Ana Finel Honigman

  • Eva Kotátková, Speech Organ of Anna, A Girl Who Pronounces Words from the Middle, 2014. Performance view, Modern Art Oxford.
    picks January 23, 2014

    Eva Kotátková

    Using black-and-white collage, as well as film and live performances, Eva Kotátková playfully enacts the inner lives of Oxford University’s student population in her current show at Modern Art Oxford. First, she constructs an installation comprising both large-scale prints of vintage photographs that have been doctored and marked and metal sculptures that alternately resemble doodles and diagraphs. Drawings that could be the notes of a frustrated researcher line the ground under these sculptures. Then, for her performance installation, Speech Organ of Anna, A Girl Who Pronounces Words from the

  • Spread from Open Me . . . I Am a Dog, 1997.* Art Spiegelman.
    picks December 19, 2013

    Art Spiegelman

    That just one artist produced the five decades’ worth of graphic art that constitutes Art Spiegelman’s first retrospective is baffling. Beginning with depictions of geeky guys and pinup babes that he created as a preteen and concluding with Open Me . . . I Am a Dog, 1997, a book he created for his children about a book that believes it is a puppy, his oeuvre can seem ideologically irreconcilable. Formally, too: The spiky geometric lines in his early comix are at odds with the soft curvy characters that pervade his later work. Greater gulfs loom between the smorgasbord of boogers and barf in the

  • Marlerie Marder, #23, 2008, inkjet pigment print, dimensions variable. From the series “Anatomy,” 2008–2013.
    picks December 13, 2013

    Malerie Marder

    For her most recent exhibition, Malerie Marder presents a series of photographs depicting prostitutes in brothels in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, places where sex work is both legal and normalized, affording those within it greater dignity than other places. Marder’s photographs visually reaffirm this: Each of her images shows her subjects—all women—relating to their own bodies in moments that are at once intimate and blunt. The women are pictured lying on beds, while bottles of cheap lotion and boxes of tissues are neatly displayed against wall-length mirrors and painted murals of island

  • Anca Munteanu Rimnic, Wild Worses, 2013, metal, leather, dimensions variable.
    picks September 17, 2013

    Anca Munteanu Rimnic

    The death wails belonging to the six professional Romanian mourners in the film sequences Lament III (Museum Curator Collector) and Lament V (Empty Bags) (both 2013) are not the most damning pronouncements on the fate of contemporary art in Anca Munteanu Rimnic’s latest eight-part video. The darkest statements are conveyed through the ladies’ bemused and exacerbated facial expressions as they chant the words “museum,” “curator,” and “collector.”

    Rimnic recruited the six wailers in her native Romania, where rural funerals include staged performances by women wearing black who theatrically mourn

  • View of “The Pearl,” 2013.
    picks August 04, 2013

    Enrique Martínez Celaya

    Enrique Martínez Celaya’s “The Pearl” is an affecting meditation on nostalgia. Martínez Celaya constructs this exhibition like a tightly composed narrative poem involving a small cast of characters—a boy, a fox, a gaggle of different kinds of small woodland birds, and a German shepherd—depicted through paintings, chintzy figurines, sculptures, and installation. Nothing feels extraneous in Martínez Celaya’s dreamlike vision of a lost home and distant boyhood. His surreal narrative unfolds through a series of installations that viewers explore from room to room by following a clear hose hung from

  • View of “Uri Aran,” 2013.
    picks February 26, 2013

    Uri Aran

    Uri Aran’s solo exhibition “Here, Here and Here” tells a story of struggles to construct compelling, coherent, and relatable narratives. Using assemblage, video, and drawing, Aran shows bits of evidence that imply potential plots, though what he really demonstrates are failures to communicate.

    The aspiring raconteurs in Chimpanzee, 2012, Aran’s twenty-five-minute video, tell fragments of anecdotes. Talking to the camera alone or in pairs, Aran’s attractive adult actors sound like kids telling tales. But their rambling, breathless stories of climbing trees, liking or disliking their neighbors,

  • Lisa Ruyter, Arthur Rothstein "Dry and parched earth in the badlands of South Dakota,” 2009, acrylic on canvas, 47 x 59”.
    picks September 20, 2012

    Lisa Ruyter

    The images of impoverished Americans that Walker Evans made iconic in his collaboration with James Agee convey the dry, brittle tones of sun-bleached, barren land and faces drained exhaustion and hardship in the 1930s and ’40s. Lisa Ruyter reinterprets these iconic works by using her signature palette of bright, Day-Glo acrylic paint. While the shift in color updates the historical images to suggest the cheap plastic products endemic to today’s economic plight, the mood and message remain the same. Ruyter’s “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” is a moving and timely exhibition, appropriately installed

  • Jenny Saville, Red Stare Head I, 2007–11, oil on canvas, 106 1/4 x 86 5/8".
    picks August 06, 2012

    Jenny Saville

    Jenny Saville’s ferocity while piling, pushing, and scraping oil on her massive canvases appears to wall her subjects into their bodies. Her retrospective at Modern Art Oxford demonstrates her evocative use of paint to articulate the experiences, not only the appearances, of blind, transsexual, obese, and brutally scarred people. As in the art of Lucian Freud, Chaim Soutine, and Francis Bacon, paint itself here appears uncommonly heavy, angry, and oppressive. Yet her choice of subjects and methods of depiction are ultimately empathetic.

    Saville’s work’s gestural nature recalls academic life

  • Jonathan Horowitz, Liberated Bonsai in Antique Tin Bath, 2012, reclaimed tin bath, bonsai, china bowl, spray paint, 21 x 65 x 26".
    picks July 23, 2012

    Jonathan Horowitz and Elizabeth Peyton

    For an exhibition about repression, Jonathan Horowitz and Elizabeth Peyton’s “Secret Life” is remarkably free of tension. The works collectively emanate a genteel serenity, with Horowitz’s large-scale paintings and planters alongside Peyton’s modestly sized paintings, drawings, photographs, and prints forming a harmonious partnership. Horowitz and Peyton pluck inspiration from a heady bouquet of source material, exposing and examining suppressed libidinous urges. Their referents range from Freud to Christopher Bird’s The Secret Life of Plants, from the anonymously written Victorian diary of

  • View of “I am not free because I can be exploded anytime,” 2011.
    picks May 04, 2011

    Sterling Ruby

    In his latest exhibition and first curated project room at Sprüth Magers, Sterling Ruby seems to tell us that we should fear our own paranoia. Ruby borrowed his solo show’s title (“I am not free because I can be exploded anytime”) from a 1983 painting by Jenny Holzer and Lady Pink, which he hangs in the group show alongside sensual, cherry-red sculptures by his other two major influences––Robert Morris and Rosemarie Trockel. The incongruous collaboration between Pink and Holzer yielded the wall-size canvas displaying the latter’s characteristically cryptic phrase in yellow text over a scene,

  • Taryn Simon, Kalandia Checkpoint, Between Ramallah and Jerusalem, 2007, color photograph, 48 x 61 1/2”.
    picks May 17, 2010

    “Rethinking Location”

    Where—as opposed to why, what, how, or even who—is usually the easiest fact to establish when constructing a narrative, which makes the challenge that the twelve artists in “Rethinking Location” take on so impressive. As they strive to problematize space and disrupt the assumptions aroused by a quick scan of one’s surroundings, some of their stark, understated imagery is too visually slight, or seems to lack any explanation of its context or creator’s intentions. But much of the art makes us pause to ask why by questioning the notion of where.

    The strongest works in the show present the pure,

  • Marc Brandenburg, Untitled, 2009, pencil on paper, 26 x 18”.
    picks April 12, 2010

    Marc Brandenburg

    “Bonkers” is a deceptive title for Marc Brandenburg’s latest exhibition. The Berlin-based artist’s meticulous graphite drawings of gurgling foundations, morbid imagery, and rock stars (including a stunning portrayal of Michael Jackson) might be chaotic, even maniacal, but his technique is sane and sobering. Brandenburg’s renderings of water, skulls, editorial photographs, and his own snapshots of friends, acquaintances, and random street scenes are sensitive and penetrating. Many of his drawings are made from photographic negatives, so that black and white are reversed, which creates a disarming