Kim Beil

  • picks January 19, 2018

    John Houck

    The title of John Houck’s first solo show in San Francisco, “Hands, See Mouth,” refers to a dream he had in which a book’s index featured an entry for “hands” that said to “see mouth,” and vice versa. This circularity is a vivid reality in etymological investigations. Houck suggests perceptual knowledge is equally fraught.

    Curated by Jessica Silverman, the show combines work from three series: “Coordinate Systems,” 2016–, as well as “Playing and Reality,” and “Accumulators,” both 2013–. Houck’s art often demands attention to the vagaries of representational depth. These pieces depict colored,

  • picks October 02, 2017

    Sean McFarland

    Sean McFarland treads lightly through the history of Western landscape photography. In this exhibition, “Echo,” he utilizes the familiar iconography of mountains and waterfalls, but his treatment undermines the presumptions of truth, power, and possession that have long been associated with the genre.

    McFarland’s wall installations read as a cross between an artist’s studio and a nineteenth-century laboratory. In the largest of three such groupings here, dozens of Polaroids, tiny cyanotypes, and gelatin silver and ink-jet prints are either framed, affixed to the wall with sewing pins, or housed

  • picks July 22, 2017

    Diana Al-Hadid

    Under a barrel-vaulted skylight, Diana Al-Hadid’s monumental sculpture Nolli’s Orders, 2012, glistens as if wet, a tiered fountain’s downward currents frozen into stalactites. Reclining on fragile palafittes are casts of human models, their limbs languorously arrayed. The figures and their environment all share the same bone-china hue, veined with pastel green, yellow, pink, and the silver of tinfoil. Al-Hadid’s primary materials are both surface and support. Mixing pigment into polymer gypsum, the artist makes color central to the sculpture’s form, rather than a decorative addition.

    Many of

  • picks March 10, 2017

    Toyin Ojih Odutola

    The nearly life-size pastel, pencil, and charcoal drawings in Toyin Ojih Odutola’s exhibition ostensibly offer a privileged look at the private lives of an aristocratic African family. The subjects’ nonchalance, combined with the artist’s use of foreshortening and flattening effects, makes these works feel like they are derived from photographs, prompting the question: Whose gaze do we inhabit while viewing them? This query lingers, even after learning that the background story is actually an elaborate fiction that Ojih Odutola has invented to explore the physical markers of wealth.

    Her earlier

  • picks December 19, 2016

    Sohei Nishino

    Each of Sohei Nishino’s photographic collages is a record of the artist’s interaction with a city. He spends weeks photographing on the streets and seeking out high vantage points from buildings or parks. Then he prints contact sheets, cuts out individual frames, and reassembles them into mural-size collages as large as six by seven feet, which are then re-photographed. The hallmarks of the “Diorama Maps,” 2004–, as the artist calls them, are their vertiginous shifts in perspective. From a distance they appear to be panoramic or bird’s-eye-view maps, which depict a city’s geography from a fixed,

  • picks September 29, 2016

    “Of Many Minds”

    The work on view in “Of Many Minds” gives new life to what photography tends to render dead or unchanging. Even as the three artists appropriate historic photographic techniques, there is a sense of the future in their work, albeit one threatened by man-made ecological change.

    Theresa Ganz’s works are haunted by nineteenth-century processes even as they are cut through with the present tense of digital manipulation. Recalling geologic survey photographs in their attention to detail and focus, Serpentine Day for Night 1 and 2 (all works cited, 2016) give the illusion of moonlight shining on a

  • picks July 17, 2016

    Lauren Marsolier and Rachelle Bussières

    Lauren Marsolier’s photographs are unreal. Or perhaps too real. The LA-based artist deconstructs and then reassembles photographs of various places—including industrial sites, gardens, roads, and office parks—to create fictive places. The seven composites on view defy the laws of nature: impossibly bright, but few shadows. More Citizenfour (2014) than film noir, these pictures promise transparency but reveal nothing. Even the messy evidence of humans is curiously sterile: Stained mattresses outside a building in Two Roads (Diptych) and spray-painted plywood in Empty Pot and Shadow, both 2015–16,

  • picks June 27, 2016

    “New Material”

    In photography, “material” can refer to a picture’s content and to the physicality of the photograph itself. The eight artists in this ambitious group show address both uses of the word. Following the Getty Center’s survey last winter of midcareer photographers, “The Younger Generation: Contemporary Japanese Photography,” this show, titled “New Material,” could be subtitled “The Even Younger Generation,” as most of the artists were born after 1980 and engage with the force of Japan’s photographic history as well as contemporary global trends in the medium.

    Many of the artists in “New Material”