Andrew Witt

  • View of “Fiona Tan: Inventory,” 2015.
    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

  • Jo Baer, Time-Line (Spheres, Angles and the Negative of the 2nd Derivative), 2012, oil on canvas, 73 x 73".
    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

  • Carol Bove, I, quartz pyx, who fling muck beds., 2015, concrete and brass, 83 1/4 x 23 5/8 x 24 7/8".
    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

  • Lydia Gifford, Bearing,  2015, wood, hessian, ink, oil stick, acrylic, 16 1/2 x 15 3/4 x 2".
    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

  • Isa Genzken, Geldbild IV, 2014, bills, coins, flyer, acrylic on canvas, 39 1/2 x 19 5/8".
    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

  • View of “Paysage avec poussin et témoins oculaires,” 2014.
    picks February 24, 2015

    Isabelle Cornaro

    Isabelle Cornaro’s “Paysage avec poussin et témoins oculaires” poses a question: How to translate a seventeenth-century painting into a contemporary sculpture? Cornaro takes Nicolas Poussin’s Paysage avec Hercule et Cacus, c. 1658, as a starting point, fashioning a landscape of kitsch. In Cornaro’s rendition, large monolithic black blocks serve as plinths to assemble a series of objects: jewelry, rustic sculpture, lush fabric, and funerary urns, all arranged under a somber mood. Structurally, Paysage avec poussin, 2015, inspires a roaming encounter. Formally, we should recall earlier precedents:

  • Phyllida Barlow, dock, 2014, mixed media, dimensions variable. Installation view, Tate Britain, London, England, 2014.
    performance December 09, 2014

    Andrew Witt

    IF MONUMENTS WERE ONCE CONSTRUCTED to celebrate the glories of history, the antimonuments of today question the future by destabilizing the present. History is substituted for abstractions of collapse and ruination. Patriarchal authority, empires, and the fallen of great wars all must succumb to gravity. For instance, Phyllida Barlow’s monstrous sculpture dock, 2014, installed in Tate Britain’s Duveen Galleries (March 31 to October 19, 2014) read as an antimonument to the provisional. A perilous construction built of interweaving scaffolding, cardboard, plywood, and fabric, dock courted danger

  • KP Brehmer, Farbengeographie 7, Lokalisierung von Rotwerten (Color Geography 7: Location of Shades of Red), 1972–73, paint and pastel on melamine, 86 x 47".
    picks October 08, 2014

    KP Brehmer

    “Reality changes,” Bertolt Brecht once said, and “in order to represent it, modes of representation must also change.” K. P. Brehmer’s exhibition thinks through two opposed terms in the history of art: realism and abstraction. Brehmer deploys the tools of bureaucracy—maps, graphs, indexes—in order to survey the effects of capitalism on everyday life. In the enlarged chart, Seele und Gefühl eines Arbeiters (Soul and Feelings of a Worker), 1975, an undulating grid registers the day-to-day emotions and drudgery associated with work. Predictably, in Brehmer’s Cold War world, feeling “neutral” or “

  • View of “Bay Area Now 7,” 2014.
    picks August 22, 2014

    “Bay Area Now 7”

    How can one render the invisible visible? This question stands out in this group exhibition that preserves the leftovers of show preparation. In it, a minor collection of unattributed works fills a small gallery set aside for the Bay Area Art Workers Alliance: a yellow-and-gray moving blanket hangs from a wall as a flimsy monochrome; a lensless projector fades in and out during a color test; drill holes from the previous month’s exhibition await drywall spackle. The twenty-three works on display extend the parameters of an exhibition’s “work” to include both the preparator’s labor and the support

  • View of “Steve McQueen: Drumroll,” 2014.
    picks August 20, 2014

    Steve McQueen

    Forty years ago, Robert and Mimi Melnick published a peculiar photographic study, Manhole Covers of Los Angeles. Drawn to the decorative patterns of industrially forged steel, the Melnicks’ mixed aesthetic appreciation of folk industrial traditions with archaeological rigor. Twenty-four years later, Steve McQueen embarked on an analogous study of the gutter barriers of Paris, culminating in the photographic series “Barrage,” 1998, which is on view as part of his latest exhibition. Here, McQueen focused on the improvised cloth bundles deployed by street sweepers to redirect the city's effluent.

  • Céline Condorelli, The Double And The Half (to Avery Gordon), 2014, Royal Mail ER office desks, folding steps kitchen stool, security ladder, Heatherley stepladder, yellow polypropylene laminate birch plywood, rubber, dimensions variable.
    picks May 28, 2014

    Céline Condorelli

    In her recent show at the Chisenhale Gallery—part of an institutional collaboration with the Showroom and Studio Voltaire—Céline Condorelli deploys the joys, hazards and volatility of friendship as a sculptural proposition. For her exhibition, sculpture is framed as an intimate encounter, and intimacy is in turn figured as a tête-à-tête, a to-and-fro give-and-take. At the exhibition’s entrance, a luminous space blanket is draped from ceiling to floor. Condorelli’s snaking curtain, The Bottom Line (to Kathrin Böhm), 2014, rides the breeze of an industrial extraction fan. The curtain’s delicate

  • View of “Phillip Lai,” 2014.
    picks May 02, 2014

    Phillip Lai

    “Besides,” Phillip Lai’s current exhibition at Camden Art Centre, is an ascetic wraithscape. Humble and subdued, the London-based sculptor here transforms everyday objects into shell-like abstractions. His Spartan works bear a resemblance to offerings fashioned from the waste of a back alley—only scraps remain. In Skin and bones (all works 2014), for instance, a coterie of cutlery snuggles in the folds of a coarse blanket, while Me and my hyperbole makes use of a white plastic crustacean, umbrellas, and a translucent polyethylene drop sheet. For Untitled, strips of car tires grace the lid of a