Catherine Liu

  • Wolfgang Staehle

    Wolfgang Staehle confronts the ways in which film and television shape our notions of framing in painting. He is an artist who cannot completely abandon the canvas for the screen, and painting persistently returns in his work as the uncanny. Staehle explores the fantasy of the screen and the adequacy of the image it frames more thoroughly than any other artist working in either painting or video today. His work speaks about the space outside the screen, the space that all acts of framing implicitly repress.

    Staehle’s tiny monitors peer out at us like techno-eyes. Installed in cardboard boxes, on

  • Walton Ford

    Walton Ford allegorizes the legacy of slavery and the racism of the American South in the flattened spaces and golden tones of 15th-century painting. If the Sienese masters attempted to represent the sacred and its permutations, Ford is only interested in the profane and its ambivalence, its pettiness, its evil. In a series of portraits entitled, “The Blood Remembers,” (all works 1989), ugliness attains a level of intensity that attests to the potency of this peculiar conceit. The faces of unhappy white people, painted in his characteristic neonaive style, are pinched with nastiness and thinly

  • News Room

    News Room, 1990, is a three-dimensional sketch of sorts, a prototype conceived by architect Peter Fend, video artist Greg Lehmann, and computer artist George Chaikin, to bring us into an interactive relationship with the news media. Hampered by time and budget problems, the artists nevertheless managed to transform the space into a semblance of a hustling and bustling news room. Dominated by a table piled with newspapers and files of clippings, News Room was designed to encourage viewers to read and discuss the news—to use the gallery as they might a public library. A bank of video monitors

  • Manipulation and Photography

    The title of this show is simplistic: there isn’t a photographic image that isn’t manipulated or manipulating. In fact, curators Kathleen Cullen and Dan Appel brought together work that deals not only with manipulation but with abuse, loss, and violence. The artists seen here also seem to be expressing a deep ambivalence about money. This is a refreshing position for a viewer weary of tongue-in-cheek, disingenuous attitudes toward greed and mercantilism in the art world.

    Simon Leung’s Father’s Journal, 1989, is a photocollage of found black and white images (mostly medical photographs from the

  • Terry Allen

    America is a sick place and Terry Allen knows it. Big Witness (living in wishes), 1988, consists of a prostrate figure lying in a cage within a cage, trying to knock himself out with some New Age self-help tapes. The installation is underlit with red, green, and blue lights, giving the otherwise sterile structure the atmosphere of an abandoned disco in some depressed Midwestern Holiday Inn. The self-help tapes being played are embedded in the giant’s body. Smarmy Muzak accompanies even smarmier discourse. Some paternalistic, New-Age asshole drones on and on about how to obliterate any resistance

  • Teresa Bramlette

    Banality is a powerful drug, certainly one that has not been thoroughly explored. It can make certain objects completely invisible. In this show, called “Traces of Use,” Teresa Bramlette attempts to make us see what banality obscures. The artist’s emulsion-on-wood images of bowls, cutlery, grapes, and so forth recall those pieces of wood with images of tourist attractions shellacked onto them that one finds at souvenir stores. The exhibition, while earnest, falls short of being compelling because the esthetic impact of Bramlette’s work is not strong enough to stand up to the banality of the

  • Roy Lichtenstein

    Roy Lichtenstein’s mirror paintings, executed between 1969 and 1972, reflect nothing: as such, they are both cruel and true. These mirrors do not offer easy narcissistic gratification, allegorical meanings, or narrative logic. They do not tell us that we are the fairest in the land; they do not flatter us with false promises of referentiality or content. They are exultant images of an emptiness endemic to American popular culture. Lichtenstein as an artist refuses to comment on this emptiness; like Warhol, he absorbs it and reproduces it with a kind of vacant intensity whose beauty has not faded

  • Hannah Wilke

    Hannah Wilke makes feminism look easy, and why shouldn’t she? After all, she’s been committed to sketching out a language of female eroticism on the drawing board of representation for years now. The strongest work in this show was the “Seura Chaya” series, 1978–89, which juxtaposes photographs of Wilke’s mother, ill from cancer and bald from chemotherapy, with drawings of the artist’s bird, Chaya. (Wilke got the bird after her mother’s death.) This work is testimony to the courage of both mother and daughter. Wilke has written that by obsessively photographing her mother, she had hoped to give

  • “Erotophobia”

    Some non-Western cultures have developed an erotic art designed to enhance and intensify orgasm. We in the West have, instead, a science of sexuality; we dissect our desires the same way we dissect cadavers. In addressing “erotophobia” through the visual arts, what the organizers of this group show attempted to create was an atmosphere in which we could examine our own sexual phobias—according to the press release, this was a “forum of sexuality” designed to open up a “dialogue.” Fear, however, took a back seat, making eros seem a bit too facile.

    In some ways, what one saw was less a show about

  • Jenny Holzer

    At one point, quite unexpectedly, all the LED signs of Jenny Holzer’s installation go dark and the silence becomes palpable, as the darkness grows thick around the viewer. The signs are vertical and the lettering flows upward and explodes like electronic fireworks until the sudden shutdown. This is a work about death and dead time, time made dead by the pause that inevitably occurs in media signals. Holzer no longer works in the mode of comment and critique of the media: she has thoroughly absorbed her chosen media’s forms, its structure, its messages, its spatial deployment. She has managed to

  • James Harrison

    At its best, James Harrison’s work possesses a wonderful edgy psychosis; at its worst, it looks like unedited art brut. Even at their worst, the paintings still show evidence of Harrison working out a powerful inner vision. Although he has been painting for 45 years, Harrison never created a successful career for himself. His ambivalence about exposure is very much inscribed in the introspective quality of the work. Sometimes the paintings seem to be refusing a dialogue with anything but themselves, and this intense turning inward can produce some spectacular effects.

    Harrison’s most successful

  • Henry Flynt

    One of the things that distinguishes Henry Flynt’s self-styled “Authentic Concept Art” from neo-Conceptual art is that Flynt’s concepts are a lot harder to grasp: his works are often self-reflexive, inaccessible, and adamantly difficult, and are based on theories of mathematics, philosophy, and linguistics. On the ceiling of the gallery is painted Which Way Is Up?, 1988: it consists of a formula that refutes the claim that mathematical logic can exist outside of language. This formula has different meanings depending on the way in which it is seen. The piece is certainly thought-provoking, but