Gallery  July 16, 2020  Paul Laster

3 Must-See Gallery Pop-Ups in the Hamptons

Courtesy Pace Gallery, Photo by Jonathan Nesturek

Installation view of Yoshitomo Nara: After all I’m cosmic dust, Pace East Hampton.

When New York went into lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic, most of the city’s art world headed to the Hamptons. As spring turned into summer many of the dealers stayed—deciding to locally exhibit their artists and other works they like by creating pop-up galleries in available storefronts.

Skarstedt, Pace, and Van de Weghe Fine Art set up shop in East Hampton; a group led by Max Levai launched Alone Gallery in Wainscott; Hauser & Wirth has plans to initiate a space in Southampton at the end of July, and Luxembourg and Dayan teamed up with Venus Over Manhattan to open a spot in Montauk this week.

Scoping out the budding art scene, we round-up three must-see shows currently on view in the Hamptons’ freshest spaces.

Courtesy Pace Gallery, © Yoshitomo Nara

Yoshitomo Nara, Play the thinker, 2020.

Yoshitomo Nara: After all I'm cosmic dust
Pace East Hampton
July 3 – 19, 2020

One of Japan’s most influential artists, Yoshitomo Nara uses subjects associated with comics and animation to explore issues of isolation and urban angst. Inspired by punk rock and manga, Nara is feted for his drawings of knife-wielding girls, menacing dogs, and houses on fire, which drolly express societal feelings of helplessness and rage. His wide-eyed, devilish characters have infiltrated international pop culture through his art, countless publications, and consumer products and gained the artist a cult status amongst an ever-growing number of fans. 

“I was probably a late bloomer in becoming an adult,” said Nara in a 2017 Time Out New York interview. “And I feel that those kinds of “early period expressions” have a strong impact, which has lead to some superficial preconceptions about my work. The last 10 years, my work has become tranquil.”

Although some of the big-headed kids in this show maintain a punk posture while brandishing knives, wearing helmets with skulls and crossbones, or by flipping the bird, others make rock-and-roll references more tenderly by playing acoustic guitars like lovable folk singers. Nara’s rawness, however, is still prevalent in these mixed media works—which intuitively combine painting, drawing, and collage—through the artist’s use of discarded cardboard boxes as the figures’ grounds. 

Primarily drawn and painted on irregularly cut and flattened-out forms that crudely reveal a linear, corrugated patterning when covered with colored pencil, the pieces sport a devil-may-care attitude that his puckish characters seem to have been purposely—and somewhat charmingly—created to convey.

Courtesy the artist, Massimo De Carlo, and South Etna Montauk

Dennis Kardon, Illusions of Security, 2005.

Painting is Painting’s Favorite Food: Art History as Muse
South Etna Montauk
July 16 – August 29, 2020

Taking the title of the exhibition from Danish CoBrA artist Asger Jorn’s declaration, “Painting is painting’s favorite food,” which points out that much art is about art, through its repeated referencing of art history, guest curator Alison M. Gingeras has assembled paintings, drawings, and sculptures by contemporary artists who inventively practice what Jorn radically preached. 

Dennis Kardon cleverly cross-pollinates Édouard Manet 1864 canvas Fish (Still Life) with Jan van Eyck’s 1434 painting The Arnolfini Portrait by flipping the fish in Manet’s composition to focus on its fan-shaped tail and changing the blissful reflection of a husband and wife in the Renaissance painter’s masterpiece to a confrontation between a nude couple. Betty Tompkins also appropriates Old Masters in her use of art historical reproductions in Women Words Painting (Artemisia Gentileschi #1) and (Masaccio #1).  Digitally reproducing bookplates of past paintings on canvas, Tompkins ironically overpaints the male painters’ nude female subjects with texts taken from women’s accounts of sexual assault to give these old visual tales a more contemporary, and defiantly feminist, twist.

Peter Saul takes on art criticism in his comics-style visualization of a journalist’s thoughts about the work of Spanish surrealist Salvador Dalí and Derrick Adams references Russian constructivism in his grisaille renderings of contemporary women from a 2015 series of fabric-collaged paintings on paper. Meanwhile, Jane Kaplowitz finds an invite to a Gagosian Gallery exhibition and dinner for the 2007 exhibition Andy Warhol Piss and Sex Paintings and Drawings as a fit subject for a contemporary still life by exquisitely illustrating it over the graphics for the New Museum’s 2019 Spring Gala.

Courtesy the artist and South Etna Montauk

Exterior view of South Etna Montauk, featuring hand-painted sign by Julian Schnabel.

These, and other “art about art” artworks, are being presented in the perfect setting for a show of this sort: husband-and-wife and art dealers Adam Lindemann (Venus Over Manhattan) and Amalia Dayan’s (Luxembourg and Dayan) new South Etna Montauk space. Giving the building’s Tudor style façade a fresh coat of paint and decorating it with a sign designed by the gallery’s neighbor, artist Julian Schnabel, the savvy couple have transformed the striking structure—and the curator’s compelling exhibition inside—into a Hamptons-style gesamtkunstwerk, or what Europeans call a total work of art.

Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York and London

Sigmar Polke, Untitled, 1990.

Sigmar Polke, Francis Picabia and Friends
Michael Werner East Hampton 
July 10 – 31, 2020

Like a domino show, where the first toppled domino falls on the next one and causes a chain reaction, this group exhibition is centered around the work of German pop artist Sigmar Polke, who was inspired by the French-Cuban dada and surrealist painter Francis Picabia, and then went on to influence a new generation of postmodernist artists who followed.

At the root of the artistic chain reaction explored here, Picabia is represented by one of the best selections of his work to be seen in New York since the acclaimed MoMA retrospective closed in 2017. There’s a delicate watercolor portrait of a Spanish woman from his famous L'espagnole series, which were the only works that successfully sold during the artist’s lifetime; Monstre (Venus et Adonis), from his coveted 1920s series of bizarre monster paintings; and several rarely seen erotic ink drawings of female nudes with spread legs.

Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York and London

Enrico David, Tools and Toys III, 2014.

Polke, an artist that the gallery has exhibited multiple times, is also—as expected—strikingly featured in the show with a fantastic painting of mythological lovers rendered on a canvas of stretched fabric with buttons sewn on it, a pair of canvases with his signature ghostly imagery, and a few semi-abstract drawings. Other standout artists in the exhibition are Peter Saul, who has two early-1960s Pop art paintings, including one of his famous refrigerator paintings, of which he only made eight; and Enrico David, featured here with a poetic selection of sculptures and drawings that bring the surrealist dialogue that Picabia so marvelously communicated into present times.

About the Author

Paul Laster

Paul Laster is an artist, critic, curator, editor, and lecturer. He is a contributing editor at ArtAsiaPacific and Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art and writer for Time Out New York, Galerie Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, Architectural Digest, Cultured, Garage Magazine, Ocula, ArtPulse, Observer, Conceptual Fine Arts and Glasstire. He was Artkrush’s founding editor, started The Daily Beast's art section and was art editor of Russell Simmons’ Oneworld Magazine, as well as an Adjunct Curator of Photography at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, now MoMA PS1.

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