What to See Right Now in New York Art Galleries
Nicky Nodjoumi’s dreamy serial paintings; Albert Oehlen’s “mirror paintings”; Clarity Haynes portraits of breasts; Kim Tschang-Yeul’s abstract brand of Pop Art
Through Jan. 25. Denny Dimin Gallery, 39 Lispenard Street, Manhattan; 212-226-6537, dennygallery.com.
Credit…Clarity Haynes, New Discretions and Denny Dimin Gallery
Since the late 1990s, Clarity Haynes has been painting portraits of people’s breasts. They aren’t descended from the sexy and sexist classical nudes of art history, nor do they have the fleshy weight of the paintings of more contemporary artists like Lucian Freud or Jenny Saville. Instead, in “The Breast Portrait Project,” Ms. Haynes — who works from life over a series of sessions with her sitters that can take years — depicts the torsos of women, trans, and gender-nonconforming people in remarkable, caring detail. She relishes the tattoos, wrinkles, scars, veins and folds that our dominant society may deem unsightly.
In her current show, “Altar-ed Bodies,” which was curated by Benjamin Tischer, co-founder of the recently closed Invisible-Exports gallery, several of Ms. Haynes’s breast portraits share space with new paintings of her own altars, which the news release calls “self-portraits of sorts.” The altar pieces lack something of the same magnetic force of their counterparts, but the combination of the series is fruitful. In “Genesis” (2009), the pioneering body artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge wears a necklace whose charms echo the hanging pendants and small totems in “Rainbow Altar (Spring into Summer),” from 2019, while one of her tattoos mirrors the placement of a dangling pink ribbon. Such parallels charge us to treat bodies as sacred, like altars. Rather than sources of worry or shame, they should be sites of empowerment and worship.