Shannon Cartier Lucy’s luminous scenes of unease; Manoucher Yektai’s lyrical impasto works; and Dread Scott’s “Slave Rebellion Reenactment.”
Through Nov. 14. Lubov, 5 East Broadway, Ste. 402, Manhattan. 347-496-5833; lubov.nyc.
When the Nashville-born artist Shannon Cartier Lucy, who had earlier success with a conceptual practice, re-emerged last year after a decade-long absence from the art world, it was with a crisp, realistic style. This show is her second at Lubov, a small gallery in a worn walk-up in Chinatown whose office space remnants make it seem as though the previous tenants absconded in the middle of the night. The setting adds to the through-the-looking-glass quality of Lucy’s paintings.
Luminous scenes of unease — a girl eating with uncomfortably overlarge flatware; a nurse inspecting a dose of huckleberries, her face veiled behind a scrim; a self-portrait of the artist after falling face first, somehow still seated in a dining chair — suggest traumas reanimated into new shapes. A vague dread is softened by a delicate palette, like a warm bath drawn at a séance. Obliqueness is presented as a matter of course, as in “A New Pack,” four pairs of white cotton briefs spread with obsessive precision across a threadbare rug. Emily Dickinson’s “After great pain, a formal feeling comes” would be an appropriate accompaniment (“The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –”).
A claustrophobic air fills the frames, as in “Loblolly Pine,” a pine cone suspended in a drinking glass, the mouth of which is sealed by someone’s palm, equal parts suffocation and divination. All the pictures here occur in a domestic setting, and their action knocks against the oppressiveness of their interior walls. The clarity of Lucy’s imagery is troubled by an emotional murkiness that may read as evasive or hard to parse, but no more so than the daily business of living, and making sense of it.
Through Nov. 13. Karma, 188 & 172 East Second Street, Manhattan. 212-390-8290, karmakarma.org.
The Tehran-born painter Manoucher Yektai came to New York in 1945 and had his first solo show at Grace Borgenicht Gallery in the early 1950s. With the exception of a couple of extended stays in Paris, he stayed here, painting, until his death at age 97 in 2019. A large survey of his oils at Karma, in the East Village, includes canvases from just after that first solo show till 2002, and all the way through, you can watch him wrestle with the still life. Taking elements from Abstract Expressionism without ever quite letting representation go, he simplifies, exaggerates and twists fruit and flowers almost to the breaking point. One untitled piece from circa 1961 struck me first as a cartoon fairy snowball fight, with multicolored circles and force lines zigzagging in all directions.
He also lays on paint so thick that its casts shadows, further upsetting your sense of scale. In his 1976 “Still Life With Cantaloupe,” a white vase outlined in blue sits on a bloody pink table, against a tan curtain, holding up a cluster of broad green strokes. In a bowl nearby are a dozen fruits as brightly and distinctly colored as Crayola crayons. Impasto this extreme usually comes with a kind of sensuality, but in this case, the overall effect is distinctly dry. Yektai left sections of blank canvas to either side of his figure, and even the paint itself, unvarnished and scraped energetically across the surface, feels strangely ascetic.
Through Dec. 18. Cristin Tierney Gallery, 219 Bowery, second floor, Manhattan; (212) 594-0550, cristintierney.com.
Over the course of two days in November 2019, hundreds of Black people marched 24 miles from LaPlace to New Orleans for freedom. They weren’t protesting — or maybe they were, in a way, as participants in a socially engaged performance art piece called “Slave Rebellion Reenactment.” Masterminded by the artist Dread Scott, the piece was a recreation of the 1811 German Coast Uprising, a revolt by hundreds of enslaved people in the Territory of Orleans (which became Louisiana). It was the largest slave uprising in U.S. history, but many Americans know nothing about it. With his ambitious work, Scott — who uses art to stage confrontations with the realities of injustice — tried to reclaim it.
“Slave Rebellion Reenactment” is making its gallery debut as an exhibition titled after one of the marchers’ chants: “We’re Going to End Slavery. Join Us!” The show is too small to properly represent such a formidable project, but the six large-scale photographs and three handmade flags on view offer a glimpse of the performance’s power. We see Black re-enactors in period costumes moving with passionate determination. Such pictures of Black resistance and liberation seem to fill a historical gap, as a type of image too rarely circulated in public. Yet in some photos, the march is set against a modern backdrop of highways and oil refineries — pieces of infrastructure often built expressly to harm communities of color and perpetuate racism. They serve as stark reminders that while slavery may have ended, it will take much more work and imagination to dismantle its legacy.
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