Kaelen Wilson-Goldie

  • Gordon Parks

    In an untitled photograph from 1978, the model Iman casually rests her elbows on two tall stacks of ancient African artifacts. In another, from 1966, a young Muhammad Ali leans against a stairwell bannister in London, gazing intently toward the upper right-hand corner of the frame. In another still, from 1960, we see Duke Ellington through the television monitors of a recording studio. In 1957, the photographer Gordon Parks made a vivid color portrait of the painter Helen Frankenthaler, vamping for the camera on a drop cloth in her studio. In 1952, he shot the hand of Alexander Calder, reaching

  • picks February 23, 2018

    Huguette Caland

    A pair of oils on linen serves as the linchpin for this small but powerful exhibition of Huguette Caland’s drawings, paintings, caftans, and smocks. Both pictures show mischievous faces emerging from mounds of flesh. In Sunrise, 1973, a small male head peeks out from behind a face (or a breast) resembling a stylized mountain. In Eux, ca. 1975, an expanse of peach skin morphs into four women’s faces seen in full profile. This show in its entirety is just the four walls around one room. These are the only two paintings. But they work like an architecturally dramatic set of double doors, opening

  • picks February 16, 2018

    Susan Meiselas

    Susan Meiselas took her first photography class when she was in her early twenties, studying at Harvard and living in a Cambridge boardinghouse on Irving Street. Her final project from the course, “44 Irving Street,” 1971, matched portraits of her neighbors with texts that described how they saw themselves in her pictures. The wild card in the series is Meiselas’s own self-portrait, double-exposed, a ghostly trace over a sturdy wooden chair. This is the first image you’ll see if you visit Meiselas’s blockbuster retrospective, up until May 20 at the Jeu de Paume in Paris. And it’s the last image

  • picks February 02, 2018

    Thornton Dial

    In the art of the late Southern painter Thornton Dial, the notion of “relief” leads in several directions. Along one path, it was the word used in his lifetime (he died in 2016 at the age of eighty-seven) to describe his wild assemblages on canvas and wood, which were so heavily piled with found objects, oils, paints, enamels, and other compounds that they reach out several inches from the wall. In another sense—for an artist who was dealing with some of the more abject horrors of the world and described his approach to history in terms of tilling the soil—“relief” also suggests a kind of

  • Farah Al Qasimi

    A year ago in February, a white US military veteran in his fifties walked into a bar in the Midwestern town of Olathe, Kansas. The man scanned the crowd and spotted two brown-skinned men sitting together. He left and returned with a gun. He shouted, “Get out of my country!” and then shot them both. He killed one and wounded the other; a bystander who tried to intervene was also injured. The gunman then turned, ran out of the bar, and drove to another one eighty miles away. He was arrested after he told the bartender there that he had just shot two men he thought were Iranian. His victims were

  • picks January 26, 2018

    LaToya Ruby Frazier

    LaToya Ruby Frazier’s first show here is expansive, tenderhearted, and so cleverly slotted across three large floors of ascending exhibition space that you might actually laugh out loud when you arrive at the uppermost landing and realize the paces you’ve been put through to get there.

    On the ground floor, the looking is tough and requires real work. Frazier’s “Flint Is Family,” 2016–17, made up of twenty-four photographs, follows three generations of women—mother Renée, daughter Shea, and granddaughter Zion—as they course through the horrors of the Michigan water crisis, in which a toxic

  • picks January 05, 2018

    Elizabeth Catlett

    The Senegalese poet Léopold Sédar Senghor once said that “everyone must be mixed in their own way.” That idea, according to the philosopher Souleymane Bachir Diagne, in his book African Art as Philosophy (2011), was central to Senghor’s belief that African art was the expression of an aesthetic, a philosophy, an entire cosmology, and that it would only have meaning if it were open to the world and had access to freedom. The art of Elizabeth Catlett seems to take up that line of thinking and push it further, producing it anew.

    For this show, titled “Wake Up in Glory,” twelve of Catlett’s sculptures

  • Cecily Brown

    In her marvelous writing on the art of Joan Mitchell in Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions (2007), Maggie Nelson wrestles with several of the reasons why Mitchell’s paintings have proven so difficult to place in the established art-historical accounts of postwar American painting. Mitchell pushed her work too far into the wild realms of nature and human consciousness to fit the rigid formalist theories of Clement Greenberg. She labored too long on every canvas to count as the kind of action painter held up by Harold Rosenberg. She was unapologetically committed to the depths

  • “Francis Alÿs: Knot’n Dust”

    Francis Alÿs came to Beirut for the first time nine years ago, in December 2008, for a workshop organized by the upstart arts organization 98Weeks. At the time, he and the curator Cuauhtémoc Medina proposed walking the city as an artistic practice in and of itself. The Lebanese capital has changed dramatically since then, and Alÿs’s engagement with conflicts in the wider region—including major projects in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan—has grown substantially. The artist’s first solo exhibition at an institution in the Middle East ups the metaphorical

  • “Mounira Al Solh: I strongly believe in our right to be frivolous”

    Mounira Al Solh has established herself as one of the most exciting young Lebanese artists in a generation set to follow in the outsize footsteps of predecessors such as Rabih Mroué, Walid Raad, and Akram Zaatari. She did so through outrageous expressions of disaffection in videos such as Rawane’s Song and As If I Don’t Fit There, both 2006, which are about having nothing to say regarding Lebanon’s civil war and artists who quit, respectively. It was all an utterly charming ruse, of course, masking the artist’s deep and serious engagement with the

  • picks December 22, 2017

    René Magritte

    René Magritte and his wife, Georgette, never had children—that kind of production wasn’t high on the Surrealist agenda—but they did keep a menagerie of pets, including dogs and cats and much-beloved pigeons. In one of the most striking images in this closet-size but museum-quality show of Magritte’s little known photography, Georgette poses against a black background, her arms crossed high in front of her chest, a bird perched on each hand.

    Magritte’s Le rendez-vous, Georgette Magritte, Bruxelles, 1938, carries the same mischievous spirit, the same intimation of magic, that characterizes Surrealist

  • picks December 15, 2017

    “Interwoven Dialogues”

    For almost fifteen years, the Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj has been making loud, uproarious photographs pairing the conventions of historical West African studio portraiture with the accouterments of Arabic kitsch. The pictures are light and fun and quote knowingly from art history, pirated fashion, and the curious flotsam of globalization. People tend to love or hate Hajjaj’s work—a predicament not helped by his sobriquet, the Andy Warhol of Marrakech. But wherever you fall on the spectrum, you can probably agree that the work doesn’t quite play well with others.

    Perhaps it’s a sign that this

  • picks December 08, 2017

    Tunji Adeniyi-Jones

    In all but one of the eight large paintings on view in Tunji Adeniyi-Jones’s assured solo debut, a curvaceous, androgynous figure, or pair, floats in space, twisting and turning ethereally through dense vegetation, the coils of a serpent, or gentle foliage that may well be underwater. Adeniyi-Jones’s compositions pack everything into a shallow plane. What appears at first to be rougher, more gestural brushwork—in, say, the upper right corner of an otherwise super-smooth canvas such as Blue Dancer, 2017—becomes, with a closer look, an almost divine source of light filtering into the picture,

  • picks December 01, 2017

    Phil Collins

    In baghdad screentests, 2002, he auditioned everyday Iraqis for a nonexistent Hollywood movie, throwing Andy Warhol’s example into the harrowing pause between international sanctions and a catastrophic war. In they shoot horses, 2004, he filmed two groups of teenagers in Ramallah, Palestine, who danced for eight hours straight, treading delicately toward ideas of heroism, exhaustion, and collapse through tracks by Beyoncé and Bananarama. In marxism today (prologue), 2010, he added a Stereolab sound track to the discomfiting creep of nostalgia for a set of systems and structures that failed, for

  • Kaelen Wilson-Goldie

    WALID RAAD’S LATEST EXHIBITION at the Sfeir-Semler Gallery in Beirut features three solid bodies of work spanning the artist’s two well-established long-term projects, the Atlas Group, 1989–2004, and Scratching on Things I Could Disavow, 2007–, and including material from the lesser-known but equally clever series “Sweet Talk: Commissions (Beirut),” 1987–, a repository of sorts for Raad’s creative, off-kilter thinking about photography in relation to the endless cycles of destruction and construction afflicting his hometown of Beirut. It is a perfectly interesting and accomplished show, even if

  • Ahmad Ghossein

    For several years now, the artist and filmmaker Ahmad Ghossein has been splashing around in the psyche of Southern Lebanon, that swath of politically volatile, frequently war-ravaged, and always incongruously verdant countryside squished between Syria, Israel, and the Mediterranean Sea. Think rolling hills, parasol pines, premodern poverty, Hezbollah, and the mini castle mansions of the nouveaux riches. In videos such as The Fourth Stage and the performance When the Ventriloquist Came and Spoke to Me, both 2015, Ghossein has delved into the ways the territory can be known, imagined, and

  • diary November 27, 2017

    Lotus Position

    ASK ALMOST ANYONE IN NEW ORLEANS about Charles “Buddy” Bolden and they’ll tell you he was the king and, loosely speaking, the father of jazz. A cornet player who was active at the turn of the twentieth century, Bolden drank too much, lived too hard, played too loud. He was known for a syncopated squawk, weaving in and out of crowds gathered in the French Quarter on parade days and bursting onto the street at irregular intervals to blast his horn. Since he died, in 1931, at the Louisiana State Insane Asylum—twenty-five years after he suffered a psychotic break and disappeared from public

  • picks November 24, 2017

    Hayv Kahraman

    For more than a decade, the Baghdad-born, Los Angeles–based artist Hayv Kahraman has been making paintings in a style that is unmistakably her own, mixing elements of Persian miniature and Renaissance portraiture with a vaguely Japanese aesthetic. She works on raw linen and leaves ample space untouched. She paints women with ghostly white skin, red lips, strong brows, and calligraphic shocks of black hair. The figures in painting after painting always appear to be the same person, with subtle variations. Kahraman has arranged them into sacrificial scenes; cast them as evil marionettes; as one

  • picks November 10, 2017

    Valeska Soares

    “This is a true story,” begins the text on a page torn from the back of a book, humbly framed and inconspicuously placed at the start—or is it the finish?—of Valeska Soares’s first show here. Located on the second floor, the piece isn’t on the checklist. It both is and is not part of the show. It marks a new beginning and at the same time signals continuity, introducing the installation Epilogue, 2017, an epic variation on Finale, 2013. Finale consists of an antique dining table topped with mirrored glass and covered with dozens of dainty vintage drinking glasses, all of them filled with spirits.

  • picks November 03, 2017

    Mary Kelly

    Mary Kelly’s landmark installation Post-Partum Document, 1973–79, tracing out the early years of the artist’s life with her son, from his first consumption of solids to his acquisition of language, has been so consistently present in intellectual discourse that it is hard to imagine the history of feminist art without it. So crystalline was Kelly’s articulation of psychoanalytic principles that it is also easy to forget how prosaic the work really is. The soiled diapers give evidence that she did a good job weaning her baby. The record of his every utterance expresses the abundantly common