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An Afternoon in Chelsea: A Critical Tour of the Galleries

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Detail of Paulina Olowska's Tilt (2006)  

5. Paulina Olowska
Metro Pictures, 519 W. 24th St.; through February 10

Cold War nostalgia meets Polish punk: Many of the images in these colorful collages come from the old U.S.S.R. magazine Ameryka and its U.S. counterpart Soviet Life, published via a cultural-exchange program (the Americans wear bikinis and carry surfboards; the Soviets dress in ushankas and practice ballet). These relatively tame images get a jolt from scraps of torn posters from the Polish underground music scene. Spend your time upstairs with the smaller collages, which are more persuasively nostalgic than the large-scale works’ giant mash-ups of competing propaganda.

6. Justin Lieberman
Zach Feuer, 530 W. 24th St.; through February 24

This gallery-as-ad-agency show opens with a disclaimer: I AM A MANIPULATIVE CAREERIST SELLOUT. It’s a world-weary statement that prompts an equally fatigued response: Who isn’t, in this market? In a series of one-line-joke lightboxes, Lieberman rolls his eyes at ad campaigns (one uses the cover of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything Is Illuminated to hawk Ziploc bags: “Everything Is Laminated”). They’re fun, but the sculptures made from scrap wood, particularly the conference table and chairs in the back room, show more elbow grease and ambition.


A view of Daniel Buren's The Colored Screens (2007).  

7. Daniel Buren
Bortolami Dayan, 510 W. 25th St.; through February 15

Buren’s painted stripes have lost their subversive sting in recent years (the Guggenheim, which removed one of his giant canvases from a 1971 exhibition, invited him to take over the rotunda in 2005). The 1966 work in the main gallery looks almost quaint—but the new outdoor installation, hinged squares of Plexiglas suspended from the underside of the High Line in an adjacent lot, inspires thoughts about the future of everyone’s favorite urban relic.


Veron Urdarianu's Hypnotizing Machine (2006)   

8. Veron Urdarianu
Mitchell-Innes & Nash, 534 W. 26th St.; through February 17

Working in a milky palette popularized by Luc Tuymans, Urdarianu layers paint over cardboard to create flattened shapes with crisp edges. As in Tuymans, the landscapes and interiors have a dour, suspenseful mood. A line of tram cars is labeled HYPNOTIZING MACHINE; office seating becomes a VICTIM CHAIR. The mystery is spoiled, however, by the overprecious architectural models scattered on the floor like abandoned dollhouses.


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