Ian Bourland

  • Participants in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts Fellows’ fall retreat Art Wilds outside the main house at Mildred’s Lane, Beach Lake, PA, 2009. Photo: Hope Ginsburg.


    IN THE SPRING OF 2020, much of America succumbed to the lures of a rural life, one far from the madding crowds, one better suited to sheltering in place. Maybe you know someone who finally delivered on that promise to move to the Hudson Valley for good. While the then-widespread speculation about the decline of urban life seems to have been overblown, we are now in the midst of a so-called Great Resignation, in which the distraction and self-degradation of “hustle culture” may be yielding to slower forms of labor and community. Far from unprecedented, the present shift echoes the countercultures

  • Faith Ringgold, Black Light Series  #12: Party Time, 1969, oil on canvas, 59 3⁄4 × 85 1⁄2".

    Faith Ringgold

    The past several years have brought a succession of major exhibitions by Black artists who came to prominence in the late 1960s and whom the institutional art world has finally begun to properly recognize. Like many of her peers, Faith Ringgold, raised during the Harlem Renaissance, was denied fine-arts training and initially found her footing as a public-school educator. Yet she continued painting all the same, producing figurative works—with faces contoured in sinuous blues, a recurring motif throughout her career—that suggested the uneasy dualities between our inner and outer selves. As the

  • Dawoud Bey, A Young Man Resting on an Exercise Bike, Amityville, NY, 1988, inkjet print, 30 x 40".
    interviews April 17, 2021

    Dawoud Bey

    Over the past forty-five years, Dawoud Bey has critically reimagined photography’s social and political potential, whether through his collaborative portraits of under- and misrepresented communities or through his more recent explorations of the landscapes of northern Ohio, a terminus of the Underground Railroad. April offers three occasions to see Bey’s work: a new book, Street Portraits (Mack), which gathers portraits of African Americans made between 1988 and 1991; the Okwui Enwezor–conceived “Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America” at the New Museum in New York, which includes

  • Ming Smith, America Seen Through Stars and Stripes, New York City, New York Painted, 1976, ink-jet print, 24 × 30".
    picks June 05, 2020

    Ming Smith

    In 1976, Ming Smith composed a multimedia print called America Seen Through Stars and Stripes, New York City, New York Painted, as part of an ongoing series in which the photographer overlaid her signature multiple exposures with streaks of paint. The crimson and white here amplify the cascading American flags that enmesh a black figure who, in turn, gazes coolly outward from behind mirrored shades. By adding layers of exposure and pigment, Smith took what might have been a lyrical scene in the vein of Helen Levitt and infused it with the turbulence of an era in which questions of race and

  • Maren Hassinger, Consolation, 1996, wire and wire rope, 16" each.
    interviews October 10, 2019

    Maren Hassinger

    Maren Hassinger very nearly became a dancer. As it happened, two fortuitous turns in her education in the 1970s led her to create sculptures hewn of fibrous metal and knotted detritus. From her early work in Los Angeles—including the 1979 installation of twelve wire rope “trees” near the Mulholland Drive exit ramp—to her recent “mandala” of repurposed pages from the New York Times, questions of ecological and spiritual consciousness have long underscored Hassinger’s practice. She is known for works in a range of media as well as for her collaborative bent. Following last year’s retrospective at

  • Harald Sohlberg, The Country Road, 1905, oil on canvas, 37 1/2 x 43".
    picks April 04, 2019

    Harald Sohlberg

    When pressed to come up with an iconic Norwegian Expressionist, one usually arrives at Edvard Munch, he of The Scream. But there is a strong case to be made that the painter laureate of the north is Munch’s contemporary Harald Sohlberg. This densely hung exhibition is his first retrospective in England and concisely runs from Sohlberg’s early experiments with Symbolism to his sui generis depictions of the hibernal Nordic landscape, all shimmering with quiet energy.

    As curator Kathleen Soriano notes, Sohlberg argued that he developed his oeuvre independent of external influence. “Painting Norway”

  • David Goldblatt, ‘Boss Boy’ detail, Battery Reef, Randfontein Estates Gold Mine, 1966, carbon ink on paper, 14 3⁄8 × 11 3⁄4".

    David Goldblatt and Peter Magubane

    This was long slated to be David Goldblatt’s year: He was the subject of a career-defining retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in the spring and of a biographical documentary at the Durban International Film Festival in South Africa in July, and he featured in the inaugural group show of the A4 Arts Foundation near Cape Town in September. The anticipation surrounding these appearances gained new poignancy this past June, when the South African photographer died at the age of eighty-seven. While “On Common Ground: David Goldblatt and Peter Magubane,” was a fitting tribute, it also marked

  • John Chiara, Henry Street near Rutgers Street, Variation 2, 2018, negative chromogenic photograph, 50 x 40".
    picks October 08, 2018

    John Chiara

    John Chiara is mainly known as a West Coast photographer. His pictures of California elaborate a tradition nearly as old as photography itself, taking in the state’s sublime expanses of earth and concrete. They carefully balance rich detail with compositional ambiguity, imbuing the more epic aspects of the landscape genre with a sense of poetic restraint.

    In this show, Chiara trains his eye on the streets of Manhattan, revealing hidden surfaces that might otherwise escape notice amid the hustle of daily life. Like many of his nineteenth-century forebears, he is a polymath—the artist designed a

  • Zina Saro-Wiwa, “Table Manners,” 2014–16, four channel video. Installation view.
    interviews October 02, 2018

    Zina Saro-Wiwa

    Over the past decade, the Brooklyn-based artist, filmmaker, and curator Zina Saro-Wiwa has developed a multiplatform career. Since 2014, she has led the contemporary art gallery Boys’ Quarters Project Space in downtown Port Harcourt, Nigeria. “The Turquoise Meat Inside,” her first solo gallery show in London, features recent and ongoing video works and photographs set in the oil-producing Niger Delta. The exhibition is on view at Tiwani Contemporary until October 27, 2018.

    I’VE ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED in using food as a way to explore the self. Globally, not much is known about African food

  • Fazal Sheikh, Alima Hassan Abdullai and her brother Mahmoud, Somali refugee camp, Mandera, Kenya, 1993, from the series “A Camel for the Son,” 1992–94, gelatin silver print, 18 7/10 x 14 7/10."
    picks April 30, 2018

    Fazal Sheikh

    For nearly thirty years, photographer Fazal Sheikh has traveled a world linked by the flows of the Indian Ocean, documenting displaced people. While some of these places—Kenya and Pakistan—connect to Sheikh’s own family history, his sitters are those fleeing crises in neighboring states. This exhibition, titled “Common Ground,” draws many of such projects together to create a dark, if vital, atlas of the shifting borderlands that characterize the present.

    Many critics, including Okwui Enwezor and Teju Cole, have cautioned that portraits of vulnerable populations or of postcolonies in peril amount

  • John Ahearn, Carlos/Spiderman, 2015, acrylic on cloth and plaster, dimensions variable.
    picks October 06, 2017

    John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres

    For decades, John Ahearn has worked to expand the scope of the New York avant-garde, connecting it with points beyond the downtown scene, first as a member of Collaborative Art Projects in 1977 and most notably through a long-term partnership with Rigoberto Torres, who as a teenager saw Ahearn’s work in the windows of the South Bronx art space Fashion Moda. Together, they began casting sculptural forms using live models—mostly people from the communities in which the artists worked and traveled.

    This exhibition, with works done by Ahearn and Torres both collaboratively and individually, draws

  • Whitfield Lovell, Grandmother, 1988, oil stick and charcoal on paper, 38 x 50".
    picks May 26, 2017

    Whitfield Lovell

    In what has already proven to be a remarkable few seasons of black figuration—such as Henry Taylor at the Whitney Biennial or Kerry James Marshall at the Met Breuer—this exhibition of thirty-one large-scale works on paper by Whitfield Lovell is disarming and quietly powerful. The artist is well established: Born in 1959, he is part of a generation of artists that came up somewhere between the polemics of the Black Arts Movement and the turn toward greater inclusion in the art world during the 1990s. Accordingly, the images here, made between 1987 and 1998, seem out of step with a lot of work