Artist to Watch

10 Artists to Watch This April

10 Artists to Watch This April
Thea Djordjadze (Photo via Vogue Italy)

Luhring Augustine Bushwick, Apr. 29 – July 30

Many a famous artist has found inspiration listening to jazz, but it’s rare to see a jazz musician crossing over into art-making—much less one who manages to take his act all the way to the upper echelons of the art world. Enter Jason Moran, a 2010 MacArthur fellow and the Artistic Director for Jazz at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.. Moran appeared in the 2012 Whitney Biennial, collaborated with Joan Jonas on her recent Venice Biennale pavilion, and is now preparing for his first museum solo (at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, in Fall 2017). In the meantime, art and music lovers alike can see Moran’s social history-inspired sculptures and works on paper (and hear him perform on select occasions) in “STAGED,” at Luhring Augustine’s Brooklyn branch.

LACMA, April 15 - July 31

It’s amazing to think that an artist as beloved and significant as Agnes Martin has never had a major retrospective in her own country, and now that oversight is being corrected resoundingly at LACMA, which is importing the critically adored survey of her work that filled Tate Modern last year. Visitors will marvel at how it's possible for so many canvases etched with rigorous lines to be so absorbing, and the melodic colors will lull them into a happy trance. Make sure to check out her rare self-portrait, if it makes the trans-Atlantic trip, and to linger over the unaccustomedly rough-hewn lines of her last paintings, which offer a profound commentary on accrued wisdom. New Yorkers will have to wait to see such treasures, but not for long—the show will tour to the Guggenheim in the fall. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Apr. 2 – June 26

A post-Minimalist with a light, poetic touch and a deeply unconventional approach to installing his shows, the 74-year-old Richard Tuttle is also extremely prolific; as an upcoming survey of his career at Pace Gallery in New York (opening May 6) reminds us, he’s had some 26 gallery shows in New York over a half-century. Ahead of that major celebration, which opens on May 6, the Metropolitan Museum is opening “Richard Tuttle: Critical Edge” this month. The show highlights six large-scale wall works made specifically for the Met from pieces of opaque and transparent fabric, which will screen light and shift in response to air currents in the gallery.

Kavu, April 3 - 22

A Barbados-born artist who studied at CalArts and then took New York by storm as a reluctant part of the 1980s Neo-Geo movement alongside Jeff Koons, Peter Halley, and others, Ashley Bickerton fairly quickly jumped ship from the hermetic art world, migrating first to Brazil before setting up his studio in Bali. This was about two decades ago now, and since then he has plied his unmistakable art—a riveting combination of outrageous portraits, garish imagery, post-colonial dream narratives, and questionable taste—far outside the mainstream, occasionally popping into group shows to remind that he’s still out there, working away. This month, this avatar of island freedom will stage a solo show at Kavu, the Bali outpost of international curatorial outfit Lucie Fontaine, titled “Forgotten Optical Satsuma Filters.” Make sure to drop by if you’re in the neighborhood!

Mass MoCA, Apr. 16 – Dec. 31

In her critically-admired solos at Nicelle Beauchene and, most recently, Casey Kaplan, Sarah Crowner has infused the lately ubiquitous genre of cut-and-sewn “paintings” with cerebral design references and unexpected architectural materials. Her first solo in a U.S. museum, “Beetle in the Leaves,” is no exception; it takes its title from Gio Ponti’s 1960s “Beetle under the leaf” house in Northern Italy. The show’s predominant material is also a nod to the Ponti house (which featured a white-tiled interior by the designer Nanda Vigo); among the works Crowner has made for the occasion are a 20-foot-long mural made of terra cotta tile from Mexico and a raised platform of cement tile from Morocco.   

bitforms, Apr. 12 - May 22

Digital art enthusiasts, take heed—the early net art pioneer Yael Kanarek is back on the scene, presenting for the first time the full spread of props, ephemera, and technologies that make up her groundbreaking net art project World of Awe. Started in 1994 and culminating in this show (curated by Kerry Doran of bitforms and Artspace’s own Dylan Kerr), World of Awe is an introspective sci-fi adventure that marks one of the earliest attempts to use the internet as both medium and exhibition site. The exhibition also highlights the ways in which Kanarek expanded her vision beyond the web in a prefiguration of the Post-Internet turn, featuring curios like early 3D printed sculptures as well as a set of rarely-seen paintings and works on paper that predate the net artwork and reveal the imaginative analog origins of this forward-thinking Gesamtkunstwerk. 

Tate Britain, Apr. 26 - Oct. 9

This month, Tate Britain continues its annual commission for the capacious Duveen galleries with a solo, site-specific work by the artist Pablo Bronstein. Following in the footsteps of Tate’s 2015 selection Christina Mackie, the Buenos Aires-born, London-based artist returns to Tate Britain after participating in the 2006 Tate Triennale. With an interdisciplinary oeuvre rooted in the architectural traditions of the Italian baroque, French neo-classicism, and 20th century modernism, Bronstein is at once a meticulous draftsman, a fantastical artist, and a true collector of the curio. He plans to activate the gallery with a continuous live dance performance, an undertaking the museum deems as Bronstein’s “most ambitious project to date.”

Sprüth Magers, April 30 - June 25

The Tbilisi-born, Berlin-based sculptor with the wondrously daunting name Thea Djordjadze has earned her success the old-fashioned way, studying under Rosemarie Trockel at Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and then apprenticing with her over the years (helping with her 2003 Venice Biennale showing, for instance) while perfecting out her own elliptical, evanescent approach to sculpture. Her barely-there sculptures are marvels of restraint, and this month she’s going to be getting her due at both MoMA PS1—where she has a solo show opening this weekend—and at her hometown gallery Sprüth Magers during Berlin Gallery Weekend, where she’ll be presenting new work.

Feuer/Mesler, Apr. 3 - May 9

Brad Troemel’s gallery shows are known for their labyrinthine press releases and highly specific conceptual conceits, but it seems he may have outdone himself for his upcoming show at Feuer/Mesler. When we last spoke to the Jogging co-founder and art meme generator, his focus was on Bitcoins, political donations, Whole Foods, and an idea he called “supergood”; now, he’s turned his attention to the interwoven DIY and survivalist communities as inspiration for his new group of works. The aforementioned press release indicates that the artist has learned how to (among other things) “make chalk from Soylent,” “grow psilocybin mushrooms,” and “bake gingerbread houses from scratch.” It’s unclear how all this will come together in the show, but if his other medium-mashing works are anything to go by, we’re likely in for a very strange treat.

David Zwirner London, April 15 - June 2

Good old fashioned American perversion is different from British perversion in popular culture—a bit more serious, perhaps, and less silly. Whereas the Brits have Benny Hill, we have figures like R. Crumb, who this month will be making his London solo show debut at David Zwirner’s Grafton Street outpost by presenting a suite of his meticulous, obsessive pen-and-ink portraits of women. Titled “Art & Beauty” after a catalogue of soft-core images of women to inspire artists, the show presents a survey of all of the artist’s famous fetishes—the heavy socks and black boots, the powerfully muscular legs (and buttocks), the lusted-after plainness—in portraits of everyone from his long-enduring wife Aline to famous sports stars. Each is as masterful as a Goltzius, and R. Crumb’s reception in London will be interesting to watch.


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