Adam Jasper

  • 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

    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

    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

  • 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

  • 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

    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

    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

    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

  • Monica Bonvicini

    A leather belt, broad, black, and with a pronounced buckle, might be just a way to keep trousers up, but contemplated in the right (or wrong) context, the same strip of leather can recall a whip, a restraint, or a lolling canine tongue. Film footage of a man slowly taking off a belt might represent the meditative act of a tired person undressing to sleep. It could also anticipate the release of the anger of a paterfamilias about to issue corporal punishment, or it might be a precursor to a sexual act; in Monica Bonvicini’s cosmos, all these associations are present. It may seem like nasty

  • Hreinn Friðfinnsson

    When the reformation came to Iceland, it confronted a Catholicism whose roots were old, but whose day-to-day practice was flexible. Before the last bishop, Jón Arason, was decapitated along with his two sons for leading an armed resistance, a priest attempting to comfort him reminded him that there would be a next life. “That I know, little Sveinn!” he replied. Arason’s last words have entered the Icelandic vernacular, and the latent ambiguity in the condemned bishop’s statement corresponds to the ambivalence in Hreinn Friðfinnsson’s work. Friðfinnsson’s faith in art is the bridge that carried

  • Nora Turato

    There was no shaking the feeling you’d just missed it. Everywhere in Nora Turato’s ambitious solo show “explained away,” you sensed you’d entered a room still positively buzzing from a performance for which you—who, let’s face it, often manage to be in the right place at the wrong time—had yet again arrived too late. Some of the props were still there. The stage had not yet been completely taken down. But the show was over.

    This sustained atmosphere of loss was intentional. Turato understands that while an exhibition cannot substitute for a performance (no more than this review can), it can mark

  • Raphaela Vogel

    The title of Raphaela Vogel’s exhibition “Gregor’s Loch” recalled many Gregors, among them Pope Gregory I, the gallerist Gregor Staiger, and Kafka’s Gregor Samsa. Loch, German for hole, could refer to a lair or a hideaway, which in this case might have been the gallery or perhaps an orifice, Gregor’s hole. It was tempting to see the title as intended to needle, to get at Mr. Staiger, who is known for his genial, imperturbable, lightly self-deprecating distance. You have to admire Vogel’s consistency: She never smooths over the awkward question of the artist’s relationship to a host institution.