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Andrew Paul Woolbright

Andrew Paul Woolbright is an artist, gallerist, and Editor-at-Large at the Brooklyn Rail, living and working in Brooklyn, NY. Woolbright is an MFA graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design in painting and is the director of the Lower East Side Gallery Below Grand. He currently teaches at Pratt and School of Visual Arts in New York.

The Potential Worldings of the Kitbash

The artist and critic Jesse Murry described “a breath that makes possible another breath.” How can our movements allow for other movements? As artists, how can our practices extend space for others as much as it asks for space; and give language and poetry to others as much as it asks for those things. I’ve been told I wear many hats, and I want to address the why of it for the first time, while also bringing together a small vibrancy of others who share in strange navigations and similar obligations with me.

In Conversation

Spencer Sweeney with Andrew Woolbright

In early May, Spencer Sweeney’s exhibition Perfect opened at the Brant Foundation. The drawings and paintings that spanned across the two floors of the foundation represented fifteen years of work and achieved the depth and dimension of both a retrospective and a concert . When the energy finally settled from the opening, we talked in his studio, where I found myself surrounded by the same palpable excitement and energy captured at the Brant. Next to his drums and guitars, and flanked by a ring of booming paintings still in progress, we discussed the shared spaces of music and painting, how painting can be used to anticipate and store the energy of an announcement, and how self-portraits can hold the tension of contradictions to emanate and reflect the soul.

In Conversation

Oscar yi Hou with Andrew Woolbright

In Oscar’s portraiture, the experience is encrypted, withheld, intimate, kept private between the artist and the subject. It is elusive when it needs to be, inviting when it needs to be. It is a language of survival that Oscar has developed to mine and understand his own labor, and reflect the visage of the spectator back at them through mirrors. It holds an account, while finding moments of ceremony for communities and people that need it—deserve it.

Wave Pattern

As early as 1981, when Benjamin Buchloh published “Figures of Authority, Ciphers of Regression” in October, Neo-Expressionism and the concomitant resurgence of texture and pathos within painting was met with almost unanimous critical rejection.

Dr. Charles Smith

There’s an enchantment one feels with Dr. Charles Smith’s work. Whether it is the sheer expanse of his world building or the peculiar levity he has developed as an aesthetic, it can prove challenging to interpret his practice beyond the initial impact of its immersive charm.

Angel Otero: Swimming Where Time Was

There may be no better example of a product of Chicago’s transgression, specifically the ethos of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), than Angel Otero.

John Tursi: New Works

In John Tursi's New Works at Ricco/Maresca, the artist cultivates a sense of movement and psychedelic animation through dense repetition. Simple shapes are plaited into larger patterns that Tursi combines into machinic bodies. Each figure evokes pulsating Broadyway Boogie-Woogies of movement, that systematize the body into reeling conveyor belts of synapse.

Jan-Ole Schiemann: New Paintings

In New Paintings at Kasmin Gallery, Jan-Ole Schiemann utilizes a segmented compositional structure to annotate different modes of mark marking. The artist makes extensive use of pastiche within the gaps of the picture plane, in a process that disconnects signs from the literalness of representation.

Emmanuel Louisnord Desir: Ashes of Zion

In Emmanuel Louisnord Desir’s Ashes of Zion, painting and sculpture employ a skeuomorphic glitching of material to address biblical stories and collective histories. The work is remarkably attuned to the American vernacular, but the energy of it builds out of the artist’s ability to produce softness in the material resistance of wood. Desir gives us an allegorical metanarrative that begins with the garden and ends with the fall of Babylon.

Matthew Day Jackson: Against Nature

The Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual, a book on the work of Albert Bierstadt, René Daumal’s Mount Analogue, and Roy Gallant’s Our Universe are arranged along the front desk of Pace. While these books index the aesthetics of Matthew Day Jackson’s exhibition, it is Huysmans’s Against Nature that inspired the show’s title, and its protagonist, the isolated collector of extravagance Des Esseintes, who acts as its aegis.

Guim Tió: Roots

We see the figures that populate the settings of Guim Tió’s Roots far off. The artist evokes the unlearning that the land can do to our bodies—and the unforming of identity that happens when we find ourselves in foreign lands.

Rachel Wolf: My My My Tintals and Fishscales

While the archival impulse deals with the canon of majoritarian culture on its own terms and with its own language, provisional sculpture provides a visual alterity of the marginal that has always run parallel to it—a vibrant language of ordering and piecing together what has been broken.

Deborah Buck: Into the Wild: To Crash is Divine

Deborah Buck’s Into the Wild: To Crash is Divine at La Mama Galleria connects the thinking-through process of drawing to the loose shaping of crowds and identity. Buck’s work breaks down the boundaries between modes of cartooning and abstraction to operate as covert satire. Between her figurescapes and phase shifts of pastiche, Buck generates erased zones of gray that she then utilizes as an important formal resource. By revealing the trace and shadow of her expressive hand, she makes the evidence of her thinking and the provisional sense of communities her subject, allowing the shadows and index of drawing to form productive tension with flat color.

Judith Linhares: Banshee Sunrise

Banshee Sunrise, Linhare’s second solo exhibition with P.P.O.W., solidifies her painterly presence and influence, specifically the important connection she has been able to draw between the figure and Abstract Expressionism through a phenomenological turn within representational work since the late seventies and eighties.

Mala Iqbal: Shape Shifting in the Outer Boroughs and Its Effects on the Traveler’s Perception of the Midnight Sky

Iqbal concretizes the momentary but vivid perceptions of strangers we capture in crowds—the tangible effects of faces, of fading voices, of the colors and silhouettes of clothing—while recording the translucent uncertainty of sightings that our memory is unable to make more permanent.

Nicky Nodjoumi: We the Witnesses

What is exhaustible versus what is inexhaustible comes to mind in Nicky Nodjoumi’s We the Witnesses at Helena Anrather. Newsprint is exhaustible. The images that circulate within newspapers, the ones that swarm around events, elicit quick shocks of something limbic but rarely have permanence past the next day’s issue.

Ouattara Watts: Paintings

Tathata is a Buddhist sentiment that translates roughly to “the suchness of things.” In practice, it’s trying to understand the essence of something before words can circumscribe it. For forty years, Ouattara Watts has similarly resisted being assimilated or codified. His exhibition Paintings, currently on view at Karma, reveals a dedicated and thoughtful practice of painting that can only be achieved through the experiences of a world traveler.

Jan Baracz: Mutiny’s Darling

Jan Baracz’s exhibition Mutiny’s Darling at Peninsula Art Space provides a map of the overlooked. The artist utilizes materials marked by subtlety, favoring an inconspicuous tonality that exists somewhere between the woodshed and the boathouse, to address the impinged and imperceptible experience of traversing the ordinary.

Ron Gorchov: Watercolors 1968–1980

The exhibition provides the unique experience to see where Gorchov expands the saddle into more of a field, plays at the boundaries, attempts to relate it more directly to the edge of the paper through trial and error, before finally settling on his aesthetic.

Ted Gahl: Le Goon

Ted Gahl’s Le Goon at Harkawik picks the plangent chords and stirs the submerged chromas of terra melancholia. Melancholia, as opposed to anhedonia, conjures a sensual pleasure within the somber. While his paintings don’t seem to exist in the present, they also don’t seem to be nostalgic for another time, instead dealing with some time outside of time.

Deborah Buck: Into the Wild: To Crash is Divine

Deborah Buck’s Into the Wild: To Crash is Divine at La Mama Galleria connects the thinking-through process of drawing to the loose shaping of crowds and identity.

Sophia Narrett: Carried by Wonder

When everything is adornment it becomes a critical gesture, a self-negation, a reflexive desire that suspends us forever in the moment of the close Victorian look. When the dream becomes too romantic or too dreamy, it shakes us awake. Narrett is able to generate a transcendent interiority on the scale of Emily Dickinson, where self confinement becomes transgressed, drawn and redrawn, to inscribe it within fantasy before breaking its illusion.

Tim Brawner: Glad Tidings

Tim Brawner’s Glad Tidings at Management sustains horror past its breaking point. In his exploration of genre through the passages of B-movie horror reels and its more recent evolution into online creepypasta, the artist is able to fixate on the tremulous imagery of jumpscares and translate a clever act of self-negation into painting. What is shed, what is stayed, and what new tension is currently relayed?

THE ÖMEN: Albert Oehlen paintings and Paul McCarthy sculptures

The actor Ben Becker is playing Albert Oehlen. He is sitting on Oehlen’s studio rooftop and surrounded by empty beer cans. In a listless shrug, he tells the cameraman that they've been left up there by the neighborhood teenagers and that he wishes to leave it so they can see the mess they’ve left. Oehlen is ventriloquizing through the belligerent and maudlin Becker for the docufiction The Painter (2022).

Jarrett Key: from the ground, up

Jarrett Key is interested in the slow, germinating speed of folklore and the gradual repetition needed for world-building.

Mark Laver: Within

Mark Laver’s Within at Ricco/Maresca approaches the landscape through a radical subjectivity that blurs the boundary separating nature itself from our perception of it.

Randy Wray: Travelogue

Wray’s ability to avoid semblance and reduction prioritizes specific but undisclosed sources, creating distinct shapes that defer recognition. Hovering in the protean spaces that can simultaneously suggest the interiors of bodies, bones, plants, and tools, Wray’s practice stays in the apeiron, presiding over the final moment where forms resist determination and luxuriating in the mutable recognition of shadows.

Jane South: Halfway Off

For her current exhibition Halfway Off, South continues to produce from the mind of the hand and its partner, the industrial sewing machine. Between foot and plate, South finds the relational and situational dialectics, tensions, and moments between textures and fibers, discovering synthesis through process.

Danica Lundy: Three Hole Punch

Danica Lundy’s exhibit Three Hole Punch potentially offers an alternative response to a post-humanist painting practice through an intentional multivalent painting.

Eberhard Havekost’s Paintings 1998–2016

It is a daunting task to find new language to discuss Eberhard Havekost’s work. The critical analysis of the artist is exhaustive, including from some of the best theorists and critics working today. As a writer, its density feels encroaching, leaving few places on the map left to discover and explore.

Raymond Saunders

Raymond Saunders’s current solo exhibition at Andrew Kreps presents a series of gripping assemblages, hung on the walls like excavated fragments. The individual configurations might be referred to as slabs, panels, boards, or slates. However, thinking of the works instead as decks of culture or rafts of visuality may lend us a better lens for interpreting the work.

Mike Shultis: Animal Crackers

You feel the parallels between the aesthetic endgame of painting and American decline itself when you walk into Mike Shultis’s Animal Crackers at ASHES/ASHES.

Philip Taaffe

In Philip Taaffe’s exhibition currently on view at Luhring Augustine, the artist explores the transcendent possibilities of symmetry and visual density. Through a series of prismatic mandalas, Taaffe’s mixed media works on panel set up painting as a form of New Materialist meditation, a relational way of seeing the world that challenges anthropocentrism and probes the ethics of our engagement with non-human kin.

In Conversation

Alexander Galloway with Andrew Woolbright

Protocol is about many things, but maybe most directly about the history of control and the shift from disciplinary societies to societies of control. Can you explain what led you to want to write the book? And those historical differences, which I think are incredibly important?

In Conversation

Miguel Abreu with Andrew Woolbright

How did the show “The Poet-Engineers” come about? When I think of the Lower East Side, and I think about its difference and the texture of it, I think about Miguel Abreu Gallery, and I think about that show, in particular. It’s a show that still stays with me and I still consider and think about. And I think part of the reason is it really articulated a philosophy or it believed in an exhibition that was a way forward, or an examination of the present, or a series of possibilities. And I think that that oftentimes gets lost in things. So I just, I'm happy to be sitting down with you and wanted to know, how did this show come about? What I think is the perfect show. 

The Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program

The material conditions of being an artist in New York have a direct impact on the aesthetics and considerations taken in the studio and within an artist’s practice. While the return of the influence of Arte Povera and the prominence of post-studio practices can both can be attributed to ideological and conceptual decisions or to new “structures of feeling” in Raymond Williams’s terms, they can also be translated and defined through the prices of lumber, rising studio costs, and the commuting culture created through the gig economy.

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The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2023

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