1. Paul Cocksedge: Freeze is open at Friedman Benda Gallery until December 23, 2015.
In Freeze, Paul Cocksedge exploits freezing temperatures to create a seamless bond between metals that otherwise do not adhere in nature. The breakthrough in the series – a table of copper and aluminum – was made by first burying four copper legs in snow, leaving them to contract by 100th of a millimeter; second, excavating the legs and inserting them into holes cut into an aluminum slab where they were allowed to un-freeze back to ambient temperature thereby firmly locking into place in a strong, invisible join. Further calibrating temperatures and tolerances of various shapes, forms, and metals, Cocksedge went on to create an entire body of exquisitely precise, balanced, and seemingly impossible works; each incorporating a stunning range of metals that appear to float together, magically.
2. Margaret Bowland: Power is open at Driscoll Babcock Galleries until December 12, 2015.
The exhibition features 8 new paintings, which marry canonical imagery with contemporary references to blur fact and fiction, challenge cultural hierarchies, and offer alternate narratives. The exhibition also includes Bowland’s first major installation: a transformational bramble of US dollar bills folded into origami roses that twist throughout the gallery on barbed-wire stems, underscoring the dangerous allure of wealth and power. Bowland’s paintings construct an anachronistic world dense with symbolic imagery. She employs a variety of sources, from the artistic production of the early modern Deccan plateau of India, to post-Renaissance European paintings, to today’s fashion magazine spreads. In this maelstrom of references, Bowland’s subjects bear the weight of complex power struggles, reckoning with enduring issues of race, gender and agency. Symbols of privilege and status pervade each work. Money—perhaps the most obvious symbol of wealth—appears in various forms throughout: it surrounds Bowland’s subjects as it catches fire and burns; it creates, alongside fighter planes, an ironic, decorative fleur-de-lis pattern. In this way, wealth and prestige directly collide with war, violence, and destruction, including citations of J.M.W. Turner’s “The Slave Ship” and “The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons.”
3. Alina Szapocznikow is open at Andrea Rosen Gallery until December 5, 2015.
On the heels of a major international traveling retrospective, this exhibition presents a meticulously assembled group of major figurative sculptures from the 1960s and 1970s. Ardently concentrating on life-size freestanding figures, these works represent some of the artist’s most significant bodies of work, lent from museums and private collections from around the world. Szapocznikow, over the distilled course of fifteen years, developed a profound pioneering vision and formal language tensioned between lust and sexuality, and the threat of destruction. Embodying this dichotomy, her work contains an intense vividness of life that perhaps can be drawn to her personal history, surviving a youth in concentration camps; like a number of artists of her time, such as Paul Thek and Hannah Wilke, who came out of intensity, there is an incredible rigor and vibrance driven from the force of life.
4. Tom Burr: Circa is open at Bortolami Gallery until December 23, 2015.
Tom Burr’s work interrogates intimacy and what lies at the intersection of public and private. The exhibition will pair two of the artist’s iconic photographic series. Palm Beach Views defines private properties in terms of non-public spaces while Unearthing the public restrooms explores liminal spaces where desire could be satisfied, although clandestinely. Driven by an archeological interest, Tom Burr archived public restrooms in playgrounds and parks as a testament to the disappearance of cruising grounds, in the process of being closed by the city. For this exhibition, Burr also recreated his second “earthwork” Circa ’77. Installed initially at the Kunsthalle Zürich in 1995, this piece recreates to scale a section of the Platzspitz, a riverside park flanking the Swiss National Museum in Zürich, as it might have looked circa 1977. During that period the park was unpopular with the general public, its dim lighting and dense vegetation limiting visibility and creating areas of isolation. Gay men actively invested in the park, modifying its topography to create new zones for meeting. This is the period that just preceded the Platzspitz’s infamous use as a needle park in the 1980s, which later prompted the massive clean up of the area in the mid 1990s. It is this clean up of the park that prompted Burr’s work.
5.GAMA: Idylls of the Kings is open at Chambers Fine Art until December 19, 2015.
GAMA was born in Mongolia in 1977 and currently lives and works in Berlin. Raised in a traditional nomadic family, GAMA and his parents would move every four months as the seasons changed. His great aunt was an important shaman whose ability to connect with the supernatural world had a profound impact on the young boy. He eventually enrolled at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing where he studied oil painting. Finding that the prevailing academic approach did not satisfy him, he started looking at the works of European Old Masters in art books and pondering the works of contemporary German painters such as Georg Baselitz, Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter. When we look at GAMA’s paintings we are never allowed to forget that an oil painting is just that – oil paint squeezed from a tube and applied thickly or thinly on a primed canvas. Very often the main image which does not quite reach the edge of the canvas is surrounded by a thick layer of paint, leaving the impression that it could be peeled off to reveal a blank canvas. Elsewhere, dripping accumulations of paint question the illusion of three dimensional spaces.