Alexandra Pechman

  • Nora Shields, Threshold (Blue), 2018, acrylic and enamel on metal, 30 x 14 1/2 x 6".
    picks February 02, 2019

    Nora Shields

    The title of Nora Shields’s second solo exhibition at the Pit, “Harder Volumes,” at first reads as a simple demarcation between the artist’s earlier work, made from more organic materials, and her new series of metal sculptures. However, the use of the word volume—whose etymology links it to the Latin words for scroll and roll—denotes a new relationship to shape and movement, where these durable materials, forged into undulating forms, are suggested to be as pliable as paper. The title also turns out to be slightly ironic, as Shields’s witty, irreverent, abstract pieces thankfully have none of

  • Mateo López, Ojeras (Eye Bags), 2018, vinyl paint on wall, dimensions variable.

    Mateo López

    “Don’t ask me about this or that building,” Luis Barragán once said. “Don’t try to do what I do: See what I saw.” With “X, Y, Z,” Mateo López proved himself a fitting interpreter of one of Barragán’s spaces, this one inspired by Hispano-Islamic architecture: The gallery Travesía Cuatro, which hosted López’s recent show, is located in the Casa Franco, a former private home built by Barragán in 1929 as one of his earliest projects. Trained as an architect, López has said that all objects begin as drawings. His work tests the boundaries of drawing, and his investigations into line encompass sculpture,

  • picks November 30, 2017

    Théo Mercier

    The title of Théo Mercier’s first solo exhibition in Mexico, “Phantom Legacy,” refers to relics of a time that never existed. The show largely features more than a dozen assemblages made by the Mexico City–based artist during a residency at the gallery this year, which overlapped with the city’s devastating earthquake in September. The concerns of Mercier’s work, such as conflating the aesthetics of archeology with those of contemporary art, as well as the precariousness of objects, find added poignancy in the timing of this show.

    After a renovation of the gallery, the artist took the debris of

  • View of “Energ(ética); arte y energía sostenible.” (All photos: Alexandra Pechman)
    diary October 25, 2017

    Flora and Fauna

    IN COLOMBIA,everything grows. All flora seems to flourish in its environment of extremes.

    Yet the area of deforestation jumped 44 percent in 2016 from the previous year. This was, ironically, due to historic deals with the FARC rebel group. As FARC demobilized, criminal factions moved in to control rainforest areas. And though the country has largely welcomed a hard-won period of peace, the internally displaced population, a result of the decades-long conflict, is higher than Syria’s.

    Bogotá is both the capital and the center of the country’s art scene, and it is currently in a state of self-reflection.

  • View of “Julia Haft-Candell: the infinite,” 2017.
    picks July 31, 2017

    Julia Haft-Candell

    A glossary that accompanies this exhibition opens with lines from Ursula K. Le Guin’s introduction to her 1969 novel The Left Hand of Darkness: “I am an artist too, and therefore a liar. Distrust everything I say. I am telling the truth.” Julia Haft-Candell’s thirty sculptures similarly operate as a collection of playful hypocrisies, suggesting that the gray area between binaries is more productive terrain than any stable point.

    From the “Infinity” series (all works 2017), twenty-four of the symbols, in black clay, rough and burnt-looking, appear in a tight grid of plinths on one gallery wall.

  • Left: MECA founders Tony Rodríguez and Daniel Báez. Right: MECA Special Projects' Maria del Mar Frederique and dealer Javier Bosques.
    diary June 09, 2017

    Sea Change

    SAN JUAN, DESPITE ITS RECENT BILLING as one of the art cities of the future, has none of the splashy hallmarks of a twenty-first-century art hub. That is, there are no grandiose private museums, no sterile government-funded arts districts, no starchitecture vanities.

    The city’s art scene, instead, exists in a strange symbiosis with a long-simmering financial crisis, concentrated in the neighborhood of Santurce, where unused commercial buildings beget studios, artist-run galleries, and sprawling murals. (And real-estate boons: Klaus Biesenbach and Alanna Heiss both own homes on the island.) The

  • Lauren Greenfield, Spring Break, Panama City, Florida, 2000, silver dye bleach print, 11 x 14".
    picks May 26, 2017

    Lauren Greenfield

    This survey, titled “Generation Wealth,” is promoted as a morality tale, but it’s more of a master class in dramatic irony. For twenty-five years, Lauren Greenfield has photographed those who see money and fame as vehicles to happiness—celebrities, Ponzi schemers, wealthy teenagers, Russian oligarchs, the list goes on—while highlighting the vacancy of that pursuit. Donald Trump is exactly the sort of person Greenfield might photograph, and her artist statement included in the show plainly states that she sees his election as a symptom of such generational sickness. This exhibition sometimes

  • Left: Curator Pablo León de la Barra with artist Jac Leirner. Right: Sp-Arte founder and director Fernanda Feitosa. (Except where noted, all photos: Alexandra Pechman)
    diary April 15, 2017

    No Time Like the Present

    “SÃO PAULO IS WHAT WOULD HAPPEN if New York threw up on LA,” Alex Cuadros wrote in last year’s Brazillionaires, about the meteoric rise and fall of the country’s rich from the aughts to the 2016 Rio Olympics. I thought of the line often during this year’s Sp-Arte, while overlooking Paulista Avenue and the Lina Bo Bardi–designed Museu de Arte de São Paulo from the perch of an Airbnb in Oscar Niemeyer’s Edifício Copan downtown. Twisting the comparison could work for politics, too. Look at the crisis in Brazil last year in a funhouse mirror, and one might see something similar to the US at present;

  • Left: “The New Normal” curators Guo Xi, Wenfei Wang, Yang Zi, and Alvin Li. (Except where noted, all photos: Alexandra Pechman) Right: Eli Osheyack. (Photo: Dre Romero)
    diary March 21, 2017

    Weekend Update

    THE WEEKEND BEFORE the fifth edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong, a rivalry of sorts peaked between the Beijing and Shanghai art scenes. Expecting to divert the art world en route to Hong Kong, amid lifted visa requirements to allow visitors to the mainland for seventy-two hours, both cities packed the weekend with openings. Shanghai, with its meteoric rise in the art world, has worked hard to eclipse Beijing’s status as the country’s art capital. This year, Beijing pushed back, inaugurating Gallery Weekend Beijing, a spinoff of the Berlin edition helmed by Thomas Eller, who reached out to a mere

  • JR installation featuring Ali Mohd Younes Idriss in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Alexandra Pechman.
    slant August 26, 2016

    Leap of Faith

    ART AND THE OLYMPICS have a long, intertwined history. The ancient art created in competition to memorialize the earliest games eventually defined the vision of its modern iteration. In the early twentieth century, there were also art matches: Beginning in 1912, artists competed in fields like painting and sculpture, accompanied by exhibitions and new architecture. The tradition ended by 1948, but the 2016 Summer Olympics inaugurated the first artist-in-residency program. Combined with Rio de Janeiro’s new museums and public art competing for the city’s attention, art was an occasional tonic to

  • Left: Dealer Nara Roesler and collector Ella Cisneros-Fontanals. Right: SP-Arte director Fernanda Feitosa and Heitor Martins. (Photos: Denise Andrade)
    diary April 16, 2016

    Party Politics

    IN BRAZIL, when things go badly you make it into a party. Take the infamous 1919 carnival after the Spanish Flu, or the recent protests calling for impeachment—or protests of those calls for impeachment—which often devolve into long, beer-soaked nights. So perhaps it’s no surprise that this year’s SP-Arte, Latin America’s largest art fair, held in the middle of the country’s worst recession in decades and political upheaval, charged on with a determined gaiety.

    The lines of communication appeared aggressively open to the friendlier, more stable market in North America: The fair’s talks program

  • “Five Years Thinking the Cities” at Studio-X Rio. (All photos: Pedro Costa Barros)
    diary March 29, 2016


    RIO DE JANEIRO WAS INUNDATED. On March 16, the night the Cultural Secretary of São Paulo spoke at Studio-X Rio, I was elsewhere, shin-deep in rain-mud before my bus got stuck in traffic as water and protests surged. #OcupaBrasil had exploded. There was a pour-over from the weekend’s millions-strong marches against the incumbent Workers’ Party president, Dilma Rousseff. Her ministry appointment earlier that day of ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a gesture some assumed meant to shield him from prosecution in an ongoing corruption scandal, was blocked, and further stymied by the release of