Nobuko Tanabe vs. “Body Mapping”

imageWhether strolling around one of LA’s outdoor galleries or doing the rounds in NYC, it’s completely and absolutely okay (encouraged even) to look at a piece of art, scratch your chin, and remark, ” … there’s an entire gallery dedicated to this guy?” Once I let myself cross that confessional threshold, it became far easier to admit that the most moving part of Nobuko Tanabe’s exhibition, debuting last night with a reception at New York’s Montserrat Gallery, was the freefall of champagne into plastic cups. The vivid paintings (constructed out of tissue paper) lacked some kind of salient frame in which to consider the works. And without that cohesive context, they came off as pretty but interchangeable.

Contrast with “Body Mapping,” which also opened last night at theAllen Gallery next door to the Montserrat. In this show, four artists, including Eileen Senner and Tina Blondell, employ their art as scalpels, cutting into mankind to expose flaws, imperfections, and obsessions. And though the small collection is stuffed with gems, there are definitely a few chin-scratchers in this bunch as well. The best way to punctuate this Chelsea excursion was to hit up a sure bet — and that’s where Shen Jingdong’s kitschy cross-examination of communism proved foolproof.

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