Zack Hatfield is a writer based in New York.

NYR DAILY

Farah Al Qasimi and the Beguiling Everyday

Farah Al Qasimi: Blanket Shop, 2019; 21st St between Astoria Blvd and 27th Rd, Queens

Farah Al Qasimi’s Public Art Fund commission “Back and Forth Disco”—which opened in January and places seventeen photographs across one hundred New York bus shelter light boxes—has acquired an unforeseen resonance, restoring serendipity to a metropolis under lockdown. Many of these images, most flash-lit and tartly hued, concern the city’s commerce, especially the commerce that occurs among immigrants. A pearlescent chandelier in a Yemeni-owned bodega; an Indian wedding garland of faux flowers, tied around a parked car’s rearview mirror: Al Qasimi’s eye locates and enlarges the oblique, beguiling minutiae of ordinary life.

Leon Golub’s Men Behaving Cruelly

Leon Golub: Tete De Cheval II, 1963

“Raw Nerve,” which spans seven decades and comprises mostly lesser-known paintings, drawings, and lithographs, shows the Leon Golub’s affinity for antiquity, juxtaposing his tableaux of soldiers, mercenaries, and other powerful men with the traditions of ancient Roman and Greek art, as well as other classical genres. Although their scale references early history paintings, which typically sought to heroize characters from a specific past, Golub’s works repeatedly portray men enacting violence in settings mostly stripped of period detail, as if to suggest that history itself can be reduced to men behaving cruelly.  

Ruth Asawa: Tending the Metal Garden

An installation view of sculptures by Ruth Asawa at David Zwirner, New York, 2017

When the Black Mountain College artist Ruth Asawa debuted her wire sculptures in New York in the Fifties, critics dismissed them as decorative or housewifely. Yet the universal implications of Asawa’s work are owed to the particularities of her struggle at a Japanese internment camp. Asawa sought to evoke “transparent geometries” found in nature: the scales of a butterfly wing, a spiderweb, a wasp’s nest, or a reef of coral.