Smart Arts: Chelsea Crawl

Even with art dealers sprouting up on the Bowery and Chinatown en masse, Chelsea still has a major gallery infestation on its hands (300+!). Most buildings in the 20’s west of 10th Avenue are teeming with slick, white showrooms laden with smart art. Whilst in the meatpacking district, consider strolling north to one of the more interesting exhibitions that will be up during Fashion Week.

The blockbuster du jour is Doug Wheeler’s “Into the Heart of Lightness” show at David Zwirner on West 19th Street. Wheeler, an artist who works strictly with light and space, has created a virtual, what he calls, “infinity environment”— a pure white room with no surfaces or hard angles, suffused with light such that it’s a limitless-feeling space where the eye cannot catch hold of any orientating details. Go early: there’s been known to be a disorientingly long line to get in.

Around the corner, at Anton Kern Gallery on West 20th Street, the Berlin-based painter Sergei Jensen toys with different fabrics as surrogate canvases. Jensen takes used silk, burlap, and textiles of all textures in between, and paints abstract forms according to the marks of wear and usage that exist in each piece.

Both of Gagosian Gallery’s Chelsea outposts, like all 11 scattered around the globe, are doing spots now — very valuable spots painted by Damien Hirst. In 25 years Hirst has spotified more than 300 canvases, and when you visit the ones at West 21st or 24st Street… you can contemplate oh so many things about the world we live in.

On the opposite end of the gallery food chain, Stadium on West 28th Street has their second-ever exhibition up: a group exhibition on the poetics of stock images, with works by Yngve Holen, Oliver Laric, Sean Raspet, and Rachel Reupke. Raspet’s evolving compendium of imagery takes form here emblazoned on a pile of coffee cups.

303 Gallery on West 21st Street is presenting a show by the young artist Nick Mauss, who will be included in the 2012 Whitney Biennial opening at the end of the month. Mauss raids his personal archive of images and prints them onto aluminum sheets spread about the room, and along with abstractly glazed ceramic tablets, the artist seeks to explore the peculiar hues of alienation one can experience when looking at something personal or familiar.

On Thursday, Andrea Rosen Gallery will open a thoughtful group show of works by Hanne Darboven,* Josephine Meckseper, Allen Ruppersberg, and Alexandre Singh. The title is “Cultural Production,” and the idea is that many conceptually driven art practices today package their product as installation. Case in point, Meckseper’s vitrines and other sculptures critique and subvert not only the operations of consumerism, but also the parallel behavior of empiricism.

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