Author Archives: Mario Naves

“Philip Guston: What Kind of Man Am I?” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

“Have our cultural institutions recovered from their collective case of Guston Derangement Syndrome?”

The full article can be read at The New York Sun.

“Close to Vermeer”

“That Vermeer’s achievement was unheralded for almost 200 years after his death can be hard to square given his fame now. A new film details the preparations leading up to the current retrospective of his paintings.”

The full review can be found at “The New York Sun.”

‘Rites of Passage: Cheryl Molnar and Christian Vincent’ at C24 Gallery and “June Leaf & Kyle Staver: Drawings” at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects

Kyle Staver, Study for Dawn; Courtesy Steven Harvey Fine Arts Projects, New York

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“Ms. Staver’s work is rambunctious in form and approach: her figures are gawky and cartoonish, and her use of oil pastel, watercolor, and other media appealingly direct.”

The full review can be found at “The New York Sun.”

“The Encounter: Barbara Chase-Riboud/Alberto Giacometti” at The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Installation view of ‘The Encounter: Barbara Chase-Riboud/Alberto Giacometti’ at the Museum of Modern Art; Photo: Jonathan Dorado

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“Listen to this: ‘Sculpture as a created object in space should enrich, not reflect, and should be beautiful. Beauty is its function.’ Say that again, please: Beauty is its function.”

The full review can be found at The New York Sun

Open Studios at The Clemente/2023

I will be participating in this year’s Open Studios event at The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural & Educational Center.

The Clemente is located at 107 Suffolk Street. The event takes place on Saturday, May 20th, from 4:00-8:00 p.m. and Sunday, May 21st, from 2:00-6:00 p.m.

Hope to see you there.

Cancel Culture Has Its Claws Out for One Pablo Picasso

The non-problematic Jack Benny

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“Shouldn’t the new generation of gatekeepers be on the lookout for positive role models–I mean, it’s all about doing the work, right? In that spirit, let me make two suggestions: Peter Paul Rubens and Jack Benny.”

The full article can be found at “The New York Sun.”

(c) 2023 Mario Naves

“Rear View” at LGDR, New York

Félix Vallotton, Étude de fesses (circa 1884), oil on canvas, 14.9 x 18.1″; courtesy LGDR Gallery

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“Even at its most restrained or inelegant, ‘Rear View’ reiterates that ‘no nude, however abstract, should fail to arouse in the spectator some vestige of erotic feeling.'”

The full review can be found at “The New York Sun.”


Rossy De Palma and Melissa Barrera in “Carmen”; courtesy Sony Classics

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“Carmen,” the quixotic new film by Benjamin Millepied, suffers from James Bond Syndrome. No, Mr. Millepied’s picture doesn’t include outdated language similar to that found in the unexpurgated Ian Fleming novels, nor does it trade in the arrant chauvinism typifying the behavior of Agent 007. Rather, “Carmen” opens with a flourish so arresting that the rest of the film has a hard time catching up with it. 

Like any given director of a Bond flick, Mr. Millepied knows the allure of a spectacular set piece.We enter the film through an encompassing desert landscape. A woman of a certain age (Marina Tamayo) stands atop a weathered plank placed in front of a house that is both isolated and humble. She begins a zapateado, a Mexican dance that recalls tap in its syncopation and flamenco in its stylization. Her footwork is impeccable; her manner regal. Clearly this is a woman not to be dealt with lightly.

From a distance, we see a car careening along the road to the woman’s house. Two thugs exit the car brandishing weapons, asking for the whereabouts of a woman. The dancer responds, but not with words. Vociferously and with no little emphasis, she taps her heels, all the while gesturing flamboyantly. The gangsters are transfixed–as is the audience. When it becomes clear that no definite answer is forthcoming, the woman is shot in the head. Art is one thing, but business is business. Welcome to “Carmen.”

We’ve already spied the sought-after woman a good ways away from the back of the house–it’s the dancer’s daughter, Carmen (Melissa Barrera). She manages to avoid her pursuers long enough to bury mom, burn down the homestead and hit the road. Carmen is gorgeous, the landscape forbidding and her circumstances dire. Where will Mr. Millepied take her?

“Carmen” abruptly switches gears to a low-rent barbecue held, from all appearances, under an abandoned Texas viaduct. Working the griddle is Aidan (Paul Mescal), a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who later volunteers, rather reluctantly, to help patrol the border. He’s loved by his sister, hit upon by a close friend’s wife and suffers from PTSD.

Disaster and death follow that evening. The less responsible members of the border patrol take matters into their own hands upon encountering a handful of migrants, one of whom is Carmen. If these events don’t qualify as a meet-cute for Carmen and Aidan–their initial confrontation being marked by stark brutality–then it is a prompt, all the same, for two star-crossed lovers to go on the lam. 

Through hook, crook and a cabbie named Angel, Carmen and Aidan make it to La Sombra Poderosa, a gritty back-alley L.A. outpost. It’s a nightclub with dark corners, ambisexual patrons, lush colors, doom and glitter–a venue redolent, in its many excesses, of Otto Dix’s grimy Weimer-era paintings and the moody dreamscapes of David Lynch.  When the veteran Spanish actress Rossy de Palma shows up, another inspiration on Mr. Millepied’s cosmos makes itself plain: Pedro Almodóvar.

Ms. de Palma is, of course, a mainstay of Mr. Almodóvar’s films and her presence in “Carmen” is welcome, even as her character Masilda sometimes betrays desires that are decidedly unwholesome. But, then, “Carmen” is an odd and, in the end, not entirely convincing melange of dichotomies. The documentary and the fantastic, the political and the poetic, the grit and the glamor, the redoubtable and the illicit–all are molded into something resembling a musical. 

A colleague at the press screening bemoaned the quality of the dancers throughout “Carmen”–with the exception, that is, of Ms. Tamayo. For my taste, the camera moves too frantically whenever a dance routine gets up-and-moving, as if the director didn’t altogether trust his players to pull off a given bit of choreography. The irony is that Mr. Millepied is a dancer and choreographer by trade, having been, among much else, a principal in the New York City Ballet.

“I approached this complete re-imagining of [Bizet’s] ‘Carmen’ in the same way as I approach dance.” But expertise in one area of culture doesn’t necessarily translate into another. Mr. Millepied’s movie has an abundance of flair–which is both its blessing and its curse. “Carmen” diverts and sometimes beguiles, but it never quite finds its footing.

(c) 2023 Mario Naves

“Juan de Pareja, Afro-Hispanic Painter” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Juan de Pareja, The Calling of Saint Matthew (1661), oil on canvas, 88 9⁄16 × 130″; courtesy Museo Nacional del Prado Photo:©Photographic Archive Museo Nacional del Prado

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“Given the level of painterly skill de Pareja achieved, it doesn’t seem a stretch to suggest that he trained a keen eye on what Velazquez was up to. That, and de Pareja’s travels with Velazquez, especially throughout Italy, allowed him direct and relatively rare contact with great paintings.”

The full review can be found at The New York Sun.

“The Feminine in Abstract Painting” at the Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation, New York, New York

Via Nathalie Karg Gallery, New York. Charles Benton

Lisa Beck, Coming Together (2023), oil paint and mylar on two panels, diptych, 16 x 12″ each; courtesy Nathalie Karg Gallery, New York/photo by Charles Benton

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“Who on earth is crazy enough to mount a show with a title like that?”

The full review can be found at The New York Sun.