Emily LaBarge

  • Prunella Clough, Disused Land, 1999, oil on canvas, 53 × 49".

    Prunella Clough

    Prunella Clough—Pru to her friends, or sometimes Pruny—liked “paintings that say a small thing rather edgily,” as she told the Picture Post in 1949, when she was interviewed alongside her notable peers of the day, among them Robert Colquhoun, Patrick Heron, and Keith Vaughan. She was just thirty, but her succinct articulation of artistic aims already hinted at what would be a lifelong painterly commitment: “Whatever the theme, it is the nature and structure of an object—that, and seeing it as if it were strange and unfamiliar, which is my chief concern.” So “edgily” as in: wayward, askew,

  • Johanna Unzueta, Related to Myself, 2019–20, felt, thread, recycled wooden spools, burnt wood, dimensions variable.
    interviews March 11, 2020

    Johanna Unzueta

    Johanna Unzueta’s speech, lilting and melodic, is peppered with one of art’s most taboo words: beautiful. And yet it suits to a tee her capacious and interdisciplinary practice, one that transmutes—through delicate material sleights—the ordinary into the surprising, and by turns dazzling. A huge chain, made from thick cuts of gray felt, unfurls from the ceiling, each oversized link fragile yet tough, warped just slightly at the edges; a set of pale ochre and blue-striped uniforms hang mutely on a clothing rack; wall drawings in charcoal and bronze dip in and out of corners, ladder up and down

  • Zineb Sedira, Don’t do to her what you did to me, 1998–2001, video, color, sound, 8 minutes.

    Zineb Sedira

    Zineb Sedira’s film mise-en-scène, 2019, opens with a text reading, “In June 2018, after a visit to the Cinémathèque of Algiers archive, I decided to browse in bric-à-brac shops. . . . I discovered two canisters containing fragments of worn 60s, 70’s and 80’s films. The vendor told me the canisters came from a retired projectionist . . . so I pieced the footage together to create my own film.” The result is roughly nine minutes of enigmatic footage, spliced together and colorfully tinted, that ranges from scenes of daily life in Algeria to abstract rhythmic patterns produced by the decay of the

  • Andrea Büttner, Deutsche Bundesbank Dining Room, 2019, cardboard, book-binding linen, 8 1⁄4 × 29 3⁄4 × 20 7⁄8".

    Andrea Büttner

    High overhead in the blue, barrel-vaulted firmament: potatoes. Painted, not real. Of the versatile tuber, Andrea Büttner has said they are “what maybe Duchamp would have called a ‘prime word.’ Within art there are forms that can be poo, or bread, or a potato, so they are kind of ambiguous primal shapes.”And here they were, on the gallery ceiling, twinkling, transubstantiated spuds in a field of precious ultramarine. “We have,” they seemed to say with a knowing wink, “transcended our earthly stature.” Büttner’s work has long been invested in probing theologically inflected binaries (high and low,

  • Moyra Davey, i confess, 2019, HD video, color, sound, 56 minutes 46 seconds.

    Moyra Davey

    It’s unusual to find oneself on a London evening immersed in French Canadian politics of the 1960s and ’70s, but this was where Moyra Davey’s new film, i confess, 2019, placed me. I felt like I had been jettisoned from the streets of Kennington back to Ottawa, where I spent my childhood, or to Montreal, where Davey spent hers. These cities are shaped by conflicts of inheritance, origin, ownership, identity, and language—primarily French and/or/versus English. Much of i confess (which takes its title from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1953 film of the same name) is filmed, like many of Davey’s works, inside

  • Louise Bourgeois, Legs, 1986, rubber, each 10' 3“ × 2” × 2".

    “Unconscious Landscape”

    As it turns out, one of Ursula Hauser’s favorite pieces in her extensive collection of modern and contemporary art is mine, too. Louise Bourgeois’s Legs, 1986, closed “Unconscious Landscape: Works from the Ursula Hauser Collection,” hanging simply and solemnly by the exit. Legs they are, and in Bourgeois’s customarily uncanny and discomfiting style, they are made strange—made of black rubber, impossibly straight and slender, more than ten feet long, here hovering just above the ground. Bourgeois was the linchpin of “Unconscious Landscape,” with works in almost all five rooms. Central to her

  • Betty Parsons, The Queen of the Circus, 1973, acrylic on canvas, 68 1/2 x 36 1/2". © The Betty Parsons Foundation.
    picks October 22, 2019

    Betty Parsons

    What to write, in this jewel-size space, of Betty Parsons’s riotous, jewel-hued paintings, or of her vibrant driftwood assemblages? Of her tender and modest marker drawings, her sketchbooks with playful self-portraits and hasty notes to self, which belie the enormity of her life?

    Parsons is best known for her pioneering New York gallery, which launched the careers of many postwar American heavyweights: Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler, Agnes Martin, and Ad Reinhardt, among others. From early in life, however, she was also on the other side of the

  • View of “Prabhavathi Meppayil,” 2019. Foreground: sb/eighteen, 2018. Background, from left: l/hundred thirty six, 2018; l/hundred twenty eight, 2019.

    Prabhavathi Meppayil

    To gild is to transform, with intricate labor, the seemingly ordinary into the precious. Bangalore, India–based Prabhavathi Meppayil descends from a long line of goldsmiths, and she embeds the precise technical language of those craftspeople in her spare and stripped-back work, literally entrenching their processes in the work’s surfaces. Made of painstakingly applied layers of gesso, each of which takes hours to dry, her pieces feature the imprints of endless horizons of tiny geometric shapes made with a thinnam, an Indian goldsmithing tool traditionally used to embellish bangles. Many of the

  • Mandy El-Sayegh, Figured Ground (detail), 2019, mixed media, dimensions variable.
    picks May 18, 2019

    Mandy El-Sayegh

    The isle is full of noises. The room is filled with language, and language is complicated. Wordplay in some places—to crease, to cut, to fold, to spread, to state, two state, how 2 relate—quotes Richard Serra’s Verblist, 1967–68; only here, these statements suffuse the chest cavity of an anatomically drawn torso, Mutations in blue, white and red (actions to relate to oneself), 2019. Elsewhere, silk-screened across pages of the Financial Times that partially grid the walls and floor of the gallery, language commands or confronts: IS THE ISSUE WITH ME BEING I? Shhhhh. The Collection Is Hiding. WE

  • Alice Channer, Elon Musk, (detail), 2018, mirror polished stainless steel, accordion pleated hi-tech lamé; Echioceras Ammonite
fossil, 20 x 9 1/2 x 1".
    picks February 22, 2019

    “In the Labyrinth”

    A “red thread” is an East Asian myth about romantic destiny, a fungal disease of turf grasses, a computer-science algorithm, and a Dutch advocacy group for sex workers. It is also the tool used by Theseus to navigate the labyrinth of Cretan King Minos and slay the Minotaur within, a gift from Ariadne before he left her to die on an island far from home. A red thread can be many things, lead in all directions, come undone—a running theme to be followed.

    In this group exhibition, the red thread is Charlotte Higgins’s book Red Thread: On Mazes and Labyrinths (2018). The weave is studiously loose,