Jan Avgikos

  • Michael Biberstein

    Michael Biberstein makes fake paintings, but very earnestly. Through the forced unification of distinct historical modes—either 19th-century Romantic or early Chinese landscape painting with black monochromes—Biberstein creates works of extreme tastefulness and beauty rather than the campiness characteristic of much so-called Conceptual painting. His acts of appropriation are less those of the cynic who aims to expose the inadequacy of painting than of a grail-seeking pilgrim. Perhaps Biberstein’s dedication proceeds from blind faith in painting’s ability to reveal metaphysical truths, but his

  • Frank Stella

    Having seen Frank Stella’s black and metallic paintings reproduced a thousand times, we rarely encounter the authentic works. When we do, we notice every crooked line, broken seam, and tarnished inch of surface. Each imperfection, raised brushstroke, and uneven passage of paint burns into retinal permanence. What photographic reproductions never reveal, we commit to memory. Photographs obscure both their handmade quality and the fact that the paintings have changed over time. Once presumably seamless, now the hard edges are cracked, nicked, and eroded. The fresh bloom of metallic pigments has

  • Ken Lum

    Ken Lum’s five large diptychs clone boisterous sign painting and on-location photographs of dubious folk heroes; each begs the question, “What’s wrong with this picture?” A local businessman ready to make a deal, a quartet of wannabe Jon Bon Jovis, a chainsaw-toting, cigarette-smoking redneck couple, prosperous Oriental real estate agents taking time for a quick snapshot, proud racially mixed parents and their darling daughter greeting a fuzzy pink pig promoting pizza—Lum draws us into these everyday fictions gone strange and slaps on captions that augment the slice-of-contemporary-life vignettes.

  • Candida Höfer

    Like the work of other, perhaps better-known students of Bernd and Hilla Becher, such as Thomas Struth, Thomas Ruff, and Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer’s photographs perpetuate the shock of banality that is the leitmotiv of the conceptual style of photography that evolved in Germany during the ’70s. There is nothing remarkable about the public places Höfer subjects to photographic scrutiny. The lecture halls, libraries, auditoriums, lobbies, restaurants, and museums she selects are not indexed with a particular eye toward their significance as tyrannical administrative forms. No historical value

  • “The (Un)Making of Nature”

    The American pragmatist A.O. Lovejoy distinguished at least 66 senses for the word “nature.” Given the concept’s multivalence, it might be said, at the risk of rankling scores of environmental activists, that nature doesn’t exist, except as an ideological construct. Throughout history, nature has functioned as the prototypical and subservient Other: it has served as a prime term in debates in which the real is opposed to the ideal and been used to substantiate God’s existence or to sanction nationalistic claims such as manifest destiny. The title “The (Un)Making of Nature” suggests an attempt

  • Laurie Parsons

    A recurrent query into the nature of art concerning its object status has periodically led to the elimination of the object altogether. Does one have to make art to be an artist? Does art have to be perceptible, and if not, how does one know of its existence, let alone deal with it? Indeed, art as idea has accommodated seasonal shifts from the perceptual to the conceptual, and has manifested itself in phenomena ranging from the Duchampian readymade to the so-called dematerialized event. In the past decade, strategies such as appropriation and commodification have evidenced a shift in focus from