Andrew Witt

  • picks February 15, 2018

    “Nature”

    Rebecca Brewer’s wool felt collage Silent Running, 2018, is hung like a specimen stretched out for examination. The textile is organized through the interlacings of a grid in which the dead matter of nature has accumulated above and below the surface—suspended, ossified, floating. The work resembles a net that has trawled through the ocean, corralling what looks like flotsam and jetsam.

    The closest sculptural equivalent to this hanging textile is Eva Hesse’s Contingent, 1969, a work whose fragility is counterbalanced by the associative violence of the hooks that hold the piece in place. Like

  • picks January 29, 2018

    Brent Wadden

    The surfaces of Brent Wadden’s large woven geometric abstractions repel one’s attention. The combination of chroma and line prevents one from becoming fully absorbed in either element, similar to the interaction of color and pattern in the compositions of Bridget Riley. Lines waver in the warp and weft of these works, which the artist calls paintings. Even though pieces such as Score 1 (Salt Spring) (all works cited, 2018) resemble the hard-edge abstractions of the previous century, and although the artist usually stretches the weavings around a support, that classification seems strangely

  • picks October 19, 2016

    Marisa Merz

    Ecstasy is a state that can push you outside of yourself. The eighty-five-year-old artist Marisa Merz offers up large- and small-scale drawings, paintings, and sculptures, all Untitled, of figures seemingly on the edge of such an experience. In one painting from 2016, disembodied hands swirl around a being in a chaotic spiral of energy. Merz uses color to channel its polymorphic magical properties (to paraphrase Michael Taussig), so that she may allude to, or even take us to the brink of, something rapturous. This experience—frenetic, stupor inducing—separates the psyche from the body, forcing

  • picks July 08, 2016

    “Tears Shared: Marc Camille Chaimowicz Featuring Bruno Pélassy”

    A beaded curtain that spells out “VIVA LA MUERTE,” (Sans Titre [Untitled],1995), hangs on the far wall from the entrance to this South London gallery. Alas, this is the final exhibition before the venue closes forever. The show—a sprawling display of ornaments, vessels, and fetishes—features glassware made and collected by Marc Camille Chaimowicz, as well as a group of works by Bruno Pélassy. It is Pélassy’s untitled sculptures, such as the aforementioned hanging, that truly stand out. The artist, who died in 2002 due to AIDS-related illnesses, is known for his bejeweled assemblages, objets that

  • picks May 19, 2016

    Josh Bitelli

    In Josh Bitelli’s recent exhibition, “A Partition,” the artist has compressed the gallery with a false ceiling, rendering the ample space compact, claustrophobic. Snaking throughout is a white antibacterial curtain that bisects the room. In the western corner, two monitors are stacked, showing Bitelli’s video All Doors and No Exits, 2016. The work’s script, performed by health-care professionals, borrows from generic medical diagnostic texts and determines a set of prescriptive actions. As the artist’s camera shows his actors rehearsing over and over again, both image and sound begin to lose

  • picks April 07, 2016

    DAS INSTITUT

    Kerstin Brätsch and Adele Röder, who collaborate under the name DAS INSTITUT, conjure polymorphic forms that merge painting with cosmology. Brätsch’s series of prints, “Unstable Talismanic Rendering,” 2014/16, mimics the psychedelic surfaces of marble. Her prints are composed horizontally in water baths, where ink droplets fall and take shape along a mercurial surface. Brätsch’s prints are affixed to temporary walls and act as ceremonial gateways for the rest of the exhibition. In one room, large-scale slide projections, collectively titled Dark Codex, 2016, combine images of Brätsch’s paintings

  • picks February 26, 2016

    “NEO-PAGAN BITCH-WITCH!”

    As if assembled by a whirlpool of dead matter, Tamara Henderson and Julia Feyrer’s sculpture System of the Hag, 2016, is a ragpicker’s fantasy. For this group exhibition, Henderson and Feyrer have cooked up a witches’ brew of disparate objects within a lattice of frayed rope. Dyed fabric, egg cartons, pinecones, berry LEDs, salt, a glass bottle—and so much more!—are entwined within textured cords, copper wire, and plastic tubing. At the apex of this assemblage is a spiraling green disco light, its faint glimmer skipping along this sculpture’s spangled surface. Perhaps the closest formal equivalents

  • picks February 10, 2016

    Darren Bader

    What better example is there of the corrupted flesh of the contemporary art object than a resplendent sculpture, its gleaming surface polished within an inch of its life, stuffed with rotting garbage? Darren Bader’s exhibition, “such are promises,” delights in this cunning play. A number of Bader’s pieces are teeming with refuse culled from the waste stream. From the derivative sheen of a John McCracken–like plinth to twelve metal pétanque boules, Bader conceals his waste in glossy shells. Placed in the middle of the gallery is a pétanque court, titled Sculpture #2 (all works undated). Bader’s

  • picks January 11, 2016

    Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa

    Shattered fluorescent minerals, illuminated by ultraviolet light, hover and spin theatrically in Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa’s exhibition “God’s Reptilian Finger.” These sculpted stones, carved from polystyrene, disperse light like a kaleidoscope—here, color relations are dynamically shifting. Neither plinth nor vitrine bind these minerals to the ground. Instead, the stones appear frozen and floating, as if their fall was eternally suspended within a void. Floating in the middle of the room amid these psychedelic minerals is a representation of God’s reptilian finger. What does God’s reptilian finger

  • picks October 13, 2015

    Thea Djordjadze

    An aesthetics of recovery and recollection animates Thea Djordjadze’s installation Ma Sa i a ly e a se – de, 2015, which alternates between austere sculptural reliefs and floor works constructed from reclaimed timber, paint, and Plexiglas. Djordjadze’s surfaces resemble platforms, evoking stage set, shelf, kitchen table—structures used on a day-to-day basis, hosts of human activity. These platforms, however, are without subjects or objects to support, and each stands so low to the ground it seems to be sliding into some indistinguishable plane where the ground merges with its setting.

    Placed

  • picks October 09, 2015

    Peles Empire

    A large jesmonite slab sits against a side wall of the project space. Molded within a Perspex frame, DUO 14 (all works 2015) mixes jesmonite with digital prints, paper, and pigments, resulting in a surface as luxuriously mineral as it is eerily evanescent. Peles Empire, the collaborative alias for artists Katharina Stoever & Barbara Wolff, exploits the malleability of industrial and digital forms to materialize the shipwreck of history: Images float to the surface like spume from wreckage, only to dissolve into the corrosive bath of the sea. In other words, they break apart as quickly as they

  • picks September 03, 2015

    Agnes Martin

    Within this retrospective, there is a small, darkly lit room containing a collection of works on paper made throughout Agnes Martin’s career. The room functions as a miniretrospective, where drawing is positioned as a spiral from which to view the vertiginous movement of Martin’s practice as a whole. The movement is the act of decreation. Martin’s watercolor Summer, 1964, figures decreation as bathos: The viewer is invited to plunge headfirst into the surface of her watercolor, only to drown in its content, as if the viewer were overwhelmed by its pull downward to the depths of the picture.

    In

  • picks June 30, 2015

    Günther Förg

    No conventional geometry distinguishes Günther Förg’s late series, “Lead Paintings,” 1987–94. Förg’s compositions are polymorphic. Muted blocks of paint are set against an agitated surface. In a few instances, squares of acrylic overwhelm a corner of the canvas, whereas in other instances, bands of color split the support in half. The eye is constantly thrown askew when moving between works, engulfed by paint. Color is marshaled to deny the viewer any affective attachment

    Recall Blinky Palermo’s aluminum paintings, Times of the Day I–IV, 1974–76, where horizontal bands of acrylic alternate between

  • picks June 30, 2015

    Lauren Godfrey

    Lauren Godfrey’s Entrée, Stage Left, 2015, on view in her latest exhibition, closes the distance between aesthetic and culinary experience. The work treats the gallery as a theatrical three-course meal. One enters the exhibition space and is asked to place an order. Instead of food arriving, furniture gets rearranged. Tables, chairs, and menus are mobilized as sculptural material to be performed and reworked. Sculpture is as much a relational element in Godfrey’s Entrée as it is an antirelational one. As in Luis Buñuel’s Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie, 1972, where the characters are always

  • picks June 01, 2015

    Wendelien van Oldenborgh

    The central work in this exhibition, Wendelien van Oldenborgh’s film Left to Night, 2015, unfolds over two days and three locations around West End London’s Edgware Road. The work brings together five characters who reflect on political violence and the forgotten histories of the area, which span the 2011 London riots, police harassment, and the punk lineages of a previous era. Throughout the film, Edgware Road is continuously historicized through through violence and the quotidian. Two characters of the film, Mehrak Golestan and Dean Burke, are filmed intermittently, weaving together the

  • picks May 28, 2015

    Fiona Tan

    Fiona Tan slows down time. Her film Inventory, 2015, tracks through London’s Sir John Soane’s Museum, scanning its eccentric nineteenth-century collection. Tan turns her eye to the artworks and fragments of the expansive and overflowing museum: crumbling portraits, disembodied limbs, and its strange architectural minutiae. Objects mutate under her languid gaze. Her camera is methodical and sedate. Composed from six projections—all taken with different cameras (both digital and analog)—the video peers over the collection as if it were evidence from a wreckage. The faces, objects, and fragments

  • picks May 26, 2015

    Jo Baer

    Jo Baer’s Towards the Land of the Giants, 2015, paints a weird cosmology. The artist cites world history in fragments, superimposing sketches of anatomy with aerial views of a landscape. Origins are figured as a type of sedimentation. Baer’s paintings are made with the aid of computers, but her language is much older, echoing the visual grammar and style of cave paintings. Weird connections ensue: Large rocks painted without shadows float on the surface of the canvas. The viewer experiences vertiginous shifts in scale, both temporal and topographical, bodily and psychological.

    Sometimes it appears

  • picks May 04, 2015

    Carol Bove

    Carol Bove’s “The Plastic Unit” activates a space of tension between sculptures, generating a to-and-fro pull of attraction and repulsion between works that breeds analogies and contradictions, continuities and discontinuities. The artist mobilizes a range of procedures and materials through an array of works: intricately arranged assemblages, compositions of fused steel and petrified wood, reliefs of delicately arranged peacock feathers and shells, and sculptures made of zinc-plated steel as well as concrete and brass. In Circles, 2015, a weather-beaten block of redwood is punctured by white

  • picks April 20, 2015

    Lydia Gifford

    A dense and irregular sense of materiality saturates Lydia Gifford’s paintings. Her canvases are uneven, misshapen, and disfigured. Surfaces are ragged and broken; her paint is improvised and layered; her marks textured and contingent on the uneven folds of her supports. The ground feeds off her paint parasitically and vice versa. One cannot live without the other, and the result is that her surfaces appear ruined. Gifford’s work echoes Robert Ryman’s sustained use of unusual supports—bristol board, Chemex, coffee filter paper, fiberglass—as means to introduce variety into the monochrome. Surveyed

  • picks April 15, 2015

    Isa Genzken

    Money flattens all distinctions. For Isa Genzken’s “Geldbilder,” 2014, her series of “money pictures,” bank notes and coins are glued and fastened in raw form to her canvas in constellations, absent of meaning. Genzken hints at the autobiographical by including photographs of herself. We should make a parallel reading with Raoul Hausmann’s ABCD, 1923–24, where a bank note, in its diminished and hyper-inflated state, is assembled alongside a screaming portrait. In Genzken’s “Geldbilder,” like Hausmann’s work, the concrete particularities of a life are marshaled alongside the abstractions of the