Adam Jasper

  • View of Zilla Leutenegger, 2021. Left: Torkel, 2020. Right: Drehtüre (Revolving Door), 2021.
    picks July 21, 2021

    Zilla Leutenegger

    Oulipian writer Georges Perec’s 1974 essay cycle Espèces d’espaces (Species of Spaces) provided the title for this Zilla Leutenegger exhibition in Eastern Switzerland. The comparison does some work: Leutenegger’s installation is as evocative and precise as Perec’s prose, but while the author begins with the blank page and via a spiraling series of associations surveys the space of the bed, the city, and the planet, Leutenegger, who is well known for her drawings and paintings, has constructed a kind of memory apartment within the museum.

    In the subterranean galleries, the viewer enters on a

  • Karam Natour, Nothing Personal, 2017, two-channel HD video, color, sound, 21 minutes 8 seconds.

    Karam Natour

    In Karam Natour’s twenty-one-minute two-channel video Nothing Personal, 2017, the artist calls emergency services and then waits for them to come feature in his movie. At first, it seems like the kind of thing a bored teenager might cook up. And there’s the rub: Sometimes it’s only through idiocy that you pose the right questions.

    The piece begins with a black screen. We hear a ringtone and Natour’s plaintive voice. We see him lying in a white room on a bed with vermilion sheets, wearing only a T-shirt and underpants. He can’t move, he says. Having established his address, in Tel Aviv, the operator

  • Ana Prata, A and B, 2020, acrylic and oil on canvas, 59 x 47 1/4''.
    picks April 16, 2021

    Ana Prata

    Ana Prata is one of the most significant young Brazilian painters. As if any further consecration were necessary, next year she will have a solo show in Lina Bo Bardi’s legendary SESC Pompeìa. Her works are generous, and create that afterglow of pleasure that is disarming, especially perhaps for critics. She paints canvases rather than things, or, as Gabriel Perez-Barreiro phrased it, she is “perhaps not so interested in the thing itself, [but] in how that thing becomes an image on a canvas.”

    Her current show, luxuriously arrayed at Tobias Mueller Modern Art, takes the still life as a point of

  • Florian Germann, Untitled, 2020, bio resin dyed with fuel pigments, ferrite magnets, steel, 66 1/8 × 44 7/8 × 18 1/2".

    Florian Germann

    In a series of 1930s studies of how people behave in museums, Arthur Melton discovered what has since been called “right-turn bias.” When entering a gallery, a large majority of visitors turn right and keep turning right until they find themselves trapped in a corner that obliges them to turn left. (This description is not intended as a political metaphor; it is strictly an empirical observation.) Turning right at the opening of Florian Germann’s “raised by dogs,” I saw two large sculptures, sheets of resin billowing from the wall, pinned down with prominent screws (all works Untitled, 2020).

  • Pedro Wirz, Soil’s Memory, 2020, beeswax, textile debris, concrete cast, bronze cast, plaster cast, iron cast, toys, and acrylic on wood, 78 3/4 x 139 3/4 x 6 3/4".
    picks January 05, 2021

    Pedro Wirz

    Last year at Marc Selwyn Fine Art in Los Angeles, in the show “Termite Terminators,” Pedro Wirz exhibited grids of toy automobiles drowned in beeswax, a kind of apian gridlock. Cars give the illusion of individuation to human eyes, but seen from an alien’s point of view they are largely identical. And their offer of individuality is premised on a shared infrastructure of oil and roads that is bringing us, as all well know, to perdition.

    This exhibition shares the earlier’s catastrophic orientation, but “Tooth of a Giant” brings the viewer further into Wirz’s post-apocalyptic world. The eponymous

  • Marcin Dudek, Slash & Burn, 2020, acrylic paint, steel powder, image transfer, medical tape, UV varnish on wood, aluminum, and steel, 100 3/4 × 99 1/4".

    Marcin Dudek

    The entrance to Harlan Levey Projects is an anonymous doorway on the ground floor of an apartment building on a mostly residential street outside the center of Brussels. It would be easy to overlook. From the entrance of the gallery, what could be seen of Marcin Dudek’s “Slash & Burn I” was a wall with a densely packed grid of abstractions, each so small and understated that the one thing that could be immediately determined from the gallery door was that they eschewed heroics. (A sequel, “Slash & Burn II,” is scheduled for 2021.)

    Very original work induces a particular kind of hesitation, a

  • Sue Williams, Purple Choke, 1995, oil on canvas, 15 × 18".

    Sue Williams

    In the 1970s Sue Williams studied at CalArts, where Conceptualism ruled, but, as the story has it, she refused all its temptations in order to paint. Her paintings began as potent examinations of sexual politics and slowly evolved until they culminated in magnificent large-format abstractions. This show, encompassing small paintings—some on bits of found fabric—from 1995 and 1996, as well as collages and large paintings made between 2014 and the present, served to remind viewers of just how radically the strategies of critical art have changed, as has Williams’s painting, in ways that often

  • Mai-Thu Perret, With an unbounded force (yellow witch), 2020, glazed ceramic, 9 7/8 × 7 1/2 × 3 1/2''.
    picks August 17, 2020

    Mai-Thu Perret

    Mai-Thu Perret’s shift from literature to art was initiated by the discovery, or rather the invention, of The Crystal Frontier, a fictional utopian community of women in the New Mexico desert. Many of her works are “authored” by members of this break-away society, or are about her imagined experiences there. This distancing gesture liberates the artist from the egoism of authorial creativity, making her an instrument in a predetermined system. At the same time, her research has spiraled out to include more documented feminist history, such as Silvia Federici’s reflections on witchcraft and

  • View of “Marlene McCarty,” 2020. Background from left: “14” (2), 2014; “14” (4), 2014. Foreground: Into the Weeds, 2019.

    Marlene McCarty

    There is a craft to the installation of exhibitions. When unpacking large paper works that have been transported rolled, gallery staff lay them out on flat, clean surfaces for some days, to let the fibers of the paper relax, before preparing them for hanging. When the art installers performed this familiar ritual at the Kunsthaus Baselland, a murmur of surprise went up. Reproductions do not communicate the force of Marlene McCarty’s drawings. In the JPEGS that are now the dominant medium for viewing art, her drawings in graphite and ballpoint pen look like accomplished, almost vernacular

  • Len Lye with his Fountain, 1959. © Len Lye Foundation Archive.

    Len Lye

    IN 1935, the British General Post Office commissioned an advertisement from the New Zealand–born artist Len Lye, who was based in London at the time. The resulting film is a mere four minutes long, a small gem of an animation titled A Colour Box that sends a joyful riot of dots and lines dancing across the screen to a festive soundtrack of beguine, a jazz-inflected type of West Indian dance music. It’s hard to imagine just how gratifying the protopsychedelic film would have been to watch in the midst of the Depression, but it enjoyed a wide run as a preview reel that played before commercial

  • Zhang Enli, Watercolour on the Wall, 2019, watercolor. Installation view.

    Zhang Enli

    Zhang Enli’s most recent wall painting deserved to be seen, rather than described, but it existed only for the duration of the exhibition at Galerie Xavier Hufkens, so it makes sense to tentatively capture it here. Zhang’s swirling tangles of green watercolor were applied so thinly against the white wall that the hues appeared luminous. The sweeping gestures recalled action painting, and the overall effect was optical, unashamedly pleasing to the eye. The mural shared this quality with the other highly accomplished abstract paintings in the solo show. Each tone felt like an expression of a

  • Vaclav Pozarek, Drei Neon (Three Neon), 1988, wood, 9 7⁄8 × 29 1⁄2 × 29 1⁄2".

    Vaclav Pozarek

    According to his genial Swiss gallerist, Gianfranco Verna, Donald Judd had to be dissuaded from assaulting a group of children who were playing inside one of his sculptures at the Basel outdoor exhibition “Skulptur im 20. Jahrhundert” (Sculpture in the Twentieth Century) in the summer of 1984. The furious artist could not believe that the Swiss would respond to his work by playing in it, but they did.

    Vaclav Pozarek, although at the time already well into his forties, could be imagined as one of those who played. The work of this Czech-born artist who has lived in Switzerland for about half a