Charles Green

  • Yang Yongliang, Heavenly City 1, 2008, ink-jet print, 37 x 79".
    picks April 17, 2009

    Yang Yongliang

    Yang Yongliang’s eccentric prints, presented in this exhibition by Chinese Contemporary Art Consultants, are photographic composites that depict agglomerations of skyscrapers, railways, radio towers, power lines, and freeways. These futuristic architectural vignettes look as though they’ve been painstakingly assembled from an urban planner’s photographic archive of developers’ projects in Yang’s hometown, Shanghai. But the thousands of buildings here are digitally stitched together into their opposite: Panoramic black-and-white views of mountains, streams, and oceans that look at a distance just

  • Manuel Ocampo

    Mobile, menacing, messy: These are words that immediately describe Manuel Ocampo’s hit-and-run approach to painting and, ostensibly, to identity. Like the late German artist Martin Kippenberger, Ocampo presents a surplus of meaning but a dandyish deficit of definable intention. The artist’s articulate, carefully rehearsed, public disdain for the vocabulary of art criticism and theory (he has often selected the baroque titles of his shows and individual paintings from art critics’ and canonical artists’ utterances), combined with his predilection for artistic collaborations (not least with another

  • View of “NEON,” 2008. From left: Brendan Van Hek, White out/Black out, 2008; Joseph Kosuth, Clear words, Clear sight, 2007; Laurie Anderson, Neon Bow, 1980; Joseph Kosuth, W.F.T. #1 (yellow), 2008; Janet Burchill and Jennifer McCamley, Inland Empire (detail), 2008.
    picks October 02, 2008


    “NEON” is a compendium of neon in art ranging from Laurie Anderson’s famous Neon Bow, 1980, used in her early stage performances, to Lori Hersberger’s enormous neon-rectangle-and-shattered-glass installation Ghost Rider (Doors), 2008. Other works on view include Pierre Huyghe’s heartbreakingly simple but cryptic neon declaration I do not own Snow White, 2006, which evokes the chimera of the cartoon heroine at the same time as it ostensibly observes the Walt Disney Company’s ownership of that fictional character. Young Australian artist Brook Andrew’s Signal 2, 2008, consists of three dark, nearly

  • Robert Klippel, No. 874, c. 1990, plastic and transparent synthetic polymer resin, 5 1/2 x 4 15/16 x 2 1/8".
    picks September 04, 2008

    “Klippel/Klippel: Opus 2008”

    Robert Klippel was the most important sculptor working in Sydney during the postwar period, but the key formative years of his career were spent in London (during the late 1940s), then in New York and Minneapolis (during the late ’50s and early ’60s, respectively). Thoroughly conversant with the artistic currents swirling around him during that time, he eventually returned to Australia having synthesized AbEx-sculptural and Pop-art influences into complicated, calligraphic assemblages made of found materials such as typewriter and machine parts. Later in his career, he typically assembled painted,

  • Ram Rahman

    A huge, buff bodybuilder flexes his muscles as three delighted, scantily clad female acrobats applaud: These painted figures hover on a billboard above a wall built of corrugated iron sheeting, across which are lettered the words GENTS URINAL. The scene is typical of Ram Rahman’s mostly black-and-white photographs, in which concatenations of representational codes—hand painted billboards and text, as in Gents Urinal, Delhi, 1991—mingle with banners, buildings, crowds, and resting figures so that perspective collapses. This maze of painted sign and intimate streetscape is not hard to find in New

  • Approach to Mundi Mundi, 2007, high-definition digital color video, 8 minutes 37 seconds. Production still.
    picks December 14, 2007

    Shaun Gladwell

    Over the past ten years, Shaun Gladwell has shot from obscurity to preeminence in Australian contemporary art, a position underscored by this mammoth solo exhibition. It ends a twenty-six-year run for Sydney gallerist Gene Sherman, who will open, in 2008, a private nonprofit art foundation. Gladwell’s reputation and the sheer desirability of his work make him one of the most dramatic instances of a young artist benefiting from the current boom market. He is also an alert art critic’s dream. It’s easy to spot the generational markers: the recreational gear, the iPods, and, in Apology to Roadkill

  • Walking in Tall Grass, Ethan, 2005, oil on linen, 36 1/4 x 26 3/4".
    picks November 09, 2007

    Jan Nelson

    Jan Nelson paints portraits of adolescent boys and girls. She pays as much attention to each kid’s carefully calibrated gear—the fur hats, bike helmets, faux-hippie T-shirts, sunglasses, and painstakingly chosen stickers and logos—as to individual physiognomy. Not one of these teenagers looks the viewer straight in the eye, and none is easy to read; all are turned partly away from the viewer, are hidden behind dark glasses, or look carefully down. The only concession they make to the communication of character, beyond a not completely hostile self-absorption, is via the semiotics of customized

  • Juan Davila

    Across a corner of Rat Man, 1980, Juan Davila spells out his early painting’s comic-strip intention in cursive script: A DISCOURSE ABOUT A DISCOURSE / ART IS MADE FOR THE RECOGNITION OF DESIRE. When he painted Rat Man, it seemed that Davila’s discourse of pornographic desire centered on a programmatic method of citation and viral perversion of modern and contemporary art. Twenty-five years later, this large and exquisitely curated survey makes it clear that Davila recognized that desire resides more in the vicious, willed malevolence of people toward one another than in the multiplicity of sexual

  • Zones of Contact: 2006 Biennale of Sydney

    At the start of his catalogue essay for the 2006 Biennale of Sydney, director Charles Merewether states that his exhibition “aspires to be about the ‘now’ of the contemporary, bearing the disjuncture and discontinuities as much as correspondences and transversal movements of encounter and exchange.” Because this is such an ambitious exhibition—the only Biennale of Sydney since 1992 to come with a decent intellectual underpinning, albeit one couched in convoluted prose—Merewether’s claim deserves to be examined seriously. But at a time when the Documenta 10 aesthetic of video and Photoconceptualism

  • Left: Biennale of Sydney director Charles Merewether. Right: Museum of Contemporary Art director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor. (All photos: Charles Green)
    diary June 11, 2006

    On the Waterfront


    “I can’t relax yet, I’ve got at least eight more venues to open,” confessed a grim-looking Biennale of Sydney director Charles Merewether at a chilly Wednesday-morning press preview as installers and electricians raced across the cavernous spaces of Pier 2/3. Set at one of the few nineteenth-century harborside warehouses not converted into condominiums, this has always been a spectacular but problematic setting for art. Here and slightly anxious artists crouched by their suddenly miniature works. A wound-up Merewether marched off to oversee the last touches: no labels or captions to identify

  • Holy Land Journal, 2005-06.
    picks May 16, 2006

    Peter Atkins

    Peter Atkins gathers litter and lost objects as he travels. He sorts curiosities and junk carefully, and divides it all into categories, pinning, taping, or gluing the resulting collections of like objects on to fifteen-inch-by-fifteen-inch boards. This exhibition includes lint, fake flowers discarded in the Melbourne Cemetery, found photographs, chocolate wrappers, and buttons. Each indexes the same processes of travel and collection, making equivalent a sealed plastic bag filled with drugs and a collage constructed from paper fragments retrieved from a gutter after a fireworks festival in Hong

  • Helen Johnson, The Centre for the Study of Adhocracy: Producing Singularities in a More and More Standardised World, 2006. Installation view.
    picks March 27, 2006


    “NEW06” is the latest installment in the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art’s annual exhibition of young Australian artists. It includes the Makeshift Collective’s claustrophobic, cardboard labyrinth; Giles Ryder’s versions of L.A. finish-fetish neon and plastic; Helen Johnson’s gentle frescos; Darren Sylvester’s MTV impersonations of Kate Bush and David Bowie; Shaun Wilson’s miniaturized viewing couch with home movies stuffed into a David Lynch–like cabin; Natasha Johns-Messenger’s perceptual puzzles made from ply and mirrors; and a video by Laresa Kosloff in which a large black diamond