Clare Davies

  • picks May 29, 2014

    Ala Younis

    Ala Younis’s latest solo exhibition, “UAR,” offers a deceptively straightforward visual archive of Egypt’s second president (1956–70) and Pan-Arabist leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser. Photographs, illustrated journal covers, and other ephemera celebrating the Syrian union with Egypt (1958–61) or documenting Nasser’s funeral (1970) appear alongside several C-prints, mixed-media works, and an extended series of pencil tracings on carbon paper by the artist. These include, Mickey Mourns Gamal Abdel Nasser, 2014, a tracing of the cover of the popular Mickey magazine established in 1959—a staple of the

  • picks March 07, 2012

    “The Parenthesis Show”

    This exhibition introduces audiences to the output of five young, largely unknown artists whose work is physically engaged, playful, and elegantly conceptual in scope. The pieces on view were produced over the course of a three-month workshop, a collaborative initiative of CIC and the Space for Contemporary Art and Cultural Development, which paired participants with established artists Doa Aly, Osama Dawod, and Ahmed Nagy.

    Sarah Hamdy’s multimedia work Transmission, 2012, comprises whimsical watercolors of colorful birds, two portraitlike monoprints of the moon, and an old television set hooked

  • picks March 18, 2011

    “Interventions”

    The opening of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha last December was marked by two large-scale exhibitions—“Sajjil: A Century of Modern Art” and “Told / Untold / Retold”—devoted to “modern” and “contemporary” periods of artmaking in the Middle East, respectively. “Interventions,” a third and somewhat smaller exhibition, presents five senior artists from the region as critical transitional figures whose practices, according to curator Nada Shabout, helped shape concepts of Arab modernism in the arts while informing the work of younger generations. Participating artists include Dia Azzawi,

  • picks November 10, 2010

    Francesc Ruiz

    Francesc Ruiz’s latest exhibition incorporates two parts: a stand-alone installation and a citywide “paper trail.” In the gallery, Newsstand (all works 2010) re-creates a bustling roadside stall as a dynamic world populated by sculptures of the stones typically used by news vendors as paperweights, as well as stacks of newspapers whose front pages include trompe l’oeil renderings of such stones juxtaposed with speech balloons that contain utterances ranging from the personal to the political.

    The distribution of narratives through formal and informal, textual and visual channels is also a theme

  • picks February 13, 2008

    Al Taylor

    The wry sense of humor animating this body of early work by Al Taylor echoes a tradition of deadpan epistemological joke-making embraced by Marcel Duchamp and “rediscovered” by post–Abstract Expressionist American artists. The collection of mixed-media sketches and assemblages—or, rather, “drawings in space,” to use Taylor’s preferred term—is thoughtful, involving, and, in fact, funny. The sketches offer proposals, observations, and records—traces of a practice weaving seamlessly back and forth between a two-dimensional surface and a habitable environment. They also stand as works in their own

  • picks January 21, 2008

    Iman Issa

    “Making Places,” Iman Issa’s current exhibition of photographs and videos at the Townhouse Gallery, presents a meditation on the urban landscape in reproducible media. The relative anonymity of the scenery (its “placelessness”) and the careful (and often art-historically resonant) framing allow the viewer to focus on details that were previously inconspicuous and—in the case of the videos—are suddenly activated by the flow of time. Indeed, the artist’s approach claims these sites as antimonumental, making the city street or urban skyline as ethereal and fleeting as the smallest skittering leaf

  • picks November 15, 2007

    Francis Alÿs

    Francis Alÿs’s Fabiola inaugurates a three-year collaboration between the Dia Art Foundation and the Hispanic Society of America. If you haven’t already been, the museum’s collection and somewhat startling Beaux Arts architecture are themselves treats. An outsize relief of Don Quixote points the viewer toward the entrance of the Northern Galleries, whose mahogany-lined walls carry Alÿs’s fleet of red-veiled saints. Created by amateur painters and (assumedly) religious enthusiasts, the collection of nearly three hundred works presents a seductive kaleidoscopic counterpoint to its surroundings.

  • picks September 22, 2007

    Chris Marker

    “Staring Back,” the title of Chris Marker’s current exhibition, suggests a challenge to viewers’ sense of self-entitlement, a bold visual and ethical gesture of response. Marker’s intervention quietly sidesteps the familiar impulse to capture a universal humanity and, in so doing, to guarantee the viewer’s right to empathize from a secure distance. Certainly, this collection of nearly two hundred black-and-white scenes and portraits “stare” back with probing or distracted glances, vulnerability or contempt, glamour or poverty. Many images are recognizable from Marker’s films, and their combination

  • picks September 13, 2007

    Carter Mull

    Carter Mull’s latest exhibition, “Ethics of Everyday Fiction,” initially resists close looking. Painted-over photographs, digital prints of collaged images, photographs sandwiched between layers of Plexiglas and propped against the wall, a floor-bound installation recalling a Pollock canvas overlaid with semitransparent slats: These works come into focus as if they were far away, each object distanced by the opacity of what exactly one is apprehending. The utterly generic—the Pop image collage, the Abstract Expressionist sweep of paint, the flat color of a digital print—is employed with specificity,