State of the Arts

Resistance is futile. Just ask Matthew Barney whose much-awaited exhibition “Drawing Restraint” opened at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art on Wednesday. The collection spans Barney’s entire career, pulling in work the artist had begun and completed while still a young pup in art school, back in 1987.

It also brings to light the eternal physical struggle between existence and the factors bent on tearing it down.

Photography, multi-media works and gargantuan sculptures represent Barney’s career-long fascination between art and physical capacity. But what really comes forward in this ambitious exhibit is the nature and impact of so many forces constantly working against us.

“Holographic Entry Point,” an impressive sculpture that floods nearly an entire wing of one exhibit room and recreates two incarnations of a ship’s flensing deck: one pristine, the other decayed and flanked with barnacles.

It’s Barney’s homage to the ritual razing of Japan’s Ise shrine, but it also raises the notion of the continual physicalbattle that encompasses life, even when it occurs under the radar.

A ship glides through water with perceived ease to the objective viewer, when really, an arduous battle between physics and nature, tugs and pulls, battling for power, the goal being to destroy.

Getting ‘curious’

Contrast is also a major theme dictating a new major exhibit at the Asian Art Museum, “A Curious Affair.” Culled from private collections in the Bay Area and the museum, the show that opened Monday illustrates how Westerners viewed Easterners and vice versa over the last five centuries.

Paintings of Europeans completed by Asian artisans and similar artworks that depict Asians from the Western perspective provide fascinating insight into how these two cultures admired and critiqued one another, and at certain points in history, how certain cultural characteristics might be blended into a particular piece.

Gallery 16 on the move

Meanwhile, on the gallery circuit, artist Alex Zecca helps kick off the new home of Gallery 16 and Urban Digital Color, which moved from its longtime home on 16th street to its new digs on Third street.

Zecca’s pen and paper collection abandons the artist’s typical paintings, known for making his own paints from rare earths, metals and the like. This time, his work as a true process artist is unavoidable and fortunately, quite captivating in this collection that for all of its chaotic obsessive undertones comes off cool, collected and undeniably marketable.

Zecca’s intricate grids that deliver an amazing spectrum of hidden colors, from afar appear rigid and minimalist, but a closer look reveals the textual, earthiness of his earlier work comes through.

Drawing Restraint

When: Showing through Sept. 17

Where: SFMOMA, 151 Third St., San Francisco

Info: Visit http://www.sfmoma.org

A Curious Affair

When: Showing through Sept. 3

Where: Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St., San Francisco

Info: Visit http://www.asianart.org

Alex Zecca

When: Showing through July 29

Where: Gallery 16, 501 Third St., San Francisco

Info: Visit http://www.urbandigitalcolor.com/gallery16/galleryframe.html

Other art show openings

» Deborah Bell and Tina Vietmeir shows through July 28 at Andrea Schwartz Gallery 525 Second St., San Francisco. For more information, call (415) 495-2090 or visit http://www.asgallery.com.

» “My America,” paintings and works on paper from artists Theresa Bernstein, William Gropper, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jacques Lipchitz, Louis Lozowick, Ben Shahn and Raphael Soyer shows through July 29 at the George Krevsky Gallery, located at 77 Geary St., San Francisco. For more information, call (415) 397-9748.

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