8 Gallery Shows Not to Miss During the First-Ever New York Art Week, From Ellsworth Kelly’s Collages to Nari Ward’s Ode to Morandi

May 3, 2022

Following in the footsteps of successful city-wide art events in London and Berlin, the debut New York Art Week opens for the first time this week, and it’s going to an absolute extravaganza.

Twenty organizations are part of the initiative, including Christie’s, Creative Time, the Independent Art Fair, and the Met, and each will plan its own programming. Alongside their events and exhibitions, galleries around New York, from Chelsea to the Bowery, will stage shows too. Here are a few highlights to put on your agenda.

Nari Ward, A Proclamation (2022). Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London.

Nari Ward’s sixth solo show with the gallery explores many of the artist’s perennial interests (public commemoration, the meanings that found materials carry) through four text pieces created from shoelaces, new works on copper panels, and a large-scale installation made from bottles, candles, milk crates, and suitcases, among other materials. The latter work is partly an homage to the painter Giorgio Morandi, whose quiet still lifes of vases belied intense emotional focus. Ward’s new show is also a reflection on the pandemic and the makeshift memorials erected by everyday people across New York.

Xie Nanxing, Shadows of Painting, No. 5 (2021).

The artist’s first-ever New York solo show presents two recent series, “The Dwarfs’ Refrain” (2019–20) and “Shadows of Painting” (2020–21), which continue Xie Nanxing’s extended reflection on the contradictions of oil painting. Using abstract grids alongside references from photographs, the works are Nanxing’s attempts to “target” figurative painting and upend its traditions, yet retain a painterly touch and emphasis on craft, according to the gallery.

William Wegman, OMG (2021). Courtesy of Sperone Westwater.

Texts, drawings, paintings, photographs, and videos made by William Wegman between the 1970s and today are the focus of this show, which includes many never-before-exhibited works. Altogether, the show emphasizes Wegman’s penchant for puns, wordplay, and his interest in the fluidity of language, as well as his deadpan nonsequiturs and winking embrace of banality. The show is accompanied by a new book, William Wegman: Writing by Artist, published by Primary Information and edited by Andrew Lampert, who organized the show.

Annette Lemieux, Lockdown (2022). Courtesy the artist and Mitchell-Innes and Nash.

In her latest works, conceptual artist Anette Lemiuex, a member of the Pictures Generation, mines TV, film, and literary history to focus on “isolation, division, and brokenness,” according to the gallery. In one work, titled Midnight Sun and made in part from a film still from The Twilight Zone, Lemiuex depicts an artist painting in vain amid a heatwave that melts the pigment off her canvas. In part a reflection on the difficulties of the vocation, the work also references wider looming troubles ahead.

Ellsworth Kelly, Nuit de Carnaval, Haiti 1980 (2022). Courtesy Matthew Marks.

Two shows by the late Modern painter will be on view at Matthew Marks, including one focusing on little-seen postcard collages made between 1957 to 1998. The pictures, which Kelly made using found images, highlight the artist’s longstanding desire not to invent new forms, but to isolate and emphasize the many that already exist. Alongside the show, the exhibition “Ellsworth Kelly: Blue Green Black Red” at another Matthew Marks space nearby, will explore works made in those colors.

Kerstin Brätsch. Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s Enterprise.

Kerstin Brätsch’s “Para-Psychics” works, which she made between 2020 and 2021, were done in a period of self-isolation, during which the artist developed a daily method of visualizing her “own psychic realm,” according to the gallery. The works, made in colored pencil, are partly a meditation on clairvoyance, and were inspired by the artist’s visits to fortune tellers. In the works, as the writer Saim Demircan points out, “figures occasionally appear in various states of becoming or disintegrating into their surroundings.”

Lorraine O’Grady, Dracula and the Artist, (1991/2019). Courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York © 2022 Lorraine O’Grady / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

The works in Lorraine O’Grady’s groundbreaking series “Body Is the Ground of My Experience,” presented at her first-ever New York solo show in 1991 at INTAR Gallery, have been brought together for the first time in 30 years for this show at Alexander Gray. When the series, which draws heavily on O’Grady’s interest in Surrealism, was first presented, it was intended as a shot across the bow of the formalism of Postmodern photography, and instead centered on the Black body as “a literal ground on which history acts and is unexpectedly modified,” according to the gallery.

Tavares Strachan. Photo by Brook DiDonato, courtesy the artist.

Tavares Strachan’s first solo show with Marian Goodman in New York focuses on the life of Marcus Garvey, the Jamaican-born Black nationalist and Pan-Africanist who advocated for the settlement of Liberia in West Africa as a land where Black people, including the descendants of American slaves, could determine their own future. The show also pulls in a variety of other themes and motifs (such as mathematical theorems and basketball) as a way of expanding, narrowing, and resampling historical forms.