Charles Green

  • “Zones of Love”

    Curator Judy Annear’s survey of contemporary Japanese art, “Zones of Love,” is hybrid territory. The nine artists and two collaborative groups (Dumb Type and Complesso Plastico) exhibiting their works here are self-consciously “world” artists. Since the ’70s, contemporary Japanese life has been constructed by the West as the ultimate experience of modernization. This implies that the post-Modern Japanese artist is influenced by the artificial, the fake, and an ambivalent reverence for the idea of art. “Zones of Love” shared this revisionist character, unlike earlier surveys, which simply reified

  • Gilgul

    Es Brent (It burns, 1992) was Gilgul’s second production, but it had all the relentless invention and shocking urgency of a first encounter—as if Barrie Kosky, the group’s director, and his actors had rediscovered their faculties in a flood of speech and action. Gilgul’s The Dybbuk, 1991, was encyclopedic: a combination of high-volume Holocaust vaudeville, cabbalist ritual, German expressionist cinema, and visions from the book of Ezekiel. These elements were collaged into Solomon Anski’s play, composed on the eve of the Russian Revolution and re-presented in the draughty space of this huge

  • Wilma Tabacco

    Wilma Tabacco makes minimal collages in ink, acrylic, and torn paper. Each monochromatic fragment is inscribed with ciphers: marks, crosses, and cancellations. The works in her exhibition “Continental Crossing” were arranged in serial groupings ordered by an invisible grid. In Sette tappe (Seven way-points, 1991), layers of semitransparent white paint and a thinly applied geometry of pale horizontal lines suspend Tabacco’s marks between alternating strata of vagueness and precision. Thus her ciphers reappear faintly but matter-of-factly, so that the drawings resemble maps or records. This

  • Annette Bezor

    The self-consciously accessible textuality of Annette Bezor’s paintings is the source of their ability to fuel an active dislike. For “Imago Ignota,” her recent exhibition, Bezor presented images of the female body: of herself or her friends, naked in the poses of traditional art; of the faces of famous women; and of women glimpsed asleep or in sexual ecstasy. Many viewers find Bezor’s construction of upbeat feminine confidence more presumptuous than profound. Since she implies a (male) audience that will find her works both sexually exciting and challenging, Bezor is unable to hypothesize other

  • Tony Coleing

    Tony Coleing’s new paintings are set full-tilt against the present. Oblivious to all self-critical imperatives, they are satiric, they are savage, and they don’t care that we already feel disdain for their targets. Coleing knows that we are not angry enough. Cocktales, 1991, has the subtlety of an adolescent’s antiwar wet dream. Here, Planet Earth is fissured by ecological and military catastrophe. A galactic cocktail glass rises into space. Instead of alcohol, it contains an inferno of burning oil. Tiny figures sit at the drink’s rim, perched on stiltlike swizzle sticks. Oil, the Gulf War,

  • Terri Bird and Fiona Macdonald

    Terri Bird and Fiona MacDonald deny the desire to affix meanings to art; they demand that the audience use their own powers of translation. The white spaces of these complementary installations are a shadow theater of ideas and texts. Terri Bird’s Devices for the Interpretation of Nature, 1991, consists of a dazzlingly empty gallery. In its corners are four small sculptures; outside, the gallery’s exits are discreetly marked by bronze bricks set into pavement. Fiona MacDonald’s An Untitled Illustration: Man’s Mind, Part 17, 1991, is figured in the shape of a labyrinth of white walls. The

  • Debra Dawes

    Are Debra Dawes’ paintings geometric abstractions, or are they critiques, one step removed? Because her recent exhibitions have reviewed the history of Modernist abstraction, the current “Houndstooth” series (all works 1991) presents itself as a riddle. The artist’s distance from her models is disconcerting, and is symptomatic of the widening gulf between the twentieth century and its present remainder. At the same time, Dawes’ black and white rectangles offer themselves as objects of self-sufficient contemplation. The Large Verticals resist simple appreciation, promoting a state of bodily

  • John Olsen

    In John Olsen’s recent exhibition, one painting stood out. Large and irrevocably dark, it appears at first like a blackboard covered by words and signs, but on closer inspection, it constitutes a double self-portrait. Popeye-like caricatures are enmeshed in a spiderweb of white lines and scrawls that make it impossible to say whether the Olsen at the right is preparing food or defecating nuggets of gold. Alchemic or gerontological, a discrimination between opposites is at the heart of the matter, for Donde Voy? (Where am I going?, 1989) is itself something of a simulacrum. If this work constitutes

  • Simone Mangos

    Like exposed photographic paper in a chemical bath, Undertow, 1990, an installation by Simone Mangos, dissolves, blurs, and eventually clarifies into an image of memorable density. Seven large, grainy, black and white photographs of a Berlin cemetery are suspended like scrolls from a ceiling approximately three feet away from the wall. Opposite, six stone windowsills, bricked-in since the gallery’s conversion from a schoolroom, have been excavated. On an accompanying document, a six-panel photograph shows the wire-mesh screen across a canal formerly dividing East from West Berlin. The undertow

  • Peter Tyndall

    Though Peter Tyndall’s mission—to render problematic the viewer’s relation to art—is a familiar one, his recent installation, ¡Relax!, 1988–90, suggests that he is up to much more. Tyndall knowingly utilizes the esthetic commandments that have practically become mantras of post-Modernity—to undermine, destabilize, and transgress. Noting the popular complaints about art-world cultishness, he bases his text-dominated paintings around the conceit of a secret society of culture. More recently, he has incorporated dreams into his works as a way of commenting on the consumption and power of culture.

  • Janenne Eaton

    When Janenne Eaton exhibited a painting modeled on Gauguin’s Manao Tapapau, 1892, in the mid ’80s, it looked as if she was yet another painter recycling images under the loose pretext of a feminist revisioning of art history. In place of Gauguin’s Tahitian girl lying on a bed, Eaton substituted a bound and gagged woman, watched from suburban venetian blinds by “spirit figures” drawn from a newspaper photograph of a Russian solider in a gas mask. The memorable feature of this painting, which suggested an inversion of Eric Fischl’s Bad Boy, 1981, was neither its play with then-fashionable tropes

  • Takamasa Kuniyasu

    Even more startling than the scale of Takamasa Kuniyasu’s installation—one of the major works scattered across Melbourne as part of the Australian Sculpture Triennial—is the physical threat that it poses to his viewers. Comprised of 70,000 hand made ceramic bricks—the artist’s signature since 1984—and a skeletal armature of pine logs, Shape of the Earth, 1990, was disconcertingly and perhaps inadvertently situated on the anxious middle-ground between sculpture and installation. A superficial resemblance to creeping freeze-framed mountainsides emphasized the difference between its threatening