NYC Galleries: Che Lovelace and Shellyne Rodriguez

“What to See in N.Y.C. Galleries in April” features new art by Tauba Auerbach, Che Lovelace, Rudolf Maeglin, Shellyne Rodriguez, and the exhibition “Photography Then.” Here we choose excerpts by Seph Rodney, on Che Lovelace; and Holland Cotter, on Shellyne Rodriguez. See full article in The New York Times.


Che Lovelace

Through April 22. Nicola Vassell Gallery, 138 10th Avenue, Manhattan; 212-463-5160,

Before, after, during, long ago — it’s hard to determine when things are happening for Che Lovelace’s figures in his show “Bathers” at Nicola Vassell. Not all of the framed paintings, rendered here in acrylic on board, suggest a narrative, but many do, such as “Shallow Pools” (2022), so I want to see temporal progression in it. Are the two embracing women in the foreground at the bottom of the painting the same women seen separately in the composition’s receding distance, perhaps at another time that day, or in an imagined future? Adding to this fey lyricism are Lovelace’s formal choices, including the quasi-Cubist fracturing of each scene into four equal squares that don’t quite align. Hues so bright they are almost garish hum through prismatic washes. Linear time stops, then staggers dazedly.

Born and based in Trinidad, Lovelace portrays people who dwell in the waters of the Caribbean, but more, they bend and stretch, squat or sit, pose with an arm akimbo, or flung over a head, while the other arm supports a languorous torso arcing like a crescent moon. The water is a transformative, poetic medium — through Lovelace’s attentive gaze — the otherwise prosaic routines of his fellow Trinidadians become lyrical. Even our inherited classical mythology can be transmuted. In “The Gun” (2022), a figure peers intently into a pool, but the scene isn’t a version of Narcissus falling in love with himself. Rather it’s an act of seeking in those depths something bygone, antiquated that may be rescued and made anew. SEPH RODNEY


Shellyne Rodriguez

Through April 22. PPOW Gallery, 392 Broadway, Manhattan; 212-647-1044,

Shellyne Rodriguez’s terrific debut exhibition at PPOW is forthrightly political art warmed by tender personal detail. The artist was born in the Bronx in 1977. That’s the terrain she focuses in her photographically precise color pencil drawings on black paper. And a wide terrain it is, global in population, rich in cultural history.

Rodriquez broadly charts it in three big word-and-image pieces generically titled “BX Third World Liberation Mixtape.” Stylistically, they’re modeled on early 1980s hip-hop event fliers designed by the Bronx-based handbill artist Buddy Esquire. Compositionally, they’re action-packed interlaces of figures and words: lyrics, rap group names, magical numbers, and place names spelled in Arabic, Chinese, English, Bangla, Spanish and Twi.

Each “Mixtape” functions as a nodal point for a gathering of large portraits. Several are of Rodriquez’s neighbors — bodega owners, barbers, playground kids. Others are of activist friends and mentors: the abolitionist scholar Ruth Wilson Gilmore; the queer theorist Jasbir K. Puar; the former gang matriarch, now community leader Lorine Padilla. As in Baroque paintings of saints, each is depicted with symbolic attributes: Gilmore and Puar with books; Padilla with a compact Santeria altar.

Just as art and life meet in the paintings, so they do in the gallery. A real altar sits on the floor near Padilla’s portrait. And Rodriguez has turned the space into a study center, a reading room, with a table holding revolutionary literature, and pens and paper for taking notes. Pull up a chair. You’re in awesome company. HOLLAND COTTER

For full article, see

[Top photo by Luis Corzo: Che Lovelace’s “Shallow Pools” (2022) in his show “Bathers” at Nicola Vassell Gallery. Second photo, via Shellyne Rodriguez and PPOW, New York, Shellyne Rodriguez’s “BX Third World Mix Tape No. 4, Caminos (Slow and Steady)” 2022.]

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