Mara Hoberman

  • Bernard Frize

    Rules can set you free. This credo has defined Bernard Frize’s practice for more than forty years, leading him to design various systems, protocols, and restraints intended to rid his paintings of self-expression. To this end, Frize has, for previous bodies of work, engaged assistants in an intimate choreography whereby six hands worked together, used multiple brushes to map out all the possible moves for a knight on a chessboard, and stretched up dried “skin” harvested from a large basin filled with gallons of house paint. The results of such techniques—mostly large, colorful abstractions—were

  • picks June 28, 2019

    Annette Messager

    Soft, colorful, and haunting, Annette Messager’s latest sculptures are made from sleeping bags, puffer jackets, and quilts. Collectively titled “Sleeping Songs,” 2017–19, these mostly wall-mounted works have been folded, pinned, draped, and sewn in ways that suggest various anatomical forms—including many whose central droopy cowled openings are undeniably vaginal. In addition to playing with existing elements like hoods, sleeves, and zippers in order to reinforce her materials’ human scale and functionality, Messager incorporates one or more pairs of black acrylic hands into each sculpture.

  • Emma McMillan

    Emma McMillan’s first show in Paris comprised six moody nocturnes completed during the Bronx, New York–based painter’s recent three-month residency in the City of Light. Rendered almost entirely in shades of blue, the artist’s murky imagery slowly revealed itself to include interiors, cityscapes, and a portrait. Semiabstract compositions ultimately turned out to depict windowed rooms, a staircase, a skyscraper, a bridge, and a face.

    The title of the show, “Bleu de Prusse” (Prussian Blue), singled out just one of the many azure hues in McMillan’s palette. Fittingly, this vibrant synthetic pigment,

  • David LaChapelle

    A flight of stairs pointedly separated two dramatically different visions in David LaChapelle’s recent exhibition “Letter to the World.” On the gallery’s ground floor, verdant landscapes and colorful nymphs (all drawn from the artist’s experimental roots and noncommercial work) evoked a paradise lost, while a much darker scene unfolded in the basement (composed of more noncommercial work, in addition to LaChapelle’s better-known, iconic portraits of David Bowie, Miley Cyrus, and Lil’ Kim, among others). Among the twenty-nine pieces in the enchanted ground-floor hanging, seven were from the 1980s,

  • Alain Bublex

    The unexpected inspiration for Alain Bublex’s recent homage to American landscape painting is First Blood (1982), the original John Rambo movie, a film cowritten by, and famously starring, Sylvester Stallone. For the French artist—whose interest in Americana previously inspired works such as the Ryder Project, 1999, a caravan of moving trucks that crossed the United States, and “Buy Steel,” 2006–, a series of photographs documenting depressed industrial landscapes in the Ohio Valley—the movie’s provincial setting of Hope, Washington (though the film was actually shot in Canada), recalled the

  • Ouattara Watts

    Ouattara Watts left the Ivory Coast in 1977 to study painting at Paris’s École des Beaux-Arts before settling in New York in 1988. He has since shown regularly in Europe and the US, but until two recent concurrent exhibitions in Abidjan—“Before Looking at this Work, Listen to It,” at Galerie Cécile Fakhoury, and “Get Ready,” a survey of works dating from 2009 to 2018 at the Rotonde des Arts Contemporains—Watts had never had a solo show in his native country. Galerie Fakhoury showcased the artist’s latest work, presenting fourteen paintings from 2018—expressionistic compositions rife with references

  • Jean-Michel Basquiat

    This exhibition, curated by Dieter Buchhart in collaboration with the Brant Foundation, gathers an impressive 120 of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings, sculptures, and drawings, the majority of which have never before been exhibited in Europe. The inclusion of so many unfamiliar works (more than a few masterpieces among them) gives the retrospective a rare freshness and underscores the contemporary resonance of Basquiat’s oeuvre. Thirty years after the artist’s death, his heroic portraits of African American musicians and athletes, countered by disturbing evocations of racism, poverty, and police

  • Amélie Bertrand

    “Naked Light,” Amélie Bertrand’s recent exhibition of oil paintings and digital prints, depicted Miami Deco-style architectures in ersatz tropical settings. Works in both mediums featured colorful compositions of stone fountains and porticos, palm trees, ferns, and fruit bowls lit by pink and yellow florescent bulbs. Given the blunt artificiality of these particular scenes, it’s no surprise that Bertrand conceives them on a computer using Photoshop and images sourced from the internet. What was unexpected, however, is how well her paintings—even more than the digital prints—evoke the

  • picks October 16, 2018

    Isabelle Cornaro

    At first glance, the works in Isabelle Cornaro’s current exhibition could be mistaken for Minimalist paintings and sculptures. Pairing large wooden rectangles redolent of Robert Morris’s cubes and beams with paintings whose rusty tones evoke Richard Serra’s signature slabs of oxidized steel, Cornaro flirts with notions of objectivity and monumentality. Ultimately, however, the artist is less concerned with these Minimalist tropes than with subverting conventional modes of display and studio practice.  

    Of the five gray or mauve spray-painted plinths here, one is left bare while the rest are

  • Caroline Achaintre

    “Duo Infernal,”the first solo show in France for the French-born, London-based artist Caroline Achaintre, included woolen wall hangings, glazed ceramic sculptures, and psychedelic watercolors set against pink-accented walls. Borrowed from a 1982 song by the German punk band Extrabreit and Marianne Rosenberg, the exhibition’s title served as a reminder of the essential role that duality plays in Achaintre’s oeuvre. The artist’s consistently contradictory works appear at once functional and decorative, earthly and otherworldly, abstract and figurative. Like a Rubin’s vase illustration where the

  • Elsa Sahal

    Though the title “Elsa Sahal des origins à nos jours” (Elsa Sahal from the Origins to Today) suggests a historical survey, the fifteen large-scale ceramic sculptures on view in Sahal’s recent exhibition were all made this year. Featuring an installation of primordial-looking sculptures arranged on a dark, sand-dusted platform, the show evoked origins of a different sort. In addition to providing a telluric mise-en-scène, the curvaceous room——filling stage represented the artist’s latest experiment with how to display sculpture. Having previously skewered headless humanoid forms on

  • picks May 21, 2018

    Daniel Turner

    Working with salvaged materials, Daniel Turner has transformed psychiatric-hospital sinks, restaurant-kitchen appliances, and other old machinery and fixtures into sleek geometric cast-metal sculptures. Belying their minimalist aesthetic, Turner’s soulful reincarnations are rife with historical, political, and personal connotations. The suite of works presented here was made using I-beams removed from the exhibition venue during a recent renovation project. Turner’s sculptures are accompanied by a selection of archival materials that trace the evolution of the site, which was originally built

  • Laurent Montaron

    Shining a spotlight on rampant post-truth discourses, French artist Laurent Montaron demonstrates how various media effectively blur the line between fact and fiction. His videos and photographs on view at the Center for Contemporary Art Tel Aviv range from 2016 to a new commission, and are poignant, pertinent reminders that a camera is not necessarily an objective witness; rather, Montaron’s works illustrate what Gilles Deleuze described as “camera consciousness.” The artist also makes use of a flock of kites designed by French World War I army general Jacques-Théodore

  • “Daphné Le Sergent:  Geopolitics of Oblivion”

    Born in Seoul and raised in Paris, Daphné Le Sergent has spent the past decade investigating how borders—geographical, political, and psychological—impact identity. Coproduced by Paris’s Jeu de Paume, Bordeaux’s Musée d’Art Contemporain, and Puebla, Mexico’s Museo Amparo, the artist’s first major institutional exhibition incorporates her videos and photographs—as well as her writing in a catalogue—all focusing on how language shapes us. The four works on view (all 2018) describe two fictional retro-futuristic societies striving to create a common mode

  • CAROLINE MESQUITA

    CAROLINE MESQUITA’S humanoid metal sculptures are a wild bunch. They like to dance and make mischief; they hump each other and have orgies; sometimes they get violent. In galleries, art centers, and, most delightfully, on top of a bar during a Paris art party in 2015, Mesquita’s copper and brass figures have presented a retro-futuristic vision of robots gone wild. Arranged into tableaux inspired equally by nineteenth-century French history paintings and the 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner, dramatically posed life-size bodies beckon the viewer, embrace one another, and lie collapsed on the floor.

  • Anna Solal

    La convalescence,” French artist Anna Solal’s first solo show in Paris, featured devotional objects made from dollar-store finds (plastic shoes, kitchen utensils, car-floor mats, combs, neck massagers, and hair clips) and broken electronics (cracked smartphone screens, parts of remote controls and keyboards) salvaged from repair shops. Using tulle and wire to ritualistically bind together these cheap sundries and various forms of electronic waste, Solal creates freestanding sculptures as well as elaborate frames for her drawings. The artist’s aesthetic appreciation for junky products results

  • Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz

    In the recent exhibition “Silent,” Berlin-based duo Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz used a self-described practice of “queer archaeology” to out archetypes of modern art. Attaching themes of self-censorship (closeting) and silent protest to monochrome painting, geometric sculpture, and—most specifically—John Cage’s resounding silences, the artists debunked canonical heteronormative interpretations. Whereas Boudry and Lorenz have previously relied heavily on archival documents to expose systemic homophobia (which has resulted in some very dense, didactic works), the pieces presented

  • Raphaël Zarka

    For the past decade, Raphaël Zarka’s work has prominently featured images of skateboarders taking advantage of the slick surfaces, hard edges, and smooth slopes of monumental public artworks. For the series “Riding Modern Art,” 2007–, Zarka, himself a skater, compiled an impressive portfolio of video clips and still photographs that show sculptures by the likes of Pablo Picasso and Richard Serra serving as improvised ramps and illicit half-pipes. Similarly irreverent, the artist’s recent exhibition, “Monte Oliveto,” also raised questions about the relationship between form and function. Commingling

  • Justin Fitzpatrick

    A gas pump with two backward-counting clockfaces in place of a meter (Time Pump, all works 2017) established the theme of time travel in Justin Fitzpatrick’s recent show. Suggesting ghosts from the past poking urgently into the present, several white-cast resin fingers protrude from the braided-rope base of the sculpture. Creepy though this imagery may be, the inspiration for Fitzpatrick’s work is not science fiction, but rather a cult historiographical text by author and activist Arthur Evans, whose 1978 book, Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture, argues that accurate accounts of gay culture

  • Marion Verboom

    Presented under the title “Temporaldaten” (Temporal Data)—a philosophical term coined by the father of phenomenology, Edmund Husserl—Marion Verboom’s recent exhibition explored the problem of how we experience and describe time. Eschewing chronology, Verboom juxtaposed references to artworks, artifacts, and architecture hailing from far-flung cultures, leaving the viewer to connect the dots—or daten, as Husserl might have said.

    At the heart of the exhibition, an installation of five totem pole–like columns from the series “Achronies” (Anachronisms), 2017, evoked the Roman Forum.