Bloomberg News

Faded Hotels, Swizzle Sticks, Gilbert & George: Hot Art

February 06, 2013

'High Blue Country'

"High Blue Country" (2012) by Anj Smith. The small work is extremely detailed. Source: Anj Smith/Hauser & Wirth via Bloomberg

In Enoc Perez’s large-scale paintings, images of grand hotels seem to disintegrate amid accumulating paint.

In “The Good Days,” his second solo show at Acquavella Galleries, the New York-based artist revisits modern architecture of his native San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Perez is known for giving landmark buildings the iconic treatment Andy Warhol reserved for celebrities. He started about a decade ago, with buildings whose history and names -- Normandie, El Miramar, La Concha -- alluded to his country’s colonial past.

Back then, seductively textured images were crisp and easily identifiable. The new paintings are a lot more abstract. Densely layered oil paint obliterates the buildings’ solid structure, leaving behind only ghostly silhouettes. Perez’s former tropical palette has given way to pastels.

The show also introduces Perez’s first sculptures, inspired by his collection of swizzle sticks, many from the hotels he paints. The tiny trivia are cast on a much larger scale -- one piece is more than 6 feet tall.

The lanky, knobby formations -- some bronze, others plaster -- also look abstract and figurative at once, alluding to Giacometti and Twombly.

Prices range from $180,000 to $250,000 for paintings and $30,000 to $75,000 for sculptures. The show runs through Feb. 9 at 18 E. 79th St. +1-212-734-6300; http://www.acquavellagalleries.com/.

Small and Meticulous

At Hauser & Wirth, Anj Smith’s paintings are unusual for a contemporary art show: Small and meticulous, some evoke the past and share features with Renaissance portraits.

“The Moon, Like a Flower” depicts a girl in profile with blond hair and pale skin, reminiscent of Botticelli’s Venus. In “High Blue Country,” a red-haired girl with a melancholy look is set on a black background, her head bent to one side.

As you get closer, unexpected details appear, transporting the viewer from the appearance of early portraiture to what could be the illustration of an enchanted children’s tale.

In “High Blue Country,” thin branches grow from the girl’s chest and green leaves from her hair. Insects wander around her shoulder. In “Portrait of a Girl in Glass,” a monkey with a striped tail is camouflaged in the girl’s shirt.

Prices range from $50,000 to $90,000. “Anj Smith: The Flowering of Phantoms” runs through Feb. 23 at 32 E. 69th St. Information: +1-212-794-4970; http://www.hauserwirth.com.

Text Art

The Madison Avenue building housing Gagosian Gallery is now the temporary home of a show co-curated by Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld, son of former Vogue Paris Editor-in-Chief Carine Roitfeld, and Christine Messineo, director of Chelsea’s Bortolami Gallery.

“Merci Mercy,” titled after a 1999 Louise Bourgeois wall relief, brings together more than 40 works that revolve around text. The lineup includes emerging and established names, including Pier Paolo Calzolari, Tracey Emin, Tom Sachs and Ed Ruscha.

Jenny Holzer, famous for her bright LED signs, makes a subtler use of words in her oils on linen on view in the show. She screened on canvases some American governmental documents and then painted over them, leaving just a few barely visible words like “Top Secret.”

Tarot Cards

On the opposite end of the room, the curators placed Gilbert & George’s 2011 panel “Lover” next to a work by Sophie Calle in which the artist shows four tarot cards meant to interpret a letter in which her boyfriend breaks up with her.

“We thought it was funny to play around with the Gilbert & George painting, in which lovers are being accused, judged, killed,” Roitfeld said. “There was an interesting theme going on between the two pieces.”

Prices range from $5,000 to $900,000. The show runs through Feb. 17 at 980 Madison Ave. Information: +1-212-228-5555.

(Katya Kazakina and Lili Rosboch write for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are their own.)

Muse highlights include Ryan Sutton on dining, Patrick Cole on jazz.

To contact the reporters on this story: Katya Kazakina in New York at kkazakina@bloomberg.net; Lili Rosboch in New York erosboch2@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.


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