Through April 3. Anton Kern Gallery, 16 East 55th Avenue, Manhattan, 212-367-9663, antonkerngallery.com.

The painter David Byrd was born in Springfield, Unwell., in 1926. When he was quite youthful, his father, who experienced mental ailment, still left the loved ones. When David was 12, his mother, not able to cope, ceded her 6 little ones to foster homes.

How this influenced Byrd, who died in 2013, will never be regarded. But a trace of this trauma appears to be immanent in the tender paintings and coloured-pencil drawings he made of lifetime on the psychiatric ward of a Veterans Affairs healthcare facility in Montrose, N.Y.

Byrd labored there as an orderly for a few decades, owning joined the service provider marine at 17 served in the U.S. Army in the course of World War II researched art for two years in New York with the Cubist Amédée Ozenfant and struggled to locate a work that would enable him time to paint.

The medical center delivered this, and issue make a difference, also. Byrd built small sketches throughout silent instances on the ward that became the basis for colored pencil drawings and the paintings. His surfaces are delicately textured and skinny: The white paper or canvas glows by way of, to disembodied outcome. Whilst Byrd also depicted lifestyle in Montrose, the hospital ward remained his major target, serving as a kind of by no means-ending determine-drawing course, wherever the unpredictable patients contrasted with the stripped-down geometry of institutional architecture.

This would seem to be the scenario with “Hospital Hallways” (1992), the show’s biggest canvas. Right here a extensive hallway intersecting with other folks produce a economic downturn of concentric wedges of pale yellow light-weight and pink walls in which four individuals can be found to the aspect, a physician has just stepped into an elevator, forged in blue mild.

Byrd worked for years on a scrapbook of drawings, accompanied by cryptic observations. Previous year, the Anton Kern Gallery, with the artist’s estate, revealed a placing facsimile of it, “Montrose VA, 1958-1988.” The present gallery exhibition, which has the identical title, demonstrates Byrd methodically doing the job up his haunting images and various pages from the scrapbook.

ROBERTA SMITH


By way of April 3. Alexander Gray Associates, 510 West 26th Avenue, Manhattan, (212) 399-2636, alexandergray.com.

When the artist Hugh Steers, just out of Yale, was carrying out realist figurative painting in the mid-1980s, that style, so warm proper now, was out of trend. His earliest shots, of homosexual-themed allegorical narratives, felt like art in lookup of an era.

In 1987, Steers tested H.I.V. optimistic. Thereafter the design of his get the job done — a meld of Edward Hopper moodiness and Pierre Bonnard color — stayed the identical, as did the narrative sort, but the articles took on sharp target, evident in this lovely exhibit of paintings, “Strange Point out of Currently being,” from later on in his vocation. (Steers died of difficulties from AIDS in 1995 at 32.)

In several, the placing is a sickroom, and in some the allegorical manner nonetheless dominates. In the early “Crow” from 1988, a 50 percent-dressed gentleman touches the forehead of a further guy as if experience for symptoms of fever as a black chicken wings towards them like a maleficent angel. In a later painting, “Hospital Bed” (1993), the tale is far more clear-cut. A figure lies in a mattress cradled by one more figure. It is a vintage Mary-and-Jesus “Pieta,” besides that both the figures are adult males, each nude, and the prone man is respiration oxygen through a tube.

Pictures like these came across with an fast, lived psychological fat when they initial appeared in the course of the AIDS disaster in the late 1980s, and do once more currently throughout the pandemic. And that body weight is in different ways highly effective now. “I would like to be able to act or have an individual treatment about me the way some of the men and women in my paintings act or care about each individual other,” Steers reported in a 1994 job interview. But the coronavirus has manufactured the consoling in extremis intimacy that he depicts virtually impossible.

HOLLAND COTTER


By means of April 17. Greene Naftali, 508 West 26th Avenue, Manhattan 212-463-7770, greenenaftaligallery.com.

Standing prior to Cory Arcangel’s “/roʊˈdeɪoʊ/ Let us Engage in: HOLLYWOOD” (2017-21) at Greene Naftali, I uncovered myself pondering “why?” The perform marks the debut, in the artist’s phrases, of a “Deep-Q device finding out super computing method which can enjoy, and discover as it performs, opened ended RPG games” — in other words, a remarkably smart personal computer that can navigate video games with aims additional vague than successful.

For his show “Century 21” Arcangel, a multimedia artist whose conceptual throughline is technology, has qualified it on the online video game “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood,” in which players attempt to turn out to be renowned. On a big screen, I watched a character with a blond fake hawk and goatee cling about in the Los Angeles airport, when colored packing containers and lines of emoji code flickered around him. It was tedious, not in contrast to viewing Warhol’s eight-hour film of the Empire Point out Making. The /roʊˈdeɪoʊ/ command center — displays, processors and wires — was organized on a close by pedestal.

Why establish this sort of a sophisticated process, only to operate it by means of these kinds of a vapid video game? This problem receives to the coronary heart of Arcangel’s artwork. For his legendary entry in the 2004 Whitney Biennial, he stripped “Super Mario Brothers” of just about every element apart from the clouds. With Arcangel, “why?” tends to prompt “why not?,” which potential customers to a deeper inquiry into how we relate to digital media and up to date lifestyle. At his greatest, he provides us a new perspective on our own behavior of consumption.

He doesn’t usually get it ideal. The video set up “elleusa, equinor, equinox, etrade_economical” (2020) demonstrates a bot liking each individual submit by these Twitter accounts, which is a lot less insightful than banal. Arcangel is sharper when he’s funny, as in “we deliver / the king checked by the queen” (2020), which functions two bots taking part in chess by means of comments on company Instagram accounts. The intervention has a tranquil absurdity that can make it come to feel each disruptive and like a satisfying joke.

JILLIAN STEINHAUER


By way of April 10. Galerie Eva Presenhuber, 39 Fantastic Jones Street, Manhattan. 212-931-0711, presenhuber.com.

Lucas Blalock’s new display, “Florida, 1989,” is named for two functions that marked his childhood. When he was 10 several years aged, his ideal thumb was severed in an incident at Disney Entire world and soon afterward, in an experimental procedure, medical practitioners changed it with his individual huge toe.

The date isn’t the least of it. In his early 40s, Blalock is quite a great deal a photographer of his era — not entirely immersed in the fantastical possibilities of electronic image manipulation, but not so worried, both, about what these electronic fantasies may possibly say about the medium. For him, Photoshop is just a person additional obtainable tool to be utilised in setting up substantial, stunning, and generally confounding still lifes. In “Haunted Hearth (Witchcraft Ad)” (2017-20), a near-up of a stone fireplace at a tacky resort, he alters the shade of the grout and provides in an more, floating stone, alongside with its shadow for “Blep” (2020), he caught a lifelike plastic tongue into the mouth of a toy tiger but utilized no exclusive effects at all.

That dismembered and repositioned tongue is not the only visible allusion to the artist’s possess missing digit. There are finger-measurement wooden clothespins overlaid with finger-dimension black lines, and, in the show’s standout picture, “Reverse Titanic/Hell Is in the Air” (2019), two severed plastic fish heads are locked in a curious embrace. But the actual affinity in between Blalock’s formative personal injury and his work is in the overall tone: Like a freakish incident, or a singular trauma, his illustrations or photos are almost too weird and vivid to be designed perception of. They need to merely be taken as points.

WILL HEINRICH