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What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week

With its title stuttering and dissolving amid heavy strokes of blue and black, “Gobbledygook” (2015) covers a lot of ground: painting, talking, thinking. In white on red, “Drool” (2016) messily enumerates synonyms for nonsense, while its title summons the liquidity of both paint and aged mouths. The white-on-black “Amazing!” (2015) has some of the orderliness of previous work, except that its stack of superlatives (“Cool!” “OMG!”) is contradicted at the bottom with “Shut Up!” There’s a more haywire, if identically titled version in white on red.

As if by way of explanation, one canvas repeats the words of a well-known Conceptual work by the artist, “Language Is Not Transparent”; another elaborates thoughtfully on a quote from Cézanne.

I miss the unequivocal frontality of the earlier paintings, with their blustering walls of words. There are adolescent moments here (dollar signs and exclamation points) and paint handling that resembles Abstract Expressionist do-overs. But Mr. Bochner seems intent on freeing his brush the same way he previously freed his tongue, and id. He is approaching his late 70s, forging ahead.



Andrea Joyce Heimer’s 2017 painting of a meteor shower over a baseball game in Great Falls, Mont., on view at the Nicelle Beauchene Gallery.

Courtesy of the artist and Nicelle Beauchene Gallery


Through June 25. Nicelle Beauchene, 327 Broome Street, Manhattan; 212-375-8043, nicellebeauchene.com.

Andrea Joyce Heimer makes small acrylic paintings of scenes from her adolescence and gives them long, narrative titles, which have been written directly onto the walls at Nicelle Beauchene gallery. These titles could pass for flash fiction, but the paintings, with their marbled colors, eccentric drawing style and razor-sharp edges, have an unfiltered excess of detail. What holds them together is their insight into the incongruity of early memories. Here, a house may retain its suggestion of depth while living people freeze in the midst of typical moments, and incidents linked by meandering chains of association all seem to happen at once.

None of the pieces in “Storied,” her show at this gallery, quite hit home as intended, because none are equally strong in both word and image. But many of the words and images can stand alone.

The best painting is of a meteor shower over a baseball game in Great Falls, Mont., where the artist was born: Beefy, half-naked players with tiny heads look up from a diamond that resembles a Roman galley, gazing at plunging orange tails in an oversaturated sky. And the most incisive title, which describes a picture of four naked men destroying a topsy-turvy house, with trailing potted vines and M. C. Escher stairs, goes like this: “The Johnson Boys Used to Set Off Fireworks in Their Mother’s Home, Which Was Too Nice for Them, While We, Who Were Too Nice for the Johnson Boys, Pined Over Them Fiercely From Afar. They Didn’t Know We Existed.”



“Let’s Stay in the Dark on This One” (2017), by Shara Hughes.

Courtesy of the artist and Rachel Uffner Gallery, New York


Through June 25. Rachel Uffner, 170 Suffolk Street, Lower East Side; 212-274-0064, racheluffnergallery.com.

While a large portion of the recent Whitney Biennial included art meant to provoke and disturb, Shara Hughes’s paintings, hung in a windowless room at the museum, provided an oasis of brilliant color and welcoming abstract worlds. Ms. Hughes’s current show, aptly titled “Same Space Different Day” at Rachel Uffner, is also installed in a windowless room and the paintings are lush, captivating, jubilant and somewhat utopian. In both places, however, the window is similarly present as metaphor, art historical reference and compositional device.

Like a number of her peers — including Heidi Howard, Sanya Kantarovsky and Ga Hee Park — Ms. Hughes draws heavily from the fin de siècle traditions of Art Nouveau, Fauvism and German Expressionism. The sinuous lines of Edvard Munch, the broken brush strokes of Seurat and wild color of Matisse and Franz Marc — and a heavy dose of Charles Burchfield’s visionary approach to landscape — loom large.

Ms. Hughes’s contribution to the present is vital because she combines these historical traditions with current ones, reminding viewers of contemporary windows, like the paired windows of subway doors; operating systems on computers with their movable, collapsible windows; and the captivating surfaces of tablet and smartphone screens. (A couple of these paintings, as well as her drawings in the gallery’s upstairs space, function as analog versions of David Hockney’s iPad drawings.) There are plenty of nods to historical precedents, and yet Ms. Hughes’s paintings look spontaneous and unaffected, as if, paradoxically, she has done no homework at all.



Paintings on fabric by Claude Viallat are in the inaugural show for the American branch of Ceysson & Bénétière.

2017 Claude Viallat/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; and Ceysson & Bénétière


Through July 15. Ceysson & Bénétière, 956 Madison Avenue, Manhattan; 646-678-3717, ceyssonbenetiere.com.

The 20 paintings on fabric here by Claude Viallat, rigorously composed yet teeming with chromatic invention, may add up to the most significant postwar art history lesson in town this summer. It is the inaugural show for the American branch of Ceysson & Bénétière, which opened in Saint-Étienne, France, in 2006, and also has spaces in Paris, Geneva and Luxembourg.

Mr. Viallat, born in 1936, is one of the founding artists of Supports/Surfaces, a deep-thinking movement of abstract painters that arose in the South of France in 1969 and that has had pitifully little exposure in the United States. They embraced poststructuralist philosophy not by giving up on painting, as many Americans did in the 1970s, but by treating stretchers and fabrics and pigments as their own subjects of investigation. Mr. Viallat accomplished that by repeating a single abstract form — a nameless shape somewhere between an amoeba and a smooshed pillow — over and over, for decades, on wildly diverse supports: fabric and newspaper, a sliced-up tent, a stretched umbrella, a chintzy fringed tablecloth. In this way his most relevant counterpart from the United States may be Robert Ryman, though while the American emphasized his paintings’ unorthodox supports by purging color, Mr. Viallat soaks his tarps and parasols with brushy strokes in a bright, Matissean range of blues and yellows, pinks and whites.

The early examples — the first one here is from 1967 — are more composed and symmetric; in recent years, Mr. Viallat’s palette has grown decidedly jarring, though the same amoeboid form is still there, overlaying paisley swatches and sacks of fertilizer. It is glorious and timely to see them here, and not only because New York is undergoing a revival in abstract painting; one should always question stories of painting that put America first.


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