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Derrick Adams

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Aya Takano, Leslie Wayne, and More Must See New York Shows

If you’re in New York this spring, be sure to visit some of these Must See shows and exhibitions around the city.

Aya Takano: UNIO MYSTICA
Perrotin New York
Now—April 13
For the artist’s first solo exhibition, Aya Takano’s “UNIO MYSTICA” at Perrotin investigates sexuality as an expression of the merging of the soul and the divine. In the show are over 50 drawings, eight oil paintings, a paper clay sculpture, and a skateboard deck painted in Takano’s singular style, featuring mystical doe-eyed female figures influenced by her work as an illustrator and manga artist. Works on view include No. 16 of Forty-Eight Positions, Dedicated Hands – Cancer and No. 28 of Forty-Eight Positions, Cuddling – Ursa Minor, both depicting female figures in spiritual union with animals, inspired by the erotic Japanese manual The Forty-Eight Ways. ­­

Jean-Michel Basquiat
The Brant Foundation
Now—May 15
The premier exhibition of The Brant Foundation’s New York gallery in the East Village is the awaited showing of works by Jean-Michel Basquiat. A collection of the artist’s most important works from the Brant Collection are seen alongside several international and private museum collections. Curated by Dr. Dieter Buchhart, and organized in collaboration with Fondation Louis Vuitton, the retrospective shows Basquiat as a contemporary artist ahead of his time, and offers a foreshadowing taste of today’s Internet society with cut-and-paste works inspired by his surroundings.

Derrick Adams: Interior Life
Luxembourg & Dayan Gallery
Now—April 20
Derrick Adams’ exhibition “Interior Life” is a suite of new works at Luxembourg & Dayan Gallery that’s inspired by the Catholic idea of living “a life which seeks God in everything.” Highlighting the artist’s ongoing Deconstruction Worker series, the show displays these vibrant paper portraits installed atop custom wallpapers, depicting collage-reminiscent (and architecturally sophisticated) domestic environments. Working in the mediums of performance, sound, video, painting, and sculpture, Adams’s practice follows “Deconstructivist” philosophies in order to explore the ways that human ideals can become attached to objects, colors, symbols, textures, and ideologies.

Najla El Zein: Transition
Friedman Benda Gallery
Now‑April 13
For Najla El Zein debut solo exhibition, “Transition,” Friedman Benda presents for the first time three of the designer’s new series (“Distortion,” “Seduction,” and “Fragmented Pillar”), which embody El Zein’s personal stories through a number of gestural, organic objects. In “Distortion,” viewers find surreal and sensual works alluding to the pregnant form, illustrating various stages of the body’s transformation. Symbolizing the disturbance of a person’s foundation, “Fragmented Pillar” employs the strong and imposing figure of the pillar as the mother of stability, depicting it in its disturbed state as almost-broken, vertical constructions. And finally, in “Seduction,” El Zein employs stone-sculpted figures to synthesize human interactions and connections.

Leslie Wayne: What’s Inside
Jack Shainman Gallery
Now—March 30
Featuring two bodies of work at Jack Shainman, Leslie Wayne’s “What’s Inside” highlights a series of partially open containers, doors, and windows, depicted in skewed perspectives that create the illusion that the works are, indeed, coming out of the walls. Reality is blurred as the works give off the feeling that one might find refuge and comfort inside their not-quite-right dimensions. Simultaneously, hidden within the broken windows and overflowing dresser drawers are her secrets and worries on topics that point to the evident decline in our society’s moral and cultural fabric—climate denial, immigration, institutionalized racism, and nuclear proliferation.

Carlos Vega: Correspondences
Jack Shainman Gallery
Now—March 30
Cultivating a meeting point between mythology, religion, and history, the works of Carlos Vega’s “Correspondences,” also now on view at Jack Shainman, become the new spiritual icons for today’s contemporary world. Inspired by the Santas works of 17th-century artist Francisco de Zubarán, Vega has created 24 portraits of heroines, saints, and goddesses who struggled in their search for meaning and purpose. Including women like martyr St. Teresia Benedicta a Cruce, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Malala Yousafzai, and mathematician and astronomer Hypatia of Alexandria, the show depicts the tribe of heroines on backgrounds of linen in lively colors and markings, painted completely from his own intuition and memory.

Nari Ward: We the People
New Museum
Now—May 26
For Nari Ward’s first museum survey to date, “We the People” fills the three main floors of the New Museum with works spanning the entirety of Ward’s 25 years as a creator. Featuring more than 30 sculptures, videos, paintings, and large-scale installations, the exhibition includes pieces like Hunger Cradle (a large-scale environment originally exhibited in an abandoned firehouse) and Blue Window-Brick Vine (a crumbling wall fragment and window surrounded by broken bricks and debris). Evoking innovative recycling and folk traditions from his birthplace of Jamaica, as well as the textures of his current home in Harlem, the artist is known for his use of humble and repurposed materials.

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