A Portrait of the Illustrator

But, really, the level of pleasure afforded by a caricature increases in direct proportion to its cruelty. Politics brings out the nasty in Mr. Burke. Al Sharpton’s face is subjected to malevolent puckering. The sitting president is a pinheaded cowpoke. And then there’s Hillary Clinton as Queen Elizabeth—a fleshy sack of noblesse oblige rendered in sickly greens, pinks and purples. You’d have to go back to George Grosz to find something quite as poisonous. Our next secretary of state wouldn’t take that as a commendation. Mr. Burke should.

“Philip Burke: Face Nation” is at Antiquorum, 595 Madison Avenue, until Dec. 13.

 

Scrabbled Pretensions

Eric Fischl, Cindy Sherman, Sandro Chia and Terry Winters—you can’t throw a rock in Chelsea without hitting a 1980s art star. Mr. Winters fares the best, combining signature biomorphic shapes with schematic structures gleaned from (don’t ask) “knot theory.” The paintings sag under the artist’s scrabbled pretensions and a continuing over-reliance on Philip Guston and Cy Twombly, but there’s a difference: At long last, Mr. Winters understands color. Perfumey creams, pinks, grays and blues quaver, trickle and delicately claim their pictorial turf, endowing the pictures with chromatic amplitude.

“Terry Winters: Knotted Graphs” is at Matthew Marks Gallery, 522 West 22nd Street, until Jan. 24.

 

Endearing Naïveté

Pour Your Body Out (7354 Cubic Meters) (2008), a video projection by the Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist, transforms MoMA’s mezzanine into a watery Edenesque parable. A cinematic tumble of luridly colored flora, fauna, nudes and discarded soda cans offer testimony to nature’s beneficence and its ruin. As an environmentalist tract, Ms. Rist’s tone-poem installation is blessedly light of touch—its moralism is spectacular, not profound. A huge circular sofa, throw pillows and shag carpeting in the gallery provide a comfy spot to marvel at Ms. Rist’s endearing naïveté.

Pipilotti Rist: Pour Your Body Out (7354 Cubic Meters) is at the Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd Street, until Feb. 2.

 

Tenderly Distressed

Maryam Amiryani’s still-life paintings are gems of pictorial economy. Small in scale and ineffably concentrated, they contain anonymous surfaces upon which are placed one or two crisply delineated objects—a toy zebra, a paper hat or poppies. The colors are few, rich and clean; the mood intimate bordering on otherworldly. A spare strain of symbolism infiltrates Ms. Amiryani’s art, but it’s her tenderly distressed surfaces that entrance.

“Maryam Amiryani” is at George Billis Gallery, 511 West 25th Street, until Dec. 20.

mnaves@observer.com