Alex Jovanovich

  • interviews December 16, 2015

    Diane Simpson

    In the November 2015 issue of Artforum, Kate Nesin says of artist Diane Simpson: “[She] realizes the singularity of each sculpture through assiduous refinements of deformation, material selection, and construction. That is, each sculpture stands on its own, marked by her attentiveness.” And attentiveness is the word one would use to describe Simpson, a scrupulous maker of body-conscious forms that call to mind the intricate details of period costumes, Art Deco design, and various kinds of ceremonial and fetish objects. Simpson lives and works in Chicago and has had numerous exhibitions. Her

  • picks October 23, 2015

    Ian Cooper

    Think about the backdrop against which the tapioca stickiness of childhood plays itself out: a middle-school classroom of plasticized wood; a gymnastics mat made of hypoallergenic vinyl; stain-resistant carpeting in tidy little squares of gray and pink. These institutional surfaces clash with the changes of bodies coming into their own—hair and sweat and semen and blood can easily be wiped away with a little Windex or a damp cloth, oddly sterilizing the messiness of puberty and the visceral weirdness of growing up. Ian Cooper’s sculptures, filtered through the aesthetics of his 1980s

  • picks September 06, 2015

    Chason Matthams

    Here is an artist happiest in the graveyard we call Google Images, promiscuous in his desire to absorb everything: stupid and brilliant, sickening and funny, banal and beautiful. Lots of people do this kind of looking now—gluttonous, glazed over, staring—and try making it into something. But few have the chops or intelligence to metabolize this modern habit into such febrile and gorgeously unhinged art.

    Chason Matthams can paint like a motherfucker. Or a fatherfucker—he doesn’t care. His pictures look like a synthesis of Ingres, Ub Iwerks, and Norman Rockwell, fed on a steady diet of GHB and

  • picks August 14, 2015

    Tom Phillips

    Tom Phillips’s approach to creating the strikingly luminous images in A Humument is by now a familiar one: He takes each page from W. H. Mallock’s A Human Document (a long-dead Victorian novel) and via collage, painting, and drawing, he turns them into voluminously embellished Concrete- or Language-inspired poems. When he happened upon the book nearly fifty years ago on a bargain rack in a London warehouse, he bet his rummaging companion that day, R. B. Kitaj, that he could turn it into “a serious long-term project.” And, indeed, with five different editions of A Humument printed and published,

  • picks July 31, 2015

    “Secret Identities: Superheroes and Selfhood”

    Superheroes are born from the worst of times: Think of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s sexy, Semitic Übermensch coming to life on the eve of World War II, or Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s psychedelic mutant marvels arriving the same year President Kennedy was assassinated. Hollywood’s bombarded us with all manner of muscle-bound escapism, especially over the last fifteen years, making fabulous bank by exploiting this country’s broken spirits from enervating wars, rotten politics, and economic crises.

    For this exhibition, seven artists offer wan and parodic meditations on the superhero mantle, putting

  • picks July 24, 2015

    Roger Brown

    Chicago Imagism: second-rate Pop from a Second City that had its moment—for about a second—too many years ago. This, of course, is all bullshit, but it is the narrative that’s been built around this Midwestern movement of painting and sculpture, which privileged interiority, eccentricity, folksiness, and craft—aspects that seemed woefully out of step with what was happening in New York and Europe during the 1960s and ’70s.

    Roger Brown, one of Chicago’s finest, was an inveterate collector of things and their stories, and his catholic tastes—from carnie art to dime store kitsch, images of the

  • interviews July 20, 2015

    Genesis Breyer P-Orridge

    Genesis Breyer P-Orridge has been making art, poetry, music, and magic for nearly fifty years. With the band Throbbing Gristle, P-Orridge became one of the main progenitors of industrial music, and in 1981 P-Orridge with Alex Fergusson commenced Psychic TV, which released its thirty-sixth studio album, Snakes, in 2014.

    In 1993, P-Orridge met and married dominatrix, registered nurse, performance artist, and musician Jacqueline Breyer— aka Lady Jaye (named after G.I. Joe’s sidekick). Shortly afterward they embarked on the project of Pandrogeny, a fusion of their souls and bodies as one through

  • picks July 03, 2015

    Sarah Charlesworth

    Laurie Simmons recalled encountering a trove of unfinished work in Sarah Charlesworth’s studio shortly after her death: “There was more green than I had ever seen in one art project . . . and that was how Sarah left us, with this beautiful—the green of springtime, the green of promise, and the idea that things weren’t ending, that there was a new beginning.” That verdant sense of imagination suffuses “Doubleworld,” Charlesworth’s first major survey in this city, and quite unlikely her last. Immersing oneself in more than forty years of this artist’s strange and searching eye, one is witness to

  • picks June 26, 2015

    Nikolay Bakharev

    “The People of Town N,” the title of Nikolay Bakharev’s second solo exhibition at this gallery, refers to Novokuznetsk, the artist’s hometown in southwestern Siberia, where he’s managed to capture an assortment of its denizens in various stages of unguardedness or vulnerability for more than thirty years.

    Novokuznetsk is a mill city—steel, iron—and the hardness of its environs can be read on the faces and bodies of Bakharev’s subjects. Though most of the pictures were taken after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Bakharev’s people seem, at least from the perspective of Western eyes, to

  • picks May 22, 2015

    Juliet Jacobson

    Take what you want from all the Marxist cant surrounding Christopher Williams’s long-term project on the history and discourse of the photographic. What one finds at the heart of his practice is something simpler but no less profound: a reverence for the miracle of seeing and for the efforts we’ve made at trying to approximate or capture the mystery of this extraordinary phenomenon with the invention of the camera.

    Juliet Jacobson is a drawer who works exclusively from photographs, transforming the information of mechanical reproduction into experiences that are startlingly physical and emotive.

  • picks May 15, 2015

    Marjorie Strider

    History does not remember Marjorie Strider as well as it should. Tom Wesselmann, Mel Ramos, and Roy Lichtenstein were all contemporaries of hers in the 1960s, and there was a great deal of overlap in all their subject matter: Crayon-colored Pop representations of the female form. But what Strider didn’t do, which her dudely confreres did, was to subject her women to the burnishing effects of male Eros. Even the most embittered of Roy’s girls always wanted Brad back, pretty-perfect in crisp lines, red lips, tears, and distress. Strider wasn’t big on this form of boy’s-club fantasy and gaze—her

  • picks May 01, 2015

    Arthur Ou

    For his second solo exhibition at this gallery, Arthur Ou took fourteen portraits of artists who work primarily within the realm of the photographic—people such as Uta Barth, James Welling, and Moyra Davey—reading parts of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s famous treatise on the limits of perception and language, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, in settings both public and domestic all over the world. Also on view are two R. M. Schindler–inspired chairs on which viewers are encouraged to dally and pore over pocket-size volumes of Wittgenstein’s book, republished in three variations—World, Picture, and Fact

  • picks April 10, 2015

    Lutz Bacher

    Lutz Bacher’s current solo exhibition, “For the People of New York City,” feels a lot like a Frank O’Hara poem: clever, buoyant, wistful, and utterly enthralled by all the garbage and loveliness of city existence. Her ability to resuscitate amateur videos, industrial throwaways, or bodega tchotchkes into numinously charged tableaux aligns her with urban visionaries such as Jess or Joseph Cornell, makers seemingly preordained to make even the stupidest of ready-made things exquisite.

    Bacher’s Empire (all works 2014) has nothing of the dead-eyed, steely glamour of Andy’s: Hers swings, blurs, and

  • picks March 13, 2015

    Caitlin Keogh

    Oh, how we long to be seduced. Imagine that quickening of the pulse when Christian Dior unveiled his New Look in 1947, after all the misery and asceticism of the World War II years—that fulsome twenty yards of fabric draped over a revamped Edwardian silhouette, returning to the world what Parisian fashion had always done best: aristocratic hauteur alloyed with sumptuous glamour.

    Faggy, filigreed, fabulously flat—Caitlin Keogh’s scintillating crop of nouveau paintings are a welcome respite from all the slopped-out, dudely, abstractionist facture littering Chelsea and far beyond. Keogh’s in possession

  • picks February 13, 2015

    Tomi Ungerer

    “If people didn’t fuck, you wouldn’t have any children, and without children you would be out of work,” remarked Tomi Ungerer, creator of the charming and lucrative Mellops family series of children’s books, to a crowd at an American Library Association conference in 1969, when the artist was angrily questioned about the dirty pictures he was unashamedly making and publishing in addition to such innocent fare. That event marked the end of Ungerer’s visibility, at least in the United States, for nearly thirty years.

    But it didn’t dampen his success overseas: He was named the Goodwill Ambassador

  • picks January 23, 2015

    Libby Rothfeld

    Car parks, Sam’s Club, mom’s house, Target. At Panera Bread with your sister-in-law. Driving to Home Depot for shower hooks, a towel rack, new batteries. Take some more Tylenol, and you’ll still feel like shit. This stripe of existential cauterization sits at the heart of Libby Rothfeld’s solo show—her first in New York—titled “Good To Think With, Good To Think Against.” Rothfeld’s work acts as a sort of excavation of selfhood from suburban life, an attempt to find distinction within a landscape of mediocre vistas and big-box desolation.

    Rothfeld’s three floor sculptures, all 2015, are mainly

  • picks October 29, 2014

    Michelle Grabner

    There is an expansive effort to create a steady sense of joy in the carefully constructed paper weavings and enamel paintings of Michelle Grabner. Her work feels steeped in the rhythms of ritual and dailiness, thoroughly tended to and loved, like a garden or a family. Count every strip of paper and modulated dot of paint—of which there are many thousand—and you get the impression that we are witness to a tabulation of blessings.

    Grabner pulls her abstractions from the patterns of domestic life—the plaids of kitchen dishtowels or the zigzags and crocheted squares of the handmade baby blanket—then

  • picks October 10, 2014

    Dave Hardy

    There’s a great tradition of garbage art, from Kurt Schwitters’s collage and assemblage works and the Situationists’ reconfigurations of trash culture to Rachel Harrison’s and Isa Genzken’s brilliantly mean-spirited monuments to the nastiness of late capitalism. And then there’s Dave Hardy, whose formal, poetic coordinates within this realm fall rather elegantly between Apollonian facture and unadulterated abjection.

    Hardy’s primary materials for all six works in this exhibition are scavenged panels of glass and cast-off chunks of cheap, desiccated furniture foam (think the appointments of an

  • picks September 19, 2014

    Genesis BREYER P-ORRIDGE and Pierre Molinier

    Imagine a sexual identity outside of the tedious LGBTQ-whatever-whatever-whatever acronym, one that doesn’t fall into the rank and file of stultifying political positioning or compartmentalization. Imagine bodies who’d balk at the notion of belonging to anything other than themselves, their ideologies indefatigably linked to the viscerally erotic—getting you off while scaring you shitless. Welcome to the savagely erogenous theatre of Genesis BREYER P-ORRIDGE and Pierre Molinier, two beacons of glittering black light amid a pallid sea of dumdum process-based abstraction by fuckwit,

  • picks June 02, 2014

    Charles James

    Charles James’s life wasn’t all debs, soigné parties, and Slim Keith. By the time of his death in 1978, after a lifetime of striking up bad business deals and alienating scores of friends and supporters, the visionary fashion designer was living in sheer squalor in New York City’s Chelsea Hotel: sick and a pauper, months behind in rent. Despite having a small coterie of minders (or nightclubbing fans who occasionally borrowed some of his renowned frocks to party in), he died alone.

    But James was far more than your average fashion-land burnout, and in this bravura retrospective, put together by