Anna Wallace-Thompson

  • Ibrahim El-Salahi, By His Will, We Teach Birds How to Fly No. 5, 1969, pen, ink and wash, 15 x 22 1/8”.
    picks October 02, 2018

    Ibrahim El-Salahi

    Drawings from the 1960s and 1970s dominate this exhibition of black-and-white works by the Sudanese modernist Ibrahim El-Salahi, in particular, the titular series “By His Will, We Teach Birds How to Fly,” 1969. Pen, ink, and wash figures appear embraced by the buttery tones of the paper, imbuing each surface with a gentle glow but also a sense of transparency, as if these inky bodies were suspended in the warm, hazy hug of memory. Already at this early date, El-Salahi’s mastery of the medium is obvious. His sure yet delicate hand seems to veer effortlessly between expansive, watery swaths of

  • View of “I Saw a Broken Labyrinth,” 2017, Ab-Anbar, Tehran.
    interviews November 07, 2017

    Timo Nasseri

    Over the past decade, the Berlin-based artist Timo Nasseri has drawn on a diverse array of mathematical and philosophical influences in his work. His current exhibition at Ab-Anbar in Tehran, “I Saw a Broken Labyrinth,” runs until November 23, 2017 and marks a decisive moment in his career, as it is the first time he has had a solo exhibition in Iran. Nasseri will also have a major solo show at the Maraya Art Centre in Sharjah in early 2018.

    I’VE ALWAYS HAD MIXED FEELINGS about being termed an Iranian or a Middle Eastern artist, mainly because I’ve never seen myself as localized to any one culture.

  • View of “Mahmoud Bakhshi,” 2017.
    picks February 23, 2017

    Mahmoud Bakhshi

    Mahmoud Bakhshi’s installation The Unity of Time and Place, 2017, is chilling and timely, reminding us of how history ineluctably repeats itself. The show pivots around two key moments in Iranian history: the coup d’état of 1953 (orchestrated by British and American intelligence agencies to overthrow Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in favor of Fazlollah Zahedi) and the 1978 arson of Cinema Rex, which led to about four hundred fatalities—the tinder that set the Iranian Revolution alight. Both occurred in the city of Abadan on August 19, twenty-five years apart.

    Bakhshi inhabits this historical

  • View of “Revolt of the Sage,” 2016–17.
    picks December 20, 2016

    “Revolt of the Sage”

    We live in interesting times—something Giorgio de Chirico signaled to us long ago when he painted Revolt of the Sage, 1916. In this exhibition, that painting’s metaphysical interior is explored through the works of sixteen artists who probe the old T.S. Eliotism of “time present and time past,” mortality, and transcendentalism. One can feel a dark spirit in front of Michael Simpson’s large oil on canvas Squint 33, 2016. At first it appears serene, a pared-back altar, a road to enlightenment. It is, however, the view from a leper’s squint—an aperture built into the wall of a church so that the

  • Martin Creed, Work No. 1701, 2013, video, color, sound, 4 minutes 36 seconds.
    picks October 05, 2016

    “The Infinite Mix”

    You’re adrift on a sea of sound. Long, sinuous strands of seaweed curl around you, drawing you in. “The Infinite Mix,” comprising ten moving-image works, is a heady temporal—rather than spatial—audiovisual experience. Martin Creed’s uplifting and bittersweet Work No. 1701, 2013, depicts people of all stripes—young, old, disabled, hurt—crossing a street on New York City’s Lower East Side to an upbeat track by the artist. Ugo Rondinone’s THANX 4 NOTHING, 2015, a multiscreen performance by poet John Giorno (who is Rondinone’s boyfriend), reflects upon themes of life and death. Rachel Rose’s Everything

  • Tao Hui, The Dusk of Teheran, 2014, video, color, sound, 4 minutes.
    picks August 17, 2016

    “A Selection of Chinese Works”

    They say size isn’t everything, but this foundation’s latest rehang, showcasing contemporary Chinese highlights from their collection, puts spectacle at the fore. Don’t believe me? Just check out Xu Zhen’s nearly twenty-foot-high Eternity—Tianlongshan, Grottoes Bodhisattva, Winged Victory of Samothrace, 2013, in which a seated Buddha is nearly swallowed by an upturned duplicate of the famous Greek statue. Familiar pieces include Ai Weiwei’s Tree, 2010, and Huang Yong Ping’s L’Arc de saint-Gilles (The Bow of Saint-Gilles), 2015, a deer split in half by the titular archer’s instrument. But there

  • View of “Eva and Franco Mattes,” 2016.
    picks July 12, 2016

    Eva and Franco Mattes

    Who watches the watchers? It’s an interesting question in the context of Brooklyn-based Italian duo Eva & Franco Mattes’s investigation into the seedier side of the Internet. Their current exhibition takes on the darknet, the so-called Wild West of the digital realm, where all manner of illicitness and nightmare hide. In the video series “Dark Content,” 2016, the artists interview workers who spend their days as gatekeepers, scrubbing the Internet in a Sisyphean effort to remove beheadings, cat killings—you know the score. Rendered anonymous through voice-altering software and stock images,

  • Parviz Tanavoli, Heech, 1972, bronze on wood base, 22 x 12 x 8''.
    picks March 18, 2016

    “Global/Local 1960-2015: Six Artists from Iran”

    Curator Lynn Gumpert has dug into the Grey Art Gallery’s thousand-work-strong collection of Iranian art, and she deftly unpicks, then obliterates, the constraints so often present in the fraught categorization of most non-Western art. It is all too often pegged, states Gumpert, as “either too international (read: derivative) or too provincial (read: not of interest).”

    Gumpert gives us sixty works by six artists, spanning three generations and two floors. Paintings and sculptures by older-generation artists Parviz Tanavoli and Faramarz Pilaram start off the exhibition. The gold and silver of

  • Daria Martin, At the Threshold, 2014–15, 16 mm, color, sound, 17 minutes 30 seconds.
    picks February 23, 2016

    Daria Martin

    There’s a striking sense of simplicity to Daria Martin’s second show here. At The Threshold, 2015, which premiered at the Istanbul Biennial, is the second installment of a film trilogy—the follow up to the artist’s Sensorium Tests, 2012. Previously shown in video format, it is projected here in its full 16-mm glory, as it was intended. This physicality is important, as Martin explores the phenomenon of mirror-synesthesia, a condition in which people feel a palpable touch on their own bodies when seeing another object or person being touched.

    A domestic melodrama à la Douglas Sirk, At The Threshold

  • View of “It was a time that was a time,” 2015.
    picks October 16, 2015

    Shezad Dawood

    London-based Shezad Dawood’s first solo exhibition in the US pivots on his latest film, the titular It was a time that was a time. Commissioned by Pioneer Works, the collaborative experiment was filmed in New York on devices that might have survived a postapocalyptic disaster, in this case, a flood. The effect is one of woozy images reflecting a looser, freer new society. It is accompanied by a fragrance—a persistent scent that includes notes of ambergris and algae. This dual effect is one that has come to characterize Dawood’s work.

    The exhibition simultaneously acts as a mini-retrospective of