Chelsea Galleries Reopen With Chernobyl, Tiny People

Visitors mingle at Diana Thater's exhbition "Chernobyl," at David Zwirner gallery. The gallery was among the first to reopen after the flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy. Photographer: Katya Kazakina/Bloomberg

One of the first post-Sandy openings in flood-ravaged Chelsea took place with remarkable speed, just 11 days after the storm, at David Zwirner.

Zwirner showed Diana Thater’s video installation “Chernobyl” with a reception that provided a much-needed morale boost for dealers, artists and collectors who gulped beer and traded flood tales at the first-night reception.

The work alludes to the 1986 nuclear disaster when more than 100,000 people were evacuated after the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. The surrounding 30-mile area, known as the “zone of alienation,” has been largely closed off ever since.

Thater visited the area, shooting footage of abandoned houses, a dilapidated movie theater, decaying machinery, Lenin’s statue and, incongruously, horses grazing in wild fields.

Projected onto four soaring walls, the six-channel video envelops the viewer with its layered imagery. It conveys fragility, monumentality and a sense of loss, altogether fitting in the wake of Sandy.

The work comes in an edition of three. Only one is available, for $300,000. “Chernobyl” is at 519 W. 19th St. through Dec. 22 but closed for Thanksgiving. Information: +1-212-517-8677;

Giant Letter

Andrew Kreps and Marc Jancou have also reopened quickly. Kreps’s exhibition of new work by Goshka Macuga, a Polish-born, London-based artist, was the sole event on West 22nd Street on Nov. 10 -- a contrast to the lively human traffic flowing from gallery to gallery on a typical opening night.

Inside, the main space was dominated by a 37-foot-wide black-and-white tapestry, depicting seven life-size postmen carrying a giant letter.

White sheets of paper written in Polish also appeared on armchairs and stools, looking as if someone had forgotten them there (in fact they were printed on the upholstery). On the walls, color photographs showed blacked-out figures in unspecific interior settings.

“At the core of the show lies the theme of censorship in Polish art after 1989 and the related attacks against artists, curators, directors and cultural institutions,” according to the press release.

The works were recently shown at Zacheta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw, and Macuga delved into the institution’s archive to find documents and images illustrating or alluding to the instances of censorship. She used the materials in completely different media and unexpected ways -- turning letters into furniture surfaces and staging performances based on old photographs.

Prices range from $17,000 to $150,000. “Untitled” runs through Dec. 22 at 525 W. 22nd St. Information: +1-212-741-8849;

Tiny People

Marc Jancou Contemporary, which workers were bailing out with buckets less than two weeks earlier, had pristine new white walls and a handwritten sign announcing the Tomoaki Suzuki exhibition.

About 23 inches tall, these obsessively carved and painted limewood portraits of real people stopped visitors in their tracks.

Suzuki, who was born in Japan and lives in London, combines traditional Japanese woodcarving techniques with Western portraiture. His subjects are friends and acquaintances, who sit for the artist for as long as 30 hours. The drawings become the basis for the carvings which later are painted with acrylic.

The figures are charming and meticulous. One depicts a heavily tattooed man in a white tank top and Adidas sneakers. Another is buxom brunette, propped on tiny stilettos in a mini skirt and clunky Moschino belt.

On the opening night, visitors crouched to examine and gasp at the artworks -- just as thousands of tourists have done on the High Line ever since Suzuki’s bronze sculpture of a tiny man with platinum hair and black attire appeared on the railway by West 14th Street in April.

The wood sculptures are $38,000 each. The exhibition runs through Dec. 22 at 524 W. 24th St. Information: +1-212-473-2100;

Muse highlights include Ryan Sutton on dining, Craig Seligman on books.

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