Dan Adler

  • 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

  • Kelly Richardson

    In this exhibition, Kelly Richardson toyed with the limits of photography and video while playing with the notion of the manufactured landscape. The photographs Scene Setter #3 and Scene Setter #4 (both 2008), for example, depict lush picturesque lakes bordered by trees in an environment imbued with the artificial (the perspective appears slightly askew; the blue sky so flat and unmodulated as to imply digital enhancement). Unfortunately, however, the images are too subtly manipulated to stray far from a sentimental postcard aesthetic.

    Scene Setter #1 and Scene Setter #2 (both 2008), however,

  • Geoffrey Farmer

    Geoffrey Farmer’s video The Fountain People, 2008, consists of footage of a fountain located in front of an escalator, most likely in an upscale shopping center. While waiting for some narrative to commence, and perhaps for the titular characters to appear, one must make do with the banal sight of spouting water, the dull glow of lights underwater, and the sedating stream of Muzak. In the accompanying installation, the two typewritten pages affixed to the wall provide little interpretive guidance but allude to strange aquatic forces that covertly watch, surround, and transform in ways analogous

  • Paulette Phillips

    ENTREZ LENTEMENT. That warning is accompanied, in Paulette Phillips’s prints Knock Knock One, Two, and Three (all works 2008), by images of overlapping photographs depicting a building’s interior. Blurred details and small holes in each of these suggest that they are snapshots—perhaps once pinned to a studio wall—that have been scanned and enlarged against colored paper. Typical of the artist’s pictures, the work combines enticing visual features—in this instance, a shiny surface and collage aesthetic—with an ambiguous narrative.

    An association between domestic architecture and the uncanny is

  • picks May 16, 2008

    Yvonne Singer

    The title of Yvonne Singer’s installation, Signs of Life; an intimate portrait of someone I don’t know, 2008, may at first seem misplaced, as the piece is mostly composed of numerical and bureaucratic documentation. The value of Singer’s project resides in the capacity of this impersonal information to speak to the patient viewer on emotive, aesthetic, and metaphoric levels.

    Affixed to one wall are three long rows of hand-rendered charts that laboriously trace medication use over the course of over ten years. Scrawled at the top of several of the graph-paper sheets is the word PREDNISONE, a

  • picks May 13, 2008

    Arnaud Maggs

    Arnaud Maggs’s series “Contamination,” 2007, consists of photographs of water-damaged pages from an aged ledger book. The exhibited images contain no recorded transactions. Given this lack of information, the marks that are present on the delicately frayed paper take on metaphoric values that are surprisingly rich. This semantic wealth is made possible in part because Maggs has enlarged the book spreads to a scale conducive to the detailed and respectful viewing of an artifact that has obviously suffered.

    Each picture features a pair of facing pages with images that mirror each other: straight