“Markus Schinwald,” Yvon Lambert, Chelsea. Through Feb. 20. Roberta Smith: If you want to feel the wind on your eyeballs, stop in at Yvon Lambert and mull over the New York debut of Markus Schinwald. This young Austrian artist divides his time between Vienna and Los Angeles, and his initial appearance here reflects almost too perfectly an existence divided, as it were, between Old Europe and the old New West. At one extreme, small, dark portraits and figure paintings redolent of late-19th-century academicism — supposed antiques-shop finds — dot the walls. Each subject has been turned mildly freaky with the deft addition of bandages, blindfolds or attenuated prosthetic devices. Some images are messily overpainted and look unfinished or vandalized. All together, they resemble neater versions of Asger Jorn’s altered thrift-shop paintings from the 1950s.
At the other extreme, white perpendicular beams span the large gallery, wall to wall and ceiling to floor, like the scaffolding of a Mondrian painting wrought large and three-dimensional….They form an environment that might almost be included in “Primary Atmospheres,” the show of Los Angeles installation art of the 1970s at the nearby David Zwirner Gallery. Sol LeWitt and Donald Judd should be alive to see it. The beams are both enlivened and betrayed by the paintings and are startling prosthetic additions in their own right….Also on view are a life-size male mannequin, gray of face and suit, seated on one of the beams (very Kippenberger), and a series of sculptures made of the legs of Chippendale furniture that resemble well-behaved versions of Sarah Lucas’s slatternly efforts. All told, too many ghosts populate Mr. Schinwald’s ambitious machine. The result is stylish verging on cynical, but it’s great for mulling.
“Martin Wong: Everything Must Go,” P.P.O.W., Chelsea. Through Jan. 30. Karen Rosenberg: The Lower East Side today doesn’t much resemble the neighborhood where Martin Wong lived and worked during the 1980s and ’90s. Mr. Wong, who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1999, made dark but beatific paintings of tenements, jail cells, hustlers and drugged-out poets. But nostalgia for the demimonde isn’t the dominant theme in this small and thoughtful survey, organized by the artist Adam Putnam and coinciding with “Downtown Pix” at the Grey Art Gallery at New York University. The selection of paintings, photo collages and sketches emphasizes Mr. Wong’s interest in surfaces (he trained as a ceramicist) and symbols (sign language and astrology figure prominently here)….Keith Haring and David Wojnarowicz come to mind, but so do Jasper Johns, Gordon Matta-Clark, Paul P., Terence Koh and Kehinde Wiley. Perhaps the most surprising link is to Georgia O’Keeffe, in Mr. Wong’s paintings of spiky cactuses. Subculture will always be part of Mr. Wong’s appeal; in the show’s brochure, the critic Carlo McCormick calls him a “kung fu hippie hip-hop punk.” This show gives us many other points of access.
Read the entire Art in Review column here.