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See: Florian Maier-Aichen & SVA MFA Open Studio Picks

Florian Maier-Aichen’s show of large face-mounted photographic works at 303 Gallery is pretty great. There are some eerie, manipulated landscapes and strange photographs of paintings and mixed media works. The result is baffling in a good way. I especially liked:

Florian Maier-Aichen, Östersjön I, 2011

Florian Maier-Aichen, Östersjön I, 2011. Source: 303gallery.com.

Florian Maier-Aichen,Untitled, 2011.

Florian Maier-Aichen, Untitled, 2011. Source: 303gallery.com

The exhibition continues through June 25. 303 Gallery is located at 547 W 21st Street in Chelsea, NYC. (Thanks to Glen Helfand and Mills Art Museum for providing my introduction to Maier-Aichen’s work in the 2006 exhibition, Particulate Matter.)

R* and I took a very late, very quick jaunt through SVA’s MFA Open Studios. Here’s what jumped out at me from the maze of barely-drywalled studios…

First, I sought out the studios of three artists who happened to be interns at Art in General. Their practices couldn’t be more different: Elán Jurado subjects himself to physically demanding performances, Kim Smith makes sluice-y abstract paintings with fluorescent underpainting, and Jonathan Rider crafts meticulous and tiny punched paper assemblages. Rider’s work conjured “In the Reign of Harad IV,” Stephen Millhauser’s beautifully crafted short story about a miniaturist who works beyond the barrier of visibility. (Listen to Cynthia Ozick read it in a New Yorker Fiction podcast. Highly recommended for any artist, especially those aware of the dilemma that refining sensibilities may result in diminishing audiences.)

While grad school should be about experimentation, and indeed much of the work in the studios doesn’t appear on the students’ websites, there were some studios that seemed to exhibit freshness and coherence, which appealed to me from the chaotic quarters.

Perhaps the riotous surroundings further enhanced the appeal of minimal installations by Oh Jong and Aken Wahl. Or maybe I just like brainy, minimal, barely perceptible art that uses glass, wires and multiples. Nothing wrong with that.

Max Glaser had some really interesting polished metal ingots and polished pennies in his studio. There was an emphasis on material and process that seemed to convey a confidence in his inquiry. But the inquisitive mood was completely destroyed by a dead mouse, smashed against the glass in a picture frame and encased in acrylic. Displaying decomposing flesh in such an aestheticized manner (in white frame on a white wall) struck me as cruel and profane. As MA pointed out after a recent visit to the Mütter Museum in Philly, displays of mortality often beget questions of morality.

Rebecca S. Ward’s investigations of tape as an installation material is interesting. She also had some various colored roll media standing on end on the floor, as very simple, ingenious sculptures. Eli Gabriel Halpern’s paintings alternated between figuration and abstraction, unified by a pastel palette that was attractive and slightly repulsive. Aaron Hillebrand walks the good/bad/ugly line with his crumple-paintings, with oddball paintings and video works nestled between and behind.

SVA’s MFA Open Studios continue tomorrow from noon to 6pm.

*She’s a good photographer. Check it out.

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