Elizabeth Peyton’s portraits of both her friends and members of the cultural elite of her era, (Kurt Cobain comes to mind), first gained celebrity in the mid-to-late 90s. Since then, there has been what one might informally call a Peyton school of portraiture, particularly among young or emerging artists. Peyton herself owes a debt to the great portrait painter Alice Neel, known for her incisive psychological studies, and in fact paid homage to Neel with a nude image of the artist (referencing Neel’s own famous nude self-portrait at age 80.) [Read more…]
Memory is a useful faculty in a painter’s toolbox. It can be used to conjure the color of an emotion or deployed in the pursuit of perspective. It is the mind’s Instagram filter, tinting the images of our past. In the case of Washington-based artist Andrea Joyce Heimer, whose new exhibit, A Jealous Person, is currently on view at Hometown Gallery in Brooklyn (her first New York solo exhibition), memory is wielded as a powerful device for navigating neuroses borne of a set of formative experiences worthy of the Tenenbaum family, and with an equally pleasing palette to boot. [Read more…]
Kerry James Marshall’s Mastry
at Met Breuer, NYC
Reviewed by Prajna Desai
When a much-awaited survey of a leading light finally takes shape, and on hallowed ground, it should be forgiven its hagiographic excesses on grounds of perfect execution. The Met Breuer’s staging of Mastry, the first-ever retrospective of MacArthur Foundation Genius Awardee Kerry James Marshall, now 61 and a resident of Chicago, was exactly that, adoring, excessive, and majestic. [Read more…]
Icons in Ash: Cremation Portraits
Ubu Gallery, NYC
Reviewed by Phoebe Hoban
Somewhat hidden, the small, subterranean Ubu Gallery, on 59th Street, close to the East River, is the perfect place for the haunting show by Heide Hatry, known for her use of unique or transgressive materials–such as fashioning flowers out of animal offal, something she artfully did in a previous series. [Read more…]
May Be Seen Moskowitz Bayse Gallery, Los Angeles Reviewed by Christopher Michno
Loosely speaking, Jack Hoyer is a painter of landscapes. May Be Seen, his debut exhibition at Moskowitz Bayse in Hollywood, expresses the hallmarks of modern landscape painting, identified by some historians as beginning with Gustave Courbet: eschewing romanticism in favor of empiricism and the conveyance of inner states of mind. Strictly speaking, only three of his seven oil-on-linen paintings are landscapes; the other four are scenes – places in Los Angeles, or unremarkable locations chosen by the artist on lengthy road trips – that include concrete, buildings and infrastructure. [Read more…]
Anselm Kiefer at White Cube Bermondsey, London Audio commentary by Rachel Reid Wilkie
Rachel Reid Wilkie examines Anselm Kiefer’s exceptional exhibition, Walhalla. The five audio tracks below address the five main rooms of Kiefer’s sprawling underworld. Press play and imaginatively amble through the halls of this dark yet deeply affecting show. [Read more…]
CHRISTOPHER HASSETT: There seems to be an explicit call to action in much of your work, or at the very least the demand that one take note of some supreme injustice in the land or amongst peoples. Yet what I appreciate about your work is that, more than it being mere critique or some one-dimensional, stop-action capture, it instead offers a way forward, and in my mind that way forward is dependably the right way forward. I’m thinking of, as an example, a new work of yours titled American Women (Dismantling the Border). Can you speak more to this idea of there being a constructive framework or, rather, this inherently optimistic baseline level of production which seems not only to shape but lay a distinctive stamp across your entire arc of expression? [Read more…]
New Museum, NYC
The New Museum’s three-floor exhibition, Pixel Forest, from Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist, is an immersive wonder. If you’re looking for an enchanting, into-the-wilds experience where you can literally lie around — beds and floor cushions are in plenty — then this is the show for you.
The appropriately titled Curtains, Eileen Quinlan’s spare exhibition at Miguel Abreu, unsettles in ways few shows dare. The 24 black-and-white prints, all gelatin silver, communicate a spirit that is both cryptic and choleric. They dampen, these images, as in deaden. They silence. One feels in their presence as if having stepped into the afterings of a wake, casket still open, all guests gone. Something yet lingers.
Part of what disquiets in this utterly hushed series is the spectering of Quinlan’s own aggressive hand, which haunts in ways comparable to the cramping of a limb not long ago severed. It manifests as fitful revenant in openly hostile attacks against the negatives themselves, which are scarred with slashings and steel wool scourings and experimental broodings borne of plain artistic urge. A good dozen-plus prints in the show reflect the latter. As fly to wonton boys, killed solely for the sport, the negatives for these prints were left for hours or days in chemical baths, eroding or outright obliterating any image that might have been and erasing with it any expectation as to what a photograph should even minimally convey. To that end, these prints merely allude to photography, working as they do in the same medium. They are acting, however, in an alternate other: as medium in a kind of necromancy. They conjure rather than represent.
The press release for Ascension describes an exhibition where “fragmentation abounds in multitudinous ‘selves’, highlighting large-scale interactions between national and, arguably, mystical realms.”
Moving through the Rox Gallery’s two-level group show, however, my impression was that the artists in the gallery’s meandering lower level were engaged in a far more interesting and urgent discussion about a virulent kind of masculinity that is proving to be not just failed but fatal to the longterm existence of our species. [Read more…]
I’ve not been to a wax museum but I can imagine the Frankenstein on display might look something like Corpus Americus, the new group exhibition at Driscoll Babcock. Then again, the better analogy might be in the source material itself, in Shelly’s nameless creature who to this day stalks the starless wilds of our imaginations. For beneath the patchwork of skins stitched loosely into an ungainly whole, there is indeed something alive at the heart of Corpus Americus.
The animating strike is the question, “what does it mean to be an American today,” an idea that resides as much in abstract notions of America as in a chimeric Americana, those fabled high periods of yore. America today is a country far downwind from those onetime peaks, and in the lowlands things have begun to smell a bit foul. The stench no doubt lifts from the Corpse Politicus, our national institution that’s been so supremely bungled by the very leaders we entrusted with its care. [Read more…]
Vincent Desiderio is perhaps settling too comfortably into the role of master. Long considered one of the more skilled and thoughtful painters of our generation, his impressive 2011 showing at New York’s Marlborough put him amongst our best. The exhibition remains a peak moment in Desiderio’s career, where decades of discipline, contemplation, experimentation and deliberate execution came together in an inspired and powerful grouping. His Mourning and Fecundity II, I liberati, and Sink are contemporary masterworks, while few else in the series fell exceedingly short. The collection spoke of an artist in that perfect present tense, aware as much of a considered audience as in the assured lead of his own explorative hand. The best of these paintings hung with a consciousness above craft, their ranging stories both lucid and open. You do not stand in front of Morning and Fecundity II without wending imaginatively through the grave hours prior, nor is it possible to stave away the nearer end. The effect, long one of the great pleasures in Desiderio’s work, is a movement within and beyond the canvas that feels wholly cinematic.
Little of that movement exists in the new collection now on view at Marlborough. And though the theme of this series is “reification,” which suggests a solidification that might intend a termination of movement in the technical narrative as well, too many of these paintings nevertheless feel inert beyond the theme, which should not preclude a heartbeat.
Two works in particular highlight the contrast. [Read more…]