Top 10 Painting Shows You'll Be Talking About This Month

Alex Chaves, James and Shawn, 2015, oil on canvas, 42 x 50 in. Courtesy of Night Gallery. Photo: Lee Thompson.

The First of Fall: 10 Painting Exhibitions Opening in September 2015

The month of September is now upon us--always an exciting time in the art world, as art collectors return to their city homes, bronzed and relaxed from a summer in St Tropez or the Hamptons, and the galleries that were shuttered for August celebrate their September vernissages. As a first taste of the fall season, we've rounded up a selection of gallery exhibitions featuring painting that we are most looking forward to, from Tokyo to Los Angeles and everywhere in between. There is plenty of young talent here, with new and exciting outlooks on the medium, and more than a mere handful of women, we're happy to report. Here are our top ten shows, city by city:

Ken Okiishi, gesture/data, 2015, oil paint on flat-screen television, .mp4 file (color, sound), 42.3 x 24.4 x 2 in. © Ken okiishi. Courtesy of Take Ninagawa, Tokyo.

Ken Okiishi - gestures, data, feedback

Take Ninagawa, Tokyo,
5 September - October 24

Painterly gesture, video feedback, and digital glitch collapse into palimpsest-like objects in Ken Okiishi's gestures, data, feedback series. The Berlin- and New York-based American artist achieves this effect by applying oil paint on flatscreen monitors playing digital video and feedback loops. The works confront the viewer with that spiraling tension between physical presence and digital representation, something that anyone who is familiar with the power and release in the swipe of a finger over an iPhone screen can relate to. Paradoxically, these works are flat and deep at the same time. As the artist says, "Medium-specificity in our current media-system throws the analytical mind into feedback loop hell."


Jeremy Sharma, Melatone 4S_16S_-139_-120 (far side) (detail), 2015, zinc bonded onto high density polystyrene foam, 213 x 122 x 23 cm. Courtesy Sundaram Tagore.

Shubigi Rao, Solipsisms for Descartes, from G. W. B., 2015, ink on Tiepolo paper, 100 x 70 cm. Courtesy Sundaram Tagore Gallery.

Dear Painter

Sundaram Tagore Gallery, Singapore,
4 September - October 25

Curated by June Yap, "Dear Painter" draws its title from the series of paintings, Lieber Maler, male mir (Dear painter, paint for me), that Martin Kippenberger commissioned of a commercial billboard painter in 1981. At Sundaram Tagore, Yap has commissioned 9 multidisciplinary artists from Singapore--Chun Kaifeng, Chun Kai Qun, Martin Constable, Warren Khong, Kai Lam, Jane Lee, Francis Ng, Shubigi Rao, and Jeremy Sharma--to reflect on the history and limits of paint as material and medium. Expect experiments in content and form, from textual interrogations into painting's purpose, to radical new textures and materials.


Jamian Juliano-Villani, Baby Made of Stone, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 132 x 178 cm, 52 x 70 in. Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Leighton, Berlin.

Jamian Juliano-Villani - Nudge the Judge

Tanya Leighton, Berlin,
5 September - 10 October

This young New York painter has made a splash on the scene this year, with a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, her inclusion on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, and even sparked a bit of controversy for her liberal attitude toward appropriation. All visual culture is up for grabs, she contends. Her paintings mine cartoon imagery and art history like it's the gold rush, but it's the way she mixes, mashes and stretches her references in wholly unexpected, sometimes bizarre, ways that make her work particularly exciting.


Anke Weyer, ASAP already, 2015, oil and acrylic on canvas, 203,2 x 170,2 cm. Courtesy the artist and Office Baroque, Brussels.

Anke Weyer - Two Islands Are Better Than One

Office Baroque, Brussels,
11 September - 7 November

A new suite of Anke Weyer's paintings inaugurates Office Baroque's new gallery space this fall, opening on Rue Ravensteinstraat, catty-corner from the Palais des beaux-arts, in the heart of central Brussels. This is the German-born, New-York-based painter's first show with the gallery and her first in Europe. In her large, gestural abstractions, oil and acrylic struggle and collide in strokes, smudges, drips, and accretions. Forms are covered over with new forms--an impertinent yellow patch found peeking through a layer of blue and brown paint here, the vestiges of a de Kooning scribble asserting itself under an obliterating swathe of red there--leaving the viewer to contemplate the artist's impulses and decisions in the act of painting.


Anj Smith, Elimination of a Picture, 2015, oil on linen, 38 x 30 x 2.5 cm, 15 x 11 3/4 x 1 in. © Anj Smith. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Alex Delfanne.

Anj Smith, Elimination of a Picture (detail). © Anj Smith. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Alex Delfanne.

Anj Smith - Phosphor on the Palms

Hauser & Wirth London,
21 September - 21 November

Anj Smith's paintings are wild little things, full of wild little details. Monkey skulls, pearls, pea pods, Romany patterans, jade beetles, and other strange and symbolic objects frame and accent a series of portraits of androgynous, sunken-eyed figures. Each detail is finely, painstakingly wrought, yet everything looks a bit worn, jagged, and threadbare on these wayward figures and their odd appendages of memento mori. Heir to the surrealism of Frida Kahlo and Leonora Carrington, torch bearer of traditions of vanitas and miniatures, this young British painter's works are captivating, curious, and very unlike most contemporary painting seen today.


Keegan McHargue, Untitled, 2015, oil on polyester, aluminum stretcher, 70 x 60 in. Courtesy of Fredericks & Freiser, New York.

Keegan McHargue - Topical

Fredericks & Freiser, New York,
10 September - 10 October

Keegan McHargue's paintings are like the Hairy Who meets South Park. Social commentary comes wrapped in the guise of humor. The New York-based painter's use of childlike motifs, like a flat yellow sun appearing in the corner of the picture frame, lends his paintings a kind of innocence, despite the depravity that they sometimes contain in their weird scenes. There are mermaids, bulbous red cherries, undulating space creatures, explosions, a cartoony red devil, and a centaur that looks like he came galloping out of Colonial Williamsburg, all rather disparate elements that come together with some kind of strange logic in McHargue's world.


Dana Schutz, Fight in an Elevator, 2015, oil on canvas, 243.8 x 228.6 cm, 96 x 90 in. Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York.

Dana Schutz - Fight in an Elevator

Petzel, New York,
10 September - 24 October

Dana Schutz's paintings often work on the level of inquiry: asking, what if? and how would we? What if a person was to eat himself? How would I look if I trimmed my eyelashes? In this new series of work, Schutz's figures find themselves fighting against the confines of specific environments--in a lion's cage, a mirrored elevator, a narrow staircase--ultimately struggling against the picture plane. With her subjects caught in an allegorical struggle against the limits of their two-dimensional beings, the New York-based painter's masterful sense of composition is supremely evident in these paintings.


Jerónimo Elespe, Untitled, 2005, oil on aluminum, 25 x 38 cm, 9.84 x 14.96 in. Courtesy of the artist and Labor, Mexico City.

Jerónimo Elespe - Pas encore

LABOR, Mexico City,
Opens 18 September

Opening during Gallery Weekend Mexico (September 18 - 20), LABOR presents the first exhibition in Mexico by Madrid-based artist Jerónimo Elespe. Known for the notably small scale of his paintings, Elespe paints interiors, landscapes, and portraits from memory, in a rather dark, muted palette. Many of his paintings display a predilection for pointillism--appearing like the kind of light that sparkles momentarily in the vision's periphery after having vigorously rubbed one's eyes.


Yuh-Shioh Wong, Sun Scribes (Pyramids), 2015, acrylic and aqua oil on canvas, 64 x 64 in. Courtesy of Night Gallery. Photo: Sara Gernsbacher.

Night Gallery, Los Angeles,
12 September - 10 October

Yuh-Shioh Wong's new work has a breezy lightness to it, perhaps due to a change in location. Now based in Los Angeles (formerly in New York, and after a stint in San Francisco), the artist's paintings, in acrylic and aqua oil, while still drawing from nature, have become steadily more abstract and lyrical as well, with a light, aqueous and sun-drenched palette. In the project room at Night Gallery, one will find works by painter and poet Alex Chaves, along with a hand-painted rug that runs the entire length of the room. A book of poetry by Chaves, titled Abigail Adams, published by Penny-Ante, will be launched during the run of the exhibition.


Shannon Finley, Broadcast, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 83 x 67 in. Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery.

Shannon Finley's paintings are mind-boggling and beautiful. Using drawings he creates with digital imaging software as a template, Finley's geometric abstractions are precisely rendered in acrylic paint, yet develop intuitively, with shocks of color popping and sparking within the delineations. In the Canada-born, Berlin-based artist's work, the digital process is intertwined with the process of painting, yet the final results often appear like mystical totems and sacred geometries. His new paintings, with titles like Broadcast and Transmission, engage with the idea and image of invisible energies, signals transmitted and received through the geometric properties of wavelengths and vibrations.


--Natalie Hegert