Marek Bartelik

  • Miroslaw Balka

    With a,e,i,o,u, 1997, his most recent installation at Galeria Foksal, Miroslaw Balka once again combined a poetic sensibility with a minimalist vocabulary, endowing carefully chosen objects with potent symbolism rooted in memory and personal experience. Balka sealed the doorway to the gallery with a plaster wall, leaving only two oval holes, which he lined with dog-collars. The openings were located approximately a foot from the floor, forcing viewers who wanted to glance inside the gallery to get down on their knees.

    One kneeled and peered through the holes, only to see a darkened space. A sense

  • Desert Breath

    Last March, three Greek artists, Danae Stratou, Alexandra Stratou, and Stella Constantinides (calling themselves DAST, an acronym formed of their first names), completed an ambitious Land Art installation entitled Desert Breath. This project entailed nine months of intense labor and a contingent of some eighty workers, foremen, and engineers equipped both with construction machinery and specially designed wooden and aluminum tools. The chosen site was an austere, sandy plateau between the Red Sea and Egypt’s Eastern Mountains, near a road running from Cairo to Upper East Egypt. Covering

  • Nadezda Prvulovic

    Entitled “United,” this engaging exhibition comprised six monumental gouaches on paper on canvas selected from Nadezda Prvulovic’s series of paintings depicting steel blast furnaces. The series, which dates from the early ’80s, was inspired by a glimpse of the abandoned melting cauldrons that dot the outskirts of the French industrial town of Thionville which the artist once passed through. In 1984, when Yugoslavian-born Prvulovic settled in the United States, the specific locations depicted in the first paintings in this series became more generic evocations of the machine age. Recalling Bernd

  • “Beyond Belief”

    In “Beyond Belief: Contemporary Art from East Central Europe,” curator Laura J. Hoptman mounted an exhibition that included artists from Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria, all while embracing the questionable premise that Eastern Europe is a heterogeneous region with “ephemeral” borders. Though one might agree that such countries as Poland, the Czech Republic, and Bulgaria have little in common, apart from being located on the “belt” that separates Western Europe from Russia, they do not simply constitute a region “traditionally referred to as ‘East’ or ‘East

  • Boris Mikhailov

    Already canonized as the “patriarch of Soviet photography,” at fifty-eight Boris Mikhailov is one of the most important contemporary Russian photographers to have explored the post-Soviet psyche. This gripping show drew from three recent series—“U Zemli,” 1991–92, “Sumerki,” 1993, and “If I Were a German,” 1995—and an earlier series “Luriki,” 1971–85. Beyond the daring vision these photographs presented of Russian life, they are striking in their refusal to privilege the technical virtuosity so dear to a growing number of artists from the former Soviet Union.

    Mikhailov shot “U Zemli” (which means

  • Andrew Topolski

    Andrew Topolski’s late-spring exhibition “North, South, East, West” charted his interest in scientific, musical, and architectural systems. The works assembled here resembled precise scientific instruments and graphs, but were actually more like props for a philosophical debate than precision tools. Self-referential and nonutilitarian, they drew on eclectic sources, ranging from mathematical diagrams and musical scores to old master works and the writings of Herman Melville. Topolski seemed less preoccupied with the functions to which these objects allude than with their aesthetic or didactic

  • Jan Zakrzewski

    For the last 25 years Jan Zakrzewski (formerly Vladimir Jan Zakrzewski) has oscillated between examining the legacy of Constructivism and making figurative paintings with conceptual overtones. Although Zakrzewski’s oeuvre has occasionally veered toward the ephemeral and as a whole may seem somewhat erratic (in the early ’70s, he made documentary films and staged happenings), it has always engaged in an “esthetic play” that allows him to explore the processes of memory, fantasy, and identification.

    The muted quality of this exhibition masked a painful reconstitution of artistic identity, a careful

  • Adja Yunkers

    This rare exhibition of the work of Adja Yunkers, who died in 1984, was an important if modest survey of his art from the last 20 years of his long career. While Larionov, Malevich, the Italian Futurists, and the Mexican muralists figure among the early influences of the Russian-trained Yunkers, the seven paintings and three works on paper in this show demonstrate the degree to which his mature work was informed by postwar developments in abstraction. While formal affinities with the work of artists as diverse as Mark Rothko, Lucio Fontana, and even Yves Klein are evident, the unassuming and

  • “Shooting the Moon”

    Next to the high-tech resolution of digital imaging, photographs of the moon, even those from only 30 years ago, look like products of a bygone era. Testaments to the earliest stages of imaging technology, the photographs gathered in “Shooting the Moon: A Historical Survey of Lunar Photographs” remind us that art and science (and not just art and technology) are often intimately connected. Ever since the first photograph of the moon was taken in New York in 1840 by J. W. Draper (a few years after the invention of modern photography)—or, perhaps, ever since Galileo, looking through a telescope

  • Zofia Kulik

    Polish artist Zofia Kulik, part of a perfomance duo (with Przemyslaw Kwiek) until 1987, has been occupied for the past several years with composing black and white photomontages that, formally at least, recall stained-glass windows. In these works she combines photographs of a naked male figure (most often her friend Zbigniew Libera, also an artist) in various military poses with prints of, among other things, banners, commemorative wreaths, missiles, as well as stills from television or videos of military parades. Kulik’s photomontages are born of a passion for mining Poland’s communist past:

  • Wolfgang Laib

    Wolfgang Laib’s recent installation You Will Go Somewhere Else, 1995, is yet another instance of the artist’s exceptional ability to close the gap between the material and the spiritual, stillness and movement, internal and external space. Six large vessel-shaped solids, which varied slightly in size, were placed in a row on an almost ceiling-high, freestanding wooden scaffolding, and illuminated by both natural and artificial light. The crudeness of the supporting structure was accentuated by the exposed metal bolts that held the wooden beams in place. While each carefully modeled boatlike

  • Constance Stuart Larrabee

    The English-born photographer Constance Stuart Larrabee is known for two distinct bodies of work: her black and white prints of South Africa’s tribal people (Zulu, Ndebele, Lovedu, Swazi, Sotho, Transkei, and Bushmen)—produced in the ’30s and ’40s—and her Life magazine–style photojournalism in which she documented the liberation of Europe from the Nazis. This recent retrospective also included lesser-known pictures produced after Larrabee moved to America in 1949. Among this group of photographs, two works stand out as emblematic of her postwar style, which was characterized by a subtle interplay