Dan Adler

  • General Idea, Evidence of Body Binding, 1971, fifteen gelatin silver transparencies mounted in fluorescent light boxes, overall dimensions variable, each element 8 × 12 × 3 3⁄8".

    General Idea

    Curated with sensitivity and wit by Adam Welch, this comprehensive survey of General Idea, the largest to date, began in an unexpectedly understated way: Visitors traversed a small octagonal space, whose walls were adorned with a faint pattern in green, orange, and white. It took the viewer a moment of repose to find the titular acronym repeated throughout White AIDS Wallpaper, 1991—its ironic design based on Robert Indiana’s LOVE insignia—and, in the process, (re)consider how that disease affected the many communities and publics in which the collective operated, sometimes through subtle

  • Annabeth Marks, Talisman, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 28 × 22".

    Annabeth Marks

    As arguments for analog experience, Annabeth Marks’s abstract pictures are utterly convincing. Meticulously made with hand-mixed pigments and a devotion to detail, each is an intricate investigation of color and pattern. Often resistant to photographic documentation, they bear many signs of a labor-intensive struggle to locate that perfect compositional cocktail. While rooted in modernist soil, Marks’s collage-based aesthetic eschews pretty historical pastiche for something stranger, richer. She offers outlets for slow speculation, avoiding our culture of accelerated time that is increasingly

  • Jon Sasaki, Microbes Swabbed from a Palette Used by F.H. Varley, 2020, ink-jet print, 36 × 36". From the eight-part suite Homage, 2020–21.

    Jon Sasaki

    For nearly two decades, Jon Sasaki’s Conceptualist project—via sculpture, drawing, photography, video, performance, and installation—has deconstructed and satirized traditional genres of artmaking in impressively inventive ways. Periodically focused on landscape, the artist often exhibits apparent affection for his subjects and themes. Eschewing fully dematerialized strategies and cynical one-liners, Sasaki is a rigorous practitioner of reskilling and enthusiastically embraces “wrong” uses of technology while systematically exploring unconventional materials.

    Sasaki’s show at the McMichael—a site

  • Georgia Dickie, Maquette for Dream Home, 2021, cardboard box, found objects, glue, hi-hat cymbals and stand, found metal base, dimensions variable.

    Georgia Dickie

    With characteristic insight, Roland Barthes once expounded on Gustave Flaubert’s treatment of a room belonging to a certain Madame Aubain, going all in when descriptively dwelling upon the sort of inconsequential qualities normally deemed extraneous to the exposition of plot. Such minutiae may possess an incomparable importance if one takes the time to savor them. Resolutely avoiding precious materials, Georgia Dickie has produced a process-oriented project that is, in part, a reflection on how to relate to these disposable details—the filler, as it were—as a means to embrace authentic experience

  • Sarah Sze, Images in Debris, 2018, mirrors, wood, stainless steel, ink-jet prints, projectors, lamps, desks, stools, ladders, stone, acrylic, dimensions variable.

    Sarah Sze

    Sarah Sze’s solo show here featured a single massive installation, Images in Debris, 2018. At the heart of the work was an L-shaped desk, placed in a darkened room. With the aid of a thin metal armature, cables, and clamps, Sze had laboriously built up this bureau with a crowded, condensed covering of artistic and domestic materials, from painting and office supplies to disposable water bottles. This sprawl was combined with modestly scaled light effects and video projections that allowed the piece’s studio-like setting to cast a wide symbolic net, which encompassed the pandemic, the politics

  • Laurie Kang, Bloom, 2019, mesh fruit bags, polymer clay, paint cans, reflective sheeting, Cordyceps. Installation view.

    Laurie Kang

    In the kitchen, the shrine, and the scientific laboratory alike, new substances and insights can emerge from analog processes and the (mis)use, elevation, or preservation of materials that may lack value in the conventional sense. Laurie Kang’s sculptural installations for “Beolle,” her first solo museum show, fleshed out such processes and their latent potential within a light-filled former mansion on Lake Ontario.

    For one especially engrossing work, Mother (all works 2019), the artist arranged forty-one stainless-steel bowls—sourced from a restaurant-supply store in one of Toronto’s Chinatowns—on

  • Brian Jungen, Cetology, 2002, plastic chairs, 5' 3 5⁄8“ × 41' 4 1⁄4” × 5' 6 3⁄8".

    Brian Jungen

    Brian Jungen’s long-awaited exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario—curated with great flair by Kitty Scott—began in a playful setting reminiscent of a basketball court, complete with multihued vinyl lines applied to black gym flooring, within which Jungen’s trademark soft sculptures were distributed like team members. Freed from the constraints of a vitrine, the series “Prototype for New Understanding,” 1998–2005, in which Jungen repurposes Nike Air Jordan sneakers as Northwest Coast masks, could be closely scrutinized. These intricately tailored works are feats of crafted composition, with

  • View of “Huma Bhabha,” 2019. Photo: Charles Mayer Photography.

    Huma Bhabha

    Drawing on more than two decades of work, “They Live” was Huma Bhabha’s largest survey to date. Curator Eva Respini deftly highlighted the artist’s remarkable range of temporal and spatial reference points—from the primeval to the present; from Cuzco, Peru, to Karachi, Pakistan—while focusing on her imagery of the body. Together, the selected pieces expressed complex critiques of what it means to become “civilized” and to civilize others—and attended to the damage inherent in both processes. Although Bhabha leaves her work open to multiple readings, Respini framed those questions, to some extent,

  • Valérie Blass, L’homme réparé (Repaired Man), 2019, stainless steel, denim shorts, epoxy resin, acrylic paint, 41 × 89 × 12". Photo: Laura Findlay.

    Valérie Blass

    Valérie Blass is perhaps best known for assemblage sculptures that reflect her long-standing interests in theater, dance, and fashion. This ten-year-survey show—elegantly curated by Matthew Hyland—focused on her uses of the figural form. To compose her bodies, Blass disjunctively draws together representational imagery with abstract forms and textures—such as a pair of shorts with a bar of polished metal—that resist cohesion, encouraging viewers to project, and to consider the contexts of the erotic, ritual, and commercial, in which we are all, in some way, participants.

    Often, Blass alters found

  • View of “An Te Liu,” 2019. From left: Shadow, 2018; Coup d’oeil (A Look), 2018.

    An Te Liu

    Recently, An Te Liu has been mining his dilapidated Honda Civic for material. One procedure yielded two elongated and pointed plastic forms from a headlight’s housing, which the artist cast with a concoction of polycarbonate, epoxy clay, wax, and granules of quartz. Hanging by a wire from the ceiling, Surfacing (all works cited, 2018) resembles a duo of motor blades (with holes for screws), and yet the forms have been modified and grafted to each other in ways that suggested organic tissue, perhaps a pair of wings taken from a creature of unknown origin. Also on view and suspended from above in

  • Shannon Bool, Oued Ouchaia, 2018, jacquard tapestry, embroidery, 6' 10“ × 10' 8”.

    Shannon Bool

    While Shannon Bool’s show “Bomb. Shell.” featured many provocatively posed women, the images hardly qualified as pinups. Rather, they reflected Bool’s long-standing interest in combining the tactics of the historical avant-gardes (photomontage and Cubist collage) with unconventional materials and methods (wool and sewing) to slyly short-circuit (rather than explode, as the show’s title implied) masculinist mythologies of modernism. Bool’s subversions are playful yet satirical, and critical in ways that run deep, partially because of their compositional complexity. 

    Take the pair of striking

  • Zin Taylor, A Vase, a Knife, and a Piece of Fruit (Repeated), 2018, acrylic paint, epoxy clay, ink, plaster cloth, wood, dimensions variable. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

    Zin Taylor

    “Cut Flowers,” Zin Taylor’s first solo show at Susan Hobbs Gallery, featured an inventive, intriguing range of sculptural statements: Works performed semantic slides between functional product and absurd abstraction. Incorporating Taylor’s trademark vocabulary of dots, lines, patterns, textures, and reductive shapes, the show playfully provoked speculation about how (and why) abstract elements can take on tentative character traits, sometimes striking notes of existential dread or whimsical wonder. Taylor’s approach is to arrange objects with particular qualities—the same scale or palette,