Lucas Matheson

  • picks December 04, 2019

    Gabriel Kuri

    The ocean is full of trash, and so is Gabriel Kuri’s show. It begins with a room full of sand. The overwhelming Donation Box, 2010–19, is no idyllic seaside, but a sprawling ashtray brimming with cigarette butts. Occupying the space is intolerable, breathing its foul air a repulsive experience. Yet magnification begets attention. In Untitled (stages in an event line), 2019, bread-bag clips connected by wires in a neat row stand knee-high, like recipients of some industrial growth hormone. In Magenta stripe polypthic gobelin tapestry (aeropuerto), 2008, the artist’s receipts are transformed into

  • picks July 12, 2019

    Stephen Neidich

    The sole piece in Stephen Neidich’s exhibition “Making the rounds (a place to wait)” occupies the middle of the room. Dozens of chains connected to rotating camshafts hang from the ceiling. They flit above a loose rectangle of broken concrete chunks, slapping and sliding endlessly, senselessly, against the stones’ jagged surfaces. It all seems ultra-macho, industrial, coyly S and M. Yes, to all that. The swinging movement is dangerous and effete, the sashay of a giant squid idling near the bumpy ocean bottom.

    Ambivalent is the mood. The artist's adoption of a Minimalist vocabulary pairs the

  • picks March 13, 2019

    “nepantla”

    Cracked adobe shelves line the gallery's perimeter, their shapes derived from the contours of three geographic boundaries: the Pacific Coast of the US, the Panama Canal, and the US-Mexico border. Made by curators Timo Fahler and Rafa Esparza, the ledges generate an axis of physical relationships, conjuring a top and a bottom in the space, a ground for sculptures to stand beside, a landscape above which paintings float. The earthen, hand-shaped platform is a new border, a means of generating the titular nepantla, Nahuatl for in-betweenness.

    Greeting viewers on the shelf nearest the entrance is

  • picks December 05, 2018

    “up the river down the tide”

    Winbot W830 window-cleaning robots slide across the clear glass of two framed photographs, suctioned to the picture planes. In Image Life, 2016, a man carries a young girl on his shoulders, their white face paint amplifying their joyous grins. On the opposite wall, Serenity Now, 2016, depicts a figure sinking into mud, the head nearly submerged, hands holding a DSLR aloft. These images, made by the artist collective DIS, emulate the slick finish and satisfying immediacy of stock photos, but with a disturbing, opaque edge. As the Winbots whir, Katja Novitskova’s hacked baby rocker, Mamaroo (Storm

  • picks August 17, 2018

    Anna Torma

    Using appliqué, embroidery, and freehand quilting, Anna Torma plunges into a storehouse of accumulated experience, charting the conversion of attention into memory and meaning-making. Her results are opaque and chaotic: Fragmented animals, isolated words, and anonymous human figures all vie for attention on crowded picture planes. These fiber works, ranging from diaphanous silk organza to comforter-thick quilts, are primarily exhibited framed or draped against the wall. But, crucially, curator Shauna Thompson introduces Torma’s work with a trio of pieces hung from the ceiling, including the

  • picks January 05, 2018

    “Dream of Solentiname”

    This group exhibition tells a story of the Nicaraguan Civil War through the lens of Solentiname, a utopian community established in 1965 by poet, sculptor, and priest Ernesto Cardenal. It features works by community members and other artists sympathetic to their mission. Cardenal is a focal point. His sculptures, vibrant depictions of plants and animals, have a gallery to themselves, as do the community’s paintings. These brilliant works, such as Marita Guevara’s Jesús expulsa a los mercaderes del templo (Jesus Expels the Merchants from the Temple), 1981, reimagine biblical stories in Nicaraguan

  • picks August 04, 2017

    “The Boat Is Leaking. The Captain Lied”

    Spread across three floors of an eighteenth-century palazzo, this exhibition visualizes a broad question: What happens when falsehoods stand in for the truth? For this collaboration, curator Udo Kittelmann, artist Thomas Demand, set designer Anna Viebrock, and filmmaker Alexander Kluge look to the eternal worry over art’s duplicity. This time around, at issue are not the objects themselves as much as the walls that support them.

    The design of the show is provocative, blurring distinctions between discrete works and a single massive installation piece. Viebrock’s stage sets from previous theatrical