Artist to Watch

10 Artists to Watch This January

10 Artists to Watch This January
The artist Francis Upritchard (Photo by Fiona Freund)

From a pioneer of digitally informed painting to a white-hot young paragon debuting her latest body of work, these are the artists you’ll be talking about this month. 

11R, Jan. 10 – Feb. 7

During her too-brief life (she died at the age of 34, in 1992), the painter Moira Dryer managed to unite the restraint of 1970s post-painterly abstraction with the more fun-loving tendencies of the ‘80s. She laid out fields of stripes and dots only to warp, streak, and smear them, and explored shaped canvases—a genre mastered by her teacher Elizabeth Murray. Now, 11R (which mounted an acclaimed Dryer show in 2014) is inaugurating its new Chrystie Street space with abstract paintings on panel and never-exhibited works on paper. Keep an eye out for The Debutante (1987), a tomato-red, bisected tondo that looks a little bit like the Death Star.

Peter Freeman, (Jan. 7 – Feb. 20)

In the 1960s, Alex Hay was both a Pop artist who made giant reproductions of disposable consumer items (such as diner checks and crinkled brown paper bags) and an experimental performer alongside Rauschenberg and Cage. More recently, he has been linking these two strands of his earlier work. His latest show at Peter Freeman, “Circumstance / Art,” includes balls of masking tape, left over from Hay’s stencil paintings, that echo his early sculptures in their elevation of throwaway material and his early performances in their dedication to process and repetition.

Tanya Bonakdar, Jan. 7 – Feb. 20

The conceptual photographer Lisa Oppenheim has made photograms with snippets of lace. For her first show at Bonakdar she seems to have taken a detour into actual textile-making, weaving her own fabrics with the help of a jacquard loom. Her patterns, however, come from the textile collection of the dealer, curator, and early conceptual art advocate Seth Siegelaub—which means that Oppenheim is asking us to see her weavings as examples of coded information that are as conceptual and photographic as anything else in her oeuvre.

The Kitchen, Jan. 7 - Feb. 3

The Kitchen is dedicating the first quarter of the new year to its sprawling show “From Minimalism Into Algorithm,” which tracks the evolution of impulses like repetition and networked systems from early innovators like Donald Judd to contemporary digital artists. (The show, which runs until April 2nd, is divided into three sections, the first of which concludes on February 3.) Complicating and thus enriching this narrative is the work of Vera Molnar, the French-Hungarian artist born in 1924 who began using computer-based algorithms to realize her serialized compositions as early as 1968, decades before net art and the like began breaking ground in the wider artistic community. Her works give the lie to the complaint that digital art is just “kids’ stuff.”

Mitchell-Innes & Nash, Jan. 30 - Mar. 5

For his first show at MI&N, the Brooklyn-based artist is returning to his painterly roots after a brief foray into found-object sculpture following what he has called a “painting meltdown” in 2014 and a relatively quiet year of exhibitions in 2015. This show is sure to bring the celebrated painter and draftsman back into the limelight; in addition to his signature paintings—large-scale, colorful, with influences from classical oil painting and street art alike—the show features some of Martinez's works on paper, reflecting his ongoing effort to document daily life with a quasi-Surrealist sensibility.

Paula Cooper Gallery, Jan. 9 - Feb. 13

Tauba Auerbach’s rise to art-world renown is based in part on her ability to shift her focus ever so slightly, making works that differ from her previous output while retaining an essential Auerbachness. For her new show at Paula Cooper, she’s turning to the mystical American architect Claude Bragdon, whose 1915 treatise on drawing four-dimensional objects Projective Ornament inspired many of the twisting, helical works in the show. The fruits of this obscure connection include sculptures in glass, acrylic, and woven paintings (a continuation of a series begun in 2011), a selection of books from her Diagonal Press and her personal collection, and a series of musical performances.

Anton Kern, Jan. 14 - Feb. 20

The very talented, ceaselessly inventive artist Francis Upritchard is a sculptor who doesn’t stand still, ranging across registers—from the comic to the pathetic, the utopian to the surreal—while maintaining a consistently arch yet erudite edge. Although she had a very good run in the aughts, when she represented her native New Zealand in the 2009 Venice Biennale and racked up all sorts of awards, Upritchard (who works in clay) has had limited exposure in the United States, with a 2014 Hammer Museum solo and a 2012 turn on the High Line standing out as recent non-gallery outings here. This month she comes to Chelsea, where she is showing alongside the similarly protean Merano-born designer Martino Gamper (who happens to be her husband). 

Gagosian, Jan. 19 - Feb. 20

After his early years as the Evel Knievel of performance art, Chris Burden settled into a more sustainable direction in later life, diving deep into his passion for architecture and city-craft at the Topanga Canyon home-studio-foundry he shared with his wife, the sculptor Nancy Rubins. Now, two years after Burden’s New Museum show explored the range of his heavy-duty work, Gagosian will feature an imposing piece by the late artist (who died last year) that derives from one of his most beloved bodies of work: an installation of 32 cast-iron Los Angeles street lamps, clustered together in a tight grid. It's a smaller version, in other words, of his extraordinary permanent Urban Light installation that has been bowling over viewers outside LACMA since 2008.

“Condo” at Carlos/Ishikawa, January 12 - February 13

Imagine you had a factory that was geared to the mass-production of quotidian products, bus-stop benches, locks, cooking pots, and microwaves, and that you then put this operation in the hands of an anarchic artist whose main concern was building those objects to suit her own mysterious agenda rather than the uses they were designed for. That’s sort of what you get when you walk into a show by the white-hot artist Magali Reus, who has solo shows upcoming this year at the Stedelijk and Turin’s Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (and had a SculptureCenter survey last year). Look out for the Hague-born artist this month when she teams up with the equally in-demand Helen Marten for Carlos/Ishikawa’s installment of London’s citywide, multi-gallery “Condo” exhibition.

“9102000” at Artists Space, Jan. 17 - March 13

Court is in session, and the defendant—the system of American capitalism—stands accused of gross inequality, human bondage, and fraud. The prosecutor today is Cameron Rowland, and exhibits A through Z are his artworks—readymade objects, photographic documentation, and other artifacts that the artist has marshaled to press his case. Although the lid has been shut tightly on information about his upcoming show at Artists Space, we know this much: it features the hoop-like aluminum rings produced by New York State prison inmate labor to ensure that manhole covers are level with city roads as well as the text from the 14th Amendment, which states that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.”


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