Jenifer P. Borum

  • James Surls

    James Surls’ massive, baroque assemblages of wood and steel tend to inspire a certain art-historical amnesia. Perhaps the primary cause of this forgetfullness, apart from his signature theatricality—especially the monumental scale and gravity-defying bravado of his works—is the anachronistic nature of his formal and conceptual concerns. On the one hand, these contorted, quasi-figural clusters of whittled and chopped tree-branches resonate, albeit after the fact, with the quasi-organic, expressive mode of sculpture that flowered in the ’80s such as the work of Petah Coyne and Carol Hepper. On

  • Carlo

    Following on the heels of a major 1992 retrospective held in Verona, Italy, this was Carlo Zinelli’s first solo show in the U.S. since 1968. Presenting 27 exquisite gouaches on paper, this show introduced the full range of Carlo’s oeuvre to an American audience. Championed by Jean Dubuffet as an artiste brut, Carlo (1916–74), an Italian schizophrenic who was institutionalized for over twenty years, has been inducted into the European canon of “Outsider” art. Yet, within that context, attention to the full range of his work has been relatively limited.

    Carlo’s work confounds two major stereotypes

  • Luis Cruz Azaceta

    For the better part of two decades, Luis Cruz Azaceta has painted himself in and out of fashion: he explored the expressive possibilities of the figure in the ’70s (long before it was cool to do so) and then restlessly pursued different avenues within neo-Expressionism long after its critical moment had passed. A native of Cuba, this longtime resident of New York City recently relocated to New Orleans, a move which precipitated a major stylistic shift in his painting. His exquisite, heavily layered surfaces and somber palette have given way to flat, bright, even decorative canvases, but a closer

  • “Face of the Gods”

    “Face of the Gods: Art and Altars of Africa and the African Americas” was Robert Farris Thompson’s most ambitious and successful project to date. Supported by an extensively researched catalogue, this show traced the development of religious altars from their original sources in Africa to a variety of Afro-syncretic altars in the New World. Focusing primarily on the religious, philosophical, and visual paradigms of the Yoruba, Kongo, and Mande peoples, Thompson identified how these traditions have been creatively transformed by the African Diaspora in the altars of Santeria and palo mayombe,

  • Willie Birch

    A native of New Orleans and a resident of Brooklyn, Willie Birch has focused primarily on telling the story of black urban life through sophisticated visual portraits and fables. His figurative, brightly colored narrative paintings and papier-mâché sculptures are informed by folk and funk in equal measure. But in his recent installation, entitled Spirit House, 1993, Birch set his sights on three African-American traditions of the rural South: the yard show, the shotgun shack, and the bottle tree. Lining the perimeter of the central room with a variety of empty bottles and dried flowers, he

  • “The Urban Aboriginal”

    Featuring four contemporary Australian artists of Aboriginal heritage—Lin Onus, Bronwyn Bancroft, Sally Morgan, and Karen Casey—this show presented work actively involved in the reclamation of Koori (Aboriginal) identity. Though marked by a diversity of styles, the paintings presented here shared a self-conscious connection to Aboriginal culture, whether through the recovery of traditional Koori art, or through a profoundly spiritual connection to the earth.

    Inspired by traditional Aboriginal bark painting (practiced in the region of northern Australia known as Arnhem Land), Lin Onus concocts

  • Carmen Perrin

    These two very different shows marked Swiss artist Carmen Perrin’s solo debut in the United States. Common to all of her work is a commitment to exploring the possibilities of industrial materials—metal, rubber, wood, and fiberglass, among others—which has yielded formally varied but consistently provocative results. John Good presented a range of Perrin’s freestanding and wall-mounted sculptures from the past several years. Populating the floor like hypertensed creatures poised to spring were her relatively large, “temporary” constructions. Assembled of twisted and stressed steel, rubber, and

  • Arturo Lindsay

    With El Monte: Homenaje a Lydia Cabrera (Homage to Lydia Cabrera, 1993), Arturo Lindsay dedicated a rich, multimedia installation to Cabrera—the scholar of Afro-Cuban art and culture who brought the iconography of Santería to Wifredo Lam’s attention. By building five shrines dedicated to various orishas, or gods of Santería, and two shrines honoring the forgotten history of his native Panama, Lindsay lifted the veil of secrecy that has long accompanied Santería ritual—and artistic interpretations thereof—to reveal its symbolism without denying its spiritual dimension.

    El Monte” confirms Lindsay’s

  • Linda Daniels

    This show of five, multipaneled, abstract paintings was easily Linda Daniels’s strongest to date. Although she has worked in a consistent idiom for a number of years—typically, a configuration of Color Field panels brimming with scores of patterned, abstract hieroglyphics—these paintings marked a bold departure for the artist. Trading in her previously muted colors for newer, brighter, decadently decorative colors, Daniels created smart-looking, scaled-down post–Pattern and Decoration puzzles that are too much fun to be cynical, and are ultimately as thought provoking as they are sensuous.

    A drag

  • Jon Serl

    Featuring 24 of Jon Serl’s paintings from the past thirty years, this retrospective foregrounded the artist’s range of pictorial languages that resonates uncannily with familiar Modernist modes—Symbolist mystery, Surrealist fantasy, Expressive distortion, primitivist figuration, and poetic abstraction. What makes this artist’s oeuvre so interesting is that it is neither the result of a conceptual critique of the Modern masters, nor a naive attempt to emulate them, but, rather, a visual record of a rigorous process of discovering what painting can be.

    Serl (189?–1993) is perhaps best known as a

  • Amalia Mesa-Bains

    For the past two decades, Amalia Mesa-Bains has examined ritual space as a site of the production and constriction of feminine identity. Venus Envy Chapter One (or the First Holy Communication Moments Before the End) (all works 1993), was a single-room installation constituting the first of a three-part series that strives to deconstruct the two “feminine identities”—either virgin or bride—that define woman’s place in the Catholic Church.

    Hall of Mirrors functioned as both a literal and conceptual frame for Venus Envy. The artist lined the two side walls of the room with mirrors, some of which

  • Minnie Evans

    Though honored with a Whitney retrospective as early as 1975, it is only with the current embrace of the cultural “other” that Minnie Evans, an African-American artist from North Carolina, has had a chance to be understood as more than simply an art novelty. Evans belongs to the tradition of religious visionaries that includes James Hampton, J.B. Murray, and Sister Gertrude Morgan, among many others. Her oeuvre—a patchwork of Evangelical Christianity, African-American spiritualism, improvisation, and popular culture—was well represented in this show, which featured works ranging from the ’40s