"New York-based Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard is a prolific, profane and much-admired polymath," reads the opening line of the press release for Luxembourg and Dayan's latest exhibition, "A New Novel by Bjarne Melgaard." Melgaard's work has never relied on embracing aesthetic beauty or subtlety. He works in nuances, perhaps with gesture and augmentation of familiar figures and motifs (in this case, and most obviously, the Pink Panther and the notion of a child's doll). He can draw, he can handle the painted medium, he can also write, and he appeals to artists of differing mediums to the extent that such noted designers as the Proenza Schouler boys collaborated with him on couture clothing for the demonic dolls that plague the oversized diorama in this exhibition. The work remains violently arresting -- and deeply disturbing -- with dioramic scenes resembling dens of iniquity using puppets and shrunken detritus that are juxtaposed with toxic paintings which are dense, thick and maybe even painful to look at. From dolls with their mouths sewn shut to renderings of popular cartoon characters perverted by profanity and cast with dark, sullen expressions, every element of Melgaard's oeuvre pushes the viewer a little harder to not so much understand, but open their mind enough to appreciate the sheer creativity of one man's incredible mind. It's almost as if Melgaard internalizes and then twists our darkest fantasies, harnessing the erratic (and erotic) nature of the human mind, and allows both to explode in the context of a gallery. The effect is immediate as one enters into the first room and encounters stacks upon stacks of colored (grey, pink, green) copies of the actual book and an excess of Pink Panther dolls (who would have thought it existed and bound so nicely?) amongst a verifiable pile of trash and clothes draped over furniture. The show, however provocative, is fun and loud, yet meticulous and a labor of love that appeals to both commercial and non-commercial alike.
"A New Novel by Bjarne Melgaard" is at Luxembourg and Dayan (64 East 77th Street) from November 9 to December 22, 2012.
About 20 blocks south of L&D, MoMA hosts "Tokyo 1955-1970: A New Avant-Garde." This historical show illustrates the city's transformation from a war-torn nation to an international hub for both culture and commerce. While the exhibition includes a tremendous amount of work by artists that are by and large unknown in the West, parallels between certain traditions mirror one another via surrealism and pure abstraction. The exhibition hits all the high points with artists such as Jiro Takamatsu from Hi Red Center, and exhibits works related to Atsuko Tanaka's famous "Electric Dress" (1956) along with a large-format Kazuo Shiraga painting and an endlessly varied selection of painting, sculpture, photography, collage and posters from the period. Since the Hauser & Wirth's exhibition this past fall, and other notable shows over the last few years, Japanese post-war paintings have begun to gain the recognition they deserve. With any hope, this show will spurn further interest.
"Tokyo 1955-1970: A New Avant-Garde" is at the Museum of Modern Art from November 18 to February 25, 2013.