Franz Thalmair

  • Sachiko Kazama, Nonhuman Crossing, 2013, woodcut, 5' 8 7⁄8“ × 11' 8 3⁄4”. From the 33rd Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts.

    33rd Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts

    Humor is political. From stinging ridicule that reveals more about the mockers than about the targets of their taunts to childlike silliness and drollery, all forms of humor showcase our common humanity. Yet shared laughter is also contradictory: It can divide as well as unite. This contradiction is a key point of departure in the work of the international art collective Slavs and Tatars, and it guided their curation of the Thirty-Third Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts, “Crack Up-Crack Down.”

    The art on view at the biennial’s nine venues offered plenty of evidence that the best satire—whether

  • Heinrich Dunst, Film (detail), 2019, digital print on paper, digital print mounted on aluminum, acrylic on Dibond, acrylic on extruded polystyrene, pressboard, wooden strips, dimensions variable.
    picks August 20, 2019

    Heinrich Dunst

    In addition to maintaining his practice of making conceptual sculptures, performances, and object-based works, for this exhibition, Austrian artist Heinrich Dunst has taken up Peter Kubelka’s abstract film Arnulf Rainer (1960)—six minutes and twenty-four seconds of rhythmically processed light and sound—in a continuation of the filmmaker’s investigations into notions of materiality.

    The elements in Film, 2019, the first room’s extensive installation including digital prints on aluminum and sheets of pressboard mounted on the ground, are connected to one another by enlarged stills from Arnulf

  • View of Fernanda Gomes, 2019.
    picks May 14, 2019

    Fernanda Gomes

    Brazilian artist Fernanda Gomes’s intervention here is minimal; those not paying close attention may well overlook the fact that there’s an exhibition happening at all. Her untitled site-specific spatial immersions invoke the genius loci in which knowledge, history, and memory blend with intuitive perception and interpretation. As a prelude, Gomes has constructed a grid-like platform from commercial-quality wood and overlaid it with white-painted panels. Various small objects, including a bottle wrapped in packing paper, a pencil dangling on a string, wooden cubes and balls, crumpled paper, and

  • View of Katharina Gruzei, “Bodies of Work,” 2019.
    picks April 24, 2019

    Katharina Gruzei

    In this exhibition, Katharina Gruzei is showing “Bodies of Work,” 2017, a series of photographs taken in Austria’s last shipyard on the Danube, located in the industrial city of Linz. In the city that is also home to the Voest steel company (founded by the Nazis and formerly known as Reichswerke Herman Göring), the artist has captured metalworkers, welders, and ship-builders in the rough environment of a working port. In one image, a worker’s body seems to fuse with the artificial textiles and tubes of his protective gear, the instrument and product of labor becoming one. Such moments set the

  • View of “Neoliberal Surrealist,” 2019.
    picks February 08, 2019

    Ashley Hans Scheirl

    A relentless violet, neither hot nor cold, assaults the viewer from all directions—the gallery’s floor, pedestals, and movable walls—in a shade that seems manufactured to underscore the wavering absurdity of Ashley Hans Scheirl’s pictorial cosmos. The artist—who has also variously gone by the names of Angela, Angela Scheirl, Angela Hans, Angel Hans, Zeze Hans, Ah, A A A A, Hans Scheirl, Hans, Hansi, Hansda, Hans von S/hit, Scheirl, and Ashley Hans Scheirl—first became known for her earlier experimental video work from the 1980s and ’90s. She turned to painting in 1995, and since then has combined

  • View of Anna-Sophie Berger, “Don't smoke,” 2018.
    picks December 03, 2018

    Anna-Sophie Berger

    A couple steps connect the halves of this exhibition hall; it is here, in this zone of architectural transition, that Anna-Sophie Berger has chosen to position the cluster of modular objects that make up the nucleus of “Don’t smoke” (all works 2018). Each piece is named after a country in the EU, and, wrapped in color-block polar fleece, looks vaguely functional, like human-size Legos. Mounted on rollers and interlinked by hooks and eyes, together they create a large-format piece evoking a landscape of scratching posts for cats. Deutschland (Germany) takes the form of a black-red-gold staircase,

  • Michael Kienzer, Weiß auf Weiß (Zeichnung Vol 6) (White on  White [Drawing Vol. 6]), 2018, zinc sheet, lacquer,  14' × 10' × 1' 7 1⁄4".

    Michael Kienzer

    Poised between lightness and presence, between impromptu conception and deliberate creative choice, between the construction of sculpture in the moment and its perpetual disintegration, Michael Kienzer’s practice typically performs a balancing act. In his exhibition “grau und farbig” (gray and colorful), the Vienna-based artist gave another bravura demonstration of his mastery of sculptural precision.

    Entering the gallery, the visitor was welcomed by a fourteen-foot-tall wall object bearing the programmatic title Weiß auf Weiß (Zeichnung Vol 6) (White on White [Drawing Vol. 6]) (all works cited,

  • View of “Panta Rhei,” 2018.
    picks October 15, 2018

    Sheila Hicks and Judit Reigl

    Sheila Hicks and Judit Reigl both believe that change is the only constant that shapes our world. Accordingly, their exhibition here is characterized by a pulsation that can also be described as life—and which, in turn, is marked by change. Hicks and Reigl live in Paris and have been active as artists for more than half a century (Hicks was born in Nebraska in 1934, Reigl in Hungary in 1923), and they are now brought together by curator Julia Garimorth for “Panta Rhei,” a show that correlates form, material, and wisdom.  

    The image of a changeable river suggests itself especially in Reigl’s series

  • View of “John Cornu and Peter Downsbrough,” 2018. Photo: Gilles Ribero.

    John Cornu and Peter Downsbrough

    If many alternative art venues are tucked away in backyards or basements, attic, as the name suggests, sits at the other end of the spectrum—it occupies the top floor of a building that used to be home to a publishing company. The floor has recently been taken over by several galleries and transformed into one of the Belgian capital’s contemporary art hubs. After entering the imposing edifice and climbing the stairs, the visitor found herself not in a refined white cube but in a kind of garret room, where it quickly became clear that this dual presentation of works by John Cornu and Peter

  • Anna Artaker, untitled, 2018, death masks, dimensions variable.
    picks August 28, 2018

    Anna Artaker and Tatiana Lecomte

    This museum’s well-known collection of anatomical wax models from the Medical University of Vienna is brought into the present in this exhibition. Anna Artaker explores the legibility of the human face by exhibiting death masks from the Josephinum’s holdings as readymades. Without labels or commentary, faces from the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries mingle in this untitled installation, demonstrating the impossibility of visually differentiating Aryan and Jewish peoples, despite ideas propagated by racist Nazi pseudoscience. Meanwhile, Artaker’s frottage Freud’s Tomb in London, 2018,

  • Haim Steinbach, Untitled  (cookie  jar,  Jamaican  head,  Stormtrooper,  dog  chew),  2016, mixed media, 26 1/2 x 55 7/10 x 13 1/2".
    picks May 07, 2018

    Haim Steinbach

    Mojave, vitamin kick, tree frog 1, garden gnome, sunflower. For eswürdesoaussehen (itwouldlooklikethis), 2018—which consists of fictive names and thirteen color swatches painted on the wall—Haim Steinbach portrays not only the hues of everyday objects but also the ideas and representations connected to them.

    This exhibition hosts plenty of actual objects, too—they’re motley and freighted with cultural significance, and Steinbach has been amassing them for a good three decades. That they exist not to sate the artist’s pack-rat passions but rather to serve the analysis of their own implications in

  • Sophie Thun, While holding (passage closed) (Y110,8M17,4D+59F8m18,142CA3T69,2b100l240), 2018, analogue color photography, photogram, metal and magnets, approx. 138 x 197”.
    picks April 12, 2018

    Sophie Thun

    As one approaches the gallery, it is not immediately clear that the life-size analog color photograph Rain on pane (all works cited, 2018) is not actually Sophie Thun. She stands, so it appears, behind the closed door, holding a remote shutter release while perhaps taking stock of passersby in the historic city center. Her surroundings duplicate what is behind the photographic paper: the gallery space. The construction and representation of the female self is as much a theme in Thun’s work as the illusionistic methods of mimesis in mise en abyme and trompe l'oeil, or the technological preconditions