Michaël Borremans at Zeno X Gallery
Antwerp, 28 January 2021
Michaël Borremans, The Pope (2020). Oil on canvas. 60 x 40 cm.⁠ Courtesy Zeno X Gallery.

Michaël Borremans is one of the most exciting contemporary artists working today.

Represented by Zeno X Gallery in Belgium, his solo show Coloured Cones is currently exhibiting at their space in Antwerp until 20 February.⁠

Coloured Cones was a product of his time in lockdown in his studio outside Ghent. Not able to work from models, these still-life works were conjured from various coloured and shaped satin fabric samples found in his studio—the choice of fabric a nod to sitters' clothing in Western portrait paintings. ⁠

In conversation with Ocula Magazine contributor Diana d'Arenberg prior to his 2018 solo show at David Zwirner Hong Kong, Borremans spoke of the figures in his portraits resembling a still life; posed, passive, and frozen, creating an atmosphere of suspense. ⁠

What makes the works in this exhibition so interesting is how each individual satin cone takes on a character of its own, becoming portraits in their own right.

The Pope, pictured here, is an ode to Velaquez's renowned portrait of Pope Innocent X produced circa 1650. ⁠


More in Advisory Picks

Andrej Dubravsky at LAUNCH F1
New York, 27 January 2021
Andrej Dubravsky, Big black caterpillar in the sky (2020). Acrylic and oil pastel on canvas. 143 x 137 cm. ⁠Courtesy the artist and Dittrich & Schlechtriem.

Andrej Dubravsky is a brilliant young painter living and working in Rastislavice, Slovakia.

The artist is represented by Berlin-based gallery Dittrich & Schlechtriem and LAUNCH F18, where his New York debut show Friendly Slav is currently showing until 6 February. ⁠

Reinventing the subjects of Old Masters, Dubravsky paints scenes of adolescent boys, idyllic landscapes, and animal portraits that express his reflective journey through adolescence in understanding the discourse of male identity and sexuality.⁠

Dubravsky's recent works focus on the natural world, specifically the paradox of the caterpillar's anatomy through the magnified lens. When seeing these creatures, any initial feeling of fright or repulsion is quickly replaced with an appreciation for their beautiful yet vulnerable forms. ⁠

This young artist's use of effervescent layers of colour is what really catches the eye, recalling the alchemical paintings of Sigmar Polke.

He Xiangyu at Andrew Kreps Gallery
New York, 22 January 2021
He Xiangyu, Hard Palate 20-2 (2020). Pencil, Japanese ink, coloured pencil, oil coloured pencil, oil stick, crayon on paper. 660 x 522 cm. ⁠Courtesy the artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York.

Running from 15 January to 21 February 2021, Soft Dilemma is He Xiangyu's first solo show both at Andrew Kreps Gallery and in the U.S. ⁠

Living and working between Beijing and Berlin, He Xiangyu's conceptual works are spaces of exploration into his personal and political experiences. ⁠

Hard Palate 20-2 is part of his ongoing series named 'Palate Project'. Xiangyu began this series in response to the language barrier he encountered after relocating to the U.S. in 2012, and the subsequent difficulty he experienced in navigating his new surroundings. ⁠

Swathes of black Japanese ink form the backdrop of this work, while coloured pencil and crayon is both scrubbed or, in parts, worked in softly to create Xiangyu's undulating forms.

This repetitive and meditative process reflects the movements of his tongue on his palate and the various possibilities as a result of this. ⁠

Louise Bourgeois at Tarmak22
Gstaad, 21 January 2021
Louise Bourgeois, Untitled (No.7) (1993). Bronze silver nitrate patina. 12 x 69 x 43 cm. ⁠ © The Eastern Foundation / 2020, ProLitteris, Zurich. ⁠Courtesy The Eastern Foundation and Hauser & Wirth.⁠

On view both online and at the exhibition space Tarmak22 in Gstaad, Hauser & Wirth present a selection of sculptures and drawings by the brilliant Louise Bourgeois. ⁠

The Heart Has Its Reasons running until 3 February, exhibits works that explore the emotional and psychological aspects of Bourgeois' life from 1949 until the year before her death in 2010.⁠

An ode to safety and a couple's happiness, a house sits upon one of the arms in Untitled (No.7), pictured here. Gleaned from experiences of love, family, and memory, many sculptures were borne of a therapeutic process in the wake of her tumultuous childhood. ⁠

Bourgeois' understanding that rational explanation is eluded as a result of our emotional and psychological experience of the Other, was a product of the teachings of Blaise Pascal who she ⁠came across while studying at the Sorbonne, Paris.⁠

As Pascal once said, 'The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing'.⁠ —[O]

Raoul De Keyser at David Zwirner
Hong Kong, 19 January 2021
Raoul De Keyser, Across (2000/2009). © Raoul De Keyser / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SABAM, Belgium. Courtesy Family Raoul De Keyser and David Zwirner.

The first exhibition in Asia of work by the brilliant Raoul De Keyser recently opened at David Zwirner Hong Kong. ⁠

Viewing a work of De Keyser's, one can't help notice his lightness of touch and almost deliberately evasive manner.

Although gleaned from a deeply personal perspective of reality, his works can be understood as an improvisation, one of repeated editing, which can be seen in the pencil marks underneath the pink daubs of paint in Across (2000/2009) pictured here.⁠

Despite this avoidance of any formal discourse, De Keyser managed to carve out a distinct visual language that marked him out as a truly unique voice and one that had the utmost influence on a host of younger painters including fellow Belgian superstar, Luc Tuymans and Turner Prize winner Tomma Abts.⁠ —[O]

Katja Seib at dépendance
Brussels, 15 January 2021
Katja Seib, Medusa in vain (2020). Courtesy the artist and dépendence, Brussels; Sadie Coles HQ, London. Photo: Elon Schoenholz.⁠

Katja Seib's exhibition, Happy Endings Don't Bore Me—her first at dépendance, Brussels—closes this week.⁠

Seib is one of the most exciting young painters living and working in Los Angeles, where she is represented by Château Shatto. She also shows with Sadie Coles HQ in London and her work was recently included in Made in L.A. 2020: a version at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.⁠

Seib's paintings shift between reality and illusion, often enveloping casual everyday scenes or intimate moments with surreal imagery that transforms them into strangely psychological works. ⁠

In this painting, Medusa in vain (2020), the Greek mythological figure looks into a mirror. A tear falls off her cheek appearing to merge with the pearls of her necklace. It was said that those who gazed into her eyes, turned into stone.—[O]

Reggie Burrows Hodges at Karma
New York, 09 January 2021
Reggie Burrows Hodges, Community Concern (2020). Courtesy Karma.

After showing some beautiful works on paper at the online version of Art Basel Miami Beach in December, a solo show of paintings opens in New York today, complete with a fully illustrated catalogue including a text by the great Hilton Als.

Hodges begins his paintings with a black ground. Acrylic and pastel are then added over the top in scumbled warm tones, blocks of vivid colour, and sharply drawn lines.

The faces are often left as outlined forms, as are the often bare legs or arms, transforming them into silhouettes magnificently set against a richly colourful palette. In Community Concern (2020), Hodges' masterful use of colour creates a deeply atmospheric and timeless image of a dancing figure.

Born in Compton, California in 1965, Hodges now lives and works in Maine.

Julie Mehretu at Marian Goodman Gallery
New York, 08 January 2021
Julie Mehretu, Conversion (S.M. del Popolo/after C.) (2019–2020). © Julie Mehretu. Courtesy the artist.

One of the standout gallery exhibitions last year was Julie Mehretu's about the space of half an hour at Marian Goodman Gallery in New York (2 November–23 December 2020).

Mehretu will be the subject of a major mid-career survey at The Whitney Museum of American Art from 25 March to 8 August 2021.

Pictured here is Mehretu's Conversion (S.M. del Popolo/after C.) (2019–2020) from her exhibition at Marian Goodman Gallery.

In Mehretu's recent conversation with Fawz Kabra in Ocula Magazine, she charts the development of her practice:

'In my work, the language of abstraction has evolved. Painting evolves slowly. But through years of working and mark-making, how I think about space, surface, the marks, and what can happen in a painting has transformed.'

Mehretu's paintings are visceral, time-bending journeys that evoke unnerving memories and sensations from deep within our subconscious.—[O]

Paul Chan at Greene Naftali
New York, 06 January 2021
Paul Chan, neuartig (anew) (2020). Ink on paper. Paper: 126.7 x 97.5 cm; Frame: 134.9 x 105.7 x 4.4 cm. Courtesy Greene Naftali.
Paul Chan, die Galerie (gallery) (2020). Ink on paper. Paper: 126.7 x 97.5 cm; Frame: 134.9 x 105.7 x 4.4 cm. Courtesy Greene Naftali.
Paul Chan, der Quatsch, quatschig (nonsense, nonsensical) (2020). Ink on paper. Paper: 126.7 x 97.5 cm; Frame: 134.9 x 105.7 x 4.4 cm. Courtesy Greene Naftali.
Paul Chan, Spekulieren (to speculate) (2020). Ink on paper Paper: 381 x 243.8 cm each; Frames: 393.7 x 134.6 x 7.6 cm each. Courtesy Greene Naftali.

'I like drawing with my left hand because it feels as if different stakes about what matters on paper became visible to me. Maybe that's all we're ever looking for in making any work: new ways to see the stakes that matter.'

Paul Chan explains his approach to the drawings he has made in response to reading about Ludwig Wittgenstein's text book, Wörterbuch, compiled through his experience teaching children in rural Austria in 1921.⁠

As the U.K. goes back into another lockdown, we were reminded of Paul Chan's exhibition at the end of last year. Going back to basics to re-learn how to view the world, Chan's work draws interesting parallels to the Covid-19 pandemic that restricted so much of modern activity.⁠

Paul Chan's solo exhibition, Drawings for Word Book by Ludwig Wittgenstein, showed at Greene Naftali from 6 November to 19 December 2020.

Elisa Sighicelli at 55 Walker Street
New York, 17 December 2020
Elisa Sighicelli, Untitled (3333) (2020). Courtesy the artist, Andrew Kreps Gallery, Bortolami Gallery, and kaufmann repetto. ⁠

Elisa Sighicelli's new photographs on satin are showing in a joint exhibition hosted by Andrew Kreps Gallery, Bortolami Gallery, and kaufmann repetto in New York.

These works are heavily influenced by Carla Accardi's sicofoil paintings from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Both artists push the boundaries of their respective mediums, manipulating light and space to create abstract images that hover between the illusory and material.

The strict formal qualities of these works by Elisa Sighicelli firmly roots them within a conceptual framework, but their playfulness and startling beauty is magical.⁠

Modernist Sculpture Highlights at December Auctions
14 December 2020
Alexander Calder, Mariposa (1951). Sheet metal, rod and paint.⁠ Courtesy Sotheby's.
Isamu Noguchi, Light Sculpture (Lunar) (1943).⁠ Magnesite, plastic, electric components and wood.⁠ Courtesy Christie's.
Ruth Asawa, Untitled (S.045, Hanging Five-Lobed, Multilayered Continuous Form within a Form, with Spheres in the First, Second and Third Lobes) (Executed circa early 1960s).⁠ Courtesy Philips.

Sculptures by Alexander Calder, Isamu Noguchi, and Ruth Asawa all demonstrated market confidence in high-quality works. Each of these iconic artists used their own seductive visual language to play with form, surface, and the movement of light.⁠⠀

Alexander Calder, Mariposa (1951) sold for $18,188,400 at Sotheby's, Isamu Noguchi, Light Sculpture (Lunar) (1943) sold for $562,500 at Christie's, and Ruth Asawa, Untitled (S.045, Hanging Five-Lobed, Multilayered Continuous Form within a Form, with Spheres in the First, Second and Third Lobes) (Executed circa early 1960s), sold for $3,539,000 at Phillips.

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