Emily Speers Mears

  • Daniel Lefcourt, Reversal of Fortune, 2004.
    picks October 05, 2004

    “Mystery Achievement”

    The artists in “Mystery Achievement” are all master showmen. As indicated by the exhibition's title, the four pieces on display are deceptive: Through impressive feats of sleight of hand, they make complexity look easy. Frank Benson's contribution, a life-size sculpture of a mutant Galapagos turtle, has a plaster-colored softness and a slight, seasick tilt. In place of flippers and head, casts of the artist's hands protrude from under the shell, gesturing with a poignant expressiveness that makes the absence of realistic limbs even more abject. Daniel Lefcourt offers up a gorgeous painting of

  • View of “Power, Corruption and Lies.”
    picks June 29, 2004

    “Power, Corruption and Lies”

    Like the 1983 New Order album from which its title is borrowed, “Power, Corruption and Lies” throbs with staccato anger. Each work has been selected by its curators, Adam McEwen and Neville Wakefield, with a precision that reinforces this sense of contained rage. A Rudolf Stingel wall-to-wall carpet introduces the show: Oil-slick black and spiky, it covers the entire floor and aggressively unbalances the room’s otherwise refined atmosphere. Similarly taut critiques reverberate throughout. In Nobuyoshi Araki's Untitled (The Imperial Family), 1973, the portrait is mottled as though directly

  • John Giorno, 2002.
    picks June 09, 2004

    John Giorno

    John Giorno’s short, brilliant trip of a poem for the Swiss Institute’s latest answering-machine "exhibition” evokes a strong sense of place—which is impressive, considering the disembodied nature of the work. The novelty of these telephonic shows (this is part two of an ongoing SI series) hasn’t worn off since Giorno came up with the concept of Dial-a-Poem in the '70s, and the convenience of not having to leave your home/office/beach house to hear his latest is as enormously appreciated as ever. But wherever you’re calling from, Giorno’s glorious, broad Noo Yoik accent places you smack-bang in

  • Farbtest, Die Rote Fahne II (Color Test, the Red Flag II), 2002.
    picks June 04, 2004

    Felix Gmelin

    While his distinctive methods of questioning historicity are already well established in Europe, this is Felix Gmelin's first exhibition in New York. His video installation Farbtest, Die Rote Fahne II (Color Test, the Red Flag II), 2002, shown to great acclaim at the last Venice Biennale, is now on view at Maccarone, Inc. alongside newer, equally thoughtful works. In one, Gmelin projects two found films—a 1974 propagandist documentary about Maoist education and a 1967 hippie celebration of the positive effects of drug use—but switches their soundtracks, conflating the two narratives

  • A God, 2004.
    picks May 25, 2004

    Ashley Bickerton

    Defining for itself a singular existence on the borders between sculpture and painting, and between narrative and its disruption, Ashley Bickerton’s startling recent work is made on wooden pallets that curve away from the wall and are carved with holes that allude to the perforated ozone layer and suggest the work's own potential disintegration. Bickerton binds worn objects found on the beach—flip-flops, Budweiser cans, a Johnson’s baby powder container—to these painting/sculpture combines. Nature’s more gracious creations—driftwood and skulls—creep through the holes. These things,

  • View of “Josh Smith,” 2004.
    picks May 04, 2004

    Josh Smith

    For years, Josh Smith has been making abstract paintings on which he emblazons his own name, and while this conceit may seem conceited, the effect is the opposite. Rather than coming across as aggressive self-advertisements, his canvases are relaxed to the point of messiness. In the best work here—New Swamp Thing, 2004—his name is partially obscured by a patch of red checkers that seems to grow out of the bottom-left corner of the canvas; elsewhere, the calligraphic curves of his lettering appear to be on the verge of breaking down into scribbles. His palette is nicely murky, as if