David Velasco

  • picks October 26, 2006

    Katy Moran

    Young British painter Katy Moran was introduced to New York audiences last summer through three tantalizing, mysterious contributions to “A Broken Arm,” Mari Spirito’s smart group show at 303 Gallery. The artist’s inaugural solo exhibition presents more of the same and is all the better for it. Twelve small abstractions, Moran’s paintings are short, spirited essays on gesture, offering swirls and collisions of thick, quick, and rich brushstrokes of color. The paintings are often densest at their centers—small hurricanes of acrylic articulating only the briefest whispers and shadows of forms,

  • diary October 06, 2006

    Tropical Punch

    New York

    Tuesday’s unveiling of the latest installation of “Tropicália,” a traveling exhibition of Brazilian art inaugurating the new Arquitectonica-designed wing of the Bronx Museum of the Arts, was greeted with much pomp and circumstance, including a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring Mayor Bloomberg. But I missed all that. Instead, I ducked in just before the preview’s official closing time, finding myself alone with international art intelligentsia Okwui Enwezor, Louise Neri, and “Tropicália” guest curator Carlos Basualdo. “Not everything is working just yet,” Basualdo apologized, but he needn’t have

  • Philippe Decrauzat

    Having first encountered Swiss artist Philippe Decrauzat through his Komakino, 2006—a Joy Division–inspired “wall decal” installed in “War on 45 / My Mirrors Are Painted Black (For You),” Banks Violette’s recent curatorial endeavor at Bortolami Dayan—I approached his concurrent New York solo debut at the Swiss Institute–Contemporary Art with trepidation. Komakino struck me as balancing precariously between formally interesting and—in the context of a show whose principal enterprise seemed to involve negotiating tensions between masculinity and bourgeois hipness—glibly fashionable, and I wondered

  • picks September 18, 2006

    B. Wurtz

    My neighbor often chides me for taking plastic bags from the grocery store. “Why not bring a bag with you, or get a cart? Why all this waste?” she asks. If I were B. Wurtz, all this lousy, daily excess wouldn’t be waste, it would be material for tantalizing, frail sculptures and assemblages. Wurtz is the sort of artist who makes me question my visual palate—I can’t quite decide if his objects are beautiful or ugly, elegant poems or childish flotsam. But such ambivalence is also part of their appeal. Another artist might coax these trash-bin things into sublime objects that transcend their humble

  • picks September 11, 2006

    Jim Lambie

    Who would have guessed that ceramic sculptures of birds (especially ones reproduced, many times their original size, from personal knickknacks) could transcend both Pop and the flighty world of pastoral kitsch? Executed with equal parts flair and restraint, Scottish artist Jim Lambie’s paean to the slow break of morning is sly and poetic, using unpretentious materials to achieve thrilling ends. In the gallery’s small back room, settled atop Chops, 2002/2006, a simple, impeccable floor installation comprising crisscrosses of black vinyl tape, Lambie has organized three large sculptures into a

  • picks September 11, 2006

    David Joselit and Gareth James

    In preparation for “Late Night Legal Formalities,” a unique collaboration between British artist Gareth James and art historian David Joselit, James requested that Joselit view each of Elizabeth Dee Gallery’s exhibitions in 2005 and produce a short text in response. Joselit chose to deliver his contribution as an informal e-mail, which James has redeployed here as subtitles to the first chapter of Lars von Trier’s film Manderlay (2005). The cacophonous relationship between the movie’s own dialogue and Joselit’s remarks is both humorous and irritating, underlining the often-frustrating differend

  • “Dereconstruction”

    A grotesque neologism, the title of “Dereconstruction,” Matthew Higgs’s recent curatorial effort for Gladstone Gallery, was—according to the catalogue essay—both “a hybrid term, one that conflates notions of ‘construction,’ ‘reconstruction,’ ‘deconstruction,’ and ‘destruction,’” and a reference to “The New Reconstructions,” Pace Gallery’s 1979 exhibition of work by Lucas Samaras. It was surely no accident, then, that Samaras’s patterned fabric patchwork Reconstruction #41, 1978—hung on the far wall of a room adjoining the reception gallery—was the first work one noticed on entering Higgs’s show.

  • diary August 30, 2006

    Indian Summer

    Brooklyn

    “No one’s wearing a bathing suit in this weather,” groaned Julie Atlas Muz, the miraculously upbeat MC of last Saturday night’s benefit for Sens Production at Williamsburg’s McCarren Park Pool. Gray skies and a broken L train may have foiled the kickoff swimwear competition, but the evening ahead still promised musical performances by Worange Drexler and DJ Spooky, along with sneak previews of Agora II, a site-specific “choreographic game for one thousand bodies” orchestrated by Sens Production director and 2004 Whitney Biennial participant Noémie Lafrance.

    Prior to his set, I found Spooky

  • picks July 24, 2006

    Heather Rowe

    The first thing you’ll notice is a vicious blade of glass placed menacingly at eye level. It’s impossible not to imagine running into it. The remainder of Heather Rowe’s Green Desert (all works 2006)—a deconstructed, freestanding hallway built from broken floorboard, drywall, elaborate frames, mirror, and shag carpet—offers a sophisticated interrogation of architecture’s coercive psychological effects. Along the top of each of the sculpture’s walls, contiguous with the aforementioned shard, runs a long pane of darkened, mirrored glass. Simultaneously acting as reflector and window,

  • diary July 23, 2006

    Strange Magic

    New York

    I grew up with the occult—matronly “aunts” introducing me to the teachings of Aleister Crowley and pagan activist Starhawk and stores with names like Moonshadow and Mother Earth Magick. Now, years after laying aside the mysteries of runes, tarot, and numerology, I found myself summoned to the East Village for Tuesday night’s preview of “Strange Powers,” Creative Time’s fantastical group show (named after a Magnetic Fields song) exploring supernatural transformation. Creative Time’s Peter Eleey and the New Museum’s Laura Hoptman, the exhibition’s curators, both share a conviction that “art

  • picks June 30, 2006

    Cosima von Bonin

    It takes a medium to decipher “Relax, It’s Only a Ghost,” Cologne-based Cosima von Bonin’s blithely titled solo show, but most visitors will divine at least a few interesting signs among the artist’s elusive arrangements. Sidling past the oblique Mr. Burger (all works 2006), a shuttered food cart painted with a tropical sunset, and The Beyond, a curved, black-lacquer-bounded blip of a stairwell, one enters the gallery’s main room, where three larger-than-life stuffed animals stand on short pedestals. A set of stairs lends access to the middle of three scaffolds; climbing them reveals nothing,

  • picks June 15, 2006

    Lawrence Robbin

    Thirty years ago, young flâneur Lawrence Robbin spent a year hooked on Los Angeles, using his Leica CL to cut clean, elegant snapshots from the urban landscape. For roughly five months, Robbin and his friend Ben Pleasants, then arts editor of the Los Angeles Vanguard, prowled the streets, meeting writers and frequenting the haunts of a city already immortalized by the eccentric characters of the celluloid age. But except for a few tender portraits of Charles Bukowski—hovering throughout this assemblage like a genial father—the photos on view here depict a Los Angeles far removed from

  • picks June 12, 2006

    Kara Hearn

    Sometimes bad students turn in the best work. When Berkeley-based artist Kara Hearn responded to “Learning to Love You More” assignment #47—“Reenact a scene from a movie that made someone else cry”—she left out the part about “someone else” and focused instead on moments that made her cry. This minor infidelity kept LTLYM’s proprietors from posting Hearn’s videos to their website, but when site cofounder Harrell Fletcher was offered the opportunity to curate a selection of videos at small A projects, he decided to give them a public viewing. Starring the young, blonde artist slipping in

  • picks May 22, 2006

    Jenny Holzer

    One canvas reproduces an Iraqi civilian’s handwritten plea for the release of his father and brother; another presents an epistolary petition from a father requesting his son’s honorable discharge. There’s the FBI’s infamous “Phoenix memo” and, elsewhere, a series of internal military correspondences regarding a “Wish List” of “Alternative Interrogation Techniques.” Jenny Holzer’s latest show, a survey of sensitive US government documents silk-screened onto linen canvases, offers a wrenching snapshot of the discursive girders and casualties (both textual and corporeal) of state violence. With

  • picks May 05, 2006

    “Constructing New Berlin”

    I can’t imagine a starker contrast to Phoenix than Berlin. Sun-bleached and sprawling, the recently anointed “fifth largest city in the US” is actively hostile to density—residential or cultural—as it unfurls in a steady colonization of the desert. Impressively, this exhibition, curated by Brady Roberts, builds bridges while tearing down a few walls. Opening with two different takes on the term “construction”—Frank Thiel’s cluttered, color-pocked photos of Berlin’s urban landscape in medias res and a video of artist Swetlana Heger getting dolled up for her series “Playtime”—the show reverberates

  • diary April 28, 2006

    Total Bequest Live

    New York

    A line was already forming outside Andrea Rosen Gallery when I arrived a half-hour early for Monday night’s first-come-first-serve “3rd Rail Revisited—An Evening of Al Hansen Performance.” The event, organized by Hansen’s daughter Bibbe in collaboration with Gracie Mansion Fine Art, drew an eclectic crowd; boho-affected youth mingled with “friends from Connecticut” in tweeds and ribbed pastels. The gallery eventually reached capacity, with over one hundred attendees waiting to be touched by the spirit of the late Fluxus artist, who died in 1995.

    With a solo show in Rosen’s project space, a

  • picks April 20, 2006

    “View Nine: I Love My Scene/Scene 3”

    For the last of the gallery’s three “View Nine: I Love My Scene” shows, guest curator José Freire has corralled several emerging and established artists to explore resonances of the word “scene.” While the past two exhibitions were contextualized by Weegee’s snapshots, Cecil Beaton’s documentation of upper-crust society, and Roberta Bayley’s tender band portraits, the final show is framed by two visions of the erotic: Gary Lee Boas’s candid photos of New York’s early-’80s sex underground and Paul P.’s wistful watercolors of boys that look like they were born from the seedbed of Dennis Cooper’s

  • picks March 24, 2006

    Danny Lyon

    While the gallery’s claim that the fifty-eight photos on view here “have never been published” may be misleading, this newest retrospective of Danny Lyon’s venturous photojournalism offers a welcome opportunity to review the career of one of the field’s most engaging artists. Years before Larry Clark profiled wanton American youth in Tulsa, Lyon was interpolating himself into biker clubs and prison complexes to gather snapshots of America’s frequently elided social groups. Some of the previously published images benefit from their inclusion in a broader survey; a wider crop of Roberta—A

  • picks March 17, 2006

    Christian Holstad

    Even before entering Christian Holstad's latest show at this Daniel Reich Gallery outpost, everything—the reproduction of a chapter from Larry Townsend's 1972 Leatherman's Handbook that acts as a program; the Chashama-foraged retail space recalling Claes Oldenburg's The Store, 1961; the Love Story–inspired exhibition title “Love Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry”—proves the artist is an excessive cultural scavenger. Once you’ve pushed through Confessional (Revolving Door), 2006, and into the dilapidated, caliginous former deli, further references abound: more Oldenberg cognates

  • picks March 16, 2006

    Trenton Doyle Hancock

    Elaborating on his onanistic patriarch Homerbuctas in Me a Mound, 2006, a catalogue released to accompany the artist's latest New York solo show, Trenton Doyle Hancock writes that the character “has an eye for beauty, but knows no moderation.” The same could be said for the artist, who has once again transposed his dynamic inner world onto the gallery walls in a humorous cyclone of obscurantist folklore. In the front room the outstretched Vegan Arm, 2006, greets the viewer with a pail of Pepto-Bismol, offering either a generous gesture of relief or a silent jussive to get to work. The artist's