Niki de Saint Phalle, Derrick Adams, and Takuro Kuwata
Joy Revolution, Style Variations, and Zungurimukkuri
If you want directions to Salon 94, a were-creature astride a green and purple motorcycle might guide you, zooming down 5th Avenue before hooking a left at the corner before the Guggenheim. That particular animation, 3E89, created by Takeshi Murata, promotes the inauguration of the new space. Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn returns to the Upper East Side, at the National Academy Museum’s sprawling five-story, former Headquarters with a trifecta of exhibitions: Niki de Saint Phalle, Derrick Adams, and Takuro Kuwata inaugurate Salon 94’s new opulent space.
Contemporaneous with the current exhibition at MoMA PS1 is Niki de Saint Phalle, “Joy Revolution,” which pays homage to the late artist’s philosophy of radical joy. Nana dansant (1976), a voluptuous Venus figure with arms happily raised and a foot stretched outward, spins on an axis via an electric motor supplied by the artist’s collaborator and one-time husband, Jean Tinguely. The sculpture sits on black and white marble floors—situated between towering French doors through which light pours in—yet the vibrancy of the work still stands out in this palatial setting.
Jubilation as a theme continues with “Style Variations,” an exhibition of Derrick Adams’s investigations into the sheer pleasure of playing with one’s appearance or identity. Inspired by the ubiquitous beauty shops in his longtime neighborhood of Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Adams imagines wigs and hairstyles atop the heads of friends and strangers. Style Variation 35 (2020), for instance, sees the planes of the face blocked in various shades of brown and bronze, haloed by a dazzling rainbow-spectrum-ed afro.
Finally, Takuro Kuwata’s colorful works are on view in “Zungurimukkuri (Roly Poly),” where many features of the Japanese tea ceremony, or chanoyu, are on display: cracking, asymmetrical features, and the kintsugi, a technique for which shards of a broken object are repaired with gilded lacquer. But the resulting works are far from traditional tea wares. See, for instance, the coral Tea bowl (2021), which looks as if it was made out of play-doh rather than porcelain, mottled with thumbprints, bespangled with metallic elements, and cratered by a giant golden orb. Like the many iterations and eccentricities of Greenberg Rohatyn’s career, the object quite literally and metaphorically breaks the mold.
Derrick Adams, Style Variation 35, 2020. Acrylic paint and graphite on digital inkjet photograph, on Artex© Canvas in custom frame. Framed Dimensions: 96 1/2 x 60 1/4 x 1 3/4 inches.