BY frieze in Exhibition Reviews | 07 JUL 23

Shows to See in the US this July

From Mark Bradford’s eloquent abstractions to Keith Haring’s first museum exhibition in Los Angeles

BY frieze in Exhibition Reviews | 07 JUL 23

Pacita Abad

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

15 April – 3 September

A number of large, elaborately stitched hanging tapestries that look like masks
Pacita Abad, ‘A Million Things to Say’, 2018, installation view. Courtesy: Pacita Abad Art Estate and MCAD Manila; photograph: At Maculangan/Pioneer Studios

I had to resist the urge, walking through Pacita Abad’s retrospective at Walker Art Center, to wrap myself in one of the artist’s colourful, hand-embroidered, canvas and fabric trapunto works. I wanted to be engulfed in their puffy, shimmering surfaces – at once maps, bodies and repositories. Foothill Cabin (1977), one of Abad’s earliest paintings, seems to echo this sentiment: the central figure – the artist’s husband – lies in bed, almost subsumed by an enormous patchwork quilt. Hovering above him are a series of yellow squares depicting lively figures inspired by Indigenous American art, while a swath of phulkari (Punjabi embroidery) stretches across the canvas like a textile sky. – Simon Wu

Mark Bradford

Hauser & Wirth, New York

13 April – 28 July

A triptych with a dark brown ground; yellow highlights and almost figurative colourful shapes over
Mark Bradford, Fire Fire, 2021, mixed media on canvas, 346 × 688 × 6 cm. Courtesy: © Mark Bradford and Hauser & Wirth; photograph: Sarah Muehlbauer

In Mark Bradford’s swirling, disquieting Fire Fire (2021), danger is braided with childish whimsy: flames mingle with verdant, vibrant life. The scene is alight with thick, gold paint, which ripples against passages of smouldering black. Layered above this inferno, however, is a pastel landscape bountiful with flora and fauna. The title, an echo, calls out across the gallery to its visual counterpart, Jungle Jungle (2021), which responds with a frenzy of saturated, bold colour dripping tendrils of gold paint. These twin works are displayed alongside four related paintings on the first floor of ‘You Don’t Have to Tell Me Twice’. Sprawling across the entire building, Bradford’s eloquent abstractions, alongside sculpture and video work, negotiates the artist’s personal history as well as broader histories of race, migration and land. – Zoë Hopkins

‘Funk You Too!’

Museum of Arts and Design, New York

18 March – 27 August

An installation image: three pedestals in primary colors with anthropomorphic vessels atop them
‘Funk You Too! Humor and Irreverence in Ceramic Sculpture’, 2023, installation view. Courtesy: The Museum of Arts and Design; photograph: Jenna Bascom

Was funk art a bona fide movement, or is ‘funky’ just a fragrant adjective? Even in 1960s San Francisco, funk wasn’t exactly a collective effort. Its attitude, as curator Peter Selz described in the essay accompanying his 1967 show ‘FUNK’ at Berkeley Art Museum, spanned artists who explored garish hues, unwieldy shapes, pop-cultural imagery and vulgarity’s limits. Selz called funk an ‘anti-form’ that rejected New York’s cool minimalism for a ‘scatological’, Freud-inflected style – but jokey, so Herr Doktor’s theories became larks. Artists Selz showed – among them Joan Brown, Bruce Conner and Peter Voulkos – disputed his claims. But it wasn’t these established practitioners who needed what funk proffered: instead, Selz gave permission to the bawdy searchers, while offering their art at least the appearance of an intellectual context. And none felt more enabled than Robert Arneson who, with fellow ceramicists Howard Kottler and Maija Peeples-Bright, took funk as a foundation for chimerical, playful and sometimes wilfully amateur work. – Daniel Felsenthal

Keith Haring

The Broad, Los Angeles

27 May – 8 October

Keith Haring
Keith Haring and LA II (Angel Ortiz), Statue of Liberty, 1982, acrylic and enamel on fiberglass with black light, 241 × 89 × 36 cm. Courtesy: © Keith Haring Foundation and the Rubell Museum

I predict few will linger long enough to absorb the four paragraphs of potted biography on the neon yellow wall welcoming visitors to ‘Keith Haring: Art Is for Everybody’, before surging onward into the first gallery, which is painted with fluorescent pink and orange stripes. The green and orange Statue of Liberty (1982) commands the room, graffitied to high heaven by Haring and his then-15-year-old collaborator, LA II (Angel Ortiz). Nearby is a Corinthian column, similarly improved, while on the walls hang Haring’s Day-Glo paintings on muslin, aluminium and Formica. – Jonathan Griffin

Jac Leirner

Swiss Institute, New York

10 May – 27 August

A number of stickers and signs overlapping and arranged
Jac Leirner, Village Inside I (detail), 2023, paper on canvas. Courtesy: the artist

Rooted in the meticulous collection and reappropriation of discarded objects, Jac Leirner’s practice traces the unseen contours of everyday life. In her survey exhibition currently on view at the Swiss Institute in New York, emery boards, pen caps and paper tickets line the walls of the ground floor gallery, arranged by colour on thin metal shelves. In the corners, levels and notebook spines form ‘X’s like scaffold supports. Upstairs, newspaper ads, business cards and posters pulled from the streetlights of the Lower East Side are collaged on to canvas. – Maddie Hampton

Main image: Keith Haring, Ignorance=Fear, Silence=Death, 1989, ACT UP poster. Courtesy: © The Keith Haring Foundation

Contemporary Art and Culture