Daniel Culpan

  • Karlo Kacharava, Perversion of Kings, 1993, oil on canvas, 47 1⁄4 × 39 1⁄4".

    Karlo Kacharava

    Georgian artist and writer Karlo Kacharava was feverishly prolific. A polymathic figure living in Tbilisi of the late 1980s and early ’90s, he produced paintings, essays, poetry, and art criticism as if possessed by some secret knowledge that his would be a short life: He died in 1994 of an aneurysm at the age of thirty.

    “People and Places,” curated by Sanya Kantarovsky and Scott Portnoy, offered a glimpse into Kacharava’s idiosyncratic visual universe, full of spirited melancholy and fervid discipline. He assimilated a dizzying range of enthusiasms—from Georgian art history to rock music, Futurism

  • Leon Kossoff, King’s Cross, March Afternoon, 1998, oil on board, 58 1⁄8 × 78".

    Leon Kossoff

    A key figure of the London School, Leon Kossoff (1926–2019) captures the life force of the British capital—his birthplace and lifelong muse—in all its dolorous splendor. Never has a palette perhaps best described as “shades of gloom” (the dried-blood reds and rusts of postwar Victorian tenements, the gray-brown murk of the Thames) seemed so vigorous.

    Surveying six decades of production and organized together with Mitchell-Innes & Nash in New York and L.A. Louver in Los Angeles, “A Life in Painting” opens with a series of Kossoff’s portraits. The pigment is built up in dense, sludgy layers, daubed

  • Robert Rauschenberg, Stone Lady Radial (Phantom), 1991, silkscreen ink on anodised mirrored aluminum, 73 x 49 1/2".
    picks July 13, 2021

    Robert Rauschenberg

    In “Night Shades and Phantoms,” the romance of American capitalism is evoked as a kind of ghost story: a terminal empire of signs and portents. The two eponymous series of paintings, both made in 1991, feature photographs of urban life silk-screened onto sheets of mirrored metal. The “Phantoms” capture the city, teeming, clamorous, and full of visual noise, in X-ray-like flashes. In Boundary, we see laundry strung outside of a South Carolina tenement and people clustered around a DO NOT ENTER sign. Rauschenberg summons a kind of hazy desuetude in Florida Reservoir, with its scorched palms, fire

  • Christina Quarles, Sweet Chariot, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 72 × 96".

    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, Untitled, Alabama, 1956, pigment print, 20 × 24". From the series “Segregation in the South,” 1956. Courtesy of The Gordon Parks Foundation, New York and Alison Jacques Gallery, London. © The Gordon Parks Foundation.

    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

  • Jack Whitten, Birth Of An Enigma, 1964, oil on canvas with burlap collage, 50 x 84 x 1".
    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, Fear, 1946, oil on canvas, 42 × 58".

    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, Memory Lost, 2019, 4K video, color, sound, 24 minutes 16 seconds.

    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

  • View of Gordon Cheung’s “Tears of Paradise,” 2020.
    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, Coenties Slip Studio, 1961, oil on canvas and shaped hardboard, 34 × 43".

    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”

  • Leyla Cardenas, El final de otro comienzo, 2019.
    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

  • Richard Hamilton, Study for ‘Lux 50’—I, 1976, collage on photograph, 9 3/4 x 9 3/4".
    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