Christopher Bedford

  • Untitled, 2006, oil and graphite on panel, 48 x 70".
    picks November 19, 2006

    Marcelino Gonçalves

    Marcelino Gonçalves’s quiet, ineffable paintings are not so much about the subjects he chooses to represent, but rather about the effects of his media on the way we understand those subjects. Gonçalves maintains a stubbornly unimaginative fidelity to the composition of the informal snapshots he transposes into his oil and graphite works, preferring to mark his authorship through his choice of palette. Though he works principally from snapshots, Gonçalves’s paintings are not encumbered by the usual weighty, sometimes ponderous formal and semiotic concerns. Instead, Gonçalves’s faint, unobtrusive

  • Helix, 2006.
    picks November 08, 2006

    Kori Newkirk

    Kori Newkirk’s immaculate Plexiglas facsimile of a fire escape is suspended from the gallery’s rafters, the ethereal glow of its transparent geometric surfaces an essay in functionless beauty. (The artist is at great pains to drive home the diminished use-value of his structure.) Plucked from the world of utilitarian objects, Newkirk’s aptly titled Helix, 2006, is an endless riddle of associations and disassociations that ensnares the artist, the art market, and the gallery in its cunning, circular logic. Most obviously, this “escape” promises no such thing, and its materials and engineering do

  • Grotto, 2006.
    picks November 02, 2006

    Thomas Demand

    Unlike the work of many mature artists, whose signature style or concept, over a period of many years, devolves into a complacent tic, a stale mannerism, or worse, Thomas Demand’s now well-worn process seems endlessly fertile. Demand builds meticulous—but imperfectly verisimilar—paper models of images he culls from popular sources (newspapers, magazines, postcards) and then produces large-scale, extremely sharp photographic prints of those models in high, luminous color. Through this labor-intensive, multistep process, Demand exerts tyrannical control over his work—and over the viewer’s

  • Fill It Up and Pour It Down the Inside, 2006.
    picks October 20, 2006

    Megan Geckler

    The brief ascendance of Op art in the United States ended, with a few notable exceptions (Bridget Riley, for example), shortly after William Sietz’s 1965 MoMA exhibition, “The Responsive Eye.” The work in that show was lampooned by some high-minded critics who felt that optical painting amounted to little more than facile kitsch, more concerned with the rudiments of design and pseudoscientific principles than with the evolving narrative of modernism. Here, Megan Geckler’s installation Fill It Up and Pour It Down the Inside, 2006, draws on the movement's rich, largely untapped, and still

  • Installation view, 2006.
    picks October 05, 2006

    Rodney McMillian

    Rodney McMillian’s exhibition, titled “Odes,” is a motley assortment of objects, found and fabricated, whose shoddy, provisional character initially repels the eye. Each artwork is marked explicitly as an object of commerce. Some, like the disintegrating bust shown in the photograph Unknown #4, 2006, have been “rescued”; McMillian has introduced it to the fine-art market, using his name to create value. The expansive Untitled (Sky), 2006, is the most witty and convincing example of this process. Here McMillian has divided the verso of a latex-covered sheet of canvas into a grid of one-foot

  • Floral Veins, and Conduits: 005 (detail), 2006.
    picks September 20, 2006

    Ernesto Caivano

    The intimate scale of Ernesto Caivano’s six-by-nine-inch drawings commands close scrutiny, and the delicate graphite and ink marks that compose these intricate works compound this demand, drawing the viewer closer still. The effect is almost oppressive in its intensity. Precedents for Caivano’s meticulous practice are not easily found in recent art. Nor, perhaps, are the most apposite points of reference to be located in the annals of fine art, though this is emphatically where Caivano’s drawings themselves reside. While Caivano’s fondness for building texture and indicating volume through the

  • Pearl C. Hsiung, Tidal Wretch, 2005, enamel on canvas, 96 x 72". From 2006 California Biennial.

    2006 California Biennial

    This show—organized by OCMA’s Elizabeth Armstrong and Karen Moss and Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Rita Gonzalez—brings together approximately 125 works by some thirty artists working in California, organized under six loose themes such as “Impulsive Surrealism” and “Urban Ecologies.”

    In the context of the nonstop worldwide biennial circuit, the comparatively quaint 2006 California Biennial does not radiate the same air of edgy market influence as do its Venetian or New York forebears. Nor, for that matter, does it boast a panel of curatorial imports or a suitably abstruse theme coupled with a knowing, au courant installation concept. Instead, this show—organized by OCMA’s Elizabeth Armstrong and Karen Moss and Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Rita Gonzalez—brings together approximately 125 works by some thirty

  • Should Never Be Exhibited, 2006.
    picks July 31, 2006

    Steve Hurd

    Steve Hurd’s first solo show in seven years ranges from the acutely personal to the most topically political, and the paintings that occupy the extremes on this spectrum are, unsurprisingly, the strongest. In his most impressive and ambitious works, one can feel Hurd struggling with the capacity of his chosen medium to overcome the sharp, knee-jerk skepticism of the contemporary viewer; his conviction in simple oil on canvas seems unflappable. In the text painting entitled Should Never Be Exhibited, 2006, which opens the show, Hurd transcribes an acerbic reprimand from an unspecified supervisor

  • Sprinkler City, 2006.
    picks June 13, 2006

    Tom McGrath

    The four paintings in Tom McGrath’s new show are all virtuoso performances by a painter’s painter brimming with the desire to push oil paint to the limit of its descriptive potential; they radiate a knowing confidence. McGrath is manifestly aware of the artistic climate in which his work will be seen for the first time and also versed in the history of painting for painting’s sake, beginning, perhaps, with Courbet’s landscapes.

    As shrewd as these sumptuous paintings may be, however, they are also decorative, sometimes to a fault. McGrath’s subject matter, unlike his formal devices, is not ambitious

  • Chelsea 11.9.05, 2005
    picks June 01, 2006

    Sean Scully

    Sean Scully’s latest body of work is further evidence of the artist’s intensely focused, even myopic painting practice. Scully’s basic idiom—colored blocks arranged in elegant, variously interlocking, allover configurations—grows most directly out of the American Abstract Expressionist tradition, and, as with Pollock, Newman, and Still, one can look at a painting by Scully and know without hesitation that it is “a Scully.” Paradoxically, it is precisely this unwavering commitment to his chosen style that is of particular interest in the context of today’s art world: In order to engage

  • Installation view, 2006.
    picks May 03, 2006

    Walead Beshty

    The variously addressed subject of Walead Beshty’s strikingly cohesive multimedia show at the Hammer is the derelict Iraqi Diplomatic Mission in the former East Berlin—abandoned sometime between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the start of the Gulf War. Though neither the GDR nor the Republic of Iraq exist today, because the ground was given in perpetuity, this marooned modern ruin remains protected by statutes of national sovereignty and is thus beyond the purview of the German authorities. In the center of the gallery, installed atop a slowly rotating platform lined with mirror tiles

  • Triple Arrangement (Arr3), 2006.
    picks May 02, 2006

    Greg Rose

    From a purely aesthetic point of view, many of Greg Rose’s most recent paintings are irresistible. In works like Triple Arrangement (Arr 3), 2006, he employs a medley of shrill colors in ink and gouache, dexterously resolving these elements into images far more unified and compelling than a description of the composition would suggest. According to the artist, Ikebana flower arrangements provide the basic subject matter for this series, but Rose supercedes mimesis, using the formal properties native to painting to interpret the elegant conventions of Japanese floral design. This approach is most