Three exhibitions to see in New York this weekend

From the New Museum Triennial to 52 Walker, David Zwirner’s new outpost

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Ambera Wellman, Strobe (2021). Photo: Dario Lasagni.

Ambera Wellman, Strobe (2021). Photo: Dario Lasagni.

2021 New Museum Triennial: Soft Water Hard Stone
Until 23 January 2022 at the New Museum, 235 Bowery, Manhattan

The New Museum’s fifth triennial exhibition loosely draws its theme from the Brazilian proverb “água mole em pedra dura, tanto bate até que fura”, or “soft water on hard stone hits until it bores a hole”. While some pieces explicitly reference the idea—like Gabriela Mureb’s motorised sculpture Machine #4: Stone (Ground) (2017), in which a metal rod hits a stone’s surface, slowly degrading it—the main highlights of the exhibition defy thematic categorisation. The Canadian artist Ambera Wellman’s monumental painting Strobe (2021) is rapturous, masterfully blending figuration and abstraction to create atmospheric, Boschian microcosms. Likewise, the Austrian artist Angelika Loderer’s Untitled (Ribbons) (2021) is a visually arresting negative sculpture comprised of suspended aluminum forms cast from underground mole tunnels. The sinuous work is weighed down by coloured molding sand, a product used in bronze casting composed of small crystals that can appear solid when packed together, a metaphor for the unstable nature of what might appear to be everlasting.

Installation view of Kandis Williams: A Line at 52 Walker. Courtesy 52 Walker.

Kandis Williams: A Line
Until 8 January 2022 at 52 Walker, 52 Walker Street, Manhattan

The anticipated kunsthalle-style gallery 52 Walker, programmed by Ebony L. Haynes and operated by David Zwirner, has opened with an exhibition of new works by the Los Angeles-based artist Kandis Williams. The works consider race and gender issues relevant to Black dancers in mainstream culture, exploring the legacy of past Black dancers and dance history through a variety of media, including video installations, assemblage, collages and sculptures. Her choreographic work, which corresponds with photographs also on view in the exhibition, considers the dualism of Blackness and the multifacetedness of performance, raising questions around how Black movement is perceived, encountered and accepted by society in relation to ballet and modern dance. The gallery will be releasing a publication featuring contributions by Haynes, the artist and writer Hannah Black and a conversation between Williams and choreographer Okwui Okpokwasili.

Tanya Merrill, The Last Fish on Earth (2021). Courtesy 303 Gallery.

Tanya Merrill
Until 18 December at 303 Gallery, 555 W 21st Street, Manhattan

The New York-based artist Tanya Merrill creates paintings that embody a gestural, Impressionistic quality that is at once elegant and cartoonish. Earth tones colour this body of work, with each piece building upon the next to convey a mythos of the natural world. The show is both conceptually and visually provocative, with the artist making use of her signature poetic humour. Taking inspiration from science, popular culture and history, Merrill constructs a folklore that leads the viewer from creation toward evolutionary demise. “I look at these works from art history and I see our world’s trajectory more clearly,” Merrill says. “There is a record of what happened here, and how we got to this moment that feels so dire.”

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