Dan Adler

  • 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

    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

  • 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

    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

    “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,

  • Kim Adams

    Since the late 1970s, Edmonton, Canada–born artist Kim Adams has been repurposing salvaged auto parts, hobby kits, and hardware varia to create hybrid vehicularesque sculptures. While many works are life-scale, appearing quasi-habitable—like Andrea Zittel’s Travel Trailers—just as many are toy-size, installed on shelves as though goods in a shop. At Diaz Contemporary, Adams showed a mix of ten works produced over the last decade, including large-scale structures based on two small-scale models that he made in the 1980s. While the artist has received a good deal of exposure over the

  • Lorna Bauer

    Humble and spare, yet offering surprising nuance, the video Four Glasses (all works 2010) is a typical Lorna Bauer production. It begins with a view of four wineglasses on a weathered plank, precisely lit so as to be surrounded by total darkness. Almost ecclesiastically poised, these vessels anticipate a narrative incident that eventually happens: The glasses—all four at once—explode, providing the only sound and the only motion of the ninety-second work. The action barely lasts a moment but effectively sparks a full spectrum of associations, from technical experiment (were the glasses rigged

  • Renée Green

    EARLY ON IN RENÉE GREEN’S WORK Wavelinks: A Different Reality, 2002, the artist Arthur Jafa is on camera, musing animatedly about his efforts to connect with the past, to establish a “felt relationship to something that has been done prior to your existence in the world.” Soon after, a man is hazily seen through a window, changing filthy filters for the air-conditioning unit of an office building. This mundane maintenance is accompanied by an audio track: two unseen conversants voicing their disbelief about the severe buildup of waste on the filters. What might seem like casual chatter may also

  • Hadley + Maxwell

    The gallery’s windows were covered with paper. But this was an artwork, not a signal that installation was in progress. Consisting of long, loosely applied strips of wallpaper—each with a distinct pattern of stripes, tree branches, or flowers—Returns Blind, 2010, may be read either as wrapping for retail items or as a signifier of the gallery worker’s labor. Like much of Hadley + Maxwell’s collaborative practice, this clever, Conceptualist gesture playfully resists being packaged as a discrete and marketable commodity.

    For The Jury, Like the Chorus, Draws Its Voice from the Thickness of the Air

  • Krista Buecking

    HURT ME NOW GET IT OVER; TOMORROW WILL BE TOO LATE; THERE GOES MY EVERYTHING: Such is the sad language of classic ballads that Krista Buecking employs, with characteristic Conceptualist rigor, in the drawing series “Love Songs for a Future Generation” (all works 2009). Rendered in tiny strokes of graphite, each statement appears sideways in vertical columns of italicized block letters and is paired with a pencil drawing of a battered piece of brick. Scanning each coupling slowly, one reaps rich rewards from the friction between these fragmentary bits of stone and syntax—forms that compete with

  • Micah Lexier

    Micah Lexier’s recent exhibition, “→ (the title is an arrow),” started from the most minimal means—an arrow—and explored the semiotics of marks, symbols, and words. The majority of Lexier’s directional signs are derived from a single scrawl, which was digitally enlarged—hence emphasizing its handmade irregularities—and serially fabricated from stamped and painted water-jet-cut aluminum. The impressive 12-Foot White Arrow (all works 2009), installed on the gallery’s facade, pointed at the entryway with an exaggerated denotative emphasis that would ensure distant recognition, perhaps by satellites,

  • Andrew Reyes

    At first, Andrew Reyes’s exhibition “Cryptique” presented itself as an obstacle. An enormous X straddled the interior of the gallery, a sculpture titled Body Bilder (all works 2009), that seemed to cross out the artist’s previous oeuvre, which has been predominantly pictorial and engaged explicitly with consumer culture. But this indicator of error soon became a sign of potential—recalling the X-that-marks-the-spot on a treasure map or a positive act of signatory acceptance—once one realized that the X was in fact not a barrier, but a pair of crisscrossing diagonal trusses, one in front of the

  • Michelle Gay

    “Interfaces and Operating Systems,” the title of this exhibition—a survey of recent work by Michelle Gay, elegantly arranged by curator Marnie Fleming—may at first seem a reference to the digital technology present in most of the pieces. But such a coldly literal interpretation actually misses the point. The subject of a work like timer (swat), 2004, for example, is not computers, per se, but how we modern subjects interface with the world—the cultural systems by means of which we operate. A surprisingly intimate piece, the work features a collage-like digitally animated image of the artist

  • picks April 01, 2009

    Ian Carr-Harris

    A model of a church is displayed on a table in the gallery. Part of a work titled ‘église’ (figure) (‘church’ [figure]), 2009, this carefully crafted wooden object—the latest installment in Ian Carr-Harris’s ongoing “Paradigm” series of architectural replicas—performs a dutiful nod to professional standards of model-making, with glistening and evenly applied black-painted surfaces, clerestory windows, and a steeple that all may faithfully refer to a specific source (possibly of Francophone origin, given the title). But such thoughts are felt in tension with ambiguous details such as circular

  • Iris Häussler

    Iris Häussler’s installation He Named Her Amber, 2007–2009—an ongoing project at the Art Gallery of Ontario—is an ingenious deception. Visitors are under the impression that they are simply taking a guided “archaeological” tour of the Grange, Toronto’s oldest mansion (built in 1815) and the first home of the AGO’s collection; a glass doorway connects the Grange to the adjacent, newly renovated museum building. The tour guide spins an elaborate tale about a young Irish servant from Kilkenny, Mary O’Shea, who resided there and developed the curious habit of making objects out of beeswax and hiding

  • picks February 21, 2009

    Adam David Brown

    One of Adam David Brown’s achievements lies in his consistent ability to explore the expressive potential of highly reductive imagery. This exhibition features two colors—pink and white—and just a few shapes and letters. On entering the gallery, one is confronted by a mural-size drawing, Silence (all works 2009) that depicts the letters SHHHH. It is composed of Pink Pearl eraser applied arduously and directly to the wall using hundreds of diagonal strokes. The composition creates a palpable tension between a strongly evident labor process and an ephemeral medium that is conventionally used to

  • James Carl

    While a long-awaited midcareer survey of James Carl’s work was being held at three other Ontario venues this winter, the Diaz Contemporary show modestly offered five of the artist’s sculptures, all from a series titled “jalousie,” 2006– , a term used in France and Germany to designate venetian blinds (and, in the former, jealousy). In a manner reminiscent of chair caning or basket weaving, Carl arduously plaits metal slats from these window treatments into elegant biomorphic shapes.

    The artist’s painstaking process of testing his material’s tensile limits is especially evident in jalousie (

  • Scott Lyall

    “THE COLOR BALL”—Scott Lyall’s most ambitious exhibition to date—might be seen as a culminating event for a young conceptualist whose oeuvre has been increasingly recognized for its formally sophisticated resistance to the workings of the culture industry. Curated by the Power Plant’s director, Gregory Burke, the show took the form of a single installation resembling an entertainment venue or stage set, seen before a performance or a fete of some kind. This condition of anticipation lent a feeling of temporal displacement to a display that did not contain “finished” products. Rotating

  • “The Quick and the Dead”

    Central to the modernist project has been a methodical questioning of our basic assumptions about the nature of the universe, which this show positions specifically in relation to contemporaneous scientific research on phenomena such as the big bang and black holes.

    Central to the modernist project has been a methodical questioning of our basic assumptions about the nature of the universe, which this show positions specifically in relation to contemporaneous scientific research on phenomena such as the big bang and black holes. In turn, fundamental existential and metaphysical questions—What is space? What is time?—are reposed by artists and philosophers alike, opening up radically new perspectives on knowledge and experience. Unusual in its historical breadth, with more than eighty works from 1933 to the present, the show is accompanied

  • picks November 21, 2008

    Spring Hurlbut

    Set in a darkened room, Spring Hurlbut’s hypnotic video Airborne (all works 2008) begins with a woman wearing a mask—presumably for protection from toxic chemicals—gently removing the lid from a container. Its dusty contents waft through the air. One might first associate this dispersal of hazardous particles with a terrorist act, such as 9/11 or a letter laced with anthrax powder. However, after instigating this smoky event, the woman leaves the scene. Her absence suggests a laboratory space in which rates of evaporation or combustion are recorded by the camera’s cold and objective gaze. This