Eugenio Viola

  • View of “Arte essenziale,” 2011. Foreground: Karla Black, Persuader Face (detail), 2011. Background: Karla Black, What to Ask of Others, 2011.
    picks July 05, 2011

    Arte essenziale

    In a time when many continue to lament what they see as the inexorable decline of theory’s role in criticism, “Arte essenziale” (Essential Art), curated by philosopher Federico Ferrari, does its part to placate concerns with an exploration of the ties that link artistic practice and philosophical speculation. The show focuses on the Wesen, or essence, of a work of art—a notion that has always been inextricably linked with a search for the new. “For any truly radical gesture that might affirm itself today, the question of essence comes to expression through a clear confrontation with tradition

  • Yinka Shonibare, Cannonball Heaven, 2010, mixed media, dimensions variable.
    picks April 08, 2011

    Yinka Shonibare

    Yinka Shonibare’s syncretic work investigates ethnic and cultural identity, the effects of postcolonialism, and the processes of hybridization at work in contemporary society. That the artist depicts himself as a “dandy”—at first glance an innocuous, merely narcissistic endeavor—in fact subverts prejudicial expectations that certain aesthetic ends are entirely European pursuits. In this exhibition’s core of photographic works, the tragic figure of Willy Loman, protagonist of Arthur Miller’s 1949 play Death of a Salesman, becomes a formal device for the creation of surreal, exuberant, and bizarre

  • Carlos Garaicoa, Prêt-à-porter (Ready-to-wear), 2011, wooden table, glass, hat molds, hats, and ink on newspapers, 98 x 33 x 29”.
    picks March 08, 2011

    Carlos Garaicoa

    In his work, the Cuban artist Carlos Garaicoa searches for traces, relationships, and connections between the past and present as he interweaves reality and fiction, poetry and critique. His works transform space, creating palimpsests where “that mighty sculptor, time,” to quote Marguerite Yourcenar, has left its indelible mark. Through a constant tension between utopian and dystopian themes, his latest exhibition, “Party! Not Tea Party,” offers a model of investigation he previously applied to the microcosm of Castro’s Cuba, and which becomes more universal here.

    Prêt-à-porter (Ready-to-wear,

  • View of “In Remembrance,” 2011.
    picks February 07, 2011

    Delia Gonzalez

    Delia Gonzalez’s second solo exhibition at Fonti is completely different from her 2005 show with Gavin Russom, whom she often works with. While the earlier work was suspended between anthropology and psychedelia, totem and taboo, her latest efforts are much more introspective. “In Remembrance” is an extremely refined exhibition, conceptually divided into two interdependent parts. The 2010 video that gives the show its name is inspired by a passage from Anaïs Nin’s diary that compares Henry Miller, Nin’s lover at the time, to Oberon, mythical protagonist of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Gonzalez

  • Larry Clark, Jonathan Velasquez, 2004, color photograph, 42 1/2 X 29 1/8”.
    picks December 27, 2010

    Larry Clark

    This powerful Larry Clark retrospective fully conveys the universe of one of the most maudit American artists of his generation. From the first, shocking images of Clark’s native city in the series “Tulsa,” 1963–71, to the latest, extremely sensual images of the young Latin American skateboarder Jonathan Velasquez, Clark gives us a visual diary of the extended family of people with whom he has shared his experiences. The atmospheres recall artists whose modi operandi are close to that of Clark, such as Nan Goldin, and evokes settings favored by filmmakers such as Scorsese or van Sant. Clark

  • Marina Abramović, The Artist Is Present, 2010, Performance view, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2010. Photo: Marco Anelli.
    picks November 30, 2010

    Marina Abramović, Paul McCarthy, “Sk-Interfaces”

    “The Artist Is Present,” Marina Abramović’s dazzling retrospective at MoMA, was certainly among the finer exhibitions of 2010. Beyond the complex and constant play of references in her oeuvre, the show spectacularly reasserted the presence of the artist/shaman through a durational performance and a controversial decision to re-enact her historical performances. This was a solution that succeeded on a curatorial level, where the effect was unquestionable, as well as on a theoretical level: Abramović affirmed the radical subversion hic et nunc of the performative act while managing to stall the

  • Tris Vonna-Michell, Wasteful Illuminations, 2008–, mixed media, dimensions variable. Installation view.
    picks October 24, 2010

    Tris Vonna-Michell

    A meditative reflection on what constitutes an artwork animates Tris Vonna-Michell’s second solo exhibition at this gallery. In a destabilizing synthesis of art and life, the show offers a half-open panorama onto the artist’s biography and work, tossing out a bridge to the past, which is enlivened by his present research and his future output. This curious strategy, first presented in Italy in “The Trades of Others,” Vonna-Michell’s debut show at T293, is incorporated and “updated” here. During a performance for that earlier show, a young woman instantly translated an oral travelogue by

  • Urs Lüthi, “Just Another Story About Leaving”  (detail), 1974–2006, twenty-five black-and-white photographs, each 24 x 16 1/2".
    picks February 08, 2010

    Urs Lüthi

    Urs Lüthi’s latest exhibition short-circuits the artist’s practice in an infinite play of references and self-quotations. The show, curated by Luca Massimo Barbero and Elena Forin, is a panorama that opens onto Lüthi’s life and work, which has always questioned the boundaries between public and private spheres and the limits of art. “Just Another Story About Leaving,” 1974–2006, a photographic series that gives the exhibition its title, is emblematic of Lüthi’s modus operandi, where his central concern is self-representation and transformation, typical of poetics pertaining to the “body as

  • Dor Guez, Lydd Ruins 10 (Market Square), 2009, color photograph, 47 1/4 x 59".
    picks January 27, 2010

    Dor Guez

    The ruins of history and the repression of memory—both personal recollections and collective experience—inform this solo exhibition by Dor Guez. Curated by Drorit Gur Arie, the show takes its title, “Georgiopolis,” from the ancient Christian name for the Israeli city of Lod (or Lydd). The main hall of the museum contains a highly evocative photographic series: silent images from which emerge fragments of an ancient city seemingly suspended outside time. The photographs are characterized by evanescent colors and by the theatrical use of a twilight luminosity that makes them extremely pictorial,

  • View of “Sarkis,” 2009.
    picks November 06, 2009

    Sarkis

    Sarkis’s exhibition at the Istanbul Modern emphasizes the empathic relationship that the artist has always established with the locations of his shows—his constant desire to interact with the public. He invigorates the concept of site-specificity, transforming his first large-scale retrospective in Turkey into what he calls a “rendezvous exhibition”: a panorama that opens onto his life and work as he leafs through a powerful archive of memory.

    “Montage-images,” as termed by Georges Didi-Huberman, which merge the temporal context of the image with that of the viewer, are resemanticized through a

  • Orlan, Manteau d’Arlequin (Harlequin Coat), 2007, mixed media, dimensions variable. Installation view.
    picks November 06, 2009

    “sk-interfaces”

    A renewed interest in the human body in contemporary art is interwoven with the emergence of epistemic perspectives that call into question ontological and metaphysical distinctions, both biological and machine-related. Jens Hauser, who has long studied the effects of these phenomena in art, as theoretician and curator (he previously organized “L’Art Biotech” at Le Lieu Unique in Nantes in 2003, among other shows), once again proposes crucial questions with this exhibition. Here, the body is transformed into a landscape, and the artist, a new Argonaut, becomes an explorer of his own somatic

  • Jannis Kounellis, Untitled, 2009, wood with gold leaf, metallic netting, hats, steel beam, coats, hooks, dimensions variable.
    picks September 25, 2009

    Jannis Kounellis

    The evocative value of memory, the semantic richness of symbols, and the metamorphic properties of material inform Jannis Kounellis’s work and his latest exhibition. The show includes a site-specific interpretation of one of his early pieces, Tragedia Civile (Civil Tragedy), 1975, which was first shown at Lucio Amelio Gallery, in whose space Alfonso Artiaco Gallery is now located. The new, untitled work underscores the recurrent elements and polysemic approach that are activated in Kounellis’s pieces through a play of ideas between history and representation, totality and fragment.

    Pieces of