Ana Finel Honigman

  • View of “Wim Botha,” 2008.
    picks December 30, 2008

    Wim Botha

    Wim Botha’s work grapples with historical and cultural attitudes toward faith and mortality. In this exhibition, he presents installations suspended from the ceiling, drawings on white paper, sculptural busts crafted from carved leather-bound books, and large prints of skeletons. The South African artist’s installations are composed of seemingly separate parts that are brought together into a strikingly cohesive signature aesthetic through his limited black, white, and red palette, austere lines, and careful craftsmanship. His work also employs scholarly references to Calvinist South African

  • View of “Political/Minimal” 2008. From left: Monica Bonvicini, White, 2003; Terence Koh, Untitled, 2008.
    picks December 18, 2008

    “Political/Minimal”

    The most interesting and rewarding work in this thirty-two piece exhibition of politically motivated Minimal art is the most elaborate and least specifically political. From across the gallery’s vast, open, and central exhibition space, Damien Hirst’s 2008 painting Har Megiddo (the Hebrew term for “Armageddon”) appears as a massive monochrome black circle. Up close, the circle’s encrusted surface reveals a myriad of dead flies. Their wings glisten and their corpses appear captivatingly complex, while the overpowering stench lingers in viewers’ nostrils as they recoil toward the next work. Without

  • Laurie Hogin, The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (Diorama with Rozerem and Black Alligators), 2008, oil and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 84".
    picks December 13, 2008

    Laurie Hogin

    The creatures in Laurie Hogin’s masterful and allegorical oil paintings have fur that resembles that found in chipper and cheap children’s toys. But while the synthetic coats of those plush animals are often the result of noxious chemicals and international politics not associated with the carefree fantasies of kiddie consumers, Hogin’s mutant menagerie does not hide the diseased origins of their unnatural appearance. The Illinois-based artist deploys her remarkable talent for still-life and animal imagery to offer sharp and salient commentary on contemporary consumer politics. Her current focus

  • Delphine Boël, This System Is Corrupt Be Happy, 2007, neon and argon light fixture mounted on aluminum frame with dimmable light settings, 9 1/8 x 98 1/8".
    picks December 05, 2008

    “Power to the People"

    Perhaps best known outside its borders as the capital of the European Union, Brussels is ironically also the site of a heated national identity crisis, as the Walloons and the Flemish spar for control over the country’s direction and resources. “Power to the People,” curated by Pierre-Yves Desaive, brilliantly presents forty-eight artists who parse the country’s character, history, and self-image. Flemish-Belgian cartoonist Kamagurka, who paints friendly abstract portraits of imaginary faces and then invites television viewers to nominate people who best resemble his images, puckishly plays with

  • Deimantas Narkevicius, The Dud Effect, 2008, still from a color film in 16 mm, 15 minutes 40 seconds.
    picks December 01, 2008

    Deimantas Narkevicius

    Deimantas Narkevicius’s film The Dud Effect, 2008, which is set in a deserted former Soviet missile base in his native country, Lithuania, is slowly paced and hypnotic. But what he depicts is nonetheless devastating. Narkevičius introduces a chilling, crisply filmed enactment of the procedures leading to a missile launch—as demonstrated by Evgeny Terentiev, a former Soviet officer who served in Lithuania—coupled with archival cold-war photos. The work concludes with lingering views—painfully tight compositions—of the abandoned base and its vast, dilapidated underground catacombs. Most of the

  • View of Bjarne Melgaard, “A Kidwhore in Manhatten, 2008.”
    picks November 28, 2008

    Bjarne Melgaard

    Following in the footsteps of Laura Albert’s J. T. LeRoy persona, the forty-one-year-old Norwegian-born and New York–based artist Bjarne Melgaard creates wild, woolly, and gritty work that narrates a saga of exploited boys, romanticized madness, and shamanic sexual bonds between feral youths and anthropomorphized animals. In “A Kidwhore in Manhatten: A Novel” [sic], Melgaard presents an elaborate array of cartoonlike drawings, bright, texture-rich oil paintings with text, mutilated photographs of boys, videos, neon poems, and Frederick Kiesler seating with fabric customized by the artist.

  • Sue Coe, King Tusko: Life in Chains, 2008, oil on canvas, 30 x 42".
    picks November 22, 2008

    Sue Coe

    Nietzsche’s desire to throw his arms protectively around the neck of a brutalized horse being savagely whipped by its owner was his last act of sanity, seconds before he collapsed into dementia. By contrast, Sue Coe’s determination to draw attention to the inhumane treatment of animals has produced a broad twenty-year body of clear-sighted and powerful works that articulate a maddening frustration with mankind’s treatment of our fellow creatures. In “Elephants We Must Never Forget,” Coe presents a series of fourteen new expressionistic oil paintings, alongside more than a dozen lithographs,

  • Vibeke Tandberg, Tears, 2008, black-and-white photograph with marker, 68 x 44”.
    picks November 13, 2008

    Vibeke Tandberg

    When Britney Spears released her hit “Piece of Me,” last year, the world was desperate for any sliver of scandal about her. But despite the accompanying music video’s lineup of blondes writhing Britney-style in front of their dorm-room mirrors, no one really wanted to be the singer anymore—except Norwegian-born artist Vibeke Tandberg, who devotes two concurrent shows in Berlin to the diva. Of the series of works on view, the leading one at Klosterfelde Gallery riffs on the chaotic media frenzy surrounding Britney in her darkest days and includes several works depicting the artist posed as “Miss

  • Vik Muniz, What Is Painting, after John Baldessari, 2007, color photograph, 108 x 73".
    picks November 11, 2008

    Vik Muniz

    Vik Muniz’s art about art history is great because of its humility. The Brazilian artist is best known for whimsical yet respectful reproductions of masterpieces, made with appealing, idiosyncratic materials that he photographs and then demolishes. His meticulous images, formed from peanut butter, jelly, chocolate, and sugar, celebrate easily digestible, fluffy, fleeting entertainment juxtaposed with historical gravitas. “Pictures of Pigments,” 2007–2008, one of the four impressive, distinct series from Muniz’s first solo show in Germany, also consists of fresh, ephemeral tributes to significant

  • Johan Thurfjell, Bright Eyes, 2008, jesmonite, bee wax, wood, spotlight. Installation view, 2008.
    picks November 09, 2008

    Johan Thurfjell

    Johan Thurfjell’s first solo show in Germany is titled “Dead Calm,” invoking the ominous term that sailors use for deceptively placid weather. In the same way, the sculptures and watercolors by this Stockholm-based artist superficially appear peaceful, yet they carry an undercurrent of creepiness and danger. In Goodnight Mom, Goodnight Dad, 2008, comprising four wooden models of Thurfjell’s parents’ summer house, gradual gradations from brown to black set the otherwise identical houses apart, as if the setting sun were casting the structure gradually into darkness. A sense of the uncanny also

  • Dionisio Gonzalez, Heliopois II, 2008, color photograph, 39 3/8 x 68 7/8".
    picks November 06, 2008

    Dionisio Gonzalez

    At first, the edifices in Dionisio Gonzalez’s large-format color photographs look distressingly realistic. But on closer examination, the manipulation they reflect becomes apparent, and the depth of the artist’s cultural criticism stands out. Gonzalez juxtaposes images of isolated sections of luxury postmodern architecture and Brazilian favelas, weaving together the geometric structures, mostly designed in the style of Daniel Libeskind and Frank Gehry, with images of dilapidated, cramped, graffiti-plagued, and miserable buildings to exaggerate the intimate juxtaposition of rich and poor that

  • View of Philip Jones, “Sundial,” 2008.
    picks November 02, 2008

    Philip Jones

    Like classic cartoon artists before him, Philip Jones employs a masterful approach to representational painting to produce canvases that function as portals to impossible worlds. In “Sundial,” his second solo exhibition at London’s FRED gallery, Jones expands his sci-fi vision to include sculpture that tests the limitations of reality and complements his paintings and their literary source material. The show’s inspiration, Theodor Fontane’s 1895 realist novel Effi Briest, is a sharp departure from Jones’s earlier surreal world and the pantheon of Marvel Comics–style villains, temptresses, heroes,