Filed under Around Town with Tom Wolf

Tom’s Picks

Stephen G. Rhodes, Untitled, 2010

You could have a rewarding contemporary art viewing trip to New York city this month and just see shows by artists affiliated with Bard.  One of the hottest rising art stars on the scene at the moment is Stephen G. Rhodes (BFA 1999) whose current show at Metro Pictures (519 West 24th, through March 5) is an exhilarating mixture of chaos and control, ostensibly inspired by the philosophy and biography of Emmanuel Kant.  You enter through a ramshackle hallway festooned with crudely nailed and propped up pieces of wood, hanging vitrines with graffitied clown posters, assorted books, and shelves supporting found objects.  They lead to and from the central gallery that houses four projectors.  Fast cut sequences are projected on each wall, featuring, among other things, two guys in long blonde wigs engaged in various acts of creation and destruction:  typing on an old fashioned electric typewriter with porn images attached, dragging mugs noisily along rocky paths, setting strips of substance on fire on the floor, walking angrily on the side of a road, etc., etc.  The anarchic randomness and destruction has a wild sort of humor, and is accompanied by a loud sound track that amplifies the chaotic action on the screens.  The show is accompanied by a translation of a passage from Kant “by” Rhodes which reads as if he ran the passage through a shoddy internet translation program and printed the results:  “Doctors and logicians have for some time the opinion of the human head table is simply a drum sound that’s like nothing there.”

On the Lower East Side another Bard alum rising art star, Zak Kitnik, (Studio Art ’07), has 3 pieces in the front of a 3-artist show at Rachel Uffner Gallery (Orchard Street, through Feb. 20).  Cooler and more ironic than Rhodes, Kitnik loves to rephrase modernist geometric abstraction in post-modern ways.  The dominant work here is a construction hanging from the ceiling almost to the floor.  It’s made of thick rectangular pieces of transparent plastic suspended horizontally in tension by a complex set of wires and anchors; the support mechanism is more visually present than the material it supports.  Two other Kitnik pieces, a collage and another 3D work, are significantly different from this one, but share its purist geometry.

Across the street at the Lesley Heller Gallery (54 Orchard Street, through Feb. 20) is a 4 person show, Fractured Earth, that features Bard’s two graphic arts instructors:  Nicola Lopez exhibits dynamic printed constructions of angular modernist architecture, and Lothar Osterburg shows spooky scenes of imaginary architecture rendered in gorgeous photogravure.  While at Lesley Heller don’t miss the back gallery, which usually features a stunning, coloristically vibrant painting by Ken Buhler.

Not angry enough for you?  Walk down a couple of blocks and see/read the Readykeulous show of art and text pieces by the lesbian collective at Invisible-Exports (14A Orchard Street, through Feb. 13), including works by Bard painting prof Nicole Eisenmann and former Bard prof Louise Fishman.