Throughout the 19th century, Orientalism—Western artists’ idealized (and often imaginary) views of the Middle East—were in vogue. Contemporary Turkish painter Taner Ceylan seeks to upend that genre with The Lost Paintings Series. In place of dignified poses, his subjects give us direct gazes (as does “Esma Sultan,” right, 2012); instead of exotic costumes, they wear modern uniforms; in place of erotic odalisques, bare bodies are depicted in unflinching, photorealistic style—and the nudity is often male, not female. “My gurus are the Old Masters,” Ceylan says. But there’s nothing old-fashioned about his deliberately disturbing, yet ultimately riveting, canvases.
Paul Kasmin Gallery, 515 W. 27th St., 212.563.4474, Sept. 18-Oct. 26
Romancing the Stone
Most jewelry designers work with gems, of course. But Tamsen Ann Ziff’s pieces truly seem to celebrate stones. Earrings of ammolite, tourmaline, opal and garnet, suspended magically in midair (left); a moonstone bracelet that lies like a path of scattered pebbles on the wrist; a necklace of sliced diamond discs, like tiny, flattened geodes—each one-of-a-kind creation suggests a child joyfully stringing together the pretty beads she’s found (Ziff eschews super sparkly cuts; instead, she’s big on bricolettes—drop-shaped, subtly faceted gems—and cabochons). At her gray-and-purple-hued boutique, jewels in their natural state reside in cabinets next to colorful, finished pieces—the designer’s literal touchstones on display.
Tamsen Z, 783 Madison Ave., 212.360.7840
Bodies in Motion
After concentrating on painting during the early years of her career, Dorit Levinstein turned to sculpture to discover the sense of motion she felt was missing in her pictures. Of late, her focus has been a series of witty, exuberantly painted bronzes (such as “Tango,” right) whose undulating forms often reference and riff upon instantly recognizable paintings by Picasso, Matisse and Renoir. The highly labor-intensive pieces require welding and polishing before Levinstein can begin to paint them (“the fun part,” she calls it). But she always leaves small portions of the surface uncovered, to remind viewers of the beauty and power of the underlying bronze.
Eden Fine Art, 437 Madison Ave., 212.888.0177
Women of Parts
Ruby Sky Stiler’s works seem tailor-made for a cultural world overrun with mash-ups: disjointed figures of foam/acrylic resin/thermal adhesive that offer a mischievous, modern spin on classical statuary (note the vase next to the spliced lady in “Reclining Nude From Parts, Fig. 1,” left, 2012). Her new exhibit includes a pair of ceiling-skimming sculptures, a “transition in scale [that] started as an intuitive challenge to myself,” the artist says. “Sculpture on this monumental scale has an authoritative power.”
Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, 327 Broome St., 212.375.8043, Sept. 5-Oct. 6