What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week

The centerpiece of the show, however, is a 20-minute psychedelic video created in the animation software Maya. The images here are in constant motion, like a giant kaleidoscope with twisting and turning architectural spaces, nude figures posing and intertwined with one another (actual sex is more veiled than obvious) and motifs like a long twisting braid (perhaps a tail, snake or whip). It’s a virtual gay sex club or a free-love spaceship drifting through some unknown universe. Mr. Satterwhite appears in nonanimated form, via green-screen technology, dressed to kill (at the club or on the catwalk), performing a combination of kung fu and vogueing poses in an unidentified Chinese shopping district.

The whole presentation is sensorially rich but risks being vapid — high on effect and low on pretty much everything else — until you learn that the voice accompanying the video belongs to the artist’s mother, Patricia Satterwhite, who was schizophrenic and died in 2016. Ms. Satterwhite also made the pencil drawings on display in the office (culled from nearly 10,000 of her drawings, many inspired by watching home-shopping television shows) and which helped influence the products in the shop. Suddenly, the show gains gravity, becoming a collaboration, a memorial and immersive queer nightclub. It’s a complicated union, but perhaps a visionary antidote, both to grief and to the dystopian gloom that artists working in the cyber-futuristic mode often feel obliged to embrace. MARTHA SCHWENDENER

Matthew Wong

Through April 29. Karma, 188 East Second Street, Manhattan; 212-390-8290, karmakarma.org.

Photo



“The Realm of Appearances,” by the Canadian painter Matthew Wong.

Credit
Karma

The young Canadian painter Matthew Wong has an illustrator’s vivid sense of color and an obsessiveness he seems to have domesticated into a resource. In the group of conventionally structured but graphic and gloriously weird oil landscapes that, along with a series of less successful small watercolors, comprise his solo debut at Karma, he leans heavily into painterly abstraction.

“The Realm of Appearances,” in which a red meadow rides up to a high horizon line and impasto moon, is a densely set typology of brush strokes: Thick navy wiggles collide with a rain of overlapping oil-green drops and a school of pert yellow dabs. “The Road” is centered on a wavy blue line that might be a tree trunk, a road, or just a line, and the speckled white birches in his Klimt homage “The Kingdom” become an Op Art swathe of stripes in the canvas’s upper third.

At first I thought these complicated constructs of color and pattern were spoiled by the single tiny person Mr. Wong drops into most of them. The figures’ rough, rudimentary drawing upsets the intoxicating ambiguity of the larger shapes like a false note, and their drastic difference in scale makes them hard to focus on.

But in fact they’re both psychologically and formally crucial. It’s only the little gray man at a wishing well who turns “The Realm of Appearances” from an exotic but contained garden into the endless expanse of the unconscious. And it’s only the sketchy gray man paddling a canoe across “The Beginning” who, by keeping the painting anchored however tenuously in figuration, gives its psychedelic pointillism the power to shock. WILL HEINRICH

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