For his first New York solo exhibition, “Father’s Fathers,” Guðmundur Thoroddsen (MFA 2011 Fine Arts) presents wood sculpture and works on paper. Initially trained as a painter, Thoroddsen began working in wood as a way to explore masculinity and unquestioned reliance on patriarchs and all-powerful gods. Thoroddsen’s coarsely rendered bearded heads and contemplative ink drawings explore the idea of man as simultaneously omnipotent and enormously base. On view at Asya Geisberg Gallery, 537-B West 23 Street, through February 18. Chris Martin (BFA 1992 Fine Arts) continues to push the boundaries of painting with his latest show in Chelsea. While he is perhaps most known for creating work that emphasizes the beauty to be found in randomness, Martin also surprises viewers by using unexpected materials such as foam installation or even bread as canvases and by experimenting with unusual processes like fumage, painting with candle smoke. For the current exhibition, Martin displays a new series of paintings that includes works painted on newspaper pages. On view at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, 534 West 26 Street, through March 3.
Marianne Vitale (BFA 1996 Film and Video) investigates a lesser known chapter of history in her solo exhibition “What I Need To Do Is Lighten The Fuck Up About A Lot of Shit.” The artist invokes the phenomenon of “Combustivism,” the mass hysteria that spread throughout the northeastern U.S. in the 19th century, resulting in rampant violence that led President James K. Polk to declare to Congress that he would “…use the big stick of the law and beat back” if the mayhem did not end. In this exhibition, Vitale presents her own charred and battered sculptural emblems and installations meant to represent these historic events, and commemorates a time when razing entire neighborhoods to stop the spread of mysteriously infectious dust, which was believed to be causing the strange behavior, was as common as going to church on Sunday. On view at Zach Feuer Gallery, 548 West 22 Street, through February 25.