Jennifer Piejko

  • picks April 10, 2017

    Jake Kean Mayman

    The noble history of painting—and of portraiture, specifically—is nearly as authoritative as practicing the medium itself. To paint someone is to lionize them, a method with slackened, if any, obligations to authenticity, precision, or proportion. Take Joan Quigley, the San Francisco socialite turned expert astrologer. A close advisor to Nancy Reagan and, consequently, the fortieth United States president following an assassination attempt in 1981, her personal influence dictated the timing of Air Force One’s takeoffs, State of the Union addresses, and key debates. Her eponymous portrait (all

  • picks March 03, 2017

    Bob Branaman

    “Smoking cigarettes / and watching Captain Kangaroo / that fabled damned of nations / prophecy come true . . .” What to do in 1966, the year that Allen Ginsberg wrote this line, in his poem “Wichita Vortex Sutra,” while watching neighbors and classmates drafted and wrenched into a senseless and ceaseless war, when there was nothing left to do? Collaging musings and snippets of radio on a tape recorder while traveling westward, the remainder of the poet’s vortex swayed away from Kansas toward the Bay area, with writers Michael McClure and Charles Plymell and artists Bruce Conner and Robert “Bob”

  • picks January 13, 2017

    Iskandar Jalil

    No matter how “smart” our objects may now be, we don’t expect them to discern whether they’re used correctly, or if it all. But Iskandar Jalil believes there is such a thing as an ethical pot or vessel: It embodies the maker’s aesthetic ideals and value placed on the medium. A pot made in the right frame of mind would actualize the spiritual dimensions, time, and place of its creation, similar to how a bottle of wine can disclose much about the conditions and influences of its site of origin. Such a theory may carve out a space, in fine art, for studio pottery—a mode of artmaking that has come

  • picks October 10, 2016

    Carmen Winant

    One collage, a sharp horizontal band tightening around all of the rooms of the gallery, encircles us with images of women. For Pictures of Women Working, 2016, some one thousand photographs, affectionately clipped from national newspapers and fashion magazine advertisements or editorials, paper over one another, with a bit of white paint filling in the occasional gap. Lifted from the era of feminism’s second wave, sepia shots lie over newer pages of the New York Times, interspersed with a series of sheets containing black-and-white photos of women repeating aerobic moves while free-floating in

  • picks October 07, 2016

    Abraham Cruzvillegas

    Colonia Ajusco, one of the neighborhoods built on an area of volcanic rock in southern Mexico City, grows not block by block but wall by wall, expanding with each generation. Growing up in such a community led Abraham Cruzvillegas to work in his manner of autoconstrucción, assembling from proximity and necessity.

    The works here were not made through reconstruction so much as frontier-outpost-style building, of a kind that is as specific to its location and environment as this car rally of an exhibition is to the artist’s hometown. Each multimedia sculpture consists of the backseat of a year and

  • picks June 09, 2016

    Pentti Monkkonen

    Venice Beach’s public murals of acid and Pixy Stix–hued, airbrushed tableaux are a setting for drama—a particular style of street theater contained within a wraparound frieze. They haven’t always featured neon-saturated animals wearing sunglasses and psychedelic wave abstractions, but the area’s aesthetic has invariably defined the community’s borders with surreal compositions, from 1941 post-office murals to the gloom of 1961’s Night Tide to current fever dreams of MDMA visualized.

    Originally named Venice of America when it officially opened, as a Los Angeles–adjacent resort town accessible by

  • picks April 07, 2016

    Mariah Garnett

    Belfast’s major tourist industries include rubbernecking at locations from Titanic or Game of Thrones and Northern Irish Conflict tours, the latter revolving around prisons and weapons. In 2007, Mariah Garnett first met her father, a native of the city and a Protestant whose teenage relationship with a Catholic girl was featured on the BBC in 1971 as a soap opera—an optimistic sign of integration in a pre–Bloody Sunday era. The postbroadcast attention, however, caused him to leave Belfast at nineteen. He never returned, but Garnett spent some months in the city last year, faithfully re-creating

  • picks April 04, 2016

    “Lest We Forget: Emirati Family Photographs 1950-1999”

    Sentiment is often at odds with contemporary art: If it is palatable, familiar, or familial, then it is not considered revolutionary, experimental, or new. This exhibition, “Lest We Forget: Emirati Family Photographs 1950–1999,” taken from an ongoing project started in 2010 on the women’s campus of Zayed University, proves otherwise by featuring a living archive of amateur photographs and films taken by Emirati citizens. It starts at a time when film reached the mass market and ends when digital cameras replaced analog technology. Families are encouraged to donate their own images to the display.

  • picks February 11, 2016

    Jessi Reaves and Sophie Stone

    Living with design objects imparts a unique sense of possession, one distinguished from that of sharing space with a painting or sculpture. Works of applied art are less intimidating and imposing; they do not have to be admired at a distance for fear of fingerprints or dings. Functionality entails tactile appreciation and the pragmatic expectation that forms will age along with us. The masses of raw industrial matter, plywood, and bits of various fibers installed in this apartment gallery are conceptual domestic objects by Jessi Reaves and Sophie Stone, paired here to make a home complete.

    In

  • picks September 14, 2015

    “Faux Pas”

    In this exhibition, organized by Paris collective Shanaynay, the objects mingle in a web of backpedaling politesse and subtle collision. Folding screens made of hinged plywood with whimsical cutouts (Christina Leung, Current Arrangement, or How It Looks Divided Up Like This, 2015) cast shadows onto walls painted a blushing pink. It matches the complexion of the toddler in John Wesley’s nearby painting Pianissimo, 2001, in which the child, with salmon-hued skin and wearing blue pajamas, strikes a self-conscious pose on a waterfront lawn. Grasping for something out of sight with one arm, he looks

  • picks July 21, 2015

    Akram Zaatari

    An archival show presented as fragmented, polyvocal narrative, “Unfolding” is the history of the contemporary Middle East spun out in multiple directions at once, threading war mythology with pendulant social progress, inevitably and helplessly politicized.

    Zaatari, who came of age during the nation’s civil war, maintains some criticality toward interpretive documentation. Considering the witness account as both journalism and diary, he cocreated the Arab Image Foundation in 1997, which has so far collected 600,000 photographs from the past 150 years in the region. The archive is a resource whose

  • picks November 12, 2014

    Shahryar Nashat

    Shahryar Nashat’s film Hustle in Hand, 2014, is the centerpiece of this exhibition, which also presents three other videos and four glass and marble sculptures and celebrates his winning the 2013 Prix Lafayette. The work begins with a woman greedily eating chicken with her hands and shifts to the rustling of a grease-stained paper bag dissolving into an image of a machine counting out a fat stack of hundred-Euro notes. The film then moves through close-ups of a man’s bloody forearm gash, the back of someone’s neck, fingers raking through hair, a couple exchanging an overcoat for a folded envelope

  • picks November 07, 2014

    Shanzhai Biennial

    Perhaps having grown tired of the now well-worn economic arc of the gentrification of neighborhoods, which artists have in turn already gentrified, the collective Shanzhai Biennial—Babak Radboy, Cyril Duval, and Avena Gallagher—has embraced the poorly concealed machinations of urban regeneration by slickly rebranding the process into a prudent and aspirational investment for this exhibition. Their misleading moniker, which signifies neither a real biennial nor a particular place but refers to the Chinese term for knocking off designer goods for the black market, figures the artist as a luxury

  • picks August 02, 2014

    Lena Svedberg

    Precursor to the riot grrrl provocatrices of the 1990s and Raymond Pettibon, Sweden’s Lena Svedberg created menacing cartoons that documented xenophobia and she displayed them at the height of her generation’s activist fever, in 1969. Her masterwork, Mr Aldman – Superhero of the Universe, 1969, which debuted at the 1969 Paris Youth Biennale, is on view at Moderna Museet, Stockholm. The main character, resembling a twisted Hieronymus Bosch figure, gets to Beirut by following an oil pipeline; appearing along the way are Svedberg’s illustrations of heads of state and church leaders (including Pope

  • picks July 23, 2014

    “Dries Van Noten – Inspirations”

    Neither retrospective nor commercial display, “Dries Van Noten – Inspirations” is the rare design exhibition that contextualizes fashion as merely one aspect of visual culture. An interlacing of the Belgian fashion designer’s most recognizable collections with a multitude of his influences fills two levels, from floor to wallpapered ceiling, of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Arranged both chronologically and thematically—and interrupted by a film installation by David Michalek that animates several recent designs—the show highlights the Antwerp Six designer’s collections, from pieces marking

  • picks April 03, 2014

    Martin Creed

    Ostensibly, there is a multitude of ways to logically organize Martin Creed’s artwork from the past two and a half decades into a retrospective. One can do so chronologically, of course, but one can also just as easily arrange the works in numerical order, following the artist’s oblique system of logic in assigning a number to each work. Or it can be done alphabetically by concept, a good system as any and a tack taken in this exhibition titled “What’s the Point of It?”

    Every floor and terrace, as well as the elevator, of the gallery is filled with more than 150 witty curiosities, sunny yet