Ashton Cooper

  • Laura Owens

    Visitors to Laura Owens’s exhibition “Books and Tables” might be surprised to find that the show consists of just that. Although she has been showing her handmade books for more than ten years, Owens has never before displayed them in a solo presentation without an accompanying installation of paintings. In the absence of the latter, the viewer’s eyes are pushed away from the walls and down toward the ninety-nine books spread out across six tables. Made in a wide variety of colors, sizes, configurations, and paper stocks, the books each ask for a slightly different mode of engagement. Some pop

  • Naudline Pierre

    In Naudline Pierre’s eight-foot-tall painting Lest You Fall (all works 2019), a tangerine-tinged nude drops out of the sky—head first, legs flailing, arms spread wide—into a field of black flames reaching up from below. Four winged creatures (some might call them angels) plunge after her, using their wide crimson, teal, and hickory wings to scoop up her plummeting body. Meanwhile, a dove swoops in to touch her outstretched finger with its beak. Our rescued heroine, who figured at the center of every piece in Pierre’s exhibition “For I Am With You Until the End of Time,” called to mind a Renaissance

  • Cynthia Daignault

    In Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s 1945 essay “Cézanne’s Doubt,” the philosopher used the painter’s work to propose that an individual’s process of applying paint to canvas could serve as an index of the artist’s phenomenological experience of the world. “His painting was paradoxical,” Merleau-Ponty wrote. “He was pursuing reality without giving up the sensuous surface, with no other guide than the immediate impression of nature.” While Cézanne repetitively painted Mont Sainte-Victoire from life, Cynthia Daignault has, for the past five years, devoted herself to picturing the American landscape—actual

  • Harmony Hammond

    Harmony Hammond first laid out a case for abstraction in her 1977 essay “Feminist Abstract Art: A Political Viewpoint.” Building on the feminist maxim that the personal is political, Hammond contended that abstraction is political because repetitive mark-making is a “record of present feeling.” From the early days of her practice, Hammond framed her abstract works as “visual diaries” capable of communicating their maker’s identifications and desires. In Hammond’s formulation, however, abstraction is not a mode of expressing the “real” self or the truths of the unconscious, as had been explained

  • picks September 20, 2019

    Katja Farin

    In Katja Farin’s eight-by-six-inch painting Dog Attack People Stack, 2019, three standing figures bent at the waist are piled on top of one another in an intimate but inexplicable arrangement. Their brown-, green-, and ocher-skinned bodies are purposefully unresolved—their musculature is unarticulated, their facial features barely marked. They stand on an imperfectly rendered tile floor whose wavering pattern hints at receding space but, in the end, draws more attention to the means of its own making. The painting, like most of the others on view, is self-conscious and self-referential: Within

  • Liz Larner

    In her 1994 book Nomadic Subjects, Rosi Braidotti frames the body not as a biological category, but as “a point of overlapping between the physical, the symbolic, and the sociological.” The “nomadic” feminism she proposes suggests that subjects could promiscuously seek out interconnectedness by rejecting the coded, exclusionary systems of essentialism and nationalism. In resisting the illusion of fixed identities, then, nomadic feminists formally disrupt the symbolic meanings of the body and the self.

    Braidotti’s book was among a number of theoretical and poetic texts that Liz Larner left for

  • picks March 11, 2019

    Mariah Garnett

    Mariah Garnett’s eighty-three-minute film Trouble, 2019, opens with clips from a 1971 BBC documentary about interfaith relationships in conflict-ridden Northern Ireland that features Garnett’s Protestant father, David (whom she didn’t meet until she was twenty-seven), and his Catholic then-girlfriend, Maura. As we come to discover, the program’s airing in Belfast at the height of the Troubles ultimately led to David’s departure from his country, never to return. Trouble is a heartbreaking account of the minute and massive consequences of human identifications—Catholic and Protestant, self and

  • Devin Troy Strother

    Inside the witch’s lair, the walls were black and the windows darkened. A small stream of light glowed from the bulbs lining the edge of her vanity mirror, the shelf of which was littered with burnt-down candles and talismans of Baphomet, a writhing snake, and an ankh. Opposite stood a black-tiled portal. Strewn elsewhere were less sorcerous decorations, including family photos and houseplants. This installation was not just the theatricalized den of a witch, the interior of her home, but was what the artist Devin Troy Strother conceptualized as the metaphoric space of her inner psyche—a privileged

  • picks December 21, 2018

    Rosa Loy

    In Leipzig-based painter Rosa Loy’s phantasmagoric compositions, the industrious, rosy-cheeked women of socialist realism are recast in Kafkaesque mise-en-scènes, in which they farm human-faced heads of lettuce, feed lollipops to Harpies wearing headbands, and recline on couches in poses of analysands more than odalisques. Loy imbues her scenes with the hazy sense of half-remembered dreams by using the water-based paint casein, which allows layers of underpainting to show through the thin washes on top, keeping colors and figures from being fully resolved. Often appearing in groups of two or

  • picks November 01, 2018

    “Positioner”

    This five-person group show, spread across two gallery locations, has its most cogent moment in the pairing of sculptor Julia Phillips and photographer Paul Mpagi Sepuya, both of whom create disorienting objects with unsettling relationships to the body. Phillips’s Intruder Study IV, 2017, is a phantasmal pseudo-tool that performs the titular action (intrusion) via a twenty-five-inch-long spiraling shaft, resembling an outsize drill bit, that at first glance appears to be made of metal. The clue to its actual composition is the jackhammer-type handle from which it hangs, an eleven-inch-wide

  • picks October 09, 2018

    “My most striking Feature is my Fist”

    Thick waxy stripes of red paint intersect to form a gingham pattern in Linda Stark’s thirteen-by-fourteen-inch painting Burr Weave, 2012. The cheery design is disrupted at the bottom of the canvas as the pigment overruns the lower edge, the way a candy apple’s sticky coating pools around its base. This hanging sanguine excess reads as body matter, the stretched lining of an organ. Underneath the viscous skin, dozens of little burrs adhered to the canvas appear to be strange sharp-toothed bodies trapped in amber.

    Stark’s painting, along with the other works in this titillating and quick-witted