Blake Oetting

  • View of “Shahryar Nashat,” 2022–23.

    Shahryar Nashat

    For visitors to the Art Institute of Chicago, particularly those approaching the modern wing on East Monroe Street, engagement with its current suite of exhibitions begins before entry. Stretched across the hatched crosswalk leading to the museum lies a rectangular hot-pink impression, quickly identifiable as a patch of light refracted through a series of colored windows bordering the rooftop terrace above. With the facade of the building transformed into an architecturally scaled lens or optical instrument, Shahryar Nashat’s installation Raw Is the Red, 2022, turns the Art Institute into a

  • Martha Rosler, Cargo Cult, from the series Body Beautiful, or Beauty Knows No Pain, 1967–71, photocollage.
    interviews December 27, 2022

    Martha Rosler

    In the mid-1960s, Martha Rosler began creating photomontages exploring women’s material and psychic subjugation, manipulating popular advertisements from news, fashion, and home magazines to unearth their nefarious ideological operations. Rosler made this body of work, “Body Beautiful, or Beauty Knows No Pain,” (1966–72) alongside painting, sculpture, photography, video, and performance, stitching together a variable array of Conceptual art practices attuned to feminist politics. This set of critical tools informs “martha rosler: changing the subject…in the company of others,” a survey of the

  • Kristi Cavataro, Untitled, 2022, stained glass, 38 x 38 x 30".
    picks September 22, 2022

    Kristi Cavataro

    Chemists call glass an amorphous solid. Positioned between states of matter, it features a slightly tweaked, irregular molecular fabric that deviates from the crystalline compositions forming other types of hardened material. Like plastics and gels, glass is defined by a structural ambiguity at the most granular level, one split between strict organization and total disorder.

    In Kristi Cavataro’s current exhibition, the artist seems to have taken her signature material’s idiosyncratic makeup as a cue for her sculptures’ beguiling forms. Each of the six works (all Untitled, 2022) are symmetrical,

  • Gregory Bae, It Shall All Be Mine (#2), 2015, magnetized atomic clock, magnets, acrylic, engraving on glass, 11 x 11 x 2".
    picks August 29, 2022

    Gregory Bae

    The history of Conceptual art is marked by an obsession with systems. Sol LeWitt’s modular constructions, Hanne Darboven’s calendrical number lists, and On Kawara’s date paintings reveal a fetishistic, nearly maniacal devotion to organizational devices and deductive structures. The fault lines of this procedural approach to artmaking are gathered together in this exhibition of works by Gregory Bae (1986–2021). Examining what happens when serial production falls out of rhythm, or when the repetitive pacing of the artist-copyist glitches and comes to a standstill, Bae offers a scratched record of

  • Julia Wachtel, Fulfillment, 2021, oil and acrylic on canvas, 50 x 101". Installation view. Photo: Etienne Frossard.
    interviews April 14, 2022

    Julia Wachtel

    Since the late 1970s, Julia Wachtel has sifted through the dregs of the image world. From greeting cards and magazines to the plenum of digital imagery online, Wachtel silkscreens her source materials onto canvases alongside painted panels to construct her rhythmic montages. Her paintings—sardonic, boisterous, biting—will soon be on view in two solo exhibitions: “Believing” runs from April 27 to June 4 at Super Dakota in Brussels; “Fulfillment” opens on April 16 and will be the first show at Helena Anrather’s new, Büro Koray Duman–designed space on the Bowery in New York City.


  • Julien Ceccaldi, The Stylist in the Mirror, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 72 x 48".
    picks September 23, 2021

    Julien Ceccaldi

    At Jenny’s, cohost of Julien Ceccaldi’s current exhibition “Centuries Old”—the other half of which unfolds at Lomex—a mannequin constructed from a bodysuit, a wig, lashes, and the artist’s clothes slouches over her vanity, pointing to a starred and circled passage of Joris-Karl Huysman’s 1891 novel, Là-Bas (The Damned): “l’art d’évoquer les démons.” The “art of evoking demons,” winkingly quoted by Ceccaldi, is exercised through the necromantic mode of figuration that defines his paintings, light boxes, and sculptural tableaux.

    This conceit is sometimes delivered quite literally, as we see in the

  • Patrick Angus, I Get Weak, 1991, oil and acrylic on canvas, 36 x 28 1/4."
    picks February 17, 2021

    Patrick Angus

    Among the homo triumvirate presently installed across Bortolami’s TriBeCa complex—which includes a presentation by Tom Burr and “Lucky For Men,” a group show curated by David Rimanelli—is an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Patrick Angus (1953–1992), providing the ensemble’s retro smut and rhetorical prelude. Angus’s images feature a number of art-historical references, including Picasso (whose name appears in the title of a self-portrait), David Hockney (Angus’s atmospheric, corporeal shading owes a great deal to the British painter), and Jean Cocteau and Andy Warhol (their lissome

  • Megan Marrin, The Rest Cure, 2020, oil on canvas on Styrofoam, 94 x 48".
    picks October 28, 2020

    Megan Marrin

    Megan Marrin’s solo exhibition “Convalescence” features a quartet of life-size oil paintings: renderings of Edwardian-era shower stalls (“a relic of treatment, hygiene, and rejuvenation,” says the artist, based on her research into spas and sanatoriums of the early twentieth century) that, initially, register as threatening. The imposing stature and rib-cage architecture of each stall transform Marrin’s paintings from representations of discrete objects to portraits of bodies in absentia. Her eerie subjects could be compared to suits of armor or torture chambers: People are meant to fit here,

  • Ragen Moss, Senior Borrower (with Mezzanine Borrower), 2019, acrylic, polyethylene, aluminum, and steel hardware, 53 x 30 x 22".
    picks December 06, 2019

    Ragen Moss

    There is something peculiar about the beginning of a party, the conspicuous amounts of empty space fostering an ambient anticipation of what will come, who will arrive, and how I, you, or we will respond. It’s this sort of social anxiety that one encounters here, where Ragen Moss’s bulbous, anthropomorphic sculptures are currently on view.

    Constructed with polyethylene, aluminum, steel hardware—and adorned with acrylic paint—Moss’s forms, which hang from the gallery’s ceiling, are both bionic and voluptuous. Indeed, the works’ bodily contours are exaggerated precisely through the rigidity of the

  • Tom Burr, Deep Purple, 2000/2019, wood, stain, 6’6" x 82' x 17”.
    picks August 22, 2019

    “Queer Abstraction”

    Queer critique is, among other things, the best type of bad behavior. In mocking or destabilizing cultural orthodoxy, queer critiques temper, and sometimes obliterate, the conventional. Surveying artists whose work complicates the formal language and conceptual parameters of abstraction, this exhibition demonstrates how “queer art” can disarticulate and reimagine routinized aesthetics, rather than exclusively illustrate desire or difference.

    One of the first works visitors encounter in the exhibition is a canvas by Elijah Burgher, displayed on the floor. The work’s placement, along with its drips

  • Leonardo Drew, Number 211, 2019, wood, paint, 86 x 58 x 29".
    picks June 24, 2019

    Leonardo Drew

    Leonardo Drew’s wooden assemblages inspire a distinctly energetic choreography. Employing the minute and the monumental as coconspirators in his visual schema, Drew facilitates an unanchored viewing experience wherein the breadth of each work is slowly revealed through explorations near, far, and even inside the object-environments he creates. In turn, the works themselves shift, from painting, to sculpture, to immersive installation, perpetually observed in transition.

    Drew’s pieces are roughly divided into two galleries, the smaller of which houses a series of sculpted reliefs, each coated in