Kathleen Madden

  • picks July 23, 2014

    Genieve Figgis

    In “Yes Captain,” the surfaces of Genieve Figgis’s paintings resonate with fetishistic effect—they are charged with erotic force and replete with lascivious, decadent content. An implied narrative permeates these intimately scaled works. In the exhibition’s eponymous piece, a dominant figure seems to be in a Peter the Great–era costume: In a rich crimson velvet ruched coat, he is caught in flagrante delicto with a woman bent at the waist and daubed with fleshy pigments. The imperiousness of power is revealed in the quivering surfaces of these paintings, where faint wisps of color are like

  • picks January 14, 2014

    Akram Zaatari

    For his first solo show in London, Lebanese artist Akram Zaatari has presented two extensive installations—one in each of Thomas Dane Gallery’s spaces—consisting of framed photographs, iPad displays, still images that are incorporated into sculptural casements, and16-mm projections that emphasize the physical presence of the projector. As a cofounder of the pioneering Arab Image Foundation, which was established in 1997, Zaatari has participated in preserving and archiving a collection of more than six hundred thousand images of vernacular and studio photography from the Middle East, North

  • picks October 15, 2013

    Arslan Sukan

    Through a process of eradications and slight additions, Arslan Sukan assembles photographs based on the formulaic codes that dominate the installation views of white-cube gallery spaces. His digital images document international venues, many of them familiar and some even identifiable, prompting seasoned art viewers to engage in a memory game of sorts. Each photograph seems to depict a blank space—a pristine gallery emptied of art. A bit like the way Robert Rauschenberg took a Willem de Kooning drawing for the sole purpose of obliterating it, Sukan appropriates installation views from the

  • picks September 26, 2013

    “A Sense of Place”

    If the concept of place in photography has shifted throughout history, “A Sense of Place” examines these shifts in rich detail through the work of more than forty artists from the past two centuries. Beginning in the 1840s, a scientific approach to the medium gave rise to photographic “documents” such as topographical ordinance survey studies—like the one on view here by Carleton E. Watkins, The Yosemite Valley from Inspiration Point, ca. 1883. Later, in the post–World War II period, photographers suggested metaphoric meaning embedded in photographed sites, such as the socially charged American

  • picks May 27, 2013

    Josh Tonsfeldt

    The primary operation in Josh Tonsfeldt’s solo show is the layering of architectural forms—the accretion of references to locations beyond the gallery that relate to the artist’s personal experiences. Tonsfeldt has transformed Simon Preston Gallery by diagrammatically integrating the Iowan farmhouse where his grandfather lived, mapping the midwestern building onto the conditions of the gallery. In the main installation eighteen three-foot-wide and nearly eight-foot-tall plaster casts of the gallery floor are propped up like Minimalist slabs to represent the modest, domestic height of the farmhouse

  • picks April 09, 2013

    Richard Nonas

    Since the late-1960s, and with poetic simplicity and an economy of means, Richard Nonas has embraced “locally grown” materials (wood, steel, and stone) to make sense of found space. For “Ridge,” his first solo exhibition with James Fuentes, Nonas aligned his steel floor piece Long Division, 2013, with the entrance of the gallery, as if to immediately pull us into the work. Three untitled works similarly reside on the floor; made of sawn-off steel lengths, they resemble scratched and pitted building blocks, and are the show’s mathematical remainders set within the room’s topography. One sculpture

  • picks May 05, 2012

    Hunter Reynolds

    For nearly three decades, Hunter Reynolds has explored issues of survival, death, and mourning in his work, taking special interest in rituals that address mortality and transformative rejuvenation. Recently he has performed shamanistic fire ceremonies on a sacred Mohawk site in upstate New York. Among felled trees adorned with glitter, beads, and bangles, talismanic offerings are ritualistically burned during these events. The charred pieces that survive have been assembled for Reynolds’s current exhibition, “Butur,” as totems, readorned with glitter, and some carved in a frantic motion, before

  • picks January 30, 2012

    Selma Makela and “Solar Do-Nothing Machine”

    Rejecting the tyranny of dreariness typical of London in midwinter, this show expectantly embraces transience in nature. Films by various artists and a group of paintings by Selma Makela touch on the ephemeral. Anna Barriball’s film Projection, 2003, harnesses the intangible: The artist stands at an open window as sun cascades in, reflecting coruscations off her rhinestone shirt. Similarly, Rachel Lowe’s series of video shorts A Letter to an Unknown Person, 2008, captures the artist’s attempts to draw Magic Marker outlines of the fast-moving landscape outside onto a car’s passenger-side window.

  • picks October 18, 2011

    Michelle Lopez

    One could make the case that surface has been the main focus of art production since the end of the nineteenth century. In Michelle Lopez’s sculptural works, consideration of the surface is not to be underestimated. She works against the tenants of Minimalism, diverging from the pristine “finish fetishism” of industrial production. In “Vertical Neck”—the show’s title uses a term that classifies a bird and insinuates a posture—Lopez manipulates industrial materials to construct wall sculptures that lean, bringing a sense of humility to the legacy of Minimalist monoliths.

    Known for wrapping unexpected

  • picks June 13, 2011

    Kerry Tribe

    Kerry Tribe’s work deploys technology and archives in unusual ways to investigate memory, particularly how time structures our lives and remembrances. Tribe does not use gadgets gratuitously––she enhances the viewing experience by constructing a phenomenological encounter. Milton Torres Sees a Ghost (all works cited, 2010) is designed to unfold during one’s encounter with it. A horizontal ribbon of magnetic tape is elegantly extended across the wall and anchored on two ends––about seventy feet apart––by two reel-to-reel machines. Walking alongside it, one begins to hear from the tape player’s

  • picks June 01, 2011

    “Figures & Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography”

    “Figures & Fictions” brings together photographs taken in the past decade by artists living in South Africa. Most compelling are the images of confident members of the “born free” generation that has been raised in the postapartheid environment. Nontsikelelo “Lolo” Veleko, for instance, presents work from her series “Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder,” 2003–10, wherein she captures South Africans asserting their individuality, posing as if on the pages of flamboyant and expensive magazines. They flaunt their style, but the hybrid clothing combinations they piece together reflect inventiveness

  • picks May 02, 2011

    Józef Robakowski

    This thoughtful retrospective of nearly five decades of Józef Robakowski’s work is organized as a micro–study center of his work and its cultural context. The intimately scaled show explores a vital figure of experimental cinema from the 1970s and includes significant cinematic works, posters, and archival photographs and documents, as well as a DVD library with more than forty video pieces available for view. Particular emphasis is given to the Workshop of the Film Form and other instances of Robakowski’s collaborative engagements both in Poland and internationally. When interviewed in a 1987

  • picks March 28, 2011

    Josephine Meckseper

    In her latest exhibition, Josephine Meckseper presents sculptures that further the themes raised by her previous shiny and seductive works that are also smart and interrogative of commodity culture. Take, for example, Thank a Vet, 2008, which includes objects such as a walker, mannequin legs, an underwear box, a T-shirt (telling us to “Thank a Vet”), and a plastic motor oil container, all of which are precisely assembled on a large mirrored plinth. Installed in front of a window with an expansive view of the city beyond, Thank a Vet reflects directly on urban life. Meckseper’s work elicits both

  • picks March 18, 2011

    Vide-Poche

    In French “vide-poche” literally means “empty pocket,” but it also refers to objects that one uses on a day-to-day basis, and as such, the phrase has poetic allusions to the plenitude of detritus that shapes ordinary existence. In this exhibition, the expression is expanded to describe sculptural formations with the capacity to evacuate and shift meaning through ambiguity.

    The show opens with Samuel Clagnaz’s video Hat Shrine, 2008, a ribald statement in which he is seen building a shrine and then ritualistically worshipping a sculpture that comprises two plastic water bottles. In a wittily

  • picks February 24, 2011

    Lucy Clout

    There is a defiant muteness at play in Lucy Clout’s latest show, “Physicalism or Near Enough.” An impish digital portrait of Clout, her hands on either side of her mouth, pulling a toothy grin, stands in as the press release (having been e-mailed in lieu of a conventional one) and is positioned at the entrance of the show. Affixed below the image are swatches of embroidered trim, brocade with shimmery metallic threads, and fake pearls. Even the work’s title, LLLC11_LimoncelloPR, 2011, references what would be the file name for a digital press release. Clout has moreover supplied the gallery with

  • picks February 09, 2011

    “New York to London and Back – The Medium of Contingency”

    This project is a collaboration between London’s Thomas Dane, New York’s Miguel Abreu, and London’s Urbanomic, an organization that addresses issues in contemporary philosophy and science in relation to art, with a particular focus on unpredictability, uncertainty, and provisional circumstances. The alliance has given rise to multiple forms: group show, public discussion, film screening, and publication. The exhibition builds on a concise array of gestures exploring ambiguity, incomplete narratives, and the nature of accumulated desire.

    Contingency is used as a philosophical trope that purports

  • picks January 21, 2011

    Katrin Sigurdardottir

    There is something magical happening in Katrin Sigurdardottir’s work, where architectural scale and space are re-presented as if Alice has returned from Wonderland, bringing evidence of a world full of alternative interiors. Sigurdardottir uses as source material the eighteenth-century French polyhedral boudoir from the Hôtel de Crillon, as well as another space from the Hôtel de Cabris—now period rooms installed and preserved in the Wrightsman Galleries at the Met. Location is key. Sigurdardottir plays with the relationship of the “original” rooms to their displaced versions.

    The show consists

  • picks December 08, 2010

    Peter Alexander and Sarah Braman

    This show creates a cross-generational dialogue between two artists who are primarily concerned with space and color, and with how these aspects of sculptural work affect light on a surface. Peter Alexander was born in 1939; Sarah Braman in 1970. They are from opposite coasts and different generations, but a connection is visible in the richness of the relationship between the two artists’ practices, both of which reveal a predilection for domestic sensation.

    The opening gambit is from Alexander: Pink Drip (all works cited, 2010), a rectangular wall-based work made of cast polyester resin and a

  • picks October 30, 2010

    Erin Shirreff

    Erin Shirreff has created a delicate balance between form and image for her exhibition “Still, Flat, and Far,” a literal title that is indicative of the structures she has arranged. Four sculptures made from compressed ash and Hydrocal, a white gypsum cement, lean against the walls and, in one case, jut up from the floor at an angle. The material composite gives these sculptures a sullen color and a surface that confirms fabrication. Adorning the walls, six photographs are presented in wooden frames like those in which butterfly collections might be displayed. These black-and-white newsprint

  • picks October 26, 2010

    Matthew Day Jackson

    Matthew Day Jackson pieces together history in two concurrent shows, one in SoHo (“The Tomb”) and another in Chelsea (“In Search Of”), which form a coherent presentation. Relentless in unraveling and rearticulating humanity’s past, Jackson employs meticulous research not to determine the historical record but to engage viewers.

    His Chelsea show includes a wall piece, August 6, 1945 (all works cited, 2010): a burnt topographical map. Its title is resonant, marking the day “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima. However, the map is of another city, and the piece is from a series whose works all