Marek Bartelik

  • Daniel Medina

    In 2003, the private owners of a copy of Rodin’s Monument to Balzac, 1898, removed it from a courtyard of the Caracas Athenaeum, apparently fearing politically motivated vandalism. The next year, demonstrators knocked down the figure of Christopher Columbus from the Monumento a Colón en el Golfo Triste, erected a century earlier to commemorate the four hundredth anniversary of the arrival of the explorer in the Americas. Daniel Medina has recorded those dramatic events in his native city by culling from the Internet a photograph of each of the eviscerated public sites, which he then included in

  • Klaus Lutz

    The Swiss artist and filmmaker Klaus Lutz’s universe was a dense mindscape, full of imaginary creatures and objects, some of them realistically rendered, others more diagrammatic, fantastical, or stylized. The protagonist of his art and films is an individual who confronts the world’s absurdity by being equally absurd but ceaselessly vigilant and disciplined. In Lutz’s last film, Titan, 2009, he is the eccentric little everyman who enjoys undertaking hallucinatory voyages into a surreal outer space while keeping an eye on life on the ground. Played by the artist, this Chaplinesque figure runs,

  • Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz

    Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz’s exhibition “Salomania” focused on the infatuation that performers and authors have had with the New Testament figure of Salomé. Her veiled sexuality and exoticism have often been perceived as arousing a perverse desire, itself a manifestation of a preoccupation with the dark relationship between Eros and Thanatos, epitomized by the trading of her sensual dance for the head of John the Baptist. Oscar Wilde’s controversial 1891 play Salomé was the origin of much of the dancer’s modern mythology and is one of Boudry and Lorenz’s main references, which also include

  • Vladimir Grig

    Today, Russians approach the legacy of the USSR with a growing historical distance and a peculiar sense of introspection. They perceive it in a less conflicted manner than they once did, acknowledging the playfulness of its mass culture while, at the same time, linking its graphic language to social and cultural (rather than political) transformations. A fascination with the Soviet past might also reflect the renewed upsurge of Slavophilism, which encourages Russians to admire their national heroes and to savor the uniqueness of their experience, closing the gap between grim reality and a profound

  • José Barrias

    The Latin words in this show’s title, “José Barrias: In Itinere,” might be best translated in this context as “ongoing” (rather than, for example, “in progress”), for the exhibition, curated by João Fernandes, did not offer any ascending arrangement of works or connect them in any obvious fashion. Instead, the Milan-based Portuguese artist created an erratic, labyrinthine environment in which new and older pieces in various mediums could effortlessly interact with each other and the museum space. The latter was structured as a series of galleries—some of which were painted in vivid colors,

  • Denis Savary

    Featuring works in video, installation, and sculpture created between 2006 and 2011, this show emphasized contemplative aspects of Denis Savary’s art, rather than the straight-facedly humorous, cool side for which he is also known. Perhaps more important, it reaffirmed the Paris- and Lausanne, Switzerland–based artist’s interest in exploring simple pleasures in his own “backyard,” in the bucolic yet cultured French and Swiss farming country, evocative of the region around Lake Geneva where he is from. For Savary, it is an emotional and, to a certain degree, physical “stillness” in such places

  • Katarzyna Kozyra

    Comprising many of Katarzyna Kozyra’s major works in various mediums, this exhibition offered a unique opportunity for a close look at the artist’s oeuvre, while inviting its critical reassessment in the context of present-day Poland. “Casting,” the title selected by the show’s curator, Hanna Wróblewska (the new director of the Zachęta National Gallery of Art), was taken from a new work, dated 2010, in which a gallery space was transformed into a temporary acting studio where viewers were invited to try out for the role of the artist in her forthcoming autobiographical feature film.

    In Poland,

  • Yazid Oulab

    Sufism—Muslim mysticism—serves as a sort of philosophical base for Yazid Oulab’s fragile sculptures, often made of everyday objects and materials that the Algerian-born, Marseille, France–based artist endows with new significance. In his latest solo exhibition, he continued to allude to that esoteric strain of religion—or rather spirituality—that he perceives as an important part of the peaceful, meditative essence of his native Algerian culture, and to its use of lyrical chanting as an invocative activity. A long-standing fascination with the poetic language of the mythological

  • “Transfer”

    Transfer: Arte Urbana e Contemporânea, Transferências e Transformações” (Transfer: Urban and Contemporary Art, Transfers and Transformations) brought Brazilian youth subcultures of street art, underground comics, fanzines, independent music, and skateboarding to a newly opened museum built according to an early 1950s design by Oscar Niemeyer. With several hundred artists, designers, performers, and musicians, many of them autodidacts, represented by a wide range of original works in different media and extensive photographic and video documentation of their activities over the past thirty years,

  • Ivens Machado

    MADE IN CHINA, printed on the cardboard boxes used for transporting bicycles Ivens Machado incorporated into his new sculptures (and used as the title of this show), evokes an obvious association: cheap goods mass-produced in the world’s most populous country and sold globally. The Brazilian artist also utilized shipping boxes with different labeling—for example: CONTENTS MADE IN THE USA. FRAGILE FURNITURE. Such clearly visible, specific words might encourage the viewer to speculate about their significance for the overall meaning of Machado’s works. Do they simply belong to the “found” qualities

  • “Ars Homo Erotica”

    Titled “Ars Homo Erotica,” this exhibition was conceived on a grand scale. Not only was it a survey of art with (male and female) homoerotic content—often explicit, sometimes veiled—from antiquity to the present, it also used the venerable hosting museum as a platform to advocate for equality for the LGBT community in Poland. (The show overlapped with EuroPride 2010, hosted in the Polish capital in July.) The show’s guest curator, Paweł Leszkowicz, chose to create a “seductive” show, which resulted in the omnipresence of art with naked bodies. A Winckelmannian universe (an ancient marble Antinous,

  • Yuhee Choi

    Hideholic, a term coined by the artist Yuhee Choi, first appeared in the titles of the paintings shown in her debut solo exhibition at Gana Art Space in Seoul in 2008. The word alludes to the Korean artist’s programmatic and obsessive preoccupation with what separates the conscious from the unconscious, as she works toward accessing and visualizing the complexities of personal desires and traumas, at the same time hiding from the viewer any direct reference to the concrete events of her life. Choi’s ambitious attempts to stage pictorial psychodramas that are devoid of continuous narrative, yet

  • “Schism: Polish Art of the 1990s”

    This exhibition argued that now is the time to evaluate Polish art of the 1990s, that enough time has elapsed to allow for critical distance. But how to do this in a constructive, meaningful way? “Schism: Polish Art of the 1990s” took its title from a 1994 volume of poetry by writer and musician Marcin Świetlicki, known for exploring the condition of the individual in Poland following the fall of state socialism with a combination of dark humor and sarcasm. The show, curated by Adam Mazur and impressive in its scope but unnecessarily didactic, drew on the growing discontent with the transformations

  • “Pole, Jew, Artist: Identity and Avant-Garde”

    Summing up the experience of the Jewish pioneers of modernism, the artist Henryk Gotlib observed in 1932: “It is not important what Jews became for painting but what painting became for the Jews.” Without claiming to be a survey of art produced by Jewish artists in Warsaw, Lodz, Krakow, Lvov, and Vilna during the interwar period, this fascinating exhibition focused on a number of individuals who defined modernism in the local context, while situating their works in relation to a broader international art scene. Stressing the avant-garde aspects of pieces in various media, the show—superbly

  • Pazé

    The Brazilian artist Pazé’s recent work, A Coleção (The Collection), 2009, transported the viewer inside a spectacular hall of painting, an illusionistic space on printed wallpaper that covered the walls of Casa Triângulo from floor to ceiling. His invented gallery was packed salon style with famous works ranging from Caravaggio’s Musicians, 1595, to Paula Modersohn-Becker’s Self-Portrait, 1906, all in the public domain and all including figures that look directly at the viewer. The artist reinforced the ambiguity of the fictional space by repeating it as an inverted view, thus producing a

  • Christopher Mir

    The ten paintings displayed in Christopher Mir’s exhibition “The Dream of You Is Real” are tightly executed, smooth works of Photorealism representing sexy women, a lone caveman, galloping horses, flying birds and insects, and so on, all inserted into landscapes and often projecting a feeling of the uncanny and the exotic. Such an iconography recalls a surrealist discharge of imagination: A rich dream space profoundly mirrors often nightmarish psychological scenes. However, the serene or stormy skies that belong to Mir’s world also include additional visitors: planes and helicopters, functioning

  • picks August 06, 2009

    “Richard Prince and the Revolution”

    “Richard Prince and the Revolution” is neither directly about the American artist nor about any kind of violent action or dramatic change, as the exhibition’s title suggests. One might say that this handsome show “appropriates” both Prince and the revolution, while perhaps making an oblique nod to the singer Prince and his band the Revolution. Accordingly, the exhibition, curated by Jonathan Monk, addresses appropriation and its relationship to originality, examining it through a collection of thirteen works in different media by an international group of mostly younger artists, including Ryan

  • Isabel Rocamora

    An anonymous woman wearing a long black head scarf that covers her entire body slips into elegant white shoes as she prepares for a journey from a large city to a mysterious place devoid of physical human presence, populated instead with potent memories. The voyage is imaginary, but the circumstances surrounding it are real: Isabel Rocamora’s masterfully crafted dual-channel projection Horizon of Exile (all works 2007) is based on the life stories told to her by several Kurdish and central Iraqi women living in London. The work is magical realism at its best, an engaging travelogue into the past

  • Tere Recarens

    In this show, “Karma Allumé,” Tere Recarens confirmed that she is an artist-traveler. Recarens’s first name, short for Teresa, has largely served to determine her itineraries and her artistic endeavors: In 2002, for instance, after finding out that tere means “hello” in Estonia, she traveled there and, as a result, produced a work titled ETC. Her most recent voyages have been to Mali, where she investigated the meaning of the word tere in the country’s most commonly used local language, Bambara.

    In Mali, tere, ethnologist Salia Malé explains, denotes “an integral part of the components of every

  • Diana Fiedler

    “The PLACE is a sudden gap in the utilitarian approach to the world,” declared the founders of Galeria Foksal in a manifesto in 1967. In her new exhibition, “Double,” Diana Fiedler returned to that utopian statement by covertly acknowledging the gallery’s specific history—an institution devoted to international tendencies in contemporary art such as neo-Constructivism, Minimalism, and Conceptual art. The gallery (not to be confused with its conflicted offspring, the Foksal Foundation) is unique in Eastern Europe for having continued in almost uninterrupted operation for more than forty years as