Through June 12. Alexander Gray Associates, 510 West 26th Road, Manhattan. 212-399-2636 alexandergray.com.

Joan Semmel is renowned for portray the overall body. Of system the human human body has been Western painting’s main subject matter for most of its heritage, but Semmel insists on aspects that get neglected. In the 1970s, she attained notoriety for explicit near-ups of sexual encounters. For the previous number of a long time, it’s been her own ageing overall body — she was born in 1932 — that shocks visitors from gallery partitions.

That’s not to say that the body she paints is carnal, accurately. Some of the nudes in her formidable new double exhibit, “A Balancing Act,” at two Alexander Grey venues (in Manhattan and Germantown, N.Y.) are eroticized and some are not most have their faces concealed or slash off all incorporate just more than enough white hair and sagging flesh to set up that they’re not youthful. But Semmel does not linger around their material details. In these new paintings, at minimum, her entire body is a little something that acts — strikes poses, casts shadows, displays light-weight. It is virtually on the place of coming apart into pure gentle and vitality.

In “Touching Toes” (2019), the painter is considered from the aspect and beneath, with a single leg crossed, versus a midnight blue background. It’s a static adequate placement, but the rosy ball of her foot would seem to surge like a rocket from the eco-friendly aircraft of her thigh. And the artist’s ringed right hand, in “Red Hand,” glows towards her shadowed purple tummy like a jewel.

WILL HEINRICH


By way of June 12. PPOW Gallery. 392 Broadway, Manhattan, (212) 647-1044, ppowgallery.com.

Erin M. Riley’s display of handwoven tapestries — mostly picture-primarily based — announce her as a main pictorial artist. This exhibition presents whole expression to the mixture of scorching honesty and seductive openness that distinguishes her work and also to the way she takes advantage of the natural beauty of weaving to equally draw us around and soften the blows that her compositions, aided by virtually ideal titles, produce. Her richly variegated shades and complex, arresting scenes take total edge of tapestry’s stitch-by-sew autonomy.

The all round effect is equally documentary and diaristic. Some tapestries quietly revisit Riley’s traumatic childhood. Others reveal her makes an attempt at self-treatment (which in some cases requires webcam sexual intercourse) as implied by the show’s title — “The Consensual Truth of Therapeutic Fantasies.” A lot of of the is effective are amazingly personal still restrained: We see Riley’s nude human body, lavishly clothed in tattoos, but never ever her confront. We’re in the previous with 4 tapestries that reproduce the stained covers of 1970s pamphlets about domestic abuse, which influenced her mom.

A tapestry titled “An Accident” conjures this sort of abuse with a monumental shut-up of an wounded hand though its title echoes the excuse that battered victims, and batterers alike, usually use to deflect scrutiny. Riley’s teenage composition notebooks look in “The Rose” and “Beauty Lives Here,” signaling her creative instincts with their elaborately collaged and decorated handles. A single of the most riveting pieces right here is “Anxiety,” which depicts the artist’s bare breasts and the scars and scabs of self-mutilation. Beneath them is an opulent tattoo, the term “Treasure” in implicitly “girlish” cursive. Working as the two a noun and a verb, it admonishes either way: Our everyday living is a gift, price it.

ROBERTA SMITH


By June 19. Karma, 188 & 172 East 2nd Street, Manhattan, (212) 390-8290, karmakarma.org.

Great artwork is wondrous things that I just can’t think about living without. But I have to confess that, for all its glory, there is something inescapably rotten about it. With so a lot of persons having difficulties for the basics of everyday living, deluxe objects that end up interesting to the prosperous, and belonging to them, can make you hold your nose.

I’ve hardly ever witnessed perform that speaks to the magic and rot of art as correctly as the Brobdingnagian sculptures of the New Yorker Kathleen Ryan, on check out in a display that fills equally Karma spaces in the East Village.

Ryan offers cherries the dimensions of bowling balls, gleaming and shiny wherever they are not included in mildew. She shows lemons as massive as a beer keg that are sparkling-refreshing on just one facet, eco-friendly and fuzzy on the other. A jack-o’-lantern that would fill most NYCHA bedrooms evokes a sight from the days following Halloween: exterior, a easy orange pores and skin inside, a mass of decaying squash-flesh. And Ryan has rendered all this blown-up produce, in its wellbeing and putrescence, entirely in beads of various sizes, hues and resources. The impact is practically trompe l’oeil. The nutritious parts of a lemon are captured in delicate gradations of yellow, orange and amber, brilliantly recognized in glass and acrylic where by the fruit has long gone moldy, a chaotic mass of greens, whites, grays and browns is reproduced using beads built of such semiprecious stones as malachite, smoky quartz, citrine and serpentine. The extra putrefied the flesh of Ryan’s deliver, the a lot more treasured the products it receives manufactured from and the far more irresistible it is to the eye, like something Fabergé might have designed for a prince.

Irresistible rot for the oligarchy? In 2021, Ryan’s trompe l’oeil could possibly just generate a vision of artwork.

BLAKE GOPNIK