One-Line Reviews: Our Staff's Pithy Takes on Gallery Shows by Thomas Demand, Niki de Saint Phalle, and More

Detail of Larissa Bates, "Riding Time in Golfito with 'Chiriqui' from the Great White Fleet in Background" (2012), on view at Monya Rowe Gallery

While vast sections of the art world were away in Basel, our hard-working staff — or at least the members of it who weren't in Switzerland — set out once again this week around our Chelsea offices, tasked with summing up the art they found in a single (sometimes run-on) sentence. Click here to read the reviews in illustrated slide show form.

* Larissa Bates, “Chiquita Banana,” at Monya Rowe, 504 West 22nd Street, April 28-June 16

Larissa Bates's colorful miniatures, replete with gold leaf highlights, balance between the intricate whimsy of their fantastical tropical scenes and an autobiographical back story about historical guilt relating to her own family's role in the colonial plunder of Costa Rica, and if the former overpowers the latter, the artist's faux naiveté is nevertheless made more interesting by the suggestion of darkness behind it.  — Ben Davis

* Thomas Demand, at Matthew Marks, 523 West 22nd Street, May 5-June 23

There is something characteristically lonely about Demand's two-minute film of a cruise ship caught in a storm, adapted from security camera footage of the vessel’s cafe posted on YouTube, since, as usual for this artist, the entire scene is painstakingly recreated with paper and lacks any sign of human life, so that the viewer is left to watch empty tables and chairs skid back and forth across the floor as the unruly ocean surges unseen. — Julia Halperin

John Gordon Gauld, Giving Up The Ghost,” at Salomon Contemporary, 526 West 26th Street, #519, May 31- July 6

The master painter of mustaches returns to Salomon Contemporary with his crackpot art-historical revivals of "momento mori": pastel tempera still lifes of skulls, asphyxiated stuffed animals, and gunslinging GI Joes that seem to come from the mind of a precociously demented and technically accomplished child.  — Chloe Wyma  

* Brent Green, “To Many Men Strange Fates are Given,” at Andrew Edlin, 134 Tenth Avenue, May 5-June 23

What could be a precious, affected piece of pen-and-ink animation set to a murmuring teenager’s narration and Sufjan Stevens-style banjos and strings is, on second look, a pretty damn touching meditation on what the cults of Neil Armstrong or Laika the Dog can reveal about the tribes that launched them into space.  — Reid Singer

* “Love or Fear” at CATM Chelsea, 500 West 22nd Street, June 6-June 17

Three female artists come together to deconstruct stereotypes and put them back together again in this show, resulting in life-sized mannequin-like feminine figures that have needles for hair, cigarettes for eyes, bullets for teeth, and turn-table-tutus, as well as striking black-and-white photography that takes the recognizable female form and makes it seem foreign, there by confronting the social, political, and religious expectations experienced by women in the 21st century. — Terri Ciccone

* Katsuya Ohgita, “Condensed Light,” at Ippodo Gallery, 521 West 26th Street, B1, June 14-July 14

Ohgita performs God-like wizardry akin to the formation of a diamond from coal with cold cast glass sculptures that produce subtle explosions of transcendent light and color, captured in three series of organic forms, so small they could fit in your palm. — Alanna Martinez

* “Origins: Cui Fei and Taca Sui” at Chambers Fine Art, 522 West 29th Street, May 3-June 15

Though they work in vastly different media, Cui’s signature sculptural riffs on calligraphy and Taca Sui’s timeless, dream-like photos of remote China share a heavy nostalgia for the country’s classical history in the face of its frenetic present.  — Kyle Chayka

* Niki de Saint PhalleSelected Sculptures, at Vicky David Gallery, 522 West 23rd Street, April 19-June 30 

The late French sculptress's chimerical and crazily colorful human-animal hybrid sculptures have never looked as toothless as they do in this show of mostly tabletop editions spanning the late 1970s to 2000, even if the terrific large-scale tangle of cracked mirror, faux vines, and mangled metal, "Le champignon magique" ("The Magic Mushroom," a 1989 collaboration with husband Jean Tinguely), very nearly rescues the exhibition. Benjamin Sutton

* Slow Food/Fast Food, “Eat What You Are” at Gallery 151, 132 West 18th Street, May 17-June 28

Anyone heading to Gallery 151’s pop-up space hoping to glean new insight into our culture’s relationship with what we eat may be sorely disappointed, as it’s filled with overdone kitsch and inexplicably terrible digital reproductions of Old Master still lifes, with the few bright spots, such as Alia Diaz’s surprisingly affordable “Banana Shoes” print ($700), nearly lost in the sophomoric inanity. — Shane Ferro