Amy Sillman: Amy Sillman Is a New York-Based Artist. Her Most Recent Exhibition, "I Am Curious (Yellow)," Appeared at Brent Sikkema, New York, Last Spring
1 VIKINGS It seems paganism, marauding, and discovering America help develop fabulous imaginations. Hans Christian Andersen did some of the earliest performance pieces I know about: Traveling throughout Scandinavia with a large pair of scissors, he cut paper while narrating his tales, unfolding intricate silhouettes of characters as he went. The early twentieth-century Swedish mystic Hilma af Klint, way ahead of the curve, painted monumental geometries, arabesques, swans, and dice, all in a trance state. And then there's the current crop of fabulously imaginative Viking painters. Swedes Sigrid Sandstrom and Mamma Andersson and Denmark-based Tal R are my favorites.
2 LEONORA CARRINGTON Wiccan freakout! A debutante-turned-staunch feminist, the surrealist painter and writer Leonora Carrington was born in England and has lived in Mexico City for the past fifty years. It's rare to see her work in the US, but Susan Aberth, an expert on the octogenarian artist, has shown me her personal stash of foreign publications. Carrington's early work features uncanny personages and equine beings in Bosch-like spaces. In newer work, crones and beasts commingle in tangled, brooding caverns, cooking up some kind of Kabbalistic magic.
3 KAYROCK SCREENPRINTING, INC. This hive of silkscreen activity is the real Williamsburg bridge--between art and rock 'n' roll. Adorable proprietors Kayrock and Wolfy have invented an ethical day job, overthrowing the status quo in art/rock design with good old DIY attitude and exacting production values. When I did a T-shirt with them last spring, they rolled each one into a neat package wrapped with an elaborate label. This is also the spawning ground for the way underground band Roxy Pain, who have been playing quiet private sets for a decade.
4 SYMBIOPSYCHOTAXIPLASM: TAKE ONE William Greaves is best known as the director of award-winning documentaries on African-American history. In 1968 he made this screwball verite film-within-a-film-about-a-film (more hilarious than anything from the Dogma gang), in which we witness the shooting of a couple's breakup scene in Central Park. Off camera, as the production itself falls apart, Greaves improvises more and more desperately, and the crew finally mutinies. Stay tuned for Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take Two; Greaves's website notes that Steve Buscemi has signed on to codirect a sequel.
5 NICOLE EISENMAN Half of the new drawing shows I've seen lately hearken back to Eisenman's mid-'90s work (where punk meets Ashcan). I'm not sure if kids are copying her or picking up her vibe through mazes of influence. Her ambient early installations ran the gamut from obscene jokes scrawled on gallery walls to WPA-size murals of quasi-official female empowerment. Now she's working in upstate New York on large oil paintings peopled with dark and comic local characters. …