Hadn't made it to Chelsea in a while and returned to find a universe of painting...and pain. The former I attribute to the hordes of well-heeled collectorbots descending on New York for the fairs and looking for "tangible product" (I know this is a frequent jab but there has to be someone we can make fun of). The latter I ascribe to our mass collective psychic residue of guilt over tearing another country to shreds with an elective, unprovoked war, combined with self-expressive narcissism as usual (the crucified Christ c'est moi).
Thus Giles Lyon channeling Steve Mumford's Baghdad Diary by way of Carroll Dunham (and Goya) at Mixed Greens; Michal Rovnar's punishing digital video at Pace recalling a fractal distillation of the oil field fires in Werner Herzog's Lessons of Darkness; bleeding bullet holes in Lucky DeBellevue's chenielle stem sculptures; Bonnie Collura's morphed figures that have grown increasingly gory and angst-ridden since she got raised to Olympian heights and then squashed like a bug by the Times (seriously, they were good, but might have done without the St. Sebastian arrows); Trenton Doyle Hancock's bone-through-the-wrist stigmata bleeding Pepto-Bismol; and that was just on two blocks.
Big shout-out to Jeff Elrod at Fredericks Freiser: punchy but elegant paintings; excellent addition of spray paint and grey check backgrounds a la Photoshop. Not Matisse with a Mac (as an old press release had it), so much as Cy Twombly. And kidding aside, that Trenton Doyle Hancock show at James Cohan (image above) is superb: a splattery gutfest with pitch-perfect balance of outsider-y collage elements and geometric tangles of bones and viscera. He takes pages from the Christian Schumann playbook, wads them up, spits on them, and glues them back on the canvas in a thousand pissed-off fragments. (Speaking metaphorically here.)