Have I stayed too long at the fair?

Armory weekend in New York. So much to see. Here's some things I liked. Gran Fury: READ MY LIPS at 80WSE Gallery, Steinhardt School Department of Art and Art Professions at NYU. An amazing show of powerful and desperate work that spoke to a desperate time. It makes me realize how close we were when we all were dying.

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Brian Bress at Cherry and Martin at the Armory Show. I love the way he manipulates the space of video. His work expands and contracts as things enter and leave the screen. The hilarity of his work is exacerbated by his craft with all the elements of video, performance, and production. The yellow border on his video at Armory was a container of delight.

There was some painting at the Armory that really was terrific. There wasn't a lot of it, but Tomory Dodge really made up for the lack of sophisticated painting. The show at CRG was installed beautifully and the paintings really overwhelmed you with their rich application and independence. Each painting provided a different visual structure; some related to landscape, some to atmosphere, and so on. There were no nostalgic references or attempts to recreate a certain moment in painting's history. Modestly sized and confidently executed, Dodge showed that abstraction could be lyrical, alive, and beautiful and still carry within it ideas about collapse and entropy.

VOLTA is my favorite fair. It's smaller than Armory and it has only one artist per booth. You get a broader view of the work of anartist at this fair and there were a lot of great things to see here.

Matt Rich at Sams√łn. The work is much more uncanny. You really can no longer tell how it is made and the choice of color makes the experience of looking richer and more rewarding. Rich is making work that is stripped of all its support and still refuses to collapse.

I also really need to say that the Boston Galleries really were awesome at VOLTA. I'm not just saying that to suck up to anyone. I feel that Rich, Andrew Masullo at Steven Zevitas and Jeff Perrott at LaMontagne had terrific shows. (Andrew was all over New York, with a great show at the Whitney Biennial and works at the Independent Art Fair.) Seen together, this could lead to a discussion about contemporary abstraction and its relationship to Boston. Looking at Perrott's work in light of Sue Williams's paintings up now at ICA Boston in FIGURING COLOR I think that he has a better handle on what the exuberance of painting can tell us about contemporary life. It's not just a major gesture of joy; it's an indicator of search, a documentation of conflict, and sometimes, a way to come together.

Razvan Boar at Ana Cristea. So nice to see figure painting that had drama, action, and bathos. These paintings relied not on the photographic, but a real sense of the cinematic. The compositions were as exciting as Balthus and the color, though muted, showed a real concern with mixing. He was one of the few figure painters I saw that knew how to mix a chromatic shadow. (The other was the divine Philip Pearstein at the ADAA Fair.)

Domenico Piccolo at Federico Bianchi. Heartbreakingly beautiful and tough pictures painted in washes of ink and oil on acetate and vinyl. The antipathy between the materials creates puddles, stains, and smudges that resolve themselves into figures and spaces that are feel weightless; as if breathing on the images will make them disappear. Their delicate execution is a wonderful counterpoint to the images of loss and isolation he captures.

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There was other great stuff at VOLTA as well. Neal Tait at Vigo Gallery, Patrick Jacobs at The Pool NYC, Andreas Johansson at Galleri Flach in Stockholm (Pop-up books, who knew?), and Sheila Gallagher at DodgeGallery.

I went to the ADAA Fair, The Independent Art Fair, VOLTA, The Armory Show, the Gran Fury show, and a few Chelsea galleries. I'll get to the rest later.