Tracking Art in Manhattan / Illuminating Art in Brooklyn

From Brian Montuori's Cold Sweat

Posted by Tobias Carroll

I have no formal training in art history. I tried: my junior year of college found me registering for a course in 20th-century art, only to be asked to leave five minutes into the first class. To be fair, I was joined by around two-thirds of the people gathered there; there was, apparently, a prerequisite that had never made it to the course catalog. Good times. What follows, then, are two short takes on art shows I took in this weekend. In neither way can I be completely objective: I’ve known several of the artists in question, some for many years. But on the other hand, this is work that provokes a reaction, and it’s all worth seeing.

Brian Montuori’s Cold Sweat, at the Allegra LaViola Gallery through October 15.

You’ll find images of Montuori’s work on the gallery’s site, but much of what gives these pieces their power is their size and scale. One painting is larger than most of the walls of my apartment. Another occupied the corner of the gallery, boxing the viewer in and forcing them to focus on the layered, violent, surreal image on display. A trail of dried fluid snakes through the gallery’s first floor, down a flight of stairs and into the basement, leading to a particularly striking diorama.

Alternately, this was the reaction I posted to Twitter after leaving the opening on Friday night: “Hot damn. Run, don’t walk. Seriously.”

One and Three Quarters of an Inch, curated by Peter Clough, at the Former Convent of St. Cecelia’s Parish through September 18.

Fifty-odd artists creating site-specific work across four floors (and the basement) of a now-abandoned convent. Did I mention that the windows are blackened, and for most of the work you’ll need a flashlight (or, if you’re feeling resourceful, your phone’s illuminated screen) to see exactly what’s going on. The work here ranges from video installations to paintings to landscapes existing within the walls of the building to at least one performance piece. Some are incredibly moving; others, playful. And one piece, not far from the basement’s furnace, disoriented the hell out of me by taking an alcove, twisting its objects ninety degrees, and projecting a loop of a falling chair through distant glass.