Taking stock of early 2013's group exhibitions
Sometimes, the curatorial conceit is basically an excuse, as with "While We Were Away" at 941 Geary, which the press release says is "composed entirely of artists [curator Tova] Lobatz has become aware of while traveling." Despite the throwaway premise, some of the work — especially by Sten Lex — is impressive. Sten Lex, the Italian stencil duo, makes arresting op-art flavored stencil portraits usually on grand scale on the sides of buildings; here on panels. What differs from the street-art norm in their work, aside from the precise Ben-Day rendering, is the not-really-offhand way they leave the painted stencil affixed to the substrate to let it peel or erode over time, a swerve that makes the painting's correlation to the original photo more precise as it ages. Their four untitled works in the gallery demonstrate various points in that progression. Through March 2, 941 Geary, SF; www.941geary.com.
For "Silence," curators Toby Kamps (Menil Collection) and Steve Seid (BAM/PFA) dig deep to assemble almost everybody you can think of — Beuys, Duchamp, Klein, Magritte, Warhol, Broodthaers, Manders, Marclay, Roden, Salcedo, others — to address the representation of silence using John Cage's 4'33" as a point of departure. Jan. 30-April 28, UC Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft, Berk; bampfa.berkeley.edu.
A new series of muralist group shows launches with work by Apex, Casey Gray, René Garcia Jr., and others. Erotic, anaglyphic 3D glitter wallpaper? Sign me up. Feb. 7-July 1, Project One, 251 Rhode Island, SF; www.p1sf.com.
Kehinde Wiley's flashy, uber-hip portraits have made him the international go-to darling of both the upmarket and Juxtapoz crowds. Expect high craftsmanship and an eye for drama. "The World Stage: Israel," Feb. 14-May 27, Jewish Contemporary Museum, 736 Mission, SF; www.thecjm.org.
The word "visionary" is perhaps overused in the world of architecture, but the jarring, psychologically charged work of Lebbeus Woods warrants the use. The recently deceased architect's work will be represented by 175 drawings, renderings, and models in this career survey. Feb.16-June 2, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St., SF; www.sfmoma.org.