Installation view, "Otis Houston Jr.: All Eyes on Who?", Gordon Robichaux, New York.
Photo: Courtesy Gordon Robichaux

8 Must-See Solo Gallery Shows in April

From the premiere of Jamian Juliano-Villani’s quirky “Made in China” canvases at Gagosian in New York to Rosa Loy’s ecofeminist paintings and drawings at Michael Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles, these are the shows that are not to be missed

Surveying the best art exhibitions across the United States each month, Galerie bounded from New York to Los Angeles to round up the top solo gallery shows for April. From the premiere of Jamian Juliano-Villani’s quirky “Made in China” canvases at Gagosian in New York to Rosa Loy’s ecofeminist paintings and drawings at Michael Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles, these are the shows that are not to be missed.

Jamian Juliano-Villani, Sloppy Joes, (2024). Photo: Owen Conway; Courtesy Gagosian

1. Jamian Juliano-Villani at Gagosian, New York

An artist with a quirky sense of humor, Jamian Juliano-Villani uses appropriated imagery from high and low cultural sources to create somewhat surreal figurative paintings. Working with the mantra of “make them better, make them weirder, make them dumber,” she makes surrogate self-portraits that exemplify her attitude on art and life. For her exhibition “It,” the New Jersey-born, New York-based painter outsourced her canvases to reproduction painters in China. In a process that she has amusingly dubbed “human AI,” she sent collages of remixed ads, artworks, quilts, toys, snapshots, and other mediated images to be turned into her paintings at the click of a credit card payment. Constructing art-insider jokes with her ironic choices of subject matter and titles, she cleverly creates Neo-Pop art paintings from the endless stream of cultural phenomena found at our fingertips.

Through April 20

Otis Houston Jr., Mother Nature, (2022). Photo: Courtesy Gordon Robichaux

2. Otis Houston Jr. at Gordon Robichaux, New York

A self-taught artist and musician, Otis Houston Jr. started making art while doing prison time on a drug charge in the 1990s. Once he was released, the South Carolina-born, Harlem-based painter, sculptor, collagist, and performance artist tapped into his newly discovered creativity to turn his life around. Working a job as a building custodian, he began to put discarded items from the trash in his buildings together with things he found on the city streets to create fascinating sculptural assemblages. Paring his found-object sculptures with text-based sign paintings on white towels, he has been exhibiting his unique works in site-specific installations along New York’s FDR Drive since 1997.

Discovered by the art world in more recent times, the resourceful artist has been profiled in The New York Times, had his first one-person museum exhibition in 2022, and is having his third solo show with the gallery. Presenting strikingly made copies of paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Stanley Whitney; several proverbial text-based paintings, including a found canvas of the Manhattan skyline with a supplemented self-assuring statement; and a few witty assemblages that playfully combine found objects, Houston Jr. celebrates the worldwide recognition of fellow Black artists, while sharply commenting on issues of race and social injustice back home in America.

Through April 21

Eric Fischl, Standoff, (2024). Photo: John Berens; Courtesy the artist and Skarstedt

3. Eric Fischl at Skarstedt, New York

Best known for his naturalistic paintings portraying American suburban life and voyeuristic views of intimate social interactions, Eric Fischl has a talent for capturing people in cinematic settings with beautiful brushwork. A 1972 Cal Arts graduate, his breakthrough canvases were centered around the salacious theme of adolescent sexuality while his following painting series took voyeurism on the road with secretive and self-absorbed scenarios being played out in public and private spaces in India, Italy, and Germany.

The nine new paintings in his “Hotel Stories” exhibition revisit the travel theme from the point of view of a watching eye, but this time the artist never left his Sag Harbor studio. Working like a filmmaker from online images of empty hotel rooms, Fischl created imaginary scenes of dramatic interactions in arresting municipal and vacation settings. From an older naked couple carousing on a bed in a room overlooking a tranquil blue sea to a businesswoman dressing in the sitting room while her male breakfast partner remains mostly unclothed in bed, the artist suggests a state of sexual or dramatic tension but then leaves the viewer to imagine the rest of the tale.

Through May 4

Angelo Venosa, Sem título, (2021). Photo: Courtesy the artist's estate and Nara Roesler

4. Angelo Venosa at Nara Roesler, New York

A Brazilian sculptor who established a formative following in his homeland in the 1980s and sadly passed away at age 68 in 2022, Angelo Venosa is having his first one-person exhibition in both New York and the United States. Curated by artist Vik Muniz, who has his own notable solo show of new photographs of collages composed from shredded money and studio scraps at nearby Sikkema Jenkins & Co., the comprehensive exhibition offers a selection of sculptures made between 2015 and 2021, along with pieces from the 1980s and ‘90s and some 3D-printed studies and small-scale works.

Six large-scale white sculptures, made from warped wood wrapped in fabric, resin, and fiberglass to mimic organic and skeletal forms, create a stunning installation in the front gallery, while black bone-like sculptures cast in bronze and constructed from shaped wood treated with fabric and rubberized paint dominate a second space. Associated with the Geração 80 (80s Generation) movement of Rio de Janeiro artists who mostly made paintings, Venosa primarily made sculptures with his hands. In his later years, he explored digital processes, including the 3D printed pieces that look like objects found in nature and the laser-cut, Corten-steel wall works reproducing CT body scans, that on view in this engaging show.

Through April 20

Greg Ito, Sink or Swim, (2024). Photo: Mason Kuehler; Courtesy Anat Ebgi Gallery

5. Greg Ito at Anat Ebgi Gallery, New York

A Los Angeles-born and -based artist, Greg Ito makes paintings, sculptures, and installations that examine his family history and environmental concerns through graphic symbolism. A fourth-generation Japanese American storyteller with deep roots in his hometown and an ancestral timeline that leads back to his grandparents’ courtship at a government internment camp during WWII, Ito uses flat industrial wall paints, which are devoid of brushstrokes, on canvas stretched over wood panels to achieve the hard-edge look of children’s books and computer graphics to his colorful paintings.

For his first New York solo show, ominously titled “Sink or Swim,” the artist has installed a series of symbolic paintings of personal objects and underwater sea creatures in a space with a distinct waterline that dissects nearly everything on view. Presenting the idea of treading water—a condition that the artist feels like he has been dealing with for the past few years—fish full of gold coins swim through spaces displaying family heirlooms. Forced to face his fear—represented by a gold, reflective great white shark coming up through the gallery floor—Ito has to draw upon his family saga to overcome the hardships and persevere. More than just a personal story, the artworks in the exhibition convey a universal tale, where the game of life is measured by economic gains yet one wrong move can leave it all at risk.

Through April 20

Tavares Strachan, Amanirenas (A Map of the Crown), (2024). Photo: Elon Schoenholz; Courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery

6. Tavares Strachan at Marian Goodman Gallery, Los Angeles

A conceptual artist working with an array of aesthetic materials and exploring a far-reaching range of ideas, Tavares Strachan takes man’s interest in art, science, politics, and storytelling to captivating heights. Born in the Bahamas, where he spent countless days observing the sky and adventuring on the sea, the Yale MFA grad now turns extensively researched observations into people and things that have been marginalized and overlooked by history into visually wonderful and theoretically significant artworks.

His “Magnificent Darkness” exhibition brings together a new group of works that highlight ideas the artist has been exploring for more than a decade. Made with ceramic, bronze, marble, hair, neon, sound, and collage, the compelling sculptures, installations, and paintings in his show offer historical and cultural references related to the New York and Nassau-based artist’s ongoing Encyclopedia of Invisibility project. From wall works that illustrate research for the A-Z encyclopedia and exquisitely crafted ceramic sculptures of African American explorer Matthew Henson and Black deep-sea-diver Andrea Crabtree to stunning marble sculptures with beautifully flocked hair of African queens and an audio piece reciting James Baldwin’s words, the powerful exhibition takes visitors on a journey through cultural history while shining a light on important parts of it that are too often unseen.

Through April 13

Catherine Goodman, Night Beekeeper II, (2023). Photo: Damian Griffiths; Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

7. Catherine Goodman at Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles

Working figuratively for most of her 30-year artistic career, Catherine Goodman has more recently become revered for her expressionistic landscapes and seascapes, which revisit a style of painting that she initially explored in art school. The co-founder of London’s Royal Drawing School with Prince Charles in 2000, the British painter is making her Los Angeles exhibition debut with a group of monumental abstractions that combine reverie with restlessness. Inspired by such modernist filmmakers as Andrei Tarkovsky and Satyajit Ray and Old Master painters like Titian and Veronese, Goodman follows a fusion of body and mind by working on four canvases simultaneously, spending 30-minute periods on each one to allow the experience of making the work lead her to the final painting. Energetic and immersive, her colorful canvases possess a sense of mystery while magnificently illuminating the turbulence of life.

Through May 5

Rosa Loy, Sonnabend Nachmi)ag, (2023). Photo: Courtesy the artist and Michael Kohn Gallery

8. Rosa Loy at Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles

Following her parents into a horticultural career, Rosa Loy worked as a gardener for five years before returning to school to study art. One of the few women artists associated with the New Leipzig School of contemporary German painting, the figurative artist mixes Social Realism and German folklore with surreal images of women in nature to create enchanting, dreamlike paintings and drawings. Working on canvas with casein (a water-based paint derived from milk protein) and watercolor on paper, Loy focuses on color and form, with allegorical storytelling becoming the foundation of the work. Her medium-scale paintings and smaller drawings offer a fascinating look at an enigmatic world of women playfully interacting with nature and, more intimately, with one another.

Through April 20

Cover: Installation view, "Otis Houston Jr.: All Eyes on Who?", Gordon Robichaux, New York.
Photo: Courtesy Gordon Robichaux


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