Diego Velázquez, “Juan de Pareja” (ca. 1608–1670), oil on canvas, 32 inches x 27 1/2 inches (© The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

What better feeling is there than waking up one morning to find that the skeletal trees outside your window are again in full bloom? Thank you, spring, for your return, and thank you, New York City, for your year-long supply of good art to see. This month, our list of recommendations includes Shellyne Rodriguez’s loving portraits of her Bronx community, Susan Bee’s colorful fables, a tribute to Afro-Hispanic painter Juan de Pareja at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and more.

Apocalypses, Fables, and Reveries: New Paintings

Susan Bee, “Apocalypse I” (2022), oil, enamel, and sand on linen, 24 inches x 30 inches (image courtesy the artist and A.I.R. Gallery)

If they don’t kill the beasts and multi-headed monsters that come across their path, the medieval-ish heroines in Susan Bee’s paintings will at a minimum tame them into dutiful friends. What are the modern-day demons and monsters threatening to hurl us into the apocalypse? And who’s going to save us from them? These are some of the questions that Bee’s colorful, mythology-laden works want to ask. —Hakim Bishara

A.I.R. Gallery (airgallery.org)
155 Plymouth Street, Dumbo, Brooklyn
Through April 16

Katinka Mann: Perception of Space

Katinka Mann, “Any Now” (2014), 40 inches x 38 inches x 2 inches, painted aluminum (photo courtesy the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts)

It’s tempting to anchor the abstract works of New York artist Katinka Mann in the safe and well-trodden lineages of Minimalists like Frank Stella or Conceptual photographers such as Barbara Kasten. But her photographic paper constructions, shaped sculptures, and “collages” of colored light — relatively little-known despite their presence in major museum collections — don’t need an art historical introduction. The most intriguing pieces in this show at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, where Mann was a member of the Studio Program starting in 2009, are her ethereally light sculptures of the late 1990s, made of Cibachrome paper folded to create cones and other volumes that jut out provocatively from the wall. Her most recent series, which she worked on up until her death last year at the age of 97, consists of painted aluminum forms in juicy color combinations, like “Any Now” (2014), a glossy fuchsia bean shape punctuated by a tiny blue trapezoid that appears to recede into space. —Valentina Di Liscia

The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts (studios-efanyc.org)
323 West 39th Street, Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan
Through April 18

Third World Mixtapes: The Infrastructure of Feeling

Shellyne Rodriguez, “BX Third World Liberation Mixtape no.3 (all about love)” (2022), colored pencil on paper, 64 1/4 inches x 45 inches (image courtesy Shellyne Rodriguez and PPOW, New York)

In her excellent debut exhibition at PPOW, Bronx-based artist and activist Shellyne Rodriguez presents 22 portraits of her neighbors, friends, mentors, and comrades. Meticulously drawn with colored pencils on black paper, these portraits exude care, love, and shared struggles. Also, don’t miss her “mixtape” drawings, which take their format from the 1980s hip-hop party flyers of artist Lemoin Thompson — aka Buddy Esquire — and a series of teach-ins and talks with scholars and activists, culminating in a block party on April 22. —HB

PPOW Gallery (ppowgallery.com)
392 Broadway, Tribeca, Manhattan
Through April 22

ektor garcia: esfuerzo

ektor garcia, “cabeza güera” (2019), glazed ceramic and crocheted cotton, 10 inches x 7 inches x 7 inches (photo by Jason Mandella, courtesy James Fuentes Gallery)

Mexican-American artist ektor garcía’s works of crocheted copper, leather, and other unusual materials join small found-object assemblages in this uncanny exhibition. “Cadenas perpetuas” (2023) — meaning “life sentences” in Spanish and translating literally to “perpetual chains” — is a sculpture of steel hooks and other metal pieces suspended from the ceiling. In a corner, “telaraña de cobre” (2020) — “copper spider web,” which is exactly what it sounds like — stretches over the gallery’s security camera. Is it a little unsettling that garcía’s linked-chain artworks, which seamlessly reference both handcraft traditions and mechanisms of oppression, are so aesthetically satisfying? Yes, and I think that’s the point. —VDL

James Fuentes Gallery (jamesfuentes.com)
55 Delancey Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Through April 23

Mandy El-Sayegh: The Amateur

Mandy El-Sayegh, The Amateur at Lehmann Maupin (image courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London)

For her solo exhibition at Lehmann Maupin, Mandy Al-Sayegh convinced the gallery to accept an unconventional proposal: Throughout the run of the show, for a few hours on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, the space will be lent to dancers to hold rehearsals. In giant artworks papering the floors and walls, you’ll spot lines of delicate Arabic calligraphy, newsprint, counterfeit banknotes, silk-screened watermarks taken from El-Sayegh’s brother’s passport, and other seemingly disparate elements that coalesce to tell a story of what it means to belong. The show’s title and the artist’s choice to have dancers of all levels activate the space suggest a clever reshuffling of concepts of fame, recognition, and legacy. —VDL

Lehmann Maupin (lehmannmaupin.com)
501 West 24th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan
Through April 29


Corydon Cowansage, “Splitting (Turquoise and Peach)” (2023), acrylic on canvas, 70 inches x 60 inches per panel, 70 inches x 120 inches overall (photo by Greg Carideo, courtesy the artist and kaufmann repetto Milan / New York)

Corydon Cowansage’s acrylic paintings may please the eye with their seductive hues and tender forms, but they nonetheless come with a mystery and a path to the sublime. The impact on the viewer is hard to put into words, which is usually a good sign. —HB

Kaufmann Repetto (kaufmannrepetto.com)
55 Walker Street, Tribeca, Manhattan
Through May 6

Artisanal Conceptualism: Starting Point

Marcelo Pombo, The São Paulo Drawings (1982), ink on paper, 12 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches (courtesy Barro)

As dictatorial regimes raged in Argentina and Brazil in the early 1980s, Marcelo Pombo was drawing happily fornicating hybrid creatures with duck beaks and bulging boxer shorts. In 1983, the artist joined the Gay Action Group (GAG) in Buenos Aires, a group of dissident activists whose motto “Let’s bring sex to the government and pleasure to power” also encapsulates Pombo’s artistic practice. Inspired by the underground gay scene, incensed by the scourge of homophobia during the rise of the AIDS crisis and the persecution of queer individuals, he created a counter-narrative populated by outsider figures who shatter the status quo. Though perhaps less jarring to our contemporary eyes, these works are just as exquisite today. —VDL

Barro (barro.cc)
25 Peck Slip, Seaport District, Manhattan
Through May 20

Juan de Pareja, Afro-Hispanic Painter

Juan de Pareja, “Portrait of the Architect José Ratés Dalmau (c. 1660s), oil on canvas, 46 inches x 38 1/2 inches, Museo de Bellas Artes de Valencia (photo by Paco Alcántara Benavent, courtesy Museo de Bellas Artes de València)

Juan de Pareja might be best known as the subject of an exquisite portrait by Diego Velázquez, but now he’s in the spotlight as a talented 17th-century painter in his own right. The Metropolitan Museum has scored loans of two major works from Spain and other paintings to offer us a look at the country’s multicultural milieu during the time period and the work of an Afro-Hispanic painter who was once enslaved by Velázquez, freed during the jubilee in Rome in 1650, and went on to have an independent art career. This exhibition adds insight into the artistic worlds of the Mediterranean in an era when racialization was still malleable and changing. —Hrag Vartanian

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (metmuseum.org)
1000 Fifth Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan
Through July 16

Sung Tieu: Infra-Specter

Sung Tieu, from the series Exposure To Havana Syndrome, Brain Anatomy, Axil Plane (2023), laser engraving on stainless steel mirror, 17 3/4 inches × 11 3/4 inches × 1/4 inches, edition of 6 (image courtesy the artist)

Artist Sung Tieu visited hydraulic fracking sites across the US to create “Liability Infrastructure” (2023), a new commission and one of several bodies of work presented in this solo exhibition. Its sound component mimics the vibration of the soil surrounding fracking wells, and accompanying pieces map the presence of energy pipelines in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick. The third stage of the work involves collecting research into the makeup of chemicals used in the fracturing of bedrock and sharing them via an open-source platform, rebelling against the public and private sector’s coverup of fracking’s health and environmental concerns. —VDL

Amant (amant.org)
315 Maujer Street and 932 Grand Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Through September 10

Cinema of Sensations: The Never-Ending Screen of Val del Omar

José Val del Omar in one of his laboratories, possibly the Official Film School of Madrid, c.1960 (image courtesy the Val del Omar Archive)

If you’re tired of Hollywood tropes or, like me, you were disappointed with this year’s Oscars, the work of José Val del Omar will be your salve. The Spanish filmmaker and visual artist’s experimentations with the cinematic medium during and after the Spanish Civil War have a distinctly subversive undercurrent. His final work, Elementary Triptych of Spain (1955–1995), maps the elements of earth, fire, and water onto intimate portraits of three geographical regions. It’s one of several major films in this sprawling survey, which also includes works by contemporary creators. —VDL

Museum of the Moving Image (movingimage.us)
36-01 35 Avenue, Astoria, Queens
Through October 1

More Recommendations From Our Spring 2023 New York Art Guide:

Valentina Di Liscia is the News Editor at Hyperallergic. Originally from Argentina, she studied at the University of Chicago and is currently working on her MA at Hunter College, where she received the...

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.

One reply on “15 Art Shows to See in New York This Month”

  1. Don’t overlook the 50th anniversary archival exhibition of Red white Yellow & Black, up until April 29 at The Kitchen alternate space at WestBeth. Curated by Lumi Tan, it resurrects work by Shigeko Kubota, Charlotte Warren, and Mary Lucier with Cecilia Sandoval, along with loads of ephemera from the 1970’s.

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