Five NYC Shows to Round Out Your April

This month we’re featuring a poet who paints, a painter who tapes, a legendary feminist, and two sculptors who have protested colonial powers in the United States and Canada. While the summer weather alone might not warrant a trek to Madison Square Park, Rose B. Simpson’s powerful, earthy installation is well worth a trip. Heading west to Chelsea, Sam Jablon and Gary Stephan offer some inventive takes on painting. And downtown, solo shows by feminist artist Mira Schor and Northwest Coast sculptor Beau Dick — both iconic in their fields — are visual treats that pack a conceptual wallop. —Natalie Haddad, Reviews Editor

Gary Stephan: Tape on Paper

A metaphysical disjuncture has long been at the heart of Gary Stephan’s pursuits in his geometric paintings, as if to say that no matter how tightly things fit together, something will always be askew. Even when everything is on the surface, what you see is not necessarily what you see. That slippage — and the doubt it invites — is intrinsic to Stephan’s meticulous black-and-white tape drawings. The gap between seeing and knowing, perfection and imperfection, infuses the drawings with an emotional register. That vulnerability is rarely encountered in geometric abstraction. This is why Stephan’s exhibition Tape on Paper is a must-see. In one work, we follow a black band across a white ground, watch it narrow as it descends, like an impeccable fire escape. All kinds of associations rise to the surface — yet none become dominant. By working only with tape, which has no fluidity, and both undermining and underscoring its stiffness in subtle ways, Stephan has created a great body of drawings, something new under the sun. —John Yau

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Anders Wahlstedt Fine Art (
526 West 26th Street, Suite 508, Chelsea, Manhattan
Through April 20

Sam Jablon: Linger Longer

Sam Jablon is a poet who paints, which distinguishes him from Cy Twombly and Dana Frankfort, both of whom are painters who use words. He paints short phrases and words from his poems atop brushy grounds or loose, gestural brushstrokes in a contrasting color — red on blue, for example. The letters’ vertical, horizontal, and curving lines interact with the swirling, agitated ground in different ways, from stark graphic contrast to seemingly dissolving brush marks. In Linger Longer, Jablon’s first show in five years, he chooses phrases and words that allude in more or less overt ways to time: for example, “Linger Longer,” “Don’t Panic,” and “Desire.” I imagine these phrases as part of the artist’s daily conversation with himself, rather than public declarations. It is this tension between the private and public, common phrases and deep feelings, that he weaves into his work, with the directness of the lettering and gestural, emotive brushwork and color relationships. Through painting, he attempts to slow down time, to make what inevitably passes into something permanent. —JY

Morgan Presents (
537 West 27th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan
Through May 3

Mira Schor: WET

Mira Schor’s grasp of surface and composition is so deft, her application of pigment so enticing, viewers may not immediately realize that she’s depicting a penis emanating from an ear or a semicolon snuggled within a fleshy vulva. These body parts and strange juxtapositions are just a taste of an expansive visual vocabulary through which Schor processes various societal failures, from the AIDS crisis and attacks on women’s bodily autonomy to legacy media’s hegemonic slant. Among the works in this merited survey of paintings, drawings, and sculptures spanning the early 1970s to the present is an early gouache titled “The Two Miras” (1973). The piece portrays the artist and her double from the front and behind, chest bare, fingers conspicuously spattered with blood. By the time we’re entangled in the sumptuous foliage that surrounds them, something darker emerges, and we are deep in Mira’s world. —Valentina Di Liscia

Lyles & King (
19 Henry Street, Chinatown, Manhattan
Through May 4

Beau Dick: Walas Gwa’yam / Big, Great Whale

Beau Dick (1955–2017, Kwakwaka’wakw) carved intricate and captivating masks from cedar that animated protests against colonial power as well as ceremonies within his Indigenous communities. This exhibition is a rare opportunity to see work by the renowned Indigenous artist in New York, who is widely revered in Canada but lesser known in the United States. Dick mastered cedar wood, dynamically conceptualizing and sculpting in the medium. The devil is in the details — the cheeks, noses, lips, eyebrows, eye sockets, and tongues are all rendered with intricacy and spatial complexity. These subtleties rightly earned Dick legendary status for expressive and visually arresting masks within his artistic tradition. —Daniel Larkin

Andrew Kreps Gallery (
22 Cortlandt Alley, Tribeca, Manhattan
Through May 11

Rose B. Simpson: Seed

As I made my way to Madison Square Park one sunny Tuesday morning, suits rushed past, traffic ebbed and flowed, and the din of Manhattan wafted into the grubby air. The park is in the belly of the New York City beast and generally is best avoided — that is, until Rose B. Simpson came to town this month. Her circle of towering sculptural figures in Seed forms a protective grove emerging from the park’s east side, estranging us from the manicured lawn and meticulously planted trees and instead nodding to a longer history of the land that’s been uprooted and paved over. The weekday clamor soon receded into a quiet hum as I approached the foot of the sculptures guarding a central figure, who closes her eyes in repose amid a bed of flowers and plants native to the area. The geometric sentinels tasked with protecting her wear turquoise masks and gaze out onto the park. Simpson’s keen attention to the layers of displacement and historical violence beneath our feet makes this installation all the more powerful. She transforms the space and forces us, as visitors, to reconsider our place in it. For a moment, I was not in Madison Square Park, but somewhere else entirely. —Lakshmi Rivera Amin

Madison Square Park (
11 Madison Avenue, Flatiron, Manhattan
Through September 22

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