Until August 13. Andrew Kreps, 22 Cortlandt Alley, Manhattan; (212) 741-8849, andrewkreps.com.
Corita Kent, also known as Sister Mary Corita, was quite famous for a nun. She headlined a 1967 Newsweek article on the State of the American Convent, and she worked on major commercial advertising campaigns to raise funds for her order’s Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles, where she taught the art. (Kent left the order in 1968 at the age of 50 and died in 1986.)
She was also a prolific artist. In screen-printed collages and textual art, she combined her passionate interest in social justice with a sort of seriousness for language and for her own creed, which is rare to come across anywhere, let alone in the world. art. (Maybe you could call it “good faith”.)
“Heroes and Sheroes” at Andrew Kreps Gallery is the first complete exhibition in New York in a Kent series produced in 1968 and 69. Using images found, mainly in the media, bright colors and often handwritten texts, Kent weathered the moral catastrophes of the decade – the Kennedy and King assassinations, the Vietnam War. It could juxtapose a VietCong guerrilla being arrested with a drawing of a slave ship and a few lines from a Whitman poem. Or she could place a simple picture of a flower above the sentence: “Hope is to believe that there must be an” I “in” daisy “. Either way, the effect is as direct and as devastating as a sledgehammer. .
The whole show, which is accompanied by a generous overview of other texts and media arts, is extraordinary. But the piece I kept coming back to was “Pieta 1969”, a Mardi Gras-colored study of Mary cradling the lifeless body of Jesus above a letter one of Kent’s students wrote to her about. by Robert Kennedy. “It’s so easy to fall apart when surrounded by destruction,” observed the student. “Now I can see what you meant when you said we have to create. It’s the only thing we can do.
Until July 30. Casey Kaplan Gallery. 121 West 27th Street, Manhattan; (212) 645-7335, caseykaplangallery.com.
South African artist Igshaan Adams grew up in the working-class township of Bonteheuwel, near Cape Town, during the twilight years of apartheid. Born a Muslim and raised by Christian grandparents, Adams, who is of mixed race, weaves visual elements of these traditions into dazzling combinations that illuminate their interconnected histories.
For her first solo show at the Casey Kaplan Gallery, “Veld Wen,” (“to gain ground” in Afrikaans), Adams presents 10 richly textured tapestries and nest-shaped wire sculptures which, like the shimmering assemblages of ‘El Anatsui, incorporate organic and synthetic wrecks. , including seashells, stones and nylon rope. Pinned loosely to the gallery walls, the tapestries bear abstract geometric patterns that often appear as maps, as with the archipelagic design of “Nagtreis op n Vliende Perd (a night trip on a winged horse)”, From 2021, with its midnight blue expanse studded with bright stars.
The inspiration for these patterns is the linoleum flooring of a typical Bonteheuwel house. Worn out over time and torn away, the floors blend stories in sedimented layers, producing palimpsests that Adams ingeniously transposed into warp and weft and sprinkled with shimmering metal chains and glass beads. Between these tapestries are knotted wire sculptures, suspended throughout the gallery like hanging tumbleweeds. They also trace a longer story, alluding to the clouds of dust made by the Nama people, including the artist’s grandparents, in a traditional celebratory performance known as the Rieldans. Adams invites viewers to simultaneously experience the craftsmanship and lineage of his works, demonstrating that an artist can successfully merge national and personal narrative without reducing the complexity of either.
Until August 8. Smack Mellon, 92 Plymouth Street, Brooklyn; (718) 834-8761, smackmellon.org.
With a recent tropical storm causing flooding on the east coast and a drought and heat wave in the west, it is more timely than ever to think about climate change. Three solo exhibitions at Smack Mellon tackle the subject, including my favorite, by Tammy Nguyen, uses painting and printmaking to emphasize how closely he is linked to capitalism and geopolitics.
Nguyen’s exhibition is entitled “Freehold»In reference to Forest City, a real estate development under construction on four man-made islands in Malaysia. Forest town is marketed as a tax-free, technologically advanced and environmentally friendly capitalist utopia. During the artist’s visit in 2019, a salesman told him: “No climate change here”.
Nguyen designed an unofficial flag for Forest City with a white circle – the sun – and 12 blue and green stripes that represent land and water in harmony. The flag anchors “Freehold” as a symbol of contrived, almost parodic calm, in contrast to the carefully orchestrated and wonderfully fascinating visual chaos of the rest of Nguyen’s work.
The figure and the background are hardly distinguishable in the prints and paintings by Nguyen. Instead, she creates raging meshes of images and techniques. In “Seasons of Revolution 1 – 4”, the flag is mixed with vegetation and various flora and fauna associated with recreation, such as shrimp; another series depicts archetypes: a Marlboro man, a spa-going jellyfish, and a King Kong-like monkey. In all of the rooms, various elements compete for primacy, but it’s the plants – more traditionally seen as backdrops – that seem to win out. Nguyen suggests that there is no such thing as “no climate change” and that if we try to beat nature we will eventually get there.