Leora Maltz-Leca

  • passages July 20, 2018

    David Goldblatt (1930–2018)

    PERHAPS THE SUBJECT THAT DAVID GOLDBLATT MOST IDENTIFIED WITH was the Karoo desert, the Great and the Little, the desiccated stillness and the dusty roads that cross it. Farmlands Uitkyk, Bushmanland, Northern Cape, 27 June 2004, 2004, which he chose for the cover of the 2014 Steidl reissue of Regarding Intersections, was a sterling example of it, the kind of terrain Goldblatt privately called “fuck-all.” Was it the refusal embedded in these surfaces that induced him to stare so long, to dig so hard? Whatever the provocation, he was a photographer—and a person—who needed to get to the core of

  • “PASCALE MARTHINE TAYOU: BEAUTIFUL”

    Tayou possesses one of the quirkiest and most irreverent artistic sensibilities around: Having abandoned the study of law for art, he revels in contradiction, mysticism, and delphic aphorism, all of which he cloaks in riotous color and sparkly lights. In this show—organized in close collaboration with the artist himself—Tayou will present a range of assemblages from the past decade, including his signature crystal doll sculptures, “Poupées Pascale,” 2007–17, and his chalk mosaics, “Fresques de craies,” 2015–16. He will ruffle the

  • passages September 21, 2016

    Malick Sidibé (ca. 1936–2016)

    REGARDEZ-MOI!” a voice shouts assertively. The photographer turns and swings toward the young man dancing. His knees are bent low, buttressing a torso thrown impossibly far back. His arms are flung wide open, his grin even wider. Snap. The photographer shifts position, steps one foot forward, lowers his camera, and snaps again. The year is 1962. The place is Bamako, Mali. And the photographer is Malick Sidibé, whose formally elegant, dynamically composed black-and-white images testify to the complex modernities fashioned across postcolonial Africa.

    That they exist as such is cause for both

  • “William Kentridge: Thick Time”

    Stretching time. Unwinding it. Reminding us how we all dance against the drumbeat of our ticking hearts. William Kentridge has claimed for the past three decades that his work is “all about time.” This exhibition, named for the Bakhtinian processes the artist uses to describe the viscous temporalities of his studio, plumbs the depths of Kentridgean time. His clock is, of course, set to the willful time of southern Africa—its peculiar dilations and coagulations, its leaps and surges, its refusals of Greenwich’s imperial cadence. A rich lineup

  • Dak’Art Biennale: “La cité dans le jour bleu”

    Now in its twelfth iteration, Africa’s most significant biennial is a mandatory stop on the global exhibition circuit. Simon Njami curates this summer’s presentation, featuring sixty-five artists from across the continent and its diasporas. Their work will run the gamut of media: from the murals and sculptural residues of rising South African star Kemang Wa Lehulere to the photographs of Ivoirian François-Xavier Gbré, from the multimedia installations of Algerian Kader Attia to the videos of Congolese Michèle Magema. Njami’s lyrical title for the exhibition, La cité dans

  • “Zanele Muholi: Isibinelo/Evidence”

    As South Africans commemorated twenty years of postapartheid democracy last year, Johannesburg-based photographer Zanele Muholi was documenting the violence that persists against the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex communities. The series “Faces and Phases,” 2006–14, for example, like much of the work of this self-described “visual activist,” measures the distance between the liberties enshrined in South Africa’s lauded constitution and the sexual violence and hate crimes that continue to be committed against local women,

  • “Marlene Dumas: The Image as Burden”

    In the small watercolor from which this exhibition takes its title, a man carries the slumped, expired muse of painting in his arms. The work, dated 1993, is typical of Dumas’s oeuvre—the allegorizing of her medium as some pointed female type. And now, from limp heroine to painted prostitute, more than one hundred pieces will compose the most extensive European retrospective of the South African–born artist’s career. Many of these works probe the gravity of representation, construed not only as the weight of history or the

  • “Pascale Marthine Tayou: I Love You”

    “I Love You,” the coquettish subtitle of Pascale Marthine Tayou’s upcoming exhibition at the Kunsthaus Bregenz, is of course gently ironic: an ambivalent affirmation in line with the Cameroonian-born, Belgium-based artist’s long history of ebullient antagonism toward the museums and biennials that host his work. Whether through jury-rigged installations that destabilize institutions’ physical and conceptual architecture from within or via his dazzling aesthetics of excess (think bauble-swathed Venetian crystal sculptures bedecked with crimson

  • Zwelethu Mthethwa

    Zwelethu Mthethwa’s signature formal preferences—riotous saturated color and grand scale—have always implied a rejection of the rigid black-and-white documentary aesthetic that dominated apartheid-era South African art. This December, a much- anticipated retrospective of the Cape Town–based artist’s photo and video work will go on view at the Fundación MAPFRE, showcasing seventy-five of his works from 1985 to 2012. Included in this selection will be his breakthrough 1995–2005 “Interiors” series, which, gainsaying its title’s promise, appears to invite

  • “Ibrahim El-Salahi: A Visionary Modernist”

    Perhaps more than any institution of its ilk,Tate Modern has made a commitment to expanding—or even exploding—the Euro-American canon of postwar art. This initiative underpins its staging of “Ibrahim El-Salahi: A Visionary Modernist,” a retrospective (organized by New York’s Museum for African Art) of one of a generation of African artists who forged a complex syncretism from the wreckage of high modernism. Although his integration of painting, drawing, and writing has brought him scholarly recognition as a founding figure of the Khartoum school, the Anglo-Sudanese

  • passages November 23, 2012

    Alfred Kumalo (1930–2012)

    IN 2012, awash in images, it is hard to conceive of a time when a photograph of someone like Nelson Mandela could be a rarity. But in the last decades of South Africa’s apartheid, leaders like Mandela, Oliver Tambo, and Robert Sobukwe were imprisoned, exiled, or killed. All images of them were banned. In this atmosphere, photographs of these men assumed a spectral, iconic status. Dog-eared and worn, stuffed into drawers and hidden among papers, the few portraits that existed of such figures circulated like contraband. Possessing these photographs could lead to trouble. And taking them certainly

  • “Alfredo Jaar: The Way It Is. An Aesthetics of Resistance”

    This summer, Berlin will host the first German retrospective of Alfredo Jaar’s four-decade career. Spanning three venues, the initiative is anchored by the NGBK, which, in presenting documentation of the Santiago-born American’s early actions in Chile during the country’s military dictatorship, will foreground his longtime engagement with—and ambivalence toward—an “aesthetics of resistance.” As the august Alte Nationalgalerie restages two large- scale installations from 1987, Persona and the provocatively equivocal 1+1+1 (on view through

  • Santu Mofokeng

    “DAVID GOLDBLATT IS CONCERNED with the is-ness of things,” Santu Mofokeng said of his onetime mentor earlier this year. “I’m interested in their isn’t-ness.” It is this negative metaphysics that largely shapes the South African photographer’s long-overdue retrospective, titled “Chasing Shadows: Santu Mofokeng, Thirty Years of Photographic Essays” and curated by Corinne Diserens for the Jeu de Paume. While Goldblatt has long probed the stubborn objectness of the world—the intractable presence of things—Mofokeng’s work reveals a progressive destabilization of material form: People dissolve

  • picks June 17, 2011

    “Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now”

    Inexpensive to produce and reproduce, easy to transport and diffuse, prints have long flourished as a medium of political disaffection. This was certainly the case in South Africa, whose restless history of papery protest is charted in this compact printmaking survey. Apartheid’s excesses of power––often creatively conceived in these works as an animalization of the human––emerge in one of Jo Ractcliffe’s sutured photolithographs of windswept, baying hounds. They also appear in Norman Catherine’s hand-colored etchings of ragged-toothed warlords, quadrupedal policemen, and taloned creatures of

  • picks March 26, 2011

    Howard Hodgkin

    Although one of Howard Hodgkin’s pictures bears the mawkish title Home, Home on the Range, 2001–2007, his paintings of the past decade suggest that home—broadly conceived as the ground of painting itself—is squarely in exile. To this end, Hodgkin’s recent concerns orbit around his varied manipulations of painterly supports: unconventional plywood surfaces, paintings made in flea-market frames, and endless riffs on framing as a delimitation of material and conceptual territories. Rather than evincing the overblown critical rhetoric around mnemonic recollections and painterly reconstitutions of

  • picks February 02, 2011

    Gerhard Marx

    Tenuously trapped in veils of glue, Gerhard Marx’s spindly weeds and other dregs of the Johannesburg veld outline piles of excavated bones in his “Cumulus” series (all works 2011). Invoking the construction and aesthetic of the Hortus Siccus tradition of dried plants, these pressed bits of garden debris form “cumulative” drawings in that they sketch remnants of skeletons and reveal palimpsestic glimpses of pentimenti beneath. But more than the cloudy logic of condensation implied by the title, these are works of evaporation and dessication: sun-baked, bone-dry.

    In another compelling series, these

  • picks January 21, 2011

    Cyprien Gaillard and Mario Garcia Torres

    From spiraling shots of urban blight in Kiev to the Caribbean jungle nibbling at an erstwhile grand hotel, the dystopic landscapes of Cyprien Gaillard and Mario Garcia Torres free-fall into decay. Both artists catch modernist utopian architecture in not only a tumble from above (a “falling into ruin”) but also an upward creeping from below––the future gnawing at its past.

    Segmented into three filmic parts (not unlike the three segments in his Polaroid “Geographical Analogies,” 2006–2009, exhibited alongside) Gaillard’s Desniansky Raion, 2007, reflects on architectural facades and their slump

  • picks December 15, 2010

    Mark Leckey

    GreenScreenRefrigerator, the title work in Mark Leckey’s latest exhibition, is an ode to the hulking black mass of a Samsung refrigerator. In a rollicking twenty-minute lyric poem, Leckey addresses the Darth Vader of his kitchen: extolling it, berating it, philosophizing at it. Playing with the “greenscreen” in a series of vignettes, the stationary fridge wanders through cities, fields, and outer space on a spiritual quest for origins and answers. Leckey’s serenade to his muse, his “dark mirror,” is of a piece with his other extended dialogues with inanimate objects, especially the sculptures

  • picks November 08, 2010

    “Living in Evolution”

    Modeled around the notion of “Living in Evolution,” the latest iteration of the Busan Biennale, directed by Takashi Azumaya, features a range of art exploring themes of biological development, circulatory systems, and genetic fusions. While many works are wrought of organic materials such as hair, blood, or rock, others mimic evolutionary paradigms in their processional forms or cyclical movements.

    Walking into the Busan Museum, the biennale’s central location, viewers are greeted by Alastair Mackie’s sculpture of a chimpanzee perched on the roof. Upstairs, the main gallery presents Zadok Ben

  • CLOSE-UP: BODY OF EVIDENCE

    I paint because I am a dirty woman.

    (Painting is a messy business.)

    I paint because I like to be bought and sold.

    —Marlene Dumas, “Women and Painting” (1993)

    MARLENE DUMAS LIKES TO TALK DIRTY. She quips about foreplay with her paintings, muses on the similarities between artists and hookers, and insists: “There are no virgins here.”¹ In this last instance, she is referring to the fact that her subjects are mostly recycled from photographs, but her lineup of sluts and hookers, Magdalenas and Miss Januarys, equally fleshes out her claim. Time and again, Dumas has included herself among her tarty