Daniel Culpan

  • View of “A Making of Ghosts,” 2023.
    picks May 08, 2023

    Kudzanai-Violet Hwami

    In “A Making of Ghosts,” Kudzanai-Violet Hwami plays with scale and perspective to collapse emotional states. In Murikishi (all works 2023), one image of a sleeping man appears superimposed over another; each is naked, lounging with legs spread. The fleshy tones are choppy and halting, the paint’s texture mimicking a kind of digital malfunction. Hanging to the left, a smaller canvas, Stan 4, depicts a man in profile. Both works are set against a wallpapered monochrome photograph of the back of a man’s head. By layering the images, Hwami pierces moments of privacy with the invasiveness of the

  • Penny Slinger, The Larval Worm, 1969/2014, C-print from original collage, 16 × 11 7⁄8".

    Helen Chadwick and Penny Slinger

    In “On Sexuality,” the pioneering early art of Helen Chadwick and Penny Slinger took double-barreled aim at consumer society’s reproduction of traditional gender roles. Dating mostly from the late 1960s and the ’70s, the photographs and videos on display exploded stereotypes of mass-marketed femininity.

    Slinger’s preferred method is the photomontage. Prints from her landmark work, 50% The Visible Woman, 1969—published in 1971—were displayed throughout the gallery. They suffuse female sexuality with flashes of body horror. In The Larval Worm, 1969/2014, the art-ist poses nearly naked with

  • Martyn Cross, A Tomb for Immortal Ascension, 2022, oil on unstretched canvas, 6' 11 3⁄4" × 10' 2 5⁄8".

    Martyn Cross

    If the artist’s vocation is to be disciplined and solitary, alone with their tormenting visions, then what better model than Saint Anthony? The monastic figure in the desert, besieged by the devil’s temptations, has proved fertile subject matter for both artists and writers, from Matthias Grünewald to Leonora Carrington, the latter of whom came to that subject by way of Gustave Flaubert’s 1874 prose poem, illustrated by Odilon Redon.

    It was Flaubert’s work that served as the inspiration for Martyn Cross’s recent “O happiness! happiness!” In fifteen oils on canvas, the artist invoked a sequence

  • Garrett Bradley, Safe, 2022, HD video, color, sound, 20 minutes.

    Garrett Bradley

    Garrett Bradley’s Safe, 2022, submerged the viewer within a stream of perceptions through which the disorder of the outside world continuously inflects one’s inner space. Can safety ever be more than a transient state? What does being safe feel like, and what other feelings can it induce and exclude? These were some of the questions raised by Bradley’s three-channel video installation, a piece in which the peripheral becomes central, and surfaces, dripping with visceral suggestion, leaves the viewer beguiled and unsettled.

    The work—the second in a trilogy exploring female interiority—opens with

  • Keith Cunningham, Two Hanging Chickens, 1956, 35 7⁄8 × 27 3⁄8".

    Keith Cunningham

    Keith Cunningham’s paintings are exercises in inscrutability. In art as in life, the Australian-born artist was driven by private obsessions and a desire for obscurity. Stashed in a spare room until Cunningham’s death in 2014, the seventy-plus oils on canvas or board featured in “The Cloud of Witness” are dense with macabre moods and ever-lurking violence.

    With a background in graphic design (Cunningham left school at fifteen to work in the advertising department of premier Sydney retailer David Jones), the artist fled the sunniness of his homeland for the bleak landscapes of postwar London.

  • View of “Lonnie Holley,” 2022. From left: Hung Out III, 2020; Still Busted Without Arms, 2019. Photo: Andy Keate.

    Lonnie Holley

    You can learn a lot about a culture from what it chooses to throw away. In “The Growth of Communication,” Lonnie Holley attempted a subtle yet profound act of salvage, repurposing discarded materials to create a counterhistorical archive of silenced voices and dispossessed lives.

    Born in 1950 in Birmingham, Alabama—a center for heavy industry in a former Confederate slave state brutalized by Jim Crow laws—Holley is both witness and translator of the Deep South’s fractious legacy. During a residency earlier this year in Orford Ness, a stretch of coastline in Suffolk, UK, the artist traced the

  • Rachel Rose, Colore (1820), 2022, pigment and metallic powders on ink-jet print, 13 1⁄4 × 19 5⁄8".

    Rachel Rose

    Capitalism profits from the very things it takes away from us. As Rachel Rose’s “Enclosure” suggested, our present climate crisis has been a long time coming. Interweaving film, sculpture, photography, and painting, the show took its name from the process of privatization of England’s common land from the twelfth century onward. The works reflected on the tangled history of property ownership and ecological decline, and on art’s own role in both the mystification of the natural world and its bourgeois consumption.

    The 2019 high-definition video that lent the exhibition its title is styled, at

  • View of “Rashaad Newsome,” 2022. Photo: Stephanie Berger.

    Rashaad Newsome

    For “Assembly,” Rashaad Newsome boldly transformed the Park Avenue Armory into a multisensory video game-cum-twenty-first-century reboot of Paris Is Burning. With the show’s title nodding toward a collective politics of radical reimagination, the cavernous Wade Thompson Drill Hall became the stage set for a pair of videos that immersed the viewer. Screened simultaneously across the walls of the 55,000-square-foot space, these works cascaded and pulsed, creating a fluid and hypnotic procession of brash shapes and bodies in motion.

    In Cornrow, 2022, a dancer—his bright yellow hair matching his

  • Dorota Gawęda and Eglė Kulbokaitė, Seasons (caa9fb36da5d789d55a6e4e33611), 2022, gesso and digital print transfer on canvas framed in aluminium, 32 x 39 3/4 x 1 1/2"
    picks April 27, 2022

    Dorota Gawęda and Eglė Kulbokaitė

    The technology behind notorious “deepfakes,” generative adversarial networks (GANs) are essentially robot artists: two neural networks pitted against each other to generate copies of data. For their exhibition “Counting Seasons,” the Basel-based artist duo Dorota Gawęda and Eglė Kulbokaitė use these networks to manipulate images, transferring digital prints directly onto aluminum-framed canvases. The results are bewitching distortions of nature endowed with a glitchy urgency. Pixel Plot Squatter (1bba13785edc9e257113a44ac796), 2022, resembles a metallic flower, serrated petals blooming from a

  • Nicholas Hlobo, Elizeni Ienkanyiso, 2021, acrylic,  ribbons on linen and cotton canvas, 51 x 51 x 2."
    picks March 31, 2022

    Nicholas Hlobo

    In the exhibition “Elizeni Ienkanyiso” (Xhosa for “On the Wave of Enlightenment”), the South African artist Nicholas Hlobo breathes life into a bestiary of animal forms, emblems of both instinct and survival. In the show’s titular painting (all works 2021), stripes of thick yellow and maroon acrylic surf across the circular canvas, which the artist has further embellished with tentaclelike ribbons stitched into the surface. They unfurl in pinks and dark greens, endowing the composition with an undeniable sense of propulsion, as if it were perched on the crest of a wave.

    On the opposite wall, two

  • Rachel Jones, SMIIILLLLEEEE, 2021, oil pastel and oil stick on canvas, 63 × 98 3⁄8".

    Rachel Jones

    What’s in a smile? A blissed-out revelation of teeth? A flirtatious curve unloosed from language? An arc of ambivalence drawn through a face? In Rachel Jones’s exhibition “SMIIILLLLEEEE,” the Essex, UK–based artist enjoined the viewer to read the mouth as a place where identities (racial, cultural) are spoken and silenced.

    The opening room featured two large-scale canvases (each roughly five by eight feet) that exploded from the wall in monumental bouquets of intense color. Taking their name from the show’s title (as did all the pieces) and dated 2021, they were profusions of diffuse abstract

  • 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