe Fyfe’s “Maundy Thursday”; or this 1970 Louis Cane oil-on-cut-canvas with Joe Bradley’s output from a few years back. (Bonus assignment: If you’re still in the mood for brilliant color and textiles, head over to Polly Apfelbaum’s “A Handweaver’s Pattern Book” at Clifton Benevento.)

Mark Hagen at Marlborough Chelsea, through June 21

“Guest Star” is a collection of space oddities. There are sculptures incorporating metal that has been anodized with Coke Zero, as well as a readymade composed of a car that was struck by a meteorite — the most sensationalist, yet least interesting, piece here. (The auto-sculpture was crafted by “alien hands,” the press release confirms.) Overall, Hagen does a bang-up job of engaging with the gallery’s massive, concrete-floored space — for instance, stretching an aluminum-and-stainless-steel armature, “To Be Titled (Ramada Chelsea #3),” between one wall and a central pillar — and the works share a cohesive, intergalactic vibe. A series of acrylic-on-burlap-on-panel abstract paintings explore gradient fades and washes of somber color, as cool and impersonal as the surface of the moon (one has a plastic bodega bag stuck on its surface, a gentle reminder that there’s still human life here, after all).

Sam Moyer at Rachel Uffner Gallery, through June 22

Moyer’s work has always been interesting — from early pieces that turned moving blankets into sculptural paintings, through experiments with bleach on fabric — but her latest exhibition is next-level amazing; I’m left wondering if she’s ingested some illicit art-steroid that’s propelled her rapidly forward into some new, ridiculously mature career stage. The minimalist textile works are still there, but now flattened beneath layers of glass — sometimes tinted, sometimes painted — each one invested in a single type of loose, painterly gesture writ large. Upstairs, hybrid works pair shaped, ink-on-canvas panels with chunks of marble. Often the two pieces combine into a solid square or rectangle; occasionally, as in “Zola” (which uses a simpler stone than marble), a rectangular canvas looms above an irregular, unwieldy plane of rock. Each piece is a delicate exercise in contrast and balance. Downstairs, the installation “More Weight” — also the name of the exhibition overall — combines a platform of marble on the floor with a framed expanse of dyed fabric suspended from the ceiling. The large mottled surface of that canvas is lit from above, making it appear at first glance to be an enormous slab of concrete hanging overhead. Moyer will invite fellow artists in for a night of performance on Thursday, June 19. Seriously: if you don’t make it to the Lower East Side before “More Weight” closes, you’ll have missed something heavy and substantial, indeed.

Tris Vonna-Michell at Metro Pictures, through July 25

Check out Louis Lawler’s wall drawings downstairs, but don’t miss 2014 Turner Prize nominee Vonna-Michell’s installation, tucked away upstairs. “Postscript III (Berlin)” is a slideshow projection with accompanying audio — the artist himself, narrating a characteristically circular meta-story that’s really about the act of storytelling itself, as well as the elusive qualities of memory. The click-clack of the changing slides punctuates Vonna-Michell’s hypnotic voice — during live performances the artist is just as obsessively dense, turning himself into a sort of instrument, an avalanche of words — and the still images (sometimes singular, more often in pairs) only obliquely jibe with what’s being spoken. Vonna-Michell takes unresolved histories and narrative dead-ends and transforms them into something paradoxically whole. 

ALSO WORTH SEEING: Jason Brinkenhoff's weird mix of Pop, Picasso riffs, and other paintings at ZieherSmith, through June 21; Bill Jenkins's “Wet Light,” an immersive, but resolutely unspectacular, environment at Laurel Gitlen, through June 22.


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