Oscar yi Hou, “The Arm Wrestle of Chip & Spike; aka: Star-Makers” (2020), oil on canvas, 55 1/2 x 43 inches (© Oscar yi Hou; photo by Jonathan Dorado, courtesy the Brooklyn Museum)

As I’m sure someone somewhere has said, August is the Sunday of summer. Before the sun sets on the season, what better salve for the bittersweet feelings that this month rouses in all of us than a little art? We’ve selected 10 exhibitions in New York City that will make you forget, for just a moment, that the subways will soon be overflowing and the ice-cream truck jingle is about to become fainter and fainter. Some of these shows close in a few weeks; others are on view well into the fall. Enjoy! — Valentina Di Liscia, News Editor

Yusuke Saito: pppiiizzzzzzaaa

Yusuke Saito, “OOPARTS (pizza) 17” (2023), ceramic, 9 3/10 x 9 3/10 x 1 inches (image courtesy Yusuke Saitot and PAGE (NYC))

Thin crust, deep-dish, three-cheese? You’ll be hard-pressed to recognize these old standbys among Yusuke Saito’s ceramic pizzas, sprinkled with toppings like swamp plant BBQ, pretzels, turquoise pepperoni slices, sour hard fruit, and other improbable garnishes scavenged from “the mini-fridge of a crashed UFO.” The Tokyo-based artist’s candy-colored sculptures are more reminiscent of the inside of Petri dishes than of the beloved New York slice. By transforming the humble pizza into a delectable work of art, Yusuke invites us to reflect on the strangeness of the everyday. —VD

Page (NYC) (page-nyc.com/info)
368 Broadway #511, Tribeca, Manhattan
Through August 20

New Voices: On Transformation

Lois Harada, “Topaz” from the series Wish You Were Here (2022), screenprint, 26 × 22 inches (image courtesy Lois Harada)

“Transformation” was the magic word curator Carmen Hermo gave the eight artists in the Print Center’s recently launched open-call “New Voices” program, and they responded with fittingly metamorphic works. Lois Harada’s Wish You Were Here series reimagines visuals of the American West created by artists of the Works Progress Administration, images whose idyllic, vibrant compositions evoked the siren songs of manifest destiny and the American dream. Upending their inherent propaganda, Harada focuses her screenprints instead on the fences, towers, and other insidious infrastructure of the Japanese-American internment camps where her grandmother’s family was detained. Another highlight of the exhibition is Aaron Coleman’s “Gateway for Premonition” (2022), in which he uses a Gothic wooden frame and wrought-iron fencing to frame a 19th-century screenprint layered over in Astroturf; the work and others in a series show, in his words, how “seemingly anodyne artifacts embody the complex and pervasive history of racism and classism in the United States.” —VD

Print Center New York (printcenternewyork.org)
535 West 24th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan
Through August 25

Jac Leirner

Jac Leirner “Towers” (2020), lego pieces (image courtesy Jac Leirner and Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel)

Accumulation and classification are the guiding principles of Jac Leirner’s playful sculptures, built of everyday objects organized neatly into rows, piles, stacks, and towers. In the Brazilian artist’s hands, the prosaic miscellany of our quotidian existence — pen caps, bank notes, rolls of adhesive tape — becomes as beguiling as a covetable design object. Leirner’s sculpture of disembodied Lego figures, with a leaning tower of torsos on the far left and individual columns of little yellow heads, legs, and feet, is darkly absurd; a V-shaped wall piece crafted of end-to-end precision levels pokes innocent fun at the rigidity of Minimalism. Other works employ a similar logic in the service of local specificity: “Hardcore Drummer (Talco) I” uses remnants of drumsticks from São Paulo’s punk scene, while the collages “Village Inside I” and “II” (2023) are layered over in printed matter found across New York’s East Village neighborhood, from an Anthology Film Archives poster to a Bar Primi business card. —VD

Swiss Institute (swissinstitute.net)
38 Saint Marks Place, East Village, Manhattan
Through August 27

Free Your Mind

David G. Wilson, “Inadvertent Voyeur” (1990), oil on plywood, 50 x 38 1/2 inches (photo courtesy Shenna Vaughn)

Free Your Mind stays true to its name. The first exhibition in the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning’s Visual Voices curatorial program showcases the work of 44 artists, focusing on creatives of color based in Queens including filmmaker Ashleigh Alexandria and painter Sadikisha Saundra Collier, in an exploration of how art can chart a path toward personal and collective freedom. Curator and artist Shenna Vaughn envisioned the gathering of works as a chance to “use our gifts to release ourselves from mental, physical, and spiritual blockages,” and invite visitors to step into the limitless, as well. — Lakshmi Rivera Amin

Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (jcal.org)
164-04 Jamaica Avenue, Jamaica, Queens
Through September 1

“There is a Certain Slant of Light”

Samantha Morris, “Lagoon” (2018), oil on panel, 48 x 36 inches (image courtesy the artist)

You may think you’ve seen enough shows about light in art, but you’ll be proven wrong with this exquisitely curated exhibition devoted to works by Pratt alumni that center the phenomenon in all its shifting, haunting, deceptive glory. In her monochromatic painting “Lagoon” (2018), Samantha Morris deftly captures the moment when a sliver of light seeps through a door opening, flowing in liquid ripples that temporarily warp the space around us. Weijia Lizzy Li shows us how light can define the limits of an environment in her photograph “Conversation #3” (2016), a sparse composition that achieves the drama of chiaroscuro. And in Jean Oh’s “Wait List II” (2021), the artist plays with the transparency and opacity of nobang (silk) organza fabric, plumbing the poetic possibilities of the tension between the fragile and the durable. —VD

Pratt Manhattan Gallery (pratt.edu)
144 West 14th Street, West Village, Manhattan
Through September 6

Naudline Pierre: This Is Not All There Is

Naudline Pierre, “Unto You I Release Myself” (2022), acrylic, ink, and chalk pastel on paper, 15 x 11 inches (photo by Matthew Herrmann, courtesy Naudline Pierre and James Cohan)

Winged beings, leaping flames, mischievous figures: The contents of Naudline Pierre’s works are as fantastical as they are rooted in millennia of religious, spiritual, and mythological image-making. That visual vocabulary may be inspired by her upbringing — she is the daughter of a Haitian minister — but don’t expect to find any overt biblical references in this elegant exhibition. Even the show’s sculptural altarpiece elements, which ground and complicate her ink on paper works, don’t map perfectly onto our expectations of the accouterments of faith. Pierre’s compositions are transportative; look long enough into her figures’ eyes and they might just sweep you into their world. —VD

The Drawing Center (drawingcenter.org)
35 Wooster Street, Soho, Manhattan
Through September 10

Oscar yi Hou: East of sun, west of moon

Oscar yi Hou, “Bruce’s Bitch” (2021), oil on canvas, 28 1/8 × 22 inches (© Oscar yi Hou; photo by Jason Mandella, courtesy James Fuentes LLC)

In Oscar yi Hou’s paintings, the American flag’s stars and stripes are ribboned, scattered, and reconfigured amongst East Asian artistic symbols in a semiotic constellation around Asian-American sitters, many of whom are queer. His gutsy canvases render him and his loved ones with their gazes fixed firmly on the viewer, sometimes assuming historically White roles to confront the foundations of American “belonging,” other times calling back to the legacies of East Asian art, from actor Bruce Lee to a Qing Dynasty jade carving in the Brooklyn Museum’s collection. As anti-LGBTQ+ and racist violence persists across the country, yi Hou destabilizes and reasserts queer Asian-American identity across this brightly burning show. —LA

Brooklyn Museum (brooklynmuseum.org)
200 Eastern Parkway, Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Through September 17

Manuel Aja Espil: Worlds of Exile

Manuel Aja Espil, “Contemplation” (2023), oil on linen, 45 5/8 x 32 5/8 inches (image courtesy Hutchinson Modern & Contemporary)

In Manuel Aja Espil’s painting “Contemplation” (2023), the faceless, helmet-wearing figure reclining languidly on an old television set while drinking mate — a traditional South American beverage typically served in a calabash gourd — looks like a cross between my uncle and a character from Among Us. Lady Liberty peeks out improbably in the background of a landscape dotted with palm trees, rocks, desert plants, and a single video game controller. Conveying a kind of doomsday nonchalance in his narratives weaving sci-fi elements and painterly naturalism, the Argentinian artist created this work as one of a series reflecting on what he does most frequently in his Madrid studio: smoke, paint, and drink mate. A satellite view of Patagonia from space and a 72-inch canvas that takes on the legacy of history painting are other standouts in this evocative and foreboding exhibition. —VD

Hutchinson Modern & Contemporary (hutchinsonmodern.com)
47 East 64th Street, Lenox Hill, Manhattan
Through October 14

Ilana Savdie: Radical Contractions

Ilana Savdie, “Tickling the Before and After (Cosquilleo Interior)” (2023), oil, acrylic, and beeswax on canvas stretched on panel, 120 x 86 inches (photo by Lance Brewer, image courtesy Ilana Savdie)

Ilana Savdie’s towering, color-drenched paintings are static works, but her compositions appear to shapeshift softly in front of us like a kaleidoscope, yielding fantasies of entwined bodies or climate-change dystopias. I’m reminded of Roberto Matta’s quasi-mechanical figures and Christina Quarles’s lush figurations, but Savdie’s vision is entirely hers. Inspired by specific references, like the mythical marimonda character of the Barranquilla carnival in her native Colombia or a Francisco de Goya painting, she layers oil, acrylic, and beeswax to achieve an extraordinary textural range — from watery, other-worldly expanses to impossibly detailed lines and forms. —VD

Whitney Museum of American Art (whitney.org)
99 Gansevoort Street, Meatpacking District, Manhattan
Through October 19

Grounded in Clay: The Spirit of Pueblo Pottery

Lorencita Pino (Tesuque), bean pot with lid (1963), clay and mica, 12 1/2 x 13 1/2 inches (image courtesy the Indian Arts Research Center of the School for Advanced Research)

A joint exhibition with the Vilcek Foundation, located just south of the museum, The Met’s presentation of Pueblo pottery traces the art form’s lifespan in a moving union of over 100 works from the 11th century through today. An 1890–1910 Acoma water jar bears exquisitely preserved painted florals, while others resemble glassy obsidian or glow with the sheen of micaceous clay, a traditional medium whose finish recalls glittering stars. The clay works converse across time with the help of insightful wall text written by Pueblo community members; their knowledge of the artists and works cements the vitality of this exhibition. Curated by the Pueblo Pottery Collective, this show is the first presentation of Native works at the museum to be organized by the community, and especially amidst ongoing demands for institutional accountability surrounding art created by Native peoples, it certainly should not be the last. —LA

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (metmuseum.org)
1000 Fifth Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan
Through June 4, 2024

More Recommendations From Our Summer 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...

Lakshmi Rivera Amin (she/her) is a writer and artist based in New York City. She currently works as Hyperallergic's editorial coordinator.

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. I was much impressed with the writing and art knowledge of Michael Glover.
    I am hopeful that your art writers have more historical knowledge of the art world and artists of the 50s and the galleries that represent them, besides John Yau.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *