Ana Finel Honigman

  • EVOL, Wallflower, Multiple Choice, 2009, spray paint on cardboard, 21 x 27".
    picks May 08, 2009

    EVOL

    EVOL creates drab city scenes with humble materials, yet his spray-paint-on-cardboard paintings are breathtaking. Born in a town in southwestern Germany, he began stenciling precisely rendered images of tired, featureless prefab housing blocks onto outdoor electric boxes when he moved to Berlin. In his first solo show at the Wilde Galley, he presents ten predominantly black, white, and gray images spray-painted on discarded packing materials, and a single walk-in installation of a block of lifeless midrise apartments at night.

    As a street artist with training in product design, he often incorporates

  • Frauke Eigen, Kuchi, 2008, gelatin silver print, 12 x 12".
    picks April 27, 2009

    Frauke Eigen

    In Frauke Eigen’s black-and-white photographs, skin is as soft and still as opulent fabric, while cloth flowers, the details of garments, and other inanimate objects are given the careful, intimate, and tender attention that other artists might reserve for the subjects of portraiture. The German-born and Berlin-based photographer took these pictures in Japan, and the work expresses a keen awareness for her surroundings as well as a respect for the calm, clean aesthetic of Japanese design and Zen philosophy.

    The close-up view of the simple curves of a young woman’s velvety round cheeks, chin,

  • Mun-gi Yang, Luxury Stone 4, 2009, stone, 13 x 3 1/2 × 9".
    picks April 09, 2009

    Mun-gi Yang

    In his first solo show in Seoul, Mun-gi Yang playfully derides the value that high-end accessories accrue by carving Chanel and Louis Vuitton trademarks into life-size purse-shaped rocks. Some of these sculptures are placed on plinths, like objects of desire to covet in high-end boutique display cases, while others are arranged in clusters on the floor of the gallery, where at first glance they look like garden-variety stones. But all the works in the show are made from handsome dark marble, which the thirty-nine-year-old Korean artist has carved into curves and polished to a lustrous shine.

  • Richard Wathen, Llareggub, 2009, oil on linen and aluminum, 74 2/5 x 53".
    picks March 19, 2009

    Richard Wathen

    Richard Wathen smoothly applies oil paint onto linen stretched over aluminum. The English artist’s five new paintings, presented alongside two series of color etchings, feature children wearing historical costumes, posed against single-hued, empty backgrounds; several of the subjects are found cuddling rabbits. The soft, sweet palette and the velvety surfaces of the paintings create a soothing sense of harmony from which tensions embedded in the cryptic images slowly and hauntingly emerge. In fact, these works’ most absorbing mystery is not why the imagined subjects float in space but how passive

  • Graham Durward, When I was young I had no head my eye was single and my body filled with light
, 2009, oil on canvas, 48 x 40".
    picks March 17, 2009

    Graham Durward

    Incense often masks seedy smells, but in Graham Durward’s exhibition of new oil paintings, the curling smoke he depicts rising from incense burning in his studio complements a series of large, dark, and dirty portraits of men with blurred or utterly obscured faces. Most of the figures are lithe, alluring, and naked, recalling the images posted in Craiglist’s casual-encounters forums. In Gosse, 2007, a shaggy-haired young man pouts and seems to point a camera at himself in a mirror while pulling down the waistband of his briefs on his sinewy bare body. Room with mirror (Gary), 2008, presents

  • Left: Artist Rebecca Warren with Bianca Jagger. Right: Artist Polly Morgan with Jude Law. (All photos: Ana Finel Honigman)
    diary March 16, 2009

    On a Haunch

    London

    LAST MONDAY, following a short flight from Berlin, I stopped by the Serpentine’s preview for Rebecca Warren’s first survey in a UK public gallery. I’ve long been skeptical of the hype surrounding her untidy and ambiguously referential sculptures (which critics often seem to ascribe with feminist meaning), so I was excited to see how her exhibition stacked up.

    Something about the work still seemed half-baked to me, but at least the crowd was hot. The Tate’s eminent Sir Nicholas Serota, artists Tracey Emin, Glenn Brown, and Mat Collishaw, musician Alison Goldfrapp, and Bianca Jagger made their way

  • View of “Roman Tolici,” 2009.
    picks March 13, 2009

    Roman Tolici

    It takes a long moment to register the identity of the clean-shaven fellow in Roman Tolici’s Adolf, one of forty smooth-faced men presented in the Romanian painter’s 2008 “Barber Shop” series of small black-and-white watercolor portraits hanging in the gallery’s main room. Erasing history’s most infamous mustache from Hitler’s face is not the most remarkable aspect of the show, however. More striking is the cumulative effect of seeing feared and admired male cultural icons of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, all without facial hair.

    “Barber Shop” is installed salon-style throughout the

  • View of “Eemil Karila,” 2009.
    picks March 13, 2009

    Eemil Karila

    Visitors entering “Surface Values,” Eemil Karila’s first solo exhibition in Berlin, will find white walls, a tan floor, and glaring fluorescent lights beaming down on nothing. Moments later, however, these flicker off and a set of black lights, which have been installed by the Finnish artist, switch on. The new radiance sets aglow ultraviolet inks that Karila mixed into the gallery staff’s cleaning products. After the floors were mopped, creating patterns with the wet mixture, Karila laminated the floor in order to preserve what he has called a collaborative work. After the show closes, the

  • Jota Castro, Amazonas aka Merdolino, 2009, toilet paper and wood, 75 1/2 x 7 4/5 x 7 4/5".
    picks February 20, 2009

    Jota Castro

    Overstatement is an extravagance that is easy to overindulge during these difficult times. Conveying explicit and passionate opinions, Jota Castro presents object lessons in how strong statements can succeed as good gambles or fail as costly creative luxuries. For his first solo show at Barbara Thumm’s two galleries, the French-Peruvian artist and former United Nations and European Union diplomat advocates his political convictions through his art. At the gallery’s Markgrafenstrasse space, he presents sculptures wrapped in barbed wire: Tricky (all works 2009) consists of two soccer balls, and

  • Left: Kunst-Werke's Denhart Harling, singer Inga Humpe, Kunst-Werke curator Susanne Pfeffer, and artist Anca Munteanu. Right: Dealer Javier Peres. (All photos: Maxime Ballesteros)
    diary February 16, 2009

    Popcorn Culture

    Berlin

    “I WISH I COULD just curl up with popcorn,” lamented artist Tiphaine Shipman last Friday, the eve of “Lynchmob”’s opening night. Setting up her appropriately creepy video juxtaposing flashes of blinding white light with disjointed shots of herself racing through dark and misty woods—“starkers” but for white socks—she glanced wistfully over to the room where Olivier Pietsch’s pastiche of dreamlike scenes and nightmarish assaults from well-known and obscure films was already up and running. A moment later, though, and she was back to the grindstone, helping curators Christopher David and Emilie

  • View of “Ignacio Uriarte,” 2009. From left: Licenciado I & II, 2007; Single Line Circle Labyrinths, 2008; Red Circle Drawings, 2008; and A4 Cycle in Four Whites, 2009.
    picks January 30, 2009

    Ignacio Uriarte

    As the threat of stultifying pay-the-rent jobs looms large for many now-struggling artists, Ignacio Uriarte’s exhibition “9 to 5” offers an inspiring jolt of hope that the muses might pay visits to cubicles as well as to studios. Uriarte began his professional life in business administration. In his artist statement, he expresses a desire to “stay in my own ‘petit-bourgeois’ reality in order to deal with [being an artist] from the inside, using the expertise acquired over the years.” For his first solo show in Germany, the Spanish-born and Berlin-based artist uses Biro pens, Microsoft Excel,

  • Chihcheng Peng, Shadow Your Man, 2007, still from a black-and-white video, 11 minutes 8 seconds.
    picks January 09, 2009

    “Funny Not Funny”

    “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die,” Mel Brooks once noted. Taking a contrarian stance, the nineteen artists in this exhibition, curated by the gallery’s Becky Smith and Allison Kave, present gags, gaffes, and guffaws that combine humor and empathy. At first glance, Sir Huge Cock, 2004, Everest Hall’s lovingly rendered photorealist painting of a discarded snapshot depicting a skinny dweeb grinning with a yellow balloon twisted so as to justify his titular nickname, looks like a damning reminder of the potential permanence of shameful photographs.