Justin Spring

  • Henri Cartier-Bresson

    This show of more than 100 works by Henri Cartier-Bresson comes as something of a revelation to those who associate the artist with images of life overseas. The photographer’s inimitable style has been applied here to territory more readily associated with American photographers from Walker Evans to Gary Winogrand, particularly in the road trip Cartier-Bresson took from New York to Los Angeles and back in 1947. The show may tell us less about America, however, than it does about Cartier-Bresson: the evolution of his light-handed style, and his consistent preoccupation with humanist themes.

    With

  • Taro Chiezo

    Using high-tech colors and materials (including transparent Day-Glo plastic and laserdisks), Taro Chiezo created an installation that resembled a space-age playroom in which the futuristic machines and materials are synthesized into deceptively adorable art. Chiezo’s brilliance lies in describing in visual terms the immediate excitement surrounding the prepackaged technologies of television, video, the computer, and the Internet, a visual analogy for the instant (and ultimately unsatisfying) gratification available through electronic media.

    The four large-scale paintings in the show featured

  • John Keane

    The painterly narratives in John Keane’s recent show, “Graham Greene and the Jungle of Human Dilemma,” evolved out of a trip he took to Mexico in January and February of 1995. While he was staying in Mexico City, Keane came across a copy of Greene’s 1938 book The Lawless Road, a searing indictment of the Mexican government’s persecution of Catholics. The resulting paintings conflate Keane’s memories of his own experiences in Mexico with tableaux suggested by Greene’s writings and photographs.

    Keane achieved notoriety with his 1991–92 series of Gulf War paintings, the most memorable of which

  • David Bates

    Although David Bates has been primarily known for his folk art-inspired paintings of life in the American Southwest, in this show he integrates painting into a three-dimensional format—largely figurative sculptures and wall reliefs, in plaster, wood, bronze, and mixed media, featuring bright, jazzy colors and textures and caricaturish renderings. Bates sets new formal and technical challenges for himself in creating an engagingly loopy, hybrid art form that suggests a meeting between Picasso’s sculpture and the brush of a folk artist. His alliance of folk art and Cubism is clever: Cubism evolved,

  • Dennis Masback

    Dennis Masback, now in his late forties, has been exhibiting his work in New York for nearly two decades, a period punctuated by a moment of near-celebrity in the late ’70s during which his work was compared to that of Jasper Johns and Brice Marden. Characterized by beautifully reflective surfaces and the use of printing techniques, the seductively luminescent paintings of that decade revealed the material reality beneath the painterly illusion, accentuating the weave of the canvas and the lines of the support with the use of such devices as the painted “window frames” that characterized one

  • Lesley Dill

    For the past several years, Lesley Dill has been incorporating poems by Emily Dickinson into her work and using many of the techniques of traditional 19th-century homecraft (dyeing, weaving, dressmaking, and needlework) in its creation. Her “Voices in My Head” features work inspired by Buddhist prayer flags she observed while living in India. Twelve-foot-long hanging cloths of muslin or gauze, stained with tea, shellac, or both, feature photo-silkscreens of despairing male and female faces or nudes, with snatches of Dickinson’s poems crudely stitched, stamped, or painted over the torso or face

  • Joe Nicastri

    Forbidding wooden boxes studded, porcupinelike, with rusty spines, Joe Nicastri’s sculptures open on surprisingly delicate—sometimes macabre-painted interiors depicting nude women and flowers, found objects, and often crushed seashells, or more of those rusty spines. The rugged, blackened, oxidized exteriors of the sculptures suggest sea urchins and treasure chests, decaying coffins, or some long lost Pandora’s box. The interiors offer no change of atmosphere, but tend to be more finished: Nicastri’s long career as a painter is evident in his delicate grisaille nudes and monochrome flowers on

  • Reverend William A. Blayney

    The charm of Reverend William A. Blayney’s recent show lay in the contrast between the size of the works (many measure only about a foot square and none approach the scale of much contemporary painting) and their quasi-mythical or religious subject matter—many-headed monsters, saintly knights on horseback, God seated on his throne in heaven. Words and thoughts appear in these pictures as halfdigested ideas or lingering, memorable phrases, the way they do in dreams. You can’t really decide, looking at them, if they’re the work of an exuberant and slightly deranged simpleton, or if Blayney is in

  • Judith Streeter

    The surfaces of Judith Streeter’s paintings resemble weather-beaten, painted-wood exteriors (tattered billboards, abandoned barns), evoking at once rural poverty and the rich tones of desert earth and sky. Against the paradoxically fecund emptiness, she often places a cross to suggest a sort of balance or stasis. In style and tone, these beautifully finished and subdued pieces owe something to the work of Anselm Kiefer, keenly aware not only of the weight of the history of painting but of history itself. Their heavily reworked surfaces and those passages in which the underlying wood panel has

  • Michael Mazur

    Referring to an earlier exhibition of prints, Michael Mazur reflected that his skill with color comes from “observation heightened by imagination controlled by memory.” The same could be said of this show of paintings, his most abstract works to date: while taken from nature, these images—which are perhaps most easily described as branched forms emerging from, crossing over, or residing within a deep and complicated light—possess a macabre excess that is controlled only by the artist’s remarkable awareness of the tension between two- and three-dimensionality, between painterliness and representation,

  • Godwin Hoffmann

    This handsome exhibition of works on paper is not quite indicative of Godwin Hoffmann’s main body of work. Working and exhibiting widely abroad, Hoffmann has installed shaped canvases in various environments—alongside bridges, on the walls of churches, inside an arch in an arcade. Those canvases present an odd hybrid of Abstract Expressionist and Color Field techniques that seem more decorative than anything else. This exhibition, however, included only one example of such work, and one senses that the black and white “drawings” are somehow studies for, or reactions to, the more highly finished

  • Hugh Steers

    For as long as he’s shown his work in New York, Hugh Steers has painted genre scenes of gay men in bohemian surroundings, sometimes dressed up in women’s clothing, sometimes, apparently, having sex (they’re discreetly positioned; it’s hard to know for sure). Some suffer from AIDS—catheters, wasted bodies, and hospital robes are much in evidence—and in the gloomy, naked-lightbulb atmosphere, all his subjects take on an abject pallor.

    The overall sensibility, despite ominous lighting and portentous poses, is one of self-awareness; each face and body quietly possessed by a sense of its

  • Lydia Schouten

    Lydia Schouten’s debut exhibition in New York (she’s Dutch and has exhibited for years throughout Europe) was a single installation originally created in 1990 for a European gallery. The installation, Celebrating My 40th Birthday Alone at the Blue Hotel Room, 1990–93, featured a latex cast of the artist’s face tucked into a luminous-green plastic bed, surrounded by TV-generated images of killers and their victims. These images were framed on the walls, with texts taken from personal ads—such as “A Younger Man Seeks Older Woman . . .”—superimposed over them. The victims were visible on small

  • Jorge Tacla

    Jorge Tacla harmoniously arranges apparently unrelated sensibilities on the canvas, traveling through time to select seemingly disparate pictorial elements. His more orderly scribblings possess the magisterial look of Egyptian hieroglyphics, his earthy jute canvases that of water-damaged papyrus scrolls or crumbling sandstone, and his palette—black, brown, and white—is that of the Old Masters. Yet the odd geometric forms and atmospheric ambience of Tacla’s work suggest some cybertech underworld, an interplanetary wasteland where asteroids and space invaders battle to the death.

    In contrast to

  • Michael Bergt

    Michael Bergt’s multifaceted exhibition—panels of egg tempera on gesso, large bronzes, a room full of etchings—aptly demonstrated his enormous technical proficiency. Everything in it looked great from the far side of the room. The work was animated, colorful, highly polished. You immediately sensed its possibilities, and wanted to like it.

    Bergt’s paintings have such an unearthly beauty—the details and skyscapes of Northern Renaissance altarpieces, lovely colors, odd architectural and structural details—that they seem to promise a new vision, some strange conjunction of social realism and

  • Michael Byron

    In Michael Byron’s recent exhibition, two candles, in the shape of life-sized busts cast in paraffin, each faced a series of elegant gray-on-black “drip” paintings. On these paintings, typographic collage translates each dribble and squiggle into some psychological “moment”—“lust,” “laziness,” “substance abuse,” “fate,” “enlightenment,” “inner peace.” In a companion exhibition in Paris, Byron presented an installation entitled, Search6: Le Tableau d’Amsterdam 1992–93, which indicated that’ as a whole, his new work is about translation: the translation of paint into language, of a squiggle into

  • Adam Cvijanovic

    Adam Cvijanovic’s installation was a delightful surprise: at once a visual pleasure and a commentary on the politics of viewing. The artist compiled an impressive series of representational paintings that borrow heavily from the Romantic tradition. But the work is hardly pastiche; rather, it attempts to reconcile theories of the nature and purpose of art with its seductive properties.

    In the tiny storefront gallery, painted bright white, 18 delicate, grisaille paintings of erupting volcanoes ranged across the walls, forming a large and colorful imaginary landscape, complemented by a painting of

  • Wolf Kahn

    Wolf Kahn’s new work explores the possibilities of outrageous color in otherwise highly traditional landscape compositions. Ranging from tiny pastels on paper to very large oils on canvas, these works were completed in a variety of locations, from Vermont to Mexico. All feature Kahn’s signature explosive color combinations: shocking pink, cobalt blue, bloody orange, and ultraviolet. Drawing on an extraordinary sensibility for the permutations of natural light, Kahn makes the most unseemly and unlikely combinations into beautifully coherent works, so much so that each work seems not just striking,

  • Lisa Bradley

    To the casual observer, Lisa Bradley’s paintings may simply suggest spectacular optical effects achieved by way of a monochromatic painterly medium. The paintings—all nearly square and in various shades of blue—evoke the swirling tumbling forces of water and sky. They seem to derive their power to confound the eye from the abstract potential of photography: the maelstrom viewed through a camera obscura. But, in fact, the longer one spends with them, the more disorienting the paintings become. Or perhaps “disorienting” isn’t quite the word; all the blueness makes them oddly tranquil.

  • David Hockney

    David Hockney’s new paintings are entirely of a piece. Uniformly small in size (“My gazebo studio overlooking the sea is not very large,” he explains) and similar in texture, pattern, and bright, highly keyed palette, they seem less like individual works than components of a suite. Their uniformity, set against the artist’s coy diffidence and seemingly arbitrary methodology, leads to the conclusion that Hockney is satisfied to let his new vision speak for itself. That he is, in fact, merely acting as a scribe.

    Rich in eye-grabbing color, these jewellike paintings suggest an imaginary world in