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New York Summer Exhibition Highlights: Ryan Brown and Rebecca Ward

Two alumni solo shows currently on view play with the idea of painting itself, unraveling its material underpinnings and disheveling its storied past and pristine presentation.

In "Lots on View," Ryan Brown (BFA 2006 Fine Arts) pokes at the legacy of modernism and the reality of market-driven aggrandizement. Made to look like enlarged, beat-up pages from an auction catalogue, Brown’s new work depicts fictional but recognizable pieces for sale: anonymous, abstract, single-color paintings (like if Ellsworth Kelly were boring, or Malevich apolitical). Brown’s paintings and drawings on paper are faux facsimiles of other paintings and drawings on paper, the cycle of reproduction and propagation put on display and looking worse for the wear; the effect is convincing. On view at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, 505 West 24th Street, through August 11.

Rebecca Ward (MFA 2012 Fine Arts) presents new paintings and small-scale sculptures at her first solo show in New York. Composed of geometric blocks and bands in muted blues and peachy beiges, her paintings are both hard-edge and gauzy, as Ward removes the weft (the horizontal threads) of sections of the canvas to reveal the stretcher bars beneath. The canvas is treated like the fabric it is, made and undone by stitches and seams, a material of both surface and structure; the visible unweaving tinges the minimalist compositions with a more organic tenuousness. The architecture of the wall works gives way to bare bones plaster armatures and petite, precise slabs of marble laid out to suggest the foundations, or remnants, of something bigger. On view at The FLAG Art Foundation, 545 West 25th Street, through August 11.

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