Brian Sholis

  • Guillaume Simoneau, Untitled (remains), Takeo city, Saga prefecture, Japan, 2016, archival pigment print,32 x 24".
    picks October 08, 2020

    Guillaume Simoneau

    When Canadian artist Guillaume Simoneau was a young boy, his family took in orphaned crows and his mother photographed her children’s surprisingly tender interactions with the birds. Across the world at about the same time, Japanese photographer Masahisa Fukase began obsessively photographing ravens, images he would later compile into a photobook now hailed as among the best ever made.

    Simoneau’s exhibition “Murder,” which shares its title with his 2019 book featuring these images, attempts to weave together those disparate avian stories. Traveling to Japan in 2016 and 2017, the artist photographed

  • Anthony McCall, Throes II, 2011, video (silent, 15 minutes), haze machine. Installation view.

    Anthony McCall

    Many artists have a signature style. Few have one that, like Anthony McCall’s, also rewrites the recent history of several media. Beginning in 1973 with his film Line Describing a Cone, McCall has made “solid light” works that scramble film, sculpture, drawing, and installation. “Dark Rooms, Solid Light,” his first solo presentation in a North American museum, deftly contextualized McCall’s emblematic works while highlighting their range and potency. Curators Cathleen Chaffee and Aaron Ott took full advantage of the stately galleries in the museum’s 1905 building. The exhibition began with the

  • Louie Palu, Snow blocks shaped into an X stained with red smoke grenades by Canadian soldiers and airmen training to signal rescue aircraft, at the Crystal City training facility in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, 2015–18, pigment print, 20 × 24".© Louie Palu for National Geographic. Louie Palu’s work was supported by funding from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, National Geographic Magazine and Pulitzer Center
    picks June 28, 2019

    Louie Palu

    Long understood as a harsh and placid region, the Arctic is now undergoing profound changes: As the permafrost thaws, it releases additional carbon, further warming the climate. Flora and fauna must acclimate to new seasonal patterns. But the changes are also geopolitical: Cold War–era tensions are flaring as the United States, Russia, Canada, and other countries lay claim to the top of the globe. The increased military presence there in recent years has been masterfully documented by photojournalist Louie Palu, as this exhibition of twenty-four works attests. His elegant compositions reveal

  • Ian Hamilton Finlay, ROUSSEAU (Sour Vase)/A Wild Flower Is Ideological, like a Badge, 1991–93, cast bronze, ceramic vase; bust: 27 1⁄2 × 10 1⁄2 × 11“, vase: 5 1⁄2 × 3 3⁄8 × 3 3⁄8”.

    Ian Hamilton Finlay

    A certain subset of modernists was eager to demonstrate that what seems newest is old, even archaic, and that what appears most radical in contemporary culture has its source in centuries past. Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925–2006) first came to attention in the 1950s for his innovations in concrete poetry. But the Scottish poet, gardener, sculptor, and prolific collaborator was equally influenced by the poetry of Virgil and the unfolding of the French Revolution. This show, Finlay’s tenth at the gallery, attempted to give viewers a sense of Little Sparta, a garden on a farm near Edinburgh, which

  • Screenshot from, 2018.
    interviews June 25, 2018 is an online platform for creative thinking and collaborative research. Founded in 2011 by artists Charles Broskoski, Daniel Pianetti, and Chris Sherron, today is a flourishing web-based community. Artists use it to conduct research; teachers use it to share course materials and interact with their students; and museums and galleries use it to host blogs and interactive exhibitions. Here, the team discusses the platform and the ideas that underpin its structure and development.

    WE BUILT ARE.NA INITIALLY FOR OURSELVES. A few of us were making art online, and some of our peers

  • Judy Linn, box, 12.04.2017 12:35 PM, 2017–18, archival pigment print, 27 x 20 1/2".
    picks May 04, 2018

    Judy Linn

    In the early 1970s, Judy Linn took photographs of three friends who later became quite famous. Those pictures have overshadowed the remarkable artworks she has made since, something this exhibition, curated by Arlene Shechet, helps redress. The images pinned unframed to this gallery’s walls are mostly from the last two decades, and they demonstrate Linn’s remarkable talent for rendering light tangible, her eye for the quotidian, and her droll humor.

    In a photograph of a pickup truck, light filters through the windows to settle on its interior surfaces like a thin coating of dust; in thruway,

  • Steven Beckly, Pool of Andromeda, 2017–18, vinyl photograph and silver chain, dimensions variable.
    picks February 08, 2018

    Steven Beckly

    Twenty years ago, after the dissolution of a romantic relationship, American artist Roni Horn began traveling to London to photograph the River Thames. She created restrained images dense with surface incident and which suggest complex depths. The young Canadian artist Steven Beckly is also drawn to water, but the unframed photographs in this exhibition convey buoyancy and transformation. The dark beauty of Horn's watery images contrasts with Beckly's light touch.

    The show's title, “Meirenyu,” is a transliteration of the Mandarin word for “mermaid.” The mythical creature's hybridity provides a

  • Lucas Foglia, Esme Swimming, Parkroyal on Pickering, Singapore, 2014, pigment print, 34 x 44”.
    interviews January 02, 2018

    Lucas Foglia

    The San Francisco–based artist Lucas Foglia just published Human Nature (Nazraeli Press, 2017), his third book of photographs. An exhibition of this work is currently on view at Fredericks & Freiser in New York through January 20, 2018. The same body of work will travel to Foam Fotografiemuseum in Amsterdam from February 2 to April 15, 2018 and then to the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago from July 19 to September 20, 2018. Here, Foglia discusses the labor and thought that went into creating the photographs in this series and the idea of a “relationship” that underpins them.


  • Jonah Samson, Untitled (Parakeet), 2017, diptych of ink-jet prints with parakeet feathers, 10 x 17".
    picks May 21, 2017

    Jonah Samson

    In late 1944, the Surrealist writer André Breton arrived on the Atlantic coast of Canada. Haunted by the political and personal ravages of war, he wrote Arcanum 17, a strange, genre-bending meditation on the search for “light” along the paths of “poetry, liberty, and love.” The illumination he sought, Breton made clear, was feminine—an antidote to the toxic masculinity that had torn his world asunder.

    The artist Jonah Samson recently moved east from Vancouver to Cape Breton Island, not far from the site of Breton’s Canadian sojourn. His newest exhibition of exactingly repurposed found photographs,

  • Katy Grannan, The Nine, 2016, color, sound, 98 minutes.
    film December 16, 2016

    Nine Lives

    KATY GRANNAN’S debut feature-length film, The Nine, is bisected by an off-screen murder. Police find a body floating beneath the South Ninth Street Bridge in Modesto, California, a hardscrabble Central Valley town about ninety minutes east of San Francisco. The news spooks the film’s central characters, who live in and around the area known as the Nine, and whose vulnerability is sharpened by the prospect of a predator. Grannan and her sound editor, Gus Koven, create a wash of overlapping chatter after the news breaks. Eventually, a woman intones, “They say everybody dies in threes, but this

  • View of “Efrat Natan: Whitewash and Tar,” 2016. Foreground: Swing of the Scythe Sculpture, 2002. Background: The Big Window, 2015.
    picks August 12, 2016

    Efrat Natan

    Efrat Natan was raised during the middle of the twentieth century on Kibbutz Kfar Ruppin, in Israel’s Beit She’an Valley. Without relying too heavily upon her life story, this thoughtful forty-year survey underscores how Natan connects the everyday materials of that time and place to broader, elemental forces. Undershirts, tent fabric, netting, vinyl records, and farm implements are among the items Natan transforms into sculptures, installations, performance props, and other artworks. As a first-time visitor to Israel, I’m sure I missed this art’s many resonances with the nation’s history and

  • Saul Fletcher, Untitled #89 (Kristen), 1998, C-print, 3 1/2 x 3 1/2".
    picks April 06, 2016

    Saul Fletcher

    If you only encounter a Saul Fletcher exhibition every few years, as I have, you can miss how his art evolves. It is easier to recall his photographs’ consistencies, such as the small size of the prints or the wan atmosphere created by their pale lighting and muted colors. His first solo exhibition in Los Angeles samples two decades of photographs; in doing so, it reveals the variety Fletcher achieves within such aesthetic constraints. During the late 1990s, the artist drifted through various rooms, shooting from oblique angles to create semiabstract compositions—of his grandmother’s bathtub,