Ian Bourland

  • picks April 28, 2012

    Carrie Schneider

    For her new collection of photographs, “Burning House,” 2010–11, Carrie Schneider returned twelve times to a small island in the center of a rural Wisconsin lake. On each visit, she hauled or canoed a small house with her, and then set it on fire before submitting it to the panoramic sweep of her lens. The resulting pictures are by turns unsettling, inviting, and enigmatic.

    While the exhibition’s press release assures us that Schneider’s take on the well-worn genre of landscape includes some deep performative element, and that the pictures hark back to Monet’s studies of light in the French

  • picks April 27, 2011

    Rénee Green

    For twenty years Rénee Green’s work has explored connections: between color and knowledge; among global networks (of people, ideas, materials); and between art and its audiences. In this sense, her latest exhibition feels like nothing new. And, in many ways, it is not––“Sigetics” is culled from her two-decade career and two recent surveys thereof. Indeed, the Elizabeth Dee Gallery feels reconfigured here as something of an archive in the process of its own creation, its boldly chromatic banners and framed prints recursively pointing us back to other moments, even as they intoxicate us visually.

  • picks April 24, 2011

    John Knight

    Entering Greene Naftali’s cavernous Chelsea space for this exhibition feels, in a word, underwhelming. The viewer is greeted by a large corporate font declaring AUTOTYPES—the first word of the show’s title—and a vitrined stack of gold-rimmed china plates (all works 2011). There is an inky square on the top plate’s surface, but those below remain hidden. A walk-through of the two rear galleries reveals plate after plate, mounted at eye level, each adorned with a similar black mass: Some look like aerial shots of military installations, others microchips, and a few ambiguous hieroglyphics. These

  • picks April 13, 2011

    “Found in Translation”

    One could be forgiven for coming to understand this wave of globalization over the past twenty years as a clash of civilizations doomed by religious and linguistic separation. The Tower of Babel scenario is a letimotif highlighted by everything from Hollywood film to the war on terror. Nonetheless, according to Édouard Glissant (among others), globalization has always entailed a process of translation that is not only necessary but productive. The latter view is the starting point of this show, which features eleven artists working with film and video.

    The art by this global cast can be at times

  • picks March 08, 2011

    “Project Europa: Imagining the (Im)Possible”

    This group exhibition, organized in conjunction with the University of Florida’s Harn Museum of Art, takes up the democratic idealism and lived contradiction of the European Union some twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. That event in 1989 marked a physical and symbolic turning point, heralding the reunification of the continent, this time under the aegis of an imagined community dedicated to human rights and multiculturalism. It is in the examination of these fault lines that “Project Europa” shines.

    As much as it is now convention to refer to Europe as a concrete entity, the themes

  • picks February 24, 2011

    Philip-Lorca diCorcia

    Philip-Lorca diCorcia, well known for his staged photographs that depict friends, family, and strangers in ambiguous mise-en-scènes, returns to this gallery with “Eleven,” a suite of fashion images culled from the eleven projects he created for W magazine between 1997 and 2008. Without gleaning this information from the press release, one could be forgiven for not thinking them “commercial” photos at all. The works recall those in his previous shows, which have mined the gray areas between street and directed images and between the personal and the public, generating a sort of hybrid form of “

  • picks February 16, 2011

    David Hammons

    In this exhibition, the esteemed New York artist David Hammons revisits themes that were active in an exhibition he mounted several years ago at this gallery, a posh town house on the Upper East Side. His 2007 collaboration here (with Chie Hammons, his wife) marked a shifting of gears away from overt and found signifiers of race and refuse, instead using signs of luxuriance—fur coats—and defacing them with paint and varnish, in addition to setting them on fire. For the present project, Hammons has hung large abstract paintings and has draped them with torn sheets of plastic, of the sort one

  • picks December 11, 2010

    Odili Donald Odita

    For those not familiar with Philadelphia-based painter Odili Donald Odita’s vivid revitalization of 1960s and ’70s hard-edged abstraction, this exhibition is a concise and elegant introduction. Since returning almost exclusively to painting in 1998, Odita has modulated his work between canvas, Plexiglas, and direct application of paint to gallery walls. Versions of each process are featured here, and all the resulting works are saturated with the rich acrylic tones hand-mixed for each piece.

    In some ways, the show demonstrates the seemingly infinite variation of Odita’s tightly regulated visual

  • picks September 28, 2010

    “New Work”

    This group exhibition features recent pieces by seven of Matthew Marks’s marquee, midcareer artists. What it lacks in coherence it makes up for in the delight of seeing familiar names delivering technically proficient, visually arresting work. If there is a leitmotif here, it is scale: The show spans two buildings containing voluminous gallery spaces, and offers works that range from the uncannily miniature to the sublimely massive. Two chromatically rich (but comparatively unimaginative) paintings by Terry Winters are resoundingly upstaged in one gallery by Dortmund, 2009, by Andreas Gursky.

  • picks September 26, 2010

    “Crowd Scene”

    In “Crowd Scene,” artist Todd Kelly manages a group show that is more than the sum of its parts. As curator, he also unwittingly proves the exhibition’s underlying conceit, that there is simply too much competition out there for emerging, overly educated artists to succeed individually.

    Of course, there are many artists who have broken through during the past decade, usually by doing the sometimes unglamorous work of developing a visual language and engaging rigorously with formal, social, or conceptual problems. Not so for most of the four artists in this exhibition, particularly those who seem

  • picks July 19, 2010

    Julie Mehretu

    Painter Julie Mehretu is currently the leading revivalist of the epic-landscape form. Over the past decade, her large canvases, which invoke everything from traditional Asian inkwork to Constructivist geometries, have made both a medium and a genre newly relevant to the artistic investigation of globalization. Barely legible pictures of fragmented and centrifugal topographies, they capture the peculiar feeling of dispersion and interconnection specific to the digital age.

    In “Grey Area” (all works 2008–09), a suite of six new paintings commissioned by Deutsche Bank and the Guggenheim, Mehretu

  • picks June 18, 2010

    Carolee Schneemann

    “Within and Beyond the Premises,” the current retrospective of New York artist Carolee Schneemann’s work, is a secret history of modern art. Schneemann worked in the city and upstate during the apex of Abstract Expressionism and early Conceptual, performance, and feminist art. Each is referenced here, but Schneemann’s singular, embodied consciousness is what shines through most of all in these intimate and idiosyncratic pictures and installations. Curator Brian Wallace has managed to condense a rich and varied career into four thematic categories—research, ecstasy, furies, and dwelling—that

  • picks March 20, 2010

    Pieter Hugo

    Taking pictures in Nigeria is a tricky business: Between a public savvy about the monetary value of commercial photography and a police force leery of external documentarians, one can spend weeks in Lagos or Abuja and come up short. This is not the case for artist Pieter Hugo, whose previous work offers thematic investigations of the quotidian and extraordinary in this vibrant but poorly understood region.

    The photographs on display in “Nollywood,” his latest exhibition, recall film stills but are neither narrative nor cinematic. Instead, these works offer carefully staged portraits of familiar

  • picks March 15, 2010

    Tania Bruguera

    Tania Bruguera is a name familiar to anyone tuned in to the international biennial circuit. Less known are her actual installations, which are conceived in and for specific environments and are, in many cases, transient. As the recipient of the first Neuberger Exhibition Prize, Bruguera is now the focus of a painstakingly installed solo show that assembles more than a decade of her work for the first time.

    “On the Political Imaginary,” however, is no mere rehearsal, and the avowedly committed character of the projects therein is augmented, but not lost, in translation. While performances that

  • picks February 22, 2010

    Denise Green

    The paintings in Denise Green’s latest exhibition, “Wonder and Evanescence,” are florally themed but not flowery––they are serious latter-day abstractions. This is unsurprising given that the New York veteran trained at Hunter College some forty years ago with Mark Rothko and Robert Motherwell. The influence of her teachers shines through in Green’s vibrant color fields and explorations of heavy raw canvas. But Green’s concern in work such as A Line Is Never Just a Line (For John Stringer), 2009, and A Rose Is a Rose (Ralph), 2006, is less with the formal progression of the medium than with

  • picks December 22, 2009

    Helmut Federle

    Helmut Federle’s paintings are not spectacular. But in an art market in which painting jostles with photography and sculpture in pursuit of epic scale or self-conscious smartness, this exhibition of delicate, smaller paintings is a breath of fresh air. “Scratching Away at the Surface” is a suite of five canvases from a series of nine that explore rotations around their geometric centers. Paint is applied here in thin washes so that even as the intersecting planes of color collide and accumulate, the luminosity of underlying layers shines through.

    At first the paintings feel unremarkable, which

  • picks December 17, 2009

    Volker Hueller

    The Berlin-based artist Volker Hueller usually displays his massive collage-based paintings and smaller etchings side by side. But for this pair of shows, curator Anna-Catharina Gebbers has divided examples of each between galleries one hundred blocks apart. This move heightens not only the stylistic gulf between the paintings and the etchings but also the resonance of those works in their respective environments.

    What unifies Hueller’s practice is a dogged commitment to an antiquated sense of craft. The smaller pieces on display at Eleven Rivington are hung salon-style in a Deco-era parlor,

  • interviews November 25, 2009

    Naomi Beckwith

    Naomi Beckwith is an assistant curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem. She organized the exhibition “30 Seconds Off an Inch,” which explores the intersection of identity politics and dominant tendencies of the 1960s, from conceptual practices to Arte Povera. The show is on view until March 14.

    I DON’T WANT TO BRAND something called “Black Conceptual Art.” It’s less a question about who produced the work than of the object’s material history. If you can get to that history, and if that can take you to a very specific place, culturally and racially, then that’s where you locate the blackness. It

  • picks October 28, 2009

    Siah Armajani

    Siah Armajani’s latest exhibition takes up the brutal but largely invisible violence that erupted in the wake of this year’s contested Iranian presidential election. Although the artist, who was born in Tehran and lives in Minneapolis, has built environments that interrogate the spatial contours of the “public sphere” for decades, his recent work underscores more explicitly the human cost of Middle Eastern politics. Fallujah, 2005, for example, combines large-scale neo-Minimalist volumes with domestic objects to illustrate a collapsed family home in the Iraqi city, using universal form to give

  • picks October 22, 2009

    T. V. Santhosh

    Jean Baudrillard wrote three articles between January and March of 1991, arguing that the first Gulf War “did not take place.” He noted that the new era of war fighting—its prosecution and our perceptions of it—was so entangled with information and communication technology that our fight was in many respects virtual, one in which images rather than events became the “real.” In the subsequent two decades, we began to see more and more conflicts around the globe (from Rwanda to Afghanistan) beamed into our homes, omnipresent but diluted in their sanitized persistence. In his current exhibition,