Susan Te Kahurangi King, Drawings From Many Worlds curated by Chris Byrne
Andrew Edlin Gallery, 134 Tenth Ave.
Through Dec. 20
With this debut solo show, a star is born at Andrew Edlin, a gallery that, like Kerry Schuss and White Columns, is known for integrating self-taught outsiders and so-called "real" artists to tremendous eye-opening and art-world-changing effect. Here, savor New Zealander Susan Te Kahurangi King's tightly knit, meticulously rendered, webbed, and woven multicolored drawings — finely composed fields of cartoony characters, slopping abstract spaces that pour from one side of the paper into piles of figures that turn into strange landscapes of the mind. When the great "outsiders" James Castle and Morton Bartlett came to light only about ten years ago, their works were sadly dispersed to the four winds, so let's hope that a few smart local museums purchase large caches of this work so that it might be relished in public for years to come.
Klara Liden, It's Complicated
Reena Spaulings Fine Art, 165 East Broadway
Through Dec. 7
For about a decade now, Klara Liden has specialized in stripped-down, odious-sublime, jackal-in-the-night installations involving huts, houses, old posters, beds, videos of her smashing abandoned apartments, moonwalking along the West Side Highway, or, in her current haunted outing at Reena Spaulings, one of the strangest videos I've ever seen. In four minutes of footage, we see the strong, stiff, boyish-looking artist practicing ballet with real ballerinas at the Hermitage State Theater, exuding displacement, intensity, the desire to move like a swan when one is a shaman, the ability to blend in, stand out, and disappear all at the same time. There's also a gallery full of wooden furniture evoking beer gardens, club houses, and places that echo Liden's uncanny, ever-present desire to get away and at the same time form new social organisms.
Gladstone Gallery, 515 West 24th St.
Through Dec. 13
Like all of us, sometimes galleries have a bad patch — even one of the greatest galleries in the world, like Gladstone. After the silliness of artistic duo Allora & Calzadilla (and their Tino Sehgal/Gilbert & George meets Scott Burdon singing sculpture exhibition in September) comes Iraqi-born, Yale-MFA-educated painter Ahmed Alsoudani (highly feted by big galleries and widely collected by megabuyers like Francois Pinault) and his lovely, colorful, nicely jumbled but absolutely confused and physically unoriginal, large-scale canvases. The surfaces of these pretty works are as dull and unengaging as the compositions are easy, all-over spatial pile-ups of things meant to evoke politics and chaos but that end up suggesting that this talented artist must reach deeper into himself to find his own way before all this lauding is warranted.
Neo Rauch, At the Well
David Zwirner, 533 W. 19th St.
Through Dec. 20
Painters love the large scale, secondary color, pictorial ambition, historical references, and swashbuckling brushwork of Neo Rauch’s paintings. I admire all this as well. And while all that is present in his current huge, two-gallery Zwirner show, there’s also an undertow of needless surrealistic juxtapositioning that makes Rauch’s amazing paintings negate themselves — turning, in the viewer’s mind, into the incoherent, disjointed, and boring dreams of another person obsessed with the meaning of their own elliptical nostalgia.
Thomas Houseago, Moun Room
Hauser & Wirth, 511 W. 18th St.
Through Jan. 17, 2015
Sadly, it’s almost always only a matter of time before an ambitious male artist, having joined a male-owned megagallery, makes the terrible mistake of trying to take over and activate the entire space. Such is the case with the okay figurative sculptor, Thomas Houseago, who has looked somewhat edgy over the last six years with pseudo-primitivistic meets quasi-Cubist large white standing figures that seemed to fufill a collective desire for handmade things and objects that moved beyond realms of figuration. At the former Roxy (now home to Hauser & Wirth), Houseago steps right into and succumbs to the trap, creating an immense walk-in labyrinth that fails to rouse even the most miniscule bit of internal reaction once in it, and is best seen from a distance where it at least it starts to vibrate as something small in an otherwise big space.
Valeska Soares, Any Moment Now …
Eleven Rivington, 11 Rivington St.; 195 Christie St
Through Nov. 23
I sometimes play a kind of game with myself when encountering certain types of room-filling, conceptual-based installation: How fast can I completely figure out what this big work thinks it's all about? In both versions of Valeska Soare’s two-gallery show, I understood the work in less than five seconds (not a record). In one, a watch suspended from a mechanism on the ceiling revolved around the room at one revolution per hour. In the other — just as flat-footed and obvious — a room full of books, each with some word denoting time in the title, meant, again, to signify, well, you know the rest.