Art Beat: 6 Exhibitions to See in April

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SIXTY’s resident art writer Rob Goyanes is on the search for the best of what’s going on in L.A., Miami, and NYC this month. Spring means an abundance of new life, and the cultural calendar is rife with new exhibitions celebrating artists both emerging and established. Herewith, your guide to the best art exhibitions in April.

Bogosi Sekhukhuni

Bogosi Sekhukhuni, installation view, 2018. Photo courtesy of Foxy Production.

NEW YORK CITY: Bogosi Sekhukhuni at Foxy Production

Bogosi Sekhukhuni, born in Johannesburg in 1991, is an artist who’s interested in what develops between people and technology. His first solo exhibition in North America, held at Foxy Production, presents works that span a range of media—from drawing to video simulation—and questions how we relate to technology, and how technology alters our relationship to others (or fails to).
Drawings of trilobites seem like field sketches by an anthropologist, but they’re an artist’s probing of the idea that the spine is an integral system belonging to all vertebrates, from bugs to humanoids. The drawings may also hint at the ways that science and natural history museums commodify fossils as representations of the past, conjuring concepts of a mystical prehistory which is still very much with us.

Sekhukhuni’s two-channel video installation, titled “Consciousness Engine 2: absentblackfatherbot (2013),” recreates a discussion had between the artist and his estranged father on Facebook messenger. Simulated animations of the artist’s face and his father’s face are present on separate screens as they speak to each other. The work is chilling not only for its sense of alienation between father and son—but also for the discord made between audience and artwork. Taken to its logical extent, it may also say something about our relationship with ourselves. Through May 6, 2018.


Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings, installation view, 2018. Courtesy of Queer Thoughts.

NEW YORK CITY: Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings at Queer Thoughts

Artists Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings, both based in London and also born in 1991, explore the intimate spaces and signs of queer life in a new exhibition at Queer Thoughts. The video and drawings on display satisfyingly alternate between black and white and lush color, and, all together, tell the story of a real-life relationship between a gay friend and a straight-presenting cop.

The video, titled Gaby after the artist duo’s best friend, presents three cases of intersections between police and gay culture. The first is a montage of cops dancing to Y.M.C.A. at various Pride parades; the second, an animated sequence of an issue of Christopher Street magazine (an epitomal gay mag from the 1970s); and third, a recording of the real friend Gaby telling the story of his relationship with the cop, when Gaby was an 18-year-old.

The pencil drawings on view are far more anonymous, showing darkened scenes of same-sex hookups in twilit taverns. Representing the gay bar as an essential space for socialization in American LGBTQ history, the highly-detailed drawings render billowy jeans and chiseled physiques embracing and carousing. Unlike the video, the drawings leave it up to audiences to read their own stories into the scenes. Through April 15, 2018.


Laura Aguilar, Nature Self-Portrait #2 ,1996. Courtesy of the artist and Frost Museum.

MIAMI: Laura Aguilar’s ‘Show and Tell’ at the Frost Art Museum

What does it mean to be doubly, triply, or quadruply oppressed? Throughout the course of her life, artist Laura Aguilar, born in 1959, has struggled with the burden of having multiple outcast identities. Mexican, large-bodied, and growing up with auditory dyslexia, Aguilar found solace in photography as a means of communicating her position against many odds.

A retrospective of her sublime work, particularly her 1990s output, is on view at the Frost Art Museum, which includes the politically-charged self-portrait of the artist bound with rope, flanked by an American and Mexican flag, her head cloaked by the Mexican coat of arms as if she were a prisoner in the midst of brutal interrogation. Her body is nude, going beyond the assertion of racial and cultural identity and forcing a look at the body itself as an othered thing.

Additional works are lighter, and reveal the artist at play. Images of Aguilar lying nude amongst rocks turns her body into a feature of the landscape, suggesting that viewers empty their heads of the cultural associations applied to those who are “overweight” and instead find their natural beauty. Draped over rocks in the deserts of New Mexico, Aguilar reclaims the right to represent herself, as she is. Through May 27, 2018.


Jessica Martin at Tile Blush. Courtesy of the artist and Tile Blush.

MIAMI: Lynne Gelfman and Jessica Martin at Tile Blush

An exhibition at the recently-minted gallery Tile Blush contains the work of two local female artists—one well into her career, and another at the dawn of it. Lynne Golob Gelfman, a painter whose work is clearly identifiable by her signature, ghostly triangles, and Jessica Martin, a recent graduate of New World’s BFA program who engages sculpture and design, are a fitting pair of artists considering the gallery’s premise.

Rising from the ashes of the former artist-run gallery (variously titled VersaceVersaceVersace and Noguchi Breton), Tile Blush is now focusing on exhibitions that present both contemporary art and design. Gelfman’s paintings, based on grids and inspired by Miami’s flora and architectural palette, contain a powerful sense of geometry. However, the artist’s method of controlled chaos, letting the paint bleed through and flipping the paintings around, results in a sort of loose mathematics.

While Gelfman graduated from Columbia’s MFA program in the late 1960s, Martin finished her studies just two years ago. The young artist’s cross-disciplinary approach to art making results in design objects that employ methods of Japanese joinery—it’s unclear if they’re sculptures or meant to function as coffee tables. Paired together, the exhibition also highlights the role of contemporary painting as design decor. Through June 3, 2018.


Jennifer Rochlin, Figure with Splattered Shapes and Sgraffito, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and The Pit.

LOS ANGELES: Jennifer Rochlin at The Pit

Switching mediums can sometimes result in splendid surprises. Jennifer Rochlin, a painter who expanded to ceramic works, makes vessels that burst with simple joys. An exhibition of work at The Pit presents large terra cotta pots that portray painted scenes of animals, superheroes, and landscapes that appear in the everyday life of L.A.

But these aren’t flat or straightforwardly rendered. The pots contain imperfections from the ceramic methods the artist employs: Rochlin revels in the unique flaws of each piece. Engaging in practices that have existed for thousands of years, the ceramic works contain a sense of connection to ancient human practices, while also managing to feel wholly contemporary.

The artist, who was born in Baltimore and resides in L.A., was inspired by a range of cultural referents, from the mountain lion known as P-22 who slinks through Griffith Park, to the Hollywood sign, to Botticelli’s Venus. Paintings on view also reveal the artist’s penchant for patterns and figuration. Taken together, they show Rochlin’s semi-primitivist approach to the present day. Through April 15, 2018.


Harald Szeemann in 1995 in Maggia, Switzerland © Keystone/Photo Press-Archive.

LOS ANGELES: Harald Szeemann’s ‘Museum of Obsessions’ at The Getty

From restaurant menus to Instagram accounts, “curating” has entered colloquial parlance to mean any action that involves choosing from a set of things. While this is mostly annoying and incorrect, it speaks to the great significance placed on the act of arts curating, now considered an art form in its own right. The latter has much to do with Harald Szeeman, the Swiss artist, curator, and art historian who bucked countless curatorial conventions.

A curious fellow, Szeeman made art history with the exhibition Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form while at the helm of Kunsthalle Bern. The show caused such an uproar that he was forced to resign. A challenger of typical museological methods, Szeeman’s revolutionary approach is on view at The Getty in a show titled Museum of Obsessions, referencing the name he gave to his vast library and archive.

Drawing from this immense collection of materials, the exhibition on Szeeman—who died in 2005—shows how he approached curating much like an artist: by treating history and aesthetic categories and concepts as material to be morphed and molded, presented anew. An understanding of Szeeman’s work and life would grant viewers a deeper comprehension not just of how this man changed art, but also how arts curating has changed so much else. Through May 6, 2018.

Header photo: Michael Heizer’s 1969 ‘Bern Depression’, an installation with wrecking ball © Keystone/Niklaus Strauss

Rob Goyanes

Rob Goyanes

Rob Goyanes is a writer from Miami, Florida, now living in New York City. He has work forthcoming in the Paris Review Daily and Interview Mag.