Haunch of Venison
550 West 21st St. between Tenth & Eleventh Aves.
Extended through January 12, free, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
For more than fifty years — before, during, and after his time with the Zero group, which sought to reset German art for the post-WWII generation — Günther Uecker has been creating multidisciplinary works that explore religion, politics, the military, violence, and human nature by, among other things, hammering nails into canvases. “Art cannot salvage humanity, but with the means of art a dialogue can be enabled, calling out for the preservation of humanity,” he explains in the press release for his first New York City solo exhibition of new work since 1966. The Düsseldorf-based artist and teacher has filled Chelsea’s Haunch of Venison with primarily black-and-white pieces that are hung on the walls and drop from the ceiling. Many feature nails hammered into them, creating shadows that appear to make them move with the light as visitors walk past. Several of the canvases also contain quotations from the Old Testament, while a corner mural includes the same words translated into Farsi. Though produced with violent actions, there is a peaceful quality to the works, as if Uecker, whose 1965 kinetic sculpture “New York Dancer IV” was a highlight of the recent “Ghosts in the Machine” exhibition at the New Museum, is hopeful that the world, especially the Middle East, will come to its senses and find common ground. Yet the eighty-two-year-old artist furthers his abstract examination of various dichotomies by employing such titles as “Scream,” “Injuries Connections,” “Black Rain,” and “White Phantom.” The show, which continues through December 21, offers a fascinating look into the mind of an artist who still takes great pleasure in challenging both the viewer and himself in a world rife with bitter conflict.