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Three to see: New York

Raymond Pettibon and Olafur Eliasson round out our list

Three to see: New York
Cacao sculpture by the Congolese Plantation Workers Art League. Photo courtesy of Sculpture Center
The work of the Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (Congolese Plantation Workers Art League), a collective founded in 2014, is on view at the Sculpture Center in an eponymous exhibition (until 27 March). The group’s sculptures are modeled in clay in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 3D scanned and moulded in the Netherlands in chocolate—a luxury many in the African nation have never tasted, despite exporting raw cacao. The sculptures of human figures include powerful depictions of the lives of the artists and their families. One work, How My Grandfather Survived (2015) by Cedrick Tamasala, references the priest who saved his grandfather as a child and the cultural destruction of colonial missionaries. 

Olafur Eliasson: the Listening Dimension at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery (until 22 April) presents mostly new sculptures, installations and paintings by the Danish artist that explore light, movement and perception. The exhibition marks his first solo show in New York in five years and spans two floors. Some works, including an immersive installation in the main space created from mirrored surfaces and curved structures, aim to disorient the viewer by creating an atmosphere where perception and sense of direction is distorted. “The show emerged against the backdrop of the 2016 elections”, the artist says in a press release. “At a time when oversimplification is everywhere, I believe that art trains our critical capacities for perceiving and interpreting the world”.

If the only Raymond Pettibon work you're familiar with is his cover for the Sonic Youth Record Goo, you're in for a treat. Raymond Pettibon: a Pen of All Work at the New Museum (until 9 April), a trenchant retrospective, is a tidal wave of counterculture, drugs, perversity, self-loathing and Marcel Proust—to say nothing of a room of giant surf paintings, pacific even on the level of Frederic Edwin Church. Maybe the works depicting George W. Bush feel a little hollow under the Trump regime, but that is the only problem. In one room, Gumby makes tender love to a bookish friend while, on another floor, a naked-except-for-his-cape Superman uses his phone booth to ask Batman for a loan. "Good prose is of no harm," reads a sign on the museum's top floor and Pettibon's work is full of good prose. "I am not fin de siecle enough for her!" says a man with his head in his hands in another work. Ogle some Black Flag fliers and remember more innocent times.

• Click here for a complete list of previously recommended New York shows

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