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Private View: our pick of February gallery shows around the world

New commercial gallery shows—from figuration to incarceration

Clare Woods, Rest Cure, 2018 Courtesy of Simon Lee

Clare Woods, Password Revolt

Simon Lee, New York

16 January-2 March

British painter Clare Woods made a name for herself in the 1990s with her otherworldly large-scale, oil-on-aluminium landscape paintings, yet her latest body of work represents a return to the human figure. Drawing from images of violence and tragedy in mass media, she explores a fractured sense of self, mediated by collective grief and cultural memory. Comprised of eight works ranging in price from $17,000 to $85,000, the series is an extension of her debut exhibition with the gallery in Hong Kong in 2018, yet it marks her first exhibition in New York in nearly 20 years.

Helen Escobedo’s Coatl, 1979 Courtesy of Proyectos Monclova

Helen Escobedo

Proyectos Monclova, Mexico City

5 February-9 March

A trailblazer in the Land Art movement in the mid-20th century, especially in Mexico, Escobedo is known for her monumental works that explore urban design and environmental destruction. This exhibition explores more of the minutiae of her practice, however, including drawings, collage, functional sculptures, maquettes and paintings made between the 1960s and 1980s, which inform much of her large-scale projects. It marks the gallery’s first solo show of Escobedo’s work and only the second show anywhere dedicated to the artist since her major retrospective at Mexico’s Museum of Modern Art in 2010, the year of her death.

A film still from Sterling Ruby’s Damnation, 2014-19 Courtesy of Sprüth Magers

Sterling Ruby, Damnation

Sprüth Magers, Los Angeles

13 February-23 March

The centrepiece of Ruby’s latest exhibition is a new single-channel video, five years in the making, that surveys the expansive prison compounds of California. The work is a continuation of the Los Angeles-based artist’s two-decade inquiry into systems of power, both physical and psychological, in contemporary America. Using the same kind of aerial surveillance and drone reconnaissance deployed in war zones to capture the sprawling incarceration compounds often outposted in the state’s arid desert, Ruby lays plain the insidiousness of the prison-industrial complex that has turned US correctional facilities into sources of free labour—and big business.

This article was amended on 8 February to correct the prices of Clare Woods's works: they range from $17,000 to $85,000 not $20,000 to $65,000

Appeared in The Art Newspaper, 309 February 2019