Christopher Howard

  • picks March 10, 2014

    Suara Welitoff

    Suara Welitoff’s three videos—silent, black-and-white, a few minutes long, and looped continuously—explore the tenuous demarcations between past and present, between an original moment and its recollection or revival. Exploiting the look of film—in particular its scratches and flickering—as well as the glitches from compressed digital video, these works produce a preternatural sense of déjà vu. A brief clip of a child drawing a whorl on a chalkboard repeats in Untitled (Spiral) (all works 2013), with jolted edits triggering the same action to begin at different points, while the titular words

  • picks December 07, 2013

    Willie Cole

    Fans of Willie Cole have had ample opportunities to see his prints, sculpture, drawings, and photography over the past ten years, as three consecutive survey exhibitions—“Afterburn” (2004–2006), “Anxious Objects: Willie Cole’s Favorite Brands” (2006–2008), and “Deep Impressions” (2010–12)—have traveled to museums and university galleries across the United States. Patterson Sims, the curator responsible for the last two shows, sustains his singular dedication to Cole’s work with “Complex Conversations,” which will land at three more institutions after its current stop at the Weatherspoon Art

  • picks October 11, 2013

    Anna Betbeze

    Anna Betbeze’s signature works—flokati rugs abused with acid dyes, watercolor pigments, and hot coals, distressed by the outdoor elements and sliced with razor blades—exhibit shaggy, savagely marred surfaces that beg to be touched. Her latest pieces, which substitute plush terry-cloth towels and extra-large bathrobes for the woolen mats, are just as tactile, and the gallery even lets visitors try on the robes. The pure-blue Cold Bath (all works 2013) is roomy enough for a small whale yet considerably more lightweight than Merman and Mermaid, a ponderous pair of cloaks beautifully colored with

  • picks May 30, 2013

    “Outsiderism”

    “Outsiderism,” organized by Alex Baker to coincide with a historical survey at the Philadelphia Museum of Art of self-taught artists, both complements and provides a contrast to the larger exhibition. “Great and Mighty Things” presents canonical figures such as James Castle, Martín Ramírez, and Purvis Young, among others, “each with a moving personal story, many from disadvantaged, rural backgrounds far removed from the mainstream art world,” according to the museum’s news release. “Outsiderism” rebuffs the loner perception by framing its nine artists as engaged practitioners addressing complex

  • picks April 15, 2013

    Eddie Martinez

    The title of Eddie Martinez’s exhibition, “Matador,” characterizes his new paintings as the outcome of a brute encounter between man and beast. These brawny canvases—measuring seven by ten feet apiece—burst with hastily applied spray paint, arbitrarily collaged gum wrappers and baby wipes, and viscous oil paint scraped and smudged with a wide palette knife and housepainter’s brush. The artist even defaces his impasto surfaces with an electric disc sander. Also demonstrable are the influences of Picasso and Miró, with whom Martinez shares a love of bold color, painterly gestures, and cartoonish

  • picks January 31, 2013

    “Oh, Canada”

    The Cedar Tavern Singers aka Les Phonoréalistes, a folk group formed by Daniel Wong and Mary-Anne McTrowe, wondered what the largest survey of contemporary Canadian art since 1989 might have in store. “Oh, Canada,” organized by Denise Markonish and three years in the making, doesn’t quite harmonize with the wry speculations in the duo’s 2012 music video Oh Canada, Oh Canada—in which they sing of an “interactive Mountie installation,” “neolumberjack abstraction,” and “postpainterly hockey”—but nevertheless, the exhibition delivers an abundance of works exploring familiar themes north of the US

  • picks January 26, 2013

    Vandana Jain

    The global financial system—including banking and insurance, petroleum and energy, the pharmaceutical and automotive industries, and communications and computer technology—is so enormous and complex that it nearly defies description, let alone representation. In her ongoing practice Vandana Jain dissects and rearranges corporate logos and wordmarks, making institutional graphic design collide with traditional visual forms of Eastern cultures, such as mandalas, tangrams, and prayer flags. Jain’s video The 100 Highest Grossing Corporations of the World for the Fiscal Year Ending in March 2011,

  • picks November 28, 2012

    Barb Choit

    For a show at Rachel Uffner three years ago, Barb Choit collected posters of highly stylized women rendered by Patrick Nagel—a commercial artist from the 1970s and 1980s whose graphic work graced the cover of Duran Duran’s album Rio—and subjected them to ultraviolet rays from a tanning bed as well as lamps and bleach, then photographing the faded outcomes. This summer she fitted the front windows of Rawson Projects with colored background paper, testing the material’s lightfastness by exposing sheets to the sun for up to 744 hours before pulling them off to display. For her current exhibition,

  • picks November 18, 2012

    Angel Otero

    Like Gerhard Richter’s squeegee, Roy Lichtenstein’s Ben-day dots, and Julian Schnabel’s crockery, Angel Otero’s novel painting technique has allowed him to refine an inimitable style. CAM Raleigh presents five of these signature works—all abstract—in which the artist layers oil paint onto a plate-glass or Plexiglas support before scraping off the accumulating “skins,” as he calls them, and collaging them onto a canvas, letting the thickened medium ripple, sag, and wrinkle, marvelously, across the cotton surface. In Bacchanal II (all works cited, 2012), strata of paint transform into something

  • picks October 31, 2012

    Laylah Ali

    Can a work of art with vacillating or unclear motives be political? Laylah Ali once asked this in a 2008 roundtable published in Art in America. In her case the question is rhetorical, as her “Greenheads Series,” 1996–2005, comprising about eighty small gouache works on paper, has consistently confounded viewers seeking precise meaning in the cartoonish yet quizzically violent scenes enacted by stick-thin, brown-skinned masked figures with oversize pine-green heads shaped like bowling balls. This exhibition, gathering over forty mostly untitled paintings, does little to explicate the ambiguous

  • picks September 04, 2012

    Maria Walker

    The rugged, ragged work of the Brooklyn-based artist Maria Walker—painted wooden-slat constructions, acrylic-soaked canvases straining over irregularly shaped stretchers, and postcard-size frescos fused onto burlap and mounted on square panels—is well suited for the raw concrete rooms of John Davis Gallery’s gutted carriage house. With their tough, unfinished beauty, the fourteen pieces shown here evoke a romantic preoccupation with the passing of time yet are never overly sentimental. Walker’s work also feels nostalgic in light of recent art history, recalling in particular the elegant experimental

  • picks August 23, 2012

    Kilian Rüthemann

    An abundance of summer sun streams through CLEARING’s windows during the day, so it’s peculiar that the overhead lights are all turned on. Yet without this seemingly gratuitous use of electricity, Anchor of Hope, 2011, one of three sculptural works in Kilian Rüthemann’s US solo debut, might go unnoticed. To assemble it, the Swiss artist borrowed two ninety-six-inch-long fluorescent tubes from the gallery’s storage closet and glued them to an identical pair of tubes that were already set in their ceiling-hung sockets, blaring their bright light. Taken as a whole, the scene barely qualifies as