Andy Campbell

  • picks November 26, 2016

    Paul Thek

    In a 1966 interview with Gene Swenson, Paul Thek described his series of “Technological Reliquaries,” 1964–67, as “agnostic,” adding that they “lead nowhere, except perhaps to a kind of freedom.” This profoundly quixotic statement could be handily applied across the entirety of the artist’s output. As is the case of any artist with a wide-ranging practice, a retrospective exhibition of Thek’s work is likely to raise accusations of omission, yet this tight, elegiac presentation manages to give a sense of both scope and depth to a complicated oeuvre.

    Each of the three galleries here presents a

  • picks November 18, 2016

    Beatriz Cortez

    I now carry in my wallet a receipt that reads, “When the future comes: We will have fought for economic justice / Cuando llegue el futuro: Habremos luchado por la justicia económica.” This carnival-amusement-like “fortune” was produced after pressing the button of The Fortune Teller (Migrant Edition) / La máquina de la fortuna (edición migrante), 2015, one of the four conceptually precise works that make up Beatriz Cortez’s solo presentation at this museum. Culled from the experiences and words of a group of collaborators, all immigrants, Cortez’s fortunes are invocations for collective action,

  • picks November 14, 2016

    Mickalene Thomas

    “Do I look like a fucking lady or what?” So begins one of Adele Givens’s many appearances on Russell Simmons’s Def Comedy Jam. She continues, “I like being a fucking lady, especially in the ’90s. We get to say what the fuck we want to, don’t we, girls?” Almost two decades later, Mickalene Thomas, whose solo exhibition is titled after the performer’s brilliant greeting (minus the F-bomb), responds in the affirmative.

    At the center of Thomas’s installation is a twelve-minute two-channel video, Do I Look Like a Lady (Comedians and Singers), 2016, which collages together footage of a host of black

  • Shio Kusaka

    More than one hundred ceramic vessels and figurines by Shio Kusaka populated a single pedestal (topped with light-pink Formica) that coursed through the three galleries of Blum & Poe’s ground floor. At one end of this giant horseshoe-shaped display was a grouping of pots whose decorative schemes suggested two strawberries, two beach balls, and a watermelon. At the other end was a cluster of five tall vases decorated with dinosaurs that grapple with one another, their claws and teeth drawing comical red-glaze blood. In between was a diverse range of experiments in arrangement and categorization,

  • picks October 24, 2016

    Isa Genzken

    Although it may seem that the work of Isa Genzken and Michael Asher could not be more different—materially, conceptually, and in terms of the history of their critical reception—a connection is nevertheless drawn between them via the titling of Isa Genzken’s solo exhibition: “I Love Michael Asher.” Why the artist loves Asher, and how or if such admiration shows up in the work, is left for the viewer to parse.

    Historical influence is one of the trickiest claims to make about an artist, and Genzken seems to know it, exploiting this tight spot to hilarious effect. For example, no images of Asher or

  • picks October 14, 2016

    Barbara T. Smith

    Outfitted in a white dress and matching head wrap, Barbara T. Smith sits on the ground. She places a photograph ceremoniously on a piece of fabric, next to eight others. This is the tarot by way of Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida; photographs of plants, architectural spaces, friends, students, colleagues, and the artist’s own body form the major and minor arcana of The Cloistered Study, 1976, an arrangement based on Smith’s performance at the experimental Johnston College of the University of Redlands, where she taught at the time. An enlarged black-and-white photograph documenting Smith’s

  • picks October 11, 2016

    “Protuberances”

    Park McArthur suggested in this past summer’s issue of Artforum that identity is an expandable pocket, “like the bottomless velvet bags used at magic shows.” In a parallel universe, I imagine that this pocket looks a lot like A. K. Burns and Katherine Hubbard’s In Spirit of “Knuckles” the Handbag, 2014, in this group show. Both campy and base, it is at once a crocheted purse and a plastic bag, encrusted with doorknobs, ceramic mug handles, utility knives, a quartz crystal, and a papier-mâché hand. This exterior appears to be about a hand’s work—the array of objects we take hold of to hurt, heal,

  • Warren Neidich

    It is a middling insult to be denied a plot on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. After all, inductees (or, more accurately, their agents, production companies, and fan clubs) must pay the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce $30,000 to have their names inlaid on one of the pink terrazzo stars that line Hollywood Boulevard. While Godzilla, the Rugrats, and Lassie all have stars, a number of well-regarded actors have declined theirs. As many industry magazines have noted, the Walk of Fame is not really a cultural monument, but rather a gnarly tentacle of the Hollywood hype machine.

    One person who takes the

  • picks September 26, 2016

    Brian Paumier

    “Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a, start”—many who played console video games in the 1980s and 1990s will recognize this particular cheat code. Developed by a programmer at Konami who wanted to shortcut his game during testing, the sequence of buttons is now commonly referred to as the Konami code, and it has long been a source of jokes in the gaming industry.

    The title of Brian Paumier’s exhibition references this code but intentionally gets it wrong; the title begins “Up, Down, Up, Down.” This misstated sequence can be seen as a poetic enhancement of the code, conveying a

  • picks September 16, 2016

    Erika Vogt

    Four monumental knives line a long wall in the first room of Erika Vogt’s solo presentation “Eros Island: Knives Please Rise.” On one end is Dylan Knife (all works 2016) an enlarged outline of a pre-Inca ceremonial blade shaped like an arm—from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collections—while on the other end is Richard Knife, a nineteenth-century surgical saw for amputations. They are countered on an adjoining wall by three brown sculptures in the shape of protective vests (“Hex 1-3”); their open, latticelike, hexagonal array describes military and corporate innovations in ceramic body armor.

  • picks September 14, 2016

    Mira Schor

    Both writing about and painting language have been hallmarks of Mira Schor’s inventive practice for decades. Her latest solo show provides an opportunity to grasp the depth of this output vis-à-vis two large-scale accumulative series, separated by more than twenty years.

    Schor has described “War Frieze,” 1991–94, as a response to the 1990–91 Gulf War; and bits of language, such as “area of denial,” that appear in the eighty-canvas segment shown here are exemplary of the artist’s expert ability to massage the multiple meanings of words and phrases. She paints the line of this particular phrase as

  • picks August 16, 2016

    Betty Tompkins

    Two thick brown, purple, and green globs of oil paint are dolloped onto the top half of a small white canvas—the word “erotic” is outlined in red below. Next to it are similarly sized paintings emblazoned with the words “seiki” (“genitals” in Japanese), “weich” (“soft” in German) and “fanny flange” (British slang for “clitoris”), each painted with a different treatment. One riffs on the iconic, masculine-identified Jackson Pollock drip, while another suggests a labyrinthine pocket of vulvic space. These are just a few of the one thousand paintings that make up Betty Tompkins’s series “Women

  • picks March 04, 2016

    Edgar Leciejewski

    Made while Edgar Leciejewski was in residence at Fogo Island Arts in Newfoundland, Canada, the work on display in his exhibition “distant past / distant future” is cerebral in approaching sublimity. Of course, landscape is the overdetermined genre through which discussions of the sublime are usually circulated, but Leciejewski offers some novel escape hatches that don’t sacrifice topography’s potential for abstraction.

    Most of the pieces here are from a single series called “Rough Form,” 2014, in which black-and-white, matte photographs are concentrically collaged on top of glossy color photographs.

  • interviews January 22, 2016

    Jennifer Tyburczy

    Jennifer Tyburczy’s book Sex Museums: The Politics and Performance of Display (University of Chicago Press, January 2016) proposes that all museums have the potential to be sex museums—if a visitor approaches them right. An assistant professor of feminist studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Tyburczy was also the curator of “Irreverent: A Celebration of Censorship,” which was on view last year at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. Here, she discusses the genesis of her research and some of the unexpected surprises that come with doing work in sex museums.

    ONE OF

  • picks January 11, 2016

    Jennie C. Jones

    Amplification, absorption, reverberation, tone, displacement, diffusion—any encounter with the work of Jennie C. Jones demands that a viewer repeatedly wrestle with transmutation, the vocabulary from the science of sound doing double duty in the service of ekphrasis. And the rabbit hole goes deeper, as those keywords also describe the dynamics of social change and race. Indeed, Jones encourages such readings with her punning titles, Solo, Vertical, into Crescendo (Light), 2013, or Score for Sustained Blackness Set 2, 2014. Such is the sparkling noise of the artist’s first mid-career survey, as

  • interviews December 29, 2015

    Mario Gooden

    “How does it feel to be a problem?” So begins a chapter titled “The Problem with African American Museums” in Mario Gooden’s new collection of essays, Dark Space: Architecture, Representation, Black Identity. By repeating the question with which W. E. B. Du Bois launched The Souls of Black Folk, Gooden locates himself in an illustrious lineage while highlighting the stasis that lets the query resonate as profoundly now as it did over a century ago. What follows is a subtle reading of a number of African American cultural institutions, a consideration of the politics they spatialize (sometimes

  • picks September 22, 2015

    Harold Mendez and Ronny Quevedo

    A small copper reproduction of a pre-Columbian death mask rests inside a burned cardboard box. This tableau is the opening salvo of Harold Mendez and Ronny Quevedo’s collaborative installation, Spector Field (all works 2015). That the copper mask sits dumbly at the bottom of its fragile container, unlike the handsome case that holds the gold original at the Museo del Oro in Bogotá, Columbia—is a wry comment on the impulse to preserve precious objects even as the cultures who produced them are systemically smudged out.

    Mendez and Quevedo’s installation continues in this vein, turning the cavernous

  • Elizabeth Jaeger

    Characterized by an economy of form and material, the spare sculptural tableaux of Elizabeth Jaeger’s first solo exhibition in Texas are a meditation on physical and emotional supports. The slumped pinkish leather shape in the deadpanned Black Leather Bench and Pink Bean Bag (all works 2015), for example, is buttressed by a handmade modernist-style leather bench, from which the form casually cascades. This sack-like form, filled with dried peas, operates as both punching bag and body pillow. Denigrated and beloved, the bag is a fair approximation of what it’s like to be human most days.

    An equally

  • Angel Oloshove

    On her blog, Angel Oloshove describes her ceramic vessels and sculptures as “babes” and “cuties” (as in “new cuties,” and “I just got these babes fresh out of the kiln”)—and these terms of endearment couldn’t be more apt. Indeed, guilelessness suffuses the eight humble works that were on display in Oloshove’s first solo presentation at Art Palace. Striated with multicolored glazes that blend and bleed in an ombre pattern rather than define and delineate, sculptures such as Soft Fuzz, 2014, and Arc of Jah, 2015, are pillowy and fetchingly awkward. A curvaceous warmth renders these diminutive

  • picks March 12, 2015

    Mel Chin

    An aspect of Mel Chin’s work and personality crystallized for me as I watched him give a lecture at the Houston opening of his survey exhibition “Rematch”—the guy has a knack for dad jokes. Groaners, but nonetheless endearing, such as when Chin casually says “art hysterical” instead of “art historical” or suddenly stops his lecture to play guitar and sing. This ethos suffuses his work, as in the nightstick-cum-microphone Night Rap, 1994, displayed at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH), which cunningly plays on the two popular definitions of rap: to speak in syncopation or to hit.

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