John Kelsey

  • Samuel Fosso

    Posed against a stained curtain, a slim young sailor-prince wearing high-waisted bell-bottoms, a cap printed with the Kodak logo, and extra-large sunglasses gazes off into an imaginary distance. The studio lights that illuminate him are visible on either side of the frame, as is the camera’s own reflection in one of the lamps. In another image in this survey of Samuel Fosso’s nearly three-decade-long practice of self-portraiture, the kneeling photographer supplicates his camera with two fistfuls of flowers, like a heartthrob in an old Hollywood romance. Fosso conjures instant glamour and fantastic

  • Merlin Carpenter

    Merlin Carpenter is known for his frequent and strategic stylistic shifts in response to new contexts and subject matter. His shows are often constructed around contradictory tendencies, elaborating discrepancies between what a painting appears to be and how it behaves in relation to the structures that legitimate its appearance. Although “Children of the Projects” resembled a tasteless, racist joke—which on the one hand it was—it also staged a funnier (and more serious) scenario in which painting was challenged to outwit its destiny to just hang there and look like something (e.g., a racist

  • Blake Rayne

    “August Evening Walk Out,” an exhibition of new paintings by Blake Rayne, was the final installment in his thematic series “Three of Four Seasons” (following “Autumn Drive,” 1997, and “The Winter Line,” 2000). Skipping spring and diving straight into summer’s extreme tangerines, grapes, and lemon-limes, Rayne’s flavor-enhanced, atmospheric surfaces tempt us with boredom (the beachy kind), emptiness (or the infinite), and the terrors and joys of intoxication. The “August,” “Evening,” and “Fridays” of the paintings’ titles aren’t temporalities you can bank on or calculate, they are events—more