For the past five years, collector Robert Blumenthal has been wading deeper and deeper into the world of exhibition-making, mounting shows with a flair for the adventurous and the scholarly in his gallery that has moved from the Upper East Side and the Hamptons to Chinatown. Having embraced a collecting style that pairs conceptually ambitious work with more classical approaches towards lyrical and figurative painting, Blumenthal’s shows have been a distinct analog to his own collection, which features work by Darren Bader, Isa Genzken, Chris Burden, and Mary Weatherford, among others.
Now, Blumenthal Gallery has popped up yet again, this time at 75 Bowery with his most recent gallery venture, one that will look to have staying power in a burgeoning network of downtown exhibition spaces. Just a few doors down from Bridget Donahue, the gallery’s position and curatorial focus makes it an intriguing addition to New York’s LES and Chinatown art scene, a neighborhood intimately connected with the artists living and working there. “My mission is to help up-and-coming artists build their careers,” Blumenthal says of the space, describing a vision that encourages the development and encouragement of young talent and new ideas, “I want my gallery to function as an incubator for new artist projects.” True to form, Blumenthal has already made a splash on the Bowery with his recent billboard project, installing works by Maggie Lee and Sayre Gomez atop his building.
Henning Strassburger, Bitte ein bit (2018), via Blumenthal
Henning Strassburger, The Shower Freak (2018), via Blumenthal
A distinct sense of detached coolness permeates the work on view here, a feeling of almost effortless movement across the picture plane, twisted and repeated over and again until a work emerges from the dense interaction of movements and pieces. Blumenthal describes the work as musical: “While the group as a whole has a sense of consistency each work seems to be expressive of a different musical genre. There is a lot of energy and spontaneity to them.” Yet his work could equally function in the sense of a notation of sorts, a detached arrangement of movements and marks that recall a musical score, a movement up and down the staff that brings a sense of composition itself, albeit in a more painterly sense of the word, to the pieces. Perhaps the works themselves could even be described as a sort of three-dimensional counterpoint, mixing bands of color and negative space with the opposition of black lines and background nearby.
Henning Strassburger, Air Conditioner 2 (2018), via Blumenthal
The exhibition closes May 10th.
— D. Creahan
Henning Strassburger at Blumenthal [Exhibition Site]