Daniel Culpan

  • Christina Quarles

    What is pandemic life but a reminder that we’re all bodies stuck in time and space? In Christina Quarles’s solo show “I Won’t Fear Tumbling or Falling/If We’ll be Joined in Another World,” the artist attempted to capture the warped conditions of our new reality—the claustrophobia and disembodiment, the longing to touch—in nine new paintings, all created between March and September of this past year.

    Quarles’s strange, fleshy forms are both recognizably human and not. Their elongated, bone-thin extremities recall Giacometti: attenuated bodies at the edge of existence. Yet here they seem to have

  • Gordon Parks

    Gordon Parks (1912–2006) made an indelible mark on American life. It marked him, too. Born into a poor Black family in segregated Kansas, Parks saw the brutality of racial strife early on: He almost drowned, at age eleven, after a group of white boys threw him into a river. Pinballing through various jobs in flophouses and brothels, he bought his first camera at the age of twenty-five. His 1948 documentary photos of a Harlem gang war for Life magazine made him a household name; later he pioneered the blaxploitation movie genre by directing Shaft (1971). This first installment of a two-part show

  • picks June 09, 2020

    Arshile Gorky and Jack Whitten

    Arshile Gorky and Jack Whitten were both exiles who saw painting as a place. Gorky’s family fled the Armenian genocide when he was a child, eventually settling in New York City in 1920. Whitten, an African American born in segregated Alabama, inevitably experienced color as a more punitive index. Both artists suffused their work with a tension between the rural and the city as a space of self-reinvention, creating vivid sense impressions as buoyant and evanescent as butterflies in a net.

    Despite the generation gap—Gorky took his own life in 1948; Whitten began painting in the early ’60s—these

  • Hans Hofmann

    Shown in the United Kingdom for the first time, the nine works collected in “Fury: Painting after The War” serve as a dark corrective to Hans Hofmann’s perceived image: the colorist whose Tetris-like blocks of melting intensity heralded him as a key figure of Abstract Expressionism. (His drip paintings prefigured Jackson Pollock’s.)

    Here, Hofmann emerges as an artist of unreconciled energies. Born in Germany in 1880, he studied art in Munich before moving in 1904 to Paris, where he lived for the next decade. In the 1930s, Hofmann landed in New York, via the vitamin-infused climes of California.

  • Nan Goldin

    I first discovered Nan Goldin’s work when I was a teenager. Her slideshow The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, 1986–, was a passport to a damaged fairy tale. Her camera lens was a magic mirror that inverted the values of the straight suburban world: ugliness as beauty, the profane rendered sacred.

    Like Andy Warhol, Goldin inhabits a downtown world of junkies, drag queens, artists, and prostitutes, bearing witness to their lives with her cool gaze. Unlike Diane Arbus’s images, with their passing flashes of empathy, Goldin’s portraits are of her people. In documenting her adopted family, Goldin’s

  • picks February 11, 2020

    Gordon Cheung

    “Tears of Paradise” traces the fault lines of China’s cracked map of utopia. (Note the ambiguous title: rupture as cause for trauma or joy?) Gordon Cheung’s six new paintings offer an empty and deceptively beamish bird’s-eye view of the country via satellite shots printed onto collaged business newspaper, then thickly encrusted with sand and acrylic. In String of Pearls (all works 2020), China’s army bases form the gleaming jewels in its geopolitical crown. Electric sunrises break over mountains to suggest new horizons, while neighboring India cools in the paranoid shadow of possible military

  • James Rosenquist

    Has there been a more falsely idealized decade than the 1960s? Mass consumerism, the collapse of “high” and “low” art, celebrity worship: All seem a prelude to today’s blank monoculture. Pop art trademarked the zeitgeist with an instant visual vocabulary—from Andy Warhol’s soup cans to Roy Lichtenstein’s comic-strip teardrops—endlessly recycled in the amnesiac twenty-first century.

    James Rosenquist (1933–2017) was a jolting outlier. Though he ran with the same New York crowd as Robert Rauschenberg and Warhol (who once called Rosenquist his favorite artist), he’s eluded the same level of “brand”

  • diary September 24, 2019

    Blurred Lines

    WHERE IS THE LINE between ideas and feelings? I dwelled on this blur when I arrived in Bogotá—an eleven-hour hop from London—to plunge straight into ARTBO 2019, the city’s fifteenth international art fair. The short-circuiting effects of jet lag, plus Bogotá’s infamous soroche, left me drifting between the booths, yet I quickly found this porousness mirrored in the fair itself, which showcased contemporary art from across South America. Certain themes began to emerge across the Corferias convention center: border crossings, loopholes in consensual reality (both political and bodily), counter-narratives

  • picks August 12, 2019

    “New Order: Art, Product, Image 1976–1995”

    “New Order: Art, Product, Image 1976–1995” surveys two seismic decades in British culture when style collided with substance and pop was art. The era was born from the two-fingered musical salute of punk. Karen Knorr and Olivier Richon’s photographic series “Punks,” 1976–77, captures the subculture in all its stylish spleen. Club promoter and style icon Philip Sallon grins in black lipstick next to a swastika-buttoned hellraiser; DIY outfits stitch together a silk-screened Karl Marx and the Union Jack. A few years later, in the spirit of English Warholism, graphic designer Peter Saville bridged

  • Emma Hart

    Emma Hart’s “BANGER,” a presentation of works commissioned in 2018 for Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket Gallery, was a joyride through strange psychological weather. The artist has adopted the car, that mobile extension of the self, as the vehicle, so to speak, for her meditations on the ways in which we navigate our own identities and the world around us. Through a series of jump cuts and careening swerves, Hart reveals the eye as no objective reader of signs, but rather a speeding maniac—erratic and split-second impulsive.

    Four double-sided planar ceramic sculptures on steel legs stood on the floor like

  • Kris Lemsalu

    Kris Lemsalu staged our passage from womb to tomb as a drama of bewilderment, full of improbable ecstasies and strange metamorphoses. In three installations, each occupying its own room in the Estonian artist’s exhibition “4LIFE,” viewers could feel Lemsalu pushing at the squishy, shifting membrane between the fantastic and the quotidian, as they were guided—as if by some sense-deranging shaman on an LSD-induced rebirthing trip—through the milestones of existence and the shared struggle for meaning.

    In HOLY HELL O (all works 2018), psychedelically colored mannequins plunged like Olympic divers

  • picks December 03, 2018

    Sheida Soleimani

    In “Medium of Exchange,” Sheida Soleimani dramatizes the play of domination and dependence between the US and oil-rich nations. Featuring an array of actors in caricature masks, her photographic collages are a visual assault: shock-and-awe metaphors megaphoned through a punky, DIY aesthetic. Laying bare the amoral, transactional ties between the establishment and OPEC figureheads, Soleimani choreographs a pornography of cronyism and corruption—the money shot, in this case, being geysers of crude oil.

    In a disheveled hotel room, Jimmy Carter and the UAE petroleum minister are caught in flagrante